Diet. Exercise. Follow a budget. Sleep more. Drink less. Disconnect. Take time to breathe.
Actually, those all sound fantastic, hold on a second. . . . Okay, anyway, welcome to the part of the year where we all set our goals (and the gym becomes packed for a month or two and then goes back to normal come March). And with it the argument on whether or not people should have New Year's resolutions or if it's just a way to constrain yourself. Well, as with everything else in life, if it harms none, and makes you happy. . . You do you.
So, let's talk goals. Since, you know, this is a writer's website, I'll stray away from the diet, exercise, and save money resolutions, and focus more on ones revolving around say books and such. I just finished Ruth Ware's The Lying Game - review can be found here. This leaves my read pile for 2017 at 19. Not bad, but still short of my goal to read 24 in a year (I've had the same goal for four years. . . eventually I'll get there).
Fear not internal goal-setting reader man! I have two lined up for tomorrow in a hell of a kick-off for 2018: The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark and The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt (this sci-fi space thriller being read for Shoreline so review to come). But aside from novel reading goals there's something else I'd like to take on this year as a personal reading goal and one that will undoubtedly help better my own short story writing. Which, I have some news on, but that's for a different post because I can't talk about it just quite yet.
Anyway, what I was saying. . . One of the things I've amassed over the past few years whether as gifts or by my own volition, is anthologies and best of short story collections. As you can clearly see above. It's a great thing! . . . If I read them all. But I have a funny habit. . . haha. . . of reading a story or two and then putting the collection down, negating the rest of the contents. So, in an effort to rectify that and blow the cobwebs off of my backlog, I'm going to start Short Story Sunday. Where the goal is to have read at least one short story each week and post a critique/reflection about it up here. Hmmm, it's almost like this will help me blog more as certain people *wink wink* have said I should do. Even if only like one or two people are listening. The first selection is going to be Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8) by Caitlín R. Kiernan out of the collection Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror. Which, according to the contents of this anthology, was originally published in 2014 in Sirenia Digest 100. I loved Kiernan's novella Agents of Dreamland. . . it's one of the few works I read through 2017 that I still frequently think of. Having a personalized signed copy doesn't hurt either!
Now onto the writing portion of the goal setting. This is where I might be biting off more than I can chew with the full-time job, desire to play video games, and frequent bouts of leaving the state/country. But hey, in the words of the band Volbeat: "Mr. Perfect don't exist my little friend and I tell you that again. . . and I do it again."
For me, I'd like to see the finished, polished drafts of two more novels . . . not including the one finished last year that is currently with beta readers. Seven short stories. And at least the rough, rough, draft of the project I'm to scared to start (oh ask me about that sometime. . . it makes for a fun story). Can I do it? You better believe it. And I plan on posting quarterly goal updates to keep myself accountable. Doesn't mean it will work though!
So, thems be the goals. 24 books through out 2018. A short story and short post about said story each week. Two books. Seven shorts. And oh yeah, stop reading the news so much. . . Like still stay informed and be active about the world around me, but maybe not refresh the feeds every two hours (you think I'm exaggerating) and then groaning about the latest headline.
Oh, and since I mentioned that Volbeat song, it's called Still Counting and I'm including the video link below because I plan on singing the first verse well into 2018. "Counting all the assholes in the room, well I'm definitely not alone. Well I'm not alone-oh-oh."
And to all my heathen friends. . . . I'm ready to cause just as much shit this year as we did last year. We are far from done. The parties just get bigger every year. I love all of you and I can't wait for the continued Sunday mornings when we survey whatever house we threw it in and think Jesus Christ. . . Now we have to clean all this stuff up.
Alright, so in my last post that lasted all of .7 seconds I promised a more in-depth update especially seeing as the year is half over and I haven't talked about the second quarter reading catalogue! And seeing as I just finished the best book I've read so far this year, I guess we'll start there.
My goal this year is to read 24 books and though I'm a little behind I am nowhere near as lagging as I have been in the past. I just finished the 10th book of the year which puts me at 42% and just two books behind schedule. When I last left off, I believe it was either with Agents of Dreamland or Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth. I could go back and look at the old post but I'd have to draft this one click out, find the post, yada-yada whatever. Okay so random fire two-sentence reviews:
Okay, now that we have that out of the way: things are progressing. Subs are out. Drafts are done. Good things be happenin! If you're across the pond keep you're eyes open. A member of the street team is country hopping through Europe and is planning on Emma Watson'ing a couple copies of the book. So, if you happen to stumble upon it wherever it is hidden, tag myself and Owl Hollow Press on social media and I'll reach out with something special to send you.
