The blog for The Solitaire Rose Experience. Yes, the blog revolution is utterly and completely over. However, I haven't figured that out yet, so I'll be listing articles, ideas, links, and other internet debris. Now, you can join in! And be mocked mercilessly!

Monday, February 01, 2010

So...what is this secret project I've been hinting at for a while?

Kray Z Comics And Stories

Sunday, January 31, 2010

More about World Wide News

So, where was I?

Oh yeah, writing the comic strip. To be honest, it's a three part process, so if anyone is interested in that, here are the details:

1) Ideas. I keep hearing from people when I tell them I write “Oh, I have this really great idea for...” Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna be a jerk here and say that ideas are dime a dozen. I have NOTEBOOKS full of ideas. Ideas are not a problem. I have a notebook without 30 upcoming story arcs for the strip, and most of them are ones I either came up with while writing the pitch document, or after Dan agreed to draw the strip. Some are ones that showed up as consequences of stories I had fleshed out, for example, an upcoming story arc is about the station being moved from one corporate division to another...there were a couple of throw-away characters that will becoming part of the strip, and a story dealing with them came to me as I wrote their initial story. Usually, they are just “springboards” like:

-Bill O'Bradley finds out there's a blog that points out all of his errors.
-The the old movie projector starts up during a news broadcast and no one knows how to turn it off.

And so on.

2) After I let the idea sit for a while, I then come up with the story for the idea. This is usually a list of gags and story beats that have to do with the idea, anywhere from 4 -15 different strips that will spin out of it. If I come up with the punchline while doing this, I make sure to note it, otherwise it's just a breakdown of the idea and notes on what I can do with it. This is actually the hardest part for me, since I have to both think up jokes AND figure out how to the move the story forward. Since I write mostly prose, I am used to having a lot of time to set up mood, tone, and characterization, while in a strip, you have amazingly little time to do EVERYTHING. Yes, the art helps a lot, but as I look over the strips I've written so far, I keep seeing things I need to do better in terms of those things. So, I hope the strip is getting better the more I work on it.

3) This is the most time consuming part of the strip, the actual scripting. I take the ideas for each strip for part 2 and block them out on paper. I take paper, divide it into about four rows and then four columns, and write in the dialogue for each strip. This is where I see if the jokes work, and if they don't, they get pitched. After doing to the blocking, I write the strip in a Open Office document in such a way that Dan can draw it. Usually there are limited changes between the blocking and the actual scripting, but there are times I tweak the joke a bit, look for better phrasing, try to pare down the verbiage and so on, but really, once it's blocked, it's pretty much a final draft.

Bored yet?

One of the other things I take into consideration is which characters haven't I used in a while. As I write the strip, I find that may favorite character is Bill O'Bradley, and if I'm not careful, the strip could very easily become all about him in the same way that Happy Days slowly became all about Fonzie. He's a funny character, lots of fun to write, and it's incredibly easy to come up with situations and jokes for him. I also like Jack (one of the writers) a lot, because he's easy to use the snarky commentary I would throw in.

Finally (and we all cheer) I re-read the pitch recently, and in it, I said that I would be playing with the fourth wall a lot. In “Asylum” we didn't just break the fourth wall from time to time, the entire strip was ABOUT breaking the fourth wall...I mean, the artist and writer of the strip were characters IN the strip itself, and there were tons of jokes revolving around that, and we played with the characters being “actors” in the strip and the like. It was very meta, and very fun, but it wouldn't work for World Wide News. As I worked on the strip, I realized that it had to have it's own integral reality, and breaking the fourth wall would be a cheat to get an easy laugh.

Not that I'm above that, of course.

So, no fourth wall breaking, no “It's all just a comic strip” stuff, and while there will be some weird things happen, we won't acknowledge that they are “unreal”. Just cartoony. Kind of like “30 Rock” in that way.

There/ Two blog posts in three days. Not bad.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Behind the scenes at World Wide News

They say that if you want a big following on your blog, you need to write in it every day. As you can see from the fact that this blog has been going for a few years, and yet it has no following, I don't do that. It's not that I don't have a lot to write about, it's that it's not all on one topic. So, I get an idea for what to do with this thing, then see that I have other ideas, and eventually, I don't do anything.

So, instead of just wasting away, blogging when I get mad about something, or when I'm working on NaNoWriMo, I'm going to just blog away, sometimes it'll be comics, sometimes politics, sometimes TV shows, sometimes just thoughts, and sometimes I'll write about writing. How Meta of me.

Today, and to start the year(Yes, I know January is almost over...shush with you), I'm going to write about the comic strip I'm doing with Dan Mohr, World Wide News.

I came up with the start of the idea YEARS ago when I was working on the late, lamented “Asylum on 5th Street” strip. One of the characters worked in radio, and I had a LOT of ideas about someone working at a talk radio station that got terrible ratings, and the personalities who worked there. The artist, on the other hand, wanted more stories about herself, and since she drew the thing, it was a good idea to listen to her. So, I put the idea away, and it went onto the stack of notebooks I have by my computer.

About a year ago, when I got laid off, I figured that now was the time to start working on some of the idea floating around in those notebooks, and I worked up a pitch. It had the basic premise, and I took a couple of days to come up with the characters that I would need for the strip to work. In the past, I've usually come up with the situation, and then the characters, so it wasn't that hard for me to figure out what would be a good mix. Oddly enough, a few people have said that I must have been influenced by “Newsradio”, and I don't have the heart to tell them I haven't watched the show. Same with “Sports Night”, “Lateline” or other similar TV shows.

No, my biggest influence was “Doonesbury”.

Maybe now that I mention it, you can see it. Or not. I see the starting of Doonesbury as taking a few characters who are the core of the strip, and then as time goes on, it builds outward. World Wide News (I call it WWN) started with the 2 writers, the station manager and Bill O'Bradley (who is fast becoming my favorite character to write). Then, I figured I'd add a few more characters who could be good foils for the whole thing, and expect to add more as time goes on.

After I got the characters in my head, I figured I would structure the strip so that if the main artist wanted a break, or if I couldn't get a main artist and instead had a few people work on the strip, it would work structurally. I wrote the strip with story arcs of 5 – 10 strips about a certain situation, and then would have more topic strips inbetween. It's the same way that the current Spider-Man comic works...they have different creative teams for each story so that the book comes out three times a month but no creator has to do three comics in a single month.

Luckily, Dan, who I met through NaNoWriMo, was very excited about doing the strip, and didn't need to take breaks. At least not yet. I still have a few people who have said they want to draw their own story arcs (I'm working on one now for a new artist), but for the most part, Dan has taken the ball and run with it and I'm damn happy with the results.

Now that he's working on the last story arc from the initial pitch, I'm writing up the stuff in the notebooks that I came up with about a year ago, and since I've gotten to know the characters better, I think the upcoming stuff is MUCH better than my earliest scripts.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Once again, Sarah can't make up her mind

From Andrew Sullivan:

"The attack on Pearl Harbor launched America into the Second World War, and our Greatest Generation did not hesitate when asked to sacrifice for their country. American men enlisted in droves, American women went to work in the factories that became our “Arsenal of Democracy,” and many Americans gave what little money they had to buy the war bonds that funded it all" - Sarah Palin, today.

"Really? A tax on national defense? I hear liberal Congressional proposals and I, like most Americans, wonder if they’re serious. We’re going to put a price tag on security? With Congress and President Obama spending money on everything at breakneck speed, it’s interesting that they are only now getting nervous about spending – but only when it comes to providing the necessary funds to complete our mission in Afghanistan. They don’t need a new “war tax” to fund a strategy for victory in the war zone. They simply need to prioritize our money appropriately. I find it telling that the Pelosi-Reid Congress is only cost-conscious when it comes to our national defense. Scary. Nonsensical. Unacceptable." - Sarah Palin, two weeks ago.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Palin Debates Herself

"While I support our president, Condoleezza Rice and the administration, I want to know that we have an exit plan in place."
-- Sarah Palin, March 1, 2007

"Talk of an exit date risks sending the wrong message. A timetable lets our enemies believe they can wait us out."
-- Sarah Palin, March 1, 2007

So...which is it?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Nanowrimo final update

I got past 50,000 on Saturday night, which is a good thing, since my Sunday was completely busy (which I already knew it would be) and my Monday was as well (which I didn't know before hand).

