Sunday, August 30, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

There have been a number of things delaying this post. Guilt, as you'll see below... also paperwork that needed doing, yard work, visits with family, and the new Batman game, which I recommend to anyone who likes Metroid or Castlevania style games, or the Batman comic books and/or cartoons. Also Mark Hamill fans, because his Joker is probably the only one that can equal or exceed Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight.

The other time eater recently was today's trip to see Inglourious Basterds, the latest Quentin Tarantino film. Anybody who follows Tarantino's work knows that it's going to be an excellent study in good-to-great dialogue. But where the movie really shines is in building up tension over the course of an entire story.

The movie is divided into five chapters. Each chapter starts out mildly, but over the course of twenty to thirty minutes, raises the tension between all the characters involved, usually through nothing more than creative dialogue. The last few minutes are devoted to Tarantino's customary ultra-violence, and then we're in a new chapter, a new situation, and a new low that builds to an inevitable high.

That would be enough to make a good film, but every chapter after the first two (which are, when you come right down to it, extremely well-played back story) also builds on unresolved situations from the previous chapters, until you hit chapter five and everything comes together in an inspired, apocalyptic finale that changes the very course of history.

The acting is excellent. Brad Pitt is a natural scene-stealer, but even he loses out occasional to Colonel Landa, SS officer and the movie's main villain. I can't think of anybody who does a bad job in the movie, and I think there's only two seconds of the film that should have been left on the cutting room floor. If you see the movie, you'll spot it instantly, but it won't do a damn thing to sour your experience.

If you're not squeamish about blood, and you feel like having a true edge-of-your-seat experience, go check out Inglourious Basterds. You could do a lot worse this weekend.


Author's Log

These past few days I've written zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I am a failure as a writer and deserve to be damned to the deepest pits of procrastination hell.

Current Reading

I've finished reading Living Dead in Dallas, which differs from True Blood so much that I'm no longer worried about spoiling anything. The writing in this second book has improved a lot from the first, and I'm hoping this upward trend continues. Unfortunately I won't find out for a few weeks, at which point my wife gets the rest of the books back from a friend.

In the meantime, I'm going to be rereading All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. These two graphic novels are simply the best Superman story that's been written... possibly ever, if I'm honest, and there are enough subtle Easter eggs contained therein to make another reading more than worthwhile. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Pox Upon Human Resources

Tonight's blog post has been sacrificed to the God of Triplicate Paperwork. Woe unto all ye unbelievers!

New Comic Book Day is tomorrow, so I'll try to be more interesting then (at least for people who read comics).


Author's Log

Today's writing output is about 300 words of a short story, all on notebook paper. I find that it's a lot easier to get into a good writing groove with a nice notebook than it is when you're typing on an Internet-enabled computer. The downside being that I have to figure out what I wrote and, eventually, transcribe it. So la.

Current Reading

I finished Dead Until Dark today, and started Living Dead in Dallas, the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. As I understand it, this is where the plot of the books and the plot of the TV series really diverge, so I'm interested to see who, what, where, and how.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pains in the Head Make it Hard to Write

This post won't be nearly as long-winded as my first one. Monday has hit full-force today, with dinner, laundry, garbage disposal, mandatory paperwork, and research for my day job taking big chunks out of my writing time. To top it off, my wife has come down with a murderous migraine that jabs another red-hot needle in her head whenever the dog barks.

A good migraine, when its worked itself up, can leave one drooling in bed, eyes squeezed shut to blot out even the most minuscule light, desperately hoping that the sensation of nausea will go away long enough to choke down a crust of bread. I don't think my wife's that bad off yet, but if this thing sticks around 'til the morning, I don't plan on arguing when the question of sick leave comes up.


Author's Log

Today's writing consists of 450 words of a (new... d'oh) short story, and five chapter titles for the novel... which may not even have chapters, for all I know at this point. But I did get a kick out of coming up with them.

