Diary

Another Monday, Post-Evisceration

Stomach is starting to heal from the hernia surgery. Turns out it’s painful for your guts to come out, and JUST AS PAINFUL to put them back in again. So, you know. Don’t do that.

Keep that shit on the inside, if you have the option.

Because I’ve been anchored to the couch for medicinal reasons, been watching a shitload of The Walking Dead, old episodes, and they just remind me how great season 1 and season 2 were. I know, everyone hates season 2, but on Netflix, in binge-form, it really works. It has some of the best character work in the series, and the Shane/Rick stuff is intense as hell. It’s funny because no matter how many tanks or evil baseball bats they give their new villains, none of them are as intimidating as Shane’s unhinged, slack-lipped murder stare. Jon Bernthal (Shane) was and is the absolute man. Probably the only actor on the show so far who could match Andrew Lincoln’s Rick in acting ability and gravitas.

Been trying to play Mass Effect: Andromeda too (with all my new couch time), and it just absolutely refuses to become good. Damn shame, considering how excellent the last trilogy was. Well, caveat – how good Mass Effect 2 and 3 were. Mass Effect 1 had a lot of the problems Mass Effect: Andromeda is having. The games work when they’re little episodes of Star Trek. The games fail when they try to present some wide-open boring landscape to putter around in in an under-powered space car.

Okay, those are all my thoughts for today.

Got some good writing in just now – Deadgirl 4 is finally starting to shape up into something I like. Easy realization that made it happen: Deadgirl 4 is not Star Wars. I kept trying to make it this big crazy epic story with all these characters and forgot that the series is about Lucy.

Now that I’m listening to her voice again it’s all rolling out.

Categories: Books, Deadgirl, Diary, Review, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

3 Movie Conspiracy Theories That Gotta Die

As movie fans, we love digging into the meat of a movie’s plot like a cyborg velociraptor with obesity issues. We even love constructing new narratives within existing narratives, like Russian nesting dolls shaped like cyborg velociraptors.

Unfortunately, just because a theory sounds cool, doesn’t mean it holds any weight, much like how the tiny hands of a cyborg velociraptor have difficulty holding weight. Here’s three AMAZING theories that are completely bullshit, ranked from least bullshit to most bullshit.

3.) Skyfall’s Villain is M’s Son

THE1

Skyfall’s enigmatic villain “Raoul Silva” was one of the better Bond villains to emerge in years, and was played with a fascinating yawning malevolence by Javier Bardem. One of the scarier things about him (besides his melting face) is his mystery – even after the credits roll, we never quite learn what Silva’s deal was. We get vague hints: he was an MI6 Agent, he worked in Hong Kong, he got a little too big for his britches and M had to trade him to the enemy to grease some diplomatic wheels. Still, by the end, we never quite learn why M seemed so disgusted with him, or why Silva appeared to be nutbars in love with her, or even what kind of man he was before his transformation.

Stephen L. Carter, a writer for the BloombergView, released an interesting theory about the movie last November. According to him, the answer lies in anagrams. He posits that since Raoul Silva’s self-made name can be translated into an apropos anagram – namely, “a rival soul” – that Silva’s message to M – “THINK ON YOUR SINS” – must also be an anagram as well. I’ll save you the trip to grab a pad of paper – the anagram, according to Carter, unfolds into “YOUR SON ISNT IN HK.”

HK stands for “Hong Kong,” which is where Silva was operating before he was betrayed by M. Thus, Silva must be M’s son. It explains the strange love he has for her, the weight of her betrayal (and later his own attacks on her). The reason he hesitates when killing her at the end, and the reason she hesitates to kill him when the gun is stuffed into her palm.

THE2

LET THE SKYYYYFAAAAALLLL

Why It’s Wrong: It’s an interesting theory, and I enjoy gliding my brain-jet through the theory’s air-hoops. I’m a big anagram nerd (whilst reading the second Harry Potter book, I figured out on my own that “Tom Marvolo Riddle” translated into the name of our favorite dark lord), and the idea that a huge plot point would be stuffed into an anagram makes parts of my anatomy stiffen.

Unfortunately, it completely misses the point that the movie is trying to make. Skyfall is about who we become, not where we came from. It’s about duality, and outlining the paths we take. Bond and Silva are supposed to be similar – Silva even explains that once upon a time, he was M’s favorite agent. Silva (really Tiago Rodriguez – anagram “A Gooier Drug Zit”) was the one saving the world, getting the girls, and being kind of a dick.

Silva’s origins are left smoky because so are Bond’s. Like Silva, we get small tastes – we visit Bond’s childhood home, we meet his groundskeeper, we learn his parents died and he didn’t take it very well. However, when M tries to explicitly ask Bond to share his origins with the audience, Bond himself steps in to preserve the mystery: “You already know. You know the whole story.” What he’s really saying is “it doesn’t matter.”

Not Pictured: Fucks Given

Not Pictured: Fucks Given

This is proved later in the story when Skyfall burns around him. We expect some kind of grand moment of catharsis where Bond makes peace with his unhappy childhood (or maybe even squirts nostalgia), but all he says is “I always hated this place.” Then he actually takes part in making sure the building is demolished, without a hint of pathos. He knows his origins don’t matter – he isn’t where he was born. He isn’t what happened to him. Bond is Bond because of his actions, and nothing else. He’s not even a man who puts much faith in words.