The last 4000 or so words I wrote were pretty easy...they always are, since the end of a novel is pretty much set in stone by the time I get to it, anyway. I KNOW I'm going to have to rip this up up a bit and redo parts of it, but the actual action sequence itself had all of the groundwork laid out already, so it was just a matter of filling in the pieces. I have a bit more to write, but I'm taking a week break to get things back on track (paying bills, buying food, going to the gym, conducting the job search).

I never did get into the groove of 1667 words a day, mostly because things tend to get too crazy for me to make sure I even have computer time, let alone writing time. There were days that between my son and my roommate, I couldn't get any computer time as well as days where between the part-time job and other things, I just didn't have the mental energy to do any writing.

My writing plans for the rest of the year are to get a lot of the scripts for the webstrip done, fire up the Weekly News Update again (I know, I know, I say that a lot...) and then go back and finish up this novel. Then, next year, I'll be editing the zombie novels, the poker novel and sending them out to be rejected.

As for now, I've spent enough time staring at the screen....the two December Hard Case Crime books just showed up in the mail, and I am in the mood for some good old school crime fiction.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo day...what day is it?

I am at 46276 and am calling it quits for the night. I haven't blogged a whole hell of a lot, mostly because my time has been limited for the past bunch of days. And I've used it to keep adding to the novel. By this point, the story has pretty much taken over, so any discussion of structure, using the three act system and the rest is all out the window.

I can even point to the exact PLACE the novel took a life of its own, which tends to happen when I do any noveling on a first draft. I go into it with plans, sometimes very elaborate, sometimes I just know a lot of the major set pieces and the ending...and then things happen. The characters have been rolling around in my head so much that I get to places and just write what they would do. Then, I write how they would react to the situation they are in and see where that leads me. I remember the second zombie novel I did for NaNo COMPLETELY shifted when the characters did something stupid, one got injured and another died who I wasn't planning on dying.

Normally, that would be an “oh, fine, I can work with this” moment, but it was in the beginning of the second not only did it completely change the plot I had, but I had to top it for the END of the second act when “everything lays in ruins”.

So, now that I can't use it AT ALL, the mystery novel's second act was going to end with Our Hero waking up and finding out he'd pissed off the wrong guy by waking up to the news that his detective agency was raided during the night. Why? They were given information that it was an elaborate cover for laundering drug money. The next thing would be him seeing all the police coming to his front door with guns drawn. The third act would be him trying to stay a step ahead of the police while figuring out who could have done such a horrible thing and what it has to do with the drug overdose death of his old friend.

Instead...well, at the beginning of chapter six, he'd woken up tied to a bed in the house of the antagonist and is about to have some Very Bad Things done to him.

All because instead of following the thread I thought would lead me to Act Three, the character decided to go interrogate someone and stir up a hornet's next that backfired on him. And I DIDN'T PLOT THAT!! I just was writing and said, “Well, knowing what he knows, he would go talk to this person.”

And chaos ensued.

I also have to get done with the 50K tomorrow...I work on Sunday and have been invited to a bonfire that I want to attend, and then I work Monday and will probably need that day for job hunting and the like. So, tomorrow (which I have off) will be spent racing toward the 50K mark before I have to take off for the evening. The novel won't be DONE by then, and unlike other NaNo novels that I didn't get done (despite the 50K words), I'll keep writing as if it IS NaNoWriMo until it's done. So probably another week or furious writing.

In my non-noveling life, I have been working at the's basically brain dead monkey work, but today between people wanting popcorn (and then telling me they saw on the news how bad it is for them) and restocking, I wrote the next six or so strips for World Wide News (my webstrip. You ARE checking it out every Tuesday and Thursday, right? The addy is here: but you already know it, have bookmarked it and subscribed to the RSS feed. RIGHT??!!??) The structure of that is that I will write a story arc, and then there will be about 4 – 7 “current event” gag strips before the next arc starts...and Dan (the talented artist who has decided to bring the strip to life) said I need to get him those strips here soon, since the first arc is finishing up.

They came pretty easily, and I'm HOPING to get the Weekly News Update as well as my website up and running again by the end of the year, since I had a lot of fun writing news based gags.

That's enough for tonight, right?

Off to bed with me!

Monday, November 16, 2009

State of the Nanowrimo Day 16


OK, so I am caught up. Last week wasn't a good one for writing (or blogging, to be honest). I didn't get the job I interviewed for, which put me into a funk since I thought I nailed it in the interview. The part-time job gave me hours where I couldn't really get going in the morning before I went in, and was too wiped by the time I got home. So, I didn't get much writing done, and didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the novel either.

Over the weekend, I got back on track, as I had enough time to myself to get my gears going and the words flowing. By Sunday, I was back at writing and tonight I just sat down when I got home, and after I did some internet reading to get ready, I just started in. I also spent a LOT of today thinking about the novel, and in my mind, I'm jumping ahead to the ending.

It's odd how I keep doing that, when I try to just think about the next scene I need to write, knowing that things change along the way. I have notes on what the antagonist is doing while I write about what the protagonist sees...which is the challenge of first person narration. It's good for the kind of detective fiction I like to read (and write apparently), but it limits the story to ONLY what the protagonist observes and knows.

I got to use one of the GREAT “wrasslin” stories I had heard in the novel today...back in the 80's, there was a tag team called “The Rock and Roll Express” who were LOVED by the fans. They were probably the hottest thing not connected to Hulk Hogan, and they had a LOT of imitators, including “The Midnight Rockers” or “The Rockers”, Shawn Micheals and Marty Janetty. Anyway, one of the things they would do to get the crowd to go nuts for them was when one of them was in the ring and the bad guy had them in a hold, they would pick out one person in the crowd, usually a woman, and mouth the words “help me” to them...

Which would make the crowd go crazy wanting them to get out of the hold and exact revenge.

I LOVE that story because it shows how the people who work in the business and are successful know exactly how to manipulate the audience to get the reaction they want.

And it's going to play a part in the story later when we aren't sure WHO is telling the turth, and who's being manipulative of both the main character...and the reader.

Yeah, I'm offering up some massive misdirection

So, the novel is back on track, I have tomorrow off and only work from 9 pm to Midnight on Thursday, so I can see myself being ahead in a major way by the weekend.

Still, I keep jumping to the end of the novel, and right now I feel it can go one of three ways. In all three of them, Our Hero gets to see his world collapse around him...the options are if I give him a ray of hope or not.

And how is YOUR November going?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Nanowrimo day 6 - 8


I'm still ahead, but I didn't write Friday, and only wrote a little more than the 1667 daily goal for Saturday and Sunday. Friday was just too busy a day, what with working most of the morning and afternoon, and then getting home in time to go to the gym, eat a sandwich and no next to nothing before going to bed early for an early work day Saturday.

Saturday, I got off of work early, and it was BEAUTIFUL I did what I could to enjoy it. That's right, I stayed inside, worked on getting things off of the Tivo, went to the gym and then came home and wrote. Sunday I spent a bit more time actually WATCHING things I had on the Tivo, then took my son and roommate to see “The Men Who Stare At Goats” before getting my words in. The movie was fun for me, mostly because it WASN'T written in the three act structure that everything seems to be constructed in.

Oh, it probably was, and if I sat down with it for a while, I could probably break it down into that structure, but it wasn't SCREAMING that structure like, say, “Whip It” which is almost a primer on how to put together a three act structure.

And for those of you who don't know the three act structure, here's a quick layout of it:

Act One:

-Introduce characters and setting
-Inciting incident

This is usually shown in movies as a dad rushing around for breakfast, kissing the kids and having the wife remind him of something as he rushes out the door. Once he gets outside, SOMETHING happens. Aliens invade, the car blows up, his wife starts shooting at ninjas...and there you go, Act One is done.

