Sunday, September 30, 2012

Always Forgive Your Enemies -- Nothing Annoys Them So Much. (Oscar Wilde)

Swoopy Supercell clouds are the bestest. You know you want to click that picture and look at it nice and big... go on, I'll wait.

Guess who? (Or is it 'guess whom'?) It's me! (or is it 'it is I'?). You know... Dave... it's my blog, of course it's me! Who'd you think it was, Buddy Hackett? Sheesh!

Anyway, I'm here to serve you another helping of nonsense. Fall Nonsense, as it turns out. Ah, fall, my favorite time of year... why? Hoodie weather! Yay! Hopefully the rains will come soon... my lake is dryin' up... Remember, shorter days means more time to read books and play Torchlight 2 until your eyes bleed. It's an old saying. In my part of the world, anyway. Well, in my house, in any case... ok, fine, I just started saying it, but it will be an old saying someday...

That was for Abbie... she's a booksniffer...

I read a couple new books since last we spoke, neither of which I will do a full review of. I read The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman, which was depressing, ultimately. The protagonist is a space marine who travels to battles with his fellow troops through portals called "collapsars" which have a strange effect on the passing of time while you traverse the galaxy using them. Basically, travel takes next to no time for you, but "back home", centuries can pass. Anyway, this guy ends up spending about 10 years in the service, surviving comparatively few actual battles, and when it's all said and done, ends up finishing his "tour" 1200 years in the future, with everything so radically different it boggles the mind. That alone made the read worth the effort.

I also read I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, which is actually almost nothing like the movie at all. In the book, the protagonist lives in LA in the late nineteen-seventies, is white with blond hair, and had nothing at all to do with the outbreak that swept the globe. The movie (as you recall) stars a black man in New York City in "current day", and was involved in the research that led to the outbreak (in which capacity, I don't recall... it's been too long since I've seen the film). I do remember the lame ending of the movie. The book ends better, though no less depressingly.

I give both books 3 out of 5. I'm diving back into fantasy, but keeping it classic. I'm reading Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind, which is a book that has caused quite a division among genre fans. Thought I'd read it anyway, since it seems the bulk of the commentary against the book has more to do with the critic's opinion of the author himself rather than the book.

They love their buses in Denmark, eh?

My neck has been giving me crazy grief the past week or two. I've been to the chiropractor several times, but, really, nothing is out of place. Still, I get these sharp pains that randomly flare up and then dissipate, like someone is jabbing a needle into the side of my neck. It's quite uncomfortable. I think it might be tied into my workouts - I'm throwing some pretty heavy weights around, and when I get close to muscle failure, I really tense up to push that last rep out, and sometimes it causes my neck to knot up. I'll talk to my trainer tomorrow and see what he says. Maybe I should ease up or even take a break for a while.

Guess you didn't need to know all that, sorry.

Here's a video that has been making the rounds the past couple days. It's from a helmet camera mounted on a US Soldier fighting the Taliban over in Afghanistan. He was trying (quite effectively, it turns out) to draw fire away from his squad, which was pinned down by machine gun fire. The armor he's wearing stops several rounds, and apparently he made it down the hillside (the video stops before that) and got out ok. WARNING: It is an intense video, and there are two swear words in it that didn't get bleeped out.

Dang, all those rounds pinging off the ground around him while he runs... shouting out for help, getting no reply... man, they don't pay these guys enough...

Wow, this post kinda took a dramatic change of tone there, didn't it... sorry bout that. I thought it needed to be shared.

Almost finished with the first draft of the Christmas play script. It's about a NYC cabbie on Christmas Eve. I like the story device, but I need to find a way to add a deeper layer to it, so the play has a decent pay-off in the end. Once it's finished, I'll let y'all know.

Had a guy in a cap come to my front door an hour or two ago, claiming to be the mayor of Escondido, asking if I had any city-related issues or questions that I'd like him to address. I kid you not. He handed me a pamphlet for the person he's supporting for the City Council election that (apparently) is coming up. Weird. [EDIT: Gah, I just googled the current mayor of Escondido and it's the same dude, lol. It really was him!]

OK, well, big week ahead. I'm in a writing frame of mind, so I hope to finish the Christmas script and work on the movie script and get some headway on my novel done as well. We shall see. I may end up being a writer after all!

Adios for now,

Dave the Goof

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One Page at a Time...

Man, I need to post more frequently. I was just browsing through my picture archive... I have SO MUCH awesome stuff waiting to make an appearance on one of these blog posts, it isn't even funny...