Bond, in the very beginning of the story, is betrayed by M. She orders Bond’s partner to take an unsafe shot that nearly kills Bond. In fact, everyone thinks he’s dead for a long while. Bond plays the part of the retired agent, but when he spots a dire news report he straps on his Walther and goes back to work. Silva, as a direct contrast (“a rival soul”), turns into a murdering, raving loon after being betrayed by M. Silva tries to get us to sympathize with him, something M starkly brushes off – there’s never any hint of guilt on her face. This is a spy’s game, and though she felt a connection with Silva (like she does Bond), his actions are his own. Silva wasn’t forced to become the thing he became. He chose to, and he’s going to pay for it.

For England

For England

Silva definitely views M as a mother figure – as does Bond. But the idea that M is actually Silva’s mother is taking a beautiful metaphor and crushing it beneath the boot heel of literalism. It doesn’t matter where Silva came from. It just matters what he chooses to become.

Plus, anagrams are like prophecies – they can mean whatever you see. For instance, “James Bond” breaks into “a job mends.” Pretty revealing, for a deeply-flawed person who’s only redeeming quality is the work that he performs. THINK ON YOUR SINS can break down into lots of phrases, like “Honky Intrusions” and “Uh try onionskins.”

2.) Ferris Bueller is a Figment of Cameron’s Imagination

THE4

You know the theory – like Fight Club (spoiler alert?), the milquetoast character’s raucous best friend is actually a mental projection who doesn’t exist. Jack had his Tyler Durden, and Cameron Frye has his Ferris Bueller.

The theory goes that Cameron is suicidal from loneliness, and is deeply ashamed of the lame nobody he’s spent his high school years as. His dad hates him (and abuses him, let’s be honest), his mother is distant, and he lives in a cold museum-like home that appears to actively disdain children. The only attention Cameron gets is from playing sick, which he frequently does whenever he succumbs to his boredom and melancholy.

Enter Ferris Bueller, the ridiculous, over-the-top, supernaturally successful high school star that everyone loves. He’s got a beautiful girlfriend, he’s always the smartest person in the room, and all the other students seem to worship him for no real stated reason. Ferris Bueller then goes on to fake an illness (Cameron’s constant move) to skip school. It has the side-effect of garnering attention – except, unlike Cameron’s illnesses (that gets a slight nod from his parents), Ferris’ illness sparks a grass roots “get well” campaign that would rival something created for a fascist dictator.

THE5

Throughout the movie, Cameron learns to embrace the wild side as he starts to perform the actions that “Ferris” does, and the story culminates with him finally throwing off the shackles of his abusive father and demolishing his beloved car.

There are actually two versions of theory – the more “Fight Club” theory where Cameron is actually doing what Ferris does, and the “complete fantasy” version where Cameron imagines the whole adventure from the comfort of his sick bed. Then, having had an epiphany, he goes into his father’s garage and wrecks the car as his first stepping-stone to becoming a strong person.

Why It’s Wrong: The theory is cute, and it’s definitely a fun lens through which to rewatch a classic that you’ve probably seen dozens of times. Ferris Bueller is practically effervescent in his puckish charms – it’s not a stretch to wonder if he’s even real to begin with. That’s pretty much the only way to view this theory. Taking it seriously is just sillypants.

THE6

Neither version of the theory works because of perspective – mainly, the story is told from multiple viewpoints. Fight Club, by contrast, is told from Jack’s perspective. Every scene features Jack, because he’s hallucinating. Fight Club plays fair – it’s possible to figure out that Tyler Durden and Jack are the same person. In contrast, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off tells the story from Ferris’ perspective, Cameron’s, Principal Rooney’s, Sloan’s, and the most damning of all: Ferris’ sister Jeanie.

What the hell is Jeanie doing in a story about Cameron’s imagination? She clearly lives in a different house than Cameron, and has a whole adventure that only marginally relates to Ferris (and has nothing to do with Cameron’s coming-of-age story). Cameron would have had to imagine her story from whole cloth for no other reason than to add an interesting side plot to his own story, which is a level of insanity reserved for Daffy Duck and fiction writers. Jeanie adds nothing to Cameron’s “becoming a man” fantasy. Principal Rooney at least creates an opposing force for Ferris to humiliate. On the other hand, Jeanie’s plot ends with her and Ferris learning a lesson about family. Cameron is an only child. Ferris isn’t real. Cameron and Jeanie don’t even interact in the story. This lesson is nonsensical if either she’s fictional, Ferris is fictional, or they’re both fictional.

THE7

Sloan herself also presents a problem. If she’s real, then Cameron has a beautiful, charming, confident girlfriend – hardly someone who would hang out with a perpetually ill, mopey, delusion loser like Cameron. If she isn’t real, then what’s her function in the story? They don’t have sex, so boner-bait is out. He sees her naked once, but that’s a pretty lame fantasy life. And, they’re on the verge of a potential break-up due to college – again, another odd thing to fantasize about.

The “Cameron imagines the whole thing from his bed” angle is preposterous for obvious reasons: every movie could be just a hallucination starting from the first scene. Actually, all movies are made-up starting from the first scene, so it’s kind of a pointless “revelation” that doesn’t improve anything. So yeah. Cameron, take us out:

THE8

1.) Deckard from Blade Runner is a Replicant

This is one of the oldest fan theories in modern cinema – the insidious idea that Harrison Ford’s “Rick Deckard” is in fact one of the human-looking replicants that he’s been hired to hunt down. In the original cut of the film, proponents claim there are a few hints – the sterile photographs in Deckard’s apartment, and the fact that he never answers the question when Rachel asks him if he passed the replicant-identifying “Voight-Kampff Test.”

