Sunday, July 24, 2016

Adventure, Adversity and Amazing Automobiles

The word of the week is benign.

July 18 – Adventure!

I spent a good part of today out and about in the lovely weather.

My parents and I ended up unexpectedly driving me quite a few places to do things, which was really great of them to do. Especially where they cut down on a 1.5 hour bus ride to return the costumes my lady and I had rented for this past weekend! It was great to spend so much time with them as I haven't been able to much of late - plus the weather was perfect for just driving around town enjoying each other's company.

Once I was back home in the late afternoon, I spent a few hours relaxing and reading some of the sci-fi that has been accumulating in my place over the last year but I haven't really had all that much inclination to dig into.


In the evening, my sister and I watched The Adventures of Baron Muchausen, a glorious film released in 1988 and set in the Age of Reason. It's a Terry Gilliam film( of Monty Python fame )and it's a fantastical adventure that's a feast for both the mind and the eyes. Much like two of Gilliam's other films that I love( Time Bandits and Brazil )The Adventures of Baron Muchausen delights at every step, when it doesn't drive home the despair of reality's mundaneness. There's also a nicely-done retrospective here if you're not familiar with the film.


If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend watching it on Blu-ray if at all possible as the visuals will blow your mind - even on laserdisc, they're really quite incredible and I may pick up the Blu-Ray one of these days on sale just because of the visuals.


July 19 – Stranger Things

Dang it, another must-watch show I have to watch this year? I still haven't seen the sixth season of Game Of Thrones...!

Well, as shows go, apparently Stranger Things is a true delight, like the old Eerie Indiana ratched up by a factor of ten - that I can take! It also stars Winona Ryder:


Being rather busy this week being on vacation, I had to set this show aside for now, as I think I'll enjoy it even more with an appreciative audience to watch it with - who else but my lady? Though I think my sister will appreciate it too:

A love letter to the supernatural classics of the 80's, Stranger Things is the story of a young boy who vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.

Now, I loved Super8, which has some of the best 80's set-dressing I've ever seen, even compared to some 80's films! I really dig the nostalgia factor inherent in Stranger Things, and I can't wait to spend a few weekends watching 2-3 episodes in a row: my version of 'binge-watching' that lets my brain process everything. I'm not one to overload myself by trying to watch a whole season all at once, and I also think that's a disservice to the creators: there's a lot of care put into each episode( for most shows, anyway )so why not enjoy them at a more lreisurely pace?

Unless you can't wait until the next episode: that I understand too.


July 20 – D&D in Tinseltown?

Well, well... is Hollywood actually getting smarter these days?

I know, I never thought I'd have said that either, but it seems that while commercial success is the driving force oftentimes for filmmakers, others are turning back to what everyone should realize is the core of entertainment success: Story.


Which is why more and more of those who are in charge of getting things done in Hollywood are playing Dungeons & Dragons: it sharpens their storytelling skills like almost no other activity - as I well know for my own childhood:

It’s easy to see the game’s appeal for Hollywood’s creative class. What is acting, after all, if not a highly tuned form of role-playing? And lots of writers and directors honed their craft as youngsters by pretending to rescue half-naked fairy princesses from the clutches of evil wizards. Pendleton Ward, 34, says D&D was a huge influence in creating Adventure Time, his trippy Cartoon Network fantasy set in the postapocalyptic Land of Ooo (“I like how monsters in D&D are fully realized, with instincts and natural habitats and cultures,” he says). The same goes for David Benioff, 45, Weiss’ fellow Game of Thrones showrunner, who acknowledges how much his teenage D&D adventures taught him about basic storytelling. “I had a regular game with the Feinberg brothers,” he recalls of his adolescence in New York. “The whole campaign must have lasted four years.” During those marathon get-togethers, Benioff developed an ear for hooking audiences. “If the scenarios didn’t work and the Feinbergs got bored, I’d need to recalibrate.”

Could it be that the future movers and shakers of Hollywood might actually be good storytellers and that will translate into better productions?

One can only hope, but if I could wave a magic wand and cast a spell...


July 21 – Aliens Anniversary

Looks like it wasn't game over, after all.

30 years ago today, my 13-year-old self didn't know it but an action-packed science-fiction adventure was awaiting in the theaters for me to see.


The sequel to the tense and atmospheric movie Alien was of course, Aliens, directed by James Cameron of Terminator fame. At the time, I recall thinking that the idea of hunting aliens with anything other than special acid-resistant suits was silly, but after seeing the film I was willing to forgive them this point as it was just so much fun to watch... and re-watch as the years went by.

I own the first three films on laserdisc( the third I'll probably never watch again, as I think the story choices it made really stink )and I'll likely pick up the 30th anniversary edition coming out this September on Blu-ray... just because.


