Posts Tagged ‘Chronicles of Narnia

18
Mar
12

Why writing stinks

I hate writing.

This confession will be astonishing to most people, as the sole overriding desire of my entire life, the one constant from about the time I was ten years old until today, is a burning desire to be a writer. This, of course, requires me to write. But as anybody who has ever tried to do it will tell you, writing isn’t easy. Many people (who have never written a complete paragraph and think it’s perfectly acceptable to use “U” when you mean “YOU”) assume that it’s a terribly simple process that any Tom, Dick, or Harriet could accomplish if only they had the time in their ever-so-busy schedules to sit down and do it, because really, you’re just making stuff up. How hard could that be?

The truth is, when someone says they want to be “a writer,” what we really mean is we want to have written something. Because that’s a great feeling. Looking down at a story that feels complete, that feels finished, that draws a little praise and (if you’re extremely lucky) a little money is a feeling that doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve ever experienced. And the act of coming up with an idea, similarly, is wonderful. When a good one hits you like a bolt from the blue, or when a thought that’s been mucking about in your head for a long time finally breaks free and takes a life of its own, it comes with an intense feeling of power. You’ve become a creator of worlds, and that’s awesome.

Everything in between those two stages sucks the big one.

Those moments when you stare at the blank page, trying to figure out where to go next (or even worse, where to go first). You don’t know this story well enough, you don’t know these characters, you don’t know this place. You’re not black/a woman/short/Methodist/a six-tentacled alien from Grimbullax XII… how can you possibly get across in your writing of what it’s like to be any of those people? You’re conjuring it all up and it’s all horribly inauthentic and nobody will ever want to read it and you wish you could just lie down behind the sofa and die before anybody calls you out on it.

Then there are those times when you begin to realize you’re a worthless hack. Okay, this sounds pretty good, but didn’t they do that same joke on an episode of Seinfeld once? This concept is brilliant, but c’mon, Isaac Asimov must have written virtually the same thing. These are the times when you’re certain, at any moment, the Literature Police are going to break down your door with a battering ram and someone will point at you and scream, “HIM! THAT’S HIM! EVERYTHING HE’S EVER WRITTEN WAS ALREADY DONE BY SHAKESPEARE AND EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS AND J.R.R. TOLKIEN AND THE SIMPSONS! GET HIM!” And you will calmly hold up your wrists and allow them to cart you away.

These feelings are awful, most of all, because you know on some level that they’re justified. Every creator in the world is influenced by their experiences — either by what they’ve lived through, which makes you question how you can convey the feeling of being marooned on a desert island since you’ve never done it yourself for any extended period of time, or what media they have consumed, which means that every book you have ever read and every movie you have ever watched is in your subconscious somewhere, and it may well crawl out onto the page without you even realizing it.

Several years ago, a friend of mine read an early draft of a story that eventually turned into Lost in Silver. Upon finishing, she asked me if I’d been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis lately. I had no idea what she was talking about, until she directed me to the penultimate book in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew, where Lewis described a “Woods Between Worlds” that sounded a hell of a lot like my description of Evertime. Not having read that book in about 15 years at that point, I rushed out and found a copy, read it, and immediately began bashing my head against the wall. Clearly, although virtually everything else about the story had leaked through my brain like a sieve, the Woods stayed there and, lacking context, my brain started to adapt it to the story I was trying to tell. T.S. Eliot once said that “mediocre writers borrow; great writers steal.” Eliot forgot to mention that theft is sometimes like robbing a bank in your sleep, waking up surrounded by piles of money, and deciding you must have won the lottery.

Ultimately, I kept most of that original Evertime concept, after doing what writers have been doing ever since there was a second one: I rationalized the hell out of it. It was, after all, only a small part of the grand Narnia mythos, while it was a vital part of the story I was trying to tell. And I couldn’t come up with a way to accomplish the same thing that I liked nearly as much. And it wasn’t exactly the same, it was my take on the idea. And part of the main theme of the Evertime stories is that there are enough worlds in creation for everything ever imagined to co-exist, so naturally there will be elements that seem derivative of classic creations. And they’re never going to get around to making that book into a movie anyway.

