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Not with a whimper, but with a bang.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,340 words on Chapter Three of The Red Tree. A good writing day, and I hope it's going in the right direction.

I do not yet have my finalized schedule for Readercon, as I've asked to be taken off a panel. But I'll get it up here as soon as possible. Perhaps tomorrow.

I want to go to the ocean, but the tourists have come, like a swarm. It won't be so bad next week, and maybe we can sneak down one evening and find a tourist-free place. Still feel like I'm sleeping much more than usual, except at night, when I should be sleeping. But, hey, no more fits. I don't think I left the house yesterday, which is unusual these days. Spooky made stir fry for dinner. I got some reading done. There was some Second Life rp (thanks to Artemisia, Cerdwin, Joah, et al.), but my infatuation with SL continues to wane. Best Toy Ever? I thought that once. Maybe if the world were ready for it, which it clearly isn't. Perhaps it never shall be. Something I hear a lot about SL, and in particular about SL rp, that you get out of it what you bring to it, or what you put in, or something like that. I think the problem here is that very few arrive inworld with more than a desire for a sort of chatroom visual interface, or a new MMORPG, or free virtual sex, or an fps experience, or perhaps the hope that actual money can be made with this thing. Very few come bearing the imagination, skill, and ingenuity to take advantage of the potential inherent in SL. Any world imaginable. Anyone imaginable. Any story. Any vision. But visionaries are a rare commodity in SL, and it seems to me that, more often than not, they are looked upon (if recognized at all) with suspicion and annoyance. I think I'm learning that, in SL, genuine creativity must confine itself to marginal, unexploited niches, if it is to survive. Anyway...

Last night, we watched Richard Kelly's Southland Tales (2005/2006), but I'm putting all my thoughts behind a cut, to avoid spoilers:



What amazes me the most is that after this box-office and critical disaster, Kelly was still able to raise in excess of 30 million dollars for The Box (2009), his forthcoming adaptation of Richard Matheson's "Button, Button." On the one hand, yes, Southland Tales is a gargantuan mess, and it manages to do very little that wasn't done far, far better in Donnie Darko (2001). Indeed, this film is pretty much Donnie Darko tarted up as a great, gaudy, long-winded variety show of apocalyptic proportions, devoid of the essential spark and compassion that I think made Donnie Darko work. And yet, I simply could not look away. It is, undeniably, a spectacle, and as a spectacle, I have to applaud it. I think I may even have to sit through the blasted thing a second time, just to be sure it was actually as fucked up as I think it was. It's not a brilliant film. It might not even be a very good film, but it's...well, a spectacle. Then again, so was Tammy Faye Baker/Messner. We saw the 144-minute cut, the only one that I'm aware is available on DVD. And it's at least half an hour too long, maybe more. I think Moby's score was probably the best bit, with a few inspired performances strewn here and there. Now and then, the film clicks, for just a moment or two, and you can glimpse what it might have been — such as Justin Timberlake's musical number, or the opening scenes of the nuclear attacks in Texas. And, I'll admit, the last forty-five minutes had me staring in slack-jawed bewilderment at the sheer strangeness and audacity. But, in the end, strangeness and audacity aren't enough, and the film's rather simple premise folds in upon itself like the cataclysmic time warp portrayed in its final moments. This is not a complex story requiring complex story-telling devices, but a very, very simple one burdened with excess baggage, along with the director's desire to say everything at once using far too many characters. Still, I think it's a must-see. I hope Kelly recovers from this fiasco, because, if nothing else, his screenplay for Tony Scott's Domino (2005) proves he has stories to tell that are not merely bloated rehashes of his first success.



And now...I have this day to deal with.

Comments

( 28 comments — Have your say! )
onemoreshadow
Jul. 13th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
For me, Southland Tales was like a car crash hoisted off the highway and put on display at the center of some vast Bradbury-esque carnival. It's horrible but I couldn't deny it had some weird, and sometimes perverse, charm. It's nowhere near as good as Donnie Darko, but somehow I am unable to call it a bad movie and write it off, not completely.

I think part of the problem is that the movie opens on Chapter 4, with the entire back story available in a trilogy of graphic novels that the majority of viewers will not have read. It was a potentially clever marketing gimmick, but ultimately it failed.

It's not the kind of movie I would tell people to avoid, but I wouldn't exactly recommend it, either.

Strange, strange flick.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)

I think part of the problem is that the movie opens on Chapter 4, with the entire back story available in a trilogy of graphic novels that the majority of viewers will not have read. It was a potentially clever marketing gimmick, but ultimately it failed.

I agree this was probably a significant weakness, though, I also find myself thinking, if only George Lucas had done the same thing, confining his own "Prequel Saga" to graphic novels....
blakesrealm
Jul. 14th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
Huh, interesting. I wasn't even aware of the graphic novels. I'll have to check them out. I fail as a comic geek.
onemoreshadow
Jul. 14th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
You can order them in one big book from Amazon. Here's some info about them at Wikipedia.