THE9

Those are both pretty thin – the photograph complaint can be dismissed out of hand, and the test non-answer is easily a character move. The person asking him the question in the movie is an angry replicant being subjected to that very test – it would be like screaming at an IRS agent and asking him if he’s ever been audited before. Silence is basically an attempt to let the other person calm down, and to not argue on their level.

The biggest damning evidence actually comes from the Director’s Cut released years after the movie, the one that inserts a deleted scene where Deckard dreams about a unicorn, and is later handed an origami unicorn by a smug Detective Graff. This, proponents of the theory claim, is Graff trying to tell Deckard that he’s a replicant, and that his dreams were implanted.

Conspiracy theorists love it because it’s subversive – look at the big hypocrite killing his own people. Plus, it’s twisty, and people like twisty – it’s fun to imagine that the whole story has been flipped on its head. People feel smart for guessing it. After all, it’s certainly possible within the context of the universe, so why not? There’s also another reason this theory has survived the ages – its biggest fan is the director himself. Ridley Scott believes that Deckard is a replicant, so he must be, right?

Robo-Rachel is not impressed.

Robo-Rachel is not impressed.

Why It’s Wrong: The biggest reason it’s wrong is that, like the Skyfall theory above, it completely pooch-fucks the message of the movie. “Blade Runner” (and the book it’s based off) is about living life. It’s about succumbing to the grind. It’s about learning what to live for and embracing it with all your heart.

Deckard (the human) is a nine-to-five kind of guy. Sure, his job is exotic (hunting mandroids through a cyberpunk megalopolis), but that doesn’t make Deckard any less of an empty shell. He’s a classic workaholic – he eats crappy food, he goes home to his empty apartment, and he works. He doesn’t have a girlfriend or a family; He seems to barely exist outside of his job – like a robot.

His prey, whom he murders, is the exact opposite. They only have a tiny lifespan (as opposed to Deckard’s science-improved long lifespan), were built for one purpose (unlike Deckard), and yet seem to be adore life. They’re fascinated by art, mechanics, even fucking rain. They are gripped with perpetual child-like wonder – they live every moment to the fullest. They cherish all the amazing emotions and experiences they’ve been given. The replicants are literally “more human than human,” the ironic tagline of the company that created them.

THE13

“Einhorn is a man!”

Deckard (the “hero”) murders them one-by-one, and we’re treated to a fantastic reversal in the final reel – though Deckard is the underdog (because he lacks Roy Batty’s enhanced strength and senses), he’s actually become the villain. Roy Batty wants to take revenge on Deckard, not just for murdering Roy’s friends, but for wasting his life. For Deckard being an empty automaton in a magical world. Roy laments his own approaching death and lives his last moments like Deckard never will.

After Roy dies, Deckard actually learns the lesson. He takes his short-lived replicant girlfriend and decides to flee and live what life he can.

If Deckard is a replicant, the whole message of a human learning how to live from a robot is completely obliterated. It just becomes a weird robot-to-robot mentor message that sinks all the irony and beauty in the name of Shyamalalalamanian twistiness.

THE11

“Quiet. Daddy’s talking.”

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: Philip K. Dick (the author of the novel), Hampton Fancher (the writer of the screenplay), and Harrison Ford (Harrison Ford) all thoroughly intended that Deckard be a human being.

Philip K. Dick said it best: “The purpose of this story as I saw it was that in his job of hunting and killing these replicants, Deckard becomes progressively dehumanized. At the same time, the replicants are being perceived as becoming more human. Finally, Deckard must question what he is doing, and really what is the essential difference between him and them? And, to take it one step further, who is he if there is no real difference?”

THE12

Article originally published at Agents of GUARD.

 

Categories: Diary, Movies, Review | Leave a comment

The Wafflers Review of Star Trek: Beyond

STB1

So, I just caught up on the newest entry in the NuTrek saga, and boy was I surprised.

I REALLY took the piss out of this movie when that first, widely-maligned trailer debuted. It seemed like it had been concocted primarily to anger Star Trek fans: rock music, sweet dirt bike jumps, the Enterprise being destroyed IN THE TRAILER, and “from the Director of Fast and Furious.” For me, the only thing that’s fast and furious in Star Trek should be Worf at the helm of the Defiant.

See, it’s a fast ship and he’s angry, so that’s a joke. The joke I just said.

I (and the internet) heaped so much abuse upon the trailer’s back that the writer of the film (and co-star) Simon Pegg had to come out on social media and both A) apologize for the trailer and B) insist that it didn’t truly capture the Trekkian nature of the final film.

So, was Pegg right? Could the director of Fast and Furious make a good Star Trek film?

STB2

Kinda

Okay, so I had a hard time writing this review/essay, primarily because it took so long to process my feelings about the flick. I’m still not 100% convinced of how I feel, but I figured this review might help me find my own thoughts. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll help you find yours.

The question is: was it good? Yes? I think yes.

Let me explain my reticence – Star Trek Beyond is EXACTLY what I thought it could never be: an old Star Trek movie. What’s an old Trek movie? As a lover of Star Trek, I gotta say this: those movies aren’t GREAT if you don’t like Star Trek already. In fact, I’d argue that as stand-alone movies they don’t really work. Not to say that they’re bad (most of them aren’t), but they are very much tied to the assumption that you know these characters, you care about the world, and you’d rather see them in action that worry too much about filmmaking. They are big-budget episodes of the show WHICH IS FINE because they’re for people who watch the show. Like me.

