On Shaky Ground

unearthed I watched a movie today on FearNET called Unearthed. It’s about a small Arizona town cut off from the rest of the world when a tanker carrying the fuel for the only gas station has an accident and all the gas is burned. The town sheriff begins to determine something strange is going on when animals and people begin being mutilated.

The basic set-up isn’t complicated. The plot isn’t tough to figure out either. If you’ve seen Alien, Jaws, or pretty much any horror movie you know the premise. A small band of survivors isolated with a monster of tremendous power and frightening as all get-out.

The movie was pretty bad. I don’t need to tell you the sheriff is a drunk because of an incident a year before involving a little girl who died. The sheriff blames herself and drinks to forget or calm or insert-your-own-excuse here. Of course the

incident is played back in a series of ill-devised flashbacks of a couple seconds each. (Of course it was an accident and the sheriff wasn’t to blame. We learn this right before the end of the movie.)

What I will tell you is, I’m sick to death of this cinematographic trick of shaking the hell out of the camera during filming. Holding it by hand, deliberately rattling it, whatever they’re doing. I think it’s supposed to emulate the realistic feeling of being in the scene the way it did when Steven Spielberg used the device during the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, but all it does in these cases is make a bad movie worse. TV shows use it too and

I’m tired of it. JUST SHOOT THE SCENE, dammit! If you don’t want the audience to be able to see what the hell’s going on why make a movie at all?!

A lot of the movie is filmed in dim lighting too. Not a good choice. And the CGI looked like a couple of students from a local community college’s computer animation program did the work. The lighting didn’t match the environment, the monster was not believable (not to mention being pretty much a modification of the creature from Ridley Scott’s classic, the aforementioned Alien), and the characters? Well, let’s just say it’s not a good idea to use stereotypes as characters in fiction, either written or visual.

So I wasted a good hour and a half of my life watching this dog and all its fleas. I don’t recommend you do the same. *Sigh*

-JDT-

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

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Best of the Worst

Okay, yesterday I got some good input on the best opening lines in fiction, music and movies from you guys. You did a good job providing me some great openings to books and songs and such. So today, I’m looking for the flip side, the B-side, the side nobody listens to.

dashiellhammetWhat’s the worst line you’ve ever read in a piece of fiction? or scene from a movie? line from a song?

The worst thing you’ve run across. Something which made you groan, roll your eyes, heck, maybe even put the book, song, movie, whatever aside.

It doesn’t have to be the opening this time. Just something really bad you ran across somewhere in your experience. There are a ton of ‘em, I’m sure, and there are going to be some really fun examples given. But, as I did last time, I’m going to kick things off. For me, the worst line I’ve ever read comes from a classic book, written by Dashiell Hammett, in his hard-boiled novel The Maltese Falcon.

His eyes burned yellowly.

Okay, “yellowly” does a couple of great things for me. First, it’s an adverb. I hate adverbs. Second, it’s not even a real adverb. It’s so absurd and ridiculous, I actually laughed aloud when I read it. Then I had to read it to my wife. And she laughed, then groaned, then we laughed some more. I mean … c’mon, Dashiell. That’s bad.

So, that’s my entry. What’s yours?

Sound off and give me a giggle. I can hardly wait. 🙂

-JDT-

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Sweeps Week

csi Yeah, must be sweeps week on TV.

How do I know?  Well, the surest sign was the spanning of a story across three different shows in the CSI franchise.  All three of them are having the same story cross over between the three shows over three nights.  Miss a night, you miss the story.  Don’t like the show?  Tough.  Take it like a man and watch anyway.

It’s not a new trick.  I remember comic books doing this most of my life.  As far back as I can remember, comic books ran a single story arc across multiple titles.  Sometimes they’d unify the continuity of the titles.  For instance, Spider-Man had no fewer than three titles back when I first recall reading them.  But none of them were consistent in continuity, so when something came across all three titles, the writers had to huddle up and make the story make sense for the title and where it occurred in their time line.  In the 1990s, things got flat ridiculous.  And when you kill off a character?  Well, that creates mayhem, ala Superman and its multiple titles, circa something like 1992.

