Friday, September 30, 2011

No Movie Reviews This Week BOOOOOOOO

So, this week I'm bailing on the one aspect of this blog that I've been consistent with: Friday movie reviews. But! There's actually a reason. It's not out of laziness or ennui, and maybe as early as next week I'll have some cool movie-review-related goodness to rock you guys with. I should have lots of time to plot and scheme and execute my plans this weekend, so stay tuned.

In other news, the revision to Blood Tells True is going really well. I'm spending a few hours every day on it.

But I'm still writing new stuff, too. I was a bit stuck with The Devil's Assassin, my tale of angels, demons and MMA fighters duking out in the alleys of Cleveland. I'm unstuck. I think I've got a good idea of where it's all going, and I'm thinking I'll finish the first draft before November.



I'm late to the party, but I'm kind of obsessed with Kreayshawn's Gucci Gucci right now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Draft of Blood Tells True Complete!

I just finished the first draft of the sequel to Burden Kansas, which is currently still entitled Blood Tells True.

There is nothing like finishing the first draft of a long piece of fiction. Pride, relief, excitement.

The length is currently about 51,000 words. That's pretty much the shortest work I would feel comfortable calling a novel. Unless it grows significantly in revision, I think I'll call it a short novel (how about "novello"? That sounds longer than a novella, but shorter than a novel jkjkjkjk), and might price it between my novella and full-length novel prices (represented by the 34k Burden Kansas at $2.99 and the 74k Psychomancer at $4.99). I think it will grow, but not by too much. I may need to add a chapter or two in a couple of characters' perspectives to flesh them out a bit.

I'm psyched to really get down to the business of revising this book. I love revision. I don't think I spend an inordinate amount of time doing it when I should be writing new fiction. In fact, I aim to spend an equal amount of time every day doing each. But I love it. It's where I get to focus on the micro-level art of sentence and language, instead of the macro-level art of storytelling, which I find more stressful (though I think I'm better at it).

I'll talk about that more later. BECAUSE I KNOW YOU'RE DYING TO HEAR MORE ABOUT IT.

Anyway, yay!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Movie Reviews! Back to My Roots

I only reviewed one horror movie last week. That's not cool. It's time to go back to my roots, like TV's LeVar Burton and his iPad reboot of Reading Rainbow. Wut? ßThis isn't coming back.

Borderland

This movie is tortureporn about how scary Mexicans and their primitive ways are. It's to Mexicans what Hostel is to Eastern Europeans and Lost in Translation is to the Japanese.

I took a chance on this because I saw that hobbit was in it, but I'm getting sick of this xenophobic bullshit.

Halloween H20

I hadn't seen this since it was in theaters, so I gave it another whirl. I rewhirled it.

This is the second best of the first Halloween series. Even with the first Halloween being brilliant, that's not saying a lot. Series went downhill the same way Wile E. Coyote does. What I like about H20 is how Michael Myers returns to his non-tricky ways. He's not a clever killer; he's a force of nature. That's also what I most appreciate about RZ's reboot.

There's really only one scene worth seeing: when Josh and Squinty are trapped in this four foot space between a wrought iron gate and a door into a building, and the butcher knife is coming a little closer with every swipe. That shit's intense. Though as a writer, I also appreciated LL Cool J's subtle portrayal of a struggling author. Especially the part in his manuscript about the melon breasts.

I forgot that this was Josh Hartnett's first movie. And that he displays the worst haircut in film history. Seriously. It doesn't even look like a type of bad that could have been done purposefully, but like he was a cartoon gopher who stuck his head out of the ground just as a lawnmower passed over.

How did this review take on a Looney Tunes theme?


Haunting at the Beacon

It's hard to say this is a good movie. Well, it's easy to say: This is a good movie. But it's a lie. 

I liked it anyway. It was shot on that weird, bad film. Like, halfway between real film and a handicam. There are some really terrible actors in it, but there's a great wacky professor. Love the wacky professor. And there's Michael Ironside, which is kind of weird. And the Fockers lady.

