Saturday, June 28, 2008

Going to Miami...

I'm off to Miami and a 4-day Caribbean cruise!

See ya, landlubbers!

P.S. Go see WALL-E. Omigod, it was the Schindler's List of Pixar--bleak and uplifting all at once. Not that I could ever bring myself to watch the whole thing through (Schindler's List, not WALL-E.)

I smell a Best Animated Film Oscar....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hey...High Concept really does work!

Hancock's initial trailer pitch:
Will Smith plays a feckless, uncouth superhero who must clean up his image to recapture the public's approval.

Hancock's new and improved trailer pitch:
Will Smith plays a feckless, uncouth superhero who must clean up his image to recapture the public's approval, but in his quest to become a kinder, gentler man, he's becoming mortal.

I was at a seminar recently about high concept writing, and realized it really does work. When I saw the first trailer for Hancock, I was all, "Meh, might be good on a matinee at Rainbow Cinema." But when I saw the newest commercial and heard this additional line about becoming mortal, I thought, "Hey, now, THAT'S a movie I want to see. "


It's the foundation for all good storytelling, goddamn it. I'm glad Hollywood marketing realized that.

Now to see if the movie is actually any good....

On a separate note, I saw The Incredible Hulk over the weekend. My review's pretty simple: better than the godawful first one. Liv Tyler spends most of the movie whispering "Bruuuuce" and "It's okay, you'll be okay"; Ed Norton is an okay Bruce Banner (but I don't really have a clue as to how he can be played--having never read the comics, I just can't really characterize his alter ego the way I do Peter Parker or Clark Kent); and the scenes filmed in Toronto on U of T campus and along Yonge Street really distracted me from the frenetic, explosive action. Still, fun. But not as good as Iron Man.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Darkest Pleasure...acknowledgment!

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter has thanked me and my colleagues in her latest book, The Darkest Pleasure!

That's me in the centre.

Yes, Gena Showalter is the author of the infamous The Nymph King. I've actually read the book previous to this one in the series called The Darkest Kiss, and it was pretty good.

Nothing like hot, sex-crazy immortal guys with paranormal powers and demons possessing their souls. Now go out and buy it.

(Ha! Now John and I are even!)

Monday, June 16, 2008




Thank you so much for your submission to the Tickle My Fantasy anthology. I’m sorry to tell you that your story was not selected. I had a lot of really great submissions, and it was a very, very tough decision. Ultimately, the stories I chose fit better with the direction I wanted to take the anthology.

I’m sorry I don’t have better news, but I thank you for thinking of Samhain, and I wish you the very best of luck with your writing.



Laurie M. Rauch, Editor
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.;
"It's all about the story.”

I'm not actually that surprised about this one. I didn't think my submission was up to snuff, though I'd worked pretty diligently on it for three months straight. But it was a fun (read: excruciatingly painful) learning process. And now I know I can write to deadline if need be.

*goes off to drown sorrows in a litre of iced tea*

Friday, June 13, 2008

Someone should make a movie of this starring Ewan McGregor

Just saw the Luminato production of Black Watch.

In a few words: hot Scottish guys in uniform, often stripping down to their skivvies, performing lots of beautiful non-gay choreography. Also, loud explosions, and lots of swearing in sexy Scottish brogue. And a bagpipe.

Oh, and there was some stuff about how crappy the Iraq War is.

P.S. The building got hit by lightning halfway through the show, busting the speakers, so they had to stop the production to reboot the sound equipment.

Good times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


A rundown of Shyamalan's The Last Airbender according to the big-screen preview (via Reuters):

  • A $250-million budget for three movies (mostly to be spent on CGI).
  • First movie to be released July 2, 2010.
  • Set to be shot in Greenland and Vietnam.
  • Shyamalan's having trouble dealing with a PG rating, since he's used to R.

More info on the movie here, here and here.

P.S. You'll notice the four elements icon--I'm gonna try to use that for any Avatar-related squeeness from now on, just so those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about can go, hey, there it is again...maybe I should start watching me summa dat dere show, eh?

