Sunday, December 28, 2014

What It Is – week ending 28 December [2014]

With apologies to Dave the Thune (as well as Mike Baron & Steve Rude).

Every day.  1000 words.  That’s the goal.
Christmas week.  That meant the writing got a backburner again – though I only missed one day of writing this week, but the amounts were all below 1000 – as I worked on wrapping gifts and writing out my boy’s letters from Santa.  Yes.  From Santa.  I stole this idea from Tolkien, who would craft these wonderful, illustrated letters to his own children from St. Nick.  This year they learned of Santa’s discovery of a group of ice dwarves who had been living in the North Pole for far longer than Santa has been there. When the North Polar Bear stumbled into their secret homes, they came out, finally, and offered their assistance to Santa.  It was a fun little story to conceive, and though the dip pen can be frustrating, I am always happy with the results.  And, overall, this was a great Christmas.  Our youngest is seven, at just the right age to enjoy Christmas and the magic of Santa, and he played Santa on Christmas morning, making sure others had gifts before he opened one of his.  That was pretty special.


Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata, published by Viz comics.
I finished reading this series.  20 volumes about two young creators – one a writer, one an artist – who come together in middle school and decide they want to pursue the dream of becoming famous manga artists in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.  This was such a blast.  The art is wonderful, and the way these creators manage to continually infuse the narrative with tension and drama is a testament to their creativity.  Highly recommended.

Brain Movies III by Harlan Ellison
This collects a number of Ellison’s teleplays, in their original script form.  Ellison has never been one to leave things up to the directors and actors who envisioned his scripts for television.  These scripts are fully realized, with visual details that allow one to picture these stories quite easily, in one’s mind.  Plus, we get a few anecdotes from Ellison, at the beginning of each script, which are always entertaining.  This third volume is centered around Ellison’ full-length story “Cutter’s World.”  We get two iterations of this script – first, the TV-movie version, followed by the revised film version.  It was interesting to see how some things changed.  The first 100 pages were roughly the same, but then Ellison enhanced the story immensely, with stronger connections between the aliens and Cutter, the protagonist, that not only upped the emotional engagement for the audience, but also tied the entire narrative together far better, without it feeling forced.  Great stuff, and interesting from a process standpoint.

DD by Brubaker/Lark
Started reading this run, and it’s good (duh).  Not as engaging as the Bendis/Maleev run, but still some fantastic Daredevil stories.  I think one of the things that places this run beneath the Bendis run is the fact that Brubaker seems to stretch his narratives out more.  Where the Bendis stories seemed to run 5 issues, on average, Brubaker’s storylines all run to about 10 issues.  Not that it feels padded, but the emotional charge isn’t as immediate with the longer arcs, and it doesn’t impact me in as visceral a manner as those quicker, sharper Bendis narratives.  Which isn’t to say these aren’t some pretty great stories.  Just different.  And I can appreciate that.


Miracle on 34th Street
My favorite Christmas movie, hands down.  It evokes everything I love about this holiday, the lush decorations, the ideal of it being a season of giving, and the magic that surrounds it all, for me, embodied by the main character of Kris Kringle, the man hired to be a Santa at Macy’s department store who claims to be the one, actual Santa Claus (AGE: ‘As old as my tongue and slightly older than my teeth.’).  I haven’t watched this in a few years, and I decided to subject my seven-year-old to it, even though it was the black and white version (his lament, not mine).  Overly idealized with just the right amount of cynicism from Maureen O’Hara’s and HER NAME’s characters to make it too saccharine, in my opinion, I had forgotten how smartly written the script was.  The way it goes about “proving” Kris Kringle is the one and true Santa Claus in the court proceedings is worth the price of admission alone – especially the scene with the prosecutor’s son coming to the stand as a witness, which leads to the state of New York conceding that Santa Claus is a real person.  I loved rewatching this, and my son also enjoyed it, sitting for the entire movie without any complaints.  Win, win. 

Bladerunner – The Final Cut
Ridley Scott’s science fiction masterpiece (I view Alien as a horror masterpiece) has long been a favorite movie of mine, and when the “Final Cut” was released a few years back, I picked it up.  But I discovered, while watching it this past week, that I had never watched it; I’d only watched the “making of” documentary, apparently.  Man, is this final cut great!  It elevates the film so much, and it was great before.  Without the dopey voice-over, you really get to appreciate the musical score composed by Vangelis and better understand how much it adds to the overall film, evoking emotion without being soon the nose as some composers, aided quite a bit with the “electronica” approach he took.  Just brilliant.  The other major fix is that Scott excised the more upbeat ending by cutting the film at a point prior to that – a point that is more ambiguous while also being more bleak, matching more closely the overall thematic approach to the film.  I was surprised how much more I enjoyed this cut, and I look forward to watching it again. 

New Year’s Eve will see the release of the Winter issue of Needle: a magazine of noir.  And my story, “Silence,” will be included in there, along with some great crime fiction – having enjoyed previous issues, I believe I can say that without reservation.  I will have a link here when it goes live and also plan on writing a bit on how I managed to achieve this goal.  But that’s another post. 

And, as always, check out my friends – Brad & Matt and Don McMillan for their own weekly recaps on things comic-y and geeky, and we'll see what's what in seven.  


No comments: