Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Where Did The Magic Go?

Man oh man, I don't know what's going on, but I don't like it. In the last four months I've bashed out ninety thousand words for my rough draft. Ninety thousand! That's four zeroes, and I've got another thirty thousand to go. Now, once I hit 90K I decided to give myself a little break. After all, a lot had been happening what with my family having a major upheaval and myself going through a minor mental breakdown. Who wouldn't crack a bit under that kind of stress?

But as this month is just slithering by, I've noticed I'm not quite the same. I'm not playing games, watching movies, and most terrifying of all, not really reading! What's going on? I go through depressive spells, sure, but this feels different. Is is part of my age wearing on me? A shift in weather? It's honestly rather frightening to me. I haven't been digging through my massive treasure trove of books, sifting for delicious historical tidbits to fire my imagination. Nor have I been scribbling writing ideas down in my ever bulging notebooks for future stories.

It's almost as if some of the color has faded from my world, where once all was bright and shining, radiant with life and intrigue. Now it feels bland and tasteless, the colors muted and sounds dull. Nor am I alone, as I've noticed a multitude of friends and family across the country feeling something similar, so it's not just me. I certainly hope that it doesn't last.

I want to rediscover my excitement again! I want to build epic worlds once more, create fun characters and epic perils for them to face and overcome.

As a writer, I'm certainly not played out. Nope! I feel instead that I'm steadily getting better. This current story will be like nothing I've ever done before, and the next will be plenty different too. I'm fairly bursting with creative concepts. I'm thinking of delving into fantasy influenced not from traditional Western European mythology, but instead the rich cultural heritage of the East. I've read The Ramayana, the epic tale of Rama, his beloved brother Lakshmana and Rama's dazzling wife Rita who is kidnapped by the King of Lanka and the demon hordes, Ravana! What rich and beautiful tales India possesses, and yet so untapped!

Or some of the exciting, if explicit, stories of ancient Persia and the Arab territories. After all, Ali Baba and Aladdin had their roots in such stories as Arabian Nights!

And I've begun working through classical Chinese literature with the epic tale of Journey Into The West with the Monkey King Son Wukong and his escort mission of the holy scriptures across the land. It's a huge story, one that can't be taken in a small sitting, but it is an absolute treasure trove of inspiration and lore, its influence today being profound. Although adding to its charm is, admittedly, just how flawed and foolish Son Wukong is at times! If you've played D&D, some of the antics in these stories will seem familiar!

African mythology has been, unforgivably to my collector's mindset, underrecorded and exposed, but that's not frakking stopping me from delving into it and pulling out my own take on it too. Blast it, it's amazing and I don't know why more people aren't looking into it! It's like seeing a fountain of bacon and nobody else is even glancing at it. It's madness I tell you, madness! ... What was I walking about again?

I hope to draw from these rich histories and create new tales. It seems criminal to me that this hasn't been done before! Maybe it's my strange, eccentric nature, but I always found Western European mythology to be kind of stale compared to other mythologies out there.

Even now I have two ideas, one of possibly a thief in the glittering deserts hearing of a warlord possessing a statue that miraculously produces gold, and his purse lusts after it, but after penetrating inside the warlord's stronghold, things take a turn as he faces a very different situation than what he imagined. Will he fetch a king's ransom in gold? Or will he find that's what his heart is made out of? Okay, yeah, that last part is cheesy enough to repel the French, but I'm too tired to care.

The other is a deposed African king returning from exile as a child to reclaim his birthright, but his usurper doesn't give him war. No! Instead he offers a deal: If he can complete a series of challenges, he will hand the kingdom over, no need for bloodshed or war. But if he looses, he will instead give up his birthright and serve his usurper. The challenge is accepted, but uh oh! These challenges aren't straightforward at all. In fact, they're meant to be impossible! Instead of muscle and sharpened steel, our hero will have to use a healthy dose of cunning to fulfill these challenges. For example, how is he to get a cow-hide shield with six different colors? No cow ever bore such an elaborate display of colors before! How will he work through that fix? Where there's a will, there's a way!

Okay deep breath.

I'm still cracking on stories for Primal Frontier too. I'm working on a short, maybe even a few that I'll bundle into a tiny anthology, that I'll put up for free. Give the audience a taste of what's to come, eh?

Even stranger, I'm thinking of doing a comedy based on Japanese kaiju films! And yet another, influenced from black and white 50's B movies, and others still jumping out at me! And I'm still working on this first draft of a xenoarchaeology treasure hunt on another planet in this steampunk setting!

And yet, at the moment, I feel like all the magic has gone out of me. To be blunt, it sucks harder than a starving aquarium catfish. All the energy has fled from me, leaving me this mentally vacant wastrel simply moving from one criminally large bag of M&M's to the next, aimless and feeble.

I really hope that this is just a mood phase and that it will pass soon. I want to throw myself into my work again, chewing through volumes of literature like they're Skittles, pounding out pages of ideas until my keyboard cries for mercy, and blitzing through games and movies until I'm left craving more of those silly Mill Creek mega movie packs. Yes, I'm a movie masochist with those flicks that won't sell individually even at the dollar store, but at least in those I can imagine making better ones.

And wow, this has turned out to be a tonally inconsistent mess, I apologize for that, but hopefully you get what I mean. I want to feel that magic again! The magic of building worlds for other to explore and have adventures! Here's hoping I feel it again soon!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Climate Change Crazy?

Climate change stuff is at it again, with people apparently walking out of school and offices out of protest of... um... the climate changing. I guess this is entirely our fault, even if climate change has been a geological and planetary constant? And if they walk out in protest, who is suffering? I mean, I know protests are a popular thing these days, but I can't say I see what they're actually accomplishing. Who do they want to handle this? And more importantly, how?

Do they really expect the US Government to accomplish anything? They don't really build or accomplish much, instead mostly trying to restrain other things. They aren't efficient. For context on how even the best branch, the military, suffers from bureaucracy and ineptitude, watch Pentagon Wars. It's a great comedy, but actually hits the nail on the head of how budgets explode, projects go on for way longer than they should, and misaligned priorities can sink even the best of projects.

Anyway, the government is hardly the one you should turn to in order to supposedly solve all the worlds problems. Other people seem to think that the corporations should fix the world, like a bunch of protesters demanding people boycott Amazon until they put out the fires in the actual Amazon rain forest. Now don't get me wrong, I love this green little mud ball we inhabit and I do want things to be preserved, but what makes people think Amazon can fix anything? They're an online store that ships things to people with UPS. They're a big online shopping mall. What in the world makes anyone think they have the capability to put out a giant forest fire? Do they secretly have a battalion of firetrucks and Protugese speaking firefighters I don't know about? Why aren't people demanding that the Brazilian government, y'know, the people actually in charge of the Amazon, do a better job? And since when is it the job of corporations to go into other countries and do the jobs that their own governments are too incompetent to do? Do we really want corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, GM, and others running foreign countries?

I don't!

I guess people want them to donate tons of money, which makes some sense. But again, donate money to do what exactly? The mere presence of money accomplishes nothing. It has to be directed efficiently and intelligently to attain a specific goal. The goal from climate change protesters seems to be "Stop climate change!" Um... okay... how? We need distinct and reasonable goals, otherwise we're just driving around in circles burning time and money. Nobody seems to really have a good answer. These same people seem frustrated that billionaires donated money to rebuild Notre Dame, but not fighting forest fires. Well, repairing Notre Dame is a very straightforward objective. We know how it looks, what it should look like, and simply use that money to hire construction workers to make it look how it did before. It's also in the middle of a prosperous country's capital with lots of workers and resources.

Brazil has a high murder rate, corruption and a lack of infrastructure in the Amazon by the very nature of it being the slagging Amazon. There aren't exactly tons of good roads. There's tons of rivers and tributaries to traverse, which means you can't get firetrucks out there, who are also kinda needed in the towns where people live. I haven't looked into it, but knowing how lots of South America works, there's also probably some bandits and revolutionaries running around who might enjoy taking potshots at government employees. Dumping money into the Brazilian government's lap might not fix anything, because if you've ever looked at our own government, embezzlement is a really popular trade amongst politicians.

I suppose some people want to minimize our own carbon footprint. I'm still at best suspicious about that, but okay, let's say that all climate change at the moment is solely the responsibility of humanity, and that more carbon dioxide will erode our planet and ecosystems. Well, the West is doing all that it can reasonably expected to do, besides sinking our entire industry system. You know who isn't pulling their weight? The Chinese. They are a communist government possibly subscribing to Lysenkoism who give exactly zero point zero craps about their environment. Don't believe me? They literally invented a giant ocean blender to chop up huge schools of jellyfish that were clogging the propellers on their aircraft carriers, turning them into slurry and any other oceanic life that had the poor luck to get in the way of the GI Joe level death boat. Military might is more important to them than the environment.

It doesn't matter how much the Western world cuts back on carbon emissions, we'll never make a big enough dent in it to counter the Chinese and them spewing out pollution into the air.

Well Mister Smarty Farty Cowboy, what's your solution? Glad you asked! In fact, it's a lot easier than you suspect. Plant more sodding trees. You don't need trillions of dollars, government or corporate help, or even basic competence to plant trees. In fact, there's been multiple groups that have been planting millions of trees in very short time frames. People in India supposedly planted some 50 million in one day! Even if the real number is a tenth of that, since the number might skew, that's an impressive haul for just one day's work! Ethiopia boasts that they planted 350 million trees in twelve hours, done almost exclusively by volunteers.

