Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Things to do: writing (sort of)

1) Finish 100 girls #8 script
2) Write ideas for "Horror Thing" I want to do with Ben Stenbeck (at this point that just means putting all my ideas regarding possible characters, themes and plot into a document and throwing it at Ben for his consideration)
3) Come up with an actual title so we can stop calling it "Horror Thing"
4) Work on proposal for the novel, which, I hasten to add, is one-third written
5) Finish assembling materials for "Book Thing" (parenthetically, we are still waiting for the contract on this. It has been weeks now since we requested changes and The Company said they would make those changes. Why does it take weeks? End of parenthetical.)
6) Bug Dave Land about "Dalton" (or should I wait until announcement about "Book Thing"?
7) Stop using Internet as a work-avoidance technique

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Magic or Madness

Young Adult novels are so much better now than I remember them being when I was an actual young adult. I recall reading some S.E. Hinton, but not much else.

The "Magic or Madness" series by Justine Larbalestier (Magic or Madness, Magic Lessons, and Magic's Child) is one of the best fantasy trilogies I've read; YA or not. All of the books are well-paced, exciting, and feature well-drawn, believable characters.

The story focuses on 15-year-old Reason Cansino who discovers very suddenly that magic is real. More than that, she is a magic user. In the word of the books, however, magic is a double-edged sword. Use it and it will shorten your life; but if you don't use it, you'll quickly go mad. For the most part, we watch as reason figures out how to use her magic, and how she avoids other magic users who would steal her magic so they could lengthen their own lives.

Besides Reason, there's a whole host of supporting characters, some who wield magic, some who don't, but all who lend their support in making this an exciting story.

I would pay heed to the Young Adult label and would share this with kids who are at least in their teens, as there are some plot elements that might raise uncomfortable questions from a younger reader. But once your kids (or you) have finished the Harry Potter series, this is a great series to pick up next.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It cures what ails ya

I stayed home sick today. The first of many, many colds I'll experience this year, I'm sure. When I'm sick, there are a couple of things that never fail to make me feel better: 1) Get plenty of rest 2) drink lot's of fluids and 3) Read comics!

Hellboy, volume 1: Seed of Destruction
by Mike Mignola with script assistance by John Byrne

The first volume of Mike Mignola's awesome Hellboy series. It's amazing to me how much of the series is in place here. Often with a first series you'll feel like the author is trying to find the right tone, the voice of the characters, the correct pacing. But this book sings right out of the gate. This volume shows us some of the origin of Hellboy; introduces many of the characters that will be important later in the series; and shows his first battle with the terrible Rasputin! This is great, Pulp-inspired fun.

Street Angel
by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca

You are required to love a comic that features a rogue geologist as a villain. Yes.

Street Angel is the story of a homeless 13-year old world-class skateboarder and ninja fighter. She lives in a world of (the aforementioned) ninjas and scientists, but her world is also chock full of Aztec gods, Conquistadores, Irish astronauts, Satanists, and the headaches that come with being homeless. This volume collects the five issues of the series as well as short stories, covers, and a wealth of pinups and sketches. And it is a thing of beauty.

The stories in Street Angel happen free of context and, blessedly, continuity. Each story seems to happen in its own little universe of fun. I suspect that Rugg (artist and co-writer) and Maruca (co-writer) weren't so interested in telling a grand, linear story; they were mostly concerned with figuring out how comics work. They needed to figure out the rules, and then they needed to break them completely.

The collection I own is called "volume one" in the indicia. I pray that there will be a second some day.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The gene pool gets an upgrade

Woke to news that my friends Stefanie Knowlton and Aaron Marvin gave birth last night. Okay, Stefanie did most of the heavy lifting on this one. Alex Christopher Marvin is 19 inches long and 8.8 pounds. Mother and baby are doing great and dad sounds like he's over the moon.

Congratulations to all.

Welcome to the world, Alex.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Poetry will save you

I read the new entry by my friend Kevin today (there's no premalink, so look for the entry called "Driving at Night"). I immediately thought of this poem.

For My Daughter in Reply to a Question
by David Ignatow

We're not going to die.
we'll find a way.
We'll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We'll think always on life.
There'll be no fading for you or for me.
We'll be the first
and we'll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There'll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that some context may be in order.

I first heard this poem recited on NPR's The Writer's Almanac, which is hosted by Garrison Keillor. As I listened to Keillor read, I unexpectedly found myself weeping. I thought about my father, about my mother, about my sister.

Ignatow writes about being "buried under the births and deaths to come." Sometimes it feels like we can be buried beneath those that have already happened.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This is not my beautiful life...

