Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are we a computer simulation run by our descendants?

Ever since I first stumbled across this theory a few years ago, it's completely fascinated me. I grew up in an extremely rigid religious home and questioning any belief was religiously (pun intended) crushed and forboden.

There simply wasn't an option to question even the more "out there" beliefs my parents tried to get me to believe blindly.

When I left home at 16, I started searching, and have been ever since. I've looked at so many religions, and, guess what, I still haven't found an explanation even remotely close to the answer I need.

I've been captivated with anything related to the Quantum Mechanics field and read about advances and theories every chance I get. It's probably part of the reason I write fiction, other than to deal with my search for answers and the crap I went through in a religious upbringing.

Check out the article below, it's really got huge consequences IF it can be proved :)

"A decade ago, a British philosopher put forth the notion that the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. While that seems far-fetched, perhaps even incomprehensible, a team of physicists at the University of Washington has come up with a potential test to see if the idea holds water."

Video explain Nick Bostrom's theory

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reading (Or the Sorely Neglected Part of Writing)

A few months ago, I participated in a discussion with a bunch of fellow writers about their reading habits. I came away from the discussion kinda surprised and bewildered. Obviously, this topic has been percolating in the back of my brain since, and I've finally figured out how and why I wanted to write this little piece.

Here goes:

To me, it should be second nature to read as widely and as varied as you can, if you're playing (seriously, or otherwise) at this writing gig. During the above referenced discussion, there were quite a few writers that claimed they didn't read much, if at all. That was simply surprising to me and a bit of a head scratcher.

My initial response to the thread was this, "An author must read, or their writing will suffer." I certainly wasn't expecting the response I got to that statement. It seemed like second nature to me. There were quite a few writers that said they didn't read for pleasure (or otherwise) and seemed to be proud of the fact. A few even responded to me with varying degrees of "Broad sweeping statements like that don't apply to all writers, etc."

When words are what you do, reading words should be a part of that process. Writing in a vacuum is not necessarily a productive way to go about things, in my opinion. I'm a reader first, I'm an author second. I read because I love it, I write because I have to. Now, everyone's reading habits are, indeed, different. For me, I read (at least) 4 to 5 books simultaneously. That doesn't work for everyone. My TBR pile is massive, there is so much I want to read and absorb and I do my best to finish at least 2 to 3 books a week. If I'm not writing, I'm reading. Absorbing the craft, learning how other authors use language, and simply enjoying the stories.

I don't read in just one genre either, that, I think, is also detrimental. An author needs to read far and wide, to absorb, to learn, to experience.

There's ton of writing advice all over the internet. Most of it is crap because it assumes a universal fit, the key is knowing what advice to take, use it, or stop clinging to it, if it doesn't work for you.

Like this blog, being a well-read author is key to crafting your own stuff

...or not :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

An advance NOS4A2 review

Here's the publisher's synopsis - 

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

I managed to acquire an ARC of Joe Hill's new novel, NOS4A2 a few weeks back and promptly dived into it. I've been a fan of Hill's from day one, starting with his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, Heart Shaped Box, to Horns. Each and every outing Hill has proven he knows how to craft a great tale and inevitably the comparisons to his father have been numerous. Sure, we all know (now) that Hill's dad is Stephen King. A few of us knew before the general public and one of the reasons I admire and respect Joe outside of his writing was that he didn't rely on the King name to get published. He stood up on his own two feet and showed he can write, and write extremely well. 

Now, NOS4A2 is going to be the novel that everyone looks back at in 25 years and says, "This is where Hill broke out into the mainstream. This is the novel where Hill came into his own." I firmly believe that. This is a beast of a novel, coming in at 704 pages. It's epic, it's world-building, but it's also an intimate story about a mother. I'm pretty sure Hill knew the King comparisons would come even more heavily with the subject matter of this novel and rather than shy away from it he embraced it whole heartedly. There's even some nods to his dad's mythology, Mid-World and the Dark Tower universe. When Hill mentions a certain clown (in passing with a wink and a nod) from his dad's fiction, I let out a cheer and you will as well. Hill's world is familiar and his characters are real. They're familiar because some of us (myself included) grew up reading his dad's novels. King is a master at character development and Hill is proving he's as good, if not better, than his dad. One of the main differences, is where King peppers his fiction with pop culture references we all recognize and love, Hill peppers his fiction and NOS4A2 with his geek cred. Hill loves and knows his Joss Whedon, his Dr. Who, and any number of other geeky goodness.

