Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Oh the Drama - Doesn't Matter if it's Fake

It's real. All real.


When it comes to story the mind doesn't care if something is real or not. It doesn't matter that Jon Snow never existed, and dragons are fake. It doesn't matter that Trump is clearly trolling you. The deep mind, the learning center, where narrative is processed, isn't critical. It is emotional. It makes emotional links because that's how we figure right and wrong. This is the essential evolutionary function of story, the figuring out of right and wrong, good and bad, safe or dangerous, do it or not.

The critical mind might know what's what, what's real and what's not. That's fine. But story, that's deeper.

The reality of it makes so little difference it's shocking. Charlotte Flair isn't really bashing those two Aussie nitwits in that picture. Daenerys isn't riding dragons around. Your favorite quarterback isn't a real hero. The person you voted for isn't actually a paragon of virtue, a crusader on your behalf. It's all fake. It's all kayfabe. None of it is real but none of that matters. We watch and we feel, that's what matters.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Venom - Movie Fun

Tom Hardy being awesome.

So I checked out the latest superhero flick, Venom. It was a lot of fun. It was messy, with an inconsistent tone, but for some reason it worked. Tom Hardy was playing it as a bit of a doof, which doesn't make sense if he is supposed to be this accomplished journalist, but for some reason that worked too.

It has your standard CGI fest big climactic battle, which is what you expect from a supers movie, but in other ways it swerves you. It defies expectations in a good way. Expect the girl to get back with the hero? Nope. Expect the love interest's new boyfriend to be a douche? Nope, he's actually pretty cool. These are the little things you'll notice, breaking of unnecessary tropes, that keeps the movie interesting.

I would describe this movie as a bit of a Shane Black style flick. A very dude bro buddy comedy/action thing. With alien symbiotes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

StoryCraft - Wrestling - Lynch v. Flair

Lynch and Flair kick the hell out of each other

So this weekend there was a title match between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. It was one for the ages, I loved every minute.

Yes, I know, wrestling is dumb. Usually. But once in awhile, a few times a year, it's great. And Becky Lynch versus Charlotte Flair was soooo great. This is what people live for, story telling and investment that has you screaming at the screen.

Emotional connection. That's the key. It doesn't matter your genre or medium. Get the audience invested in the characters, and you're golden. How do you do that? I dunno. It's hard.

But I can show you how the WWE did it with Flair/Lynch. I'll tell the story and maybe we'll learn something.

THE SET UP

For years, and up until recently, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair were besties. They came up through the roster together, trained together, had each other's back. An unbreakable duo. Over time, however, the relationship became strained. As Flair was winning titles, Lynch played second fiddle. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Then, earlier this year, Flair was injured. Her boob popped. Seriously, that's not kayfabe or storyline. One of her breast implants was damaged in a match and was leaking. She had to get it fixed, so she was out for awhile. The top of the mountain was clear, the throne empty.

Into that gap stepped the bestie, the side kick, Becky Lynch, determined to make a go of it, stepping out from Flair's shadow. And goddamn did she kick ass, running through the roster like a buzzsaw, earning a title shot in mid summer. She was just one win away, an easy win too against a sub-par champion named Carmella.

So Lynch's dreams were about to come true. Champion. Finally. After years of toil.

Then Charlotte Flair came back from injury.

THE TURN

Immediately, ex-champ Charlotte Flair was given a title shot. They added her to the very same title match where Becky Lynch was favored to win the title against Carmella. It became a triple threat match. Three women in the ring. First to get a pin wins.

And, of course, Flair gets the pin and takes the title. The crowd booed. Everyone in the arena, everyone watching at home, was hoping Lynch would take it. She'd worked so hard, struggled for so long, to have the rug pulled out from under her now was gut wrenching.

When Charlotte Flair, with her newly won title in tow, went to shake her friend's hand in a show of friendship and good sportsmanship, it happened. What we'd all been waiting for. Becky Lynch snapped, beating the holy hell out of Flair, leaving her former friend broken in the middle of the ring with her title.

The crowd went nuts. I did too. Lynch was no longer content with second fiddle. She wanted her her title shot. Demanded it. One on one. No bullshit getting in the way.

THE PAYOFF

This being wrestling, when a beef is set up like this it doesn't fester. It doesn't eat away for long, it gets settled. It gets settled in the ring. In this case, a last woman standing match at the all women's PPV, Evolution.

Now let me explain 'last woman standing'. It's basically a no hold's barred hardcore match. No pin falls, no count outs or submissions. The winner is the last one standing when the other can't get up. It's perfect to settle a feud.

