Dancing with Ideas

April 7th, 2015

Back in 2007 I came up with an idea for a fantasy story called “The Dance Lesson,” involving a wizard and a royal court’s dancing teacher — probably a short story, but it might reach novelet length. It could, I thought, be set in the world of the Walasian Empire, as seen in A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station, which had not yet seen print when I came up with it.

But then I put it aside and didn’t worry about it. I never actually forgot it, but I didn’t do anything with it, either. I knew the central characters and their situation and the ending, but I hadn’t worked out the details and didn’t think it was worth the effort.

And then on Monday, April 6, 2015, almost eight years later, while sprawled on the couch watching TV, I suddenly knew the rest of the plot. It popped into my head without warning, completely unbidden. I could write the whole story any time, possibly in a single sitting.

But I need to figure out where to set it. It could be in the world of the Walasian Empire, but not in Walasia itself; the political set-up is all wrong. It would have to be in either Ermetia or the Cousins, probably the latter.

I could probably jam it into the Small Kingdoms of Ethshar, but it would be a bad fit.

The world where my short story “Keeping Up Appearances,” in one of Esther Friesner’s Chicks in Chainmail anthologies, would work. Or I could create a new setting; a pretty generic medieval fantasy setting would work fine.

Maybe I’ll just start writing and see whether it decides where it wants itself to go.

Trailer Park

March 30th, 2015

There were five trailers with “Cinderella,” starting with “Tomorrowland.” It’s a pretty good trailer for a film that looks moderately intriguing — which I hope is the movie they actually made. Sometimes the trailer is utterly misleading. Anyway, I may want to see this one.

It appears, by the way, to have much less to do with the Tomorrowland area at Disneyland than “Pirates of the Caribbean” had to do with the ride.

Next was “Inside Out,” the new Pixar feature. I’ve seen stuff about this film before, and thought it might be Pixar’s first outright flop, because the premise is pretty outre, and the central characters are by definition. The trailer, though, has me reconsidering — it looks interesting, and they’re clever with those one-dimensional characters. Still not sure it’ll work, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Pixar.

“Pan,” on the other hand, is a prequel to “Peter Pan,” and it did not look like a good idea to me. Unless it gets amazing buzz, I’ll pass. (I recently re-watched Disney’s 1952 “Peter Pan,” by the way, and would be willing to comment on it if anyone’s interested.)

“Hotel Transylvania 2″ — okay, I didn’t see the first one. Ads and trailers, yes, but not the actual movie. This probably means I’m not the target audience. Besides, I’ve never really liked the notion that all the classic movie monsters are pals, and in general I prefer my traditional monsters to be monsters, not just weird-looking nice guys.

That said, the trailer is a single complete episode — don’t know whether it’s even in the actual movie, or it’s like the trailers for “The Incredibles” that were new footage that conveyed the mood and concept without using real scenes from the movie. Either way, the trailer does manage to be fairly clever and moderately funny; some of the comic timing is just perfect. But I still don’t plan to see the movie.

And finally, “Minions” — jeez, where do I even start? Gru’s entire world in the “Despicable Me” movies is just so utterly bizarre, and here we have Gru’s minions looking for a master before Gru is even born — i.e., 1968 — and winding up at a villains convention in Florida…

And at least in the trailer, they use music that’s actually from 1968, by the Doors and Jimi Hendrix.

If you loved Gru’s minions, here’s an entire movie about them. What more could you want? I suspect they work better as supporting characters, but who knows? I will say they got a lot of stuff right. Since Julie didn’t like “Despicable Me” anywhere near as much as I did we never saw the second one, and probably won’t see this, but I admit a sneaking wistfulness about that.

We’ve been to two movies so far this year; one had four trailers and the other five, where for the past several years six or even seven was the norm. Are the theaters cutting back?

Movies That Don’t Suck: Cinderella

March 30th, 2015

Julie decided we should go see Disney’s live-action “Cinderella” — apparently it was getting good buzz at her office.

So we went and we saw it, and it was pleasant — a good movie, but not a great one. Very well cast, and the production design was good, but don’t try to pin down the historical setting, as it’s simply seething with anachronisms. Clothing and architecture ranges from (I am not exaggerating) the 15th century to the late 1920s. I’d say the preponderance of the evidence puts it late in the first half of the 19th century.

I’ve seen several versions of the Cinderella story recently, for one reason or another, and I’d have to say this was one of the better ones, but it never really surprised me. There were several good bits, but no “wow” moments, though the Fairy Godmother’s magic was some impressive CGI.

There are several nods to the animated version, but this really is not the same. Nor is it exactly Perrault’s version, though the credits list both his story and the earlier Disney as sources.

There are CGI mice with the same names as the mice in the animated film, and when they first appeared I thought, “Oh, dear — it’s a straight remake with CGI instead of ink and paint.” But it’s not. The mice and Lucifer, the stepmother’s cat, are there, but they aren’t involved in anything like the same ways. The stepmother and stepsisters are not the same characters — similar, of course, but not the same. Helena Bonham Carter is a very different fairy godmother.

Most of the human characters are given significantly more depth than in the animated film. I suppose that’s easier to do with real actors.

Anyway, it’s a successful adaptation, but not the sort of masterpiece that would make future versions pointless.

