WorldCon 2019 (Dublin)

WorldCon 2019 (Dublin)

Day Zero (The Day Before)

This year’s WorlCon is in Dublin, Ireland, seven time zones ahead of the part of the world I usually hang out in. I’m going.

Ahead of my trip, I took a calculated risk, hoping to beat the jet lag. In the days leading up to it, I’d wake earlier and earlier each morning, to put myself on Dublin time even before I left. As I said, it was a calculated risk, and I’m afraid somewhere, I must have forgotten to carry a two.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: As Brilliant as it is Shitty

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD:  As Brilliant as it is Shitty

TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses both extreme physical and sexual violence.

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Inglorious Bastards and The Hateful Eight can be found below.

STORY: A one-time-big-time TV star finds his career in slow decline. He makes efforts to revitalize it, but obscurity’s momentum is strong. Then one day, him and his friend fight off and kill some random home-invaders. This catches the attention of a currently-big-time director who might just give our actor his second chance. THE END.

Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Romeo and Juliette only makes sense if you understand both internal family politics, and inter-tribal conflicts. Avengers Endgame only makes sense if you have an intricate understanding of the 10,000 interwoven MCU narratives that came before.

Context matters. Quintin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood knows this. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes it a step further. Its story is that of the failing actor, the one I described a couple paragraphs back. Not much of a story at all. Not without context.

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    The Best Way to Travel

    The Best Way to Travel

    It occurs to me that I have a whole page on this website dedicated to chronicling “my travels”. (As if a world exists where anyone gives a shit where I go or what I do while I’m there.) Yet I take so few pictures touring about, that I never really have any content to add.

    But hey, I’m a writer, ain’t I? Maybe I should write about it? Maybe? Okay, I’ll give it a shot. This entry will follow a recent trip I made to New York.

    0.2 Eleven Types of Writing

    0.2 Eleven Types of Writing

    What is writing?

    I’m not trying to be philosophical here. I mean, actually. What is it? How do we define it? Obviously its a form of communication. Signifiers express meaning, either by representing sounds that combine into words, or in characterizing the words (or even meanings) all by themselves.

    Simply put:

    Shazam!: A Case for Kindess

    Shazam!: A Case for Kindess

    Shazam! is good and fun and kind, and not lazy, and you should probably go watch it.

    Die-hard Adam Wing fans will recall I used to run a different blog in which I pretty much only wrote long-winded and overly-wordy (and at times, rather shallow) movie reviews. Since starting this site, I’ve let that fall away, but I just came back from watching Shazam! and I wanted to write a few short words about it.

    Lilo & Stitch: A Live-Blog

    Lilo & Stitch: A Live-Blog

    Lilo and Stitch is maybe my favorite Disney movie. And that’s counting Classic and New Disney, Disney/Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, you name it. Maybe. Wall-e was pretty fantastic too.

    So it’s really incredible how little I’ve thought about it in the past ten years. About four times, I’d say. Until about a month ago when it started popping up everywhere. I felt as if the Universe was telling me that it was time I gave it a good ol’ re-watch.

    And I’ve been meaning to do another movie live-blog so…

    Let’s Watch!

    1.3 Character-Driven Story

    1.3 Character-Driven Story

    Character-driven is a term we get a lot when talking about story—typically contrasted with plot-driven. Too often writers think character-driven narratives need to be plotless, that they consist only of deep explorations into internal lives, and unrealized emotions … where nothing actually happens. Such misconceptions can both hurt a writer’s work and turn readers from the very idea of character-driven stories.

    0.1 Defining Art

    0.1 Defining Art

    Question:

    How do we define art?

    An ancient question, indeed. Explored by countless generations of scholars, philosophers and artists, debated on at length by fools and great minds alike. Still unresolved…

    Until now.

    Here, in the splashy ramblings of some nobody’s blog the answer will finally be revealed. So … that’s one thing taken care of. You’re welcome, Universe.

    From Dusk Till Dawn (1996): A Live-Blog

    From Dusk Till Dawn (1996): A Live-Blog

    A few weeks ago, I went to see the movie Overlord. Haven’t heard of it? Yeah, I don’t think many did. Pretty good. Maybe check it out when it hits Netflix. If you like action-horror at all.

    The film begins as a fairly standard—relatable but not particularly powerful—WWII film. Partway through however, it transforms into a body-horror strewn monster movie. Usually such genre transformations found left to crappy B-splatter films, but since this was a Bad Robot production, I thought I’d give it a go.

    As I said, pretty good.