In fact, here, let me lead with a couple landscapey photos today instead of one. These are from August, but never got air time...

Come on... how amazing is that photo? Tell me you wouldn't LOVE to go there...

Here's another...

Yeah, I know, a little cliche. Still, I love the vibe. A nice, cool, late Summer stroll on the beach anyone? The only thing that rankles me a bit about the pic is the red shirt... wish it was a different color...

Anyway, that's just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, here, let me post another "penguins on an iceberg" photo... I have several, lol...

Love it.... look at those shades of blue. Man, that would make a great jigsaw puzzle, eh?

Oh, what the heck, here's another. From National Geographic this time...

I hope you're clicking these and looking at them nice and big...

OK, enough of that. Down to business...

So after a spate of book/movie review posts, I'm back to my usual blast of hot air, whereby I prattle on about things of little interest to you, and you put on a forced smile, add a courtesy laugh now and then, nod, and skim forward, looking for cool pics/videos. Ahh, it's good to be back in form!

I've come up with what I think is a good idea for this year's Christmas play. Definitely way outside the box, as far as what we've done before. Going to pound out some notes tonight, and send them off to Cathy to see if she wants to roll with it. I know she's getting antsy, what with the weeks starting to tick by. It'll be Christmas before we know it! Probably won't be doing a film project for Christmas -- Todd F. is super-busy with work-related stuff. Who knows. I'd love to get a film project rolling too, since I know we can top our last effort (the Lazarus one, from last Easter). That one was fun, for a first effort. Time to kick it up a few notches, eh Abbie? ROOAR!

I watched this video last night, called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee... check it out, it has Jerry Sienfeld, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks...

Good stuff. Never really was a big Mel Brooks fan - his humor was always off somehow to me. Anyway, I enjoyed that clip a lot. And Seinfeld is always gold.

After finishing Prince of Thorns, I decided to try my hand at a little sci-fi. I'm always forcing myself to read sci-fi, since I feel like I should like it. I mean, I dig Fantasy so much... and sci-fi is its twin sister, right? I should either like them both, or despise them both, right? Well, I'm about halfway through Nebula/Hugo/Locus Award-winning novel The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. It reminds me of Old Man's War, by John Scalzi, which I reviewed here last year. Anyway, I'm really trying to stay interested, but man, it's so hard for me. Space marines, interstellar travel, alien races, strange technologies, weird occurrences and parlance... man, it's grueling. I'm going to finish it, though. I'm going to force myself to like sci-fi (if you'll pardon the Star Wars pun)...

That's me, trying to like sci-fi...

OK, theological conundrum time. With or against?

OK, so in Luke 9:49-50 it says the following...

"Master," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

and a little later, in Luke 11:23, Jesus says...

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."

OK, so, to you, are these saying the same thing? Maybe I'm reading too much into them, but it seems to me that in Luke 9, it is saying that the default position of mankind is helpful, and in Luke 11, the default position of mankind is antagonistic. Meaning, in Luke 9, unless a person is actively working against you, you should consider him as a positive, constructive force, and in Luke 11, unless a person is actively working for/along with you, you should consider him as working against you.

Are those the opposites that I think they are, or do they mesh in a way I'm not seeing? It seems to me that there are three classes of people being discussed: for, neutral and against. In the one case, the neutral folks are grouped with the "for" group... and in the other case, the neutral folks are grouped together with the "against" group...

Odds are I'm making an issue where none exists, but I thought I'd throw it out here anyway, in case someone cared to comment.

So I initially had no real interest in watching Les Miserables when it releases soon... but then I watched this little vignette about the music and thought... wow...

They recorded the songs live as they filmed the scenes? I don't think I've ever seen/heard of things being done that way before. Very, very cool. I may have to see this. Or at least buy the soundtrack.

I'm going to bail now, and go crank out those script notes that I mentioned earlier. If any of this entertained you, by all means, leave a comment and I will greedily devour it!

Adios for now,

Dave the Gump

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence: A Review

Not sure exactly when or where I first heard of Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, but it intrigued me, so I grabbed the free sample of it and eventually gave it a quick reading. I say "quick" because it was so well-written, I tore through it. The page opened up and swallowed me, and I was thoroughly hooked, the end of the free sample coming way too soon for my taste. I added it to my "Read This Book! List" and waited for the price to scale down from the $13 price tag. I knew I would read it at some point, when funds allowed. Well, a month or so ago it dropped to $2.99, so I snagged it and filed it away.

The time seemed right to read it, so yesterday I dove in, and today, I am done. Wow, what a book.

