Sunday, February 22, 2015

What It Is – week ending 22 February [2015]

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

Every day.  1000 words.  That’s the goal.

Last year, I felt I started strong with my writing, better than I ever had.  And at this point in 2014, I had only taken 9 days off from my writing.  Not bad, as that would average out to once a week.  This year, though – 52 of 53 days writing, only a single day with no production.  That, that makes me feel good.

The novel (draft 1) continues apace.  Passed 80,000 words and 300 manuscript pages this past week, and now things are starting to get tense and the main protagonist is about to snap.  This is what I’ve been building toward, let’s see how things work out (or don’t) for our guy.  And, as of today, my writing for the year is just above 57,000 total words.  I’ll take that. 

Also, I posted the first of what I plan as a semi-regular series – Comic Artist I Love – this one featuring Scott Morse.  You can check it just below this post, or hit the link.

My Grendel (re)-read moves on.  I read the Matt Wagner Devil Tales collection this week (issues 16-19 of the original Comico series), the Grendel: Devil Inside collection with stark Bernie Mireault art (issues 13-15 of the Comico series), along with the uncollected issues, #20-22, with art by Hannibal King & Tim Sale, all the stories having been written by Grendel creator, Matt Wagner.  I continue to marvel at how Wagner chooses to approach each storyline in a different fashion – whether as a fully-illustrated prose novella (Devil by the Deed), or utilizing a 25-panel grid (one of his Devil Tale stories), or having the scratchy thoughts of the devil within scored along the bottom of the pages (Devil Inside), it’s always intriguing to see what he will do next with these stories. 

I’m also reading Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, for the first time, with the announcement that the sequel is coming soon, from Dark Horse comics.  It’s good, and, having seen the film adaptation, I am impressed to see how deftly Palahniuk walks that tightrope of not revealing the truth behind Tyler Durden, while always playing fair with the readership – if you know the secret, it’s obvious what is happening when reading.  Smart writing, and a wonderful use of language and the medium of the novel to craft this story.  Don’t know if I’ll follow this up with any more Palahniuk, but I’m enjoying this, as I read it. 

And I finished The Lobster Coast, by Colin Woodard.  This was an incredibly fascinating look at not just the lobster industry but at the colonizing and evolution of the Maine coast, and the state of Maine in general.  The writing was excellent.  I learned a lot (like the fact that the federalists in Massachusetts, who were in charge of much of the government and the banks, sided with Britain in the war of 1812, leaving their holdings in Maine to be taken over by Canadian and British forces, which was the final “straw” that led to statehood for my home state).  And I got the needed research for the novel.  5 stars.

Finished up True Detective this week.  That was a damn good show, but I’m not entirely sure what I think of it, overall.  I read a piece criticizing the finale as taking the big ideas and big thinking put forth by Rust Cohle, as proxy for series creator Nic Pizzolatto, and distilling it down to something mundane and typical.  I don’t know that I agree with that.  Some of the points made in the piece were well put, but I feel like they may have missed the point of the finale – not to be too arrogant about it.  I still have thoughts swirling around in my head that have yet to fully coalesce.  Maybe I’ll try writing them down to give them weight, and possibly arrive at whatever ultimate revelation I’m aiming for. 

My Quentin Tarantino (re)-watch moves along, as well.  I watched Death Proof this week and … it’s at the bottom of the list.  I can appreciate what Tarantino was trying to do with this (in conjunction with Robert Rodriguez, obviously; need to check out his Grind House offering now), and I applaud him for crafting a film that looks straight out of the 70s while still taking place today.  Seriously, the detail and the way it was shot and the costuming and the settings – that all came together and perfectly fit the aesthetic he reached for.  Bravo, on that front.  But, ultimately, this movie felt incredibly hollow, for a Tarantino film.  Not saying it was bad, per se, but I won’t be giving it a second watch. 

And Mary and I found ourselves with some free time yesterday, so we finally got out to the cinema to see a film we both have wanted to see since its release – The Imitation Game.  This was a really good movie.  I wouldn’t say it was great, as many of the beats of the plot can be found in any number of films, but a number of the performances, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Alex Lawther as the young Turing, were exceptional. 
The movie has been criticized for focusing on this triumphant aspect of Turing’s life (and, in the process, making us feel good about ourselves vicariously) when it should have given more time to the more interesting and complex issue of Turing being prosecuted for being a homosexual (gross indecency, as the law stated) and losing his humanity and his mental acuity through the forced chemical castration that drove him to suicide at age 41.  This was a war hero, a man who conceived of computers long before technology would allow for such machines, a man who revolutionized the world  and saved millions of lives through his intellect, and he was damned and victimized by his government because he liked men instead of women. 
I don’t know that I agree with these arguments, overall.  Yes, it could have been more interesting, and would have been more daring, to have followed this other thread of Turing’s life.  But that wasn’t the story they wanted to tell.  And, to be fair, they did not leave that out – as I was led to believe in reading some of the criticisms.  It certainly got short shrift, but it was included, and utilized for the framing device leading to the recounting of the cracking of the Germans’ enigma code.  And it did not shy away from showing us how it affected Turing, even though the time afforded this scene is minimal, it was still affecting and emotional, and did not leave us exiting the cinema feeling uplifted.  I’m thinking those who left believing The Imitation Game was a feel-good movie didn’t see the same film.  Yes, it lauded a triumphant point in our history, but it provided a bit more nuance than was related in some of the criticisms. 

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.  


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