Monday, November 22, 2010

Netflix vs. Hulu

Book review of BONE will be postponed until tomorrow for reasons of moving our entire existence of stuff into a new apartment.  So for today:


Netflix unveiled today that they will be offering a lower streaming-only price of $7.99.  They also announced that they will be increasing the price of their DVD customers.  This is great news for people who have this problem:

Happens Every Time (via Shoebox)

This comes just days after Hulu's announcement of their price drop to - you guessed it: $7.99.

Frankly, I am tempted to drop my cable and do both - that's a slick deal!  I can have Netflix for all my movies and some already released seasons of TV shows, and I can have Hulu for some movies and a bunch of current TV shows.  One problem - they don't have all my current shows.

How in the H-E-double hockey sticks am I supposed to watch my stories which is not on there?!

(Yes I know that is not proper grammar, but it was in the voice of the characters.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Don't Try."

"Too many writers write for the wrong reasons. They want to get famous or they want to get rich or they want to get laid by the girls with bluebells in their hair. (Maybe that last ain't a bad idea).
When everything works best it's not because you chose writing but because writing chose you. It's when you're mad with it, it's when it's stuffed in your ears, your nostrils, under your fingernails. It's when there's no hope but that.
Once in Atlanta, starving in a tar paper shack, freezing. There were only newspapers for a floor. And I found a pencil stub and I wrote on the white margins of the edges of those newspapers with the pencil stub, knowing that nobody would ever see it. It was a cancer madness. And it was never work or planned or part of a school. It was. That's all."
- Charles Bukowski (via Letters of Note)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

When Rod Blaine is promoted to captain of the spaceship MacArthur, the last thing he expects is to be asked by central command to investigate an alien ship from deep space.  Rod commands his crew with great skill in retrieving the alien vessel and makes history for the human race as the first to ever come in contact with alien life forms.

To be honest, it took me a good 50-60 pages to get into the story.  Mostly because I started to get lost in the technical verbage and complicated authority chains.  Also, the history was a bit much to cram into one book (maybe they have more of the history in other books, I'll have to check into that.)

Once I did get into the story, I was completely hooked.  One thing you'll probably figure out about me is that I loooove sci-fi, especially deep-space/alien sci-fi.  So once they approached the alien ship, I began to get a lot more interested.

This book has given me the second most frightening potty break of my life.  Let me set that up for you:

While reading late at night, the book went into great detail about [minor spoiler] the alien they encounter.  Well, just as I was finishing the chapter, I felt the need to urinate.  I got up and was in the middle of attending to my business when I started dwelling on the description of the alien.  I instantly got a chill down my back.  Everything was spooky.  The vacuum in our living room gave me the creeps.

Anyway, I hurried to the bed and snuggled up to Tiffany and held the covers tight.

This was only the second most frightening experience because the movie Paranormal Activity gave me the uber willies for weeks, I didn't even bother going pee at night after seeing that movie.

What I Learned: 
When setting up your world, you need to be quick about it.  Also it's important to not get too detailed in your technicalities (although some people really like that - nerds!)

Another great thing I learned - you can build suspense by setting up something that we expect and then completely turning a different direction.  The authors here do this on many occasions.  You think they are going to lead the characters down a road, but then a completely surprising twist will lead them down a more interesting path.  Surprise is the reward for suspense.

Up next: BONE by Jeff Smith

Friday, November 12, 2010

Errors Courtesy of My Brain

Believe it or not dear readers, but I am not in fact infallible.

While creating my earlier post about the books I will be reading for a year, I used a great site called for the information.  I did this so I could simultaneously update my GoodReads profile with the 52 books I will be reading.

It also created a tremendous problem - GoodReads only shows the name of one author on the list page (they should probably figure out how to change that).  So what resulted was I only put one author's name down on my list.

On Tuesday I received this note in my email (the one I don't check as often, that's why it's taken me until now to post about it):

Dear Eric,
My name is Paul Robert Herman. I'm the co-author of "Tales from the Script." We appreciate you posting the book on your list of good reads (#18) at this link:
Quick correction: You only have my co-author listed. It should say, "Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman." See here:
Thanks in advance for making this correction. If you have any questions, let me know.
Paul Robert Herman

It's pretty gosh-darn cool that he would email me personally about it, and I really appreciate his kind way of telling me I screwed up.  (Hope he doesn't mind that I reprinted the email, I should have asked permission - shoot!)  Look at that folks!  A real legit author emailed me!

Needless to say, the original post has been updated.  My sincerest apologies to Mr. Herman (and anyone else's info I might have messed up).

I've been inspired to go back through my list and update the information.  I'll also add links to the GoodReads page for each book.  This might take some time, so I'll do it when I'm not so busy.

Phew, making mistakes is hard work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Immediate Blu-ray Purchase Advisory

Why have we not purchased this yet?  We should all leave work/home and buy immediately.