Young Prince Jorg is a complex creature. You've no doubt encountered characters before that are "shades of grey", as far as ethically/morally.... meet Jorg, a character comprised of shades of black. When we are introduced to him, he and his band of thugs have just ransacked a village, and are looting the place before burning it to the ground. A villager named Bovid sits in the street, holding his guts in, watching Jorg's crew break down the door to his house...

I looked at the ravens, I watched Gemt and his half-wit brother, Maical, taking heads, Maical with the cart and Gemt with the axe. A thing of beauty, I tell you. At least to look at. I'll agree war smells bad. But we'd torch the place soon enough and the stink would all turn to wood-smoke. Gold rings? I needed no more payment. 
"Boy!" Bovid called out, his voice all hollow like, and weak. 
I went to stand before him, leaning on my sword, tired in my arms and legs all of a sudden. "Best speak your piece quickly, farmer. Brother Gemt's a'coming with his axe. Chop-chop." 
He didn't seem too worried. It's hard to worry a man so close to the worm feast. Still, it irked me that he held me so lightly and called me "boy." "Do you have daughters, farmer? Hiding in the cellar maybe? Old Rike will sniff them out." 
Bovid looked up sharp at that, pained and sharp. "H-how old are you, boy?" 
Again the "boy." "Old enough to slit you open like a fat purse," I said, getting angry now. I don't like to get angry. It makes me angry. I don't think he caught even that. I don't think he even knew it was me that opened him up not half an hour before. 
"Fifteen summers, no more. Couldn't be more..." His words came slow, from blue lips in a white face. 
Out by two, I would have told him, but he'd gone past hearing. The cart creaked up behind me, and Gemt came along with his axe dripping. 
"Take his head," I told them. "Leave his fat belly for the ravens." 
Fifteen! I'd hardly be fifteen and rousting villages. By the time fifteen came around, I'd be king!

This is our introduction to the young runaway prince.

When he was ten, his carriage was waylayed by hired killers. He was traveling with his mother the Queen, and his younger brother, and a handful of guards. It was night, and pouring rain. When the attack came, a guard tore open the stopped carriage's door and tried to get the royal family out. He grabbed Jorg first and pitched him out of the vehicle -- and into a nearby thorn thicket. That's as far as the guard got before the assassin's were upon them. From the midst of the thicket, by lightning-light, young Jorg watched his family butchered, held tight by thorns digging into his flesh, unable to move. He watched his childhood end, his world turn upside-down, spending a long, wet, terrifying night in the thorn's embrace. When the rescue party finally extricated him from the bush the next morning, close to death, Jorg was changed for good.

When his father, the King, discovers who was responsible for the attack -- and decides it would be more beneficial to eschew vengeance in favor of a more politically rewarding solution, young Jorg's path is set. A sequence of events sees him leaving the comfort of the castle in which he lived for a life on the road, and hopefully a path that lead will to vengeance for his mother and brother's death. This remarkably precocious young man falls in with a rough crowd, and soon becomes the leader, and the game is afoot.

And what a ride.

The story itself is non-stop and full of satisfying and memorable events, but the way it is written makes the story shine all the brighter. The wordplay, the dialog, the way chew-worthy concepts and statements are woven into the tale... this gentleman Mark Lawrence is a cut above. He dances on that tightrope from page one, crafting that exquisite tension in the reader that at once makes us want to pause a few moments to contemplate something that was said/done, and also want to tear ahead to find out what happens next. What a wonderful accomplishment.

Throughout the first third of the book, I found myself shaking my head, thinking, "No man, of any age, could be this black, this heartless, this devoid of mercy..." and it turns out I was right, though not in a way I expected, and not in a way I would feel comfortable revealing here. In fact, there is so much I would like to talk about here, and I am wrestling... how much to share? How much of the satisfaction in this journey came from finding it out myself, without any knowledge of what lay ahead? How much should I sneak in here, in an effort to pique your interest enough to get you to add this title to your "Read This Book! List" like I did? I don't believe there's a misstep or a weak scene or story choice in the entire book -- including a wonderful reveal about the history of the world in which the story takes place (a risky story choice that could have backfired on a less skillful author).

You've heard me gush about books before. You may have even taken my advice on such books in the past. If so, I will let that past experience guide you in this case. If my recommendation paid off for you before, then I urge you to consider this tale. If not, then perhaps you should pass on it. If you like dark, gritty, thought-provoking, well-crafted fantasy, then this is as close to a sure thing as I've read this year or any.

