Tag Archives: art

ON STORYTELLING: Why Answering Everything Isn’t the Best Way to Go

28 May

Lost

I had a few readers ask me to do something very interesting recently. Well, perhaps not so interesting to you as it is to me, but the pleas I received definitely did lead to a line of thought which I wanted to go over briefly, and before I get to caught up in digression, let me give you a summary of the request I was given:

Can you answer my questions?

Sci-Fi Bloggers is of course the notable online magazine I am the Editor-in-Chief of and it is our goal to provide original content of our own to include with our (mostly) daily reports on current goings-on in the world of science fiction and fantasy. One form of this we adopted some time back is our Friday Fiction category. There we feature the work of several authors, the two most prominent and frequent being Brandon Scott and myself. We recently did a “Double Feature” special which included a tale I have been criticized for and praised for entitled “Jars”. The thing for which it was criticized by the way was the same thing it was lauded for: its confusing nature.

I was asked to add on to it, to continue it, to make certain it didn’t end on more than one occasion. More specifically, I was asked to “fill in the blanks.” For those who haven’t read it, it’s five pages, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Take a looking by clicking here.

Please read that before continuing. It is quite brief.

Now, here we have a case wherein I believe that I shouldn’t add anything more to this tale. I think the entire thing is perfectly encapsulated by the self-contained incident (or rather couple of incidents). Nothing more needs to be said. And I was asked about adding more and then someone had a proposition, and I smiled and asked to hear what the proposition was. He went on to delineate a storyline in which the woman and the monster chasing her were both servants of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. After learning of numerous atrocities committed by Hades, acts that harmed and ended the lives of millions of human beings in the world above, she joined the ranks of mortal men, committing espionage against her own kind. She was arrested for her crimes and, after breaking out of prison, tried to “lay low” and remain hidden from her newfound enemies.

In the intervening time between then and my story, she has children, mortal children. The creature, the beast that’s after her, is a bounty hunter, and in order to protect her offspring from the horrors of the Underworld, she kills them, for they are without sin and wouldn’t end up there as a result. The bounty hunter, through physical contact, manages to scramble her memory, and thus, “Jars”.

Now, let me make this point crystal clear: I didn’t write any of that. Or at least I didn’t originate the idea myself. Perhaps I reconfigured it in a form that was more consumable, but it was one of my readers who thought of it.

I told him right then that that very thing, what he just did, is why I didn’t answer all of the questions in a tale such as “Jars”, because the purpose of some stories, many of them in fact, is not to solve but inspire. If I had told him my concept of “Jars” and what think the monster is, he wouldn’t have thought of that brilliant storyline, he wouldn’t have created anything. And the funny thing is, the same thing happened to me just two weeks later.

Brandon Scott wrote a story called “Small Town Games”. You can read it here. I immediately thought a whole movie should be made around the concept. Perhaps I was right, but perhaps Brandon was in suggesting that the manner of his construction, his storytelling, led me to the creation of my own idea of what “the games” were. See, that’s an interesting thing.

The single most powerful thing a creation can do is cause further creation. If the actions of one man, woman, child, what have you, can cause another to do something else, that is real powerthat is influence.

I am suggesting that other writers look at this as a possibility. Instead of criticizing Lost for not answering all of your questions, maybe look at it the way you might a show like The Leftovers, where answers are no longer necessary, or like The Sopranos, where implications feeds us the answers, the truth. I know it sounds like I’m excusing authors and directors from solidifying their visions and ending their tales, but perhaps we could be a little more forgiving when they don’t hit that last note on the piano, because sometimes the precipice is all we need. Sometimes, we don’t have to dive into the water below. We can create our own pool, our own interpretation, our own art.

~D.

 

C

23 Oct

I am that I tiger.

Wow. It’s crazy how far we’ve come, isn’t it? I mean, take a look.

