Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dexter - Season 5 ep 8

Just updating my progress for season 5 of Dexter; I just stopped watching episode 8, and so far I'm finding that the season is largely dealing with consequences - but not necessarily just to Dexter's actions.

I like how everything is intertwining with each other while it still doesn't really feel like everybody is fighting one "big bad" like the earlier seasons.

And lastly: Peter Weller is awesome. That's probably not something that should be much of a surprise, but he is really making the most of his small screen time.
Stephen Gower (from my Blackberry)

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Challenge

I'm still working on that pesky short story anthology - hopefully by the time this is published, I'll have everything assembled and will just be in the process of turning it into a readable ebook.  However, I decided that I don't want to be stuck in an uncreative period - I want to keep turning out new stuff.  With that in mind, I've thought up a new challenge for myself.

It doesn't have an official name or anything like that, but it's fairly simple: write 15,000 words in a month.  That works out to 500 words in 30 days, assuming I pick a month with 30 days.  So it'll be 15,500 if I pick a 31-day month.  That sounds simple enough, but probably a little too simple.  So I've come up with a few rules.

1) I can't have any "cheat" days - I must write at least 500 words every day.  In other words, I can't write 1,000 words in one day and take the next day off.  Extra words are bonus.
2) I can't start a new story idea until the current idea is finished.  Sure, writing isn't exactly the most linear endeavour out there, but I think it would be easier for me to come out of this challenge with something concrete if I make sure I have finished products at the end of it.
3) If I meet my monthly goal early, I don't stop.
4) No editing until the end of the month.  This will not be fun later on when I decide I want to do something with these stories.

Just a further note to number 2 - this doesn't mean that if I start writing a novel I have to finish this novel before moving on.  Not quite.  I am going to go on the assumption that I am just writing short fiction (or non-fiction, depending on the day I guess).  Honestly I don't feel like I have the time to commit to creating a full-length novel.

I'm not sure when I'm doing this but I know for sure it's not going to be March.  I wouldn't be surprised if I start this in April.

*** EDIT - Not quite done the anthology.  BUT I have made headway.  Also I have until June something in order to get the CreateSpace reader copy, so I have a little time.  But things are coming together.  Promise.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quick Reviews

I recently read a couple of short stories, so I thought I'd give my thoughts on them.

First up, is Hunter, by Wil Wheaton.  I've obviously written about this story a short while ago, but unfortunately I couldn't read it the minute I downloaded it because I couldn't figure out how to get the story onto my Blackberry's e-reader app.  Thankfully I remembered that I have Stanza on my iPod Touch, and I reconfigured the settings on that thing and had the most amazing small-screen e-book experience in a long time.

Anyway, the story was good.  It starts off with a character in his element: a bounty hunter, I suppose you could call him, chasing prey in a futuristic world ruled by a mysterious alien race.  Mysterious only because we know very little about them other than that they are invaders.  And they invaded Earth.

The story quickly reveals that this hunter really ISN'T in his element, and, well - I don't want to spoil it, but his world does get flip-turned upside-down.  A very brief glimpse into a possible future by Wheaton, and it was good.  I want more.  So I give "Hunter" an A+.

Second story: I, Robot by Cory Doctorow.  This story originally appeared in a short story collection, so I'm not exactly sure how I downloaded JUST "I, Robot" and not that particular collection - but I did.  I started reading it a LONG time ago; it was sort of just something to fill time.  Unfortunately, I got a bit bored of it at the time because I didn't know where it was going.  Determined to finish it though, I opened it up again in Stanza and I remembered where I left off.

The story starts out simply enough: an experienced Detective in Toronto is on the chase for his daughter, who disappears following an explosion in a mall.  It's a futuristic world along the lines of the classic sci-fi novelists, so some of the descriptions might seem "familiar".  For instance, references to Eurasia and the Social Harmony remind me immediately of 1984 - but it's fairly apparent that this is a completely different world (which is a good thing).

I wasn't getting why it was titled "I, Robot" until the payoff at the very end.  I thought that was well-done.  However, for losing me a little at the beginning (I thought I was given a little too much information to handle), I'm going to have to give Cory a B+ on this one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Just Go With It (2011)

For Valentine's Day, Vanessa and I decided we'd do dinner and a movie.  Picking a movie yesterday was pretty hard, because there wasn't anything out that really jumped out and interested us.  I mean, there was True Grit, but we wouldn't have made it to the theatre in time to see it.  We ended up narrowing it down to two choices: The King's Speech, or Just Go With It.  In a shocking move that will surprise anyone who hasn't read the title of this review, we chose Just Go With It, an Adam Sandler / Jennifer Aniston rom-com.  Gee, I feel like a professional reviewer already!

If you're not familiar with the movie, here's the basic premise: a guy tries to get a girl to date him by pretending to be married to his office assistant.  And they go to Hawaii for some reason (it actually is a funny and somewhat believable reason in the movie, so I won't spoil it.  Not yet anyway.).  Shakespearean hilarity ensues.

To clarify, this isn't based on any Shakespeare play of any kind; I just mean that there's technically disguises and hidden identities and what not going on in this movie, so in a way it's basically based on every Shakespeare comedy out there.  Moving on to the one important bit of the review: I liked the movie, and laughed.  It hit the right points and avoided the typical low Adam Sandler humour you'd find in something like 50 First Dates or Happy Gilmore.  Let us rejoice: Rob Schneider was NOT in this movie.