Summary: 4.75/5 I dock it a quarter of a point based only on the "Ender Wiggin Factor," which pops into my mind any time I read a story featuring a kid who is way too smart, well beyond what is realistic for the age, regardless of IQ. No kid of Jorg's age would be so very advanced in so many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally. But I forgive it easily, because what he does and says is so thoroughly entertaining. Mark Lawrence is a terrific author, and I look forward to reading more in this series.

Friday, September 21, 2012

As the Fodder Passes By...

So this post will be a round-up of a bunch of reviews of stuff I've interacted with lately... These are the things I've seen, read and played of late!!!

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

This is a non-fic book on Screenwriting which answers, in no uncertain terms, writing questions I've had for years. I'm looking forward to testing the methods presented therein on my latest movie idea. In fact, I may be contacting a couple of you at some point, and presenting the idea to you to see if you think it would be worth pursuing or not (it's part of the process laid out in the book, fear not).

The book is written in a fun, informative way, by a guy that had made millions of bucks writing/selling scripts in Hollywood to all the big studios. He knows what they look for, and, more importantly, what makes a story work on the screen, and he lays it out in clear, logical fashion, and infuses it with contagious enthusiasm. It could end up being the best ten bucks I've spent on a book.

Summary: 5/5 This has earned a permanent place on my "tools of the trade" bookshelf, for future reference. The techniques apply to fiction writing as well, so I'm eager to try them in that capacity as well.

The Bourne Legacy
starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton

I liked this movie MUCH more than I thought I would. It is a top notch action flick, with some surprisingly good acting (especially by Rachel Weisz). It is filmed in a similar style to the other Bourne movies (handheld shaky-cam), but the set pieces are memorable, with plenty of "whoa"... in fact, I was sitting ready to award this movie the rare 10 score, until the finale, which featured a disappointingly lame motorcycle chase through the streets/slums of Manila, in the Philippines. There were several "oh brother" moments that ended up pulling a full point-and-a-half off of the score for me, but didn't come anywhere near ruining the film for me.

I was surprised by the interesting layers that Renner brought to the character he played - the guy can certainly hold his own on screen. I'm probably the only person in the world who was unimpressed by The Hurt Locker a few years back, and Renner's Oscar-nominated performance in that film. And his performance in The Avengers made me leery of how he'd do in this film, but I needn't have worried. He really holds the screen well, and was very believable (up until the unfortunate climax). I was hoping for a cameo by Matt Damon, but other than a few references, no such luck. And all things considered, I still have no idea why Norton was so gung-ho on doing what he did in the film (I won't spoil it for you).

Summary: 8.5 on the crisp action, above-average acting and filmcraft.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

OK, so I've seen this novella mentioned for months now, and was quite eager to get my hands on it, since, hey, it's Brandon Sanderson, and he's never let me down yet. It is an entirely new type of story for Sanderson, featuring a main character that has imaginary friends. He interacts with these imaginary friends as though they're real, and he fully understands that he's crazy, and openly admits it to those that try to meet with him. You see, he solves mysteries, with the help of his various "friends", for the right price, of course. A special camera has gone missing (along with it's inventor) and so this guy has been hired to track them down.

The book was released first as a hardback, to raise money for charity, which caused some friction from fans who did not realize that they'd be paying premium price for such a short "book". And it is brief. Like, one-sitting brief. It went on sale last week for $2.99, so I grabbed it up and read it.

Bottom line, I have no idea why this "book" even exists. Sure, the premise is cool enough, and it has some spunky dialog, but the story resolves itself so quickly, almost before it even gets moving. And it really has no depth whatsoever to speak of, as far as character/story development. It almost seems like the product of a weekend writing assignment in some writer's workshop or something. A fun diversion, but nothing to sink one's teeth into. I have no idea if Brandon has plans to turn this into a series or not, but honestly, it will take a lot to lure me in to reading more in this world.

Summary: 2.5/5 If you're a Sanderson completist, you'll find enough incentive to find/read this one, but if you're looking for a good story, look elsewhere. This is a barely-developed premise, and little more.

Chosin: A Documentary

IMDB sums this devastating documentary up best:

"After 60 years of silence, the survivors of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign of the Korean War take us on an emotional and heart-pounding journey through one of the most savage battles in American History."

This documentary really took the wind out of me. As the summary says, it talks in detail about the Chosin Reservoir battle in the forgotten Korean War, revealing to me a part of our military history that I have only occasionally heard referenced in passing, and knew nothing about other than it was fought in cold weather. What an eye opener. 15,000 Marines and Army soldiers - most of whom had next to no training -- were surprised and surrounded by a force of 140,000 Chinese soldiers, and had to fight their way out, in weather so cold (40 below) that it would freeze breath, and freeze eyeballs if you went too many seconds without blinking.