Act Two:

-Complications ensue
-Adversaries are in motion
-Ends with the destruction of the plans of the protagonist

This is usually shown in movies with the hero putting together his team, finding out what they are doing, seeing how big their plan is, and then they try to take him out, nearly succeeding...this is also when the wife/buddy/cop with three days until retirement is killed to add drama.

Act Three:

-Protagonist finds the solution to his problem in the rubble of his destroyed plans.
-Protagonist makes a profound change, learns a lesson or the gun in the beginning of act one is used to kill the antagonist.

Am I following it? Yes, but that's because I'm writing genre fiction set in a setting unfamiliar to the reader. I'm also using the Noir/Crime novel storytelling style which has some tropes of their own, and while I'm not subverting them, I am hoping that I am constructing things in such a way that when they show up, they feel fresh.

Also, with the crime/detective novel, the reader is putting together a puzzle that you've constructed, so if you are doing it well, you can keep a step ahead of them in the construction of the story. It's also why character and setting are so important. You aren't writing something so brand new that you have the freshness of the fact you use the format and tropes because the rules help the reader along.

In the crime novels I've liked, a lot of the reason to read them is character, setting and what the writer can do within the genre. I LOVE the Travis McGee novels because of the characters, setting and writing. The plots are pretty much standard boilerplate, but I don't care, it's a clothesline to hang the writing and ideas on.

Personal stuff? Well, I had a job interview on Thursday that I think went well. I am back to the job hunt tomorrow morning when I wake up (was just too tired and burned out on it to do it over the weekend). I am regaining my sense of calm now that I now WHY I have been losing it over the last couple of months, and actually feel a bit better about being myself than I have in a while.

So, novel status? Still ahead of schedule, and I'm actually wondering if I can beat my previous record of reaching 50000 words in 25 days...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 5


Yep, still ahead, and to be honest, I could have written a lot longer today, but decided to stop so that I could get a few things done before going to work.

I had a job interview today. I think it went well, but then don't I always? They said nice things, and asked a lot of questions, I tried to seem eager, intelligent and dutiful, so we'll see where it goes.

When I got home, I wanted to just go back to bed and get some more sleep, but instead I puttered on the internet and then firing up the word processor. I thought I'd written a lot more when I did my word count, because I'd finished up the second chapter and wrote a sequence I was quite proud of:

We stood there for a moment, not uncomfortably. We didn't need to fill the silence with a lot of words. We had known each other since she'd started coming around with Eddie, and like I said, Eddie was lucky to have found her. He was also a bastard for keeping her in the dark so long about what he did. What is it with us where we feel we need to keep things from the people in our lives? Are we scared they will see through all of our pretty bullshit and when they do, they'll quietly tell us that they were mistaken and take their leave of us? Will it confirm all of our dead of night thoughts that we're a secret fraud and we have them fooled by the dazzle, the lights, the promos and the big loud noises we make?

“I won't be gone that long again,” I said, and meant it.

I started the third chapter with a sequence that at first glance seems like it doesn't belong, but I decided to add it for two reasons:

1)I want to show my protagonist's character. WHY does he do this job? Why is he a PI? What is his motivation?
2)Why is his girlfriend part of the story? Reading the Travis McGee novels makes me really want to make the female characters in my writing seem as complex as the lead character just so they don't become the “adoring girl friend who echoes the hero” that the women in the McGee books seem to be. Now, I can tell that MacDonald is trying to make them more than that...and I've only read a few of the early books, but they really stand out to me. I also want to show more of their relationship so that it has a deeper resonance when it is peril.

Good writing day overall.

I also spent time today thinking about motivation and character. I read a column by Dennis O'Neil, former comic book editor and writer who has some really great stories under his belt as well as a few clunkers. I also have to admit that I didn't like his editorial take on Batman, and while there were good stories under his editorial tenure, it always felt like they were despite his vision of the character than because of it.

He wrote that when you create a character, you need to write out their motivations:

*What does my character always want?
*Who or what does he love?
*What is he afraid of?
*Why does he involve himself in extreme situations?

Do I sit down and write these things out when I start a novel?


Let me repeat that, I do not do this sort of thing.

Partly because when I sit down to write, a lot of the characters are wholly created PEOPLE in my head, and I turn myself over to their voice. Lightning (yeah, most of the time he's referred to like that because in pro wrasslin, people call each other by their ring names, even away from the ring. His name is Dan, but the only people who call him that aren't in the wrasslin' world) has a different voice than his girlfriend Katy, who has a different voice than Mikey who brought in the case and so on. I KNOW them, same I as I know my friend Joe and how different he is from my friends Scott or Dan.

Partly because when I write a first draft, I'm letting the story take over. I've written a few times here about when I do NaNo how the story takes over and there are times I don't know what will happen next. Well, to be honest, I've been doing NaNo so long that all of my writing is like that now. I have sketched out the webstrip for the first two years, and while I are aiming for gags....there are things that I've written that have surprised me. And to me, that's the fun of writing.

For this novel, I know the plot, and I know what happened to set everything up, but how the plot is revealed and how the characters interact and interplay is all new to me.

So, now that I've written Lightning for a while I can answer those questions, even though I couldn't do it before I started:

*What does my character always want?

He wants to take care of his friends. He's gotten away from it and lost that part of him, but when you learn Professional Wrestling, you learn that your main job to make sure the other guy doesn't get hurt. You take care of your partner. This is what drives him, taking care of his partner, be it Katy, a client who is down on their luck or one of the people who used to be in the business with. THAT is why he took the case and it's why he'll keep digging until the bitter end.

*Who or what does he love?

Katy, his brothers in the business and his self image of being a good guy, which has taken a terrible beating as he works divorce cases, disability scams and the like.

*What is he afraid of?

That's he's becoming a guy who lives to win, even when winning means it ruins someone's life. He's scared of being the guy who gets the picture of the wife in a hotel with a man and forgets that now the kids will be dealing with divorced parents.

*Why does he involve himself in extreme situations?

He doesn't, but he will in this case because he was asked to by a friend. Once he's in, he can't walk away. He has to see it through to the end or he's let them down...and he's already let them down by losing touch and walking away from the business.

I'll be honest, though, I didn't know all that stuff before I started writing. I know what the characters NEED to do to move the plot forward, but I don't know WHY until I spend some time with them, listen to them talk and walk around with them in my mind.

I doubt other people write that way, but it's the only way I know how.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 3


Thats right, I'm way ahead, which is good because I KNOW I won't have time to write tomorrow (work in the morning, gaming at night) and Thursday MAY be a non-writing day, as I'm playing phone tag with someone who called today to set up a job interview. So, all the positive thoughts you are willing to give, I will gladly accept.

The writing today was background on the wrestling business, a nice little scene with a character based on an internet friend (Hi Sorcha!) and adding some stuff to the earlier parts of the story that I felt needed a bit of fleshing out. I spent a lot of my “deep in thought about the novel” time dealing with motivations. I know why the main character is involved in THIS case, but I had to flesh out in my mind why he turned to being a PI after his wrestling career ended. I could just do a data dump...but being a devotee of “show don't tell”, I'm going to have him talk about it a bit, but also add a scene showing why he's passionate about the job. I've already had him talk a lot about the parts of the job he doesn't like, divorce cases, cheating spouses and the like, but I'm going to SHOW why he still does it and hope it's a strong enough scene to let the reader know.


It's a lot like when I worked at the group home. I'd come home and bitch about it, but the little successes were the reason I stayed at it. The kid who got up and went to school without us having to deal with their drama vortex because he'd finally decided to try something positive. The kid whose parents told me how they had seen a big change since being placed. That sort of thing. Much like my protagonist, I didn't talk about it much because it seems like bragging and my time in Minnesota has made it near impossible to brag about things.