All writers do this. We have to. Because when the brain creates it needs building blocks, and it gets those blocks from every bit of information you’ve ever fed into it. Every writer is influenced by every other writer whose work they have ever experienced. And this is true whether you’re blatantly copying somebody else by moving Kevin Costner to another planet and turning the Indians blue or whether you’re intentionally throwing away every element that made vampires threatening, entertaining, or interesting to read about and replacing all that with sparkle paint. In both cases — and in every case in between — you’re still reacting to an earlier work. It’s impossible to escape.

So the hard thing about writing, you see, is trying to think of something to say that hasn’t been said before. And when you realize that’s impossible, trying to think of a way to say it that hasn’t been done.

It’s just not easy.

But if you honestly want to be a writer, you eventually shove all that crap out of your brain, sit down in front of the computer, and start hitting keys until you’ve got something that may be worth showing to someone.

Which, if you’ll excuse me, is really what I should be doing right now.

03
Feb
11

What I’m Watching in 2011

Okay, we’re over a month into the year, it’s time for me to begin my running tally of movies I’ve watched in 2011. Those of you who see this list when it’s first posted will notice a definite trend towards 2010 films. If you’ve read this post, that makes a lot more sense. At any rate, this is where I’m keeping my annual running tally of the movies I see this year, and my quick rating of them. And if I review a movie at any of the many websites where I turn out such content, I’ll throw up a link.

