Monday, September 25, 2006

Unsafe Horror

Here we go. A couple blogs back I introduced you to the idea of safe horror movies, the one's you can just walk away and not worry all that much about them resulting in fear in the pit of your belly, hours later, when you're lying awake in bed. Now it's time for those movies. Now its time to worry!

How about an example? Well let's start with an obvious one, dying in a nightmare leads to you dying for real. Everyone has nightmares. Sure, not everyone is going to live in a town where they burned an evil man to death, and the dead man seeks revenge. This is opened up because in the first film, there is nothing to say that Freddy Krueger is the only dream killer out there. The fourth film further adds fuel to that fire because it is easily intimated there could be many monsters like him. One for every so big an area, perhaps. The six film brings us, "every town has an Elm Street". Not to mention there are other movies like Dreamscape.

Another category which gets at people are the more realistic horrors. There's a slew of them including nasty nannies, vicious spurned lovers, psycho-killers, etc. These things are out there for real and its all to easy to imagine falling victim to one of these unstable people.

To backslide a bit we also have the pseudo-real things to look out for. Someone could use evil voodoo practices (as opposed to non-evil voodoo practices) against you. You could run afoul of some gypsies and get a curse put upon you, so the movies warn us. Either way, if its real, or you manifest it yourself through your belief that it is real, you're in for some horror. This can slide further toward the unreal if you want to consider a mysterious video tape that when you watch it, the phone rings afterwards, and you have only seven days to live. Or you go camping and knock over some strange pile of rocks...

You're mission, name the films I'm talking about. Go on, it'll be fun. At least two of them have more than one answer.

Mood: ecstatic.
Music: Slam Dunk (Way to Go!) by Quiet Riot and Like a Knife in the Back by Twisted Sister.

Quiet Riot: Alive and Well
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Twisted Sister: You Can't Stop Rock and Roll

Thursday, September 21, 2006

When Night and Day are Equal

...and the rooster crows all day
There will come a big commotion.
A light will guide our way,
Out into that shining cosmos,
To do something of some importance I suppose...

Heh heh. Today, or tomorrow depending on your time zone, or inclination to believe one source over another, is the Autumnal Equinox. It's one of those mystical times, like the Solstices, but less powerful and presumably less meaningful. Then again what do I know about it that doesn't come out of an RPG book?

I love playing with these kinds of times in my writing, whether it be stories woven from whole cloth out of the material of my imagination or if it's the wacky, wonderful, the-world-is-a-very-different-place-with-magic-out-your-booty, world of Rifts from Palladium Books.

Well, I won't keep you any longer, go and perform your evil vile rituals you filthy pagans! Or something to that horrific effect. Remember, conflict makes stories.

Mood: insensitive.
Music: One Week by Barenaked Ladies and Bare Naked by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Barenaked Ladies: Stunt
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Jennifer Love Hewitt: Bare Naked

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Safe Horror

Imagine it, you're breaking into some place, you find the wall safe behind a painting, you crack the safe using your great skills (none of that blowing-it-up crap for you, you're a pro) and you swing the heavy door open, then something nasty jumps out and eats your face off. Or you've set the explosives on the bank vault (cos you know, only pansies get all touchy feely with a safe) and the countdown hits zero, and instead of the safe exploding, you explode. Oh, oh, or you're nobody, minding your own business, and wham, a safe falls on you and kills you.

Okay, I'm joking. That's not the kind of safe horror I'm going to talk about. I'm going to talk about the kind of horror where you set the book down, or the movie ends, and the horror is gone, it doesn't stick with you the same as with unsafe horror.

Safe horror tends to be safe due much of the horror being tied to certain specifics. Most of us are never going to have to worry about ghosts on submarines or demons in Antarctica, because we're never going to be either of those places in most likelihood. Sometimes this leads to just hauntings in generally being a horror that doesn't really stick with us because we don't intend to move any time soon, for example, so the chances of our being party to such a thing are exceedingly low. Likewise our own house is unlikely to suddenly become haunted.