I found this information at IMDB useful, as well.
blakesrealm
Jul. 14th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I'll pop down to our local comic shop and see if they have it on the shelf. We're lucky for such a small area to have three good shops within ten minutes of one another.
loki1978de
Jul. 13th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
thanks for the cut
That movie is acutally on my "next to see"-list and
i will come back to your opinion after i have seen it
st_raoul
Jul. 13th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
I think the problem here is that very few arrive inworld with more than a desire for a sort of chatroom visual interface, or a new MMORPG, or free virtual sex, or an fps experience, or perhaps the hope that actual money can be made with this thing. Very few come bearing the imagination, skill, and ingenuity to take advantage of the potential inherent in SL.

Completely agreed. I've been involved in the Deadwood RP in SL for a few months now and it seems like once during every rp session, I'm left shaking my head. Of course, since it's an "old west" RP, I'd say 90% of the folks passing by expect little more than an FPS with scantily clad prostitutes on every corner. We try very hard to not let it turn into that, but for some people, RP is nothing beyond acting out a cliche character they've seen in a movie. We have some of the best RPers around, and sadly, some of the worst. But I guess that's everywhere, isn't it?
greygirlbeast
Jul. 13th, 2008 08:28 pm (UTC)
Of course, since it's an "old west" RP, I'd say 90% of the folks passing by expect little more than an FPS with scantily clad prostitutes on every corner. We try very hard to not let it turn into that, but for some people, RP is nothing beyond acting out a cliche character they've seen in a movie. We have some of the best RPers around, and sadly, some of the worst. But I guess that's everywhere, isn't it?

Well, truthfully, I'm not sure I could answer that question, as my experience with online rp is limited primarily to SL. I know that, in those rps in which I have so far been involved (New Babbage, Dune, Toxia, etc.), there have been a handful of people who get that this is, basically, improv theatre — not a game, in any traditional sense — and who have the rp skills and the background knowledge about the source material to keep up.

I was initially very interested in the Deadwood sim, and actually entered one day to give it a try. I have to admit, I found it very disappointing. The build was great, and it seemed to have a lot of potential. But hardly anyone I spoke to had any visible grasp of the time period, and anachronisms (from speech to clothing) abounded, along with the sort of simplistic rp you mention.

Edited at 2008-07-13 08:30 pm (UTC)
st_raoul
Jul. 13th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
There are a handful of really brilliant characters in Deadwood, people who are completely dedicated to making it a great place. I'm constantly in awe of them, and the lengths they go to for historical accuracy. There was a lecture given about historical cursing a few months back, and it was very well put together. If only it were required reading.

Beyond that handful of people, you're right, the anachronisms abound and it drives me absolutely batty. I'm always teetering on the edge of throwing mud at the next girl I see in a giant civil war skirt, to say nothing of the group of ladies that arrived in Regency dresses a few weeks back. Oy.

greygirlbeast
Jul. 13th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)

I'm always teetering on the edge of throwing mud at the next girl I see in a giant civil war skirt, to say nothing of the group of ladies that arrived in Regency dresses a few weeks back. Oy.

This is one of the first things that struck me and Spooky, that most the women we saw (some cotillion or something was being held at a mansion on a hill, I think) were clearly antebellum. I'm pretty sure clothes of the right period are available in SL (I think I have quite a few), and that this simply results from a murky understanding of fashion history on the part of the rpers.

There are a handful of really brilliant characters in Deadwood, people who are completely dedicated to making it a great place. I'm constantly in awe of them, and the lengths they go to for historical accuracy.

I may have to wander that way again...
chris_walsh
Jul. 14th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
there have been a handful of people who get that this is, basically, improv theatre — not a game, in any traditional sense — and who have the rp skills and the background knowledge about the source material to keep up.

Yes, and I know it's what I'd want my personal ideal RP to be, were I into roleplaying. I can appreciate the skills involved in improv and acting, though I don't have those skills (nor the inclination to develop them; I'd rather write as a creative outlet), and it seems having those skills would make RP inherently more interesting.

Out of curiosity, how long have you been into RP? How much had you done before you got into Second Life? I've no idea if you were a D&D type growing up, for instance.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)

Out of curiosity, how long have you been into RP? How much had you done before you got into Second Life? I've no idea if you were a D&D type growing up, for instance.

I've been into rp, of one sort or another, since high school (D&D, etc.), though I'd say that the "pretend" of childhood is the true beginning of all rp (and theatre). So, lots, of one sort or another (and some acting), before SL.
chris_walsh
Jul. 14th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
Ah, childhood; that was when I would playact, and also when I was vaguely headed towards this writing thing. (I know I'm, at best so far, at the stage J. Michael Straczynski was when he called Harlan Ellison out of the blue asking for his words of wisdom for fledgling fiction writers. Harlan just said Your writing sucks. When it no longer sucks, it will sell. Straczynski took that in the spirit it was meant and endeavored to have his fiction Not Suck.)

I've sometimes felt I'm a "behind-the-scenes" performer, kind of like Howard Ashman when he'd record his interesting demos for his songs, as opposed to someone who'd feel comfortable on a stage or in a roleplaying environment. I don't have the in-the-moment ability to become someone different in those environments; I'd be a stiff actor. (Writing, of course, gives you more time to think Now if I were a completely different person than myself, how would I behave here?)

