Sunday, February 8, 2015

What It Is – week ending 8 February [2015]

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

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

Another solid week.  Writing every day.  Some days I fell a bit short of the 1000-word goal.  Others I surpassed it.  Regardless, I’m on a roll.  Only one day in 2015 that lacked any productivity on the writing front – which is not only fulfilling but SELF-fulfilling, as well, pushing me to keep this streak going (I’ve come this far, how can I just give up now?) 

Draft one of the novel continues apace – completed chapter 16, which brought me to 258 manuscript pages and just shy of 70K words, at 69,850.  Feeling very good about that. 

Also did some final revisions on my “Why the Flash” series, which should be popping up on the sight soon.  Thanks to Brad Gullickson - @MouthDork on twitter (along with his @ITMODcast counterparts, @TheOmegaDork & @TheDiscoDork) – and his dearth of Flash reading that spurred this short series of posts.  Revolving around my deep affection for the DC character of the Flash, I delve into where, I think, this love comes from. But excavating something that occurred decades past with nothing more than my fickle memories to go on, and a bit of pop psychology, may mean this is not as illuminating or as entertaining as I initially hoped.  We’ll see. 

Finished reading Grendel: Devil’s Legacy this week – written by Matt Wagner, with art by the Pander Bros.  It was great.  Even better than I remembered.  Dealing with themes of revenge and evil and corruption, this is a great read.  If you’re a fan of great comics, you need to check this out.  I’m really looking forward to continuing this journey through the story of Grendel. 

Started reading The Lobster Coast, by Colin Woodard, as research for the above-mentioned novel.  I got what I needed from the opening chapter – details about lobstering and working a lobster boat – but I found the subject so fascinating, having lived on Matinicus Island for two years out of college, that I am pressing on.  The next couple of chapters delve into the early history of European colonization of Maine and greater New England, and it is interesting to learn the truth behind the myths that have built up through the years, especially those surrounding the Puritan settlement of New Plymouth, in Massachusetts (yeah, Plymouth Rock and all that).  The story is more engaging than the pablum shoveled at us as young American students, as well as far more damning and disheartening.  If only we hadn’t been the fearful, ignorant, and intolerant people (not all, and certainly not the preponderance of those who settled the Maine coast – remember they were saddled with governance from Massachusetts, which involved less tolerant Europeans who had little empathy for anyone not ascribing to their “pure” Christian beliefs) too many of our ancestors turned out to be.  Things could have been far different, and far better. 

Also decided to go back and re-read the later Dune novels from Frank Herbert (no, I will never go near one of those Kevin J. Anderson abominations – is there a franchise he hasn’t wanted to add his name to, and denigrate in the process? The answer to that is:  no).  I’ve read the initial masterpiece a handful of times but never moved past that, except for the first time I read them.  Dune Messiah is starting out with a ton of political and courtly intrigue, with conspiracies and dreaded prophecies hanging above it all.  It’s great so far.  Looking forward to revisiting Arrakis. 

Watched Kill Bill vol.1 this week, for the first time, and it jumped to the top of my Tarantino pile, with Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Reservoir Dogs two, three, and four, thus far.  I loved how Tarantino really brought all his influences to bear in this first half of Kill Bill – a crime film with samurais and anime and cool sword fights and a super bad-ass revenge movie at its core.  I loved how he incorporated black and white – which felt like an incredibly smart choice, during the “Showdown at House of Blue Leaves,” considering how distracting the gushers of blood would have been in color – and the aforementioned use of anime for one part of the film, as well as the way he structured Kill Bill v.1.  It’s interesting to consider that, despite taking a non-linear approach to the film (an obvious Tarantino technique), he still manages to imbue the various chapters with a tension and drama that could easily be lost in the hands of most directors. 

I also loved his use of musical cues, deftly using them to enhance the already palpable drama of scene, rather than using these as a crutch to invoke the desire emotional response.  These, too, hearken back to Tarantino’s influences, most specifically evoking a 70s vibe, but also making clearer the connection between samurai epics and Hollywood westerns, through his choices of Morricone-like musical cues (if they were not direct lifts of Morricone themes – forgive me my ignorance, if that were the case).  The western is my favorite film genre, and has been since I was very young, and this translated directly to samurai and martial arts films, when I discovered them, so it’s only natural that Kill Bill v.1 rose to the top of my rankings for Tarantino films.  But, I still have volume 2 and his three latter movies to watch, before I can judge where they all end up (I’d say sorry, Brad.  But I’m not)

The ITMODcast (In The Mouth Of Dorkness podcast) is my new favorite podcast.  And this past week’s episode was great!  These guys love movies – they love comics and books too, but movies are where it’s at for the Dorks – and they don’t draw arbitrary lines between art films, classic films, blockbusters, or bad movies, it’s all good to them.  Which brings us to Winterbeast (described on imdb as:  In a wintery kind of town somewhere, people are being killed off by possessed totem poles.), which the dorks checked out, on the big screen.  The discussion this bad movie spawned is hilarious and wonderful and amazing and worth every penny I paid for their podcast (price: FREE; so there’s that if you aren’t believin’ the hype).  Oh, and they talk about some good movies (and other bad ones) as well, including Krull (KRULL!!!!), along with some comic talk.  If you want to entertain your ears, subscribe to this damn thing.  Now.

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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