Still, this isn't (and shouldn't be) a dad vs son issue, but it is, and will continue to be. Both can write, and both can tell a tale with astounding skill. 

Charlie Manx is one of the best crafted villains I've read in a very long time. Sure, he's the bad guy of NOS4A2, but Hill manages to go deeper than "he's a bad guy who does bad things", there are certain points, especially near the finale where Hill makes you feel some sympathy for Manx. And that's a skill many horror writers don't have these days. The villain is more than just a jumble of bad things, and Hill understands this and shows up Manx's past in such a way that, yes, you will feel sorry for the guy at certain points, even as he's kidnapping a child. 

Vic, or "the Brat", is a fully fleshed out character. She's damaged, she's lost, and she's human. And you're gonna feel for her during her journey in this novel. Guaranteed!

It's been two days since I read the last chapter of NOS4A2 and I still can't think of one single thing I didn't like about the book or the story. I really, honestly...can't. The best way I can describe reading and experiencing NOS4A2 is this - The first time I read IT back when I was 12 years old, that feeling of "YES!" and the first time you've fallen in love with the horror genre. how reading NOS4A2 was for me. Hands down. 

Hurry up, Mr. Hill, I'm ready for your next one! 

When NOS4A2 is released on April 30th, 2013, get this book. You'll fall in love with horror all over again. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The ABC's of Death Review

The ABCs of Death - I'm damn curious, so here goes with some running commentary on each segment :)

"A" is for Apocalypse by Nacho Vigalondo 

Dug this one

"B" is for Bigfoot by Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Should've been called "B" is for boobies 

Really did not like this one, very badly done, shot, and narrative was a complete car wreck 

"C" is for Cycle by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza 

Creepy vibe, interesting premise, kinda muddled just before the end, but better than "B". 

"D" is for Dogfight by Marcel Sarimento 

Loved, loved, loved this one. No dialogue at all, told completely with visual cues. Complete story, beginning, middle, end. Visually stunning, shot EXTREMELY well. 

"E" is for Exterminate by Angela Bettis 

TERRIBLE...ugh, where to start? Shot bad, story non-existent, horrible, obvious, badly done CGI. 

"F" is for Fart by Noboru Iguchi 

Umm, what did I just watch? 

Japanese school girls, Check. Japanese school girls naked making out, Check. Japanese school girls breathing each others farts...ummm check? 

Crazy Japanese? 

Not even a horror plot if you don't count one girl being sucked into the others ass... 

"G" is for Gravity by Andrew Trauki 

Worse than a high school attempt. 

"H" is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion by Thomas Cappelen Malling 

Dug this one. Excellent production values, great makeup, hilarious cartoony story line, and a nazi fox stripper. 

"I" is for Ingrown by Jorge Michel Grau 

Completely lost on this one, didn't get it. 

"J" is for Jidai-Geki by Yudai Yamaguchi 

Guess I just don't get Japanese humor? Completely pointless short, more comedy than anything. 

 "K" is for Klutz by Anders Morganthaler 

Animated piece this time...a girl fights with her own turd...umm yeah.

 "L" is for Libido by Timo Tjahjanto 

Another weird Japanese piece. Good production values, lots of gore, some uncomfortable implied pedophilia. 

These things are definitely getting weirder. 

"M" is for Miscarriage by Ti West 

Exactly what the title implies, a minute or so long piece, horrible camera used, shit production values, and a long, long shot on a toilet bowel. 

Worst of the bunch so far

"N" is for Nuptials by Banjong Pisanthanakun 

Talking parrot exposes a cheater...meh

"O" is for Orgasm by Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet 

Another obvious one, with BDSM and multiple slow motion shots of bubbles bursting and apparently women blow bubbles when they reach climax. 

Man, just when I think these cant get any worse...

"P" is for Pressure by Simon Rumley 

Another piece w/o dialogue. A hooker with a heart of gold trying to provide for her kids, then some guy gives asks her to make a film and she gets paid to do bad things to a kitten. 

Yep, these directors are going for shock/taboo and not even trying to make a good, storytelling piece at this point. 

