Friday Free for All-4/11

Welcome to the Friday Free For All, where I’ll post things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else.This week on the Free for All: Spotify melts my face, FX’s ‘FARGO’ looks pretty interesting, and I’m finally starting to get my online platform together (I think).

First off, some entertainment: This little earwig showed up on my Spotify suggestions a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn’t stop listening to it. I found the official video, and couldn’t stop watching it. I’ve embedded both the official video and the video for a pretty cool live performance. Forgive me if this was a huge song years ago…I don’t follow music as much as I used to.

Next up is the new FX show, ‘FARGO’, starring Angelina Jolie’s Ex husband and Younger Bilbo Watson. It’s based on the movie of the same name directed by the Coen Brothers. I’ve never seen the original movie (something I’ll rectify this weekend), but the show promises to be its own thing. Since FX has a decent pedigree and ‘Justified’ just wrapped its season, I’m looking for something new to watch on Tuesdays. Here’s a seven minute look at the pilot:

So, as far as my ‘Online Platform’ and ‘Social Media Presence’ is concerned, its been lacking as of late. Actually, it was never there to begin with. That changes now! Prepare yourself, Internet, to be BLITZED!

Actually, no. I won’t be blitzing anything. I will be keeping a more rigid schedule. And I’m telling people about this schedule because it’ll add pressure to keep to said schedule.

Mondays will belong to my Vicarious Viewing series of reviews. Currently, I’m reviewing ‘Game of Thrones’, but I may throw something else in there at some point. Perhaps a review about a certain giant, radioactive behemoth. Who knows.

Wednesdays belong to ‘Works in Progress’, where I’ll share a bit of writing for you all to set to the torch (I know you want to, but you don’t. Why? It’s the only way I’m going to get better…) or a drawing or something. A few friends of mine from school and I are also planning out a video project, so expect news on that.

Fridays are Free for All. I don’t know what I’ll do. It could be something KRAZY! But probably not. I’m much too evenly keeled for that.

Saturdays and Sundays are workdays. That’s when I’ll be putting together most of my content.

As for Tuesdays and Thursdays, those belong to my project over on a tumblr account I opened a year ago and finally figured out something to do with. It’s called the “Blackwood Gazette”, and it’s a fake news blog that takes place in my fictional ‘Blackwood Empire’ setting (remember Mass Effect 2’s Cerberus Network? No? Well…then…think of The Onion). I haven’t figured a way to embed a tumblr feed on WordPress, so any tips with that will be greatly appreciated. In the mean time I’ll just link them into the Free for All.

So the challenge has been set…I must stick to this schedule. I WILL stick to this schedule! (One week later…)

Until then, have a good weekend, all!

Friday Free for All-4/11

A Personal Update

For those who read my blog, I apologize for not posting recently. About a week ago, my laptop blue screened on me and I lost a great deal of work, including a near final draft of a book I hoped to publish through CreateSpace by June, as well as the art assets for the trailer I was making to promote it. I also lost the entirety of my NaNoWriMo entry for 2013. I’m not so broken up about that (it wasn’t very good), and I probably would have ended up rewriting 90% of it anyway. It’s my own fault in the end for growing complacent in my back-up habits. Lesson learned.
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A Personal Update

The NaNoWriMo Week Two Doldrums

During this year’s NaNo, I first heard of a concept known as the week two doldrums, in which the participant finds him or herself at a standstill. The pressure of hitting the daily count, good old writer’s block, and the call of the outside world can all contribute to this.

I myself have found myself facing this situation this year (last year it was more like week 3.5). I had reached a point where I began to feel the story I’ve chosen to write does not have the meat to carry 50,000 words. My protagonist was stowed away in a fortified bunker, and the antagonist was waiting outside with no way to get in. My two opposing forces had reached a stalemate, and so had I.

I’ve still been plugging away, however, nowhere near the point of giving it up. Granted, most of my word count has consisted of half page descriptions of air vents and loopy, overly complicated mental soliloquies meant to explain various character motivations, but the count has been made. I can reel all the bullshit in later. And, all of the garbage I’ve written this past week hasn’t been for naught. It’s simply helped me find the path.