A feud this well set up, taking years to grow, is a fine thing. It gets you invested in the match itself. Delivering a good show in the ring, however, is difficult. You have to match up the heat of the feud with the action in the ring. And this feud was so hot there's no real way you can do it justice with just any old scrap. It has to be epic, and violent.

And it was. The most violent women's match in history. They hit each other with kendo sticks, blasted each other through tables, whacked each other with chairs. They jumped off of ladders onto the announce table, and through it. They fought out into the crowd. At one point Flair had Lynch's legs bent up in a ladder. Flair moonsalted. Becky buried Flair under a huge pile of broken chairs and tables, only to have Flair come busting up out of them like a demon.

Finally, after more than 30 minutes of nonstop wall to wall insanity, Lynch power bombed Flair through a table for the win.

Lynch. Champ. Finally. I don't think my fat heart could have handled much more, it was that awesome.

EPILOGUE

So now what? Lynch is champ. She vanquished her friend. Is it over?

No. This is wrestling. It never ends. Don't think for a second Charlotte Flair is through, she'll be back. And Lynch will be waiting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Doctor Who - My First Time



I just watched the first episode of the new season of Dr. Who. I'm not sure how they count seasons, but this is the first season with the blonde lady doctor. Prior to this episode I had only watched the Dr. Who episode with Maisie Williams and the dude who played guitar. Apparently there were several with Maisie, but I only watched the first.

I liked this season opener quite a bit but I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. It seemed like a perfectly serviceable scifi show but I know quite a few people who hold it in the highest regard. I liked it enough that I'll probably watch a few more episodes. Maybe it grows on you. I'm sure I missed a ton of calls backs and in jokes.

The thing about taking on a new show is that I have so many great things to read, plus tons of other shows, that it's hard for something new to get into my regular rotation.

I figured there'd be internet drama because, you know, first lady doctor and all of that, but you don't get a sense of that if you ignore the internet and just watch the show. Searching for the image to put above this post I, of course, saw lots of links to the various dramalamas. It's important to avoid the lamas, I think, if you really want to enjoy a show.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

I Kinda Miss Martial Arts

Two Idiots
The other thing I'm a fan of, besides Science Fiction and Fantasy (and story telling in general) is combat sports. I'll watch sumo, professional wrestling, boxing, just about anything. I think the stories and conflicts generated are great, the conclusions satisfying.

Last weekend though, these two morons fought. It's frustrating to me. They are great athletes, tough guys, all of that, but they are missing one of the things that makes martial arts different from two thugs duking it out. That thing is respect, maybe. Maybe it's a humble bearing. A certain maturity. I dunno if I have the words, but whatever it is these guys don't have it.

This was the biggest MMA/UFC fight of all time, by a long shot. They topped 2.4 million buys if I'm not mistaken, breaking the previous record of 1.6 million. The lead up included McGregor's gang attacking a bus Khabib was on, and the aftermath saw Khabib jumping into the crowd and starting a post fight brawl that basically turned into a melee. Irish fans and Russian fans brawled all over Las Vegas that night.

There will always be trash talk in a competitive environment, there's no problem with that. This is something different. Something disgusting. I don't like it. But with sales numbers like that you are going to see more of it.

I'll leave with a final question. Seeing as this is the most successful way to market fights, how much of this extra curricular brawling is hype? Simple marketing? I mean, if you are rewarded for acting like a thug, why not embrace it? In wrestling it's called 'kayfabe'. It means 'be fake'. It means to stay in character so the fans can never see behind the curtain and see just how fake everything really is.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Endings - TV Serials and The Walking Dead

The Never Ending Story...minus Falcor


I'm a big fan of endings. When I watch a movie or read a book I can forgive some boring parts if it all builds up into a dynamite climax. You'll see this in my own writing. So when I watch television, especially endless serialized stories like The Walking Dead, I get left feeling empty after every episode.

Sometimes the show is so good the lack of a big ending doesn't bother me. Game of Thrones is this way. Other times a show is very episodic, meaning each episode is mostly self contained. Star Trek is that way, it's a weekly adventure that begins and ends on screen each episode. I think that's probably my favorite way to consume story in video format. The 1 hour self contained episode.

So what does this have to do with The Walking Dead? Well, the current season started up last week and I watched the first episode. It was well done, but I can't help but feel bored and frustrated when the episode ends. I want to KNOW what's going on, I want to KNOW where Negan is. I need the whole story and I need it now.

It seems over the years I'm getting more and more into the story closure, and more and more frustrated by the constant teasing out of bits for so long that when the pay off comes I've almost lost the thread of the narrative.

So I'll skip this season of The Walking Dead and watch it later all at once. Binge watch it. Or maybe not. There are so many great books, episodic shows and movies out there to enjoy there's no need to slog through countless hours of TV to find a good ending.