As contrast, let’s look at the last two movies. Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness are BOTH movies that I really enjoy, both as a Star Trek fan and a general movie fan. However, I would say that they weren’t made for Star Trek fans. They were meant to be blockbusters, standing on their own without any knowledge of the Star Trek universe. My wife, who didn’t give two rat turds about Star Trek LOVED those two movies. She loved them so much it kindled a curiosity about Star Trek, one I was happy to sate with choice TNG episodes and old Star Trek flicks.

Now, why? Well, because J.J. Abrams wasn’t a big fan of Star Trek, and wanted to make movies that appealed to EVERYONE. Which, I can’t say I blame him – there are a lot of upsides to his approach. The characterization is really tight because they don’t assume you know the characters. The stories are self-contained and fast-paced. There’s a lot of action and spectacle, and it’s done in an entertaining way.

So, why is Star Trek Beyond different?

STB3

It’s For Fans

Yeah, really. Justin Lin (who it turns out is a big Star Trek fan) directed a movie that feels like a Star Trek: The Original Series episode on tetrameth. Unlike the cranked-down polish of the Abrams movies, Lin instead went with the humor, character moments, techno problem-solving, and philosophical bombast of a true Star Trek episode.

It’s a relatively small story, and could easily be paired down into a 45 minute episode. Visit weird planet, get in adventure, fix a tech thing, credits.

Now, I’m not saying one approach is better than the other – I think Beyond might be a worse movie than the Abrams movies. However, it is paradoxically a better STAR TREK movie than the other two, which is a weird contradiction that hopefully you understand after that setup from earlier.

The movie is filled with character interaction – you could say the whole plot is just an excuse to pair off the cast and have them bounce off each other. The whole middle of the movie is just Spock/Bones, Kirk/Checkov, Uhura/Sulu, and Scotty/Jayla exchanging dialogue and overcoming natural obstacles, and it’s GREAT. Really.

Also, and this is the part that shocked me the most – remember that scene in the trailers where Kirk decides it’s time to abandon intergalacatic diplomacy and officer-decorum and start doing sweet jumps on his dirtbike? It’s actually pretty organic in the movie, and makes perfect sense in context. I know, it shocked me too. Why in God’s name would Kirk have a dirt bike? Explained. Why is he using it for transportation? Explained. Why did he just do a jump off a ramp? Honestly? Explained. By the time the sequence ended it didn’t bother me at all.

Destroying the Enterprise – which is not a spoiler because it’s in the fucking commercial – wrenched my guts. I’m not sure if I hated the scene because I love the Enterprise or I hated the scene because it was unnecessarily pornographic in its glee for destruction, but it made me sick to my stomach. In Star Trek: Search for Spock the Enterprise explodes, and it explodes/crash lands in Generations. But the way it’s done this third time is actively gross, and it really bothered me to see it go down that way. There is an incredible upside to the scene, though – it’s probably the hardest the Enterprise crew has ever worked to keep the ship alive.

No self-destruct, no immediate “abandon ship” when things start looking grim. The crew fight tooth and nail for every square foot of deck plating, and they don’t so much give up on the ship as the ship just doesn’t exist anymore by the time it’s over.

That's . . . that's not really relevant here.

That’s . . . that’s not really relevant right now.

The Villain

The real downside to the story is the plot, which is basically an after-thought. The villain (who faciliates the plot) is equally under-developed. Like Star Trek villains of old (looking at you, Christopher Lloyd), his job is to walk on stage, kick the crew in the balls, and then be safely dispatched before the credits role. His backstory makes no sense, his motivations are both unclear and kind of unbelievable, and the source of his incredible power (and the effect it should have had on the sector) is swept under the rug. Don’t worry about why he wants a McGuffin when his current tools are WAY more powerful than the McGuffin he’s trying to obtain.

The Dumb Climax (No Spoilers)

I’m going to avoid spoilers here, but I am going to say there’s a sequence near the climax which is somehow both the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever seen in a Star Trek movie and also one of the most AWESOME. I think I loved it, but man was it dumb. Still had a grin on my face the whole sequence, though.

So Which Is It

My wife, lover of nuTrek, thought “Star Trek Beyond” was worse than the previous two movies but still entertaining, which I agree with. Hardcore fans of Star Trek seem to think it’s WAY better than the other two movies, which I agree with.

So, I guess I’d say “go watch it.” You’ll find something to like (or love), and it’s definitely not the reeking dumpster fire we all thought it would be. It’s a fun-ass movie with great moments, and I highly recommend it.

stb4

Article originally posted by B.C. Johnson on “Agents of GUARD.”

Categories: Diary, Review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Deadgirl Sequel Out Now, Author Pees in Excitement

Hey, good and gentle peoples who read this blog! I try not to spam you guys because you’re all so attractive and swell individuals, but it’s not every day the sequel to your first book comes out. Which it did. It does. For me. I mean.

My book is out today. Kindle / Ebook / Phone right now, but the paperback is coming soon. Anyway, I’d really appreciate it if you checked it out or at the very least sent the word along to someone you think might dig it. Anyway, here are the links to Amazon and then I’ll leave you alone I promise.

Here are the Amazon pages for Deadgirl: Ghostlight and the original Deadgirl if you missed it. They’re basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style adventure/thrillers narrated by a smartass.

ghostlight review sheet

 

Categories: Books, Deadgirl, Diary, publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Asshole’s Guide to Editing: #1

Assholes Guide Banner

For HashtagThrowbackThursday, I thought it might be fun to go through my first, unpublished, piece-of-shit fantasy novel one chunk at a time. I wrote it when I was 19, but that’s really no excuse. I’ve since improved, thank God, with published books like this one and this one. 