For reasons that I cannot mention, I find myself in the mind-numbing position of having a vested interest in how much business Resident Evil: Extinction does this weekend.

This, of course, is the (supposedly) last installment in the zombie/video game franchise starring Mila Jovovich. I quite liked the first one, but never saw the second. But a quick check on IMDB shows me that the second film did even better business than the first. If this trend holds true, this is good news for me.

So if you had any inkling at all to go see this film this weekend, please do.

How the hell did my life get to this place?

UPDATE: Okay, the movie opens next Friday, but still, you should go see that sumbitch.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Like the Negev of writing

Tonight I delivered the first half of the next issue of 100 Girls to Todd Demong. This after months of not being able to write a word. Or at least that's how it felt. I wrote several drafts of this script previously and threw them all away. But I like this version, and I can see the rest of the issue fairly clearly in my imagination; always a good sign.

I go through these periodic spells of writer's block (or writers insecurity, more like it) and I try to think about what I once heard William Stafford say at a reading. Someone asked him what do you do when you don't like anything you write? Mr. Stafford's answer: "I lower my standards."

I don't really have any tricks for getting through it myself, except for getting through it. When I'm in the middle of bout of writer's block, I feel like T.E. Lawrence slogging across the Negev desert. I just plod on long enough and eventually I come out the other side.

Hopefully there will continue to be another side to these things.

The bright spot here is that this version of the script came easily, I enjoyed writing, and I liked the end product. To quote Lawrence: "We've taken Aqaba."

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Daemon: Update!

My daemon has been a spider for the last couple of days. This pleases me better than either the mouse or the ladybug into which it had transmuted, albeit briefly. But I still wish it had remained in its original chimpanzee form.

Lord, I'm a geek.

I probably look like I need it

This happened a few days ago.

I was walking from my work to pick up our car and drive home. As I walked, I passed a homeless man. Older guy, actually pretty nice. Salem has more than it's share of scary homeless people since it's the location of the State's mental hospital.

Anyway, as I walked past, the man asked if I had any extra money. I said no; truthfully, I might add. He considered this for a moment before looking at me and saying, "I have some money, do you need a cup of coffee?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shameless and repetitive

I wrote about this over on my Gear School blog, too, but I'm happy about it so you get it here, as well:

There is an eight-page Gear School short story at the Myspace Dark Horse Presents page. If you have any love for me at all, you will stop reading right now and make with the clicking.

For those of you with no love for me, I'll mention that this "issue" of DHP also features a short by Tony Millionaire and the next installment of a short written by Mr. Joss Whedon. Mr. Joss Whedon is, of course, a gigantic influence on my work. That I get to be in the same issue as him pleases me to no end.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Oh, Lord, I think I want this, too...

This omnibus edition, The Dark Horse Heroes Omnibus, collects the ill-fated Comics Greatest World and Will to Power series. If you were into comics in the early '90s, you may remember these.

I was working at Dark Horse when these originally came out and I remember that quite a few of us were very excited by what these comics could have been. We apparently didn't understand either the comics market or what the company's strengths were. Not that I could have swayed any opinions if I'd had an inkling; I was a lowly production employee at the time.

There's a perverse part of me that wants this collection. I remember some of these books were cringe-worthy, but I also remember there were some truly inspired bits here. And the talent they got to work on these is pretty amazing: Doug Mahnke, Paul Chadwick, Eric Shanower and Adam Hughes to name a few.

I'm sure I will get this, and when I do, I hope it's more than just a curiosity piece.

I am so pre-ordering this

I'm having a hard time containing my excitement over this one:

Kick-ass astrophysicist and guest star on both The Simpsons and Futurama, Stephen Hawking has penned a novel along with his daughter, Lucy, and the French astrophysicist Christophe Galfard. The novel, George's Secret Key to the Universe, is the first in a planned trilogy. It's a sci-fi story that will explain astrophysics to kids, using a group of children as its main characters.

One hopes that this will sell as well as Hawking's previous book, A Brief History of Time, but that it will actually be read by those that buy it.

I ganked this from Here's a link to the original article on the Cosmos Magazine site.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

My Daemon

I saw this on Lani's blog and had to get my own.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy came out during the height of the Harry Potter craze, so you may have missed it. They are, in my opinion, much superior to the HP novels and I would recommend them to anyone who enjoyed HP, or who enjoys kid's fantasy lit in general.

This daemon thingie comes from the website for the first film based on the series, The Golden Compass. Maybe now that a film is coming out based on the books, more people will give these great books a read.