We started with that review of that one movie with the dolls. Then, I said something I’d like to take back, and got lazy, and didn’t post for some time. After that, I came back and told a story, turned into more of a weirdo than usual. Then there was this poorly edited version of something I wrote, followed by another poorly edited version of something I wrote that is now way different, even in terms of plot, time periods, character development, dialogue, etc. So much stuff!

Man, what else did we do? Ah, that’s right! We went on a journey together, and you heard my voice and it was awkward. I wrote a bad ending, and watched an adequate show so you didn’t have to. We followed a goat, examined terrorism, false advertised, discussed knowledge, stayed up late, talked about you, got pissed about abortion, started, got pissed about each other (or I guess it was just me being a bitch or whatever), got pissed about some superhero movie, analyzed characters. Hell, we even got you to want to follow me on Twitter less than you already did! Oh, and something about 9/11, and loving you.

I think the last thing we discussed was racism, and I’ve been away a while. Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing. I just wanted to make sure I did something special for our hundredth time together. I couldn’t come up with much, honestly. Just remembering the good times with the Legendary Heroes and whatnot.

Okay, I guess that’s everything. Here’s something to read before you go to bed, or when you wake up, or whenever. Oh, and here’s a list.

Goodnight/good morning/good evening/good space/you all need to play Beyond: Two Souls.

 

~D.

C

P.S. – I think I left out something, but I feel like I shouldn’t talk about it for some reason.

 

P.P.S. – Look at this tiger.

Four More Years

23 Sep

This is matter. This is art.

Where we start is where we end,

And at the end, we start again.

We do this because it is fun

To make a game and have it won.

And see, that’s what all this stuff is:

The cat, the dog, the wife, the kids,

The house, the car, the book you wrote,

The pictures, the meals, that winter coat

You wore to your son’s baseball game

So you could watch his rise to fame.

You did it for your daughter, too

When, live onstage, she played the blues.

All these things, the art, the music,

They’re there for us to simply use it

And succeed at this game we made,

The one which forever we’ve played

Because of how much fun it’s been,

And also ’cause—hell—we love to win!

It’s how we roll. You know it’s true.

It’s how we live, me and you

And us all under the same roof,

Bound by ties that need no proof

Of existence. We know they’re there.

They’re why we love and why we care

About each other so much, so purely.

You understand why I’m saying this, surely?

Well, if you don’t, I’ll let you know

Why I’ve been speaking to you so

Oddly, in a fashion I don’t normally pick:

It’s my Fourth Anniversary! Come on, you pricks!

How could you forget the twenty-third,

In which I penned the very first words

That started our little game

Within the Great Game? What a shame

You should forget this day, the start

Of me talking to you through art,

And us building this powerful bond,

The kind that lasts forever strong.

But I know that you didn’t forget,

You only needed me to let

You know it’s okay to celebrate

This (obvious rhyme) momentous date

When you and I first became friends.

It’ll start here, end here, and start again,

Just as it’s always been with us.

We’ll make more games and build more trust,

And every year I’ll write a poem,

Which you’ll read on your screen at home.

And maybe you’ll write back to me,

And tell me how good it feels to be

Alive and powerful, all of those things

That this Great Game we’ve made eternally brings.

All right, I guess that’s where this story ends,

And, where it stops, another begins.

I’ve had fun, really, living these last four years with you.

Here’s to next quartet, goo goo g’joob.

 

~D.

 

P.S. – To trace the origin of the image at the top, this is the place to look. Good luck.

And We Keep Going

15 Sep

Yeah, it's back.

Okay, so I just felt like updating you on everything that’s going on. Things have been moving in the right direction for me. I can imagine it’s been the same for you. If not, cheer up. It’ll be okay. Yeah, yeah, “It’s just getting worse and worse. I can’t take it anymore. To hell with the mortgage.” I know, I get it, trust me. But if you keep thinking about the Prequel Trilogy, the Originals are going to pass you by (to those who didn’t understand that, here you go).