Or if you're unable, buy online: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caufield hates school.  Really hates it.  After getting kicked out of another boarding school – Pencey Prep, Holden decides to head back to New York for some time off without family and without “phonies.”  He spends the next few days fighting off boredom, fending off an angry pimp, and trying to connect with someone to bring him happiness.

Although I got frustrated with the story at times, I genuinely enjoyed this book. As I read I thought about the characters that are described and related them to people I know.  I also would thought about Holden’s situation and how I’ve felt similarly at times in my life (especially about the school thing – man I was no good at school.)  Mostly I loved the general sense of teenage rebellion, which is something I can identify with a great deal.  I never left school and went on a three day bender, but I definitely had those types of feelings.

The structure drove me kind of nuts.  But it shouldn’t have.  I’m kind of a structure purist I’ve found and the way Salinger taps into that wandering mind of Holden, it frankly drove me crazy.  The good thing is, despite the wandering mind, Holden’s story does have a fairly progressive structure, it just isn’t as exciting as I’m used to.  But what do you expect when his main character says: “I hate the movies like poison.”   I however, do not hate the movies.  And in fact, they are my life.  So I guess that is a significant reason why his style didn’t jive with my sensibility.

What I Learned:
I should feel free in my writing to let a character be themselves, even when it is to their own detriment.  It is also important to let the characters go down roads in dialogue (or in the case of a novel, a thought process) that doesn’t necessarily lead to anything.  Letting them muse and meander about a certain experience or feeling is just as telling of their nature as is their actions.

Also, Holden is ADD as hell.

(If interested, you can buy the book here: The Catcher in the Rye)

Up next: THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two Things To Think About

Number One:  Check out this great advice from Jen Grisanti posted on The Hollywood Temp Diaries.

Here are some memorable quotes:
"One of the biggest mistakes young writers make is their writing portfolio doesn't support their goal."
"Once you identify some universal life moments, you add some fiction to the story while coming from a place of emotional truth. This is where the gold is."
"I think that scripted writers can learn a lot character wise. If you study the back story of some popular reality shows characters, it could give the scripted writers ideas."

Number Two: Check out this great memo from Walt Disney to Don Graham from Letters of Note.

Here is one particularly poignant point:
"Comedy, to be appreciated, must have contact with the audience. This we all know, but sometimes forget. By contact, I mean that there must be a familiar, sub-conscious association. Somewhere, or at some time, the audience has felt, or met with, or seen, or dreamt, the situation pictured. A study of the best gags and audience reaction we have had, will prove that the action or situation is something based on an imaginative experience or a direct life connection. This is what I mean by contact with the audience. When the action or the business loses its contact, it becomes silly and meaningless to the audience."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Year of Books: Day One



Time to carefully open your books and start reading!

That's right folks, it's time to read.  I have had it in my mind for the last few months to start reading more often and so to help promote that ideal, I have decided to read 52 books in the course of a year.

After a massive casting call for any and all book suggestions, I compiled a great list of over 120 books that seemed interesting and/or important enough for me to have read.  After much deliberation (seriously, this took me like three weeks to decide on) I have come up with my ultimate list of books.

I start today with "The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  For some reason I never read this book in grade school, so now is my chance to finally find out what all the fuss is about (if there be any).

How it's going to work is:
I will start reading a new book each Monday.  By Sunday night, if I haven't finished the book, that's okay - but I must post something about the book by Monday morning.  If I choose to finish the book I can, but a new book will be started the following week.  I'm not really concerned about finishing, I hope to finish each one - but I know that's not a practicality.  My reviews will be short and sweet so as to not give me a stress bomb in my brain.  They will consist of whatever impressions I get from the writing or maybe some thoughts on theme, character, prose or the like.

I will also be posting my thoughts on Goodreads.  You are welcome to join me there to discuss it or leave comments on the blog posts.

So here's the list:

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  2. The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Nivven and Jerry Pournelle
  3. Bone by Jeff Smith
  4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  5. Rejected by Jon Friedman
  6. Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
  7. Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft by Michael Piller
  8. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  10. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  12. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  13. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  14. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn
  15. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  16. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  18. Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman
  19. Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  20. Night by Elie Wiesel
  21. Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
  22. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson
  23. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre
  24. Akira: Volume One by Katsuhiro Otomo
  25. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  26. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer
  27. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  28. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  29. If On A Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino
  30. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  31. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  32. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  33. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  34. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  35. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  36. Einstein's Dream by Alan Lightman
  37. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  38. The Divine Comedy by Dante
  39. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  40. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  41. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  42. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
  43. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
  44. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
  45. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  46. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  47. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  48. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  49. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  50. The Plague by Albert Camus
  51. The Analyst by John Katzenbach
  52. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Later I will post some of the other books that were suggested that I wanted to read but didn't add to my list.

To the books!