So first, I have a huge soft spot for haunted house movies. This movie was released as "The Beacon," but I guess they changed the name pre-Netflix Instant to capitalize on the craze of movies starting with the phrase "The Haunting of/in/under/above" which is weird because it came out after that craze.

Aaaanyway, I viewed this movie as it could have been. With the right budget and the right actors and a tweaked script, it could have been really good. It's very original. Except that it has almost the exact same premise as...

The Sentinel

...which means I just spoiled one of these two movies for you. So you need to decide which one you want to have spoiled less, and watch it first. Then understand that the movie you chose not to watch is exactly like the movie you just watched. Twist un-twusted!

This is also kind of an awesome movie that could be considered bad unless you love the most 70s feel possible in horror movies, like I do. This movie is so incredibly 70s that it's like a time machine went back to the 70s and got this film and brought it back and loaded it onto Netflix Instant. Wut? ßI lied!!! It's totally back!

Another similarity between this and The Beacon is that it's got actors of a fame level it shouldn't, but I guess before they were very famous. This is a very early movie for Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, and Chris Sarandon. And it's the second appearance ever of Tom Berenger, who appeared in literally the last minute of the film as "man at end," and who I wouldn't have recognized except for his freaky Jack-Nicholson-as-the-Joker smile, and then I had to check IMDB just to be sure.

It's also got a lot of past-their-prime actors like John Carradine, Ava Gardner and Burgess Meredith.

Do people like it when I just name actors all day long instead of providing a review of substance? No. Am I gonna keep doing it? I'll work on it, but I can't make any promises.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Direct Sales Through Paypal

Once again, due to a certain L. Armstrong effing me in the eh, I had some extra time today. Instead of furthering my studies of the GIMP, I decided to diversify my revenue streams by adding direct sales here to my blog.

It took me a bit of time to figure out how. Blogger isn't as malleable as wordpress, so I was basically looking at hacks. Then I found the advice that I simply use Paypal. And it was good advice. And now it is so.

Paypal makes it super flippinflappin easy. Just click on Merchant Services >  Website Payments Standard. They even have a dropdown menu button feature that allows for the specification of desired file format. I already had my paypal account set up to accept payments because of my freelance work. I'm not sure if that's standard or not.

Anyway, you can see the results over on the side bar and on the My Books tab. Go ahead and click around. And if you accidentally purchase a book or two, well... I don't have anything clever to say. I just devoted a full 60 seconds to thinking of a punchline and could come up with nothing but cliches.

Anyway again, to make this post interesting to non-authors I'm going to list some non-author uses for Paypal's direct sales capabilities:

  • prostitution



So, I'm predicting that within the next week I'm going to finish the first draft of Vampires of the Plains Book II: Blood Tells True. I recently started revising what I've got, and so far it's looking like it won't take a ton of work. Yay!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

GIMP Episode 1

My brain is fried.

Due to some bullshit with the article provider, I couldn't work on my freelance writing much today. So I decided it was time to learn GIMP. If you don't know, GIMP is the open source equivalent of photoshop.

I finally found the motivation because I wanted to make a Facebook page. If you look to the sidebar at the left, you'll see a "Like" widget has replaced the old "Friend" widget. I feel that says a lot about me.

But I needed a welcome tab. Though my designer cuts me deals and is quite patient, I don't like having to ask for every little thing. So I made this today:


There's a ridiculous amount left to learn, of course, but I think I've made a good start.

But when I tried to add tabs to my Facebook page, I found that the old markup language everyone had used is now defunct, and the new iframes is waaaaaaay more complex. Anyway, I got things kind of figured out.

But my brain hurts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Movie Reviews! Grab Bag

I'm watching a bunch of Mary Woronov movies. I have enough to fill an entire Movie Reviews! but I want to wait because there are some key films I haven't watched yet, like Deathrace 2000.

So this week is really just a grab bag.

Picture Me

I actually watch a ton of documentaries. I don't know why I so rarely review them. I guess because I feel more comfortable discussing the fictional. I understand the structure. I know how to talk about it.

