Monthly Archives: November 2008

Sheep, Wolves, and $35 Movie Tickets

From the OC Register:

Your Milk Duds, sir

Your Milk Duds, sir

What do you think? Would you pay extra to be waited on hand and foot while you watch Saw XII? Or is the experience something you and your significant other can replicate at home in front of your wide-screen plasma TV and Blu-ray player? Personally, I’d only give Gold Class a shot if I could take off my shoes and pants…and possibly set up a box fan near my feet.

Jeremy Shipp sent me a copy of his new anthology, Sheep and Wolves (I last reviewed Jeremy’s work here). The cover is misleadingly benign. Jeremy loves to gross you out, and he will happily do so if you open this book and read more than the copyright / acknowledgments page. For the most part, the stories are abstract, disjointed, surreal—absurd. It’s part of Raw Dog Screaming’s sinister plot for world domination, one unsuspecting reader at a time. This is not your typical horror, nor is it your typical dark fiction. This is serious mental illness on behalf of Jeremy’s characters: neurosis, hysteria, dementia—rotten people with rotten problems that can only be solved in the most unorthodox ways. People piss themselves, shit themselves, vomit every chance they get. These are physical metaphors for decaying souls trapped in various mutilated worlds. I went down the same road with “Node” (aka: “The Path Between”) and decided it wasn’t something I wanted to repeat. Jeremy, however, has learned to make his characters flourish in the grout. It’s intriguing and it’s disturbing. Overall, Sheep and Wolves left me with an odd taste in my mouth. The whole thing was like a Salad Fingers reel. In fact, I daresay Jeremy Shipp and David Firth should collaborate. It would be one hell of a trip.

Star Trek Trailer

Oh! A new Star Trek trailer has been posted online:

The new Star Wars...I mean, Star TREK...trailer

Analysis: there’s not much to go on but a short collection of sensationalistic clips—and the sneaky feeling that the franchise is trying to compete in the summer action flick arena. This could work. And maybe it can’t. If the lines are brief and disjointed like those in Quantum of Solace, then I will indeed be disappointed (two-thirds of the Star Trek charm is the hefty use of detailed dialog). But I suppose it’s the way things must go. Such is what current audiences have grown “accustomed” to, and that’s what movie execs demand. We live in a post-Revenge of the Sith world, so the pristine, intellectual, slow-build story lines present in the original Star Trek series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the first few seasons of Deep Space Nine won’t work unless broken down and spread between flashy action sequences.

That being said, I’m still going to be there, front and center, when the thing hits the screen. I have to. Simon Pegg is playing Scotty. And even though it’ll be more Star Wars than Star Trek, I think I’m going to have a good time because I know that no matter how awesome or how abysmal Star Trek: 2009 is, I can always go home afterward and fire up TOS on my DVD player. Fiack yeah.

The Art of Chthon

Anyone who’s visited my site throughout the years knows that in the mid-1990s I decided to throw my life away and become a fiction writer—all because of Piers Anthony’s Phthor. Anthony’s wild, untamed underworld (ruled by a headstrong kid close to my age at the time) opened the door to the Xanth series, which opened the portal to the Adept series, which…well, you get it. Recently, I stumbled upon an artist (Rezo Kaishauri) who actually managed to depict visually what Anthony’s prose conveyed:

Phthor - Arlo and Torment © Rezo Kaishauri

Phthor - Arlo and Torment © Rezo Kaishauri

And Kaishauri doesn’t stick to rendering deviant nudists running around in dank caverns, either. His Web site showcases a hefty body of work, surmised by this quite-appropriate welcome message:

Surrealism is not the way you live, act or feel. It’s the way you dream. We, who call ourselves ‘surrealists’, are marked by the Lord himself with a slightest touch of insanity. Creative insanity that is, granting the freedom to transform reality, to reach beyond visible, and to display the possibility of impossible. My personal goal, as a surrealist, is to represent the unreality with maximum reality, trying to make you believe in what you see. This is what Salvador Dali did the best.

Indeed, much of Kaishauri’s work has a Dali-esque slant to it, which leads me to believe that while surrealism’s l33t master may have passed on, his pupils are surely and steadily filling the void.

I look forward to more.

The Ultimate Crunch

I guess I did help make a Doritos commercial this year after all:

Two, if you want to count the screen test / audition reel:

I guess how it works is that contest entries will be posted at the crashthesuperbowl.com Web site until January, 2009 or so, at which point voting for the finalists will begin. So, if you’ve got a moment, stop by the Colossal Theatre page and donate your clicks, cuz we sure need ’em.

(It goes without saying that Sean is The Man. Period.)

Drama in the Gym

Ivana Hong, poised

A reader asked me about the various inspirations behind Heroes’ Day, and whether or not any of the book’s characters were based on real athletes. Short answer: no. Long answer: sort of. I like writing about underdog heroes, unlikely heroes. Matters of conflicting opinions rather than simple right vs. wrong. Stories like this one, from the Gymblog site, tend to catch my attention:

“They kept telling me that nothing was wrong with my foot,” Ivana said. “I knew what was wrong with it, but I wasn’t going to be like ‘I have a fracture in my foot and I’m not gonna train.’”

Fong discouraged Ivana from seeking medical treatment. Against his wishes, Ivana’s mother took her to a doctor, who confirmed she had a fractured ankle.

With the Olympics looming, Ivana thought she had no choice but to trudge on.