What I’m Watching in 2011

  1. How to Train Your Dragon (2010), B+
  2. Infestation (2009), B+
  3. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), A
  4. True Grit (2010), A+
  5. Shutter Island (2010), B-
  6. Robin Hood (2010), C
  7. Easy A (2010), A-
  8. Splice (2009), D-
  9. Dinner For Schmucks (2010), B-
  10. Buried (2010), B+
  11. The Social Network (2010), A
  12. Repo Men (2010), C
  13. Logan’s Run (1976), B
  14. Exam (2008), A
  15. The Town (2010), A
  16. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010), B
  17. Fame (2009), B-
  18. Back to the Future (1985), A+
  19. Superman (1978), A+
  20. Cop Out (2010), D
  21. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010), C
  22. All-Star Superman (2011), A
  23. The Crucible (1996), A
  24. Unknown (2011), C+
  25. Legion (2010), C-
  26. The Book of Eli (2010), C+
  27. Mulholland Drive (2001), B
  28. A Bug’s Life (1998), B
  29. Battle: Los Angeles (2011), B
  30. RED (2010), B+
  31. Frozen (2010), B
  32. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011), B+
  33. A Beautiful Mind (2002), A
  34. Machete (2010), D
  35. Monsters (2010), C
  36. Let Me In (2010), B
  37. Limitless (2011), B+
  38. Devil (2010), C+
  39. 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (2010), C-
  40. Scream (1996), A
  41. Scream 2 (1997), B
  42. Scream 3 (2000), B-
  43. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), A+
  44. Love and Other Drugs (2010), B+
  45. Moon (2009), A
  46. Fight Club (1999), B
  47. Megamind (2010), B
  48. Scream 4 (2011), B+
  49. The Experiment (2010), B
  50. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010), A-
  51. The King’s Speech (2010), A
  52. Lottery Ticket (2010), C
  53. Mary Poppins (1964), A
  54. Ghostbusters 2 (1989), B+
  55. Wall•E (2008), A
  56. The Other Guys (2010), D
  57. Akira (1988), B
  58. The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story (2009), A
  59. The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), A
  60. The Last Unicorn (1982), B+
  61. Chicken Little (2005), B
  62. The Fighter (2010), B
  63. Saw: The Final Chapter (2010), B-
  64. Memento (2000), A
  65. The Untouchables (1987), A
  66. Thor (2011), A
  67. Firebreather (2010), B-
  68. Bookwars (2000), B-
  69. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010), A
  70. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), C
  71. Not the Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) (2010), B+
  72. Die Hard (1988), A
  73. The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), B+
  74. The Princess Bride (1987), A+
  75. Holes (2003), B+
  76. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), B+
  77. Skyline (2010), D
  78. The Last Airbender (2010), C-
  79. The Last Starfighter (1984), A
  80. Duck Soup (1933), A+
  81. The Hangover Part II (2011), B
  82. Piranha (2010), C+
  83. UHF (1989), B
  84. Spaceballs (1987), B
  85. The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920), B+
  86. Labyrinth (1986), A
  87. The Green Hornet (2011), D+
  88. Series 7: The Contenders (2001), B+
  89. 127 Hours (2010), B+
  90. Saludos Amigos (1942), B
  91. The Three Caballeros (1944), B+
  92. X-Men: First Class (2011), A-
  93. The Last Man on Earth (1964), B
  94. The Vampire’s Night Orgy (1973), F
  95. Chloe (2009), B
  96. Nosferatu (1922), A
  97. The Virginity Hit (2010), B
  98. The Color of Magic (2008), B
  99. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011), B+
  100. Vanishing on 7th Street (2010), C+
  101. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009), A-
  102. Rubber (2010), C+
  103. Walt and El Grupo (2008), B
  104. Super 8 (2011), A
  105. Big Fish (2003), A+
  106. Black Death (2010), B
  107. Battle Royale (2001), B+
  108. The Faculty (1998), B-
  109. Green Lantern (2011), B-
  110. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), B-
  111. Synecdoche, New York (2008), C
  112. The Phantom of the Opera (1925), A
  113. Fright Night (1985), B
  114. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), A
  115. The Fugitive (1993), A
  116. Cars (2006), B+
  117. Cars 2 (2011), B+
  118. After.Life (2009), C
  119. Zapped! (1982), D
  120. James and the Giant Peach (1996), B
  121. Young Frankenstein (1974), A
  122. The Addams Family (1991), B+
  123. The Great Muppet Caper (1981), B
  124. A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner (2011), D
  125. Dracula (1931), B
  126. Death Note (2006), B
  127. Tales From the Script (2009), B+
  128. Unthinkable (2010), B+
  129. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007), A-