"Q" is for Quack by Adam Wingard 

Ironic piece about how the directors got Q and they don't know what kind of short to make, so they decide to kill a duck on screen, ends badly for them. 

"R" is for Removed by Srdjan Spasojevic 

Surreal piece. Doctors remove film strips from a guy (yeah dont ask) he finally escapes, pushes a train car and then collapses and then it rains blood. 

I guess it's supposed to a metaphor about how a director cuts a piece of himself to share with an audience and bleeds for his art? 

Or some shit 

I'm really starting to get pissed at some of these "directors" for wasting my time, a 5 yr old could make a better short film...

"S" is for Speed by Jake West 

Starts out with two chicks (who can't act AT ALL) running from a Vorhees wanna be. There's a nice hotrod car, some really bad, cheesy camera work, a flame thrower scene, and then apparently turns into a metaphor on the dangers of drug use...ummm WTF???

"T" is for Toilet by Lee Hardcastle

A claymation piece this time. About a killer toilet. 

I actually liked this one, and that's sad cause I only like it cause there's been such crap since the letter "D". 

"U" is for Unearthed by Ben Wheatley 

Now we're getting somewhere. A vampire gets killed, but it's shot from the POV of the vampire. A very unique take. Great effort.

"V" is for Vagitus by Kaare Andrews 

Sci-fi piece about a future where propagation is illegal, but you can earn a permit to have a child if you serve as an enforcement agent hunting down people who have illegal babies, includes a killer beheaded baby...what!

"W" is for WTF! by Jon Schnepp

*sigh* I'm not even going to bother addressing this one. So far, worst of the bunch and that's saying enough.

"X" is for XXL by Xavier Gens 

Fat girl gets made fun of, goes home and cuts all of the fat away, dies skinny. 

Oh you crazy French directors.

"Y" is for Young Buck by Jason Eisener 

Another one w/o dialogue, set to an 80's synth track. Old man takes young boy on a hunting trip, does bad things, boy comes back wearing a dead deer's head, impales and decapitates the man, does bad things to the head....

I kinda dug this one, it was different. 

- And to close out this mostly steaming pile of shit - 

"Z" is for Zetsumetsu by Yoshihiro Nishimura 

Let's see, where do I even start??? Another Japanese piece, seemingly very Anti-American, there's a Swastika, a chick with a 5 ft penis that has a knife that comes outta the end, there's a guy in a wheel chair that ejaculates rice, a bunch of naked men eating sushi, a girl fight with said girl with 5 ft rubber penis, penis gets sliced, somehow other chick can shoot vegetables out of her vagina, some other chick has 9/11 across her chest with the towers on one boob and a plane on the other, and she jumps up and down swing her boobs together...

As all this is going on there's a voice over about how Blacks hate White Americans and how nuclear energy is safe and yellow people are the, I am NOT shitting you. 

So 4 out of 26 were worth watching, with only 2 being anywhere near good, how did this EVER get distribution?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Serbian Film Review

NOTE: This review will contain ***Spoilers***

First off, believe the hype about this one. It is singly the most brutal, depraved, horrifying, uncomfortable (insert any other adjective or synonym) film I've watched to date. 

And yes, I watch them all. From Martyrs, Cannibal Holocaust, Irreversible, Men Behind the Sun, Audition, Antichrist, Salo, to  The Human Centipede, and a host of others, I've sought out and watched every single one. Yes, most of them deliver on what is promised, and yes, most of them are truly depraved and rest among the darkest side of horror film and cinema, in general. 

A Serbian Film, in a director of lesser skill, would've been a disaster. 

Let's talk about art first -

Art is: The creation of works of beauty or other special significance. 

Art should be designed to make the reader or viewer feel something, be it revulsion, sorrow, happiness, pain, or awe. 

In relation to cinema, there's been many attempts to claim certain hardcore, disturbing films are art, and yes, some of them truly are. Even with the violence, the gore, and the sexual depictions, there was something the director and/or writer were trying to say. Some excel at this, others, not so much. 

It's hard to shock me, as a viewer or reader. I, myself, have written some pretty graphic fiction. It made me uncomfortable, but I did it because it served the story. You see, for something that is graphic, gory, and depraved, there has to be an element of storytelling, a reason for the depictions on the screen. If there isn't, then it's nothing but shock value.