It’s Interesting…

…that I just have to delete a fair sized (and fair written) post, and yet I’m fine with keeping something as vapid as “Serious Belief” up.

I must be tired.

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Serious Belief

That’s one of the most important things when you’re a Writer of the Fantastic.

Serious Belief.

I don’t mean you have to believe what you’re writing is real, nor that you can’t have a good time when writing (snickering at the perdicament of your characters, say.) You just have to believe it when you’re writing it and take it seriously. Never say “I’m above this” or “I could do better than this”. Because unless you are a master of the craft (and sometimes not even then), it will show in the work and weaken everything.

Examples are abound in the various arts. The best come from films. Compare Tim Burton’s Batman films to Joel Schumacher’s. Or Tom Holland’s (Fright Night) to that of Schumacher’s vampire movie (Lost Boys).

(Looks like I’m picking on Schumacher, doesn’t it? Well when you put nipples on the Bat suit, you should expect some grief. Decades worth, in fact.)

Of course, there are exceptions. Parodies, for instance, and the like. But I think its a good rule of thumb not to wink at your audience, nor elbow them in the ribs and whisper “But we all know better, don’t we?”

Personal Cowardice – an Annoying Bit of Autobiography

This is a little tale of Cowardice, one of those annoying biographical bits I warned everyone about. Don’t worry, it’s quite long and no one’s going to want to read it all.

Once upon a time, towards the end of the nineties, I bought myself a PlayStation. It was the first game system I bought for myself using my own money and it was a blast.

(We are not going to talk about how old I was then, because that involves talking about the long period between me leaving High School and flirting with College, all the while struggling with writing something, anything. As well as highlighting how I wasted large chunks of my life doing so. If it was interesting, maybe, but sadly…)

Any way, I was excited. I bought my first PlayStation game, a RPG called Wild ARMS.* It had this feature where you could customize certain icons, as well as the background and certain frames.

Which I did.

Over and over again.

I put more hours into doing that actually playing the game.

Such anal behavior is why the background on the Blog keeps changing, but that’s not the point.

Right now I’m sitting on a nice story I’m calling Hero of Uillias Castle.  It’s 39 pages double spaced and consists of approximately 9280 words, give or take an asterisk or three being counted as words. It’s a nice story, I love it to death, but a little voice in my head says it could be better. It could be better and if it was better it would sell. It would sell and I would be on my way.

I have another story, called The Specter. Seven pages double spaced, over 1200 words. I love it to death too, but I don’t think it would go over to well at all. (Too short, not structured to my satisfaction, this, that, the other thing.) I can do something with it; I know I can. It’s just I’m sputtering about and not making progress.

I’ve got another story… Well, could go on, list the other stories I’ve finished, came close to finishing, came close to starting, finished then deleted it all, finished then thought I saved but really didn’t, thank you so much modern technology and faulty brain. I could give reasons, excuses, proof of a massive conspiracy to keep me humble, evidence that Bigfoot and Elvis stole my brain, and perhaps something someone might find hard to believe. None of this matters.

What matters is I’m not even trying. I’m spinning my wheels, telling myself that there is a problem and not doing something about it. Or, worse yet, telling myself there is a problem when there is nothing wrong.

In other words, I’m designing icons for the game instead of playing. I might have the greatest of stories, I may have the worst of stories, but I’m not going to know until I ship them out.

The purpose of this Blog, I’ve said before and will no doubt say again to the annoyance of everyone including me, is to improve my writing. Between this site and my posts at various message boards, I feel better about my writing and my writing skills than I have in years.

I feel good about writing. Better than I have in years.

I feel frustrated. I can feel the seconds crawl over my skin as they go passing me by. And they’re giggling, the lot of them. Little snots.

There is only one thing to do.

Sometime this week, I‘m going to start working on Hero of Uillias Castle and get it to where I want it to be. I’ll give me until the end of May. If I don’t finish it to my satisfaction, I’m going to make sure what I do have is ship shape and I’m going to send it out, warts and all. See if it’s all in my head.

I’m also going to hammer out a publishable The Specter (One with a better name, damn it). That bad boy is going to sing. I’ll give myself to the end of June. If I don’t finish it, then I drop it and move on. It’s waited this long, it can wait a bit longer.

The Comparison Essay I was planning for this week… probably won’t be finished in time. Again. Sorry about that. (Yeah, like there are thousands of people dying for that opus.) I’m going to keep on plugging on it, though, as trying to summarize Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and make the summary as interesting as the movie is a trick.** Plus, I said I was going to do it.

I’m going to set a deadline for it too – before mid May. That I’ll hit or give up on the essay, one of the two.

If I think of a story or (God, please) figure out a way of restarting the novel, then I’m going to do it too. I’m going to work my fingers to the bleeding point if I have too.

I’m going to see my blog profile changed or know the reason why.

I will keep you posted as to how well I do.

Well, that’s far too many words on this subject. Close to a thousand if my word counter is to be believed (Give or take an asterisk or two, as well as HTML commands). Four pages or so double spaced. About standard when I’m hot.

Sadly.


