Sunday, May 28, 2006

I'll Be Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't.

I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper, she's a Pepper, they're a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?

My bologna has a first name, it's O S C A R! My bologna has a second name, it's M A Y E R.

Pop iconocism (hey can you think of a better word?) is a powerful thing. Either that and/or the all-powerful Household Name can set you up for life. That is a goal that I think all creators of art should aspire to whether it be meaningless paintings, crappy sculptures made of trash, box office smashes, or runaway best sellers. (Run bias run!) I've of course been flogging my own tag line here and about. What you don't know it? It's not just a tag line it's a motto, a creed, a thing to live by! If I have to repeat it I've failed in spreading it to date. *whimper*

Your mission, should it be your choice to go for it, find it, live by it. R.G. (too Lazy for a real blog entry) Male out.

Mood: energetic.
Music: Lady Jane by Queensryche and Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme) by Queen.

Queensryche: Promised Land
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Queen: A Kind of Magic

There can be only one!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dyes, Stains, and Yummy Rot

This time I'll jump right in with the topic I was trying to get to last time. There's a very important part of the writing processes that I think may be underused in a lot of cases and is something I intend to fully exploit. I don't know what anyone else calls it but I call it “Taint”. Everybody knows about “Voice”, it's an inescapable--and a good thing too--part of the story whether it be a flash fiction or a novel series. The voice is the taint of the author, it can be intentional or otherwise. While I certainly don't want to overlook that kind of taint I am more interested in a more intimate form, within the story itself, the kinds of taint created by the characters and to a lesser extent the setting.

I think the most underused kind of taint is the kind that forms misinformation. There seems to be a trend for everything in a story to be as true as possible. The truth seems paramount unless lying is called for in the story. I speak of the sorts of things where a character is never ignorant of a fact and cannot spout off something completely wrong. Sure there are many who don't know things, but when they do know something they rarely know it as wrong, or so it's been my experience in reading. Sometimes as a matter of the truth we know as realism I'd like to see things to be wrong now again. I know it will drive the nitpickers crazy but I'm willing to do that.

Beyond misinformation would be misdirection. One has to be exceeding careful in misleading the audience. Some forms of doing that severely tick off the reader, like the carefully crafted sympathetic hero who suddenly at the end turns out to be the villain who couldn't stand how evil he was and became, even in his own head, the dead hero. Bah! I hate that book for that ending! Um, where was I. Oh right. Done right I think there is a lot of tension, drama, and all sort of other good things to be had from a misdirection lynch pin that holds together a bunch of events and drives the story both before and especially after the pin gives way and everything falls apart.

The final height I think is to layer and overlap the taints. Beyond the author's voice is the character's voices which can taint the author's voice. Misinformation can lead to misdirection and vice versa. All four of these can and should combine to be a huge part of they way the story lives and breathes. Its an addition to the verisimilitude, the reality of the story in all terms, setting, plot, characterisation, and even any message the story might carry no matter how obvious, convoluted, or subtle. Consider it next time you read a story or book. Some of us are thinking of it during the writing.

Mood: funkadelic.
Music: I Want to Break Free by Queen and Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf.

Queen: The Works
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Meatloaf: Bat Out of Hell

Friday, May 19, 2006

Freedom, Horrible Freedom!

I am lost, adrift, without any planned or set topic for this blog entry.

I suppose that I should first start with an update. Help, in the form of books sold, and the special print orders have begun flowing into Palladium Books®. This is good news. It's not the end of the help needed but I've seen from their forums that it is a solid and much appreciated start. Keep up the good work. I got the books I ordered. Good stuff.

I'm sitting here listening to the Iron Maiden album “Piece of Mind” (see below) and its somewhat akin to being elsewhere, and more importantly elsewhen. It's very good to soak it all in. Not only does it have that great transporting effect but it is also an extremely excellent CD. I know this smacks like a pimp-slap of promotion and while I certainly won't balk at such a thought I mention it as something of an allusion to the ability of things to elevate us up out of the mire of our dull little lives, and really how many people do anything all that exciting outside of say the more dangerous professions and medicine or really great acting gigs?

It's good thing I'm not an Engineer (of the locomotive kind) because I'd be forever going off the rails. I just can't stay on track. I was going somewhere with this, before I derailed myself. I think rather than backtracking I'll just say come back again next entry, same Bob-Time, same Bob-Channel!

Mood: muddled.
Music: Ancient Forest of Elves by Luca Turilli and Still Life by Iron Maiden.

