Welp, just finished a second review for Bullet Reviews. I’ve been told that I need to review Twilight, so I’m going to brave the Hell of actually doing it and balance out all of the positive reviews I’ve been doing the past few weeks.
I recently read Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon. The book is a series of essays on genre fiction, and how that’s not a dirty thing. A couple of the essays (“Kids’ Stuff” and “The Killer Hook: Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!”) deal specifically with comics, and Chabon—a geek if I’ve ever read one—has a whole hell of a lot to say about comics as entertainment as literature. More said from more experience than I have. So, what I’m going to do is something slightly different.
I don’t think there’s a single person I know who takes comics as seriously as the clichéd comic book nerd. Even my most comic-ridden friend can take the piss out of the institution. (Usually directed at Marvel’s Stan Lee, fist in the air, shouting, “Gamma rays!” “Radioactive spiders!” and “Excelsior!” in a saliva-ridden voice.) That said, those friends of mine who have read graphic novels or comic books will tell you that there is vast potential for the genre to be just as literary as, say, 1984—largely thanks to that crazy man, Alan Moore. With the growing amount of films adapted from graphic novels and long-running comic series, the art form is entering the mainstream, but there are still plenty of things that scare off the normal folk from going into a comic book store and picking up an issue of a major title. So, in a roundabout way that’ll eventually lead us to what the title of this thing is talking about, I’m going to give my thoughts on why this is.
Ever wonder what the chances are that you’ll be killed by terrorists? Turns out they’re less than you smothering yourself in your sleep.
Also, the media is full of crap, but you knew that. As book reviewer of a small website, I’m fortunate enough to be able to choose books that interest me as subjects. For a couple of weeks, I’ve been looking at a book called Risk by a Canadian journalist named Dan Gardner. It’s about all the lovely ways the media and politicians capitalize and increase fear to save their own skins–and how people tend to react to such things so as to fuel the fire.
This story is the result of working at The Fresh Market alongside a bunch of absolutely mental people. Back in the prep room, the common topic was bullshit.
And most of the bs we talked about was why, oh God why, the prices at Fresh Market were so high. The only explanation we could come up with was that it was a result of a H.G. Wells-like tale of adventure.
Rebecca Hannigan was used to the uber-inflated prices at the grocer’s down the street, but this was a bit overboard. It’s not that she didn’t like salmon–she did. It was just that $7,000 an ounce seemed a bit pricey. It’s not like she couldn’t afford it–with over a hundred million dollars in net worth, she could–it was just that this price confused her. She called over a seafood clerk, a girl who looked like she was ready to graduate from high school. “Excuse me,” said Rebecca, “can I speak to your manager?”
“Of course, ma’am,” said the girl.
Rebecca waited for the manager. The item marked “Under-Earth Salmon ~ $7,000/oz.” was sealed off from the rest of the seafood in its own glass compartment. It had a vaguely cream-like color.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” asked the manager, a woman about forty dressed in a tan almost-pantsuit.
“Yes. What is Under-Earth Salmon and why is it $7,000 an ounce?”
“Ah. Yes. Well, Under-Earth Salmon is exclusive to us, you see. Imagine, if you will, the best salmon you’ve ever had. This is guaranteed to be four times better. You see, the taste comes from inbreeding: only the second and fifth generation salmon will taste this way. Any other generation is toxic.
“We keep them in the pond out back. It’s sealed off from the rest of the seafood like this because with Under-Earth Salmon, there’s always a chance that the aroma of the salmon will drift from the meat to other meats and spoil them with amazing taste.”
This last sentence made absolutely no sense to Rebecca, and as such, she blinked. “But why is it $7,000 an ounce?”
“Ah. Yes. Well, let me tell you. Please, come in the break room, it’s a long story.”
Gilles Glod is a friend of mine from an incredibly small country called Luxemborgialand. He’s a great photographer, shot The Attack of The Weretimberwolf-Hybrid, and refused payment when I tried to give him money. Hey, whatever, his loss.
Anyway, soon after I finished playing around in Fiddler On The Roof, he asked me if I wanted to model for him. I’d be helping him with a contest about rejected movie posters, and, what’s more, I would be playing Tony Stark and The Silver Surfer. What self-respecting nerd would say no? Anywhat, this is the end result, and, though he didn’t end up winning the contest, we both learned something: The organizers of the contest are troglodytes for not truly appreciating the insanity.
It is a simple story: In the wake of the Weretimberwolf-Hybrid’s release into the United States, the beast has begun killing everyone in sight. Faced with failure, General Falcon has committed suicide and 5-Star General Hawker has gone insane.
The case was turned over to a special NATO tribunal made up of two mysterious generals named Penguin and Pelican, who convince Hawk to unleash another secret weapon: The Vampire Corps. But can the blood suckers be trusted?
This, of course, falls under the realm of stuff I’d really like to make.
So. The Adventures of Cloyd Blank is the first novel idea I’ve had where I’ve had the audacity to actually plan something out. Usually, I start a novel or a short story and just go with the flow. But for this project – and I can remember the exact moment it all hit me – I knew what was going to happen when.
See, I was sitting in a class called American Naturalism/Realism. We were reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This was about the fifth time I’ve read the book, so my mind started wandering when the topic of racism inevitably came up and the professor – a really nice Irish guy – started getting attacked by a couple of the African-American students for making a joke. Anyway, I started thinking about a conversation a few friends and I were talking about dealing with our ancestors. According to one of them, his last name, Null, came from his grandfather being abandoned on a farm and the Census taker arbitrarily giving him that name. (It’s really a curse, since Jake couldn’t register for accommodation without crashing the computer network.) So, I started thinking, “What if this guy had it much worse? What if there were a modern Huck Finn involving everything I hate about society?” Essentially, I set out to be Mark Twain for a little while.
