Archive for June, 2013

Roaming, Wherever on MVM

It seems that I have been remiss in featuring some Metallica here. A quick search tells me it’s been close to two years since the last time I had one of their videos. Let’s fix that, shall we?

To me, this was one of their stronger singles from the “Black” album (yes, I would rate it higher than Sandman because of the wanderlust feature). I knew this one had become huge when it was used as opening music for a couple of NBA Finals games… I think it was the year it was Bulls vs Suns.

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Nobody’s Hero on MVM

I’ve had this week’s selection before, but not as a MVM selection, and it’s been over two years ago, so here we go.

I’ve been pretty up front about being a Rush fan. I first got turned on to them around 1991-92, after Roll the Bones was out. I was given dubbed tape copies (pulled from CDs) for several of their “bigger” albums – Moving Pictures, 2112, and Roll The Bones, among a few others.

Counterparts was the first of their albums that I got while it was still “new” – as in, recently released. I remember going to the PX on base, and being surprised to find it in the “Sight and Sound” section, in the long box sleeves that many CDs used to come in. Surprised, I say, because these were the pre-internet days, and just about the only way to find out if any new albums were out – especially for a high school kid – was to actually go to a “record” store.

I remember listening through the album, and latching onto Nobody’s Hero song as one of my favorite tracks. First, because the arrangement is so different from most of their cannon… Alex’s acoustic work makes the verses lighter, a nice counter to the content of the lyrics.

Almost twenty years later, I still think it’s one of their most powerful songs.


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A Game of Thrones link collection…

In my recent browsing of io9 (I’m thinking I may need to add this to one of my “go to” sites at this point), I stumbled across several pieces about GRRM & GoT…

This is the point where I out myself as still under a rock. I have not yet read any of the books, nor have I watched any of the episodes (although I own seasons 1 & 2 on Blue-Ray – it’s not exactly the best choice of material to put in front of 15-month old eyeballs).

First up… “10 Sources that inspiredGame of Thrones
I like this one simply because it addresses the notion of “Where do ideas come from?” Anyone over the age of 10 that has thought that question and hasn’t figured out the answer is “everywhere” should get a healthy dose from reading this one. And history. It’s interesting to consider how much we, as writers, can ape actual historical events and mine them for story threads.

Next, “Quotes about Writing“… One gem:

I’ve always said there are – to oversimplify it – two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up.

It’s a nice way to reframe the “Plotser/Pantser” discussion.

And Finally, “Some other questions when Dance of Dragons was coming out“:

All the major things have been planned since the beginning, since the early 90s, the major deaths and the general direction of things. Obviously, the details and the minor things have been things that I’ve discovered along the way, part of the fun of writing the books is making these discoveries along the journey. But the general structure of the books has been in my head all along.

It’s always a tightrope, writing — you do have to set things up. You don’t want them to come out of nowhere, out of left field. You do want to foreshadow them. But you don’t want the developments to seem predictable. If everybody knows what’s coming two books before it comes, then it loses all its impact. That’s the tough part. There’s no easy answer to that. You just do what you can.


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Holy Crap… a new Pegg/Frost/Wright movie!

Why am I just now hearing about this? The new film, called The World’s End hits theaters this summer, August 23 here in the states. If you’ve been out of the loop for a while and the names above don’t register, this is the first film they’ve all done together since Hot Fuzz.

I followed a link from the io9 rabbit hole this morning to discover this post, which includes:

Among other samples of character-themed movie posters. Not only is Nick Frost in it, but so is Martin Freeman.

Yeap. I think I have another movie on my list of things to be on the look out for this summer.

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Hauntings… sort of

I’m not, by general nature, a horror person. Or am I?

I don’t do overt horror movies if I can at all help it.  My older sister suckered me in to watching Poltergeist (the first one) with her, so she wouldn’t have to watch it alone. I’ve seen some of the 80’s standards, of course (some of the Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets) and even Screams, but many of the other franchises? Not so much.

I’ve found, however, that I don’t seem to mind horror elements in my fiction. Sometimes, I even find myself thinking of those sorts of stories myself.

Which is where this is going… While I was working on the last post, I noticed another piece that tickled my fancy, especially because I sarted writing a story a few years ago that elements of the asylums mentioned could play a role in.

Wth descriptions like:

On the grounds of the hospital sat the Gaebler Children’s Center, which many of its former residents have described as being akin to a prison, with the children strictly disciplined and frequently sedated.