There's really no reason why I'm making an exception for Picture Me.

Confession: I really like fashion. People who know my wardrobe but don't know this might be surprised. I have one pair of jeans that I wear every day. Each day, I clad my torso in either one of my many large black Fruit of the Loom tshirts or one of my many Old Navy polo shirts (I own pretty much every color).

But I love movies. I love comics. Yet I don't live either of them. I kind of live fiction, because that's my art. But fashion: I like to look at it, not live it. My favorite show is Project Runway. I go through phases of flipping through all the fashion magazines.

Wait, this is a movie review. Okay, so Picture Me is a fascinating look into the world of fashion modeling. It follows the career of Sara Ziff, whose significant other from near the beginning to the end happened to be a filmmaker.

They try to wring some sympathy for these women out of you, but it's difficult given the money they make. Ziff might be a fountain for how often she weeps. Still, the film triggers some ambivalence (does not mean "apathy"), given how young many of them get into this weird, unsupervised, somewhat-perverted world. But on the other side, they get to travel the world, experience culture, make tons of money and exist in the least utilitarian, most aestheticentric lifestyle possible.

Donkey Punch

I finally gave in and watched this movie, named after a fictional sex move of the likes found on Urban Dictionary (my friend invented the Yeti Yank). The Donkey Punch is something no one would ever do. And apparently, someone deeply considered that fact and wrote a movie centered around what might happen if a person actually did it.

I guess I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, because I had such low expectations and had avoided it for so long. I was really impressed by the way that the filmmakers weren't interested in creating a single likable character. It seemed intentional. I'm not being sarcastic.

Antichrist

This is a polarizing movie. You're either going to think it's pretentious crap or it's going to blow your mind, or you're going to land somewhere in between. Hum.

I don't like symbolism. I don't consider things outside the narrative, so I don't even usually notice it, nor do I try to. Antichrist is all symbolism, but they make it so clear that it didn't bother me. And the film explored the concept of man as a rational creature, which I find really interesting. Can a person be honestly rational in the face of tragedy, and does it make any sense to try to be?

I actually really liked the movie, because I enjoyed the questions being asked. Other people don't like being smacked over the head with symbolism. I can't really blame them. Also, it's probably misogynistic.

The cinematography is undeniably beautiful. The horror––it's of the viewer-as-masochist type. It's intense.

Kynondontas / Dog Tooth

This is one of those movies that seems to have held onto its non-English name even over here, probably because it's such a cool word.

Kyondontas explores similar territory to Room by Emma Donoghue, but from an external eye, instead of the very emotionally-investing first-person present tense used in Room.

Still, though it's not moving, it's interesting. And kind of disturbing. So I definitely think it's worth a watch.

Beautiful

Apparently Australia also has soul-sucking suburbs. This is a bad movie about one.

It really wants to be American Beauty. The protag is a Wes-Bentley-Ricky-Fitts-style weirdo who watches the world through a camera, for gosh sake. It mixes in some Chumscrubber, some, I don't know, Scooby Doo. Whatever. I'm tired of thinking about this movie. It sucks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paying to Be Read

So, it's the beginning of submission season.

For those of you who aren't writers or otherwise don't submit stories to literary journals, submission season begins on September first and usually ends in April. That's because literary journals are run by schools, and the slush piles are read by students and students aren't around during the summer.

Of course, domination season overlaps with submission season, starting and ending a few weeks later. It's just for the journals.

Something new that I noticed about 2 years ago: a lot of journals caught up with genre markets and began to accept electronic submissions. In fact, they surpassed the journals in that they signed up with submishmash or hosted this standardized program that makes submitting even easier than by email.

Then last submission season, I noticed that a significant number of literary journals were charging a $2 or $3 fee for the privilege of electronic submission. Now, they still accept paper submissions without a fee. At first, they said it was to cover costs. Some still say that, but others tell the truth.

It's to prevent people from submitting.