Ivana Hong seems to me (and this has been mentioned elsewhere before) to be something of a fringe athlete, always in the shadows of the other national team members. In that respect, she was a partial inspiration for Monica and Alana in Heroes’ Day. I had a whole subplot regarding the apathetic relationship between Alana Chang and Darren Hades, but it detracted too much from the main plot, and so I took it out—and in doing so I realized that once again an Ivana was being relegated to stand in the shadows.

(Sorry for the melodrama, but there is a reason they call me The Great Exaggerator.)

Then there’s the whole beaten-to-death, but still rampant issue of coaches over-taxing their athletes. It really is a fine line separating self-motivation from self-deprecation when one’s coach knows how to twist his words just right. The junior elites and level 10s are more likely (repeat: likely) to step back when they reach their carefully-monitored limits than are the Olympians, who have all but surrendered themselves to that basic paradoxical equation: sacrifice the self for the self, and glory can be yours.

Alana Chang left Olympus when she reached her limit; Monica Sardinia stuck it out—but who emerged the stronger individual? Perhaps both characters reached the same goal via different routes?

(Flame bait? What flame bait?) ;)

PervCon 2002

Now hiding in a locker room near you!

Now hiding in a locker room near you!

Me, Ninfa, and Abby, circa 2002. Why do I always look like I’m about to invade the CSUF women’s locker room? And don’t say it’s because of the shirt…or the hair…or the camera aimed at my crotch…

Since I’m talking about perverts, remember the Olympus Pervcam video?

I do. ;)

crashthesuperbowl.com is hosting its annual Doritos commercial contest. I’m not sure if I’ll do one this year. As usual, I have the ideas, but not the time. Sean would certainly like to bring back the Godchild, but we haven’t seen him in years. Last I heard he was bar-hopping in Arkansas.

Check this out:

Yawho?

Yawho?

Caught this last night. Looks like Yahoo! is toying with a new layout. Or perhaps it’s the layout that’s toying with Yahoo! :D

Copyfight

There’s a word for all the stuff we do with creative works—all the conversing, retelling, singing, acting out, drawing, and thinking: we call it culture.

A memorable quote from Cory Doctorow’s recent Locus editorial. To paraphrase / skewer the article: culture is copying, copying is our culture. Biologically, we’re designed to make copies of ourselves. Socially, we copy our parents, our family, our friends from day one as we learn the ropes. We cut and paste, we share, we pass the goods along. We did it before VCRs, tape recorders, personal computers, and the Internet, and we’ll do it with or without whatever newfangled technology tumbles down the pipeline. So, the challenge remains the same—making money at making copies—while the technology changes. Charging for physical materials and labor seems logical. But music that expires (DRM)? Flexplay discs that go bad after two days? Seems counterproductive to produce copies that don’t last, that can’t be watched, traded, passed along after the initial shelf life. However, I think this sort of strategy is supplemental.

I tried a strategy of my own a while back and found that when I posted unrestricted PDFs of my novels online (for free) my readership increased, as did my paperback sales. I also discovered that copies of The Knack and Stories from the Steel Garden were showing up on P2P networks—with labels like “teen sex” and “nudist boy” attached. I’m not sure if the false advertising has translated into sales or if such keyword searches resulted merely in the usage of my work as fap material. I’m not sure I’m cool with either scenario.

At the very least, I’m reminded that I’m dabbling in the arts during a unique period when technology, as pervasive as it has become, has not replaced the creature comforts associated with the printed word. Reading online text is fine for research, news, current events, blogs, and, yes, fap material. When reading for pleasure, though, most of us still prefer wood pulp over pixels, and most of us are still willing to pay for it.

Most of us. :D

Yes, in the Present

Yes band lineup no. 27

Yes band lineup no. 27

YesWorld finally posted a photo of the new Yes lineup. In Jon Anderson’s absence is Yes tribute singer Benoit David, as well as Rick Wakeman’s son, Oliver, on keyboards. Despite the fact that everyone in this shot seems to be Photoshopped in some way (notice Steve Howe’s Natural Timbre pose), I’m thrilled by the prospect of a new tour—because maybe this will be the year any incarnation of Yes performs music from the (IMHO) highly underrated Drama album. And I think I’m liking Benoit’s voice over Trevor Horn’s. Even if you’re a grizzled Jon-or-nothing Yes fan. This guy sounds remarkably like Jon Anderson. Can it be that Yes has finally become its own tribute band?

Another question for you: did you know that all the humans are dead?

That’s The Flight of the Conchords. In the forthcoming Gentlemen Broncos, Jemaine Clement plays the part of my new personal hero, Dr. Ronald Chevalier. Kind of reminds me how that Jesse Gordon dude tried using viral marketing to promote his own books a while back:

Except Ronald has a way cooler hair style. ;)

Blu-ray…Fading Away?

Blu-ray coasters, appearing at a pub near you!

Blu-ray coasters, appearing at a pub near you!

I’ve hated Blu-ray since the beginning. A Yahoo! Tech article by Christopher Null explains some of the reasons why:

http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/108657

I like comment no. 5, which is pretty much my bottom line. Blu-ray is simply too expensive at the moment to warrant going out and replacing one’s DVD collection. The big boys are going to have to level out those retail prices—and I don’t mean by raising DVD prices so that the DVD version of Indy 4 sits alongside the Blu-ray version on the store shelf, both priced at a cool $30. To say nothing of the fact that DVD really is “good enough” for most of us. Ever see the Superbit version of The Fifth Element? Disc 1 is dedicated entirely to the movie, while disc 2 contains the extra features. It looks pretty darned good.

Or maybe I’ve just become so addicted to YouTube that anything of decent quality looks good to me. ;)