I had a bit of an epiphany last night…that my story isn’t about the person I thought it was about. I went into this meaning to write a direct sequel to the work I produced during last year’s challenge, focusing on the character of Pixie Sinclaire. But Pixie isn’t the star here…she’s definitely a player in the events of the story, but it isn’t her story. It’s the story of Arufina Villanova, and the band of gunslinging assassins/bounty hunters sent to capture Sinclaire, and the dynamic between them. It’s a siege tale told in reverse…Assault on Precinct 13 told from the perspective of the gang members, Rio Bravo through the eyes of the bandits, Night of the Living Dead as told by the zombies (okay, that one’s a stretch). I began today’s writing session using this direction as my guide, and I’m happy to say that the story has been infused with a much needed shot of adrenaline.

Hopefully, I can keep this pace up. I’m coming up on the half way mark, both of the story and of my deadline, and I still have to get past the Thanksgiving holiday. The sudden change in direction means that re-writes are going to be a real pain, but I find myself looking forward to the challenge. I feel like I have the potential for a nice, action packed romp, and I think I can salvage it.



The NaNoWriMo Week Two Doldrums

NaNo13 Update

Well, it’s day four and NaNo is well underway. I think I’ve found a pretty good stride, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job of throwing caution to the wind.

Last year I spent as much time self editing while writing as I did actually writing. This year, I’m trying to maintain forward momentum, no matter what. Correcting typos and misspellings as I go is almost second nature to me…not much I can do about that. Hitting delete and fixing mistakes I know I’ve made is pretty much automatic. I’ve done it at least three times since I started typing this post.

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NaNo13 Update

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo 2013!

It’s almost here…National Novel Writing Month! The goal: Put 50,000 words to paper (or word processor, pick your medium of choice) before the end of November. 1667 words a day. Sound easy? It is…for the first few days. You’re starting something new…new characters, new problems, maybe even a new world if your thing is sci-fi/fantasy.

Then you start working on a plot, and second guessing yourself and begin worrying about revision. Not to mention, depending on whatever cultural traditions you adhere to, you have about three or four days where you’re surrounded by family, including nieces and nephews who keep bothering you to  watch them play Batman: Arkham City. Well, those are the complications I’ve faced in the past, anyway.

I first heard about NaNo a couple of years ago, but didn’t participate in earnest until last year. There are two schools of thought in the community; ‘Planners’, who spend October hammering out outlines and character sketches and what not, and ‘Pantsers’, so named for their tendency to write by the seat of their pants. I’m a natural procrastinator, so put me firmly in the ‘Pantser’ category. It’s disorganized, chaotic and stressful, and it’s a blast.

I kept up fairly well, but miscalculated and ended up having to spend the last day squeezing 6000 words out of my brain, not an easy task when you’re second or even triple guessing everything you’re putting down.

But that’s what NaNo is about…it’s about finding the freedom to write, and to write BADLY. It’s about expunging all the crappy metaphors and melodramatic scenarios you secretly  wish were okay to put down on paper, but would make anyone else eye-roll so hard the force would tear the skull from their spinal chord.

It’s about throwing caution to the wind and letting the story run rampant on the page without any sense, allowing yourself and your characters to be a little bit goofy. It’s supposed to be about fun. It’s about letting loose with a 500 quintillion megaton imagination H-Bomb on the world and reveling in the destruction.

Sifting through the fallout, picking through the wreckage and finding something salvageable…that’s what January is for.

So, if you happen to be reading this and are a writer who hasn’t heard of NaNoWriMo, check out the event’s page at Hope to see you there!

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo 2013!

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest “Liberty” Review

Season two of “Person of Interest” ended on one hell of a dilemma: the “Machine”, a supercomputer that could take all of the nations surveillance from around the world and predict the possibility of violence before it happened, had become self aware. So much so, that it had taken measures to protect itself by arranging to have its physical components moved to an undisclosed location: not even Harold Finch, the Machine’s creator, knows where it is.

It’s an interesting set up for a show that started out as little more than a high-tech police procedural, and season two expanded the show into one of the better science fiction shows on TV at the moment. How many other shows have explored the idea of a benevolent AI? And in light of recent events concerning government surveillance, the show seems more relevant now than ever.

It’s surprising then, that season three begins with such a low key plotline. “Liberty” was a standard number of the week episode that had Reese, Finch, and Shaw (now a regular cast member), working to protect a navy petty officer on shore leave who has run afoul of a group of diamond smuggling Force Recon Marines.