What inspired to me to talk about this as a topic was actually a movie that is safe, but the DVD itself is anything but safe. I'm talking about "Stir of Echoes" starring Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Erbe (rowr). This movie, beside being full of Bacon-ey goodness (don't ask me why, but I really like saying that), is a pretty safe horror. They're new to the house, and freak-o boy aside, none of it would have happened if not for the sister-in-law. So all in all a really safe movie. There's a couple of jumps, and a general sense of unease and otherworldliness, but once the film is over it's over... except for of course the part where the DVD makes it unsafe. That is one freaky set of menus. The main menu, I thought at first, was the creepiest menu I'd ever seen. Then I hit the special features menu and wow, that takes the cake for creepiest. That's maybe one of the creepiest things I've ever seen, and when you're as jaded as I am about this kind of thing, that's saying a lot. Well... maybe more next time, on unsafe horror.

Mood: withdrawn.
Music: Darkside of Aquarius by Bruce Dickinson and Cool the Engines by Boston.

Bruce Dickinson: Accident of Birth
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Boston: Third Stage

Talk to _me_!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Better Late Than Never

Wait, I'm here, don't go to bed!

Today's topic is... gee I don't have one. I'm drawing a blank. My mind was wiped by some mean old psychic. Perhaps to carry on from last time. I was just thinking about something... but it's been sucked into the black hole that is my brain at the moment.

Something weird. Well not too weird I suppose, not the way it really happened. I was out for a walk, it rained yesterday, it was still dark and wet and might have rained earlier. I'm out walking across the bridge. I see nothing. I get to the other side of the bridge and there's grey asphalt instead of concrete or sidewalk blocks, and all over it, every few inches are tiny snails, about a third of the size I normally see around town. They're just everywhere on this asphalt. I tread carefully and miss them, unless I suppose their shells are so soft they don't crunch yet, but I don't think that's the case. I'm just that good. Certainly a fodder for some kind of story I suppose, especially after seeing huge snails on a PBS show last night about Lemurs. Lemurs and snails, I know, why I don't know. So here comes the odd part. I cross to the other side of the road, the south side, same asphalt, same wet, and not a single snail to be seen. See, not that weird.

On the topic of snails it wasn't so long that I saw Mimeto stick it to Eugeal and do it with snails! You're mission, track down what that refers to!

I think I've warped your brains enough for tonight. Until next time...

Mood: level.
Music: Hooligan's Holiday by Mötley Crüe and No One But You by Queen.

Mötley Crüe: Supersonic And Demonic Relics
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Queen: Queen Rocks

Saturday, September 09, 2006

In Need of a Spanking

No, no, it's not one of those blogs. I'm here today to talk to you about villainy, and maybe a touch about the bad men who actually aren't evil but still labelled bad. I'll start by admitting I was very much tempted to be bad today and not write my blog as scheduled. This would have been unlike the other times where I've just forgotten to write it until the next day. Oops, was it bad to have mentioned that?

I must start with another admission. I really don't like a lot of the villainy that I see going on. I like my villains to have balls, cajones, or stones for starters. None of this five guys with knives on some pencil neck geek. None of this preying solely on the weak. This isn't to say that can't have the advantage, or be smart about it. It just means have some guts for pete's sake. Be respectable to other villains at the least, everyone needs role models, and besides you might get an enemy who's better than the often pathetic heroes. Show some ambition, and aim for the heights. You don't need to push the envelope or anything. You don't have to find a new way to be villainous. You don't need to take it too far either and get yourself killed. Well. I'm just saying.

If you're the bad bad type to scroll down to the end of the blog entry to see my music entry you can see I had a hankering for some music about the kinds of people labelled bad who aren't. After all, as Twisted Sister says, "How bad can a bad boy be if he sets you free?" Actually, this category of people who aren't really bad, just shall we say disregarding of the law or even just social mores, includes probably more different types than the villain types possible. Your mission, think about this.