What sort of acting have you done? Stage stuff? Filmed stuff? And any of it worth sharing? :-)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
(Writing, of course, gives you more time to think Now if I were a completely different person than myself, how would I behave here?)

Here's the thing (and I think this goes for writing and for rp): You do not think, What would this person say? or What would this person do?. Rather, like method acting, you so completely immerse yourself in the mind of the character that their actions become your second nature, almost your first. Then there are no questions to be asked, no deliberations to be made, no hesitation (unless they hesitate). You can't be stiff, because you are the character in question, and you know how hesheit will react to any given situation, or better still, knowledge is replaced by instinct, and you are free to simply act.

What sort of acting have you done? Stage stuff? Filmed stuff? And any of it worth sharing? :-)

Oh, all of it was high school and college. Yes, it's true. I was a drama-club nerd.

Edited at 2008-07-14 02:41 pm (UTC)
chris_walsh
Jul. 14th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
*reads Cait's performing advice*

I definitely can see you as the method-actor type. I don't see myself as that type, at least not yet, but I find it an interesting type to see.

Oh, all of it was high school and college. Yes, it's true. I was a drama-club nerd.

I wasn't, but happily I was friends with the drama-club nerds. At a remove, but with an interesting perspective. I was much more involved in my high school newspaper; a good place for me, and I'm glad I eventually did professional newspaper work, too. (Reminder To Myself: I have been paid for writing! I can do that again!)
robyn_ma
Jul. 13th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
I've read the Southland Tales prelude graphic novel, but have not yet seen the movie despite the DVD's being in my house for months. I think I'm waiting for an uninterrupted block of time to watch it, as I did with Inland Empire.

I think it's the type of movie I will adore and pat on its sweaty, pointy little head just for trying so strenuously to be something original.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)

I think it's the type of movie I will adore and pat on its sweaty, pointy little head just for trying so strenuously to be something original.

I think I may become fascinated with it, for it's sheer, unmitigated audacity.
robyn_ma
Jul. 14th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
*nods* If there's one thing a lifelong fascination with truly weird movies has taught me, it's that if you finish a movie and say 'That was fucking terrible and I think I need to watch it again immediately,' you've got a winner.

Incidentally, not to self-pimp, but if you or Spooky haven't noticed, I compiled a bunch of YouTube links compiling the entirety of Urgh! A Music War, although my guess is that Spooky has that film memorized. Also with links to Cramps madness.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)

The whole twittering of the fingers and all.

I was pleased that the finger-twittering thing had an actual meaning behind it.
lou_sytsma
Jul. 14th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Hi there.

In regards to Second Life - I recommend you check out what author Michael Stackpole is doing there. He is setting quite the environment at Third Life Publishing. Links to stories and books, a museum where the exhibits will tie into stories that he will eventually write about etc.

Very inventive and clever.

Here's the link - http://slurl.com/secondlife/Beraudes/203/150/49
fornikate
Jul. 14th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
I just don't get the whole SL thing. It really frustrates me, but I just don't understand the POINT.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)

I just don't get the whole SL thing. It really frustrates me, but I just don't understand the POINT.

The point is, simply, an almost infinite range of potential interaction. Want to walk on Mars, or through Van Gogh's "Starry Night," or live in a steampunk dystopia, or be a dragon in a world where dragons are worshiped? In theory, all these things (and countless other experiences) are possible through Second Life.
fornikate
Jul. 14th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I guess I just feel like I haven't experienced enough in real life to take on another one.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)

I guess I just feel like I haven't experienced enough in real life to take on another one.

It's those things we cannot experience in RL that brings us to SL (and books, and theatre, and the movies, and video games).
fornikate
Jul. 14th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Which makes total sense.....unlike fiction/movies, I just seem unable to suspend reality for the SL thing. I envy those who can.
kiaduran
Jul. 14th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
One of the things that has been holding me back in joining in the RP'ing in Toxia is my lack of knowledge of the place and my overwhelming fear of embarrassing myself and annoying others by my ignorance.

Other than bumbling about the place, is there a postcard or central info hub in Toxia that advises on proper clothing and where to find it, etiquette, time period involved and all those other pesky things one ought to know to avoid being pummeled with sticks by Toxia's inhabitants?
greygirlbeast
Jul. 14th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)

Other than bumbling about the place, is there a postcard or central info hub in Toxia that advises on proper clothing and where to find it, etiquette, time period involved and all those other pesky things one ought to know to avoid being pummeled with sticks by Toxia's inhabitants?

When you arrive in Toxia, you rezz in on "the docks," and yes, all that information is there. Mostly, though, you just ned to get the DCS, unless you have it already. It costs only 75L. When it comes to Toxia, just think Angel meets Vampire: The Masquerade meets a billion dark fantasy clichés.
kiaduran
Jul. 14th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the information. I shall work on my courage and venture into Toxia and try not to be too much of a doofus.
( 28 comments — Have your say! )