Sunday, March 8, 2015

What It Is – week ending 7 March [2015]

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

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

48 straight days of writing without a break, and 65 of 66 days, so far, in 2015.  Even when I plan on taking a day off, the fates conspire, open a doorway for me, and I walk through.

 (ahhhhhh, the poetical metaphorical)  

I passed 70,000 words for the year and am 92,000+ words into the first draft of the novel.  I am almost to a point with the novel where I can see the end rearing its ugly head.  I’m feeling pretty good about that and am anxious to pull the train into the station.

(again with the damn metaphors, what the heck, man?)

Last year I completed the first draft of a YA novel on my birthday.  As I continued writing this latest novel, I considered that I might pull that same trick again, but at this point I’m unsure.  Seems like there’s more novel to get written down than days left to the end of this month, but we’ll see. 

(that was a boring, non sequitur-type aside; quit yappin’)

Anyway.  Looking forward to finishing this up so I can get to some of the short stories I have lingering around.  I hope to double the number of “completed” stories I have on hand by the middle of the summer, in order to broaden the scope of my submissions.  So, onward and upward. 

I’m reading the novel Disgruntled by Asali Solomon.  Revolving around a young, black girl in 1980s West Philadelphia whose parents, before divorcing, created an activist group called the Seven Days, based upon a similar (but more militant) group from Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon (which is next on the to-read pile).  It follows Kenya (the young girl) as she deals with her parents’ divorce, moving into her grandmamma’s home and going to a private school, and all the trials that come not only from being an adolescent but also being female and black in Reagan’s America.  It’s an engaging, wonderfully written book.

Also reading Matt Wagner’s Grendel: God and the Devil.  Five hundred years in the future, America and the world is contaminated, many parts of the Earth unfit for any living beings.  Corporations now run the world (that’s different, how?), with various parcels of land carved out by these conglomerates as their bases of power, and the church of Pope Innocent XLII oversees it all, wringing money from those who can ill afford it, in order to build a giant weapon that will block out the sun.  But Grendel, in the guise of a junkie addicted to a drug he calls Grendel (if I read that correctly), is here to save us from the church – or maybe he just wants to kill the Pope; either way, the same ends will be achieved, a similar theme to be found throughout Wagner’s Grendel mythos. 

Art is shared by John K. Snyder, III, Jay Geldhof, Bernie Mireault, and Tim Sale, and it all meshes nicely, with the styles of these disparate artists similar enough to allow one to appreciate the story without feeling jarred by a sudden shift in delineation.  I haven’t gotten to the end of this yet, but it’s another fine offering in the broader Grendel story that Wagner has been telling for over thirty years, now.  Great stuff.

Also read the first two collections of Geoff Johns & Jim Lee’s Justice League.  That … was a comic.  And if you enjoy full-page and double-page splashes, this is the comic for you.  Not that it was bad, per se.  It entertained well enough while I read it.  But once I finished these two volumes, any residue from the narrative seeped right out of my ears, and all that’s left are the foolish characterizations of Hal Jordan and Diana Prince that DC and Johns chose to go with in this iteration of their greatest superhero team.  At least I still have my JLI issues. 

Finally, though, the big winner of this week was Hit: 1955 from Boom Studios – written by Bryce Carlson with art by Vanesa Del Rey.  A crime comic set in 1955 Los Angeles … oh, man this was great.  It reminded me very much of the film adaptation of L.A. Confidential, using the geography of L.A. to tell a seedy crime story, juxtaposing the ugliness of the crimes and the double crosses with the glitz and glamor of Hollywood and its beautiful surroundings.  It was great.  (did I mention it was great?)  There are great characters, some great plot twists, tough guys and tougher dames, and the art is gorgeous.  Del Rey’s work has a painterly quality to it, with hints of Matt Kindt in her linework, but it is all, distinctly her own art style, and it is perfect for this story.  Check it out, read it, and then go out and get the sequel, which hit stores this week?  If you love crime comics, you won’t be disappointed. 

Started watching Downton Abbey with the wife, and it’s pretty great so far.  Yes, it could be described as a period piece soap opera, but that would be giving it short shrift.  The characters in the series are fully realized, and you have some incredibly horrid ones who help to spark the tension that molders beneath the surface of those serving the upper classes directly.  And the stories of the Grantham family are equally enjoyable to watch, especially when the Dowager Countess, as embodied by Maggie Smith, is involved.  She steals most of the scenes she plays in, and it’s pretty great.  Smith’s character always has a sharp rebuke for others and never backs down from anyone, most especially not her son who is the one in charge of Downton. 

Watched Inglourious Basterds this week, for the second time, and it was just as good, maybe even better, this time around.  Tarantino’s story of righteous vengeance against Adolf Hitler and his high command in the middle of World War II is riveting and invigorating.  His dialogue typically garners much plaudits, and rightfully so, but the way he shoots a scene is also something to appreciate.  And those opening fifteen-plus minutes are mesmerizing.  The way he builds the tension through the discussion between Christoph Waltz’s Colonel Landa and the poor French farmer who only wished to help his neighbors but cares more about the welfare of his daughters is a master class in filmmaking and writing.  Seriously, for that opening scene alone this movie is amazing.  But add to it all that comes after (Fassbender’s turn in a similarly tense scene) and this is just a stellar piece of cinema.  Loved it.  Top of the list (with only one left to go). 

The Flash is my favorite character, and when Brad at the IMTODcast said he knew very little about him, I took it upon myself to finally try and get to the bottom of my fascination with the Scarlet Speedster.  Steeped, as it is, in my youth of the late 1970s/early 80s, I am dubious of my ability to get to the heart of it. But I’ve tried and written a five-part examination.  The first two parts went up this past week and can be found below this post.  The final three will hit this coming Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I’d be interested to know your thoughts – do my arguments make sense; are they persuasive; could one even call them coherent?  Let me know.  I’d be interested in an unbiased opinion – I’m looking at you, Brad.

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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