I also want to work a lot of “mirror images” duality into the story. Professional Wrestling seems to me to be very closely associated with stage magic. Both are skills learned in secret, have their own wall behind which ONLY the performers go and are based upon lying to the audience. No, he doesn't REALLY saw a woman in half and no, they really don't want to beat each other up, but they make it look like they do...but I have a lot of characters who can function as “what if” scenarios for other characters, and I want to build that up as I go.

Still, 2324 words today, and I could have written longer, but decided I'd go to bed at a decent time.

NaNo status? Ahead of schedule and still excited about the novel. So there.

NaNoWriMo Day 2


That's right, today I wrote about 1771 words. I fiddled a bit with what I'd written so far, added a few descriptors and such, and then wrote a scene that I like a lot, even though it's a data dump. As I thought about it tonight at work, I'm going to be taking the lead character back through his wrestling career, starting with trainers, moving on to the tiny independent federations, maybe one of the bigger independents and then finally to the big show that is set up in basketball areas. I didn't know that going in, but it's pretty clear that that's the structure I need to work on for the first half of the second act.

Oh, and I'm in the second act. I feel a bit bad about it, but I've succumbed to the modern storytelling trope of starting the book at the end of the first act (right on the inciting incident) and then waiting until later in the story to fill people in more on how things all get set up. I also decided tonight that one of the characters is going to be a bit of a “mirror image” of the protagonist, almost exactly the same if only things had happened differently.

I'm also reading one of the early Travis McGee novels by John D MacDonald, and there are so many sections that just SING to me. GREAT writing that evokes such a sense of mood and place, and while it doesn't move the story forward at all, it builds the character and the world so much that I don't mind. Since it's from 1966 there are also some really embarrassing sections (the way women are written can be incredibly patronizing, and whenever there's a black character, it's usually a servant and is referred to as a Negro) that I hope fade as we get further into the 60's and 70's. They really stickout like a sore thumb because they just don't fit the rest of the writing....but then, I can read books from the 30's and 40's and accept the way minorities and women were treated because that's just how it was handled in pop fiction those days.

Too deep a subject to get into here, but suffice it to say that while I find “Ebony” embarrassing every time I read a Will Eisner “Spirit” story, it's not something that makes me dismiss the work as trash. YMMV.

Back to my adventure in writing this month.

I didn't write like a steamroller today because I had job hunting stuff to do, take care of my weekly unemployment logging, check the 10 sites I'm using for the job hunt, following up on some e-mails and feeling bad I didn't get to all of them and some housekeeping stuff. So, my writing today was interrupted more than a few times, and a couple of times I checked my word count and said, “I thought I wrote MORE than that.”

I was done with it all by noon, though, and was pretty much intellectually done for the day. I watched a documentary on LINK (yeah, I'm still ultra-liberal) played a quest in Fable and read “Pale Gray For Guilt” before going in to work where I used my spare time to think about what I'm writing and how to make it better.

Came home to an e-mail from my bestest (and by far most gorgeous) friend. She doesn't write often, so it's always a treat when she sits down and pounds out an e-mail. I'd asked if she wanted to read through the novel as I do it, and give me notes. Some of the people on Facebook have been asking about the Zombie novels, so I'm gonna be sending them out later this week for the same reason:

I want people to tell me what I'm doing wrong so that I can write as well as I would like to.

Writing is very much performed all alone, and when you don't get feedback, you think you are either brilliant (as you are writing) or worthless (two months later when you read it and all you see are the screw ups). So, I wrote back, asking for honest feedback and hoping I'll get it.

I'm liking blogging about the writing end of things. Partly because it's uppermost in my mind, and partly because blogging about my life just seems so static: I woke up, I looked for work, I went to my part time job, I came home and no one responded to my resume. This way I actually feel like I am doing something.

Finally, one job I am applying for says they only accept faxes and not email. WTF? Faxes? Do I really want to work in the early 90's?

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

I'm doing NaNo again after a year off, and I think my novel this year is just going to be pulpy fun. I'm writing a Private Eye story where the PI used to be a professional wrestler. The inciting incident is that one of the people he used to work with comes into his office and wants him to look into the overdose death of one of the performers.

I'm already having trouble with the fact that I know so much of the terminology of the business, but need to explain it to the I have a decent gimmick that I think works, but I'll probably toss it out with the first edit. It's actually a pretty commercial plot and story so I'll be working on the edit and and “novel pitch” through December so that I can start sending it out early next year. I'm also going to spend more of my “working at the minimum wage theater job” time editing the first zombie novel, as a lot of people who have read it REALLY like it.

I tend to stumble when it comes to putting together packages to try and get my work published. I mean, I had a few short stories published in small magazines here and there through the years, but when it some to novels....well, I suck at getting them to a publisher. I'll write more about that as the month goes on, because it's r4eally weighing heavily on my mind...and while I probably have a couple of connections I could get help from, I tend to just...not.

Oh, and just so you know, self-publishing a novel is NOT one of my options. I refuse to have my prose be part of a vanity press. Weirdly, I have no problem with this being done with comics (like when the webstrip has enough strips to be formatted into a book). Maybe it's because Dave Sim made self-publishing comics seem more legitimate than going through a publisher, and maybe it's because most self-published novels are self-indulgent bullshit.

One of the people who works at the movie theater found out that I do stuff like this and said that at one of the other local theaters in the chain has a worker who had a novel that gets relentlessly negative reviews on Amazon. I don't know who it is, but oddly enough, that just spurs me on to try to get published.

Oh, the novel itself? Going quite well. Already at around 6700 words, and the first chapter is done. It's a PI novel, so I can write it in first person, throw in a lot of observational stuff (like the Travis McGee novels I am plowing through at a frightening rate) and keep things hidden from the reader until they NEED to be revealed. It also makes the construction of the novel a bit harder, as I can ONLY reference what the narrator knows or observes.

I've also been writing notes for how to do some more thematic things when I go through and do the rewrite. Just the little things that I notice in the better crime novels I read...I want it to be more than just “story story story”, and get back to that mindset I was in for the first two zombie novels that ended up having a lot of cool little emotional moments that were heightened by little tricks that were almost subliminal. It's hard to describe without giving things away, but it's all in how characters relate to each other, and using some subtle things that will point to when characters are lying that won't be apparent until the three big reveals.

I'm also going to be blogging more. Partly because I want to start pushing my writing again (yeah, getting the webstrip started was a pretty big deal to me) and partly because I feel that I am keeping WAY too much of myself closed off from people.

And besides, doesn't the world need another blogger clogging up the internets?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Being blunt for a moment

There are a lot of mean, partisan things I could say about how the right wing (and their toadies in the media) got all bunched up about Obama telling kids to stay in school, work hard and set goals, but it's pointless.

It has nothing to do with the speech itself. Obama could have recited the pledge of allegiance and they would have run about to anyone with a microphone or camera and said i was the worst thing to befall this great country. It doesn't matter WHAT Obama does or doesn't do because it's not about actual actions.

It's about two things:

1) Undermining his authority. The same people who said speaking out against Bush was treason are leading this. They want to weaken Obama, make his supporters think that he's given up, he's caved in and all of their work is for nothing. That way, their energized base will show up at the polls and sweep them into power, just like they did in 1994. All that matters to them is personalizing the anger and making Obama the target. De-Legitimatize him and when things start to turn around (as they already have in the area of foreign affairs) he gets none of the credit, just the blame for whatever wildfires they can create on cable and radio.

2) They hate that a Negro is in the White House. Oh, no one is coming out and saying it in the media, they're smarter than that, but they weasel it in. "We don't know who he is" gets to the fear of the Black Man. If a White man had been as public as he has been over the last 8 - 10 years, NO ONE would say "We don't know who he is," but they can spread the fear of the "other." That's where the Birthers come from, going back to the old fears of a black man being from "somewhere else". It lives on in the tearful White Southerners who cry and shout "I want my country back!" when NOTHING has changed other than the color of the man in charge.