At first I just wanted to share my editing-snark with someone who isn’t me, but I realized that this ungodly manuscript might actually be of some use as a teaching tool. Better than sitting in a drawer, I suppose.

Let’s dive right in, folks. The red ink represents my current thoughts and feelings, and the black ink represents a bad novel.

If this is remotely interesting to you, I might make this a weekly feature. Let’s do dis.

EXCERPT

 

Fools and Lyres

Chapter 1

            Solin didn’t like dying. It was a foul way to wake up.

(Jesus, man. Starting your book with your main character waking up from a dream? Painful Cliché #1. Don’t do this. The only good thing about this is that Past-Bobby – Aged 19 – spared the reader from actually being exposed to a tedious dream that had no bearing on the plot.

Also, the writing is just bad. Your first line needs to be clever, memorable, brutal, or poetic. This one tries to be all of them and fails miserably. Also, you couldn’t keep passive language out of the first paragraph? Yuck).

His eyes, fuzzy with sleep, strained to decipher the dark, hulking shapes around him. (Not a terrible line. Maybe start the book here, if you must start it with a dream, which you absolutely should not do). He wasn’t on some distant, broken plain. He wasn’t an old, grizzled knight. (Old and grizzled paint the same feeling, delete one). And he wasn’t impaled, through and through, by black metal.

(Okay, well, kind of spared them from the dream. Don’t give Bobby-19 too much credit, this is like a 5th draft. I’m pretty sure I originally did force the whole dream on the reader. Luckily, even a young, beardless me discarded it as useless.

 Ooo, dream of dying as symbol for change? Painful Cliché #2). 

Solin was in his room. A small room, in a small house, in a small town.

(The hero of the fantasy story is from a small town? Holy shit! Bring me more fascinating originalities, you pile of wet hair. Painful Cliché #3. Also notice the passive language, “Solin was in his room.” There’s a lot more of this coming, coming right for our faces).

He sat up slowly, his back and neck protesting the movement. Keepsakes from a night spent thrashing and twisting. Seventeen isn’t really a popular age for chronic back fatigue, he thought.

(This is just confusing. I start by SHOWING the reader something, a good start: He’s got an achey back and neck. Okay, this is an old character, or one who’s seen a lot of miles . . . wait, he’s 17?

 I try to hang a lampshade on that bare bulb by actually mentioning his age, but it just ends up being two contradictory sentences that don’t illuminate anything. I would just delete that whole thing).

When he adjusted to the dim light in his room, he swung his legs out of bed. An old book, perched on his lap, sailed and cracked into the wall with the movement. He whispered a curse and untangled himself from his sheets to retrieve the thing. Sleep had claimed him like a ravenous predator the night before, and he forgotten the book he’d been reading.

(Problem: I keep describing him waking up. I’ve basically rephrased it like four times already, for some reason).

His fingers closed over the rough fabric of its cover. He plopped back on the bed and turned it in his hands. (Ah Christ, we’re back in the bed again. You paid for the whole seat, Dear Reader, BUT YOU ONLY NEED THE EDGE). The book was dark green with white lettering that said ‘Sir Vayrun Trak and the Birth of a Nation.” As a boy he’d memorized it. (So the main character is super boring, okay, got it). But that was a long time ago. (Not if you’re 17, dipstick). He was told that he was too old for such things. Heroes and tales of magic were childish things. (Same sentence, twice in a row).

He smiled with nostalgic glee as he opened it and rifled through to try to find and mark where he’d left off. (Awful run-on sentence that is terrible and bad. Also, he “smiled with…glee”? As opposed to, what, smiling with rage?). It didn’t take him long; he knew the book backwards and forwards. (You said this already, but kudos on trying to use a semi-colon. I guess that’s something).

After Sir Vayrun was knighted, but before he rode off to bailiff the Kings Council. He vaguely remembered, before he’d drifted off, reading the part where Vayrun saves Princess Alair from the pack of wild marauders.

(God, even the story-in-the-story is cliché and dumb).

“’Turn back,’” Solin quoted, “’Flee or I will release you from this mortal burden.’”

A fist thumped his wall from the other side.

“Sorry mom,” he said.

The wall thumped again, a softer, forget-about-it sound.

(Probably the first time this book woke the hell up. You can see I was trying to create an amusing juxtaposition, contrasting his self-serious and nerdy dramatic reading with the “sorry, mom.” It almost works).

Time to go, Solin decided. She had a lot of work to do with Fair Day tomorrow, (the small town is having a festival? I bet something unexpected and violent won’t happen to kick the story off! Painful Cliché #4) he knew, and she didn’t need him rooting around the house and ruining her last moments of sleep. Solin found his place, shut the book, and slid it back under his bed. It ended its brief journey and nestled against ten more books just like it.

(Eh? Get it? Do you GET IT?! HE READS A LOT DO YOU GET IT?!!!)

Solin threw on his clothes. They were of fine quality, if simple. His mother, a seamstress, made all of his clothes. And most of the rest of the town’s, too, now that he thought about it. It came from being the only professional seamstress within a hundred miles. (You basically communicated “she’s a seamstress” four different times in three sentences. Cut it.)

He remembered the awful week he’d tried to help her around her shop. Needless to say, she hadn’t passed her gift onto her son. Solin had actually sewn his hand into a pair of pants once. It shouldn’t have been possible, according to his mother.

