Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Movies!

Transformers comes out today, and I thought I would celebrate by looking over my Netflix queue and impart some hard earned wisdom. So, here is a quick look at what I've seen recently and how I feel about it.

When I was a kid my favorite show was The Incredible Hulk, at least it was during it's run on TV. As a side note, I thought Lou Ferrigno was the greatest actor of the 20th century. So, when he graced the silver screen as Hercules in the early 80's I was pretty much the first, and only kid, lined up to go see it.

What could make this better? I know, lasers!
Ah, memories. Anyway, when I found it on Netflix I sat my poor wife down and told her to prepare for an afternoon of awesome.

Wow. I can't begin to describe this movie. You have to watch it to understand. But I'm pretty sure there were lots of drugs involved in the making of this film. There had to be. At one point when some king wanted Hercules slain, he called some goddess (I should know who it was, I just forgot), and she showed her machines of death - which were all about 6 inches tall.The wicked king says, "These will obviously grow to enormous size upon entering earth's atmosphere."


That pretty much is as about as dramatic as it gets, but man, what a trip. When we were done I turned to my wife and said, "Did that just happen?"

She shrugged and said we can never discuss what we just saw again. Do yourself a favor and see it for yourself. I feel stoned just thinking about it.

Next, I turned my attention to another of the gods, this one from my Norse brothers, The Mighty Thor. I can't say too much about this except that it might be the worst thing possible if it weren't for Richard Grieco rocking the screen as Loki.

Honestly, there may have been a plot, maybe, but  I don't know what it may have been. Thor is a big sissy, he has an older brother that's cool and tough, and when Odin and Thor's unnamed older bro get murdered by Loki, sissy Thor has to run around and... um... well, I'm not sure what he does, I think I fell asleep. 

I watched the second half a few weeks later, still unsure of the plot, Loki wants the hammer of invincibility, which he has no problem taking from Thor, Thor can't get it back so he makes his own hammer, um, with his bare hands... out of Lava... while in Hell!

Geez, this one has it all, bad acting, bad directing, crappy fx, but if just doesn't feel as drug influenced as Hercules did, it's more like the director wanted you to think he was high the whole time, but he really wasn't. It's fun enough I suppose, but not a must see. I'd skip it.

However, for the love of all that is good and beautiful in this world, never, ever, no matter how much you might want to, no matter how much your friend swears it can't be that bad, should you ever watch Valhalla Rising.

I've seen bad movies, sometimes they're charming and fun in their awfulness. This mess is the most god awful dreck I've ever seen. It's about a guy that... wait. It's about a kid that hangs out with a guy... hold on, that isn't it either. 

Okay, these guys are going to fight in the crusades, they pick up a one eyed pit fighter and then get lost, they run around all these beautiful landscapes and moan about how scary it is, then they die. There probably is about 5 minutes of dialog in the whole movie. The rest is slow mo shots of people staring. Seriously, just staring. I can't believe I considered stopping that crappy Thor movie but still managed to sit through this.

Yes, I just gave a spoiler, trust me, if you're pissed about that then I don't like you. I'm doing you all a favor by telling you about it all now. If you ever see this you'll be like, "Damn, nothing I've ever seen before could prepare for how awful this is. I'm going to make a bunch of tracts to hand out to people warning them of the dangers of this movie."

Never. Ever. See. This. Movie.

Whew. I feel awful just thinking about those last couple. Ugh. I'll stop here, let you percolate on it for a bit and get back to you for part 2 in a couple of days. A few I actually like are in there.


I couldn't find an embeddable YouTube trailer for Hercules - but here's one for Hercules II

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On Covers

Covers. It's the thing that makes people take a second look at your book. I've seen some great ones, and some pretty bad ones. With the rise in ebooks I'm told that a lot of the intricate paintings that used to grace book jackets are going away in favor of a minimalist image. One striking feature and some big text.

It makes me sad, I know LP's used to be a great canvas for art, and CD's did a lot of damage to that - then the iPod sized covers forced more changes to how covers were done. I suppose it was inevitable that it would happen to books too.

But, while day I work for the man, by night, I write crappy fiction that no one ever sees, and now, by nightier night I guess I'm an amateur graphic artist. I wanna do book covers.

So, anyone need one?

Here are some I've done in the past, both real and fake *edit* I mean, real and fake books, in case that was ambigous:

Fake: But based on a story I wrote
Real: But not for sale
Real: For sale, but no one will buy it
No promises of greatness, and I can't do anything you dream up. But I'd like to give it a shot, practice for myself should I take that plunge and self pub something in the future.


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Thing About Agents

I've realized of late that I’ve been reading a lot about agents, and about the hunt for them, about submissions, about their all-round necessity in the publishing process. I don’t know when the thought occurred to me, but I had decided a while ago that I’d do without, thank you very much.