So, after a long week there was a mutual decision to hit Redbox (despite the fact that I have an ever growing list on Netflix but hey). I picked up two movies: Office Christmas Party and The Girl With all the Gifts. Before I head into this post let me just throw out that Office Christmas Party was pretty funny and it is just another addition to the idea of never seeing a Jason Bateman movie that I didn't like. Seriously, is there anything he does that is not just fantastic? Okay, side note filed. I wasn't planning on posting anything today but it's cold and raining (favorite kind of New England day) and I figured why not spark up the debate of movies versus books.
It's an age old argument: what was better the book or the movie? And there is no shortage of examples weighing in on either subjective side. Pro movie? Fight Club, The Martian (yeah I'm going to get shunned for that but whatever opinions are just that) Dark Places. Pro book? The Girl With all the Gifts, Gone Girl, pretty much every Stephen King adaptation ever.
Anyway, the point of this jumbled ramble was to talk about adaptations and whether you can really judge if the book was better than the movie (yes, yes you can) or if they should be judged as two separate creative pieces across two different mediums (yes, yes the should). Wait? How can you do both? How does that work? Well, like everything, it depends on a variety of factors.
I listened to the audiobook of The Girl With all the Gifts last year. First, let me say that Finty Williams is such a fantastic narrator that I can still here her saying "Good morning Miss Justineau" and I plan on listening to her read the follow-up that just came out: The Boy on the Bridge. Part of the reason that I think I enjoyed the book so much is that I went in blind. I knew nothing about the book, plot, or characters except for the fact that it was supposed to be a zombie story unlike any other zombie story. It was. Long story short, the book was great. I loved it from beginning to end. Last night, I watched the movie. The movie was great. Strong acting, stuck to the basic story, but like most adaptations it cut out a lot of material. This is perfectly fine, movies have time constraints. They cut out a lot of The Martian too, and again, it was fine. Nothing cut was pivotal to the story. This is important because this is where we must differentiate the movie and the book as two different pieces across two different types of multimedia. At the bedrock of a recommendation we can lump books and movies together - this was better than that, don't watch this read it. But, when you change the story (even slightly) by removing pieces of the book or adding things to the movie you now have a different animal. One that was visualized by a different creative team and should be thought of and rated as such.
So what makes The Girl With all the Gifts book better than the movie and what makes The Martian movie better than the book? Well mainly my personal opinion. But! This ridiculous ramble wouldn't exist if that was the only thing. So, it boils down to which one packs a bigger impact. I picked both of these books/movies as examples because they are both about survival and they are both about working together for the greater good. The difference between the two - despite what planet they take place on - is which one captures this better.
When I was listening to the The Girl With all the Gifts there were certain parts where I hit pause and just thought Jesus, this is intense. Boom, impact. When I watched The Martian I almost lost it at the end. The way it captured what we can achieve if we work together. Bam, massive impact. So barring a technical analysis of each piece, for me anyway, it boils down to which one had the bigger impact or as my Dark Souls friends can relate when talking about Sif and Artorias - which one kicks you right in the feels.
I probably could have saved you fifteen minutes by just saying: between the book and the movie pick whichever one hit you the hardest but hey, you enjoy listening to me ramble. At least I think. Otherwise I just wasted a bunch of your time. Just remember when recommending a book or a movie or answering the question which was better that it's a two part question: which one was better and were they both good? It's kind of like when a band releases a new album. They catch flak if they sound the same and they lose listeners if they change their sound. Album vs album or books vs movies - weigh in on which was better but remember to look at them both in individual lights. And, regardless of your stance - go read The Girl With all the Gifts and go watch The Martian.
I haven’t had a chance to watch a good string of movies in awhile because, well, adult stuff. Grrrr. Anyways, I put my incredibly lazy foot down yesterday and binged through five movies. Damn did it feel good. Aside from the dog being annoyed that all we did was lay around, it was well needed and thoroughly enjoyed. So, if anyone's looking for something to watch, here's some input. . .