    One thing that stood out, was Overlord didn’t fetishize its transition between genres. It didn’t obsessively focus on it as the crux of the narrative; it was just the path it took. Which got me thinking. A lot of movies really do hyper-focus on one specific piece of their structure. Or an aspect of one of their characters. Or another specific element that is highlighted as important beyond all else. The best word I can think to describe this is: fetishization.

    I think there’s a lot to talk about in how we fetishize elements of the stories we both tell and consume. I decided I’d like to explore this in a post one day. But not today. Then I thought I’d do a comparison between Overlord and the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, which shares this two-part structure but absolutely does fetishize the transition.

    So I re-watched From Dusk Till Dawn.

    THEN  I decided, instead of a dry old compare-and-contrast, it would be much funner, just to live-blog the movie.

    So that’s what I did.

    6 Things Bandersnatch Should Have Done Better

    6 Things Bandersnatch Should Have Done Better

    SPOILERS

    Okay, now that’s taken care of … I watched Netflix’s interactive Black Mirror experience film, Bandersnatch. It’s not good. As a choose-your-own-adventure, it offers a number of potential narratives and allows the viewer to choose between them, exploring the different threads. But they’re actually all really dull story arcs. In fact, not one of them would hold up as an actual Black Mirror episode. (And there’s some pretty bad Black Mirror episodes.)

    But this isn’t a review.

    What interests me is what Bandersnatch could have been. Because it does do one very interesting thing. In every one of its arcs, the protagonist comes to realize that he’s being controlled by an outside force (us), going so far as to both try and resist decisions we make for him, and even speak to us. (You can even let him know that he’s in a show from the future on something called Netflix, which I’ll admit was pretty fun.) Essentially, the film is self-aware.

    But this cool idea is wasted, I’m afraid. Exploring how the different narratives connect and interact makes up the entirety of Bandersnatch’s enjoyment value. And it gets old pretty fast.

     

    So here are 6 things it could have done to be better

    Z1.2 Into the Spider-Verse: Narrative Structures

    Z1.2 Into the Spider-Verse: Narrative Structures

    This is a supplementary post to a previous post: 1.2 Narrative Structures. In it we’ll look at Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse as an example of my personal favorite structure: Two Quests.

    SPOILERS. (Obviously.)

    1.2 Narrative Structures

    1.2 Narrative Structures

    In the previous post, we took a minute to define what exactly makes up a story. Literally. Breaking Story down into its fundamental components. We then used these to build it back up again.

    Today we’re going to look at narrative structures. We’ll explore classical structures you’re probably familiar with, some which maybe you haven’t seen; then finally, end off with how I personally tend to structure my narratives.

    So let’s jump in!

    1.1 What is a Story?

    1.1 What is a Story?

    Story writing is such a big subject. There’s so, so much to talk about. So much to think about. I expect in future posts we’ll be doing some pretty deep dives. I’ve found one of the easiest mistakes to make, however, is taking stuff granted. Assuming I know what I know. Assuming that I’m right. So let’s start this off putting first things first.

    What is a story?

    5 Things to Remember When Writing “Scary”

    5 Things to Remember When Writing “Scary”

    Of the thirteen known months, October is by far the spoo-o-o-o-o-okiest. (Sorry, Febru-scary.) And in the spirit of this month’s general macabre-ishness, here’s a post about writing ‘scary’. Specifically, what DOES and does NOT work when you’re trying to turn your prose into … boos. (Ghostly boos, that is, not ‘you suck’ boos.)

    So here’s a list of six BOOS and BOO-NOTS to remember when writing scary stories.

    BOJACK: SEASON FIVE'S STRONGEST MOMENTS

    BOJACK: SEASON FIVE'S STRONGEST MOMENTS

    It’s no surprise the latest season of BoJack Horseman is (with little room for doubt) the strongest in the series so far. We’ve already come to know the characters: who they are, why they are, and what made them that way. We’re aware of the stakes: living their lives, these people constantly put their health and sanity on the line. Just waking up, they risk psychological destruction; they risk destroying each other every single day. The show’s world has grown large enough to provide endless ammunition dumb-but-awesome animal puns and smart-but-accessible meta-humour. And best of all, the quality has never dropped off. Each season experiments with what was already done in the previous, adding new flavours, new toppings into the mix. Funnier than before. Darker, more introspective. No wonder it only seems to get better.

    Nightmare at the Museum

    Nightmare at the Museum

    My first real experience of a modern art museum was not more than a couple years ago when I travelled to Los Angeles. Now, I claim no expertise on any kind of (visual) art, but in the few experiences I’ve had since that trip, I’ve noticed something about modern art museums. They are, at once, fascinating and off-putting. I would even say they can be a little disturbing. Upsetting.