Monday, June 09, 2008

FullMetal Review

To stave off Avatar withdrawal syndrome, I've been catching up on other series I've been meaning to watch and I finally finished FullMetal Alchemist, plus the movie Conqueror of Shamballa.

Overall thoughts regarding the series:

A great story concept with interesting, fleshed-out characters, both main and side, each of them chock full of flaws. Themes of morality, friendship, brotherhood, loyalty, and the alchemist's concept of "equivalent trade" are woven together to form a cohesive train of thought that steams through the overarching plot.

Edward Elric (blond kid in red and black) is a wonderfully whimsical and equally serious (read as: angsty) teenager scrabbling to become a fully realized avatar alchemist so that he can regain his younger brother's body, and his own arm and leg, lost while trying to perform human transmutation. His brother, Al, is the perfect sidekick, a sweet-voiced empty body of armor Robin to Ed's bionic Batman.

The two travel the world looking for the Philosopher's Stone, a quest that is both a real as well as a metaphorical one for the two youngsters who, at ages 15 and 13, are only just learning to become grown-ups despite their fantastic abilities and wide-ranging experience.

Episode by episode, it seems as if the Elric brothers are simply wandering from town to town and solving everyone's problems on their quest for the stone while catching Pokemon/mastering the four elements. But as the seasons and storyline progress, fate draws the net tight around everyone and everything the two alchemists have touched. The climax to this series is a worthwhile payoff, and the ensuing movie ties up the loose ends very satisfactorily.

For 51 episodes plus a movie, this was a worthwhile jaunt through a well-honed universe.

Okay, now the downside:

As with all anime, the English-subtitled version is usually better than the English dubbed versions. I watched the series with subtitles and the Conqueror of Shamballa in English dub. Still, I'm not sure either translation would have saved the overly introspective dialogue.

It seems the bane of manga storytelling is to explain everything ad nauseum rather than rely on the viewer/reader to figure it out on their own. Ed often launches into the details of how he beat his newest foe...while still fighting him. It's not exactly a convenient time to give a show and tell.

Additionally, given the age and maturity of Ed and his brother, the two do an awful lot of thinking and angsting when they're in the middle of a crisis. Either we're looking at two exceptionally sensitive and insightful young men, or the series is suffering from what I'd like to call "writer's ventriloquism" where a rational adult with greater conscience has to speak for the characters in order to drive the story/theme onwards.

I can happily say that episodes aren't spent powering up with "the last of my strength", though some tete-a-tetes have spanned over more than one episode for dramatic effect. And at least there aren't cards and numbers and glorified cockfights involved.

Actually, the fight scenes are usually good to watch, blending lots of hand-to-hand combat with martial arts and shiny sparkly alchemy. And the skills and powers of each character seem to be fairly consistent throughout.

And there's blood. Lots of blood. And crazy, messed-up monster animals that end up having a lot more soul than you'd think possible.

Still, an editor's hand at these 24-minute episodes (reduced to something like 20 minutes after the extensive opening and closing credits) would have saved us a season or more.

Best thing about the series:

These guys. Ed's cohorts among the military are a great bunch to watch, each with a very particular personality and niche in the storyline. They really make subtlety an art form, compared to Ed and Al's constant begrudging and mewling about the world's problems.

As "dogs of the military," they bring so many themes and issues to the front of the story, and endear themselves to us because, no matter how wrong the things they do are, they absolutely believe in what they do because they think the ends will justify the means. They're heroes and anti-heroes all at once, and we constantly want them to do what's right...but what's "right" gets so muddied, all you can hope for is guidance.

Also, I totally ship Mustang x Hawkeye (black-haired hottie in the centre and the blond chick.)

Psst...Keep your eye on Alex Louis Armstrong (big guy in the back). He's frickin' awesome.

Bottom line:

A great show, and well worth a couple weeks' viewing time. Definitely recommended for ages 14 and up.