* – Fun game, by the way. It’s being re-released in an all new edition for the PlayStation 2 later this year.
** – Summarizing
Godzilla will be especially fun, as I don’t intend to refer to Raymond Burr’s character once. Not that I don’t like Burr, mind you…


FUTURE CULLEN sez: None of this worked according to plan. Which, sadly, is typical

Sorry. No Post Today

I blew today off. What can I say? Sorry about that. It’ll happen (up until May, that is, when I hope to get my act more together.)  Right now I’m goofing around with a Science Fiction short story which may see the light of day here, as well as working on an old story that I hope to see published. So it’s not like I’m not doing any work at all.

Just nothing today.

Be seeing you.

Site Report – Started Work on Essay

I watched The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms this morning (in fact, I just finished it before writing this post.) I took notes all the way through it, which was an odd experience. I hadn’t done that since High School.

Ha! I kid. Taking notes while watching movies was done by the smart kids who wanted to pass the class, and not for the fools who thought life was going to keep handing them things on silver platters. Movies in school were for Thinking DEEP Thoughts utterly unrelated to the subject at hand.

God I miss those days.

I kid again. Thinking DEEP Thoughts is about all I do. Part of doing this Blog is to give me some focus and make those DEEP Thoughts into worthy thoughts at the very least.

Anyway, about midway through I began to suspect that two synopses before the main essay might be a bit of over kill. I’ll make my final decisions on that after I watch Godzilla later.

While I’m talking about Beast, let me just say what a neat little movie it is. I remember being bored with it the last time I watched it, noticing all the tiny little flaws. This time, I left the jaded old man eyes behind. It’s a neat little film, worth watching and owning.

Any way, that’s about that. I’m shooting for a firm Friday post on the essay. Not sure of what I’ll do for the other days of the week; maybe another Fantastic Writer essay, maybe a few little reviews. Maybe… The Horrors!… a few old pictures I drew. After blowing this essay’s deadline I’m going to play it a little loose for a bit.

See you soon.

Capsule Reviews – Millennium Godzilla

Here, for your consideration, are capsule reviews for the Godzilla movies in the Millennium series, made between the years 1999 to 2004. Only minor spoilers are given, with only the barest of plots to preserve some of the joys of the films. Longer reviews will appear when warranted.

  • The reviews for the Heisei series can be found here
  • The reviews for the Showa series can be found here

Note on these Reviews

With the exception of Gojira tai Mekagojira (2002) and Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira: Tôkyô S.O.S., none of the Millennium Series are connected. For that reason, I’ve stuck a review of the American Godzilla in here. Hey, it’s a Godzilla film (sort of) and there is no other place for it…


Godzilla (1998 )
Director: Roland Emmerich

A mutant (Jira) created by nuclear testing appears. It heads with a purpose towards New York.

A “realistic” Godzilla, one that could be harmed by conventional weapons and followed the laws of physics and nature to a reasonable degree, would make a very interesting film. It also would be interesting to see what real world effects a Kaijû would have on the world, from the damage it would do to the surrounding landscape to the sociological effects its presence would have on civilization.

Unfortunately, this movie isn’t it. Hell, it doesn’t even meet most of the above criteria.

Between questionable situations (how many eggs did that lizard lay?), a horde of unnecessarily, borderline unlikable characters (pretty much all of the news related characters), an almost cowardly stance (blaming French nuclear testing instead of the usual homegrown accidents and experiments), and rather smug writing and directing, it’s not surprising that the film suffered so many harsh reviews. However, it does have its charms in places. Jira, while not quite Godzilla enough, is suitably impressive and all of his scenes are worth watching.

While a failure, it really isn’t that bad. Maybe a better over Gojira tai Hedorà, Chikyû kogeki meirei: Gojira tai Gaigan, and Gojira tai Megaro, but not that much better…


Gojira ni-sen mireniamu (1999)
aka Godzilla 2000
Director: Takao Okawara

A recently discovered artifact proves to be some sort of living creature that is far too interested in mighty Godzilla.

In many ways, the best Godzilla movie since Gojira tai Biorante. The Kaijû Orga (which is never referred to by name) is very inventive, with a motive that makes him unique among all of the other foes Godzilla has faced. The special effects are more or less impressive, with only a few weak moments. The plot is a bit silly in places, but in the end most serviceable.

All in all, an excellent Godzilla Movie.


Gojira tai Megagirasu: Jî shômetsu sakusen (2000)
aka Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
Director: Masaaki Tezuka

An experiment in a new weapon to use against Godzilla unleashes a new threat upon the world.

While Megaguirus was a very interesting choice for a foe for Godzilla (the Kaijû first appeared in Sora no daikaijû Radon/Rodan) the plot makes him and his kin superfluous. Speaking of plots, the weapon concept is phenomenally bad; it must be heard to be believed. And even then…

The effects in this movie are good, except for one scene where the wires supporting Megaguirus is clearly seen. In this day and age, such errors really shouldn’t be made.