Current Reading

Finished half of Dead Until Dark today. So far I'd say I'm enjoying it: the changes between the book and the TV show are enough to keep the reading fresh, and it's nice to get a different look at Sookie, Bill and Sam.

Aside from reading, I've been listening to the soundtrack for Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell, which is the best horror flick I've seen in awhile. If you're interested in character development, you could do worse than to watch the movie and examine how Raimi keeps us sympathizing with his main character, Christine Brown, even as she does things we probably don't agree with. The soundtrack makes for good atmosphere music, especially if you're writing something scary or scary/dramatic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Okay, Here We Go

To everyone reading this: welcome. As I'm writing this, it's a little after ten o'clock on a Sunday night. I'm sitting in my office, having just taken my dog on her nightly walk. There's a diet soda on my desk, half-empty. There's also a copy of the first Sookie Stackhouse novel on my right, with a bookmark at the first page.

I'm feeling apprehensive about starting the novel. I'm a big fan of "True Blood", the HBO show based on the Sookie series, but I'm not sure how well that enjoyment is going to translate to the book. I've yet to get deeply into a supernatural romance, although I keep trying. I'm hoping I can get into this one without spoiling the show.

I'm also apprehensive because, for the third time, I'm starting a blog. I seem to get the urge to do this every couple of months, so far with no success beyond an initial posting, maybe two. This time, I'm determined, is going to be different; but didn't I say that the last time?


Hello again. My name is David Earle. I'm a writer. I haven't published any novels, so I still think of myself as an aspiring writer, even though I have gotten some smaller-format writings published once or twice. I suspect it's going to be a long time before I can drop that aspiring and feel comfortable with it. I don't even really like the word, come to think of it: struggling would be more appropriate for those nights when I'm fighting sleep deprivation just to make 500 words. But that's not fair to the really struggling writers, the ones who have trouble making rent from month to month. They don't need me trying to dilute the term's impact.

Would you mind if I call myself a minor writer? I think I can live with that. It's a little alliterative, a little fun, and it's more accurate than aspiring and its stinking italics.

So I'm a minor writer. I've got one short story that's pending publication, in an actual book, which still blows my mind. I've got a pitch in for another short story with the same company, and a third story that I'm polishing before I start sending it around. And I've got 50,000 words of a novel that I wrote during National Novel Writing Month in 2008. That one's getting dusty now, but I think it might, just might, end up on a bookshelf one day. (I certainly hope so: the characters are certainly vocal on the subject, and if they're on a bookshelf they won't be yammering in my head anymore, at least for awhile.)

So if I've got all that to work on, what the heck am I writing this for (you might ask)?

I'm writing this because it's good exercise, a way to build up the muscles for writing things that I might get paid for. I'm writing this because I don't get to talk about writing much, and I enjoy talking about it. I'm writing this so I'll have some place to put all those random thoughts that pop into my head every day, which might just be longer than 140 characters.

I'm writing this because over this last year, I've realized that I really like writing. So I write. And if you happen to read what I write, be it here or in print, then I hope you enjoy.


Author's Log

Ah, right. In keeping with the title, I'll be documenting my writing output. This will help keep me honest about how much I'm writing, let me brag a little bit on the good days, and shame me appropriately on those days where I don't get anything done. Word counts, works in progress read, pages edited: it all goes here.

Today, I wrote a 300 word critique of a short story submitted to the Critters Workshop, a website dedicated to letting authors seek critiques on their work in progress. The catch is, you have to give critiques to get critiques; but it's free to join, and you do get to read a nice selection of fantasy, horror, and science fiction stories.

Current Reading

Last but not least, anything I'm reading at the moment (that I feel like mentioning) will get listed here. To quote Stephen King, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write."

Today's reading included:

Why the Beatles Broke Up, in issue 1086 of Rolling Stone
Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

I've only read the first page of Dead Until Dark, and I'm wondering how much of the TV show (which juggles a pretty large ensemble) came from the book (which uses a first-person point of view), and how much just got made up. And I'm looking forward to page two.