Mar 12

Too many irons, not enough fire

Been a while! Work’s been keeping me busy, but primarily it’s been a lack of focus. There’s just too much that I want to do, and in jumping from project to project to project (to project to project), I’m just not getting any of them done.

Obviously, writing. I’m still excited about Frantic Sin and the series it’s inspired within my mind, I’ve just been a bit stumped on revising and all of that, which only made it easier to get distracted by other projects.

I seriously want to learn other languages, especially Spanish, German, and Japanese, but not only is this time-consuming, I don’t have a regular way to use anything but English, so whatever I learn is quickly turned to rust. And it distracts from my writing.

I’ve tried off and on with music again in various forms and contexts, but that hasn’t been much of a major thing for me. Been a while since I tried my hand at art, but I actually reached a point where I decided that yes, I can learn to do it, but it isn’t high priority enough and I’ve got too much else already on my plate(s).

Working on a board game, that one’s got me (and a group of alpha testers) pretty excited. And, speaking of games, it’s long been a goal of mine to create a text-based dungeon-crawl RPG like the good ol’ days, but QBASIC / QB64 really aren’t proving robust enough for everything I want to do, and learning a new language is just one more thing to do.

And, to top it all off, there’s the problem that with so much to choose from, I can never decide on one thing to get done. Add a website into the mess, and you can see why there hasn’t been an update since Statham Day.

Anyway, hopefully this update will be a turning point and I can get some kind of focus back.

Jun 28

Zombie New Year

It’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere – I know because I had my birthday – and while the undead hordes may have gone into hibernation for the season, it won’t be long until they’re back.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen – I’m talking about Zombie New Year (as indicated by the title).

For those not in the know, and too riveted to click the link above, Zombie New Year is the night at the end of  the summer when the living dead rise once again from their graves to feast upon the living – or die (again) trying! Being as zombies operate on a lunar calendar (paper would decay underground, after all), the date for ZNY is different every year. It does, however, always fall on the first Friday after the first full moon in August. This year, Zombie New Year is on August 23, 2013.

Mark your calendars, invite your friends, family, and neighbors, and prepare to party as if your lives depended upon it – because they do! Strength in numbers, loud noises and bright lights – these are our defenses against the first wave of the returning hordes.

Get ready.

August 23, 2013.

And follow the #ZNY2013 hashtag on Twitter.

Jun 22

Dr. Awkward – “Different”

I’m not going to lie here – musically, I come from a classic rock / heavy metal background. I only started listening to anything resembling rap (barring an unfortunate Vanilla Ice single in 3rd grade and an ICP album that, in my defense, featured Alice Cooper) when I stumbled across a few choice MC Frontalot tracks on Last.fm about three years ago. Finally, my bespectacled, recreationally-programming, polyhedral-dice-rolling self could relate to rap! I may not have the language to adequately describe the genre, but I can relate to some songs!

And from there, I have steadily expanded my nerdcore collection, merging nicely with my extant power metal about Tolkien collection.

I first heard Dr. Awkward live at a concert in San Diego a couple of Comic Cons ago. I promptly picked up the Next Gen EP and Unlimited LP, and they’ve been a lot more frequently listened to than my Last.fm page indicates (sadly, my car stereo doesn’t scrobble).

"Different" EP cover

That said, Awk’s ranking is getting a hell of a boost from my recent purchase of his Different EP. He offers all of his music at a “pay what you want” price point, and it took me a while to pick it up (it was released last year and I only just now got it) because I was impressed enough with Next Gen and Unlimited that I couldn’t bring myself to not pay a fair price.

I’ve still got three more things to pick up, but I ‘d decided on Different because of “Allegory,” which I’ve already gone into. And despite that, I have no idea what my favorite track is. I’ve only got five to choose from, but they are five high-quality pieces of work, which work together as a cohesive whole as well. The opening title track has a great beat, immediately ear-catching and fierce throughout. “Play” flows almost hypnotically, and is a true earworm of a track. “Allegory” sits fantastically in the middle – this EP is really a well put-together selection, and not five songs stuck together just because. “=” is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of hope in the face of prejudice and adversity. “Credits Roll” brings everything to a solid, introspective, soul-searching close.

All said and done, the best $5 I’ve spent in a long time, and I feel like maybe I should have actually gone higher. I’m actually fixing my iPod specifically because of this EP. An A+ release. No doubt in my mind, Dr. Awkward has a bright future.

Jun 14

“Hangover 3″ Review

Sometimes I get curious about a movie. I won’t be so much interested as I am, well, curious. One good example was The Hangover Part II. I thought it looked stupid (in a bad way), and the only reason I went to see it at all was to see how badly it ripped off the original.

For those of you who haven’t seen Part II, I’ll spare you – the answer is “completely.” Seriously, the biggest joke in the film was that people (myself included) paid for it. F-minus-minus for plagiarism, even if they were their own source.

But, because so many lined up to volunteer as punchlines for The Hangover Part II, there was of course a Part III made. This time, I wasn’t even curious. “Fool me once, shame on you,” all that jazz. Then my buddy gave me the synopsis, and – surprise, surprise – it wasn’t exactly the same thing!

So we went and saw it.

And it wasn’t bad.