  130. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), B
  131. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), B-
  132. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), B+
  133. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), B+
  134. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2008), B-
  135. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), B+
  136. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010), A
  137. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011), A
  138. Frankenstein (1931), A
  139. The Mummy (1932), B
  140. Be Kind, Rewind (2008), B
  141. 25th Hour (2002), B
  142. The Incredibles (2004), A+
  143. Zodiac (2007), A
  144. Rec (2007), B+
  145. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), A
  146. Miller’s Tale (2011), B+
  147. Freaks (1932), B
  148. Red Riding Hood (2011), D
  149. Battle Royale II (2003), C
  150. Cowboys and Aliens (2011), C+
  151. Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), B
  152. Ernest Goes to Jail (1990), C+
  153. The Beginning of the End (1957), F; MST3K Riff, B
  154. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), F; MST3K Riff, B+
  155. Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (2011), A-
  156. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), A
  157. Cat People (1942), B
  158. Curse of the Cat People (1944), C-
  159. Sucker Punch (2011), D
  160. The Fly (1958), A
  161. Peeping Tom (1960), B
  162. Best Worst Movie (2009), A
  163. Troll 2 (1990), F
  164. Psycho (1960), A
  165. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), A
  166. Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011), B
  167. Super (2010), B+
  168. The Haunting (1963), B
  169. Night of the Living Dead (1968), A
  170. The Last House on the Left (1972), C-
  171. Suicide Girls Must Die (2011), C-
  172. Wait Until Dark (1967), A
  173. The Exorcist (1973), A
  174. Gamera (1965), C; MST3K Riff, A
  175. Gamera Vs. Barugon (1966), D; MST3K Riff, B+
  176. Gamera Vs. Gaos (1967), D; MST3K Riff, B
  177. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), C+
  178. Jaws (1975), A
  179. Carrie (1976), B+
  180. Suspiria (1977), D+
  181. Gamera Vs. Guiron (1969), D; MST3K Riff, B+
  182. Contagion (2011), C+
  183. Halloween (1978), A
  184. Alien (1979), A
  185. The Shining (1980), C+
  186. Friday the 13th (1980), B
  187. The Evil Dead (1981), B+
  188. The Thing (1982), A
  189. Poltergeist (1982), B+
  190. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), B
  191. Return of the Living Dead (1985), C-
  192. Misery (1990), A
  193. Ringu (1998), B+
  194. The Blair Witch Project (1999), B
  195. Saw (2004), A
  196. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), B+
  197. The Creeping Terror (1964), F; MST3K riff, B+
  198. Mad Monster Party (1967), B
  199. Zombiemania (2008), B
  200. Tower Heist (2011), B-
  201. Scream: The Inside Story (2011), B
  202. Still Screaming (2011), A
  203. Your Highness (2011), D
  204. Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008), B-
  205. The Cannonball Run (1981), B
  206. Batman: Year One (2011), A-
  207. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), A-
  208. Up (2009), A+
  209. The Muppets (2011), A
  210. Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas (2011), B
  211. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), F; Cinematic Titanic Riff, B
  212. Christmas and A Christmas Carol (2009), D
  213. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), F; RiffTrax, A
  214. The Great Gatsby (1974), A
  215. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), B+
  216. Tom and Huck (1995), Bl
  217. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), A
  218. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999), B
  219. Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) (2005), A
  220. Scrooged (1988), A-
  221. The Magic Christmas Tree (1964), F; RiffTrax B+
  222. It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002), B
  223. The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), B
  224. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A+
  225. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), A+
  226. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), A
  227. A Christmas Story (1983), A
  228. Love, Actually (2002), A
  229. Source Code, (2011), B+
  230. Paul, (2011), C+
  231. Tron: Legacy (2010), B+
  232. Attack the Block (2011), B+l
  233. The Captains (2011), A
  234. Gnomeo and Juliet (2011), B
  235. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011), C

