Friday, December 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes Vol. 48

Again hosted by This Ain't the Lyceum.

Since my life this week has mostly amounted to work, Christmas shopping, and worrying about Christmas shopping, I decided to do something different this week. I brainstormed a few potential opening lines for stories and thought I'd share them with you. Enjoy!

1.               It had been centuries since any man had seen the sun.

2.               It all started one morning when I woke up to find a giant snake in my bed.
      “Wake up,” it ordered. “We have a lot of work to do.”
3.               “Now before you start, like me just say that it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
                  Laz couldn’t remember how many times Jeb had said those exact words just after getting them both killed. The sad thing was that this time it really had.
4                 The Myers House had stood empty for nearly twenty years. Or rather, it had not been lived in for that long. Whether it had ever been empty was doubtful.

5.                 Jill awoke in the middle of a darkened room. The only light was a harsh, single bulb hanging overhead, casting a small cone of light about her and revealing nothing of her surroundings. Her wrists, elbows, ankles, knees, and chest were tightly bound to a straight-backed metal chair, and her mouth had been sealed with duct-tape.
                  So far, so good, she thought.

6.                 Recent evidence has indicated that, of all the people you might pass on any given night, one out of every thousand isn’t actually there. In less populated areas, the rate might rise to one in every hundred.

7.                 Prof. Julius F. Krupt was a legend in the field of Applied Demonology, known just as much for his biting, sarcastic wit as for his terrifying work on new forms of ritual blood-sacrifice.

Friday, December 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes vol. 47

Hosted by This Ain't the Lyceum

1. Since I'm tired and cranky, this week's 7 Quick Takes are going to be even quicker than normal, consisting mostly of wry comments that have occurred to me over the week and which I subsequently wrote down.

2. I hate those vocal phone menus. You know the thing: Creepily Cheerful Computer Voice: "Hello! Welcom to ATT! Please state what you are calling about...I'm sorry. I did not understand that. Please state what you are calling about."
Apparently, the idea is "Let's make sure the caller is as irritated and angry as possible before we let him talk with our staff."

3. Mulicultural demonstrations (i.e. those stupid 'long list of holidays' greetings) only say that you personally couldn't care less about any of these religions and would prefer if no one else did either. It's vapidity with a smile.

4. Nowadays when someone identifies as a 'non-conformist' they usually mean "I would have been a non-conformist if I had lived four or five decades ago."

5. Ever hear the injunction "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"? I suppose that after you've done that, you'd logically then have to comfort the afflicted who used to be comfortable and afflict the comfortable who used to be afflicted. It seems to me we could skip a step.

6. Since everyone's commenting on the new Star Wars trailer, here's my summary: The girl on the awkward speeder-thing is really cute, I think that 'cross-beam lightsaber' is cool (lightsabers were never a practical weapon, people; just roll with it), and whatever else it can't possibly be worse than the prequels. In sum, looks like it could be good.
       Aside: is it weird that I now think of Mark Hamill primarily as the voice of the Joker rather than as Luke Skywalker? As in "Oh, yeah; the guy who voiced the Joker was also in Star Wars."

7.  Quote of the Week:
(the other characters are rebuking Lee for resorting to violence)
Bill: “I see your point, but may I remind you that I’M BRUCE F***ING LEE!?”
-Rifftrax: Fists of Fury

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TCM Remembers

I always love TCM's in memoriam films, and this year's especially good.

Lots of great performers passed this year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes Vol. 46

1.     Whew! Lot happened in the last couple weeks. Went down to Florida with the family to attend a friend’s wedding. It was a very long trip, but a lot of fun (the drive was broken up by visits to my aunt in Atlanta), and the first time my immediate family has all been together in the same place for several years. Also, my 3 year old niece completely dominated the dance floor at the reception and didn’t quit until sometime after I’d gone to bed (I’m not really the dancing type). She needed a couple days to recover from her several hours of non-stop dancing (no, seriously; that’s not an exaggeration).

2.     For the ride home I brought my audio copy of Hard Magic to listen to in the car. My parents seem to have enjoyed it, though perhaps not as much as I’d hoped they would. My mom in particular was a little put off by the violence and language (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was actually the less gory of the two series I’ve read by Correia. Guy likes his blood). But on the whole, it was a success.

3.     On the subject of violence, the gore in Correia’s books always struck me as being less disturbing than the violence in, say, the Odd Thomas series. There’s more of it, but it’s played with a lighter touch so I don’t find it as cringe-inducing. Maybe it’s because of the surrounding context (pulpy adventure story vs. spiritually-aware horror-comedy), or because there’s kind of a boyishly gleeful tone in Correia that would be inappropriate in Koontz. Cheerfully over-the-top is more palatable than deliberately horrifying, even when the former has more actual violence than the latter (see also: Evil Dead 2). So, a gun-fight involving dozens of people who then turn into horrifically shambling zombies is less stomach-churning than killing two or three people. It all depends on what tone you’re aiming for.

4.     Well, I did it; I made 52,000 words before the end of November. Go me! The book is still nowhere near finished, unfortunately (I’m a little hazy on how the whole middle section should play out), but at least I made the word count. My plan is to work on it some more this weekend and then maybe start posting either next Friday or the following one. If nothing else, that should motivate me to keep working at it.

5.     Last night was Rifftrax Live: Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a Mexican Christmas film that they’d previously riffed on MST3k (though using a heavily-edited copy). It tells the story of how Santa delivers presents to all the good boys and girls of the world (read: maybe four or five houses in Mexico City) while engaging in a battle of wits with Lucifer’s right-hand devil, Pitch, who intends to foil Santa’s gift-giving so that he (Pitch) can rule the world. Santa is aided by the magical items given him by Merlin the wizard and the god Vulcan and by the quick-thinking of his young second-in-command, Pedro, who monitors his journey from Santa’s crystal palace floating in space above the North Pole. Meanwhile, poor little Lupita desperately wants a doll of her very own and engages in a struggle for her soul against the temptations of Pitch, who tries to get her to steal a doll instead of waiting for Santa to bring her one.
I did not make any of that up; it’s all actually in the film. And I didn’t even mention the three bad little boys who plot to kidnap Santa and make him their slave, or the fact that Santa’s sleigh and reindeer is a giant wind-up toy that laughs evilly when he starts it, or that instead of elves Santa employs children representing a dozen different nationalities to labor in his sweatshop, or the nightmare sequence involving giant, dancing, two-faced dolls, or…well, you get the idea. The movie is ridiculously bizarre, and would be pretty hilarious even without Mike, Kevin, and Bill, but they pretty much knocked the riffing out of the park. The sequence of Santa taking off had me gasping. Then there was “Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Paradise Lost” and “Did Daddy really expect to find work at 4 AM on Christmas morning?” and “Meanwhile, the other demons are causing a terrible famine in Africa.” So, yeah; it was a painfully hilarious experience.

6.     A Thought: There has been, to my knowledge, one non-isolated society in history (Okinawa) that voluntarily disarmed. The result was first that it was annexed by two empires at the same time and second that it developed one of the most effective styles of hand-to-hand combat in history.
                  The moral: If you beat your sword in a ploughshare, sooner or later you’ll have to learn to fight with plowshares. 

7.     Concluding Quote:
(as the main character explains how all the information he’s telling the audience can be found at the library)
Mike: “Most of these shorts should just be titled ‘Go Get a Book.’”
-Rifftrax: Get that Job