The North Koreans swept south so fast in the summer of 1950, they almost succeeded in capturing the entire Korean peninsula. Two cities near one remaining port represented the very last foothold the South Koreans held, as they tried to hold out long enough for us to get there. After WW2, we rather radically downsized our armed forces, so we called up a bunch of reservists, 19, 20 years old, gave them a week or two of physical training, and packed them on ships, no time for boot camp. We got enough boots on the ground to keep the South from being lost, then regrouped and staged an offensive, landing a force in Seoul, capturing the city, and then swinging all the way around to capture a city on the other coast, and cut the enemy off. 15,000 troops then pushed north, into the Chosin Reservoir, where a massive force of Chinese military was waiting to meet them.

The documentary features survivors telling their mind-numbingly terrifying tales, once again awakening in me my thoughts on the limits of human endurance. Many of the stories these guys have told no one about, ever, even family and spouses. I believe the fact that the doc was made by veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan helped the Korean War vets feel comfortable enough to open up about their experiences. The doc also features actual video footage of the 17 day struggle, as well as photographs, in their gruesome fullness, plus some recreation footage. I can't go into the details here, in this short summary, but I will say that, every now and then I see something that I feel should be required viewing by everyone drawing breath, especially late-teens. This is such a title. 

Summary: 10/10 The South Koreans to this day honor every US veteran of the Korean War. They are revered as heroes, and their government has always freely flown veterans and their families over to Korea, free of charge, as often as they wish to visit. The military cemetery over there is cared for by classes of school children who see to it that each grave has fresh flowers, has the headstones polished, and the grass hand-manicured (with scissors). They value every life lost in preventing their country from being destroyed. We may have forgotten about the Korean War over here, but the Koreans will never forget.

Odds and Ends

  • After seeing the latest trailer for The Hobbit, I am officially super stoked about seeing it. 
  • Contrariwise, I was greatly underwhelmed by the trailer for Lincoln, Spielberg's latest epic, which stars the great Daniel Day Lewis. Man, it looks so melodramatic and corny... I mean, yes, it is Spielberg, so one would have to expect a measure of melodrama. But, really, Lincoln's voice? Really? And what is Tommy Lee Jones doing in this movie? And Sally Field and David Strathairn? Sheesh, just seeing them kills immersion for me, even in the trailer. Yeah, I think I'll pass on this one.
  • Torchlight 2 has been released, and purchased by me. I've put several hours in, and it promises to hold my attention for a good time to come.
  • I'm reading an outstanding book called Prince of Thorns, by an author named Mark Lawrence. It features perhaps the lowest anti-hero I've yet encountered in a fantasy book. You know the guy is evil, but it's just so well written and such fun to read, it's like a guilty pleasure. I'm tearing through it. In fact, I'm itching right now to get back to it, so I think I'll call this post done.

Adios for now. Hope your weekend is a great one.

Dave the Wanderer

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Hammer and the Blade, by Paul S Kemp: A Review

It's been a while since I've pounded out a book review, so I thought I'd write one for the latest book I've finished (mere minutes ago), called The Hammer and the Blade, by prolific fantasy/sci-fi author Paul S. Kemp. This is the first Kemp I've read, though it likely won't be my last. He's penned many books in the Forgotten Realms line and also a couple Star Wars titles, so his bona fides as a citizen of the Geek Nation should be beyond question.

The Hammer and the Blade is (evidently) the beginning of a new fantasy series (book two, A Discourse in Steel, is projected to arrive in early 2013), and features a pair of tomb-robbing adventurer-types, Nix Fall and Egil the Priest. I'm not the best-read fantasy fan in the world by a long-shot, but I can still state with some confidence that, as far as heroes go, there's not much new under the sun with these two. Nix is a smart-alecky, nimble swordsman/thief with lock-picking skills and a quick wit, while Egil is much larger, wielding a pair of warhammers, and is a big, bald, tattooed tank.

The bad guy is an evil sorcerer named Rakon who compels the two heroes to go on a quest for him, to rob the tomb of an ancient, long-dead sorcerer-king to obtain an artifact which will help Rakon's once-grand family to renew its pact with the powers of Hell so that his family can retain what little power it has left after many centuries in decline.