Last Updated on January 1, 2012.

07
Nov
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 195: 2010 Holiday Movie Preview

It’s November, and that means for the next two months the movie theaters will be packed with films that will be surefire bloc– um… will be amusing and diverting forms of enterta– eh… that the studios think you’re more likely to pay to see than the crap they released in September. This week, the boys run down the major releases for November and December and provide their commentary on all of them. In the picks, Blake loved Superman: Earth One, Kenny is down with Hack/Slash Omnibus Vol. 1 and Mike is only slightly behind the times (no pun intended) with Time Masters: Vanishing Point #3. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 195: 2010 Holiday Movie Preview

Inside This Episode:

18
Jan
10

What I’m Watching: 2010 Edition

Like I did last year, this year I’m going to keep a running tally of the movies I see. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I’m going to place the permanent link to this post in the “Blakestuff” category running down the right side of the page. I’ll update this every so often, and whenever I happen to review one of the movies (either here, at Comixtreme.com, or even on the Showcase podcast), I’ll make the title a link. I am, in fact, a man of the people.

  1. Star Trek (2009), A
  2. The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (2008), B+
  3. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), B+
  4. The Man With the Screaming Brain (2005), C
  5. Re-Animator (1985), B-
  6. Soylent Green (1973), A-
  7. Igor (2008), B-
  8. Dug’s Special Mission (2009), A*
  9. Partly Cloudy (2009), A*
  10. 1408 (2007), B
  11. Pigeon: Impossible (2009), B+*
  12. Vegas Vacation (1997), C
  13. Cat People (1982), C
  14. Psycho Beach Party (2000), B
  15. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988), D
  16. Planet Hulk (2010), B+
  17. A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002), B*
  18. The Wolfman (2010), B+
  19. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010), B
  20. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010), A-
  21. The Hangover (2009), B+
  22. Surrogates (2009), B
  23. Silver Bullet (1985), D
  24. Paranormal Activity (2007)
  25. Ringers: Lord of the Fans (2005)
  26. Ink (2009), B+
  27. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), B
  28. The Hobbit (1977), B
  29. The Lord of the Rings (1978), C+
  30. The Return of the King (1980), B-
  31. Clash of the Titans (1981), B
  32. Clash of the Titans (2010), D
  33. Iron Man (2008), A
  34. Office Space (1998), B+
  35. Meet the Robinsons (2007), B+
  36. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009), B+
  37. Hancock (2008), B+
  38. Fritz the Cat (1972), C-
  39. The Losers (2010), B-
  40. Kick-Ass (2010), B+
  41. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968), C+
  42. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), A
  43. Midnight Meat Train (2008), B+
  44. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1958), F
  45. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), B+
  46. The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005), B-
  47. Iron Man 2 (2010), A-
  48. The Grapes of Wrath (1940), A
  49. Cloak and Dagger (1984), C+
  50. The Odyssey (1997), B+
  51. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), A-
  52. The Pixar Story (2007), A
  53. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), C+
  54. Richard III (1995), B-
  55. Miss March (2009), D
  56. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), B+
  57. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), D
  58. Toy Story (1995), A
  59. Toy Story 2 (1999), A
  60. Red Dawn (1984), B+
  61. Day and Night (2010), B*
  62. Toy Story 3 (2010), A+
  63. Muppets From Space (1999), B-
  64. Jonah Hex (2010), D
  65. Monsters, Inc. (2001), A
  66. Zardoz (1974), C
  67. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), B-
  68. Predators (2010), B
  69. Laserblast (1978), F (MST3K riff), B
  70. Better Than Chocolate (1999), C
  71. Alice in Wonderland (2010), C+
  72. Inception (2010), A
  73. DC Showcase: Jonah Hex (2010), B*
  74. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), B
  75. The Beginning of the End (1957), F (MST3K Riff-B+)
  76. Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith (2008), B
  77. Let the Right One In (2008), B+
  78. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), F (MST3K Riff-A)
  79. I Accuse My Parents (1944), F (MST3K Riff-B)
  80. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), C
  81. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), B
  82. A Wink and a Smile (2008), B
  83. Fame (2009), B-
  84. Water Lillies (2007), B
  85. Jennifer’s Body (2009), B
  86. Sex Drive (2008), B+
  87. Dead and Gone (2007), D
  88. Dead Snow (2009), A-
  89. Vampire Killers (2009), B+
  90. Netherbeast, Incorporated (2007), B
  91. The Zombie Diaries (2006), C
  92. Survival of the Dead (2010), B
  93. I Sell the Dead (2008), B+
  94. Saw VI (2009), B-
  95. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), A
  96. The Wolfman (1941), B+
  97. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943), B
  98. Werewolf of London (1935), D
  99. She-Wolf of London (1946), D
  100. Due Date (2010), B
  101. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010), B+
  102. Tangled (2010), B
  103. Tron (1982), B
  104. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), A+*
  105. Prep and Landing: Operation Secret Santa (2010), B+*
  106. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), F; MST3K Riff, B+
  107. The Adventures of Huck Finn (1992), B
  108. Tom and Huck (1993), B
  109. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A+
  110. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), B-*
  111. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), B+*
  112. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), A*
  113. Frosty the Snowman (1969), A-*
  114. Tron: Legacy (2010), B+
  115. Gremlins (1984), A
  116. Santa Claus (1959), F; MST3K Riff, B
  117. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987), B*
  118. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), A
  119. It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002), B-
  120. A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008), B*
  121. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), F because I can’t give Qs; RiffTrax Riff, B
  122. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), A
  123. The Polar Express (2004), B-
  124. Love, Actually (2003), A
  125. A Christmas Story (1982), A
  126. Funny Games (2008), B
  127. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978), B+*
  128. Destino (2003), A-*
  129. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (2010), B
  130. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010), B-
  131. Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010), B
  132. Despicable Me (2010), B+
  133. The Crazies (2010), B-

*-Denotes Short Film

Last Updated on January 1, 2010.




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