But with three separate shows on the same network in the same franchise, nothing has to be so dramatic or difficult.  I’m sure the coordination of the writing is challenging.  I did notice, however, the association of the three franchises with one another did nothing to elevate the suck-factor of the first episode.  (My wife and I stopped watching the Miami version of this show because it became … well, sucky.)  So having the characters cross over didn’t help the show at all; it still sucked.

But it’s all right.  It never helped the comics the way they wanted it to, but maybe it will help the CSI franchise.  It certainly hooked my wife.  She’s watching it right now, as I type this, and there are two more on tap.

What cheap TV tricks do your shows use to keep you tuned in, engaged, involved in the show?  Which ones really burn you up?  Which are you fond of?

-JDT-

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

Using Social Networking for Gain

Facebook, Inc.

My buddy Sherri has done something sort of interesting over on Facebook recently: she created a fan page for herself.

She’s not boasting about her readership or anything, but she took a step toward the day when she does get published and will have fans.  She can use it to promote her books, and generate interest in future projects, etc.  It was an interesting idea, and I wondered if it was a wise move to have one ahead of time.

See, since FB is one of the social network buzz-word sites, I wondered if you could generate fans there by having a fan page.  You might create some interest in what you’re doing, getting the word out about being an artist, writer, creator, whatever.  Generate some pre-emptive interest in you, your writing (for us writers, at least), and maybe pull in some people who might be potential fans if and when we get published.

Trouble is, I don’t know too much about it.  I don’t know how to promote myself on Facebook or anywhere else, and marketing isn’t my forte.  So I haven’t made the step yet.  Heck, I don’t even have a finished manuscript.  (Still editing, remember?  Yeah, I forgot too.)  So I’m not sure I could use it to good effect, even if I could figure out how to create one (or meet the qualifications if any).

Still, I wondered.  And I often wonder about Twitter too.  I know I’m not using that resource to full effect, and I won’t be able to really get into it until I actually have something I want to do with Twitter to promote myself.  I know plenty of authors don’t get into social networking, but we’re talking about people like Stephen King (who doesn’t involve himself in any social networking of any kind).  For little bums like me, I need all the help I can get.  If social networking is a way to generate some buzz – because my blog only goes so far – I probably need to think about it.

What do you think?  Anyone here on FB who’d be willing to “become a fan” on Facebook?  Are you savvy with how to use that for self-promotion, or have you utilized it to get the word to the world about something you’re doing?  And Sherri, how’s that coming along for you?  What can you do so far with your fan page?

Any experiences you have, I’d love to hear.  Thanks!

-JDT-

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

Decisions

cluttereddeskcartoon I’m late with my post this morning because … well, frankly, I didn’t have anything to blog about until I realized I have a few ideas for books running around in my head.  And I’ve actually done something about it lately.

Time was, I’d get an idea and scribble down the thought on a notepad or some scrap of paper and then promptly lose it.  Or I’d have nothing around to write on and before I could get someplace where I could write it down, I’d forget the idea.  But lately, I’ve been getting ideas in a much stronger form – a lot more developed than they used to be – and I’m able to work them up a bit in my head before they come clamoring out onto something.  I’ve got a three-subject spiral-bound notebook I’m using for jotting the ideas and their development down in, and I’m finding the process of pushing the words past my hand manually, as opposed to on a keyboard, is gratifying in a tactile way.  The tooth of the paper, the drag of the lead, my hand against the page … all very intimate in a way which can’t be duplicated with computer input.  (But it comes at the cost of legibility.)

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of ideas over the last few weeks.  I’ve worked some of them up, others not quite as much, and I’ve been brewing another one for a total of three new book ideas.  I’ve also taken an old idea and started thinking about how I can salvage that one, which makes four.  Then I have the current WIP and the editing to address.  Six irons in the fire all told.  (The editing really should take priority I guess.)

I can’t decide what to do.  And so, from paralysis because I had no ideas into paralysis from having too many things to do I jauntily go.  And I get nothing done.  Nothing.

How ‘bout you guys?  Fellow writers, are you moving forward with something?  If you’ve got more than one idea which equally excite you, how do you choose what to work on?  How do you decide where to put the priorities on your work?

Readers – what plans you got for this weekend?  🙂

-JDT-

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.