October 27 2014

Constantine? Pretty Good.

So, a while back I wrote this.

Watched the premiere on the DVR last night, and I have to say it really was good.

There’s some they got right.

  • Matt Ryan has the character down. He could push it a bit further and be a bit more of a bastard, but I chalk that up to script and not to the actor
  • The mythos is there: Trench coat? Check. Newcastle? Check. Nergal? Check. Mother dead in childbirth/resulting daddy issues? Check. (And a lovely little easter egg with the loving, lingering shot on Dr. Fate’s helmet.)
  • Manny: new character, but a clever way of handling the big backstory of the battle between heaven and hell while demonstrating that the “good guys” may not be all that pure of motive — an essential piece of the story, to my mind.

 

There’s some they got not quite right.

  • Atlanta? I realize it’s an American series, but there’s a very distinct flavor that comes from the British mysticism that defined Hellblazer that’s hard to convey on this side of the pond. Doesn’t kill the opportunities for storytelling. There’s enough fracturing in the collective American psyche to fuel all sorts of hellish storytelling. But the change in venue will take some getting used to.
  • Chas. Love this character. Love this actor. And the limey bastard just isn’t himself without his loyal cabbie. But when was resurrection part of his schtick? I remember him as just another magic dabbler of an even more petty variety. The immortality thing seems an odd choice. Maybe the show runners thought he needed a hook to make him worthy of our care? But what always made Chas a great character was his regular bloke who had enough inner strength to stick by Constantine when he was at his lowest/bastard-est.
  • Smoking. I get it. Not something we want to glorify on American TV. But “Dangerous Habits” was a great bit of storytelling, and rumor has it they want to adapt it for the show — which makes it quite possibly a weaker story without John’s vice on full display. The nervous tic with the Zippo lighter is, in general, a nice substitute — but only if they steer clear of the cancer storyline later.

On the whole, what’s right balances out the odd choices. I’m looking forward to watching it find its groove.

August 13 2014

First Draft Complete

Just a brief post to say:

347 pages

86,750 words

And in less than two years this time!

July 9 2014

Yes, Please

Out for my birthday, even. Thanks, Mr. Gilliam!

July 3 2014

Just for Giggles

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2005, in the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden at the Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA. Here I am, recreating my ever popular dramatic bedtime rendition of Green Eggs and Ham. Legend has it that my grandfather went to high school with Dr. Seuss. This makes me, if I’m doing my math correctly, 26th in line for the British royal crown.

Or possibly just a guy with an apocryphal family story. One of those.

May 12 2014

Holy $#i+! This Could Be Good!

I am excited about this perhaps more than I should be. Matt Ryan certainly looks the part, even without a lit Silk Cut hanging out of his mouth. Hellblazer was one of my favorite comics in the 90s, consistently well written. I have stalwartly refused to see the Keanu Reeves Constantine simply because it seemed such a betrayal of the basic character (so I can’t and won’t comment on the quality of the movie — other than to say Keanu was bad casting). I am now offering up a silent “pleasepleaseplease” to the universe.

OTOH, I could use another TV obsession like another kidney stone, so I might not complain too harshly if it sucks.

May 7 2014

Squirrel!

So, I try to maintain a practice of only writing one book at a time. I’m nearing the end of the current project, which of course means the next one has begun jumping up and down in my head, demanding attention. I lay awake for a good chunk of last night as the first chapter played out on the movie screen in my head. This was my experience with the current project, too — it was screaming for attention as I wrapped up the one I’m currently querying. Now, I’m starting to question that practice. Do I give in? Write the chapter for the new thing while it’s still fresh? Or tell it to calm the fuck down while I finish the task at hand?

April 3 2014

Glimmers of Hope

Had my first request for a full manuscript in well over a year on Seraph this week. Now, I just need to remember to breathe deep and not get too lost in fantasy-land. And keep writing.

The new book is getting closer to completion. I’ve begun the build-up to the final confrontations, which is always the point where it gets tempting to rush full-tilt boogie to the end. Again, remember to breathe. And keep writing.

December 29 2013

2013 – Favorites

Note: This is not a “best of” list, nor is it by any means an exhaustive list of favorites. These are the things that have stuck with me this year, in no particular order of preference. Enjoy!

Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

The wannabe filmmaker in me loved the story of how creative and ingenious Zala and Strompolos were in getting their love letter to Indiana Jones onto film. The human being in me was moved nearly to tears by the story of how in the long run their work ultimately saved their friendship, and at least one of their lives. Above all, this story is a testament to the saving power of art.

Pacific Rim

Not the best film of the year. Some would even argue it was a flop. However, for a boy who used to run home from school every day to catch Voltron and its myriad Japanese cousins, this movie was a dream come true. Guillermo del Torro cements himself as one of my favorite visual storytellers.

 

The Good Wife

Okay, so  I’m a little late to this party. My wife started watching this on Amazon Prime while I was out of town, but I got sucked in pretty quickly. Great cast, an enviable list of guest performers, and Alan Cumming chewing scenery as only Alan Cumming can. But really, the appeal of this show comes down to the writing, and there are two things about the writing on The Good Wife that stand out:

  • Strong, three-dimensional female characters. And when I say strong, I don’t mean the usual TV “strong female” (i.e. “We write this character as a man from our male perspective, but we cast a woman! See, we’re progressive!!”), but characters who are both comfortable in their skins and stand on equal ground with their male counterparts (and sometimes above them) without having to play the “one of the boys” game.
  • You know that trope where a TV episode will start in the middle of some crisis or conflict involving the main character which leads to a cliffhanger moment, and then the screen goes to black and the words “48 hours earlier” appear? I HATE that trope! It was cute – maybe – the first time I saw it, and now every drama does it at least twice in a season. It’s a phenomenally lazy means of getting a viewer invested in what’s happening that week, and an insult to one’s intelligenceAnd The Good Wife doesn’t resort to it.They’ll draw you in by starting in media res, to be sure. But they don’t then turn around and spoon feed you the beginning (hell, they won’t always tell you they’re starting in the middle, either). They drive on with the story and trust that the interaction between characters and the little ways that they let you into the characters’ inner lives will get you the rest of the way there. See the episode “Death of a Client” to see what I’m talking about (and get the added bonus of a sublime performance from John Noble, who I still think should have received an Emmy nod for his work on Fringe).

tl;dr: This show not only doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence, it seems to have faith in it, which is a nice change of pace.

 

Marriage Equality

OK, so it’s not a nationwide thing yet. But, it arrived in my home state of New Mexico as an early Christmas present (I thought we were going to have to wait several more years), and then Utah – UTAH!! – quickly followed making for eighteen states where love=love. Period. This train has left the station, and I couldn’t be happier.

Happy 2014, everyone!

September 9 2013

No Voyaging

Harper Voyager said “No” to Seraph. It’s disappointing, but not unexpected. I’m querying Tor, next.

May 16 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness — spoiler free review

A great cast was handed not so much a script as a dump that Kurtzman, Orci, and Lindelof took all over everything good about Star Trek. A terrible movie was then made. Lazy, anger-inducing writing. Frequent slaps in the face to fans of the classic series. I left the theater angry. Save your money.