And when the final season of Game of Thrones comes out you'll see me saying the complete opposite. Ha!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Fire Flower Published on Amazon



Hey positive people, my new short story Fire Flower is now for sale on Amazon. 99 cents, it's about 15 pages or so. A nice quick read.

It's an epic fantasy story, though it seems to me the term 'epic' doesn't make sense for a short story. It's about two ladies living in a dangerous part of the woods. How do they survive? Are they witches? Well some rough dudes come to find out.

If you like the story leave a review. That's the best thing you can do for an author I think, besides buying the story. :-)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Missing around St. Helens


Okay so that's my buddy Bush, talking about his friend who is lost near Mount St. Helens.

If you are in that area, take a look around.

EDIT: They found him and he's fine. Yay!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Last Week's Promo Went Well

Quite a few people downloaded my short story, Fire Flower. At some point I will make it available to all, but for now it's just for that one promotion.

I'm feeling kinda nervous because I just emailed everyone to thank them for their interest in my story. It feels kinda spammy, but hey, if they like my work maybe they'll not mind. I'm also nervous sending out my email address to so many people. I'm sure no jack wagons will harass me though...lol?

If you get a chance check out my books on Amazon, I just changed a cover:

https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B01BQENQQI

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

BookFunnel Promo! Free Stuff!



I've put up a story for free in this BookFunnel thingy. Check it out, there are lots of fun stories there. Mine is called "Fire Flower".

Click here:
https://books.bookfunnel.com/summer-shorts-sampler/be456mwa6z


Friday, April 27, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Review



I really liked this movie, and for everyone who has been watching super flicks for years you'll probably like it too.

It's not a spoiler to say that this movie is about the Infinity Gauntlet, as the title suggests, and thus it's about Thanos. Thanos owns said gauntlet. And that's where the movie really shines, Thanos is a super cool bad guy, done really well here, and they made the great choice to center the movie around him.

Most of the big emotional downturns and payoffs involve the villain, and that makes this movie different than a lot of supers movies where the villain is a rage spewing backdrop to the quippy  heroes.

This movie can be a bit of a downer in parts, but that's okay, Thor: Ragnarok was also a downer and I really liked it.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Wrestlemania 34 - Charlotte Flair

The Queen

If you are a person of refined tastes you are into professional wrestling. If not, let me catch you up a bit. Charlotte Flair is the daughter of Ric Flair, the consensus greatest wrestler to ever live. People like Hogan and Andre, or Stone Cold, may have been better known, but ask any of them who the best is. It's Ric Flair every time.

So Charlotte's character is The Queen, and she has a ton of Ric Flair's old moves and mannerisms. There's the constant angle of trying to live up to her father, how to differentiate herself at the same time, and then she's attacked by her opponents for being nothing more than a daddy's girl. Like she didn't get anything on her own, no personal achievements, it was all handed to her.

Here's the best part though, she's probably the best worker in the game. In this weekend's Wrestlemania (WWE's biggest annual event) she not only hit a moonsault (hardest move in wrestling, at least the hardest that's normally done) but she pulled a spanish fly off the top rope (flip, with your opponent, flying through the air, very uncommon and dangerous). So far tonight these have been the best technical moves, even after watching Balor and Rollins. To be fair Rollins/Balor hit a superplex and Rollins hit a couple of insane heights in their match, but that's NOT a moonsault or spanish fly, they are more difficult.

Tonight, in a surprise move, Charlotte went over on Asuka. Asuka was on a 900+ day winning streak, everyone thought they'd continue the streak and have a dominant champion in Asuka, but nope. They are keeping Charlotte as a dominant champ. She's finally starting to shine on her own outside of her father's shadow.

People will say, "Uncle Jo, it's all fake."

And I will say, "So is Game of Thrones, but you still cried when Snow died."

I will also point out that getting over with the crowd, becoming popular and putting up compelling performances, isn't fake. It's a competition. A competition to see who can put on the best show. If you put on the best show then they'll write you into a championship. Sometimes you are so over (popular) that the crowd will demand you be given the title. This has actually happened, booing and hissing and people getting pissed if the best performer isn't getting recognized with belts and title shots.

Right now, the best show in town is put on by The Queen, so she gets the Smackdown Women's Championship.

People often underestimate the powerful stories that can be told in the wrestling medium. That's sad, cuz I love it. It's way more fun to me than the manufactured narratives coming out of other sports, at least in wrestling we know it's a reality style TV show and not a legit sport with drama tacked on in an effort to create story lines (see NFL, and especially UFC).