Elvis Costello once said "I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused", and while he's not exactly a paragon of racial tolerance, I agree with him on this one. I NEED to get past being disgusted and move toward being amused. History shows that this sort of bullshit withers and dies over time. Clinton beat the bastards again and again, and Obama is much smarter than Clinton was (which is no easy feat), but I see the foaming racism and those who foster and nurture it and it disgusts me.

I see it in people who don't even know they are being fed ancient fear of the dark skin and the other and the evil black man, but know that they Just Don't Like That Guy. Some are writing that this will drive moderates toward the Democratic Party and that Obama is playing chess, slowly putting everything in place for another massive win.

I don't see it.

In the long term, tolerance and progression wins, but in the short term Nixon won two terms, Reagan (who called black people "Negroes" in speeches up until he could no longer give them) won two terms by demonizing "welfare queens", and Bush won two terms by scaring the living shit out of people.

As Han Solo said: I have a bad feeling about this.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fine. I get the message

I agree with all of the protesters. It's time for the end of socialized medicine. The old people who are scared of Government Run Health Care have convinced me.

So, we'll be ending Medicare on 8/31/2009. Oh, and VA coverage as well. Sorry soldiers, but we must protect YOU from the evils of socialized medicine.

What? You didn't realize that was socialized medicine?

Sorry, it's too late. We've all taken what you said to heart and agree with you.

Oh, you NEED medical coverage? There are plenty of private firms you can buy insurance with. How much? Last time I checked it was around $2500 a month, but it's not run by the Government, so that's what you asked for.

What do you MEAN you can't afford it? Well, sorry, but there IS catastrophic care, that might only be $500 - $700 a month for someone over 65, but hey, you can take all the money you got with the Bush tax cuts to pay for it!

You mean your taxes went UP under Bush? Oh, that's because you're not rich. But you dutifully fought for those Bush Tax Cuts and HATE Obama for raising your taxes (which he cut), so....why did you support them again?

Never mind, not important, you have month and then you are free, FREE of all of that evil Socialized Medicine. You won! Hurry for you!

Oh, I suppose you could get a JOB and hope that your employer offers health care, but to be honest, the economy's in the shitter, and people who are older, well, they just aren't as likely to get hired. They make premiums for everyone else go up, but I'm sure you'll find something.

So relax, kick back and take pleasure in the fact that YOU WON!

Hurray for YOU!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Guessing Game!

OK, Palin resigned so quickly that her staff thought she was just announcing she wouldn't run for re-election right up until her statement. She even sent out a Twitter about how she was going to not stand for re-elections a few minutes before she gave her statement...

Sorry kids, when a politician drops their office THIS quickly (and weirdly) there is usually a scandal they are attempting to evade, so let's all put on our thinking caps and try to figure out:

What is the scandal that caused Bible Spice to resign?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Today's political thought

I am disturbed about the execution of Dr. Tiller yesterday. I'll admit that I don't follow the abortion debate any more, simply because no one's mind is going to be changed by anything anyone says. It's like debating emotions...people have deep feelings about it that can't be swayed by reasoned argument.

Myself, I think it should be legal. I find it to be personally wrong and would not use the option, but I have known far too many people for whom the option was needed. We have millions of unwanted children already, and if you are really and for true against abortion, you need to adopt a kid. No, not a cute little baby, but a special needs kid who isn't cute any more but desperately needs a home.

However, the terrorist execution of a doctor who performs legal abortions yesterday disturbs me more than I can put into words. Through the 80's and 90's, there were countless acts of domestic right wing terrorism that we in America seem to be unable to call terrorism. Doctors were killed by Christanist "pro-life" jihadists, government buildings blown up by right wingers upset they lost an election, public bombings by (you guessed it) Christianist jihadists, all here in the US. They faded after 9/11...partly because the right wing felt like they controlled everything and partly because the tactics were FINALLY thought of as barbaric and beyond the pale.

But now they are back, and egged on by the right wing media. Dr. Tiller was a particular target of the #1 show in cable "news", and those host said:

- He "destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000."

- He's guilty of "Nazi stuff,"

- a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida

- "This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union"

- "operating a death mill"

- "has blood on his hands"

- "executing babies about to be born

And we're shocked a terrorist decided that a man described like this needed to be the target of his wrath? Well, gee, he lost the election and thinks the current President is a Muslim, so somebody has to pay, so he turns on Fox News to find out who it should be...

This is just the first of a coming wave of right-wing terrorists. The media has been whipping them into a frenzy, claiming the US government is now socialist (which they imply means Nazi).

Still...someone answer me this: Why is it that ever since the end of the Vietnam War when the left wing loses, they fall back, organize and try again; while when the right wing loses, they indulge in domestic terrorism?

Dark days indeed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Solitaire Rose Guide to the 2008-2009 season

I like TV. I like it enough that I have a Tivo, satellite dish, etc... So, as this season winds down, I'm going to put down what I thought of the shows I watched this season and if I'll keep watching them. Oh, I know, some shows are done (like Boston Legal, Battlestar and a few others), but the networks have delayed announcing their fall schedules, so I'm going to decide what I'll keep watching.


How I Met Your Mother – A solid sitcom with likable characters. This is never going to be a show where I run out and tell people about the great acting, writing or innovative plots, but a sit-com is a kind of comfort food. This one has enough laughs per episode that you'll laugh a few times, the characters are ones you don't mind spending a half hour with and it's worth the time for me. I hate that they feel they have to do cliffhangers, but it stays on the Tivo.

24 – Two years ago, I was ready to give up after a REALLY bad season. But a break due to the writer's strike seemed to help. The two hour movie last fall sucked me back in, and this season is one of the better ones. They have been slowly moving toward smaller threats. This season started with someone taking over the entire governmental computer network and now seems to be ending with Jack Bauer's daughter in danger (Cougar Alert!!!), which is the reverse of other seasons where the danger keeps escalating. I also laugh when conservatives use this show to justify their extra-legal actions when I see the show as a modern version of a movie serial...yeah, it's just as “realistic” as Flash Gordon or The Fighting Devil Dogs. Still, lots of fun and staying on the Tivo.

Monday Night Raw – The WWE's flagship show, but more often than not, the one I like the least. Too much of the show's time is spent on bad high school skit level comedy, and not enough time is spent on matches, feuds and the like. I watch some episodes by fast forwarding through so much of it, it takes a half hour to watch. Then again, they can also pull off some entertaining shows, so...oh hell, I'm a wrasslin fan. It stays.

Heroes – After season 2, I said I'd give it a try for the 3rd season. Oddly enough, I watched the first 3 episodes, fell behind and now I have 21 episodes on the Tivo. Must not be all that compelled to watch...but when everything else is all done, I'll buzz through it and see what I think. It's on the bubble on my Tivo.

CSI Miami – Oh hush. I know it's pure cheese, but I like the CSI franchise and the science based whodunits. The plots have been solid but I hate all of the personal life crap they keep putting in the show. The show itself is amazingly beautifully shot, and looks better than most big budget movies. Even though it's ion its fifth year, it hasn't shown any signs of decay. It stays on the Tivo.


Reaper – Probably canceled, and a shorter season this year. It's still a fun little show, but it's VERY clear that they know they don't have any more than this year, so they are tearing through long-term plots at a frantic pace. The main idea (lead character works for the devil, returning souls to hell) is one that could become really dull, really quickly, but they have moved that to the background and deal with the lead characters. Funny, sharp writing and an inventive way to keep the series fresh. I'm keeping it, but the CW will probably drop it for another remake of a 90's FOX series.

ECW – On the SciFi channel...this used to be the worst wrasslin show in the history of wrasslin shows when it was “reborn”, but it's now settled into a show that only runs an hour, focuses on new talent and people who wouldn't be good in the “comedy” on Raw but can put together good matches, and in the end it's a wrasslin' show that focuses on wrasslin. Usually my favorite of the WWE shows for the week.

Fringe – My favorite show of the new year. It took a while to find its feet, and the lead character is still pretty much an empty vessel, but the week to week stories have been fine, and any Bigger Mystery is far enough in the background that you can actually ignore it if you want. It deals with X-Files type stuff, without the aliens, and if it gets better next year like it did this year, I may end up liking it more. That's right. I went there.