Luca Turilli: Kings of the Nordic Twilight
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Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind

Monday, May 15, 2006

Casting Back to the Start #4

I have never been one to do things conventionally. I always do it helter skelter, often circling the outside with only stabbings toward the centre as necessary, or paranoidally felt as necessary without any real external cause, until its time to plumb those depths. I certainly never followed any specific progression, thematically or chronologically. The same is true of when I watched horror movies. As I said last time I saw “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3” before I saw the first one.

In the 80's I saw the likes of “Xtro”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3”--then 1 then 2 then the others in whatever order they came out in--and the “Poltergeist” movies, “Hellraiser” 1 and maybe 2, “Night of Living Dead”, “The Howling” and other less notables. In the 90's I saw “Carrie”, “Children of the Corn”, the “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” films in order--up to whatever the last ones were each that came out in that decade--also “Evil Dead” and it's sequels, “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead”, “The Exorcist” and the three “Scanners” movies. It wasn't until the new millennium that I saw “Last House on the Left”, “Candyman”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Sleepaway Camp”, the “Leprechaun” movies, and a decent copy of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre that wasn't nothing but moving black screens and screaming for most of the second half.

So, what effect did this have on the way I approach things? I don't know. I can guess it means that sometimes I reinvent the wheel. It means I had to come up with the nastier stuff I've come up with all on my own, and to see later that I haven't pushed many boundaries too far. There's been a lot of vindication as far as that goes. “See my stuff isn't so bad when such and such was filmed years ago.“

Speaking of which, they sure used to get away with a lot in the seventies and early eighties that they couldn't nowadays. I honestly don't know they got away with some of the schtick they pulled. PCness and the current climate of censorship suck mightily. Yet at the same time it appears torture films have made a huge comeback, or maybe it's only a ruse or misdirection. They claim to have the sick goods but how many of them really do? I haven't gotten around to seeing “Saw” or its sequel, not to mention it only sounds middling worth it to see “Hostel” given once you've seen certain seminal films such grotesquerie seems pointless and redundant. Who knows, maybe eventually I'll see it.

Mood: hopeful.
Music: Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant) by Twisted Sister and Run for Cover by Quiet Riot.

Twisted Sister: Love is for Suckers
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Quiet Riot: Metal Health

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Casting Back to the Start #3

It's hard to say where it really all began. Was it the creepy house two houses down from the one I grew up in, was it from my peers, was it familial, or was it the television? Certainly part of it comes from within. Certainly. What though, was the external stimulus that really brought it home. What really struck me and turned me to horror?

I remember some really creepy cartoons that I took an immediate liking to. A dark and pretty frightening version of the Little Mermaid story sticks out in my mind. Ontario or Canada Film Boards short cartoons like the flying canoe with the three men in it are another. Some of it no doubt came from the tone of Battle of the Planets aka G-Force to us little blighters who couldn't get enough of it.

I remember bits and pieces of horror movies on Saturday afternoon television and watching them on the little black and white portable. Nothing much of anything really, more like dark science fiction than actual horror. The horror thing was well entrenched in me by time we first started renting movies. We rented them in a format similar to laser discs but earlier than that (as far as I know) and the disk stayed in a plastic case until the player pulled them out and spit the case back out. They were all double sided.

One of the first movies I got to rent for myself, if not the first was the venerable cult classic Xtro. Talk about a doozie of a movie to see so young. I must have been about eight at the time, maybe nine depending on what season it was. I watched it maybe six or more times. Funny thing was I rented that because my parents told me Halloween 3 was too mature. LOL. In that same format I saw Star Wars (IV: A New Hope--though it wasn't called that that I recall) and watched it twelve times or possible more. I also saw Poltergeist about eight times in that funky format. Each of these was in the same weekend they were rented, often on a loop practically.

I consider myself to have been something old hat with horror by time I was thirteen and I remember the first mention of people seeing the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. The timing is somehow off, maybe it was the release on VHS. I know that the first Nightmare I saw, sometime later I might add, was #3 Dream Warriors.

As for horror books, well I really didn't read much not assigned to me in school until high school and the first real horror novel I read was, of all things, Carrie! I didn't see the movie until quite a bit later than that. Same as I didn't see Evil Dead until relatively late in my horror immersion career. Next time I'd like to talk about the effect of seeing things (and reading) in the order that I did and maybe if I can ferret out how it affected the way I'm approaching my writing.

Mood: blase.
Music: Sugar, We're Goin Down by Fall Out Boy and Bus Stop by The Hollies.

Fall Out Boy: From Under The Cork Tree
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The Hollies: The Best of The Hollies

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Casting Back to the Start #2

A fairly long time before I started in with the Role-Playing Games I was a story writer. It didn't come quickly and it most certainly did not come easy, least of all the first time, or what I consider to really be the first time...

