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Showing posts from 2023

Announcing: Weird Writing Advice

🖊️ I'm a Weirdo, What the Hell am I Doing Here? I have led a local writing discussion group and critique circle since... oh... time immemorial. I give a lot of good advice, apparently. Good enough that more than one person has asked if I have ever written or would ever consider writing a craft book. I have always shied away from the idea. On the one hand, I have a lot of breadth  of knowledge, but not necessarily enough to deep-dive on any one topic, and craft books tend to be deep dives. Nobody wants to buy Save The Cat Gives Broad Uncontextualized Writing Advice . And also, my advice is... unconventional. It works for me, sure, but most people would not find it practical. To wit, whenever someone complains that it's hard to come up with a good title for their story, I suggest that they come up with a good title first and then write a story that fits it, rather than the other way around. And they generally look at me like I have two heads. Even when I assure them that this is

Stray Thoughts: An Ironic Die Hard Christmas

🎄And I'll Walk as Damn Hard as I Please... It's time once again for the annual debate about whether or not Die Hard  constitutes a Christmas movie, and since y'all know how these things works I'm just going to skip to the part where I say: It is for some people and that's fine; it's not for me, but I don't care very strongly about it. I'm just not compelled by the arguments for it. Does it take place at Christmas? Yes. Is Christmas integral to the plot? Absolutely. Is it thematically about Christmas-y things? No. No, it's not. And before you bring up "it's about bringing family together," that is a stretch and you know it. Reconciling with your ex is not "bringing family together," not in the holiday sense, and oh yeah, bringing family together isn't even a Christmas movie theme. Christmas movies are about discovering or re-discovering the true meaning of Christmas, full-stop. Now, this can take a number of forms, and bri

Stray Thoughts: Adapting Les Misérables

🥖 Well You Know We All Want To Change The World... Victor Hugo's magnum opus Les Misérables  is kind of like The Ramones. It's important, it's influential, and it's left an indelible mark on the culture... but is it actually all that good? Oh, there are great moments in it, to be sure. But, like, it's also got long boring stretches and is very much of its time in a way that's impenetrable to a modern consumer. And... okay, this metaphor is breaking down so I'm going to abandon it. It's weirdly structured, droning, and melodramatic. And yet it's oddly compelling. The best-known adaptation is the musical, originally penned in French in 1980, and whose English translation has been a staple of both the British and American stages for nearly four decades now. Additionally, there have been a total of nine film adaptations going back to the 1930s, plus a concert film, multiple miniseries, and an anime. And it just so happens that one of these adaptations i

Consumed With Hate Dishonorable Mentions

💩 And I Don't Like Anybody Very Much... Time to mix up the format again. This week we're looking at a bunch of things that I hate... but don't really have anything interesting to say about. Or, at least, not enough to justify their own post. So, in no particular order, here are things that I'm not thrilled about, but on a much smaller scale. Bad Movies I Haven't Seen The following movies are things that are notoriously bad that I considered watching for this project, but never got around to: Zoom , The Book of Henry , The Snowman , Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close , Shock Treatment , Green Lantern , Suicide Squad . Don't worry, they're terrible. Maybe I'll watch them some time in the future. Robin Hood (2010) I was actually planning to write about this one and got a little behind because my November was crazy. The movie started out as a script called Nottingham  that was essentially a police procedural in which the Sheriff tracks down an elusive thi

Consumed With Hate: Peter Jackson's Hobbit Trilogy

💍 Bravest Little Hobbit of Them All... The Crime: The Hobbitses The Guilty Party: Peter Jackson, et al Overview: Prequels always suck Why I Hate It... Yes, I was going to do Ridley Scott's Robin Hood , but I've had a last-minute change of heart, so here we are. Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings  is one of the great cinematic accomplishments of the modern age. A nobody director who made splatter flicks went after a set of books long held to be unfilmable and put out three visual marvels, grand sweeping epics that were monster commercial successes, awards bait, critical darlings, and cultural touchstones to boot. The impact on the film industry also cannot be overstated--suddenly extended cut DVDs and three-hour theatrical runtimes were normal. It is a small wonder that four years later it was announced that The Hobbit , the book that The Lord of the Rings  is a sequel to, would be released as two films, with much of the same cast reprising their roles

