Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Kiss 1954

As our lips touched, I had a feeling that her mouth lacked resilience, as if she had no muscle tension in her mouth, a result being that my own lips touched her teeth rather than lips, and this gave me an unhappy feeling of a sort of memento mori, and so the kissing stopped.... I had a feeling of kissing a skeleton, and in that sense it was a shocking experience.

This from Erik Langkjaer, a college textbook salesman describing the first and perhaps last kiss Flannery O'Connor received from a man.

I can remember the first time my lips touched a girl's, and blessfully, for me at least, it was nothing remotely of the order of shocking. It was quite pleasant and made sufficient impression that I wanted another. Must be why my writing is nowhere near the caliber of O'Connor's.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Deep Focus

This is what I've been struggling to achieve since January, with lamentable results. Not zen meditation, not alpha wave bliss; deep focus has been my object and remains a distant condition, nearly mythical, whilst I flounder in distractions and tangents.

My life is not that complicated. One would think I can work my forty hour week and sleep sufficiently, with ample time to gear into a state of deep focus. It hasn't happened. The central premise is to become a better writer, to utilize the surfeit granted me in the life of a bachelor and create devastating concentration on a task that truly consumes me. It hasn't happened.

A close friend is working on his first novel. In addition to this, he holds down a management position and has a lovely wife and two children. He shows progress on his task, even with these other monumental tasks. He writes like a wonder. He shows great progress.

Another friend not only plugs away at novels (and publishes them), he has a home life and holds down 40+ hours a week and does other writing besides. What have these men got that I don't? Better that they answer for themselves; indeed, none of us can speak for the others. Yet in my heart of hearts I know what quality of character they possess: deep focus.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who is Joseph Kosinski?

Beyond being named the director of TRON: Legacy, there isn't much known about Joseph Kosinski. I did a little digging and was delighted to learn that he created one of the best videogame commercials in recent memory, for Gears of War. Contrasting the violence of the shooter against Tears for Fears' Mad World grabbed my attention the first time I saw it:

Though this tells us something of the restraint we might expect from Kosinski, it tells us altogether nothing of what kind of director he will make. Like my friend Andy, however, this does not concern me too much: there is a great tradition of quality directors coming over from the realm of commercials, David Fincher, Ridley Scott, and Tarsem among them.

I have to admit feeling a little giddy. When googling "Joseph Kosinski", the first page of search results includes his LinkedIn account! Being an optimist at heart, I hope we are getting in at the ground floor of a great director getting his start.

Here's some other tidbits about the film, taken from an encounter with Kosinski last October:

1) Steven Lisberger (writer/director of TRON) is involved as a consultant. Kosinski couldn't be happier about this. He mentioned that Lisberger (and, presumably, Syd Mead) initially wanted the light cycles to have external riders, but they couldn't convincingly pull it off with the technology of the early eighties. So the light cycles you see in the San Diego Comic Con footage reflects Lisberger's original design.

2) The Comic Con teaser was shot in stereoscopic 3D, and the film will be, too. Kosinski is particularly excited about the look of the game grid in this format.

3) Shooting TRON: Legacy will be a "twenty-four month" process, but Kosinski's already been at it for a while now. He didn't give me an exact date, but he seems confident that the movie will be ready for late 2010.

4) WATCHMEN's Michael Wilkinson is designing the costumes.

That last bit doesn't exactly thrill me, and from the footage we've seen so far it looks like characters are in pseudo-leather jumpsuits, a long way from the skinotards and bike helmets of the first film. So long as they don't look too much like X-Men refugees, my complaints will be minor.

Also noteworthy is the sequel's writers, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. This writing team has made a good mark on the television series, Lost, having authored some of my favorite episodes. What I've enjoyed most about their teleplays has been the strong dialogue and character development, and I'm hoping these will be prominent features of the film.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


The preview, taken from the first fifteen filmed minutes of the sequel, is awesome

Friday, July 24, 2009


The sequel to TRON has a title: News of San Diego antics can be read here, involving no less than a recreation of Flynn's arcade and a life-size light cycle!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Green Lantern Skylarking Part One

Now that we know Ryan Reynolds is playing Green Lantern, my brain has been racing with story ideas. Having the lead cast makes the upcoming movie tangible enough that I can run scenarios with an actor in mind, patching in past performances (of which I've only seen Smokin Aces and Adventureland) to set the tone for how he will play the character. At the foremost is chemistry with his leading lady.