I want to go on and on about The Golden Lovers right now, the best story in wrestling, but this post is already too long. I'll do the Golden Lovers later, it's a worthy story to dissect and analyze.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

My Oscar Picks 2018

Well, I can't pick Logan or Blade runner, they weren't nominated, so my pick for best picture of the year is I, Tonya.

It won't win, it's too fun. Oscar likes boring and overwrought. I'm not sure which movie fits the bill this year but 3 Billboards was probably boring enough with a lame enough ending to win. I kid, it was good, but you know the Oscar voters have particular tastes.

For best actor I have no preference, but I'd like to see Sally Hawkins win for Best Actress. Honestly though, anyone but Ronan or Streep and I'll be happy. They are well respected actresses but this wasn't Streep's year. And Ladybird, with Ronan, was the only movie this year that the performances annoyed me.

For supporting actor I'm pulling for Christopher Plummer, just because of the whole Kevin Spacey situation.

Allison Janney for best supporting actress. She was great as the mother in I, Tonya.

For best screenplay, let's call it 'best story' overall, I'll go with The Big Sick.

The technical awards, I don't know much about them. But Blade Runner was the best looking movie this year so I hope it wins stuff.

Monday, February 26, 2018

WolfCop - Review

This poster pretty much sums it up.

Trouble sleeping tonight, figured I'd watch something mind numbing and dumb. Well, here it is, the perfect movie for this situation. WolfCop.

It's all about exactly what you think it's all about. There's a cop. He turns into a wolf. There's some gore, some banging of hot chicks, tons of humor, all the schlock one could want.

I recommend this movie to anyone into "so good it's bad" types of horror comedy. There's a sequel out recently, Another WolfCop. I'll be watching that one soon I'm sure.

For writers, I'm not sure there's much to learn here. How to be over the top and still be good? If you are putting together a horror/comedy project, especially something graphical like a movie or comic book, you might check this out. It's a good example of how to go full cheese mode and be entertaining without crossing too far into cringe territory and ruining the fun.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

50 Shades Free - Movie

Don't do it bro! Don't do it!

So my little buddy Lacey and I went to go see this thrilling tale of love and banging. I was bored of my hermetic existence, she has been locked in new born baby land for months, so going to the theater to see this was just what we needed.

I can't recommend this movie for everyone, but if you know anything about the series you know exactly what to expect, and this movie delivers on that.

We had fun mocking all the musical montages, it's like dance music but a bit too slow played over slow camera pans and little life vignettes. Hilarious. There were a few sex scenes, a couple action scenes, and a TON of people trying their best to pretend to be interested in acting in this movie.

Good times. Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

Sweet Old Timey Cover

I just read Poul Anderson's 1960 novel, The High Crusade. It was a solid science fiction read. Lots of battles and flitting around in space ships.

What impressed me was the different way it was written. The POV is a character in the story, but also the chronicler. So the story is told as if being told orally some years later by a guy who was there, filling in portions that he wasn't present for but subsequently heard about. Some of the telling is of the 'from a mile up' variety, not so much deep in POV but rather a summary of events.

It's an interesting style and it fits the elements of the story well, since it's about a group of crusaders from Medieval England being whisked away on a galaxy spanning crusade.

Another interesting thing about the book, and I'm not sure if this was in the original edition or not, is that there's a prologue story largely disconnected from the rest of the book. A side quest at the end. Was the book too short? It needed some padding? I dunno. It's a strange choice though. [EDIT: I looked it up, yes, The Quest at the end of The High Crusade was a stand alone short story in the same universe, it was appended to the end of my edition of the book. Cool!]

I'd recommend this book to any fan of sci/fi, especially if you are into that classic high adventure style 1960's sci/fi was known for.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Favorite Films of 2017

I watch a lot of movies. Probably too many. Here are some that I liked this year, this is not an exhaustive list, there could be some I'm not remembering, but here are six that I recommend.

1. I, Tonya: For us Oregon white trash she's a hero. This movie does her justice.
2. Get Out: Horror thriller with a wacky racial overtone. High recommend.
3. Logan: Best supers movie of the year. High drama, not as much bubblegum as other supers movies this year.
4. Wind River: Brutal. Brutal serious. Brutally violent. Trigger warnings all over.
5. Colossal: Featuring a burnout, female adult child, learning to grow up. With Kaiju. Very cool.
6. Blade Runner: Maybe a bit slow, but there's some great sci/fi here. You don't need non-stop action for an SF/F movie to be great.

There were also a bunch of fun action hero movies this year. Thor, Guardians, Wonder Woman and Bright. Bright is a bit controversial maybe, the critics panned it, but I liked it.

What movies did you like? Did I miss anything?