Better Off Ted – I THINK it's on Tuesday nights...with the Tivo, I can never really tell. This is an amazingly well-done sit-com which satirizes working in corporate American about a million times better than “The Office”, and still has characters you like. The writing is smart, fast and cutting, and the entire series seems fresh and funny. The Office may have episodes that knock it out of the park, but Better Off Ted is much more consistent. The best sit-com on TV and I'm keeping it on the Tivo. If you aren't watching it, go ahead and watch a few on-line to see if it is to your taste!

Tomorrow? Wednesday and Thursday!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Today's evil, anti-American thought.

I think that here in America, when spend so much time and money on crap we neither need nor enjoy, but feel we HAVE to have that it has screwed up our society in general. We need to 100 inch TV set, the 200 cable channel connection, the newest cell phone, the house that costs 10 times what we make in a year, a new car every four years, replacing all of our gadgets every couple of years and so on, and so on, and so on. When we DON'T spend enormous amounts of money, we are chastised by the media and government that we aren't doing our part.

After 9/11, what did our President tell us to do?

Go shopping.

What is the solution to the current economic downturn?

Go shopping.

Buy more crap you don't need, throw it away and then go out and fill up the car AGAIN.

It's crazy. It's destructive to both body and spirit.

I was laid off at the end of last year, but I live so cheaply that I haven't started feeling the financial pinch until the last week or so. I have a part-time job to supplement my unemployment while I look for a new job, but I'm also using the time to get back to writing and creating. I don't buy the $120 concert ticket to see the band that hasn't had a hit since 1982, I wait and pay $10 to see the band that has been touring and working the road and makes their living from the CDs they sell. I work at a movie theater, so I get movies for free, and watch the stuff on Turner Classic or the DVDs I bought but didn't have time for. I read a LOT, I spend time in contemplation, I play my older video games and relish the free time I have for now because when I have a full-time job again, I won't have as much time.

Americans work more than most people in the first world. We have worse health, no savings, a terrible retirement and a huge income disparity. In the last 30 years, upward class mobility has all but vanished, and we allow corporations to run everything. The current economic crisis is being blamed on the poor by the rich (which is pure propaganda):

The right blames the credit crisis on poor minority homeowners. This is not merely offensive, but entirely wrong. - By Daniel Gross - Slate Magazine

Truth is, we've been living in a country that has extolled greed and waste since 1980, and maybe it's time we took a step back and thought about just how much better off we are after having a "Baby Boomer" consumption orgy...since we have nothing but garbage and debt left to us by the boomers. No great art has emerged, popular music is back to the model it was during the 40's and 50's when manufactured stars sing songs created by committees and our lives have become an endless treadmill or working to pay for the food you bought and ate three months ago. We've outsourced labor, science and now our military (just like Rome did before it fell).

Most Americans say the US is the best country in the world. But they never can answer when you say "At what?"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Punchline from HIMYM

The joke they gave the setup for on tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" is one I actually know!

What's the difference between peanut better and jam?
I can't peanut butter my dick up that girl's ass.

Thank you, I'll be here all week! Don't forget to tip your waitperson, they're working hard for you!

Should I tell my 22 minute version of "The Aristocrats"?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My beef with Chuck Dixon's essay

Chuck Dixon wrote a heartfelt essay going into detail able what he feels like is broken in comics.

First off, before responding, Dixon is a write who, when he is on the top of his game, I enjoy quite a lot. When he's not, well, everyone has to pay the rent, I don't begrudge anyone working at their craft to make a living. I just don't enjoy it as much.

The core of Dixon's argument is that new writers don't write stories that they should be writing, and they deal more with shock, breaking characters and disrespecting the idea of a Hero. I won't get into the irony of this being done by one of the minds behind the breaking of Batman's back and having him cured with healing magic...

Making iconic comic book characters more “realistic” or “grimmer” or “grittier” is most often the product of a bankrupt imagination rather than the opposite.
is how he starts, and while on the face of it, I can agree, but does anyone really believe that in EVERY case it is a bad idea to take a long running serialized character to a new place? I would say that the first character this was done with, Daredevil, was sorely in need of something. The book was one of the first Marvel heroes, but had fallen on very hard times before Roger McKenzie and Frank Miller changed him from being a gimmicky Spider-Man knockoff to a dark vigilante in a film noir version of New York? It was a new interpretation of the character having roots in the origin story and Made Daredevil a character that creators bring their "A" game to. There are a very few people who can say that the Stan Lee wisecracking, fake brother having, dating slang spewing character of the 60's is one of their favorites.

Did people go overboard with it in the 80's and 90's? Of course. Comics ALWAYS go overboard and end up beating a good idea into the ground. That's how they STARTED, and they keep doing it. If 1 is great, 2 is better and 40 is best.

He brings up Batman (a character Dixon has worked on and recently finished runs on a number of books in that editorial office), who I contend is a character who was lessened by the 90's characterization of Batman driven to such an extreme that Bruce Wayne no longer existed, and he was, quite simply, a psychopath who fought on the good guy's side. This wasn't going back to the character's pulp roots, this was lazy writing, boring storytelling, and an excuse for rote storytelling where any number of paint-by-numbers plots could have been plugged in.

Heroes do something about their faults so they don’t become permanent personality traits. We look up to them because they have the strength of character to do what we often cannot. They are meant to inspire us and show us our better angels.

In a single story, that's true, but in serialized fiction, the character HAS to keep their flaws if they are inherent part of the character. Batman CAN'T get over the murder of his parents, or he has no reason to fight crime. Spider-Man can't feel he has done enough or he no longer is driven by his inherent guilt. Green Arrow has to feel that the rich and powerful are hurting the weak and downtrodden or he loses his "Robin Hood" drive. Stan Lee's big revelation for the Marvel line was that the heroes had PROBLEMS, and if they were to be solved, the impetus for the character is drained away, fixed, draining that character of a reason to BE a hero.

Back to Daredevil, the character had lost that feeling that he HAD to fight crime to save men like his father, men who were weak, men who were scared, who needed a man without fear. By 1978, Daredevil fought crime because if he didn't there wouldn't be a new issue every two months.

There’s a cynical disregard for what makes these icons work but it only serves to mask their own inabilities to create within guidelines and restrictions.

Which is something each generation says about the next. I will point out that Dixon did a LOT of stories that "disregarded" what made an icon work. Dick Grayson was no longer Batman's faithful ward, the Punisher didn't fight mobsters and he wrote Batman as a psycho in a suit. Why? That was the take on the icon at the time. It took a person with "cynical disregard" for what had happened with the Punisher since 1986 to make the character entertaining again. Garth Ennis was asked what he would do with the character and he said, "He's going to kill a lot of people with vowels at the end of their name" and in "Welcome Back Frank", he did so, sweeping away the last 20 years and going to the core of the character and writing the first true classic Punisher story since Steven Grant.

When your favorite, beloved character is revealed to be a deviant basketcase or found dead in an alley after being sexually violated it’s more a case of unbridled hubris rather than unbridled imagination.

I'll assume he's exaggerating here, but there is this anger some writers have against the kind of "Everything you knew was wrong" that Alan Moore created, and SOME writers are able to pull off brilliantly. Moore did it with Swamp Thing, taking a character who had never been a big sales hit, and making it the core of an entire line of books. Morrison did it with Animal Man, making that character interesting and relevant for the first time ever. Miller with Daredevil. Mike Grell with Green Arrow. Howard Chaykin and The Shadow (and pretty much anything else he wrote for the mainstream in the 80's). Is it hubris or a case of a writer saying, "You know, maybe this will get some people to read this."?

Captain America was unreadable for years. Mark Gruenwald did a lot of bland stories that no one really remembers outside of camp value, then Mark Waid came in and made the character interesting again. When he left, again, a long run of forgettable stories until Ed Brubaker came in, shook things up and made it a must read comic, even with Steve Rodgers dead. If you list the story beats, they seem disrespectful, but if you actually READ the book, it is one of the best written comics of the last ten years and sets up all of the shocking revelations in a way that they WORK.

