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And Now an Interview with Jennifer Hudock

May 14, 2010 13 comments

(The audio of this interview is available at the bottom of this post!)

JR: Welcome to jimyesthatjim.com, the blog that continues to exist in spite of itself. For those who are listening or reading this I am online with Jennifer Hudock, who is the author of Goblin Market. The thing that I find most interesting actually that I wanted to just sort of address first is that you are a full-time writer, and that is something that is incredibly impressive to someone like me. And, I just was wondering, how did you end up doing that?

JH: I went to college when I was 26, and the funny thing is that I actually went at the time – I mean, I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. It’s all I’ve ever done. I had tried to get things published traditionally before I went to college, and when I went to college I actually went for Criminal Psychology. I was on campus for about a year before I switched my major over to English and Creative Writing. And my advisor at the time thought I was insane and said, “I know somebody who went into that major and I’m going to tell you right now, she graduated four years ago and right now she works at Pizza Hut!” And that was discouraging, but I’m a pretty determined person so I told myself – before I had gone back to college I had worked in retail, I had worked in restaurants and offices – and I told myself that after I graduated I was NOT going to get another job like that. So, once I graduated I started looking into freelance venues and I started working. It wasn’t even writing at the time, it was more internet research for a company that had just started off at that time. And because I was working with them, I got introduced to other people who were working for another company who was more focused on a combination of freelance writing and research. And I worked for them for about two years and somebody that I worked with through that company had moved on and was actually editing a blog for another company. And he really liked my writing and we had a good work relationship and he actually invited me to come and work for him. So, I have been working from home, freelancing and now writing full time for the last three years.

JR: That’s wonderful. I aspire one day to perhaps get to where you are if I can overcome my own sloth and other issues. (chuckles)

JH: (chuckles) It’s not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. I mean, there are days where I wake up and I would rather stay in bed and sleep in until noon like I used to do but because I have to focus on my work like that it’s more disciplined. And because I learned that discipline of having to work at home and being responsible completely for your own income it motivated me in a lot of other ways, too – I mean, even with podcasting and writing fiction. You have deadlines and you have to meet them so, it’s been a help in a lot of different ways.

JR: Do you use any of those two years of Criminal Psychology in your writing at all?

JH: Actually, this is really funny. The thing that prompted me to go into Criminal Psychology was my love of The X-Files.

JR: Ah!

JH: I wanted to be like Mulder. I actually wanted to join the FBI at the time that I applied to go to college. So, I did have about two years’ worth of psychology before I really switched my major. It’s interesting because – psychology – you learn a lot about how the mind works and I definitely do use that when I’m creating characters because one of the things, being inside a character’s head, is knowing how they psychologically process things. So, it does help. Yeah.

JR: Cool, absolutely. Goblin Market, your podcast, is coming to an end, is it not?

JH: Yes, I have one more episode to record and it will be done! I do have to go back – the first seven episodes, the sound quality was just atrocious because my equipment was poor. I went back and I rerecorded the first episode. I haven’t put it out yet, but after that I have six more that I need to rerecord before I can put it up on Podiobooks.

JR: I really liked it. I’ve been enjoying it for some time now. I first heard about it I think when I was – I’m following Mur Lafferty in her feed – in her Twitter feed – and she mentioned it. And so I went and I checked it out. And it’s really cool, I think! I can see very clearly your fandom of things of the ilk of the Rossetti poem and Labyrinth and all that, but you’ve also gone in other directions with it and I think that is cool that you’re coming up with newer ideas to apply to that kind of thing. Where did your primary inspiration for Goblin Market come from?

JH: It was kind of a cross between Labyrinth and the Christina Rossetti poem. The very first chapter of the novel is sort of the younger sister who goes into the market in the Christina Rossetti poem. And I actually introduce it in the podcast with four lines from the poem – you know, “We should not look at goblin men.” And it was kind of a cross between that. And the funny thing is – and a lot of people probably don’t know this – some people might if they’re big fans of Brian Froud and the Labyrinth – but the Goblin Market was originally a Labyrinth fan fiction that I wrote.

JR: Oh, really?

JH: And after I finished it I realized I had put SO many elements that had nothing to do with the original story into it that I could go back and change a few little details and it would be original. So I did that. The Darknjan Wald, which is the bizarre, disgusting, rotting forest that they have to travel through to get to the goblin castle was originally the Labyrinth. So, there was a lot that you could twist and turn into something that had nothing to do with the Labyrinth itself.

JR: That’s very cool. Yeah, I noticed that – that the environment starts changing and it gets less and less recognizable – I guess more alien – and I really liked that.