Mood: good. :)
Music: Bad Boy by Quiet Riot and Bad Boys (Of Rock 'n' Roll) by Twisted Sister.

Quiet Riot: Condition Critical
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Twisted Sister: Under the Blade

Stomp your hands! Clap your feet!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Circular Path

Sounds like a cult, doesn’t it? What I’m here to talk about today is the other part of my plan for my writing career. One of the remarkable things that many people picked up on and talked about with great reverence in Stephen King's sprawling catalogue of work was the inclusion of characters, events, and places carried over in different works. A prime example is the presence of Randall Flagg or other shadowy villains with his initials, R.F., in several of King’s books. The presence of little gems like that, akin to the Easter eggs on DVDs, is a special treat for the Constant Reader as King likes to call them. Just a bit of something for the fans who’ve read lots if not everything and a moment to reflect on the other thing being referenced.

That is one example of the sort of thing that I wish to inject into some of my work. It ties in with having a singular mythos or cosmology. Another thing that I intend to do is work with sequels. There do not seem to be a lot of sequel works in horror literature. You see it all the time in film, certainly, but not so much in books. Part of the desire to do this comes from watching a lot of the movie franchises, but I’ve gotten more of a sense of the power of continuing stories from watching television, in particular such great and unfolding stories in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Supernatural. You can carry a theme and parcel out pieces of something bigger than can be held in a single story and at the same time still keep it fresh and different.

Sequels also need not just be continuing stories either, they can be thematic sequels with a defining thread but otherwise little or no correlation. Though there were tying threads Stephen King again sort of exemplified this with his two eclipse stories, “Gerald’s Game” and “Dolores Claiborne”. While we’re on about King again, he also went ahead and did two books with an ensemble cast, meaning the cast of characters for both books was the same. This is just like an acting troupe performing two very different plays, except of course this was characters or roles and not performers, obviously. Then of course we have another favourite story style of mine, the serialised story. The benefit of them in horror is pretty obvious.

Mood: wistful.
Music: I Walk to My Own Song by Stratovarius and New Breed by Fear Factory

Stratovarius: Elements Part 2
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Fear Factory: Demanufacture

Friday, September 01, 2006

I Have a Cunning Plan, Milord!

Having a plan is good for just about everything. Executing that plan is even better. Then, of course, the plan being successful is the best thing of all. Well I have a plan for my writing and authorship. I've been executing it, but so far no success on the final result. Mind you, my plan is on the back end of things with a serious eye toward a future results beyond initial success, but there comes a point in the short term where my plan has to meld with someone else's (several someone else's actually), the publishers, and that's where it seems I have a problem.

I'm not here to talk about the sticking point, or even the short term though. On that matter I can only say that I will get past it by either more work on design or by luck. Speaking of luck, don't dismiss it, not when its been said that there are times when a publisher will turn down a story then change their mind later if it gets resent. Now that might take a fair bit of luck, perhaps some of it dumb (sending a story twice to the same place without invitation) or some might just call it temerity (an odd word meaning both foolish and reckless, or great daring).

The plan I have is almost as complicated as it is simple. First I want to build a main, if not singular, mythos. Something almost totally tied up within itself. I want to use the words seamlessly integrated, but I don't know if that's quite accurate or too restricting. Moving on, I didn't wait to sell short stories before embarking on writing novels. This is something that so far hasn't turned out so well in the short term. However, I think it's still a good plan given the stories I've heard of authors getting three book deals and having difficulties coming through on the second and third book. So, if I have more than one book done, and have seen what it takes to get each novel completed, and what the time factor is involved, then, I can tell how long it will take to produce another one, on a deadline. Aside from having completed work waiting ahead, this should be good experience to write others in a timely fashion if publisher doesn't have a feel for the second or third book, and want something different. Sometimes this will happen and if you have a plan in place to deal, then you will deal. More next time.

Mood: level.
Music: I'm in Love With My Car by Queen and Confessions by Mötley Crüe.

Queen: A Night At The Opera
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Mötley Crüe: Generation Swine

Shut up, Baldrick!