And THAT is the core of good writing. Anyone can have a BIG SHOCK in a story, and Dixon has more than his fair share of them on the last page of his comics to get you to trundle down to the comic shop the next month to see how it would be resolved, sometime in a page or two before a completely different story started. (Yeah, Chuck, I'm still upset about those old tricks...THAT'S lazy writing). A GREAT writer can shock you and still make it seem perfectly logical and part of a great story.

I mean, Ro9bert Bloch shocked us all about poor milquetoast Normal Bates. Does mean he demeaned the character in the first two acts of Psycho?

Largely, the creators have eschewed plot for characterization. They want to explore what makes the character work and have that be what drives the stories. Try that with your iPhone and call me on a landline later to tell me how it all worked out.

I don't know. It worked pretty well for Ulysses, ANYTHING by Dorothy Parker, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Great Gatsby, The Shining, Simon and Kirby's romance comics, the entire run of Seinfeld, and so on. Just because you don't care for a style of storytelling doesn't invalidate it. Many excellent writers go by the theory that the plot is just there to show character, the Maguffin style of storytelling as I was taught in film class to call it.

Don Daley, my old editor on the Punisher back in the DeFalco days at Marvel, had a drawer full of scripts labeled “The Ultimate Punisher Story.” He let me read a few of them one time. There were scripts by wannabe and amateurs and a surprising number of top talents. They were of varying degrees of competence and professionalism. The one thing they had in common was that they were all the same story. In each story the Punisher accidentally kills an innocent. A child. A nun. A cop. Frank Castle then quits being the Punisher and becomes a priest. In every story. Every damned one. In some he quits being the Punisher forever and in others he’s dragged back into the vigilante game for some compelling reason. The other element that these scripts shared other than inciting incident, plot and resolution was that they got the core character of Frank Castle so entirely wrong that it was breath-taking. Unable to come up with a story for the Punisher, they decided to break the franchise and glue it back together in a new form they could understand.

That's a fine example of doing it wrong. I have another:

The Punisher discovers some nondescript evildoer with a complex plot. The story lasts five issues with a lot of the bad guys underlings being taken out as the Punisher tracks down the big bad, and when he does, they have a physical fight for some reason which the Punisher wins because, well, he punches the other guy harder than the guy punches him. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The best genre fiction knows that it can't change the hero much, so instead it concentrates on giving that character interesting adversaries. Judge Dredd is the best example: Instead of focusing on a VERY one dimensional character, the creators spend their time on the setting and the adversaries. They carry the storytelling weight because the main character can't. The Punisher plot listed isn't very good, but is it any worse than the endless array of boring thugs he "fought" through the 90's until the novelty of a hero who kills wore off? Nope. BOTH are bad ways to tell a story. It's just that one saw print and the other didn't.

Now, rather than ending up in a drawer of discards, this kind of scorched earth approach is at the center of multi-year event comics.

Really? Name ONE event comic that has done this. Infinite Crisis brought back the DC Multiverse and created interesting new villains for the first time is years. Civil War changed up the Marvel Universe and went back to the old dynamic of the "heroes" being on the wrong side of authority for a time (kind of like those old Stan Lee stories about the heroes being sought by the government/police, or ANYTHING done by Steve Ditko). 52 brought back the creativity of DC's Silver Age. House Of M got rid of the excesses of the 90's where there were more mutants than normal people and so on and so on.

Just because they don't fit what you wanted to read doesn't mean they were all bad.

Dixon really sounds like my grandmother talking about TV shows and movies showing some moral ambiguity and she hated movies like "The Godfather" and "Dog Day Afternoon" because they glamorized the bad guys and tried to make you UNDERSTAND them. Storytelling change. Comic books change. I have a friend who won't buy ANY comic book printed after 1969 because he feels that that is when they all turned to crap. Mort Weisinger wasn't editing Superman anymore, and he hated the approach Julie Schwartz took with his heroes. He constantly complained "Why can't they make comics like those any more." Comics like Big Bang Comics or reprints of those stories (ones he hadn't read) were passed over as he complained about the Superman and Batman comics of the 90's which he said were all crappy artwork and Big Stupid Events like Knightfall, Contagion and the like.

Rather than railing against those damn kids not having any respect, he could have just bought the stuff he liked and moved on from comics to other forms of entertainment he enjoyed.

Dixon too seems a bit disingenuous, seeing as how he was part of the team that had a killer take up the Batman uniform, ripped off the movie "Outbreak", destroyed Gotham City in an Earthquake and had the federal government declare it a "No Man's Land", and killed off Green Arrow in an explosion as well as other stories and events that drove the Grim and Gritty trend in the 90's.

But then, that's just how I see it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

10 Take Aways From the Bush Years -

The Washington Post has another nice article from Bob Woodward where he gives advice to Obama, even though the article is a nice list of the BIG mistakes Bush made as a manager.

Bush's biggest mistake wasn't the war, the economy or any of the things people think about. It was not being informed, curious or interested in much of anything than advancing a right wing agenda. He keeps saying history will judge him, but I think we're all pretty clear on what history will say.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Associated Press: US balks at backing condemnation of anti-gay laws

The Associated Press: US balks at backing condemnation of anti-gay laws

I don't know if I can actually say anything here that can convey how irritated and disgusted I am by this news. I mean, I KNOW that there are a lot of bigots in our country, most of whom use a book of myths and legends to justify their hatred, but for our government's representative to actually say "Hmmm...I think making homosexually legal is just a bit too controversial for us"?



And probably makes all of the troglodytes happy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Today's political observation

I see that Rachel Maddow was making fun of the IL governor's legal issues and was slamming him VERY hard last night. Can you imagine FOX doing that to any Right Wing Republican getting arrested?

Of course not. FOX labels Republican politicians who get arrested as Democrats.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You know what burns my ass?

A flame about three feet high.

I keep hearing the right wing media calling this “The Obama Recession”.

Now, I could take the tack that this is just the Heritage Foundation’s way of manipulating the language so that the right wing doesn’t get any blame (or the bill) for the trough feeding frenzy that crony capitalism has had over the last 10 years of so. Instead, I think it shows the main difference between right wing world and the rest of the world.

Obama isn’t even in power yet, and already he is so amazingly powerful that he was able to destroy the economy a year before taking office. He was able to REACH BACK IN TIME and shatter big financial institutions, destabilize the dollar and cause a huge speculation bubble in oil and homes. Damn, that makes Superman and Thor seem like pikers.

Another group of people being blamed for it are the poor who had the temerity to think that some of the INCREDIBLE WEALTH being shoved in their face on a daily basis would trickle down to them. It’s not like they were lied to, pressured into anything, or given loans so complex that they needed a lawyer (that they couldn’t afford) to understand. Maybe I’m not that bright, but when I went in to buy a car a year and a half ago, three different car dealers offered me “low monthly payments”, and when I asked for the actual interest rate, or final payments, I got a lot of hemming, hawing, double talk and the like, and when I left and checked with my friend who was a car salesman, he explained to me how they were screwing me over.

Home loans make car loans look like working with those Duplo Lego blocks.

At the root of it all was the right wing myth that everyone is going to be rich. They have pitched this idea as a way of getting poor people to agree with giving rich people incredible tax breaks. In the waning days of the campaign, John McCain would say in every speech “I want everyone to be rich!” TV, music, movies, etc… now all push the idea that everyone is rich, and if you aren’t, you are not just to be laughed at, but there is something seriously wrong with you. Thrift is a joke, spending money is the only way to show that you aren’t a loser, a redneck, or a worthless human being.

We’re undergoing a historic correction, and I’m not just talking about the stock market, housing costs or the like. The years of spending endlessly for shit you don’t need are coming to a screeching halt…and the world is going to be a vastly different place in ten years.