Anyhow, this is pretty cool, or something. No, but really, I’m psyched for what’s coming. Working with Pendulum in Action is a blast and an honor, and I’m looking forward to continuing this relationship. Also, Michael Drew and Roy H. Williams are geniuses. They offer profound and practical social and cultural insight, which you should all take advantage of.

Last but not least, I’ve updated the Here Lies KNOWLEDGE page. You should take a look at it. I know you’ve read it already a million times, but just do it again, because you can.

A’ight, that’s everything. I’ve got a train to catch. Be seeing you.

 

~D.

Moonlight

22 Aug

Just watch and listen.

That’s all. Just go on Google, right now. Go there, and click the “play” button, and just watch and listen to art.

 

~D.

Building a Better Story: Characters

21 Aug

Poison and cheer!

Building a character and building a person are, relatively speaking, the same thing. Just go ahead and start designing the character, and then, at intervals throughout their creation, ask yourself, “Is this what a real person under these circumstances would do? Is this how they’d act? Would Iact this way in the same situation? Would anyone I know act this way? Is this the kind of character who would even have a ‘human’ reaction to these events?”

Doing the above gives us a sense of reality in relation to the character, regardless of whether they’re a man, a machine, an alien, or whatever. When we can observe the character realistically, no matter how strange they might be, they’ve been designed properly.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: designing a character purely for interest is not interesting. We’re not interested characters because they’re interesting. We’re interested in characters because they themselves are interested in the world around them, thereby becoming “interesting.” We are interested in the interested.

Realistically Designed Characters: Han Solo, Andrew Detmer, Commissioner Gordon (BEFORE The Dark Knight Rises), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet.

Characters Designed for Interest Alone: Jar Jar Binks, Mudflap and Skidds (from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), the Catalyst, Gurgi (until the later books that is).

In short, make people, not characters. And don’t force them to be interesting, because that’s not interesting.

~D.

“Man of Steel” Was Terrigood

2 Aug

It sucked. It was great.

Yeah, it’s late. I didn’t time this with the release of the movie. Why? Because I’m busy, ya hear? I’m working. I talk to you when I feel like it. Some day I’ll do it more often, but for now you’ll just have to be patient. For now, you’ll have to deal with whatever crap I throw out, whenever I throw it out.

Anyway, yeah, Superman, Man of Steel, pretty good movie. It could use some work, a lot actually. But more on that in a bit. First the good stuff. And yes, this is chock full of spoilers, so for those who don’t want any, here’s my review to you: go see it, make up your own damn mind. Sound good? Great. Let’s fly on over to Krypton for the opening scene.

Russel Crowe is a good actor.

THE BEGINNING: The opening of Man of Steel is good, if a bit brief. Krypton is dying, General Zod has launched a coup against the planet’s government, and Jor-El, father of Kal-El, is making a desperate attempt to keep his naturally born son alive. What you have to understand is, on Krypton, natural births aren’t normal. Children are bred for very specific purposes, and so they do not have the mental faculty of choice. Therefore, they are wholly determined to do whatever is necessary in order to further their “programmed” purpose. Kal-El, due to the nature of his origin, can make his own choices. This is what makes him unique. He could be a hero or a villain, a savior or a conquer, a liberator or a tyrant, or a nobody who never becomes an important part of history at all. He has a choice, and, even though we know what he’ll decide to do in the end, it’s still interesting to see how he goes about making that “life choice.”

But more about the opening. Krypton is a beautiful place, and I was surprised by how much time we spent there. Even though it’s dying, it still has this life to it that comes across great visually. The creatures and weaponry, as well as the communication devices, are all really unique in terms of design, a credit to the effects team and Snyder.

As for the actors, I thought Russel Crowe and Ayelet Zurer did a great job as Jor-El and Lara. I don’t this whole thing on Crowe being “bland and monotone.” I mean, he seemed pretty natural to me the entire time. He was just being a normal guy from Krypton, getting angry and smiling when it made sense for such things to occur. I think some critics just want everyone to have too much emotion nowadays, when, in truth, some people just don’t work that way. Some people are actually, you know, normal.