And the thing is, I understand. These publications come out 2 to 4 times a year. Each issue contains between 2 and 4 pieces of fiction. So they publish between 4 and 16 stories a year. And most of those don't come out of the slush. You've got the big name writers trying to place half their collection stories before publishing the collection. You've got solicited stories. Finally, you've got the friends of the faculty advisers/editors who can offer compensatory slots at the journals they run. The rest comes out of the slush.

I remember last September, planning which markets to send which stories. I remember going to those websites and at a ton of them seeing Aimee Bender in the previous season's issue. I don't know if they were selections from her novel which came out this year or stories released to build some hype or what. I don't like Aimee Bender's writing. But it made me really wonder how likely it was for me to get the other fiction spot. When Jim Shepard releases a new collection, he gets a slot at six or so journals that season. It's not a question of "if" but "which."

The number of people writing fiction exploded with the widespread adoption of the home computer. People who might not have gone to the trouble to revise a bunch of times on a typewriter were encouraged by the ease of using a computer. The number of people submitting fiction exploded with the advent of electronic submissions. People who might have been put off by the pain in the ass and cost of printing, stuffing, labeling and mailing manuscripts had that barrier removed.

So the number of people submitting for that handful of slots has increased dramatically, while the number of slots has remained the same. I understand why they don't want people to submit. And like I said, in researching for this season's submissions, I saw that a number of journals were finally admitting it.

I'm still not going to pay it, though. Not yet, at least.

The places that charge for electronic submission, they still allow for free snailmail (teehee) submission, so that's what I did last September. It costs a bit less, but really I submitted that way out of spite.

This season, I'm going a step farther. I'm looking at the Duotrope.com stats, and seeing that out of thousands and thousands of submissions, the market has accepted 0.00%, meaning that no user has ever been accepted, and I love my stories, but it's a waste of time and money and pride to mail them physical manuscripts, and just money and pride to pay to submit electronically.

So this year, I'm only submitting to places that accept electronic submissions with no reading fee. Now one of two things is going to happen at these places: they are going to get really awesome or they are going to start requiring e-submission fees. Why?

Because Duotrope.com doesn't include the pay-to-submit markets in their search when you specify "electronic submission only." So The Missouri Review will come up if you don't specify, because they don't charge for paper submissions, but they don't come up when you search electronic only because they charge $3. Duotrope, like everyone else until very recently, feels that there's something wrong with having to pay for the opportunity to let these people take your story.

But that means that the rest of the markets are going to get flooded. They're going to get the choicest unsolicited manuscripts, but will the volume be too much? If so, in the literary journal world, paying to submit electronically may become the standard. They'll make some money, but none of this is supposed to be about the money.

No, I didn't just turn into a touchy-feely whatever-whatever art-for-free something-or-other. I submit to literary journals even though I know that no one reads them and they don't pay shit because they're important for my CV. Id' like to teach creative writing in the future. Despite the fact that they try to guilt you into buying an issue before you submit, the universities publish journals that lose them money because it brings them prestige and thus students to milk of MUCHMUCHMUCH more money and labor. They shouldn't also wring cash from us pathetic, groveling subs. But when did "should" ever have anything to do with anything?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Freaky! Outtie!

I love the cartoon Home Movies. I've been watching it on Netflix Instant a bunch. The creator, Brendon Small, is a musical genius type guy, so the show has lots of awesome original music. He does seem to prefer metal, which I don't.

I was rocking out to one of his songs when I realized, this is supposed to be the worst song by the worst band ever. Here you go:



I like it. It's very early-aughts post-hardcore (yes, there are different post-hardcore's that sound totally different from each other, depending on how post it is. Compare Hot Water Music and Orchid). It's hard to deny the song's resemblance to a lot of the music I listen to. For instance, Black Eyes - Deformative:



And here's a video recording of one of my favorite band's final show:



So I like music that others find insaniating. Story of my life.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Movie Reviews! Glib Comparison Edition

Antibodies

This is a mashup of Silence of the Lambs and Se7en. Watch it and tell me that that isn't a perfect description.