How we deal with it depends on who we listen to. The voices of the Heritage Foundation, Limbaugh, etc… will tell us that we need to fear. Fear the unions, fear the poor, fear the line workers, fear everything that isn’t just like them.

But there are other voices. Voices that say it IS time to change, to live more simply. To help each other and quit thinking that we need a new car every three years, a bigger house, a 70 inch TV and instead make sure than instead of “I want everyone to be rich”, saying “I want everyone to live a decent life free from fear and need.”

That’s what change is.

The greed of the last 30 years brought us here. Now it’s time to wake up.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

2008 Election Predictions

First, the big one – Obama will pull between 350 and 360 electoral votes. He’ll pick up the states Kerry won as well as CO, FL, IA, MO, NV, NM, NC, OH, and VA. Republicans will allege all sorts of fraud and shenanigans just like they are doing with Olberman’s ratings and the new “people meter” radio ratings showing Limbaugh isn’t nearly as popular as we all thought he was.

Second, the Senate will not change enough for a filibuster proof majority, but it will be the end of any “Northern Moderate” Republicans.

Last, and here’s where I put on my Pundit hat:

The Republican Party under Bush has returned to a Regional Party, as it was through most of the 20th Century. However, it’s not going to be a New England/Western party this time, but a Southern/Western party. Why?

Under Bush, “conservative” has changed to a term defining far right Christianist views, a weird form of bailout crony capitalism, interventionalism, the biggest government welfare program of all time, sheer incompetence and lockstep adherence to denying facts. Fox may be the number one news network, but it is the mouthpiece for this group of people who never want their views challenged by facts. They have developed an insular media to the point where they have their own version of Wikipedia so they don’t have to let the world intrude upon their vision of How Things Are. An entire generation has been turned off by the blatant lying of the members of this media, Bush’s failures and their insistence on holding on to values that just don’t work for these people. They use gays are a fear tactic, while most people under 30 look at anti-homosexuality the same way us Gen Xers look at racism.

McCain’s campaign is a “last gasp” of these folks, living in a world where the economy is FINE, supply side economics works, and Bush and Cheney are heroes. The word “liberal” no longer has the fear stink to it, as it’s been used to demonize so long that it has lost all meaning. Obama “the liberal” is for nuclear power, fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and “traditional marriage”.

Will the Republican’s rebuild? The Democrats have been rebuilding, bringing in a series of pro-military centrists and slightly right leaning politicians to build a new coalition, but it hasn’t been covered by the MSM because Republicans still yell the loudest. Starting at the local level, the Democratic party is being rebuilt, and for all the pissing and moaning about Nancy Pelosi, she has been working hard to bring in these new Democrats. I have read REPEATEDLY that Southern Democrats are told that they are to represent their constituents and not worry about party line votes. The national party under Dean has been working to get out the word about the national positions, as the polls show that the majority of Americans agree with most Democratic proposals, but the chattering class pushes the idea of the Limbaugh listener as the “average American.”

Don’t get me wrong, the Republicans still have a stranglehold on the media (except on line). They also have shown in the 80’s and early 90’s they actually do BETTER as an opposition party. They may learn from this election as they did in 1964 and 1976 and retool in such a way to regrow. However, the Palin thing has shown me that the right-wing attack machine has lost much of its power, and the explosive growth of left wing media like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and blogs like Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos make me think that the stronghold is breaking.

Watching the cable news over the weekend, you’d think Sarah Palin is a rock star, John McCain is surging and Obama and Biden are hiding. They don’t mention the discrepancy in crowds, and shoot the McCain and Palin rallies in such a way that they look as big as Obama’s. I saw Palin on my TV almost all weekend as the cable news just showed speeches, and they NEED to make it seem like the race is tightening to hold onto their record ratings.

It didn’t.

If anything, Obama increased his state-by-state lead.

Now, winning power and keeping it are two different things. Carter oversaw the implosion of his party post-Watergate, and Clinton had to get his ass kicked in 1994 to start being a great President. The media will be out to pounce on Obama at 5 AM tomorrow morning, and Fox is salivating at the prospect of being able to be the opposition. Limbaugh’s tanking ratings will be bolstered by him once again being able to be the stone in the President’s shoe (he lost 12 million listeners from 1998 to 2008).

At least that’s what I think.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Recommended Reading

Since the term "socialist" has made a comeback int he last few weeks (next thing you know, McCain will charge Obama with being an Anarchist or a secessionist) the New Yorker had a
typcially well written commentary.

Me? When Sarah Palin talks about how evil it is to "spread the wealth" and hwo she's been able to cut taxes, I'm amazed that no one in the mainstream media points out that Alaska gives every resident over $3,000 just for living in Alaska based on the state's oil revenues, and with oil at $100+ a barrel, the state was rolling in extra money. What will Alaska do when the lower oil prices affect them? Will she STILL keep taxes low? Her record in Wasilla shows she'll just follow the Bush plan of borrowing amazing amounts of money at let the next person fix her mess.

Still, someone complaining about socialism when their state is “set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs."

Last time I checked, that's pretty damn close to socialism.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fire BAD!

Humans made fire 790,000 years ago.

Pretty cool for the fact that according to the Christian Churches that run things, humans have only existed for about 5,500 years. Oh, Ben Stein, does reading this story make me a Nazi?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dear Republican Party,

There is to be no more whining about all the money Obama has raised if you spent over $150,000 to make Sara Palin 'look good' with new clothes, makeup and the like. How can we trust you with the country's money, when you spend $150,000 and she still looks like those annoying women at the movie theater who want their soda 'Half diet coke, a fourth coke and the other fourth Mr. Pibb' while their teenage daughters are macking on the 23 year old selling tickets and pot?

Friday, October 17, 2008

What I'm thinking about today

The Roommate has gone up north to stay with her mom for a couple of weeks to see what she wants to do with her life. One of the things she’s not doing is paying rent.

I was up on the roof last night for about three hours, putting on the coat of sticky, silvery crap that is supposed to seal the roof for winter so that it doesn’t leak. The “brush” fell apart repeatedly, the clothes I wore were ruined, the stuff probably sat at Home Depot for a few years before I bought it, and by the end my hands looked like an unmoving silver mitten. The instructions were “shake up a bit before using”, but all of the silvery stuff had become a solid mass at the bottom of the 5 gallon can, and it took over an hour to mix it to where it was supposed to be. If my roof leaks, it’s certainly not going to be due my lack of trying to fix it.

I got to spend over an hour scrubbing my hands and arms with pads meant to scrub pots in order to get the crap off of my hands. Watched TV while I was scrubbing, and didn’t get it all off, but I think I went through quite a few layers of skin.

Work is almost creepily calm. We are in the first week of annual benefits enrollment and we’re getting the only about 10% more calls we would get during a non-payroll week. I’m starting to get worried we’ll either get hammered during the last week, or the week AFTER with people wondering when they get to enroll for next years.

Haven’t heard back from Casually Dating Girl this week. Kinda typical, but this is a week I wasn’t crazy busy so I had time to go do stuff. Nice to have a few nights at home to watch Tivo and work on the coming webstrip.

John McCain is against "spreading the wealth around", yet his medical plan, mortgage plan and business tax plan will take money from MY pocket (and I'm middle class) and give it to people who make a LOT more money in the form of new tax breaks. So, in other words, he's against spreading the wealth of the wealthy but has no problem spreading the non-wealth of 95% of working people.

I have Sunday completely off. I’ll be honest, it looks to be a day where I go to the gym in the morning, make a huge pot of soup for the week and lay on the futon with a big stack of comics and a crime novel. In other words, Best Day Without A Redhead In A Corset, Fishnets And Gin Gimlets EVER.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bob Dole can't seem to remember much.

In a letter written about on, Dole scolds Limbaugh telling him to get behind the Republican nominee. Limbaugh has been touting that he won't support the Republican nominee if it is McCain or Huckabee.

Dear Bob Dole,

Don't you remember that Limbaugh didn't support you when you ran against Clinton? I doubt he'll listen to you now that you don't have any power.