Not a very good movie, it does have one saving grace: it does illustrate one of the benefits of little continuity…


Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidorâ: Daikaijû sôkôgeki (2001)
aka Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah:
Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

Director: Shusuke Kaneko

Once more the mighty Godzilla has risen from the sea to punish Japan for its sins. All that stands between the nation and utter destruction are the Guardian Monsters. And even they might not be enough…

One of the best Godzilla movies in years, period. And a very odd statement coming from a Showa fan, as Godzilla has never been as evil as he is in this movie.

Which is really the reason why this movie is so good. It is so unlike any of the movies that came before it or after it. Malicious and dark, Godzilla is clearly a threat that must be destroyed at all cost. The special effects are constantly excellent and while the story is questionable in places, it never becomes utterly ridiculous. (Well, maybe a bit at the end…)

If this isn’t the best of the Godzilla films, it’s damn close.


Gojira tai Mekagojira (2002)
aka Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla
Director: Masaaki Tezuka

Using state-of-the-art technology, the Japanese Defense force builds a robot protector from the remains of the first Godzilla. It is successful in defending Japan from the threat of the second Godzilla, but proves to be just as big a threat to innocents.

A return to the usual, with a monster that’s been seen before, a hero with a personal grudge against Godzilla, and one of the most static battle scenes in the history of the character. By all rights, this should have been another low point. And yet, it is one of the best of the Millennium series.


Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira: Tôkyô S.O.S. (2003)
Aka Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla:
Tokyo S.O.S.

Director: Masaaki Tezuka

The Moth Goddess Mothra warns Japan to abandon its experiments with Kiryu/Mechagodzilla or face her wrath. However, Kiryu is still needed as protection from a still marauding Godzilla.

Rather disappointing, after the fun Gojira tai Mekagojira (2002). Although it begins promisingly enough, it soon sinks back into the same old routines of Godzilla’s past. It might have been interesting to see Kiryu battle Godzilla and Mothra at the same time, or see Kiryu and Godzilla team up against Mothra. Instead, events unfold pretty much as one might expect.

Still, it is an entertaining film, worthy of a viewing.


Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004)
Aka Godzilla: Final War
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura

A monster mash in the spirit of Kaijû sôshingeki (Destroy All Monsters)

Of all of the Godzilla movies talked about in these capsule reviews, this one is the most unique, the most inventive… and the most empty. Not that one notices while watching; while watching it’s thrilling, exciting, and funny. It’s only afterwards that a sort of empty feeling comes.

It’s a very interesting experiment. I wish more of the Millenium series was as daring. I just wish that this, the last Godzilla for the foreseeable future, had a bit more substance to it.


Fantastic Writers – Edgar Allen Poe

I can’t tell you exactly when I started reading Edgar Allen Poe . Long years, back into my childhood. I can’t tell you why I read Poe, either. He’s stuff seldom if ever touched on monsters and I was a monster boy. All I know is that I loved his stories, and that has never changed.

Going back to his work, I wonder how the hell I finished any of his stuff. I don’t know if it’s all the TV watching I’ve done or the video games, but it’s an uphill slog to get through most of his stuff these days. I know I finished the stories, but did I understand half of what I read? And why don’t I now?

Modern difficulties aside, I believe that Poe’s influence on the Fantastic and literature in general can not be understated. Any would-be writer would be well served reading his works. He is the master of Effect, and while you might walk away from some of his stories thinking this character or that character was little more than paper thin, you’ll find that with Poe, more often than not, it doesn’t matter.

Below is a small list of some of my favorite Poe stories.


The Cask of Amontillado

One of the greatest horror stories ever written and one of the best examples of the short story there is. Poe wastes no moment here, and it’s all to the good. I probably shouldn’t reveal this, but every time I think about this story, a small smile creeps onto my face. No doubt that’s wrong of me…


The Fall of the House of Usher

When I made reference to paper thin characters, I was thinking of this story. You don’t learn much about the narrator or the Ushers, or exactly what is going on. I read one essay suggesting that it’s a vampire story – remember that vampire stories today and vampire stories back then are two different beasts. Another theory, coming from H. P. Lovecraft, suggest that “Roderick Usher, his sister Madeleine, and the house all shared one common soul”, and that when one went they all went. (deCamp 246).

None of this matters.

What matters is the effect of the story, and this is one creepy little tale. It also has in it one of my favorite of Poe’s poems, The Haunted Palace .


Hop Frog

If this was never a part of “Tales from the Crypt”, “Vault of Horror”, or any of the other EC funny books, it’s a crying shame, for this story of revenge would have fit beautifully. A bit obvious in places, but still an excellent, excellent story.


The Raven

I suppose you could talk about Poe without mentioning “The Raven”, but I’m not sure why you’d want to. A very powerful piece, and this is from the man who doesn’t care for poetry…


Small confession here: while I have read the below work, and dimly remember the quote, I do not currently have the book on hand. The page number I cite is second-hand information and may very well be wrong. I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause and, if I learn that it is wrong, I will correct the information as fast as I can.

One other note: I find it amusing that the one book I do cite in this essay is about another author entirely.

de Camp, L Sprague. Lovecraft: A Biography Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1975