Thursday, May 28, 2009

Two trailers, and some more George Martin

Because I love them.

1) I'm hoping Sherlock is as good as I've always hoped it would be. If you recognize the photo from The Adventures of Robin Hood in my header, you'll probably know that the bad guy on the left is Basil Rathbone, who was one of the film incarnations of Sherlock, and pretty much how I imagined him until Rubber Ducky Jr came along. I loved the books, I loved the suspense. Not the biggest fan of Jude Law, which might have more to do with Sean Penn defending his honour at the Oscars, but I digress. Bring it!

2) The Road. Please be a good post-apocalyptic movie. I know the stories are not at all similar, but I'd prefer something as good as Mad Max, instead of something like... The Postman. (Note: That's kind of unfair. I never watched The Postman. But I'm trusting the opinion of those who told me not to. Any nay-sayers?) And speaking of similar stories, Denzel Washington's new project, The Book of Eli, kind of sounds like The Road. Who would you prefer having on your side at the end of the world, Denzel or Viggo?

Last, but not least, A Game of Thrones gets the HBO treatment? That could work. So far, the only confirmed casting is Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, but I saw the words "Sean Bean as Ned Stark" floating around. Not what I pictured, but good choice nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Searching for heroes, Part 2

I've established that George R.R. Martin's characters are not black and white, but they have various shades of grey, and are altogether a shady lot. But if Jaime Lannister had Leonard McCoy's mouth, he might say: "Dammit, man! I'm a knight, not a septon!" (In Jaime related news, I'm working on a watercolour of him and a couple of other characters. I'll post it if I finish it, and it doesn't get screwed up.)

Pure knights (or heroes in general) don't always make for interesting characters anyway. Sir Galahad may have been the best knight ever, and the only one to find the Holy Grail (at least until Indiana Jones came along), but dammit if there aren't many more stories revolving around his father, Sir Lancelot. (See Robert Taylor and Monty Python.) Best knight in Camelot, yet he had an affair with the wife of his best friend and king. Tsk, tsk. Talk about being mortal.

Anyway, what does this mean for my own writing? I can't tell you how many times I've worried about my main character. Is he believable? Is he bland? I mean, it'd be terrible if readers love the secondary guys and girls, but they hate the bejesus out of your Number One. So I've been wondering how my young, scared, pessimistic hero-to-be realistically evolves into a Purveyor of Awesome.

As Leigh Butler writes, over at "So many of these protagonist hero types’ personalities tend toward the bland precisely because that makes it easier for the reader to map him/herself onto the hero as a proxy. Wish fulfillment and alla that."

I guess that's alright, but I wanted my guy to have a bit more bite. So I cut him off from all his friends about a fifth through the book. (Does this count as a spoiler if I haven't finished typing up the good copy of my thrice-edited manuscript? I think not.) The nature of my story is less world-in-madness-and-chaos than George R.R. Martin's Westeros, but I'm glad he opened my eyes to the possibilities that come with darker, unsavory characters.

That's about all I have to say on the thousand faces of the Hero. No, I'm lying. I would like to read up on Neil Gaiman's Sandman. There. That's it. For now.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Searching for heroes, Part 1

I recently went back to reading the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I read the first two books a few months ago, but never found the time to continue until now. If you know the story then I don't need to sum it up for you. If you don't know the story then the only way to describe it is this: pure chaos. It doesn't follow the structure of a quest. Instead it gives you several kingdoms in trouble, with madness and evil being the order of the day.

Joseph Campbell said a hero had a thousand faces, which is why you have Achilles and Odysseus, Aragorn and Sam Gamgee, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

I just finished Book 3 of Martin's series, and I'm wondering if I know every one of those thousand faces. Martin's characters die so suddenly (not to mention unfairly and unheroically) that it's difficult to know who to cheer for. My gut tells me that Jon Snow is one of the eventual heroes (maybe THE hero, if this series has one), but honesty and honour got Ned Stark beheaded, so what do I know? Davos Seaworth is another good man. I wish him well, but I doubt his choice of kings. Two and a half books ago I wouldn't have believed I could cheer for Jamie Lannister and Sandor Clegane, but that's what I'm doing. I'm firmly in the Tyrion Lannister camp, and Arya Stark is my favourite female character.

To recap: I'm cheering oathbreakers, murderers, kingslayers, kinslayers, smugglers, and at least one guy guilty of a lot of incest. How messed up is that?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Start... and stop... and start again.

The rain is coming down in buckets today. Except when it isn't. First comes rain, then comes shine. It reminds me of my life so far. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Study one thing in university, then do something totally different for a few years. Work in film for a bit, then abandon it for the old job. Study film for a bit, then study publishing. And don't even get me started on all the interruptions there have been in my talented but momentum-cursed band. I don't know which is more difficult: the ability to get the ball rolling, or keeping it rolling along.

Professionally, it's time to regroup once again. There's no point in wasting time and energy with being frustrated by the past. The old job is finished, and it's up to me to make my own opportunities. Sort of reminds me of an old proverb:

"The Lord helps those who help themselves."

On the other hand, this also reminds me of CCR:

"Someone told me long ago there's a calm before the storm,
I know; It's been coming for some time.
When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day.
I know; Shining down like water.

I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain
Coming down on a sunny day?

Bless your heart, John Fogerty. And as I write this, the rain's started again. I think the thunder's trying to drown out Creedence, but it's not going to happen.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Imitation of Life

The following is a semi-fictional account of a meeting at a certain someone's office. The names of the principals have been changed to protect the innocent and hide the guilty. Their names have been changed to the names of characters from The Office (US version), because the similarities are uncanny.
Some of this is made up. Most of it isn't.
(ASIDE: Is there an IT guy in The Office? I can't remember one, and Google isn't helping me. Whatever. I've inserted an IT guy and named him Simon.)

Mixed Signals

As some of you may know, corporate is implementing a new standard operating procedure that will be more organized and efficient. For example, instead of hunting down or calling up Simon in IT, you will just send an email to Pam, requesting to book a time with Simon so your computer can be fixed.

Wait, how are people supposed to email me if their computers are down?

Excellent question. Thank you for bringing that up, Pam. It brings me to my next point: forward-thinking. Don’t let your computer get to the point where it needs special care. Be proactive. If you notice something wrong, fix it right away.

So… if my computer stops working, I should just email Pam?

That is correct. We can work through these problems efficiently, people. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. OK, moving on. Our next topic is about going green.
(distributes a handout)
What you’re holding is a detailed outline of our ‘Go Green or Go Home’ program. It tells you all about saving energy, reducing waste, saving paper and all that Mother Earth stuff.

Michael, this is 23 pages long.

And every page of it is important if we’re serious about saving Mother Nature.

I thought it was Mother Earth.

No it wasn’t.

I think it was.

Well, I meant Mother Nature. Ok, we’re not focusing on the bigger picture, folks.

But, Michael, you could have just emailed us a document instead of printing off several single-sided handouts.

My email is down. Oh, that reminds me. Simon, I need your IT help in my office.

I’m sorry, Michael, but that’s actually not allowed under our standard operating procedure. You’ll probably want to email me first so I can coordinate with Ryan.

Really? But… my email’s down.

I’m sorry. I don’t make the rules around here.

Yes, this is only semi-fictional.
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