I’m on Team Jacob

I’ve never read the Twilight books, but I’ve been curious for a long time.  Both from a professional point of view and from a personal one.  Professionally, because holy shitballs, Batman, did she make a lot of money from those books!  Personally because I always love a good story, and if these books sold that many copies and have that many rabid fans, they must be awesome, and that makes me want to see what all the fuss is about.

I’ve read (ok, listened to) all the Sookie Stackhouse books.  But for whatever reason, not Twilight.

Maybe it’s because so many people (who wish they were as awesome as Stephany Meyer) make fun of them.  I could say no, it’s because of lack of time.  But I had the time for the others, so that’s a BS argument.  Really, I wasn’t all that interested.  And the mockery didn’t help

But I was curious, so I occasionally toyed with renting the movies.  In fact, my wife had also expressed curiosity.  But we didn’t do anything about it, until this week.

The other day, she declared that we were renting and watching Twilight.  So…we did.

I had some issues with actions the characters took, and was forced to roll my eyes in several places.  But you know what?  Despite that, I rather liked it.  The story pulled me in.  It pulled both of us in, and our daughter too (she’s 9).  So we watched the sequel, and then the third.  We haven’t watch the two-parter of the conclusion yet, and I’m sure I’m missing a lot from not having actually read the books.

That said, I’ve come to a few conclusions.  The most important is this: Edward is not just a creepy dude (I recall Dean once described Twilight as the story of a hundred-year-old man taking advantage of a sixteen year old girl.  And you know what, that’s 100% right.  In a way), but he’s freaking pathetic.  “I can’t stand to live in a world without you in it!”…but he refuses to take the one step that would ensure Bella never leaves it.  “You’re my only reason for living!”

Gah!  It’s beyond cringeworthy to being an absolute gag-fest.  Only a teenage girl could find such slobbering obsequiousness appealing.  Except in reality, most of the time they hate it, too.

And it’s not just that.  The dude has no personality, just one constant mope after another.  He’s not fun.  Hell, he can’t even fight all that well.

Truly, Edward sucks.

Jacob, on the other hand, is in shape, fun, bold.  Yeah, he’s a bit excessively fawning as well, but at least he’s assertive about it.  And…damnit, he’s masculine.  On no planet does a guy like Edward get the girl over a guy like Jacob unless he’s rich.

Plus, the werewolf pack is cool and fun.  They kid around with each other and with their friends, they’re vibrant and alive.  Whereas the Cullens, and really the vamps in general, are dull.  No fun, no nothing.

And…seriously.  Why in THE HELL would the Cullens spend all their time in freaking High School, of all places?  I mean, High School sucks, and they are all at least a hundred years old.  They can’t think of any place better to be?

Well, I guess there is that.

Oy.

Yeah, it’s an easy pick who I’d want to hang with.

I’m on team Jacob, lost cause though it may be.

I Was Wrong

Back in December, after watching The Force Awakens, I came away with a theory.  I posted about it here.

When the movie came out on Blu-Ray, we bought a copy because we liked it and we wanted the kids to see it.  I’ve happily shown them the other three Star Wars movies, and the kids all loved them.  So we were eager to see their reaction to the new one.

Of course they loved it.  So we’ve watched it again.  And again.  And again. And…

You get the picture.

With these repeat viewings, a couple things have happened:

  1. I find my objections to the more silly and infuriating parts of the movie have lessened.  Yes, Rey is a total Mary Sue who got way too powerful way too fast for no good reason.  And yeah a lot of the fan service is cheesy.  And yeah it makes the galaxy look like it spans about a hundred meters from one end to the other.  But you know what?  It just gets more fun with each watching.  And some of the things that irked me make a little bit more sense.  So that’s ok.
  2. I’m pretty sure now that my theory, which I was so proud of back in December, is wrong.  Maybe not entirely wrong.  (I’m still thinking it was Snoke, not Ren, who trashed Luke’s school; Ren and his posse just helped, or joined up in the end, or something.)  But wrong enough that I felt the need to come out and say it now, for the record.

We’ll see just how wrong I am when the next one comes out.  In the meantime, Rogue One looks promising, head-scratchingly cliched chick-who-can-beat-up-6-big-tough-guys-at-the-same-time aside.  If it’s done well, even that well-worn cliche can be fun.  And the story looks promising.  So I’m looking forward to that.