I suppose, at this point, I should state that I did enjoy the book. It was a fun read, with a lot of good, often-amusing dialog. Plenty of imagination is on display within the covers of this book, and a good handful of memorable scenes. A healthy dose of fun magic helps to take the edge off of the admittedly (and awkwardly) dark story elements, involving rape, enslavement, and devilry. That may sound odd, but the book could have been much, much darker than it was. In the wrong hands, it could have easily devolved into the Horror genre... but Kemp seems to go out of his way to make sure the ride is as fun as possible.

The story opens and closes with Indiana Jones-style tomb robbery, and represent two of the high-points of the tale. Between these points is a nice, long piece of travel across a very forbidding landscape, with many brushes with death, and the requisite "ancient ruins of a long-forgotten civilization which possessed remarkable abilities in engineering and magic." I can think of several other fantasy titles that employ the same trope, but it works here just fine. Evil creepy-crawlies swarming through the ruins of long-dead cities, scurrying in the shadows, the doomed visitors marveling at the sights before meeting their makers, that sort of thing.

In any case, the story resolves itself well (though, I couldn't stop to ponder it too much, since it creeped me out), and overall it was a fun ride, full of action, magic and spunky dialog. Not one of the best I've read this year, but certainly far from the worst. It was good enough to encourage me to check out other of his titles... and I suppose that's all an author can hope for in the end, eh?

Summary: 3 out of 5 stars. A good, if not entirely original ride.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Vicious Fish Wishes for Dishes

Yummay! Look at all that green sludgy water! It's pretty, in it's own way, but I bet it doesn't smell too nice, eh? Guess that could be said for a lot of things...

So nothin' but odds and ends today... just checkin' in more than anything. All things are mellow of late, not much to report. Still reading The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S Kemp, which is still a good read, but I'm also reading a book on screenwriting called Save the Cat by the late Blake Snyder, which is also very good. It's helping me with a screenplay idea I have, which may or may not be something Todd and I can produce. We'll see...

Yes, I know... why not spend time on one of my many unfinished projects instead of starting yet another new one? I'm like a creative fireman... I go where the fire is. And I hope I get the project done before the fire burns itself out and springs up elsewhere. I've tried every way I can think of to reignite fires that have burned out, but I think there's no way other than patiently waiting for the new growth to appear in that project, and then strike a match and hope for the best.

I think I may have taken the analogy a bit far there, eh? lol...

That.... is a big fish...

Christmas approacheth, yet again. Man, the years do tick by, don't they? Gotta gear up for this year's Christmas drama - I mean the one we'll perform at church, not the typical behind-the-scenes church drama, lol. Don't have anything on tap just yet. Got about two 2weeks to come up with a plan, then a script, and then start the boulder rollin'.

And now, a seagull steals a video camera...

I guess that's not the first time that's happened... here's another clip of a gull stealing a camera...

Those crazy seagulls!

So the movie script idea I'm working on involves four friends and daydreams... showed my notes to Todd today at church and he seems to think there's something there, so I'm going to crank out some rough copy and see how it goes. He had another good movie idea, involving aliens and inventions, which sounds like a boatload of fun as well. We'll see if anything comes of it.

Yawning or yelling, you decide...

OK, well, speaking of yawning, I believe I shall put an end to yours by ending this post. I hope your lives are far more interesting than mine at the present. We'll see what this next week holds...

Dave the Mundane Strikes Again...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

'Reckless' or 'Feckless,' You Decide...

Yes, I know. Blah blah blah, same old wandering, empty, repetitive, self-indulgent, uninteresting claptrap... Here's what you do... just scroll back to your favorite blog posts from the archive (cuz I know you have all my posts bookmarked and ranked, right? Right?), copy-and-paste the text into this space, and re-read it, reliving the great moments... cuz Lord knows, I got next to nothing for you tonight.

In fact, here's a link to one of my very favorite blog posts I did, from back in August of 2009... CLICK ME! CLICK ME NOW!!!!

How self-indulgent is that? Recycling one of my older posts! Anyway, yeah, that was a fun one. Wrote that straight off the top of my cone-shaped head. I used to be spontaneous like that, in my youth. I think I need to bust out some fiction again here soon, if only to assure myself that I can still do it.

But not tonight. Tonight, I lack the strength...

But, hey, I did get a cool email this morning. Back in June, a man from a Foursquare Church in Oregon contacted me, asking permission to use one of my scripts in a Christmas Movie he and his group wanted to film for this upcoming Christmas season. He wanted to flesh the script out a bit more and film the thing. It happened to be the same script I re-wrote last Christmas (The Beginning), which we performed as a play last year. Anyway, I gave him my blessing, sent him my revised script in case he wanted some ideas, and then forgot about it (embarrassing, but typical for my scattered brain).