Hal Jordan is a test pilot who fits the stereotype, living recklessly and carousing with any female in reach. When he meets Carol Ferris, daughter of his boss, everything stops. There's no other for Hal. It stands to reason that an actor of sufficient caliber is needed to stop Ryan Reynolds in his tracks; they need chemistry that brings to mind classic pairings as Hepburn and Grant, Hudson and Day, Shepherd and Willis.

Who better, I say, than Amy Adams? She's proven herself an incredible actress, charismatic and sexy, with blue eyes that make any man in the room melt in surrender. Hal Jordan would crumble under her gaze! It works for more than sex appeal. We're not looking for another Mr and Mrs Smith.

They would be dynamite for physical appeal as well as their smarts. Together they've got charisma to spare, and it's not hard to imagine the blast they could have with clever banter. Think Downey Jr and Paltrow in Iron Man. Smart, sexy and fun.

If it were up to me, the decision would already be made!

Coming up: What if I wrote the GL screenplay, how would I handle it?

Book of the Week

I've become a regular at Pegasus Books in West Seattle. Prone to spending inordinate discretionary hours at used booksellers, I've a special weakness for those that stock rare and quirky science fiction paperbacks. The owner is an aficionado of the genre and unerringly points me toward quality stuff. Half Past Human is no exception.

Author T.J. Bass was a pathologist in his "real" life and wrote only a couple novels, both connected on a Hive planet that may or may not be Earth of the future. The predominant race of Nebishes live underground, while the sun-scorched surface is farmed by mecks. Pockets of Buckeyes engage in ancient mystical practices and lure several characters to their mountain keep over the course of the book. Other than this, a discernible plot is lacking. Instead we spend most of the book exploring the different social attitudes and structures of the planet, told with an economic voice that plays with language. Though puns are generally to be avoided in fantastic stories, here they are employed tactfully and to good effect.

So many scenes stand out to mention, but I'll restrict myself to the first that caught my interest. For the first thirty or so pages I was uncertain of continuing, bewildered by the lack of a protagonist. One curious episode followed another, with characters coming and going. Slowly thing began coming together and a structure started forming. Then one of the characters got new teeth. So did his dog.

Moon and Dan, basically a caveman and his mutt, subsist on soft fruits. Neither has any teeth, but their "temporal clocks" have been turned off, which means they will live a long time. Their gums are hard, painful ridges. When they encounter a Nebish named Tinker, he immediately offers to fix their teeth and promptly goes to work. One page and six months later, man and beast are outfitted with golden teeth! Once this happens, the incident is never again referred to, the book moving on to another curious and charming event.

Maybe this sounds strange, and it is. I fell under the spell of the book after acclimating to its odd rhythm and flow -not so surprising since I am increasingly drawn toward sci-fi like this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TRON lives!

Thanks to my good friend Andy for pointing this out: the viral marketing campaign for TRON 2 kicks off tonight at the San Diego Comic Convention. Already there is website mysterious to all but those steeped in TRON lore, and the interwebs are screaming with hourly updates about the sequel, currently in production in Vancouver, BC. I am in a geeky froth and have not been this excited about a movie since I don't know when. Granted, it could be a very bad sequel; the chances are against it being any damn good at all. Usually I'd take that attitude and wait to see what happens. In this case, with a movie near and dear as TRON, as influential as it has been on me, I'm willing to cast aside my apprehension and be a phreak about this.