It turned into what you’re going to read – well, kind of. You’re only going to be reading the first couple of sections. Sorry about that, but it’s still in progress and, once again, I’m going to try to sell this thing. Enjoy.
So, one of my friends and I–Chris Flynn–created a couple of caricatures one day. The caricatures are two utterly mad English aristocrats completely caught up in their station in life and, by all accounts, living in the 19th century–they just happen to find themselves in the 21st. This is the first letter I’ve written in character, and am waiting for the response to jot down the second. I’ve recorded it (it’s 13 minutes), and will, if I remember, put a link to it alongside this.
Frederick Smythe-Tensington Rexley, B.A., Ph.D, M.D., J.D.
4 August, 2010
Dear Mr Rexley, B.A., Ph.D, M.D., J.D.,
In answer to your query posed the First of July: No, I am reticent to admit that I have not followed the current cricket contest between England (God save the Queen) and Pakistan. I find sport abhorrent in its very nature and something to be enjoyed by only the common folk in our country. As you are well aware, in my youth, I would make my way down Oxford Street upon my horse, Mercury, and trod upon those who I deemed common—so it is, of course, unlikely that I would have anything to do with those vagabonds. (Before you waste precious ink distilled from the fat of whales—as I know this is the only sort of ink you use—allow me to state two things: Firstly, I was never charged with a crime, for, as you know, I am related to every MP of note in the Southeast, Southwest, Midlands, and Greater London area. Secondly, no, I do not judge you for enjoying sport, I simply state my only preference.
In regards to your question about whether or not the recent election was favourable to those of us in, shall I say, higher positions, I need only turn your attention to the recent decrees put forward by the Prime Minister. I say, “eat shit,” as our American brethren would say, you dirty council house-dwelling proletariat. And I do not feel I must make a point upon the imminent dissolution of the Film Board—that amoral institution responsible for besmirching the name of Film. There are, of course, those rogues, the Liberal-Democrats working in supposed co-operation with the Conservatives, but I sincerely doubt they are making their presence known beyond flailing around Parliament, shouting and crying like some puppy squashed in the road. Rather amusing, I must say. Of course, we here in Fizzleshire are an admittedly removed lot—those whose income totals less than £300,000 per annum are removed to Kent. (I had briefly considered embarking upon a diatribe on the subject on that miserable excuse of a county, that stain upon England [God save the Queen!] but I am quite certain even you are beyond the point of hearing anything new I have to say on the subject.)
Now, I’m not trying to make the case that Teddy Roosevelt was the best President we’ve had. As far as I know, he ranks in the top ten—got his face on a mountain, after all—but I’ve always been a bit antsy when thinking about that mad charge he led in the Spanish-American War. Balancing that out, you’ve got the sense that here was a man who believed in the ability of the population to know what’s right, and the government’s facility to be an agent to ensure that what’s right gets done. After all, he led the Progressive Party—the only third party since the Whigs to get near to winning the Presidency.
He was an outstanding man in every sense of the word. He spoke out for what he believed, acted as if he believed it, and, even after a failed assassination attempt on his life, did everything he could to get his message across. Of course, anyone with the most basic knowledge of the history of American government will be able to tell you that, after leaving the Republican Party, he didn’t succeed in regaining the Presidency; this was due to the main stain of American politics: the political party. Roosevelt counted on his former allies to back him, even though he no longer held the banner.
They let him down, and Roosevelt lost in the elections. (Of course, he still led a pretty damn cool life of adventuring around wherever he could.)
But the thing about this latter part of his political career that we should recognize is that, when the system didn’t jive with what he believed, Roosevelt took the initiative and formed his own party separate from the Republicans and Democrats. He didn’t just talk about the detrimental effects of graft and ineptitude, he did something about it—or, at any rate, tried to.
When I read the news online over here in what some dub Enlightened Europe (the expulsion of Roma in France, as well as some xenophobic policies towards that same group in Italy make me doubt the veracity of that nickname—as do plenty of the policies of the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition in England), I can’t help but be infuriated by what I see about the Tea Party. The media is quick to make the point that a “Tea Party candidate” won this post or that post from an incumbent, that this is the new, grassroots organization. And, yes, I must concede that these people have been elected because they were riding the waves of the “Tea Party.” But, come on, how many people are actually fooled by that name?
In my last semester at the University of Tennessee, I took a course in screenwriting. It was one of the best classes I took, mainly because the professor pushed students to do an insane amount of work. You know, it was a constructively pressure-filled atmosphere, if that makes sense.
Part of the insane amount of work was the requirement of churning out a scene (read, about a page’s worth of material–any more than that and Dr. Larsen would go apeshit and scream, “No, no, no!”) three times a week and turning it in, so that he could go over it about six times with six different colored pens. Yes, I know, this makes him seem completely insane, but it was a great, great way to learn about writing screenplays. Nothing like abject terror and multiple colors of ink to push you to excel.
One of the assignments was to create a scene that used a montage. I have no idea how I came up with Clowns With Swords as a premise, but, hey, caffeine does amazing things to my brain.
And, as with everything tossed into the Scripts and Simontek Studios category, if I ever had the opportunity to film it (and direct it, since in the words of an agent at the place I’m interning at, “screenwriters get shit on”), I’d be all over it.