So anyway, that’s all I’ve got right now.  I’m going to make it a point to post here more often from now on, because consistency.

Talk to y’all later.  🙂

My Star Wars Theory

Warning: SPOILERS!

I went, with my wife, to see The Force Awakens on 19 December, in Imax 3D.  Because Imax.  I’m generally not a 3D fan, and the first couple minutes (fortunately just previews) reminded me why.  But I will say the 3D thing did add a bit of coolness to the show.  Certainly the Imax HUGE screen did.

So…did I like it?

Duh.

Of course!  It was pretty awesome, and great fun.  Was it repetitive from the first Star Wars (don’t tell me that’s not the first.  There are only 4 Star Wars movies.  We do not acknowledge any others in my household.)?  Completely.  Were there some head-scratchingly contrived and cheesy moments?  Absolutely.  Were there things that made no sense at all (like how the hell did the computer-generated-lady get Luke’s blue lightsaber when it fell down the hole at Bespin after Vader cut his hand off, and was lost in the clouds of that gas giant)?  Yup.  Was Rey a total Mary Sue?  100%, without a doubt, no question, utterly cannot be argued, what are you nuts if you don’t agree, yes.

The movie was still great.  I never thought I’d have a Star Wars movie to like, after the abortions we don’t mention.  I now do.

More than that, it sucked me (and the Admiral at home) in, and we left the theater discussing the many questions left by the movie.  Specifically (duh) who the hell is Rey?

It’s immediately obvious that she’s part of the family.  Not just because Star Wars is, at its core, a family saga.  But also because of all the clues dropped in the movie.  But what part of the family is she?

After the movie, the Admiral and I went to a bar and discussed it, at length.  In the end, we came up with a theory that I think holds the water completely.  I’ve since read many inane and, frankly, idiotic theories on the internet.  And one or two that closely approximate our theory.  In the interest of being able to say “I told you so and I knew it before XXXX posted it on the internet”, I present it here, for your evaluation.

And remember, we came up with this at about 1600 on 19 December, 2015.

Just saying.  😛

So here goes:

Han and Leia had two children: Ben (who later became Kylo Ren) and a daughter (who we know as Rey but who probably was not born with that name).  Ren was the older brother, but both were blessed with talent in the Force (just as Luke and Leia were…and why didn’t she train, like it was implied that she would in Jedi and like she did in the EU books?  But that’s another question).

When Luke started his school, Ren and Rey went, despite their very young ages.  At the school was another student that Ren began to look up to as a surrogate father figure because for some reason he was angry with Han (maybe because Han sent him off to the school at just the age when he needed his father most?  Or maybe something else.  Ren’s a gamma-male emo bitch, so it could just be because Han disapproved of his hair style.  I presume we’ll find out why later in the movies).  That student was the man who we now know as Snoke.

Snoke betrayed Luke and destroyed his school.  Ren helped him, for the reason I stated above.  Or maybe he just stood by, and in the midst of the carnage, followed Snoke.  Either way, Ren followed Snoke instead of Luke.

In the process of overthrowing the school, all the other students were killed, and Luke barely escaped with his life.  Both Ren and Snoke believed Rey perished, and they went off to gather the remnants of the Empire and form the First Order.

When he came to his senses, Luke found Rey and spirited her away.  He would have brought her back to Han and Leia, but by then they had split up in their grief and anger over what happened, and he feared that leaving Rey in the midst of that anger would cause her to grow up already fallen to the Dark Side.  So he left her with Leia’s trusted ally on Jakku (The guy Poe went to see at the beginning of The Force Awakens) with instructions to keep her safe until Han and Leia straightened things out.

But they never did.  And for some reason, Rey and the ally (what’s his name anyway?) got separated (maybe she got pissed at him when she hit puberty or something…or maybe he dropped the ball…who knows).

Still, the ally kept tabs on her in the vain hope that, when the time came, he would be able to help her get back to her parents.  And so she languished there on Jakku until BB happened to come across her in the desert.  And we know what happened from there.

 

And that’s our theory.