Until today. He wrote me today with a progress report on the film project, and gave me the link to the website they put up for it. Here, check it out... CLICK ME! CLICK ME NOW!!!!

Pretty cool, eh? Looks like they're having a blast. Can't wait to see the finished product.

That.... is a lot of stingrays...

So I finished reading Waylander by David Gemmell. It was good, in that it was solidly-written, and relatively brief, and a stand-alone. It was ungood, in that it was rather shallow, and kind of lazy, as far as the story structure. Convenient characters are created just in time to advance the hero's story, and then disappear. It shouldn't really bug me, but it does. Plus, characters that die, but then aren't really dead... that always annoys me. Reminds me of the TV show LOST. No one stays dead for long. Anyway, I'm glad I read it, but I'm glad it was rather brief.

I've moved right into The Hammer and The Blade, by Paul Kemp. My kind of writer, as far as style. Content is a little bit out of my comfort zone (too much sorcery and occultish nonsense), but it's presented in a stylish, light, amusing and fast-paced way, so I'll definitely continue reading.

As far as what I'm watching, I've been watching Season 2 of Downton Abbey with Wifey. Dangit, I really like that show... I joined Amazon Prime just so I could watch that show (Netflix only has Season One). I've been disappointed in Amazon Prime since signing up. The free two-day shipping only applies to stuff bought/fulfilled through Amazon. The lending library is severely limited: You can only borrow certain titles; you can only borrow one title per month (!) and; you can only borrow/read them on a Kindle (no iPad or Kindle App or reader for computer). Lame! So that leaves the video streaming, which is kinda spotty, quality-wise. Ah, well...

I may vote for Ed Bassmaster for President this year...

So I could either end by saying "Other things in the works, but I don't want to talk about them just yet, so I'll save them for future posts..." but that would be a lie. I'd love for you to think my life is more interesting and eventful than it really is. But it isn't, at least at the moment. So instead I'll just end by saying, "Well, that's all I can think of saying tonight... I hope it was enough," and leave it there.

Or I could say, "Gotta run... there's some Jahova's Witnesses at the door, and I've been saving some water balloons for them..."

Or, "Well, it's time to test out my Do-It-Yourself, At-Home Lobotomy Kit. Seeya."


Dave the Lobotomite

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hash and Rehash Were Sitting on a Fence...

Greetings! Dave the Goof here, preparing to unhinge the top of my head and unload more nonsense out onto you, in the form of vacuous blogginess...

More Pianist News: Asked wifey to sit down and watch the first part of The Pianist with me tonight, and she obliged. Felt a bit guilty about it afterwards... it's hard for me to remember that not everyone has the stomach or desire for watching holocaust-related movies/docs like I do. It's shocking to see what people are capable of doing to other people -- that's not everyone's idea of entertainment. Although I don't really consider it entertainment. In a way, I'd like to think it helps me discover myself (pardon how hokey that sounds). I mean, if I was in the same situation, how do I think I would respond? What would I do to survive? What would I do to protect my family? Would I steal? Hurt someone? Kill? If things got bad enough, would my faith go out the window? Or would a have the bones to stand strong to the end? Could I keep my eyes set on eternity? Or would I become obsessed with living hand-to-mouth? What stuff am I made of?

So many questions.

More Book News: Finished reading Anthony Ryan's book Raven's Shadow. By all accounts, a great book. I'm having good luck with indy writers this year so far. Greg Hamerton, James Daniel Ross, Jolea Harrison and now Anthony Ryan. The gems are out there, if you dig deep enough. While Raven's Shadow is a "Book One," it also works well as a stand-alone. According to his website, the sequel has passed the 200,000 word mark, and the first draft will be finished by mid-September. And then re-writes will begin. So I probably won't see Tower Lord until mid-2013 at the soonest, I think. I don't mind. That just means I'll give the Book One a re-read right before Book Two comes out. Anyway, I recommend it, if you like strong, traditional fantasy.

I've moved on to reading Waylander, by the great David Gemmell.

More Batman News: I finally went with Wifey to see the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises or some such. I was a little underwhelmed; I thought they handled the main villain (Bane) weakly. And believe it or not, as long as the film was, it really needed to be longer. I think they just tried to do too much with the film - tried to cover too much territory. It should have been tighter. And oddly enough, they left it open for another sequel - not sure why, since this was supposed to be the end of the trilogy, at least as far as Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan are concerned. Anyway, I thought the film was riddled with illogical choices, but there were enough positives to keep the film afloat. I gave it a 6.5 out of 10.

