Sunday, March 22, 2015

What It Is – week ending 22 March [2015]

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

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

Passed 100,000 words on draft one of the novel this week.  At this point, I can see the end fairly clearly.  I figure I might top out at around 120,000 words, which would be good.  I’d definitely be able to revise that down to under 100K, which is the point where most first novels come in.  Over that, and odds go down precipitously that they even get read – odds that are already pretty damn slim, at best. 

Oni Press will be opening up to submissions  from all in May, at Emerald City Comic Convention, as well as online.  I’ve got a pitch that’s been sitting on the hard drive for a little while now.  Time to work that into something worthwhile.  I’ll plan on the month of April for that, to make it really sharp, and then we’ll see what we see.

Finished up Bill McKibben’s Oil and Honey this week, the story of how he went from environmental advocate to environmental activist, with the advent of the Keystone XL pipeline debate.  McKibben interweaves that fight, centered around Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, with the work of a good friend of his in Vermont, Kirk Webster, who has managed to rediscover, on his own, how to sustainably raise bees in the wilds of Vermont without the use of chemicals or other “modern” techniques, such as wintering them in California or Florida or some similarly warmer clime.  It’s intriguing and depressing, at the same time, as the reality of climate change and what is happening to the planet colors the entire narrative.  Worth reading. 

Also completed the Grendel cycle, in comic form, this week, with Grendel: War Child and Grendel: Devil Quest.  Again, Wagner chose a new approach to the storytelling with each of these, in order to enhance the main narrative.  With War Child, he and artist Patrick McEown offer a sharp, quick story that, though it runs ten chapters, may be the quickest read of any Grendel tale.  It’s a flight narrative, as the heir to Orion Assante, the Grendel-Khan, is taken from his home by a Grendel warrior programmed to protect Jupiter Assante.  From there, Jupiter’s mother, and then her aide, work to get him back.  Through it all, readers get to see parts of the devastated world not seen before, which includes zombies and pirates.  It is told thorugh action, with many of the panels silent, and it moves quickly from place to place and scene to scene, ramping up the tension, while it hurtles toward its climax. 

In Devil Quest, it is farther on in the future, with the latest Assante a worthless leader.  But factions within the bureaucracy, and outside it, wish to find the Grendel-prime, the one who took the original Jupiter Assante in the last story, and utilize that as a symbol of their rightful claim to rulership.  It, again, is a fast-paced story, told in 8-page chapter, fully painted by Wagner.  It’s another interesting chapter in the story of Grendel, revealing a series of different perspectives, as a different, new character takes center stage in each chapter, and it all comes together in the end, once you’re able to ponder the entire narrative, as a whole.  It’s a nice capper to the comics.  Though I still have the novel, Past Prime, written by Greg Rucka, as well as some remaining Hunter Rose tales, and the Batman/Grendel crossovers.  Looking forward to those. 

Finished season 2 of Downton Abbey.  The characters continue to be fleshed out, with new facets revealed that surprise and engage.  The family, and their servants, have come through the first World War, and they are all changed from that tumultuous time.  While some characters discover untapped worth within themselves, others are bowed down by indiscretion, disease, injuries from battle, and poor choices.  It’s fascinating to see how Julian Fellowes – I am fairly certain he wrote all the episodes for this season – juggles the multiple narratives, and to see how he manages to tease out the romantic tension between two of the leads, Matthew and Mary.  Engaging and frustrating all at once (when will Mary throw over the cad, Sir Richard?!?)

Feeling a bit nostalgic this week, I watched a couple of sports documentaries:  Stop at Nothing: the Lance Armstrong Story and 30 for 30: Requiem for the Big East.  If you are at all familiar with the Lance Armstrong story, you may have been disappointed in him, may have thought he was wrong to have used drugs to win those seven Tours de France, may even feel some ill will toward him.  After watching this, you would realize he’s a reprehensible human, whose ego and need to win blinded him to anything else, and who, as one lawyer puts it, is very probably a clinical sociopath, with the manner in which he continued to not only lie about his transgressions, but actively work to discredit and ruin the lives of those who spoke against him, including those he once called friends. 

And if you grew up in the 80s, like me, and were a fan of college basketball, like me, then you know about Big East basketball.  It was king.  The 30 for 30 documentary was intriguing.  It delved into the beginnings of the league, which started in 1979, its ties to ESPN, which began around the same time, and the way in which the meteoric rise of both intertwined one with the other.  Syracuse, Villanova, St. John’s, and Georgetown; Ed Pinckney, Chris Mullin, “Pearl” Washington, and Patrick Ewing.  This was a great league, with big names on the floor and big names coaching.  And just as quickly as it rose to prominence, it eventually succumbed to the reality that, for all the wonder of “March Madness,” football is what drives revenues in college sports.  And the Big East couldn’t survive that. 

As always, check out my friends – Brad & Matt  and Don McMillan, as well as Dan’s foray into podcastdom, the Potato League Podcast, for their own weekly recaps on things comic-y and geeky, and we'll see what's what in seven.  


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