(Almost funny, but it’s like, move the fuck on already. Solin has now spent like ten minutes of precious reader time sitting in bed thinking about his life. If you really want to communicate that Solin is a screw up, do it in dialogue with his mother. Maybe she brings this anecdote up in response to something. Don’t just dump it out of a sack like it’s a rat you caught for supper).

Solin finished his dressing and left the house (Jesus, finally) as quietly as he could, which entailed knocking out both a lamp and a serving tray.

His house was near the middle of town. His mother was well-off, being the only seamstress in Bowen’s Rest, and their house reflected it. (WE GET IT SHE’S A SUCCESSFUL SEAMSTRESS FUCKING SHIT) It had two bedrooms, quality but humble (!!!), and was the only home Solin had ever known. It was his mother’s and father’s before he came into the world, and Solin wondered if his children might someday live here too. Not that Solin wanted children anytime soon. Or a wife. A girl might be nice though.

(This inner monologue is about as enticing as following the comptroller of Fort Wayne, Indiana on twitter).

His eyes wandered the streets as he went. Already a number of the town dwellers were awake; Bowen’s Rest had no shortage of good, strong workers. (Sumbitch, keep up those semi-colons, good on you). Nathan Jayne, the blacksmith, was already stoking his forge as Solin passed by, though his hammer strokes would not ring through the town for another hour.

(Hold on. Hold the fuck on. I have to break this sentence down, because it is the perfect example of terrible writing.

 “Nathan Jayne, the blacksmith, was already stoking his forge as Solin passed by – “

 Okay. If Nathan Jayne is STOKING HIS FORGE, I think we can guess he’s the blacksmith. There’s not a lot of forge-stoking in, say, needlepoint. Cut that piece of ham-handed exposition and move on. Trust the reader a little.

 Nathan was after all a smart man who knew that waking the town so early was possibly very dangerous. (You can see another problem with this book – the voice and tone is all over the damn place. Hell even the perspective is in question.

“Nathan was after all a smart man – “

Did we switch to an omniscient, old-man type narrator? Is this story supposed to be cheeky? A children’s book? What’s happening?

“ – who knew that waking the town so early was possibly very dangerous.”

Okay, ignoring the back-to-back adverbs and passive language – actually, no, fuck that. Let’s not ignore that.

First off, don’t use fucking “very.” Ever. Don’t ever use the word “very” because it’s very, very fucking lazy. You might be thinking of an exception in your head right now, but it’s wrong. Don’t use “very.”

Let’s move to “possibly.” Adverb, so it’s already bad. Why are adverbs bad? Because they’re evidence that you’re not confident, and that you’re hedging your bets.

For instance, the sentence above is saying “Waking the town so early was possibly very dangerous.” Okay, we’re engaged in hyperbole that is trying to be funny. It isn’t, but that’s not really the problem. The problem is that it doesn’t commit. Saying that “waking someone up is a dangerous proposition” is amusing because it’s hyperbole. The person likes sleeping, it doesn’t mean they’ll actually cut your Achilles tendon if you wake them up. Saying “it’s possibly dangerous” to wake someone up is a nothing-sentence. “Possibly dangerous?” You can’t even commit to your own joke? Just say it’s dangerous. Go big. And give us examples, like the Achilles tendon thing above.

The big sin here is the phrase “possibly very.” Whuff, what a stinker. Those two words placed next to each other is a greater crime than the Trail of Tears.

What you’re seeing is unconfident writing at its finest/shittiest.)

Not everyone in town was so productive so early, and like anyone who works hard, enjoyed sleep above most worldly things. Solin waved to Nathan, who raised a burly hand in greeting before sliding his leather apron on.

(There are some subject-verb agreement problems here, but I don’t want to get into grammar stuff too much. This paragraph is bad because it’s more nonsense filler written by someone who didn’t know how to write.

Every thought that popped in my brain went on the page, which is a common mistake for beginners.

Not every thought is gold. Not every book is good. Especially not this one.)

/EXCERPT

Come back next week and we’ll keep trying to slog through this shitheap together! If God is good, it’ll at least be educational.

Next Article: “The Asshole’s Guide to Editing: Part #2”

 

 

Categories: Diary, The Asshole's Guide to Editing, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Distress Call: Help Needed

AIWATS Signal Coverttention! I am trying to win a contest to get a new book published and supported by Nerdist. The top five people who get the most pre-orders will get published, and the winner gets Nerdist support. If the book doesn’t make it, you won’t be charged the pre-order amount. So it’ll only cost you if the book actually wins, and then hey, you get a book out of it.

Pretty please click here to check the book out, check out the premise, cover, and first chapter, and if it sounds like something you wanna read (or you just like my furry face), please give it a pre-order.

In advance, you rock, and your whole face is aesthetically pleasing.

Also I’ll try to spam less and deliver actual blogposts. Thanks again!

Categories: Books, Diary, News, publishing | Leave a comment

Dear Robin Williams

I’m going to tell you something right now, and it’s going to seem heartless: I don’t get emotionally affected by celebrity deaths. At best my body processes a kind of distant mournful shock, the chemistry of which that, if studied, would probably equate to hearing the news that a show I kind of liked has been cancelled.

When Philip Seymour Hoffman passed, I thought, “Oh that sucks. He’s so talented,” but the fact is, I didn’t know him. I’d never met him, and odds are that I would never have shook hands with him. I’m 29-years-old, and all of my life has left me bewildered when I see someone genuinely torn to pieces when a celebrity they never met dies. Don’t get me wrong – it sucks that they died, and I definitely feel an intellectual empathy, but it never quite reaches my guts.