 

Think about it, and consider these things:

  1. The immediate connection between Rey and Han.  Han thinks his daughter’s dead, but he sees something of her in Rey and can’t help feeling close to her.
  2. The apparent, and immediate, connection between Rey and Ren.  Same reason.
  3. Why does no one in the general populace know that Luke was actually real?  Apparently he’s only remembered as a legend, which means he vanished quite a while ago.  Which means Ren COULD NOT have been his betrayer, because he’s far too young to have done that and have enough time pass that Luke’s not remembered as a real person.
  4. Rey’s flashbacks.  She saw the end of Luke’s school.  She saw a spaceship flying away from her at Jakku and a voice telling her to stay there.  Now, I’ll admit when I first heard that voice I thought it sounded like Kylo Ren in his mask suit.  Which makes one think maybe he was the person who dropped her off.  But as I said in #3, he’s too young.  And really that could have been anyone’s voice, really.
  5. Han tells Leia that he saw their son, but neither mentions a daughter.  This checks, because they thought their daughter died in Snoke’s rebellion.  They wouldn’t discuss their dead daughter, because that would tear the scab off the not-totally-healed wound that was her death.

 

So…what do you think?

Star Trek: Axanar

About a month ago, I was on Facebook (Yeah, yeah….I know) and I saw a post, I think from George Takei, linking to a Kickstarter for a Star Trek movie.  I was like, “Star Trek?  In Kickstarter?  I HAVE to check that out.”

That’s how I discovered Star Trek: Axanar.

When I saw the video that was posted on the kickstarter page, I was floored.  This is FREAKING AWESOME!

See what I mean?

Of course, that left me wondering.  Why was it up on Kickstarter?  Paramount/CBS had been producing Star Trek movies for a while, and they’d been doing well.  Why go to Kickstarter?  Was it sort of like the Veronica Mars thing, where the creators wanted to make a movie but the studio wasn’t sure and said if they got enough movie from fans the studio would back it?  And then the Veronica Mars fans completely CRUSHED the studio’s requirement?  But that didn’t make any sense at all.  Why would Paramount need to do that?  They have confidence in Star Trek, obviously.

Then I scrolled down the Kickstarter page and saw the was a freaking fan film!

Now, I’ve known for a while that fans have been making their own Star Trek episodes, even entire series, and putting them out on the web.  As a life-long Star Trek fan, I’ve checked in on them from time to time.  But I’ve never really taken a shine to them.  Yeah they’re cool, but…  I dunno, I guess partially I was busy and had a lot of other things that caught my attention.  But mostly those fan things did not.

But…Axanar…

Come to find out, Alec and Christian, the guys behind this, ran a previous Kickstarter to get funds to make the Prelude (the video posted above, the one that’s on the main Axanar Kickstarter page).  They asked for $10k and raised $100k.  The prelude video cost them about $75k to make.

Yes, that AMAZINGLY AWESOME totally professional-looking, with WICKED COOL special effect sequences, short film cost only $75k.  Holy shitballs, Batman!  And look who’s in it: Richard Hatch, of Galactica fame, Tony Todd, the rest.  Turns out Alec and Christian have been working in Hollywood for a while, and they got other top-shelf people working on it, too: their makeup guy won an Academy award!

So holy smokes, if these guys could do that.  On their own.  For that little money…

I totally had to back that Kickstarter.

But alas, I couldn’t.  Because it had already finished.

They asked for $100k, so they could book a sound stage and get started on pre-production, with the notion that they would do more Kickstarters to get the rest as they showed they were making progress.  They got over $600k (which is about what they estimated it would cost to make the entire thing)!

And I couldn’t donate!  ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

But wait!  Turns out I could!  On their webpage, they have a donate button, and if you donate there you get the same rewards as if you’d backed the Kickstarter to begin with!  Sweet!  I’m there!

And so I am.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, obviously because I think it’s awesome.  And because I think if any of you folks out there are like me and love Star Trek (or even just like it….or think it doesn’t suck), or if you just appreciate what they did on that prelude movie, you totally should go and donate some cash.  With all the extra money they’ve gotten they’re ramping up their plans for the film (which is now in pre-production for a scheduled 2015 release), and obviously the more $ they get the more cool it will be.