JH: Thank you.

JR: It’s very cool, it’s very cool. Well now, once Goblin Market ends, you’ve certainly got plenty of other irons on the fire, I think, to keep you busy right now! The Dark Journeys anthology – tell us about that.

JH: Well, the Dark Journeys collection is a collection of short stories. They are completely unrelated to each other and I put one out pretty much every Friday on Amazon and Smashwords for download for 99 cents to $1.99. I only have one right now that’s $1.99 and that’s because it’s novella-length. But they’re all completely unconnected to each other – but yet, they’re connected by the fact that life itself is a journey. And I twisted it into these dark elements that sometimes we face things in life that are really difficult to overcome. But instead of just focusing on difficult life elements I took it more to a supernatural level. One of the stories, Portrait of the Dead Countess, is about a young boy who becomes enchanted by a haunted portrait in his family’s summer home that is connected to the devil. And through the devil in this portrait he becomes mesmerized and he kills for this portrait to sustain its life – because the woman the portrait was painted of gained immortality by selling her soul to the devil, and the portrait itself was actually painted on human flesh – like, the canvas was human flesh.

JR: Nice!

JH: So, I mean, it’s completely against his will that he’s doing this – like, he’s committing murders to sustain the portrait’s life…

JR: Interesting…

JH: I mean, which, you know – that happens every day. (laughs)

JR: Well, yeah! (laughs) I was almost thinking sort of a reverse Dorian Gray type thing there, where you’re just doing all you can to keep the portrait safe. That’s awesome, that’s great. So, what prompted this sort of buck-and-two-buck fiction thing going on?

JH: My fiancée, James Melzer, started a Deviant Dollars series a couple of months ago where he was selling short stories on Amazon and Smashwords for 99 cents. And I thought to myself, he’s a genius! Because I have been trying to sell my fiction for years and every single story in this collection has been shopped out or previously published on smaller venues like online zines or journals that are so obscure you would never even know about them. And I thought this is a good way to get your work out there so people can read it!

JR: Cool! And are people buying it?

JH: Yeah, yeah! I mean, surprisingly enough, some stories do much better than others. Two of the stories are zombie stories. I have the Zombie Double Shot, which is the shortest thing in the collection and it actually has two stories in it – it only comes to about 3000 words with both stories combined, but that one has outsold all the other stories like four to one.

JR: Well, that’s great! I look forward to seeing how that comes out because that sounds like you guys may be onto something there!

JH: Yeah, a lot of people are actually doing it now, and I’m not sure if they’re having success with it. I tend to approach it from – you know, if you help me out and help me spread the word about this I’m glad to give you the story for free. So, I think that helps a little bit. And the funny thing is that a lot of the people who do blog about it or spread the word about it, they’re like, “No, no. I want to support you. I’ll buy it.” And that’s touching.

JR: That IS great.

JH: Because the community that we’re a part of is just so amazing – I mean people just have no idea. (chuckles)

JR: Absolutely, absolutely. So what’s next? You clearly have, like I said, a bunch of irons on the fire. Any of them that you’d care to pull out and have us bask in the glow of?

JH: Well, I AM working on two collaborative anthology projects. I have the From the Dark Side anthology, which is a charity anthology. I have a bunch of people who are submitting work. We’re going to put the anthology together and sell it through Amazon and Smashwords, and if it does well I would like to actually put it out in print as well. We’ve had some amazing people who are just willing to give their stuff over and we’re going to donate all of the proceeds from the sales to the Letters and Light organization which is affiliated with the National November is Writing Month forums.

JR: Which organization was that?

JH: Letters and Light. It’s a charity that helps promote creative writing in classrooms for kids.

JR: Cool. Excellent.

JH: So there’s that that I’m working on, and I’m also working on the Farrago anthology, which is another charity sort of anthology. It’s not as official, but my friend Michael Bekemeyer, who is a filmmaker, needs to raise money so he can actually put his film vision into the works. So, I mentioned it on Twitter: “Hey, would you guys be willing to donate a story to this anthology so we can help Michael raise money for his film project?” And I was just blown away by the amount of people who came out and were like, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” And, I mean, by the end of that day I had so many e-mails from people who wanted to help Michael out – people that didn’t even know him – that it just blew my mind!

JR: Awesome. Well, I am definitely looking forward to that. Give us your web site! How can we find you?

JH: You can find me at www.jennybeans.net.

JR: And that links to all your other projects?

JH: Oh yeah, yeah.

JR: Cool, well, definitely looking forward to seeing how these things develop. Thank you very much for talking to us!

JH: Thanks for having me!