Just fifteen minutes ago, on the way home from a terrible day of work after my truck had broken down for the third time this month, I heard the news over the radio (that in itself being a surreal and quaint idea) – Robin Williams is dead.

They say it might be a suicide, relating to asphyxiation, but I didn’t hear the rest of it because my guts churned like someone had stuck a broom handle in there and started fucking stirring. I blinked away tears that had appeared so quickly it was as if my eyes had gotten the news before my ears had.

Robin Williams doesn’t die. Robin Williams is the totem of comedy, a manic energizing force of nature with a boyish face and hair like six grizzly bears sewn together. Robin Williams is a genie. Robin Williams is Peter Pan. Peter Pan can’t die. What the fuck is that? Why would that happen? Who would allow that to happen?

As a kind-of-funny little boy who dreamed of being a gut-bustingly funny little boy (still working on that), my two idols were Jim Carrey and Robin Williams. They had more juice than a nuclear power plant operating during a lightning storm on the surface of the sun. They were goofy, funny, witty, and both could throw down and be serious when they needed. To call them my comedy role-models would be underselling it – they were my comedy paragons, my comedy Achilleses, my comedy rock gods with six arms and flaming eyes.

I’ve never felt this way before, but I can’t stop crying. It took me three tries to get out of my car when I got home a few minutes ago. As I was changing out of my work clothes I leaned, shirtless, against my dresser and sunk my face in my elbow and shook. I sobbed the big sobs that make your lungs hurt and plug your nose with snot.

I wanted to write this because I’m a funny guy (who will never be an eighth as funny as Robin Williams), and I’m a guy who’s had some down times that I’m not proud of (though, again, nowhere near the down times Robin is reported as having). But I just wanted to say that just because the darkness finally got you doesn’t mean a damn thing.

You’re my fucking hero, Robin. You always will be. You’ve made me smile and laugh my entire life, and you’ve done that a billion times over to billions more people. Most of the silly human beings on this silly rock in the vast void of space have laughed because of you, and there is no achievement greater, no goal higher, no laudable act that deserves more fucking lauds.

Thank you, Robin. We can never repay what you gave us, but we’ll try to pass a few laughs on in your honor. Cheers, brother.

Heaven just got a whole lot fucking funnier.

Categories: Diary, News | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Copywriter Blues

Fiction writing is great. Sometimes it’s hard work, and sometimes the internet shoots its destract-y tentacles right into your eyegaps, and sometimes a bad review slides down the Google chute and into your testicles, but overall it’s a wonderful experience. Novels, short stories, the occasional screenplay or hilarious sex-related haiku.

Copywriting is . . . less great. It’s essentially lies and flim-flam wearing an evening gown. But they give you money for it, and you can use that money to purchase foodstuffs and roofs and the like.

The following excerpt is every piece of copywriting I’ve ever done, boiled down to one digestible scrap of text. It comes from a place of genuine pain, which is always funny. Enjoy.

SeaLife Cameras

“SeaLife Cameras are cameras that function well around sea life. They take pictures of underwater things with their ability to take pictures of underwater things. The cases are made of sturdy case-making materials, including high end plastics, probably some metals, maybe wood, fuck I don’t know. Anyway, they use lenses to bend light, and some kind of film or diaphragm to take that focused light and make pictures. Those pictures can be seen by any functioning human eye! Wow! That human eye transmits signals to the human brain, which realizes that the picture probably isn’t real. This owes to the eye’s ability to notice details like whether or not an image has a third dimension, or if the person is drowning or if they’re just looking at a picture of a coral reef. These pictures create an emotional response in the person, such as sadness, happiness, thrift, etc.

You can trade currency to obtain a SeaLife camera at any appropriate commerce outlet. They will take your currency (which represents value, whether backed by gold or unbacked, depending on the nature of your nation or island republic’s economy) and give you the product you desired. In this case, a SeaLife camera. This camera runs on electricity, obtained through the three grouped-together holes located in most walls. Unless you’re in Europe or Scandinavia or something, then the holes are all fucked up and non-standard. Still, electons are zipping around there like crazy, and you can just stick some metal in there to get some!

Remember to use the buttons on the camera to activate various desired functions. These buttons are comfortably button-shaped, and may produce effects upon pushing.

WARNING: Eating a SeaLife camera may damage internal organs, but will film the whole thing in high definition, so its not all bad.”

Categories: Diary | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Mondayed

So you ever get, like, Mondayed?

I’m not doing an “Office Space” bit. I’d just like to put that out there.

Ironically, I actually got Mondayed yesterday, which is technically “Sunday Night,” if you’re still on the CLEARLY OBSOLETE Grigorian calendar. Which, I am. At least. Anyway.

I received a pair of shitty news briefs, neither of which I’m at super liberty to talk about in a semi-public, officially, forum-y capacity. Needless to say, they both blew donkey parts. One was personal in nature, and one was business, but they were both on the level of “pounding in nails with my chin.”

So, naturally, being a highly emotional artist type, I stayed in bed until my dog had to pee so bad her eyes were turning yellow. She was jumping on top of me in the bed, sticking her tongue so far into my ear she technically absorbed parts of brain (Kindergarten, mostly, it’s fine), and generally broadcasting a message like “DEAR SWEET PEOPLE-LORD WALK ME OR I WILL HOSE ON YOUR FACE.”