The movie established some "rules" for the story pretty quickly: Sandler's character had his heart broken in the 80s, and quickly discovered a way to sleaze his way into any woman's bed.  He became unlimitly (is that a word?) rich, and throws money where he wants - BUT, he recognizes that rich people stay rich because they don't just give money to people.  It kind of gets questions like "well how can he afford to just go to Hawaii on a whim?" out of the way so that the story can take over.

Without spoiling anything I can tell you that Sandler of course ends up with Jennifer Aniston's character - that's the trope that's at play in this movie.  There's no question from the start of the film that they're going to end up together; I mean it's pretty much spelled out in the trailer, because we've all seen movies like this before.  But the strength of the movie are the subtle one-liners (and the not-so-subtle jokes too), and the kids.  The kids are really good in this movie.

Other features included a pretty funny-if-not-disturbing cameo appearance by Kevin Nealon, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo from Heidi Montag.  It's fitting that she appears in a movie where the main character is a plastic surgeon - and also good that she appears to have a sense of humour about herself.  I assume, anyway.

I definitely recommend this one over No Strings Attached.  I didn't see No Strings Attached, but watch the trailer of both movies - I am fairly certain you'll be able to tell which one is the one to see.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wil Wheaton is (maybe) my muse

I think what got me excited about the whole aspect of self-publishing and getting something out there was always Wil Wheaton (yes, THAT Wil Wheaton) and his attitude about the Internet and just putting things out there because we can.  So of course leave it to Wil to inspire me AGAIN to get back to working on my writing project.

He's just released a new sci-fi short story (which I will read & review when I get the chance) called Hunter.  It's a pay-what-you-want type of release, meaning you can download it to your heart's content and pay nothing, or you can spread the good karma and donate.  This story is DRM-free in multiple formats, so you can do whatever you want with it - up to and including sharing it with others.

I'm currently struggling to figure out how I can load it onto my Blackberry Kobo app, but sadly I think that app is pretty well locked down.  I have a PDF saved on my Dropbox (sorry, not in my public folder - I donated to the Wil Wheaton fund to get my copy of Hunter), so I think I can at least read the PDF on my phone.

I personally donated $1.00, based on this little bit from the page for Hunter:
If I sold it to a magazine, I'd probably get around $125 or so (assuming I could get the SFWA professional rate of five cents a word. I figure that at least 125 people will want to read this, so if all of them donated a dollar, I'd feel really good about this, and I'd be able to do it again in the future.
Essentially, I've taken my fair share of free stuff from the web and I want to start giving something back.  In this case, it's a small donation for a short story.  I've since heard that people are donating $2.00 on average, but $1.00 is still a respectable contribution.

tl;dr - this is making me want to release my short story compilation as a pay-what-you-want thing.  I was considering it anyway, but this has finalized that decision.

New Story

I put up a new story on - you can take a look at it here:

It's an idea I had a long time ago, and until now didn't think to write it as a ficly piece.  I've got another linky-type post coming up later.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Review: ALIENS (!)

Just thought I'd start my review before the movie. Can't say enough how excited I am!

Okay so just finished the movie. Gotta say seeing it on the big screen was great! There were some special effects that looked worse on the big screen than on my small TV, but it was well worth it.

So I guess I'm really just reviewing the experience of seeing a favourite movie on the big screen. It was sort of like finally seeing Star Wars in 1997, except without the special edition part - just a crisp digital print.

Very cool.
"And that was DEFINITELY the most interesting part of my day!"

Stephen Gower


I'm going to see Aliens this afternoon.  On the big screen.  In a movie theatre.  I am really excited!  See, Cineplex is doing this "Digital Film Festival" thing where they're showing older movies for low, low prices.  So you can get the chance to see, for the first time, movies like Alien/Aliens, Back to the Future, and The Goonies on the big screen.

I am going to write an immediate review of the experience after I finish seeing it.  I've seen Aliens before, but never on a screen larger than 27 inches.  I would like to see Back to the Future on the big screen, but I don't think I'll get the chance.  I'm sure it'll come up another time!

PS I've been watching Dexter season 5 and have a few things to say about it, but I think I'm going to try and collect my thoughts (based on memory, the most exact, 100% helpful tool in existence. *cough*) and review the whole season as a follow-up to my season opener review.  All I can say right now is that I am impressed, but also annoyed in parts.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Roommate

I haven't seen this new movie coming out, nor do I intend on watching it.  However, I keep hearing audio previews on the Local Radio Station and this one thought keeps popping into my head.

Let me start by offering a brief synopsis of The Roommate, courtesy of Wikipedia:
A college freshman, Sara (Minka Kelly), is randomly assigned to a dorm with a girl named Rebecca (Leighton Meester). They start off as friends, but things turn deadly as Rebecca begins to obsess over Sara's life, including her friends and family.
A few things not mentioned here that pop up in all of the previews: the movie seems to be about Rebecca's attempts to take over Sara's identity.  I have no doubt that is probably NOT a central plot point in this movie, but regardless it is what caused the wheels in my head to spin.

Obviously the idea is that Rebecca wants to become Sara for some reason or another.  My thought was that instead of just obsessing to the point of stalkerish and law-breaking, what if Rebecca was really some sort of monster and was literally becoming Sara?  She has some sort of monster magic and/or voodoo that erases her from existence, and assumes her new identity as Sara - ready to consume her next victim later on.

I guess my idea is sort of that Rebecca is some kind of creature that preys on other living beings and constantly changes identity to keep a low profile or whatever.  I don't know.  I just think that my idea is probably a lot more interesting than what the movie will turn out to be.