This time, they changed up the formula, and made more of a comedy/thriller than a straight comedy. There was a lot less raunchy humor, and the tone was a good bit darker than the earlier installments. Our familiar Wolf Pack hit their established character points, just as previously established, but with a sense of weariness and obligation – both in-universe and out. John Goodman was a high point, and they (quite wisely, IMO) scaled back Zach Galifianakis’ deranged manchild aspect. Does that count as character growth, or is it out of character? Eh, I won’t bother saying.

In the theater, I had fun enough for a Tuesday night. It didn’t bore me, didn’t captivate me, I was in no danger of falling out of my seat from either suspense, laughter, or sleepiness. At the end, I’ll give it a C+. Better than Part II, not as good as the original.

To the filmmakers, congratulations for trying something different, condolences for it not quite panning out. And as a bit of unsolicited advice from an absolute nobody who continues to make these movies profitable, please don’t follow up on the sequel-bait epilogue. I think the Wolf Pack have had their fill of adventures, and the audiences have had their fill of the Wolf Pack. Let it end before pulling a Jason Takes Manhattan.

. . . though, to be honest, I wouldn’t not make Hangover X part of a MST3K-style party night. But try not to let it come to that, anyway.

May 30

Moving…

Not the site, but my home.

And it is, of course, a hassle to do – but really cool to be done with.

May 22

“Star Trek Into Darkness” Review

So, why’d they call it “Into Darkness” if it had such oversaturated lighting? I kid, I kid. But really, the lens flares were bothersome. Just, obscuring characters’ faces when they’re trying to emote, serving no purpose. It’s fun to mock, sure, but really – why? I found the gratuitous lighting nonsense to deprive attempted dramatic moments of drama.

Equally baffling was the decision to cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Kahn Noonien Singh. I mean, he made an excellent villain, but he would have been just as menacing as John Harrison. I don’t want to throw around heated terms like “racist” or “whitewashing,” but somewhere there’s a young Mexican actor going hungry because of this decision.

That’s another joke, folks. But, again, I mean it – why couldn’t Whitey McGringo have stayed a John? Would not a John punch as hard? If you cut him, would he not not-bleed on account of glazed-over character backstory? Backstory vital to the Kahn character, backstory which they opted to barely feature, once again rendering the use of Kahn . . . useless. And his voice always sounded too processed and like it was coming over a PA system instead of out of a human mouth within the area. Pulled me out of the film with that, like Bane all over again.

Oh, gee, hope I didn’t spoil anything, there. From here on in, spoilers will be in strikethrough and ROT13. You’re welcome.

Really, to me, the movie played out, at its best, like a different sci-fi action flick in a Star Trek costume, and at its worst, like a 12-year-old’s fanfiction. “What if Xvex qvrq? And then, Fcbpx lryyrq XNUA! And at the end, Fgnesyrrg UD tbg qrfgeblrq ol n fcnprfuvc! Wouldn’t that look bitchen!?”

Mythology gags and in-jokes were poorly placed, again robbing drama of drama. They get actual twins to play twin alien girls Kirk was in bed with, but they couldn’t get an actual Indian guy to play an Indian? Sorry, sorry, I know, I’m on it again. And while, yes, I do take issue with that – not against Mr. Cumberbatch, mind you – it wasn’t the biggest blow to my enjoyment.

We’re back to the fact that it felt like Die Hard IN SPACE (and also Star Trek costumes, why not?) more than Star Trek. Everything fell pretty well flat, and while it could have gotten away with a C- as a not-good Trek film, it felt almost like they went out of their way to Get It Wrong.

I wanted to like it. I tried to like it. It had its moments, but not enough of them, not well-done enough, and overall . . . D.

Though, at least they didn’t give Benedict a godawful spray-tan…

May 03

Great Scott!

Alternate title – Why did I think it was a good idea to write an entire second draft from scratch!?

06

So today at work, I had a breakthrough (I hope it proves to be a breakthrough, anyway) – actually revise my NaNoWriMo draft of Frantic Sin instead of recreating a second draft altogether!

Astonishing idea, ne? </sarcasm>

You see, as I’ve mentioned before, the NaNo draft was entirely off-the-cuff. I have scenes where a character enters, speaks, has an impact, and even I as the writer didn’t know who they were until halfway through! So my thinking was, “Discovery writing is fun. It’s a start. Derive an outline from this and start a new, organized draft which will be ‘good enough’ to revise and edit further.”

A teacher of mine had made the distinction between revision and editing with an analog to a classic car being restored. You can make it pretty and have it not run, or you can get it running and leave it ugly. In turn, a piece of writing can be nice but ineffective, or effective but rough around the edges. Revising was, in his analogy, making it run. Editing was making it pretty. He made it clear that revising was the more important step, the one to be done first, and editing was a “finishing touch.”

If we continue with the car line of thought, I was pushing my classic (I like to picture a 1983 DeLorean DMC-12) onto the lawn and trying to make another, entirely different car of the same model from parts in the garage.

Like I said, picture a DMC-12 here.

While at work, I realized what I had been doing. I had previously told a friend that I pictured writing as sculpting, but you need to craft the block of marble first. By that I referred to the fact that I was almost certain to cut what I had just written, but I still needed to have it done. Obviously, words will be written that end up apart of the finished product rather than a part of it. (Go ahead, hate me for that one, what do I care?) Today, I realized that it’s more like sculpting with clay. Take stuff away, add more, move it around, etc…

So, from here on I’ll be working with the original clay of my NaNo draft and…

…and wondering how the hell I got from cars to clay!?