Choose

This wants to be the new Saw. Watch it and tell me that it doesn't.


Brotherhood

This is the brobrobrobrabrah remake of The Suicide Kings. Pop your collar, watch it and tell me that it's not.


Sheitan

Apparently the French are also ascared of their country folk. This is the French Texas Chainsaw Massacre, right down to the creepy doll parts. Observez-le et dites-moi qu'il n'est pas.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Movie Reviews! Summer Blockbusters

I was unable to watch the big summer blockbuster movies until this past weekend, due to extensive childhood bullying. I know what you're asking yourself: "Did I leave the oven on?"

Yes you did.

I am unable to let an offense go. Due to my hypersensitivity, talking in the theater is an offense against me, personally. I imagine the person, while talking, is really thinking, "I don't give two shits that I'm bothering that puss over there. In fact, I'm glad that puss is bothered. That puss right there. Right there. You there, puss. I hope I ruin the whole movie for you puss-puss! You wouldn't dare stab me in the neck..."

And of course, this leads to a confrontation. I mean, did you hear what the dude/woman/child/squalling infant was thinking about me?

So, even if a theater is totally quiet, my poor wife is just waiting for someone to talk and for me to go over and talk to them. So we just watch movies at home now.

Aaaaaanway...

Thor

I never thought to see any medium besides comic books relay the genius of Jack Kirby, but this did. Kirby drew these cosmic fantasy worlds that had a grandiosity I didn't think anyone would dare try to recreate on the silver screen. In fact, due to the other recent Marvel movies, I figured they'd go with the more realistic Ultimates depiction of Thor. But they went with the Kirby version of Asgard, and it was fantastic.

Now that it's been proven possible, I'm dreaming that someone will make a New Gods movie. Oh wait, they did. It was called Star Wars.

Priest

I enjoyed this movie. It was worth watching, mostly because visually, it was beautiful. There's an art-deco style throughout that I really loved. But the dialogue is beyond atrocious. Example:
Cowboy Dude: It's gonna be a massacre!
Priest: It's gonna be a war.

He said it like Cowboy Dude was underestimating the gravity of the situation, but a massacre is much worse than a war. A massacre is a war where one side doesn't even fight back; they just die. 

It's almost like this movie was written by some sort of clone that can approximate humans just well enough to get close and do something horrible like eat us or impregnate us in the ear with a sharp proboscis or something. But they don't really understand why humans do what they do. They  just mimic. Then one of them watched a lot of intense action movies, and got the sound of the dialogue down, but it means next to nothing. And now I've been impregnated in the ear with the sharp proboscis of "It'll be a war."

The feral vampires are even more monstrous than the vamps I imagined in Burden Kansas, but similar, so that was neat. Then there's the smart vamp, played by the awesome Karl Urban. I know they were going for anti-Twilight, but the generic, bombastic evil vamp is just as weak these days. Why do vampires always have such impeccable grammar and vocab and pronunciation? Do vampires choose their progeny only from Victorian finishing schools? BLAH!

Fast 5

The Brah and the Broious 5. What I liked about this movie was the way it embraced its Bro/Brah nature. The nature of the Bro is testosterony, yes, but there is a second side to every Bro, a yang to the yin. This is the Brah. The Brah will Ice you while wearing three collar-popped Polos, acknowledging the hilarious nature of the Bro with a wink, a tip of the bowler and a "howdoyoudo."

The first The Brah and the Broious was a bit too sincere. The Brah and the Broious 5 accepts how ridiculous it is and is tongue-in-cheek about it, kind of like The Expendables.

Spoiler alert: Fast 5 is The Italian Job with bigger cars. Like, exactly.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I fell asleep during this movie. I think it was better than the last two, but I still fell asleep. I've fallen asleep during all the last three. These movies are so long, and I like long movies! And they're all exactly the same except that the first one was awesome.

But I think this one was better than the last two. I'm not sure because I almost don't remember the last two.