The first full-length movie that I’ve watched from Netflix’s own studios (disclaimer - I love the television shows they put out) ARQ is vying for the top spot in yesterday’s cinematic tournament. Centered around a couple trapped in their house with a stolen piece of tech that could solve humanity’s energy crisis, Renton (Robbie Amell) and Hannah (Rachael Taylor) must fend off masked raiders as it slowly dawns on them that they’ve done this very same thing before.
Time travel is a difficult subject to do well. There are multiple tropes and theories on how it would work and how to achieve it, as well as the ramifications of what would happen if someone actually used it. What I liked about ARQ is that the characters weren’t trying to travel through time, it was an unfortunate side effect of something that happened. They feel genuinely surprised throughout the film as the story progresses and more details are discovered / revealed. I will definitely watch this movie again and strongly recommend it to anyone who wants a really well done sci-fi flick.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have an infatuation with Jack the Ripper (more on that another day). That being said, this is the first time I watched From Hell. And, well, I was extremely disappointed. It wasn’t that it was an awful movie, I’m sure some people loved it and others will, it was just that at a 2 hour runtime it dragged on mercilessly. I think that, coupled with the fact that I wanted it to be more of a horror movie, just made me trudge through it because Depp and Heather Graham were decent.
Other than their acting and the one line uttered by the inspector when the ‘From Hell’ letter was delivered (he responded, “well at least they got the address right), I just wasn’t a fan. It took an odd twist in the end that was met with a full on eye-roll and, well, yeah. That’s all I got.
I’ll Follow You Down
Rufus Sewell blew me away in Man in the High Castle. Instant fan after I finished the first season of that show so I was presently surprised when I hit play for this movie and he was on my screen. Returning to the subject of time travel, I’ll Follow You Down, was a decent, heavy hitter about the implications of correcting events to return to a different time line.
While this isn’t new material that is explored in these movies, it was done with what felt like real weight and real stakes. There was not just an arbitrary nay-sayer on why changing things would be bad, spewing off about altering history etc. Instead, there was Grace played beautifully by (Susanna Fournier) who, despite past tragedies, was happy in the life and time line they existed on. The emotions she captured and put through while our main character was ignoring her for his obsessive fascination with changing past events was what really did it for this movie.
So a friend of mine told me about Hush awhile back, and like a good friend I. . . Didn’t watch it. Fast forward a couple months and we arrive at yesterday (subtle time travel nod there but you knew that). Hush breeds off of the home invasion fear that has settled across middle America over the last decade or so, only this time it happens to a deaf mute writer play by Kate Siegel who has retreated way, way into the woods in order to finish her next novel.
Now, to be fair, I’ll admit that the last horror movie to genuinely scare the living shit out of me (sleepless for I’m pretty sure almost three days, yeah it was an amazingly bad time wink, wink) was The Strangers. Subtle rising tension with little gore. To me it was fantastic. Now Hush, while it had more violence, thankfully did not overdo the gore. This can be a serious problem in horror *ahem* Mr. Roth *ahem*. I mean, if you’re into the torture porn subgenre (hey who doesn’t love Saw) then cool, I dig it every once and awhile, but to genuinely scare someone a movie can not rely on pure gore. It just doesn’t work. Sure, it skeeves people, but it doesn’t terrify them. So, bravo Hush, nice job. And, while you didn’t scare me, you were a very well-done thrill ride, and I would highly recommend if you’re looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Fighting ARQ for the crown comes a dark comedy surrounding Kevin (Adam Pally) and Madeline (Rosa Salazar) as they drunkenly pick each other up for a one night stand only Madeline's end game after one last drunken romp? Suicide.
I know suicide is a tough subject to inject into a dark comedy but Night Owls does it exceptionally well. Several moments made me legitimately laugh out loud while others made me feel really bad for Kevin and Madeline, and a movie that can cause such a dramatic shift in such a short amount of time is a movie worth watching. Not only because of its exploration into relationships, work / love balance, and the notion of idolizing our heroes, but because of the fantastic writing, and the legitimate chemistry between Pally and Salazar.
The great thing about Night Owls is that it reminds you that it’s OK to be lost and confused. That youth is something that, while amazing, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and even though this is true, I don’t think anyone would trade those times of confusion, poor decisions, and all nighters spent chain smoking cigarettes talking about anything and everything, for anything else, even the promise of stability. Because, in a world that has be catalogued, charted, and documented to death, the last true place we have to explore and navigate is our place in it. I loved this movie and will definitely watch it again.