More Bored Shorts News: I've officially watched all of the Bored Short clips they have uploaded. The Kid History series is awesome. Episode 5 is my favorite, but they're all good. Here, watch!

I think it would be awesome to do something like that for a Christmas movie. Have a bunch of kids tell the Christmas story, and film adults acting it out like that. I wonder if we'd have to get permission to do that? Probably not.

More Workout News: Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to be shocked. Are you prepared? *ahem* I can do pull-ups now. I know, right? And I mean, full-on dangling completely straight-armed on the bar, and pulling up nice and slow, all the way up, again, and again. I couldn't do any three weeks ago. I guess the new strength-gain program I've embarked on with my trainer Markshane is working, eh!? Not bad for less than a month, eh? Now if I could just lose this extra 10 pounds... I figure once I get a six-pack going, I will finally be a real man! Right? Right?

OK, well, I suppose I'm off for now. If anything interesting happens this weekend, I'll write about it here! Aren't you lucky!? Man, what would you ever do without a way of finding out all the cool and fascinating things I do on a day-to-day basis! Thank heaven you live in such a time as this!

I was just testing your ability to roll your eyes. Success?


Dave the Going, Going, Gone

Monday, September 3, 2012

Penguins, Pianists and Persistence

That photo may be a re-post, I don't know... whether I've posted it in this blog before or not, still, it's nice to look at. Click it and look at it nice a big for a minute or so. Remarkable, isn't it? Can you smell the sea, feel the icy cold, hear the sound of the water splashing up onto the iceberg there? I love pics that transport me like that. Adds the barest whiff of adventure to my life.

2/3 of the way through a holiday weekend. I haven't been very productive. I've mostly been spending time watching titles on Netflix and reading Raven's Shadow by Anthony Ryan. I'm about 60% through the book - and it's a long one. It has striking similarities to The Name of the Wind, in that it features a legendary, peerless warrior type recounting his life story to a chronicler on a ship voyage to meet his doom, and the bulk of what I read thus far features his schooling in the arts of war, etc., as he flowers into the legend that everyone knows him to be, etc. Having been published this past January, it's hard to escape the idea that he ripped the story structure from Rothfuss, but I suppose it's acceptable, since he's really telling quite a different tale. The main character Vaelin is more skilled at the art of war than Kvothe is, but he's nowhere near as well-rounded in other ways, as Kvothe is. Kvothe excelled in the magic arts, in music, in craftsmanship, in intelligence.

In any case, it's a good read. I'm curious to see how volume one concludes.

On Netflix, I watched a documentary on the life and career of Woody Allen, and it was very inspiring. I've never really been a Woody Allen fan, and the doc doesn't change that. I think in a lot of ways, he's just a dirty old man. Still, it's interesting to see his approach to writing, directing, film making, etc. The Fowlers and I are trying to get another film project rolling; we're going to meet again this week to try and pick an idea or two. I've come up with four new ideas in the past day, and hope to come up with more by meeting time. One thing I'm good for is ideas... seeing them through to fruition is where I struggle. Anyway, it was an inspiring doc.

I also watched His Gal Friday and The Pianist (with Adrien Brody)... a strange mix, eh? His Gal Friday (Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell) was a bit too high-strung for my tastes... the dialog was solid, but delivered at such a fast pace, it was hard to enjoy. And the climax just made my head swim. I was glad to see the end credits. And Adrien Brody was magnificent in The Pianist. How good? Well, he beat out Daniel Day Lewis (Gangs of New York) for the Best Actor nod that year. Tough call - I'd hate to have to decide between those two. What a breath-taking film.

Oddly enough, another nominee for Best Actor that year was Nicolas Cage, for Adaptation, which is an amazing script by Charlie Kaufman. Wasn't a fan of his Being John Malkovich, but I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The guy knows his way around a screenplay. However, I still can't reconcile the ideas of 'Nic Cage' and 'Oscar-worthy performances'...

I keep threatening to go see the latest Batman film, but have yet to follow through on the threat. As recently as Sunday afternoon (today, as I write this), Wifey and I were going to go see it, but we canceled at the last minute (yet again). What ultimately kills it for me is that daunting near-three hour run time. I hope I can overcome that before the movie is out of the theater...

I guess I'm in a movie state of mind tonight.

I'm finding myself at a loss as to what to say next, so I think I will pull the plug and move on for now. Besides, it's quarter of two in the morning as I type this - I think I'll go see what dreams my subconscious has in store for me tonight. Maybe they'll inspire another movie idea or three.

Adios for now,

Dave the Plebian