But the best part?  The freaking studio’s not involved.  Dude, this is true indie film-making.  Yeah, they have to be careful not to actually use any CBS-owned IP so they don’t get in trouble, and from all appearances they are.  But how cool is this, that people who love a thing can just decide to make a movie about it, and that they can raise the money from fans so they can make it happen (and really quickly too)?  I think it’s awesome, which is why I’m backing it and why you should too.

If I were a CBS studio exec, I would totally be calling these two guys to make Axanar a fully-licensed piece of work.  But I’m not.  And I guess I’m glad I’m not, because just as going with a big publisher can more often than not be a really bad move for a writer these days, I wonder if going with the studio wouldn’t be a bad call for Alec and Christian, too.  It might end up ruining the entire thing.  Maybe?

Regardless, CBS isn’t involved, so it’s moot.  And the project’s awesome.

Go give money!

Now!

Big Trouble In Little China

…is just about my favorite movie of all time, second only to Aliens.

Maybe.  Depending on the day and what kind of mood I’m in, it may even cast Aliens from the throne and stomp on it.  That’s how awesome that movie is.

For that matter, it’s really hard to go wrong with any mid-80s John Carpenter movie.  They Live, anyone?  Brilliant!  But nothing compares with Jack Burton and the Porkchop Express for sheer fun and bravado.  It’s just so full of awesome, I don’t even know how to describe it.

It’s also a little sad, because I can’t see Hollywood making fun cheesy movies like that anymore.  Cheesy, yes.  But fun, the way Little China is fun?  No way.  They’d CGI it up, or worse try to make it relevant or some jackassery like that, and ruin it.

But why do I bring up this timeless classic?  Two reasons.  One, I watched it last night via Amazon Prime streaming, for free!  🙂  Now, I own the DVD of course, but the BluRay player in my PS-3 died (I’m waiting on the box from Sony to send it back for repairs).  I was really in the mood for the adventure of Jack and Wang, though, so in desperation I checked Amazon…and it was in the prime streaming library!  Score!

That made for a fun evening.  The kids loved it too.  🙂

Second, I encountered this last night, and it is so full of awesome I just had to share it:

So yeah, that’s all I had.

Have a great day.  🙂

Two Completed Stories

The title gives away the big secret of this post.  But what the hell.  You guys hate secrets, right?  🙂

First, I finished the Writers of the Future story.  I still have not figured out a title yet.  I finished earlier today.  Err…make that yesterday now (it’s after midnight).  Total word count: 18,162 words.  Total time (this is an estimate since I didn’t start tracking until almost 5,900 words into it; it probably took a little bit less time than this in reality): 13.93 hrs.  Avg words/hr: 1303.49.

Not too shabby.  But there is one tiny problem.  Those of you familiar with Writers of the Future will figure it out very quickly.  The length.  The limit for WotF is 17,000 words.  So I’m going to see if I can trim 1200 words from the story.  I started working on that this afternoon and got down below 18,000 words.  But there are several hundred words left to trim.  We’ll see if I can manage it.

So that’s one.

My in-laws came over this afternoon, since my little guy Vasili (the guy who had the heart surgery last year) turns 3 on Sunday.  The better half and I took advantage of their presence to have a date.  We went and saw Act of Valor at the movie theater!  I gotta say, you must go see this movie.  It kicked some serious ass, almost making me wish I’d become a SEAL instead of a submariner.  Almost.

After we got back, we hung with the in-laws for an hour or so, then came upstairs to bed.  Ericka read Catching Fire for a while.  We’re reading this one together since we both loved The Hunger Games.  I got ahead of her, though, so I stopped reading for a few days.  She caught up earlier today, but I decided to write some more tonight, so she’s now ahead of me.  But that’s ok. 🙂

Instead of reading, I wrote a story that I thought of in a flash of insight yesterday.  It’s called Who Ate My Sock?  It came in at 2,064 words (bringing my total for the day to 3,446 – not too bad).  Total time to write: 1.1 hrs.  Avg words/hr: 1876.36.  The story’s premise is simple: have you ever wondered why socks tend to disappear in the wash?  Well, when Justine’s mom asks her to go into the basement and switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer, she finds out the reason.  And it is scary.