According to a brief Google search, an average tree planter in British Columbia can plant 1,400 trees in a day, while an experienced hand can plant 4,000. Not bad!

I've seen other record numbers of people planting millions of trees in just one day. So why should we wait on the fat fed and greedy corporations to make the world green again? You don't need them! Imagine what us Westerners could do if we just took a week off, grabbed a bunch of shovels and planted some new groves. Trees will fight erosion, soak up all those nasty pollutants, and gives homes to our wildlife! And all we have to do is plant them! If people in India and other countries can do it, why can't you? In fact, in another article I wrote, it was found that dumping orange peels on the ground stimulated soil and plant growth like magic! So, buy a crapload of oranges, save those peels after juicing the fruit, and spread that crap all over your new groves. Or heck, gather together money and buy the peels that the orange juice folks in Florida throw out as garbage and use those as mulch. Put that stuff to work!

So get together eco warriors! Take a week off of work every few months, save a hundred dollars each, gather orange peels, then get out there and plant a few thousand trees a week! No need to protest. No need to howl at soulless corporate executives. No need to yell at regular people just trying to make ends meet. Just plant trees and the rest will work out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sorrow and Joy

Today is an odd day for me. It's one of both sorrow and joy.

Sorrow because of the many people who lost their lives this day many years ago. Notice, amidst this climate, I didn't distinguish anything about them. I didn't say Republican or Democrat, New Yorker or any other stater, anything about race or any of that crap. They were people, living breathing human beings whose lives were tragically cut short by men bent on evil. I mourn their loss like everyone else. They were fellow Americans, human beings with lives, family, hobbies and dreams. That's the thing to remember about them.

But it's also oddly a day of joy for me because this was the day two of my baby sisters were born. They were dealt a bad hand right from birth. They had medical problems. There were other trials that I won't go into detail here. Suffice it to say that by all rights they shouldn't be alive, and they certainly shouldn't be happy and healthy. But they came to my family, and they were given a chance, and today now they are two of the happiest and sweetest little sprites on the face of the Earth who long ago won my heart!

So this day is one in which we must remember that we must be cautious in this dangerous world, to remember those who died from evil, but also to cherish the new life that comes into it. Every day new beautiful human beings are born, free from malice or prejudice. Innocent. They are true treasures. While we should try our best to make this world good for them, we must also take heart in knowing that they are good for the world, and each has potential we can't even dream of.

So let us mourn our losses this day, when so many lives were taken by evil men in an evil deed, but as night comes try to take those you care for in your arms and rejoice in the love of your fellow men, and especially, the pure innocence of children.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ray Harryhausen: The Lost Movies Book

A treasure!

I consider myself to be reasonably responsible with my admittedly limited funds. I rarely go out to dinner or buy new clothing, instead doing my best to tough out rough conditions with a stiff upper lip and save my precious pennies. But then something like this comes along, and my willpower flees from me like a falcon let loose from its cage. It doesn't matter the cost. What is one less meal a day if I can feast upon a literary delight such as this?

While today it is cold and drizzling outside, I'm oblivious to the chilly wind or dripping rain. Instead I'm treading worlds long forgotten, peering into the mind and imagination of one of my greatest heroes and storytellers, Ray Harryhausen. Like a brand on a cow's flank, his works left an irremovable impression upon my mind and countless others. I could list his exploits for days! Jason and the Argonauts, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and one of my personal favorites, Valley of Gwangi, which inspired my own writings.

And yet as I've recently delved into the cemetery of unrealized movies, my eyes are opened with wonder at just how many things were on the drafting board but never made it to the screen! Before acquiring this print I've been going into Kong Unmade, a painstaking labor of love of ALL the Kong movies in their various forms, good and bad, and I'm astounded at the variety of stories that never got made.

And now as I sit with this book in my lap, basking in the glow of my computer screen and rain pattering outside, I'm again finding myself setting foot into other worlds which were never made. I feel almost as if I'm looking back into the cinematic fossil record, seeing creatures and worlds of pencil and paper, rubber and steel, almost given fledgling life by storytellers of yore, almost completely forgotten by the modern world. And yet, now, I am engaging in a wonderful journey through time and space, whether cinematic paleontology or archaeology is your guess, and am beholding a treasure trove of knowledge that may not have reached us until now, plumbed from old texts and basements of office filing cabinets and storage rooms of Hollywood.

I leave you now, dear readers, and hope that you too can at some point look upon this treasure of paper and ink, and be touched with at least a fraction of the wonder it holds for me!