How successful has it been for me? Well, not so much, but I’m going with that half-assed approach to seeking publication and hoping that will work well for me. Part of my issue is that I’ve got a manuscript that I’m not entirely sure I believe in that I’ve been sorta shopping around. I won’t get into what I perceive are the story’s flaws here, but I’ll just say that I’ve got other stuff I've written that I like better. The reason I’ve been shopping that story instead of trunking it is that I still really like it (and it's finished, more or less). The execution might be lacking, but then again, I don’t know, maybe it’s genius and the folks who control the publishing world will fawn all over it.

Regardless, I’m not here to talk about that, my subject is Agents, and why I don’t want one. Here is the story of agents, as it has been relayed to me via a few sources, which I’ll try to link to at the end of this short tale.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to be a writer you lived in New York City, so you could walk down the block and have lunch with your editor, hash out issues with your story, discuss your contract, pitch a new book, whatever. But as the business grew, and City living didn’t always agree with every writer, an intermediary was needed. After all, if I wanted to live out of town, did I really need to go talk to my Editor in person about every little detail?

Those early agents really served as contract negotiators, they weren’t yet in the game as pitchmen and slush readers for the publishing houses, they were employed by the writers to represent them to the publisher.

A few enterprising individuals started offering more services for their clients, since they were already there, hanging out with editors anyway, why not pitch that next book – heck, they could help manage your money, right? It worked out for everyone. Well, as publisher’s got bigger (i.e., corporate), and real estate more expensive. Publishers were trying to cut costs as agents were finding their own rent too expensive to continue like they were, all those assistant publishers that were reading slush were out of jobs and individual agents were teaming up to form agencies, since they had the ear of the editor anyway, why not pitch the story of an unknown author too?

Publishers found their new slush readers, which they no longer had to pay for, and agents found it helped them out because they were attracting more authors, everyone wins again.

Of course, at some point in all that, agents quit working for the authors and began working for the agency – and in a backhanded sort of way, the publishers. I’ve heard several stories of wonderful, ethical, and caring agents that were forced to do things that were not in the author’s best interest because it might damage their relationship with the editor, or publisher, which of course wouldn't have mattered at one time because the agent worked for the author, but since they were going to be pitching the same publisher or editor some new novel ideas in the future it didn’t make sense to burn bridges over one measly little book contract.

Anyway, I can’t swear to the accuracy of the narrative I wove above, but I didn’t make it up out of whole cloth either. Read the Business Rusch, Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing, Laura Resnick… or better yet…

Please, someone tell me you’ve been listening to Adventures in Sci fi publishing. It is a podcast started several years ago about a guy who was desperately trying to break into the industry as a writer, over the years the podcast has changed some, but the original vision, figuring out how to get published, is still at its heart. You must listen to the latest episode (linked here) where Kathryn Rusch advised new authors not to seek representation – and about how publishers are much friendlier now to non-represented authors than they have been in a very long time.

For now at least, I’m sold. I’m not querying agents. Those insider stories I hear are chilling. Publishing is big business, and one that’s changing so rapidly that following a model to publication that’s only a couple of years old might not be right way to do it now. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maybe I'm Known Just A Little Too Well

I sneak off to lunch today to enjoy my ever most favorite burrito on earth, from Salsarita's. Now, I eat there a lot. Not many of the folks there are fluent in English, but most at least recognize me when I show up. I say hi and move on. But today when I showed up, the place was hopping.

The line was long and it was a mad rush to get the food out. I don't know if any of you have ever been there, but it's one of those faux Mexican places that seem to have taken over the States in the last few years. You walk in, they ask what you want, then they slide your food down from station to station, like a cafeteria, and pile more and more toppings on your food as it gets slid down.

Cool, that's pretty much how they all look. I never thought much about it, but today. The guy at the first station who normally asks what I want, burrito, nachos, quesadillas, whatever.

Today, he pulls out a wheat burrito and puts in on the counter when it's my turn. Weird, I think, but still, not too strange. The next guy, beans, rice, chicken. Slides it down. Next person, a dollop of sour cream, and two heaping spoonfuls of guacamole, just how I like it.

It's starting to get weird.

I make it down the line and get the best darn burrito I could have hoped for, without doing much more than nodding. It's not that one person knows me. They all do.

Next time, I'm ordering Nachos.

Anyway, my mini vacation from the internet is over I suppose. I'm sure the online world at large can breath a big sigh of relief now.

In other news, my short story I turned in to WOTF in the spring was summarily rejected. I'm pretty sure it's pure genius and the rejection was due to some technical snafu on their part, but whatever. Happy days everyone.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm Not Back

I didn't realize how long it's been since I posted. Wow. I think I'll be away again for a few more days at least. But for those that have tagged me, I thank you deeply, it's very good to know I've been named. If there's anything I've learned about myself over the years though, it's that I suck at doing what is expected of me. But I'll try to respond appropriately soon.

In other news, I've gone on a new diet, where I don't actually change my eating habits, but tell everyone I'm doing all this healthy stuff, which of course I'm not doing. I've yet to see positive results, but I'll hold out hope that I'll turn the corner soon.