I liked this story a lot, and it’s been a while since I sent a story to a magazine.  So I went ahead and submitted it to Apex.  We’ll see what they think of it in 20 to 30 days (their advertised response time).  Maybe they’ll like it too!  🙂

Ok it’s now getting late.  I’m calling it a night.  Later, all.

Game of Thrones Premier

Since I started talking about HBO’s new series, Game of Thrones, based on George R R Martin’s books, I guess I might as well comment on the first episode.  It just finished, and I gotta say: it rocked.  I might be biased, of course, since I love A Song of Ice and Fire.  But I thought the show was quite well done, and as far as I can tell, true to the books.  Which stands to reason, considering Martin is an Executive Producer on the show.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.  And, of course, to A Dance with Dragons.  The release date is advertised to be 12 July.  No offense to Mr. Martin, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  The date has been pushed so many times now that I can’t really bring myself to count on an advertised release date until it actually happens.

Anyway, I liked the first episode.  My wife was taken aback, in several spots.  But then, what can you expect when you see Cersei and Jamie at their best, right?  Ah, the things he does for love….

Making Progress and Burning Flicks

With just shy of 1,500 words written tonight, I’ve topped 52,000 total on Masters so far.  I didn’t get that much done in the writing world yesterday, only 300 or 400 words.

But that’s ok.

Yesterday, I rode 46.3 miles on my bicycle.  It was tiring, but felt good.  The other guys on the Team assure me they think I’ll have no trouble with the Century, but it’s quite a bit different riding a hundred miles than riding fifty.  I’m glad the race isn’t until June: there’s still plenty of time to train.  🙂

Then last night, we watched Tron: Legacy on our Apple TV.  I love Apple TV.  That thing just rocks.  The Netflix app on my PS-3 is awesome too, but for new movies in HD and surround, Apple TV is great.  Plus I really dig the photo slideshows you can display on it.

I gotta say, though, I was a little disappointed in Tron.  I absolutely LOVE the original.  The new one, though, while freaking awesome in special effects was, IMHO, a bit lacking in plot.  There was a lot they COULD have done with it, but in the end it was a bit cheeseball and predictable, to me.  Plus the characters were a bit flat, and a couple things happened that were just SO far beyond the realm of plausibility that I had to say “No, can’t suspend THAT disbelief”.

Another recent movie that disappointed me was The Tourist.  We actually watched that on Thursday.  I figured with Angelina and Johnny Depp it would be awesome.  In fact, my wife has been aching to see it for the same reason.  But I was very underwhelmed.  The movie just never grabbed me.  It just happened.  There were one or two twists that were like “Oh?  Ok then.  Whatever.”  Not a big deal or shocker, in other words.  Then there was a really jacked up deus ex machina near the end: where the hell did the supervisor guy come from?  Finally, the end twist was completely unsatisfying.  It came from nowhere, with no foreshadowing, but at the same time was completely predictable.  I just never got to really care about the characters, or what happened to them.

Both these movies had potential for greatness.  Tron did better than Tourist, but both were lacking.

Alright.  That’s enough babbling for now.  Time to hit the sack.

Clever Lady

My wife is too clever by far, sometimes.

Saturday afternoon, we were talking about movies, and the conversation turned to Kevin Spacey.  I mentioned how he rocked in Seven and in The Usual Suspects, and she replied that she had never seen The Usual Suspects.

My jaw hit the floor.

How could she have not seen that movie?  It’s a classic!  Plus, we own the DVD!

That did it.  As soon as the kids fell asleep, in went the DVD.  I sat back, prepared to enjoy, not just the movie, but her pleased amazement over the reveal at the end.

But then, she ruined it.

She figured out that Kevin Spacey’s character really was Kaiser Sozei about 1/3 of the way through the movie.  I mean, who the hell figured THAT out?  I sure didn’t.  Neither did anyone else I know.

The next day, we were driving around, and I complimented her on her astute call.  She replied that it was obvious.  I scoffed and replied that next she was going to say she knew the whole time that Bruce Willis’ character was actually dead in The Sixth Sense.  She said, “Duh!  That was obvious too!”.

Facepalm.

I am officially outmatched, when it comes to figuring out movie twists.