More details about the marketing campaign, along with other TRON 2 highlights, can be found here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Green Lantern Casting News

The interwebs have been athrum all weekend over the Green Lantern casting news: the versatile and charming Ryan Reynolds has been selected to play the lead part. Though he wasn't my first choice -and you can believe that I gave it some thought- I've enjoyed him as an actor across a wide range of genres and look forward to his "take" on the character. Helmed by competent action director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Legend of Zorro), of real concern is the script.I do not envy the screenwriters their task, to thrill audiences with the adventures of a space-faring, magic ring-wielding test pilot. The premise is simple: Hal Jordan is selected to replace an alien police officer whose weapon is a ring powered by the user's willpower. What the writers do with it is up to the demands of compelling narrative: What personal struggle will Hal face in accepting the ring? How will it impact his life on Earth, as he becomes part of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps? (Stinkers will call this a spoiler, but doesn't the title give away his choice? Just saying.) How will they handle the tension between Hal and his mentor, Sinestro? All these questions and more are racing through my brain, and I find myself hoping that like prior successful superhero films (Superman: The Movie, Spider Man 2), a multiplicity of scripts will be produced and churned together; this seems to work best for producing quality stories in Hollywood. I'm anticipating the results when they hit screens next Summer.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Politic Posting

During a quiet moment thoughts will invade, and most recently one snuck in concerning the philosophy of posting, the politic, if you will. As defined by shrewdness and cunning, what I publish here qualifies as "politic" in the broadest sense, surfacing like a whale to blow its spout, an indication of something greater under the surface that roils and turns and just as quickly as it appears dives once more for a hidden trench. Why not offer more? It goes back to my feeling about the basic premise of the web: a resource through which we share reflection and experience. I don't seek to pander or politicize, nor to deliver polemics that will sway one way or another. I'm breaching just long enough to throw something out that gives an indication of what I'm enjoying and through naked hubris perhance to believe others might enjoy as well. This, you might argue, strays a bit from the metaphor; the whale, after all, is relieving a burden, unloading airy humors without regard of viewing or being viewed. This, then, is proof that I am not a whale.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

In Praise of Cordwainer Smith

I've been enjoying the short stories of Cordwainer Smith, perfect tales to beguile hours on 'planes, trains, and mass transit. He's no longer as well known as his heyday in the fifties, his work is no longer in print, and it was by accident a year ago that I came across him, when I chanced upon Smith's novel, Norstrilia. Greatly satisfied, I read it again recently at the same time I found a couple collections of his shorter works in paperback at a local seller. As circumstances would have it, I needed something for my California jaunt last week and Smith's science fiction tales proved just the thing.

He has a grand cosmic futurescape populated with curious figures and situations, often overlapping and never in a single story entirely explained. Reminiscent of JRR Tolkien, you cannot appreciate the scope of his vision unless visiting his works as a whole. Not a fully fledged explorer, what I've seen so far excites me. What is mentioned in passing in one tale bears out in epic scale elsewhere. His boldness is not expressed in wild imagination, rather it entices with speculation of questions that may or may not be answered. The reader's imagination, above all else, is stimulated and provoked into frenzy. In science fiction, this is a plus.

Take as an example A Planet Named Shayol, a magnificent short story that can be read here. This is the finest so far of what I've read, a bracing tale of human struggle amidst horrors of the mind and body. If it were an unrelenting exercise in the ghastly excesses of humanity, I'd not bother to mention it, but here as in all Cordwainer Smith's tales, there is an overt and powerful current of love; regardless of how far-flung the author's imagination is, it remains rooted in warmth and connection.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Novel Profile

Folks have been asking what just what the heck this book I'm writing is about. Here's the prospectus included with publisher submissions:


A secret team of military talents goes to Luna on a seemingly routine survey mission, but what they encounter under the moon’s surface nearly destroys them. Friends and family against them, the survivors embark on a journey that takes them from the depths of a woman’s memory into a game arena encompassing every battlefield humanity has known, from the Earth homeland to distant settlements on Jupiter and Saturn.

Yumiko Rumi comes from the stars. Member of a cosmic cult, unless her deadly secret is discovered our world is doomed.

Rob Barclay spends more time in prisons than out, problematic for a priest who preaches everyone’s salvation but his own.

Sally Parker is at odds with a world that has no place for her. Upon her shoulders rests the hope of stopping an alien infection of Earth.

Together they will confront Narchitect, a game unlike any seen before where the stakes are life as we know it.

How Do You Fight Something That Shouldn’t Exist?