As you would imagine, being a Superman reboot, Kal-El is fired away to Earth, Jor-El dies (killed by Zod here) and the coup is put down. The coup’s participants are imprisoned while the planet burns. Now, I know a lot of people think this doesn’t make sense, but honestly, I have to disagree for a number of reasons. To me, watching your entire planet swallow itself whole is a fate worse than death. To be forced to live in darkness forever while the place you were bred to protect rots away is a terrible thing. So, for me anyway, that wasn’t a problem.

Now, Earth.

The boy who lived.

THE LIFE OF CLARK KENT: Okay, so we cut right to a mature, bearded “Clark Kent,” working on a fishing boat. He sees a burning oil rig in the distance and swims there, busts in and saves a bunch of people. And here’s where my first problem comes in: they all see him doing supernatural things. The reason this is a problem for me is the fact that, later in the movie (earlier in Clark’s life), we see him hold back on using his powers because his father wanted to keep them a secret, because he thought the world wasn’t ready. He was obeying his father’s wishes, being a good son. Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but then why THE HELL is he using them RIGHT OUT IN THE OPEN to save a bunch of STRANGERS? IT MAKES NO SENSE, and it completely negates to reasoning behind his previous sacrifice. Why didn’t he just say, “Screw it,” and do the same thing for his father when he had the chance? And why is he having a debate later on in the movie about showing the world his powers? He seemed pretty okay with it not long ago!

So yeah, the rig scene kind of pisses me off. My guess is either Jon Peters stepped in and said, “We need more explosions and superpowers in the beginning,” or story writer Christopher Nolan went all Dark Knight Rises on us and forgot that doing things just because they feel “more dramatic” isn’t always the smartest thing to do. That’s one thing that concerns me about Nolan. I’ve praised him in the past, but I’m starting to get a George Lucas vibe from him, like his ego may be getting to him. We’ll look at his future films and see what happens.

Now, even though I just freaked out about how crappy this section is, the next bit is pretty good. We essentially get a back and forth between present Clark and young Clark, watching him grow older, and watching what his growth has led him to. One of my favorite scenes in the movie has got to be when Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) is showing his son what he really is. When he shows the boy the ship, and they have their back and forth about how big everything is and how small everything is and all that boring philosophy and whatnot, it’s really touching. And I know this line’s in the trailer, but I still love it every time I hear Kent say, “You are my son.” Chills, every time.

Next, we get a bit of a weird coincidence. The homeless hitchhiker, Clark Kent, SOMEHOW manages to get a job with the exact team that is looking for frozen Cold War subs in the exact same place the Fortress of Solitude is (I know it’s a little different in this, but I’m still calling it that), that ALSO happens to have Lois Lane working them. Okay, I’m well aware that in real life strange coincidences like this happen, but that’s a LOT of things that we’re just expected to be all like, “Eh, okay,” about. Thank God Richard Schiff is here to save the day. He’s playing a scientist because, you know, he’s fucking Richard Schiff.

Clark discovers the Fortress, and has to save Lois from some robots. He does so, and the Fortress flies away so Ghost Jor-El can get through some exposition. It’s actually pretty cool, learning Krypton’s history and all, and also learning how our villains will come into play. After that Clark basically becomes Superman. Which leads us to our next section…

KNEEEEEEEL!

METROPOLIS: So, Superman come home, and it’s all good, but then Zod’s all like, “Let me tap into every T.V. screen in the world and show you how awesome I am.” And, honestly, this scene gave me chills. The way they left this eerie static hanging for a while before the message actually began was chilling. And the way it began with that simple phrase repeated over and over, “You are not alone,” was haunting. So yeah, Zod’s entrance was pretty cool.

