Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy Holidays and I'll see you in the New Year

Happy Holidays everyone. I'm going to shut my blog down until the first Wednesday of January 2016 when I put up my next Insecure Writer's Support group post. May you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But who am I kidding? With the first Star Wars movie to come out in almost a decade exploding everywhere on Thursday, who isn't going to have the best holiday ever? Seriously.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I really really want this poster for Ready Player One by artist Harlem Elam.

I want this poster so bad. Artist Harlem Elam was commissioned to do it, and he got author Ernest Cline to sign every one. I recognize all the pop culture references for the book. It really is 8-bit perfection. Oh and you can click to embiggen.

My review of Ready Player One (which I read earlier this year) is located HERE.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What you can expect from the Dr. Strange movie is a mind trip action film. That sounds right up my alley.

Disney via Marvel started rolling out their ideas regarding phase 3 of the Marvel universe this week, and it pretty much started with the video below about Dr. Strange. Also, there's concept art embedded in the video that totally shows Benedict Cumberbatch as the sorcerer supreme. This is gonna be soooo good.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Is a suspension of disbelief a requirement for true happiness?

So here's a question for all of you: is suspension of disbelief a requirement for happiness? As writers, all of us need to be aware that suspension of disbelief is incredibly important to a story. For lack of a better example, it's the trick that the Wizard of Oz pulls on anyone that walks into his throne room. "Behold the great and powerful OZ!" Just don't look behind the curtain or you may be disappointed. However, what led me to ask this question of you was not a movie like the Wizard of Oz. Rather, it's a roleplaying game: Dungeons & Dragons. Allow me to explain.

About five months ago, I decided to explore the Fifth edition rules set that was issued in 2014, and run a game for my friends. Now, just a little background, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about Dungeons & Dragons is basically "bad improv" (I think this is fair to say) in a fantasy story that is (hopefully) masterfully narrated by a person in the role of Dungeon Master (I say this tongue-in-cheek). However, improv can be incredibly fun so don't knock it until you try it. :)

Of course there are rules and all that, but that's not what I'm going to talk about. Rather, it's the observation that (in the role of storyteller or "dungeon master") it's my pleasure to entertain folks, and a lot of this job has to do with storytelling tricks that are supposed to seem random but (in all actuality) they aren't random at all. Having difficulty following? Here's an example: a player's character comes across a magical weapon that is the exact weapon in which they are specialized. Mind blown, right? What a coincidence! Sooo crazy. Sarcasm aside though, I've noticed that no one complains. In fact, they seem to be really happy with the story.

So I got this idea in my head about how we all kind of trick ourselves into thinking that we've done something ourselves when we really haven't. For example, I work with handicapped people who (with the aid of a team of non-handicapped people) are able to climb mountains or even bobsled. Those accomplishments are theirs (with like ten other people working full time to make sure they succeed). So weird, right? But it's a "suspension of disbelief" and leads me to this statement: the joy you feel in accomplishing something is totally yours with the hidden acknowledgement that you should never EVER peek behind the curtain. I can think of lots of examples in life where someone's happiness about something depends on a suspension of disbelief that what happened to them was accomplished through a) skill, b) hard work, or c) brilliance. Nevermind that a whole team of people may have also been involved. Nevermind that it could have been just pure blind luck.

So what do you think? Are a lot of life's pleasures dependent on a certain level of disbelief? Here's another example (albeit absurd): is there a suspension of disbelief with regard to the food we eat? Are we all comfortable with eating fried chicken and beef because we don't see what makes it possible to put those things on our table? I would imagine that most people don't even give it a moment's notice. Rather, ignorance (as they say) is bliss, and the more and more I think about this cliche, the more and more I believe what it says about all of us and a very important key to something many of us find elusive: true happiness.

Friday, December 4, 2015

For my Insecure Writer's Support Group post I think I'll just focus on the dragon outside the window because he's really the sum of all my fears.

I missed Wednesday's Insecure Writer's Support Group, because I'm old and I forget things now and then. To make up for it, I'm putting up my IWSG post today, and it has to do with this picture, which (I hope) serves as some kind of writing prompt for all of us writers. Additionally, I hope it's great at reminding all of us that no matter how many stories and books we write and put on our shelves, the specter of insecurity lurks just outside the window.
This picture is called "Dragon in the Archives" and it was done by artist Michael Komarck. His website with more of his work can be found HERE, and I hope you check it out because Mr. Komarck is amazing. So I guess all that's left to do for this post is to air my particular insecurity of the month and so here it is: I have a fear (when I get into a project) that I will take on too much. To conquer this, I've had to learn that I alone allow my "dragons" (as in the picture above) to be as big as I want them to be. My goal then is to keep them small by focusing on a little bit here and a little bit there. Sooner or later the whole project will be finished. For me, it all comes down to spending "my spoons" wisely (look up spoon theory if you want an explanation of this) and not all at once. The dragon can be kept at bay by a mere glass window no matter how much he wants to get in, and I can always deal with the dragon tomorrow.

The IWSG is hosted by Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell! Author Alex J. Cavanaugh started the whole thing many moons ago.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The animated adaptation of The Little Prince looks really really good.

This trailer for "The Little Prince" surprised me with its quality. It looks like something I'd expect from Pixar at the height of its powers. I know nothing of the story, but I've always been drawn to animation. One of the things that I really like in the trailer is how the animation kind of switches up during the story of "The Little Prince." If this is one of the most beloved stories of all time, I think I've got some catching up to do. I guess it's a good thing that the movie is coming out next year after it makes its big splash at Cannes.