Here is where I should be telling the story of my first real story I wrote, but in actuality there is an important moment before that. There is the moment that I most vividly recall telling myself a story, orally, well with words in my head. I remember a story, a scene, fully detailed that I “played out” with some He-Man figures. Now there's really telling my age. I also remember unlike so many other times playing that I re-ran through the story after it was over. Hey, we have to start somewhere, and the importance is a coherence of what happened, and that it was more than just He-Man fights Skeletor.

Back to the writing... It was--and I almost shouldn't admit it, maybe too late all things given--grade seven to the best of my recollection. We had a nice woman teacher with what I now think back on as Twisted Sister hair (you know the curls!), in strawberry blonde. The writing assignment was to take a sentence fragment given to us and to write a story that started with that. I'm trying to remember the exact wording. I believe it was, “I opened the door in the back of the closet and...”

..and the rest as they say was history.

I struggled with it. Really struggled. I started writing, agonizingly line by line, trying to get it to go somewhere, trying to do it like I'd never done it before. An idea occurred to me, an idea based on the fact that it was in first person. Admittedly I think every story was in the first person the way they taught at that far in going through grade school. I'd love to tell you all about the story, and even the title, but there something about it. I've always had this dream to just take and redo it as a more mature and obviously better written story, maybe even of novel length.

What I can say about it is I also wrote another classmate into the story with me. A girl of course. We all know that in the end the hero gets the girl. Well it was true in the story, though certainly not out in the real world. I'd say the funniest thing had to be when the teacher then had us read the stories aloud, ourselves. Boy, that was a moment. When asked about the girl being in the story and a visual discrepancy to boot, I all but admitted to literary license even though neither I, nor that I remember the teacher, called it that.

I think what stands out most about that story are two facts, that I was proud of the final result, and that it was my first real story writing experience because it was maybe the first time we'd been asked for speculative fiction specifically, and I wrote my first horror story.

Mood: self-deprecating.
Music: Thriller by Michael Jackson and Pet Sematary by the Ramones.

Michael Jackson: Thriller
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Ramones: Brain Drain

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Casting Back to the Start #1

A long time ago... a place virtually no father than here really...

*fights against a pack of lawyers and is vanquished*

End Blog...

REBOOTING... ... ... ...

I don't remember what year it was, sometime in high school, I think maybe about near the end of Grade 10, something huge and life changing happened to me. I recall the weather being warm, the sun bright, and thick light turning the tended lawns around the school into golden green blurs. I'd switched out my jeans, the holey kind, though mine weren't bought that way but worn thin generally between the thighs... well ...I'd switched them for jogging pants because those I could pull the legs up on to the knees and have the moving of air free against my shins, and the protection of being to able to pull them down should anyone complain.

We were in Computer class I'm certain, because I remember the chairs and tables, and the particular view, up on the second floor. What was presented to me I'd seen one of its kind once before, being guided through it on a dingy dreary day back in the spring, well the creation process anyway, to build that which I'd only every imagined was, well... imagined and freeform. The first time had been exciting and trepidatious by turns. Not to belittle it, but it was like a slightly bitter taste, a hey this could be good, but I think I'd like another flavour to decide from. Or perhaps, one of those it will be better next time situations. The promise of more and better, part of a long savoured experience to be carried on ever forth until unable to do it any more.

Where was I? Yes, the computer room. The players for the drama were well set in place. Malero (me of course, and key to sorting out the others), Colesri, and Kaneke. A triumvirate of dare I say it--geekly power! A power of our own and a nameset given to the entire class by said teacher. Ah, the teacher, nice enough, sort of mean looking but seemingly incapable of follow through, on the mean that is. She was cool. Back on topic, Colesri had something new for me to see. Something so epic, so powerful, so life shaping that I finagled taking it home for a weekend. It did change my life then, and it spawned such a chain of events, and such a... a... I don't know what else other than I was overcome and changed forever.

Needless to say I took it and I created, created among those of the first, one that still lives on in memory and seeks an outlet yet still today. Not long after returning it I scrounged up enough change and other money to get my very own, and cherished copy. What is it? Can you take the suspense no longer? Is that your hands around my throat?

Okay, okay, it was a copy of Heroes Unlimited® by Palladium Books® my very first (well for real) role playing game, and experience. My RPG deflowerer.

Mood: playful.
Music: Straight for the Heart by Whitesnake and Let's Get Rocked by Def Leppard.

Whitesnake: Whitesnake
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Def Leppard: Adrenalize