My Monday was bad enough, I did not need to be doggy-peed on. I could maybe handle that on a Thursday, but I would have lost my mind and made a tiny, fluffy white coat out of my dog on that particular Monday.

I managed to get work done and to start solving the problems still-birthed into my lap Sunday night, so it wasn’t a total cry-baby loss. Still, I’m pretty sure we don’t REALLY need Mondays, right?

I mean, if we all agreed on three-day weekends, I think we’d be a much happier nation of people. Two days has never been enough. I mean, think about it. You need one day to get the shit done you couldn’t during the week (mowing, bank, groceries, katana sharpening, Home Depot). And, you need one day to do social stuff you’ve been neglecting (visit the family, drink to excess with your friends, katana practice, social obligations, etc).

However, you ALSO need one day to unwind and actually relax. A “you” day, if you will. Now we cram all three of these things into two days, but that is the most bully of shit.

So, here’s a simple preposition: “at.”

Ha. Sorry. Grammar humor, couldn’t resist.

So, simple proposition: We change Monday to “Funday” (notice how we only have to change two letters – this is economical), make it a day off where you can’t be obligated to do anything, and then we move on with our new FANTASTIC LIVES.

My campaign for President begins 2016. You’re welcome.

Categories: Diary | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Bloodthirsty Gamer vs. Ignorance: An Open Letter

Update:

On his Twitter, Senator Yee backpedaled so furiously he actually reversed time. When he was back in time, he stepped on a butterfly, which altered the timeline and actually ensured he was still a douchebag. He’s his own time-travel douchebag father!

Said Yee:

“Gamers, I admittedly didn’t use best words to SFchron. Meant video game industry has inherent conflict of interest in the gun violence debate. I have a lot of respect for many gamers. Many are on my staff and in my family—but the industry has profited at the expense of children.”

So, not really an apology. He’s still under the opinion that people directly affected by legislation have no say in said legislation, but he’s just shifted his mouthwords so he’s talking about companies instead of people. He’s still essentially a fascist, but at least he’s a fascist to someone else, right?

So he made a point to distance himself from the shitty things he said about 2/3 of the populace of the US, but not from his still, actually quite stupid, opinion. Considering my letter below was reminding him why calling gamers bloodthirsty lunatics might have poor political and electoral consequences, I’m going to take credit for at least the shift in blame. It’s a small step, but it’s a step. I’ll be more clear next time that censorship is wrong for everybody.

Granted, thousands probably filled his inbox with similar sentiments of bloodthirsty aggression (as is our purview), but I’m still saying it was me.

You’re welcome, planet Earth. Anyway, continue on to hear the smarmy crap I whipped his way last week.

Original Article

I am twenty-seven years old. I am a professional author. I am also a gamer.

Today, I took a break from eating babies and burning down society to send a letter to a Senator.  I figured if I could keep my bloodstained fingers away from a shrieking throat for a few minutes longer (resist, Bobby, resiiiiiissssst) I thought I’d share that letter with you today.

But first, some back story.

On Tuesday, State Senator Leland Yee from San Francisco found himself being interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, about a violent video game bill he drafted awhile back. The bill was summarily struck down as unconstitutional, and actually ended up paving the way for games being legally defined as art / free expression. So, Senator Yee is no stranger to petard-hoisting.

He must have had a really good time with it, because he’s back again, greasing up his shoe to see just how far he can put it down his own throat this time. Sometimes, guys, you have to mix a metaphor. Just go with it.

Anyway, he’s back at it again, determined to rescue you from your Constitutional rights.  When asked in the interview about his current crusade, he dropped this little bon mot:

YeeDumb

I was going to continue being snarky, but I figure that’s all the back story you’ll need. If you care to contact the good state senator yourself, go here.

I feel like I had something to say about credibility. Here’s the letter I sent to Yee a few hours ago:

An Open Letter

Senator Yee,

I recently read your interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, and your words on the violent video game law you drafted.

I just wanted to inform you of why telling video-game players to “quiet down” is a remarkably inappropriate thing to say. Would you ask movie goers to “quiet down” about movie censorship legislation? Would you ask book readers to “quiet down” about book censorship? I’m just curious how the very people who are the most knowledgeable and also the most affected by a law should have no say in the matter.

I’d like to present some information you may find useful for the future, and certainly for any potential upcoming elections.

There are over 211 million gamers currently in the United States. I may remind you, there are only a little over 300 million people in the entire country.

The average gamer’s age is 37 (53% of the gaming population being from 18-49). The next largest group is 29%, who are over 50 years of age. The smallest group (what we might call “non-voters,” for example)  is the 18% of gamers under 18.

If you consider yourself a proponent of women, I submit the following interesting demographics:

42% of gamers are female. In fact, women over the age of 18 (what we might call “voters,” for example) make up a larger segment of the gaming population at 37%, OVER the segment of boys under the age of 18, who only make up a scant 13% of the gaming market.

I point all this out to let you know that these gamers who have “no credibility” and should “quiet down” are nearly 65% of the entire voting population. These people hold jobs, raise children, and are productive members of society. These are the gamers you are telling to shut up.

These are the voters.

Your ideas are old-fashioned and out of sync with reality. Reality is going to catch up with you, and you may find yourself without a Senate seat to warm.

Some friendly advice,

Bobby Johnson

Age 27
Professional Author
Gamer

Sources

Some of the above stats are from the NPD Group’s recent Video Game study, available here: https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/home/

Other stats are from the ESA’s 2011 Report, available here: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf

Categories: Diary | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.