Now, here’s where another problem comes in. In order to gain advance about what to do here Clark decides, instead of talking to Ghost Jor-El, who knows everything about what Zod is capable of and how to beat him, he’s going to go see some random priest we neither know nor care about for advice. This leads to a gigantic battle wherein nearly all of Metropolis, the main city in the Superman series, is destroy and tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of people, are killed. The entire last half of the movie could have been prevented had Clark gone to Ghost Jor-El. Instead we get more of this Jon Peters nonsense with a forced, awkward romantic scene between Lois and Superman as Zod arrives, and both of them turning themselves in.

So, Lois, through the use of this little metallic key (if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about), talks to Ghost Jor-El. And, WOULDN’TCHA KNOW IT, he knows how to beat Zod. So, while Superman escapes (with Lois) and fights Zod, she and the military get a phantom bomb ready to lock all the bad guys away.

The action here LOOKS badass. The effects team did an excellent job making the destruction and death appear realistic on screen. However, it became too much for me after a while, and I started going, “Okay, I got it, buildings collapse when you fly through them. Can we move on?”

Anyway, Zod gets his turn Earth into Krypton machine set up and the phantom bomb is almost ready. Now, to those who think Zod’s an idiot for wanting to turn Earth into Krypton instead of trying to rule it with his newly acquired superpowers (he gets them from being on Earth), you obviously need to take a better look at Zod psychologically. Remember how everyone on Krypton was practically brainwashed into a certain behavioral pattern? Well, Zod was bred to protect and defend Krypton at all costs. After watching it burn, he failed to do so. However, in turning Earth into Krypton, he would be fulfilling that purpose, the very one which was basically drilled into his brain at birth. It’s an insane thought process to us due to our ability to choose. Zod has not choice, and that’s what makes him, to me, such a compelling character. I actually sympathized more for him than I did Superman in this movie. All he wanted to do was save his home, and he  couldn’t do ANYTHING else with his life.

So yeah, I like Zod. And I like his machine. And I like how it’s set up at opposite ends of the world, splitting our leads apart. Yeah, Lois going on the mission with them makes no sense, but that’s Jon Peters again (if not Nolan). “We need tension with Lois! GIVE HER A MILITARY UNIFORM AND LET HER RIDE THE AEROPLANE!” Superman beats the bolts out of this tentacle monster thing (weird) and destroy the first half of the doomsday device, leaving the last bit in Metropolis.

In the city, Richard Schiff saves the day with the phantom bomb and Lois is falling. Kal-El catches her and leaves her on the ground so he can have a final showdown with Zod.

I would like to interject, before I go on, that this chick

Her...

is pretty cool. Okay, moving on.

The showdown with Zod is cool, but the point where he explains his motives, to me, is unnecessary. That’s all stuff I got just from the fact that he was doing what he was doing. It damaged the subtlety of the conflict a little. What made up for it? When Superman killed him.

Yeah, he kills Zod.

I know this is a topic of hot debate, but I’m personally on the side of, “He was forced to do it, but those people could have easily gotten out of the way.” He would’ve eventually had to kill him though, because Zod wasn’t locked away in the phantom bomb’s blast. He wouldn’t have stopped. Something had to be done.

So yeah, I’m for the death of Zod. Bring on the hate mail.

Right, or easy, your choice.

OVERALL: I realize that I’ve been switching between past and present tense throughout this. It’s late. I’m tired. Forgive such minor flaws in the face of my final verdict: Man of Steal was “terrigood.” I liked it. I’d see it again with friends (not alone). There were many problems, big problems even, but that doesn’t stop me from realizing what good there is throughout the film. When that final moment comes in and Jonathan Kent sees his boy donning that red cape, I get chills. So much care was put into that little moment, that little bit. It gives me hope that the next one won’t be so bad.

It’s not perfect, but it’s art, for sure. It may not be a classic, but it’s still a Superman movie worth watching. Go see it. Make your own damn mind up.

By the way, how in the hell is Batman going to even lay a finger on this guy? What, is he going to team up with Lex Luther and use Krypto…

…no way. That’s not a bad…

Him and Him?

~D.