I've also picked up some small memorabilia over the years, such as a die-cast dropship, APC( two, actually ) plus a few action figures, a poster, and even made my own USCM costume which I wore to Comicon earlier this year:


Did I mention I really love this film?

I'm really pleased that so many other people still enjoy it as much as I do, to the point where there's quite a few USCM chapters who kit up and get out to various events to show their enthusiasm for Aliens.

It's not just another bug hunt, y'know.


July 22 – Not Funny

What if Donald Trump's entire campaign was a joke gone bad?

That's the premise of the 9-minute video below, as presented by Cracked.com - a magazine I read back in the 80's right along with Mad, as much for their zany artwork as their humour.

The video's worth a watch in its entirety( thanks for posting it to FBook, Matt L2K! )as it's a satirical journey following a joke gone really, really bad... made all the more poignant by the fact that Trump's now been made the presdential candidate for the US this election year:


If that's not the ultimate bad joke, then I don't know what is.


July 23 – More Adventure!

All I did for much of today( and yesterday )was relax, read my first novel while making notes for the next draft and switch that up with critiquing chapters for this coming week.

In the evening,a few friends took my lady and I out for a belated birthday dinner to John's Place, which was surprisingly empty: it's usually quite crowded, but we didn't complain. We enjoyed their company as well as the scrumptious always-fresh-baked herb bread( I can never get enough! )before dinner was over.

The laserdisc movie tonight? The Rocketeer!


Released 25 years ago this summer, this is a film that I truly love. I have always wondered why it didn't catch on, as it's as a pure adventure film as the Indiana Jones series, which also took their inspiration from the film serials of the 1930's and 1940's. My lady commented repeatedly all the little touches that were layered into the film that made it seem far more relatable and believable a piece than the usual Hollywood adventure film, to which I agreed wholeheartedly. Influenced by such fictional characters as Doc Savage and The Shadow, this film is all about the simple battle of good versus evil, which is always a story worth telling.

Incredibly, a GREAT retrospective essay looking back at The Rocketeer was posted just a month ago at RogerEbert.com and whoa, it's worth a read! I had no idea that the film was based on the Rocketeer comic created in 1982 which caught the imagination of many in Hollywood who gave it the moment I needed to be put into production. Nor did I know that Harlan Ellison himself was a fan, which is a huge endorsement in my books!


As the quote above shows, the Rocketeer was well ahead of its time and it's a shame that it didn't garner the praise that it so well deserved back when it was released in 1991. The success of modern comic-book films such as The Avengers and Ant Man all owe a great deal to The Rocketeer, and I'm grateful that it helps pave the way for the current cornucopia of comic-book films being released.


July 24 – A Thousand Deuces!

Sunshine and classic cars area always a great combination.

After breakfast today, my lady and I went to see Northwest Duece Days, a huge event being held here in Victoria July 22-24th. The weekend weather was perfect for it and we arrived downtown around 10am, the official start of the show.


Holy bleep, but there were a lot of people! Not to mention huge numbers of incredible custom classic vehicles. We did a tour around the Empress Hotel area, seeing a few hundred cars, then headed towards the Parliment buildings, where I got this great shot:


Then we walked, and walked, and walked some more... to the point where both our sets of feet hurt, as we'd covered nearly 10,000 steps / 5 miles in the hot sun. We got to see most of the rest of the cars, but after a few hours we were pretty much done and the crowds hadn't become much thicker in the interim: estimates put the numbers at around 100,000 people in the downtown core, which doesn't sound so bad unless you're trying to make your way through them all. Fortunately, the 1100+ cars were spread out enough that it wasn't particularly mad at anyone area, but we got out of there all the same after seeing our fill.

After lunch, I got home around 2 PM and basically cooled off for the rest of afternoon, as I had definitely absorbed a little bit too much solar heat despite my hat and sunscreen. I am pleased that I'm able to figure out nowadays why my heart rate is often times higher than normal: one solid reason is always when I'm slightly overheated and while there's no quick fix to that, cool drinks, rest and fans did the trick today. I also kept falling asleep while trying to critique several pieces for this Tuesday night's group session, but that was no reflection on the quality of the work... just the time spent walking all over the place today in the hot sun.


Today's the last day of my vacation and I'm taking it easy, after writing the blog in stages on and off in the evening. It's been a good vacation in that I'm feeling relaxed and balanced mentally, ready to head back to the day job this week while keeping in mind that my REAL work still awaits in the evenings: finishing the edits on my novel's fourth draft, then getting back to writing the rest of the second novel AND getting geared up for all the other related things to do to get my writing in the hands of those people who can Make It Happen.