Consumed With Hate: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

🌌 What If God Was One Of Us... The Crime:  Star Trek V: The Final Frontier The Guilty Party: William Shatner Overview: Shatner directs an outing that's long on philosophy and short on anything at all happening Why I Hate It... While a lot of fun gets poked at it, Star Trek IV: The One With The Whales  is arguably the best (or at least second-best) in the series. It's fun, it leans into the character camaraderie, and tells a story about making intergalactic peace through persistence and science. It nicely caps off the story arc that was started with Wrath of Khan  and resets the entire crew back to their pre- Khan  status quo, working as both a potential endpoint for the original cast (who were quickly aging out of their roles) and as a jumping off point for more. The guiding hand here was Leonard Nimoy, who wanted to make a movie that didn't rely on spectacle or a charismatic villain or solving a problem by shooting guns at it. The result is a film that--despite the gimmic

Consumed With Hate: Munchkin

🧚 We Represent the Lollipop Guild... The Crime:  Munchkin The Guilty Party: Steve Jackson Overview: A low-effort D&D send-up that walks the line between party game and RPG-lite strategy game without really succeeding at either. Why I Hate It... Finding balance in board game design is hard. You don't want there to be a clear winning strategy, or everyone just races for that. You want there to be some kind of catch-up mechanic, in case you make a bad--or just unlucky--decision early on so you're not completely screwed for the rest of the game. This is especially true in the kinds of Euro-style board games that I favor, where there's competition but not a lot of direct interaction. E.g., you and I are attempting these similar goals and drawing from the same scarce resource pool, but we're not actually touching each other's boards at all. Striking that balance from a design standpoint, and doing it well, requires a great deal of finesse, playtesting, and thoughtful

Consumed With Hate: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

🤼 No Matter How They Tossed the Dice, It Had To Be... The Crime: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice The Guilty Party: Warner Bros Overview: Hacked to bits and frankensteined together by a committee of clout-chasing executives desperate to prove they could be just as good at this as Marvel, Batman v Superman  is the worst tentpole film I've ever seen. Why I Hate It... I love bad movies. I love picking them apart, figuring out why they didn't work, trying to see through to the director's intent and trying to grok how the whole thing went to pieces. Now, not all bad movies are created equal. Last week's entry, Man of Steel , is mostly just boring because it lacks a coherent narrative direction. Manos: The Hands of Fate  is terrible, but it was an indie film made by incompetents in the 60s and the only reason anyone has heard of it at all is because it got a send-up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 . But every now and then the stars align (ahem) and you get something that i

Consumed With Hate: Man of Steel

🦸‍♂️ A Cloudy Day in Metropolis... The Crime:  Man of Steel The Guilty Party: Zack Snyder Overview: Zack Snyder's deconstruction falls flat because he doesn't like superheroes and is real bad at juggling theme, setting the entire DCEU down a path of idiocy. Why I Hate It... Way back in March, I did a write-up of Sucker Punch , a movie that doesn't work, but that I can't help but admire for its ambition and bravado. And I posited that the main reason it doesn't work is that it's a theme-rich film helmed by a director who's really bad at managing theme and integrating it with story and character arc. And I stand by that. Snyder is good at many things--he's an excellent visual stylist and second only to George Miller in terms of being able to shoot chaotic action sequences and keep them coherent. But when it comes to thematic storytelling, he's not good. For most of his filmography it hasn't mattered all that much. Nobody saw 300  because they were

Consumed With Hate: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

🛏️ Sweet Dreams are Made of This... The Crime: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare The Guilty Party: Robert Englund, mostly Overview: Freddy Krueger evolves into his final form, a half-hearted high-camp imitation of himself, for what was supposed to be a final outing. Why I Hate It... It's hard to overstate how big of a deal Freddy Krueger was in the 80s. On the elementary school playground we would pretend to be him and recite the series' nursery rhyme and listen to slightly cooler kids (read: kids whose parents were a bit looser with what they'd allow the progeny to rent) regale us with details of the plot and the many inventive murders. He was an existential threat with a terrifying gimmick--seriously, what 8-year-old isn't afraid of nightmares already?--but one that was inexplicably cool-looking and laced with dumb jokes and the knives on your hands. Not only was he iconic, but he was fully-formed right out of the gate, unlike his contemporary Jason Vorhees, who