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Music by Kevin MacLeod

Serve Your Fairies Golden Brown

December 5, 2009 6 comments

Here’s a little suggestion I have for writers of fantasy and horror: fairies should be terrifying.

They are not your friends.  They will not whisk you away to a wondrous magical land where you’ll never grow old and you can play happily in golden fields and under the lollipop trees for eternity.  What they’re more likely to do is snatch you away to a horrifying, twisted nightmare realm where the flow of time and the continuity of space are utterly subjective.

There’s been a trend lately, you see, to put the Grimm back into fairy tales and I’m all for it, to tell you the truth.  Why?  Because it makes for much better stories.

Let’s face it.  Stories are much more interesting when the main character suffers torment.  Fairy creatures can potentially represent as much torment as you could ever need.  These are beings with completely alien mindsets who act largely on whim.  They’re pretty much madness incarnate.

Dark fairy creatures make some of the best antagonists.  This is why so many people have been showing an interest in the versions of fairy tales that were told by the Brothers Grimm.  For all its cheese, this is why the movie Labyrinth worked as well as it did.  This is why I keep hearing so many people are applauding the new version of White Wolf’s Changeling RPG and saying that it’s superior in presentation to the iteration that came before it.  This is also why Jennifer Hudock’s podcast novel Goblin Market is getting such good word-of-mouth.

Dark fairy creatures are awesome.

Of course, this is something people knew long before the Brothers Grimm came around.  Shakespeare presented King Oberon and Queen Titania as forces of nature that are quite content to meddle in human affairs – and in some cases transform them partially into donkeys.  The old Celtic and Germanic fairy tales had a plethora of tiny magical folk – and indeed, larger magical folk – who were anything but benevolent.  You really don’t have to dig very deep to find references to fairy creatures with less than pure intentions.  Even the Wikipedia article on fairies makes a nice jumping-off point.

The reason these kinds of beings make good antagonists is that they can instantly (and for the writer, conveniently) embody all manner of psychological trauma.  A.N. Wilson posited an interesting thought in the UK’s Daily Mail – the idea that the original purpose of fairy tales was to help children understand the kinds of fearsome things they may have to face in life.  Not actual child-eating crones or anthropomorphic wolf-men, necessarily, but complex interpersonal situations with strangers, friends and families – especially families of the dysfunctional variety.  When it comes down to it, some people are crazy and some are downright bastards.  Fairy creatures have a level of mutability that lets them very neatly personify the kind of distress anyone might suffer when being forced to deal with the issues of those individuals.

Need a horrifying, murderous glutton?  Hire a redcap.  Want a massive, thuggish bully?  Ogres and trolls both do well in a pinch.  Want to show how a passion to tinker with things can lead to massive destruction?  Just snatch up half a dozen goblins, wind them up and watch them go.  If you use fairy creatures in a story then the darker and more twisted they are, the more interesting and significant the tale can be.  The results rarely fail to please.

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And Now an Interview with J.C. Hutchins

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

(The audio of this interview is available at the bottom of this post!)

JR: Welcome to the experience that is Jim – Yes, THAT Jim, the blog that is constantly stumbling over itself trying to figure out what it is.

JCH: I’m just glad I actually know who “that Jim” actually is now!

JR: I’m still figuring it out, really! (laughs) So, first off, I guess for anyone who might not be fully familiar, tell us a bit about the whole 7th Son thing.

JCH: Sure!  I started writing 7th Son way back in 2002.  I began writing a book that I knew was going to be big.  I’m highly influenced by Stephen King – I love the guy and I love his work – and my favorite novel of his is The Stand. That’s not to say that he hasn’t written great books since then, but that’s one of the books that I really love because the stakes are pretty much at their highest in a book like that.  I love high stakes fiction.

JR: Oh yeah!

JCH: And, so I kind of set out to write a story that kind of rivaled his The Stand in length and scope the best I could.  And, you know, have the whole end of the world kind of thing hanging in the balance with my story as well.  And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.  And I finished writing a 1200 page manuscript in 2004, so it took me two years.  Actually it was longer than that, but I then spent the next year, 2005, editing it down to 1200 pages and then sending it out to literary agents because this is how the publishing business works.  You can’t really submit your manuscripts to publishers and editors if you are a nobody.  You need a champion.  You need a middle man.  You need an agent.

JR: Oh yeah.