On the other hand, it came with a cartoon before the feature, and I loved the cartoon. “Frozen Fever” is a sequel to “Frozen,” apparently set not more than a couple of months after the end of the film, and I thought it was lots of fun. I laughed out loud a couple of times, and grinned pretty much all through it.

So Much for Webbing

February 10th, 2015

Okay, nobody was interested in the website updating, so I stopped posting about it.

Quick note, though: I’ve finished with all the HTML files from 2007 or earlier. I’m partway through the only one from February of 2008; when that’s done nothing on the site will be more than seven years out of date.

DC: Deteriorating Continuity

February 6th, 2015

So today I read a piece about DC Comics revamping their line.

It’s a mixed bag, but over all I don’t think it looks good. Prez, fergodssake! And it’s pretty much all rehashes and revivals of old superhero stuff; why is there nothing new, nothing where I say, “Hey, that sounds cool!” or “That looks like fun!”?

(Okay, I don’t know what Dark Universe or Mystic U or Doomed is, but I’ll bet they’re derived from some existing properties, and they all sound pretty grim.)

Wait, I looked it up — Dark Universe is just a revamp of Justice League Dark. Bleah.

Is there anything here that will draw in new readers? Anything that will appeal to kids? Not that I see.

At least there’s some humor, in Section Eight — at least, I hope that’s intended to be funny, since the characters originally appeared as comic relief in Hitman many years ago, a series that, despite the title, had many funny moments and was generally enjoyable. I confess I’m looking forward to seeing Dogwelder again. (And yes, his name is an accurate description.)

But mostly it’s spin-offs, yet more riffs on characters and concepts originating with Batman and Justice League, more grimdark. Why do they think we need more of that stuff?

I dunno, maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m missing something, but this all just looks like More of the Same. Pfui.

P.S. I see DC’s announcement says Bizarro, Bat-Mite, and Prez are intended to be humorous. They don’t mention Section Eight on that list. This does not encourage me.

The Music Will Never Stop 87

February 4th, 2015

Right, so, next tape in the stack is labeled “Dean Groves Music.” Dean Groves was a guy I knew back in high school, a couple of years older than me; his sister Buffie, a year younger than me, was a friend I knew from several places, and I knew Dean through Buffie.

I don’t know where this tape came from, but it’s about an hour and a half of Dean and his guitar. I think the songs are all his own compositions. There are thirty-one of them. I know the actual title of precisely one, though there’s another I can make a good guess at.

The quality here — well, it’s all a bit muddy, though how bad varies. On the other hand, it’s all definitely music — you can hear the melodies and everything. Lyrics take some effort, which is why I haven’t suited titles to anything yet. I won’t be deleting anything. I might try another pass, see if I can get cleaner sound.

Dean, it turns out, has a Facebook account — I know it’s the right Dean Groves from his friends list, which is mostly people I knew, or knew of, in high school. I’ve left him a message about the tape. We’ll see what (if anything) he says.

Why is there Webbing?

January 23rd, 2015

Okay, I have updated the pages for The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard and the War Machines

Still don’t have the other two (artists and directory) done.

Haven’t done anything more with those new placeholders, either.

The next chunk, chronologically, is five files dated November 6, 2007. They’re all for novels — Split Heirs, The Lure of the Basilisk, The Rebirth of Wonder, Touched by the Gods, and Worlds of Shadow.

Yeah, fine, that last one’s a series, rather than a single novel.

Anyway, I don’t know how much work they need, but I’ve loaded them into my web editor.

Webbing On!

January 20th, 2015

I still haven’t finished with updates for The Cyborg and the Sorcerers or The Wizard and the War Machine, or two others — one I decided was just too much for now and put the placeholder back up with a few minor changes, and the other (about cover artists) is progressing bit by bit.

But I skipped ahead and did several more files. Except for those four, I’m now up to November 6, 2007. In the last three months of 2007, ending December 16, I did a pretty major update, so there’s plenty to do — but once I’m through this chunk things should speed up, at least for awhile.

I’ve spawned four new placeholders I’ll need to fill in eventually, for Nathan Archer, the Bound Lands, Carlisle Hsing, and Tom Derringer.

Webbing Winds On

January 15th, 2015

Workin’ on October 2007.

You know what I hate? When I realize I missed something obvious from a recent update. For example, I updated The Chromosomal Code and The Spartacus File earlier this week and only just now realized that I hadn’t added a link to Realms of Light to either of them — and even stupider, I had added links to Vika’s
Avenger
and Tom Derringer and the Aluminum Airship to the page for The Chromosomal Code, but not to the one for The Spartacus File that I did two days later.

Well, they’re fixed now.

I’m working on The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard & the War Machine. They needed some work. There’s no mention of the Wildside reprints…

Why Webbing?

January 13th, 2015

Updating my website is addictive. I keep trying to tell myself, “That’s enough for now, focus on something else,” and then think, “Oh, just one more…”

This is because I spent three years wading through all the placeholder files I put up on March 7, 2005. File after file, tracking down where a story had first been published and saying something about it — and then suddenly, on December 7, 2014, they were done, and I was updating existing stuff and talking about all sorts of different things and there were never more than maybe four or five files in a day, and I could just tear through months at a time.

Exhilarating!

I’ve gone from nine years and nine months back to seven years and three months since then. It’s wonderful.