First, an aside: I served in the Marine Corps, and something I’ve noticed in movies and tv is that when it comes to Navy versus Marines, Marines are always portrayed as the bad guy. It’s getting old, Hollywood. While there is a rivalry between the branches of service, it tends to be amicable, especially when said members of different branches are part of, what I’m assuming, the same detachment. That’s been my experience, anyway.

Military pedantry aside, the episode had some great moments. It begins by catching us up with the team. A man gets kidnapped and thrown into the back of a van. It looks like he’s screwed until one of the kidnappers realizes that one of their own is playing a game on his phone. Surprise! It’s Reese, and before everyone can react, he kneecaps them all and the van crashes. The victim runs away, telling Reese “You’re crazy!” Reese laments the fact that no one ever thanks him as a patrol car rolls up. Out steps Carter, no longer a detective after the events of the season two finale.

Meanwhile, Shaw is on a date with scum bag who tried to put one over on the mob. As he tries to sweet talk her, Shaw informs him that she knows what he did, and the only reason she agreed to go out with him was because he had a price on his head. Cue hit team, Shaw jumps up and kills them all, using Fusco (disguised as a horse cart driver, with a fake chin strap beard for some reason) as a shield.

These scenes were pretty silly, but they re-introduced the new team in an entertaining way while also setting up the friction caused by Shaw, who’s proving to be a bit of loose cannon. Later on in the episode, she gets a hold of new sniper rifle and laments not getting to try it out at first. In the episode’s climactic scene, however, she gets to use her new toy, covering Reese from a nearby rooftop. “I’m hungry,” she says once the smoke has cleared. “You’re gonna buy me a steak.” I’ve always found her to be a fun element of the show, and I look forward to see how her character is developed.

I’ve called PoI the closest thing we have to a Batman tv show, and if Reese is Bruce, and Harold a combination of Oracle and Alfred, then Shaw is kind of like the Jason Todd Robin, a young hot head that doesn’t see eye to eye with Reese’s more non-lethal approach.

I had a few problems with the episode. First, while Fusco has been used as comic fodder in the past, the way he was used in this episode was troubling. Reese pretty much leaves him in a room with an active bomb, and then goes to confront the man holding the detonator, having no way of knowing if Fusco was able to diffuse it. This not only puts Fusco in danger, but the young petty officer the bomb is strapped to as well. Fusco does manage to diffuse it, of course, just as the Big Bad presses the button. It was sloppy story telling for the sake of a cheap thrill.

Another problem, during the same scene…when this week’s Number goes to sell the smuggled diamonds to a Russian broker, the Force Recon team just kind of pops up from behind the counter, resulting in a stand off. Perhaps I need to watch the episode again, but right now I have no idea where they came from. Were they already there? That would be odd, considering the Russians had their own team waiting on the floor above. Not to mention the store where they met was owned by the Russian broker. And why send the Number to make the deal when they were planning to pop up anyway?

Now, the good stuff. Carter was a highlight of the episode, as we learn that she’s keeping the show’s super villain, a crime lord named Elias, in a safe house after saving him last season and using him for information. It’s also revealed that she’s actively investigating the murder of a fellow detective in her own time, still working to bring down the criminal conspiracy that killed him.

Another nice element was Reese seeing of bit of his younger self in this week’s Number. When the petty officer expresses a desire for a normal life outside of the military, despite being a candidate for the S.E.A.L.S. and wanting to do some good, Reese suggests that maybe he’s meant for something more than an ordinary life. He also says that the CIA may one day come calling, but if they do, tell them no. It’s a small, but very telling bit of character developement from Reese that the show does very well.

Also strong was the B story involving the hacker Root. Amy Acker continues to deliver in this role, as we learn that she has begun to deify the Machine and is currently in the middle of a debate with it over how she is going to deal with the criminal psychologist who is treating her. “God is eleven years old,” she tells him at the end of the episode, in a chilling scene that raises some interesting questions. What is the deal with  the Machine’s continued interest in Root? If it’s making it’s own decisions now (and those decisions are based in altruism…it’s still choosing to send out numbers to save lives, after all) why does it continue to communicate with a violent psychopath? Does it enjoy being worshipped? Has it developed a split personality? Does it plan to use her as a contingency plan? Or perhaps it sees her as a victim that can be saved? Is the machine truly as benevolent as we believe? I look forward to this season exploring these issues further.

Vicarious Viewing- Person of Interest “Liberty” Review