…a patient who had been strapped down for so long that his skin had begun to grow over his restraints. Other patients were chained up while naked for months at a time.

How can you not think of a horror story? Follow the link to the article to see some of the pictures and read about them for yourself. There are even some video clips (long photo slideshows). 

Really… go get your creepy on.

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Lessons from Iain Banks…

While I’ve not made much progress in Phlebas yet, one of my fellow Seton Hill folks shared an article over on Facebook. While I have gotten to the point that I get seven shades of twitchy anytime someone puts “Rules” and “Writing” in close proximity to each other (they’re more like guidelines, anyway)… There is a lot to consider in the article.

A few things that I found myself noddingg in agreement with:

3. Never give your protagonist a simple motivation

4. History will fuck you up

10. The consequences of your adventurous episode will alter somebody else’s entire world

11. There is a definition for evil, after all.

For full explanations of those, and others, follow the link above… it will be worth your time.

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A Little Lazy on MVM

John Scalzi recently shared this version of the video, and I laughed so much when I watched it that I had to do the same. I think you’ll be able to tell why pretty quickly… There are days when the sentiment just seems to fit (not so much when there’s a 15-month old in the house), and I’ve enjoyed the song when I’ve heard it on the radio, so happy combination.


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Thoughts about loss, a little in the abstract…

If you are in any way inclined towards Science Fiction, no doubt that unless you’ve been either living under a rock for the last few months – or just been in some way living a disconnected life and are just rejoining the rest of us – you probably heard that Iain (M) Banks had terminal cancer. His announcement went public back in April with the prognosis of “maybe a year.”

Two months. He passed away earlier today.

Now here’s where everything gets wonky and abstract, for me. On the one hand, that’s about the same window of time that elapsed from the time my father was diagnosed (lung cancer) to when he died… 

Banks also has a new book about to come out – his last – later this month. Reports indicate he had received his author’s copies, so he was at least able to behold the final product.

As a (still developing) writer, there is a sense of loss that the community just got a little smaller, especially to read some of the thoughts by the writer’s I’ve been reading the last few years, like Neil Gaiman or Charles Stross – two of the multitude of writers I consider myself trying to steer by.

And I have yet to read any of Banks’s novels. I picked up an ebook version of Consider Phlebus some time ago, a featured “Book of the Day” sort of deal. The description looked interesting, reviews were good and it felt right up my alley. I added it to my stack without thinking too much about it until I read the announcement in April. I connected the dots – oh, that book – with the intention of bumping it up on my list.

But I hadn’t, yet.

Now I think I’m going to. I’ve got about six other books that I am in various stages of reading, and I’m about to add a seventh. 

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Stupid Writer Tricks…

Cribbing the idea from a post I recently saw at Chuck Wendig’s site

He list’s ten things… while I’m sure at some point I will find myself agreeing with almost all of the items on the list, there are two that I’m alreadyfully on board with (and a couple of others that I’m sort of on the fence about)…

The Tiniest Outline Of Them All: The last 50-100 words you write at the end of your day should be a note to yourself detailing just what the fuck you should write tomorrow.

Yeap. Unless I have a come to the end of a moment and what follows is obvious, I can’t suggest this one enough. In the middle of an arc when your brain goes to mush? Write what you’re thinking the direction might be to jump start the next session. This is what James Scott Bell calls the “Headlight” method.

The WTF Code: Sometimes you’re writing and you hit a part in the story where you’re just like, “Nope, no fucking idea what happens here…”

I started doing this after reading an essay by Cory Doctorow. I adopted the “[TK – (note here)]” code Doctorow describes just because it allows me to get words on the page if I can’t remember a name or detail that I wrote earlier, or not worry about getting lost in research for a potentially complicated moment that will need some planning before it gets written.

It’s a good list, and given time I’m sure other tricks can be added, like those listed in the comments over there. Go check them out.

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From the Block… Why We Write…

I’ve been reading Lawrence Block’s collection The Liar’s Bible (a collection of articles he wrote for Writer’s Digest in the early-mid 80’s)…

One of the pieces, he indirectly answers the question whay writers write. It’s something I’m thinking of hanging over the computer, so I figured I’d share it here, too.

For those of us who were born to write fiction, anything else is a compromise. That’s no guarantee that we have the requisite talent, nor is prowess in an allied field, but unless we try, unless we give it all we have, we’ll never know if we could do it.

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