JCH: And so that’s what I did.  And I received universal rejections because the publishing industry – deservedly so – would not make an exception for a nobody author who had written a 1200 page book that couldn’t be sold.  Because of its length alone.  (chuckles)  So I was kind of heartbroken but during that time I was also listening to podcasting and came across the work of Scott Sigler, who was one of the very first podcast novelists, and he was releasing his unpublished manuscript online in free, audio podcast format, serialized week to week.  And by the end of 2005 I was like, “Well, you know, if I can’t sell this book I might as well share it.”  And that’s when I started recording 7th Son and releasing it on the internet.  The book is a high-tech thriller that takes place in present day and it’s about human cloning, genetics, nature vs nurture, the nature of human identity and a villain apparently hell-bent on global chaos and destruction.

JR: Excellent!  (laughs)  If I may briefly quote here from one of the gentlemen on the back, from Patrick Lussier, “Breakneck storytelling at its absolute best.  Characters – dark, duplicitous, and fascinating – stalk through a rich techscape that’s so real, so plausible, it compels and haunts.”  The “techscape” word really is something I latched onto in my little hindbrain.  What did you do as far as sculpting the world – how did you decide you wanted to start to create that “techscape” as they’re calling it?

JCH: Yeah!  Well, first off, I mean like that is the coolest quote in the world, from Patrick Lussier, one of the coolest guys.  And I have the good fortune of saying I personally know him and have personally met him.  He’s the director of My Bloody Valentine 3-D, White Noise 2, Dracula 2000 – I mean some of my favorite genre pictures he’s done –  edited the Scream trilogy – OMG!  The guy’s just freaking amazing and the nicest man you’d ever meet!  Anyway, he picked up on that – you’ve picked up on that, and that’s something I certainly wanted to build into the 7th Son universe – was that I wanted to make the surface of the 7th Son universe as absolutely pedestrian and normal and as well-rooted in reality as WE are rooted in reality.  But also kind of build just beneath the surface a 60 (at LEAST 60) year legacy of conspiracy theories and clandestine technologies and government arrangements with other countries and stuff that simply is not publicly available and CANNOT be publicly available because it is protected under a super-secret – beyond top secret – classification called Code Phantom.  In the world of 7th Son, only ten people on the planet have access to what is called Code Phantom Clearance and the kind of super secrets that fall under that security clearance.  And really what all this was is I wanted to build a plausible history and mythology that could support the core conceit of my novel, which was not only that human cloning exists but that it has existed for at least 15 years and that in addition to that the ability to record human memories – which is, to me, the key ingredient in a great human cloning story – that that has also existed for 15 years.  And how could a government create a program like that?  And how could it fund it?  And how could that exist without people knowing about it?  And who would want that technology?  And who would be willing to do anything to obtain that technology?  All that stuff.  And that’s kind of like the superstructure or the foundation of this building all kind of funneling up to the core premise which is human cloning isn’t near – it’s already here! (laughs)

JR: Ah, yes!  And we actually heard that quote – we saw that quote in that wonderful promotion that you did where you “hacked” everybody’s blogs.

JCH: Yeah!  That was great!

JR: This very one that people may be staring at, at the moment, included (where I got to do my slightly hamfisted Kilroy2.0 impersonation).  That’s one of the really most innovative things, I think, also about this whole thing – is the way that you’re promoting it.  And that is not just through podcastery but also through this various-blog-hacking stuff.  And the music as well!

JCH: Yeah!

JR: Actually, something that I thought was just a brilliant idea was when you took music written by one of the characters in the book.  Essentially, you decided to put out songs – actual MP3 files of songs that this guy, John Smith, had written.  And I’m just curious – how did you come up with that?

JCH: It just popped in my head!  I like to play “What If?”  It all starts with, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”  And that’s how all of my fiction starts and that’s how all of my promotion ideas start.  And a lot of my promotion is a form of storytelling in its own way.  There’s usually obviously a participatory element, but whenever I can build a mythology into what we’re doing as a community to support 7th Son, I do it.  For instance, the 7th Son Ministry of Propaganda, which is basically an online street team.  I mean, at the beating heart of it, it’s a street team, and there’s nothing really unusual about that.  That’s been going on for years.  But what I did was that the Ministry of Propaganda is being led by a Russian woman named Natasha who is imperious and doesn’t ask you for your help, she COMMANDS you to help!  And so, kind of building a mythology around Natasha, I think, helps people playfully buy into this fake history and have more fun with the experience!  And that’s really what this is all about.  It’s that, yes, I would LOVE if you supported 7th Son by spreading the word, but if it’s a fun experience then you’re 1000 times more likely to do it.

JR: Oh yeah.  And I’ve got to say that I think your stuff has the most awesome extras I’ve ever seen of any author, pretty much!

JCH: Well, you know, in kind of getting it back into the John Smith songs, one of the things I did was I was just kind of sitting there, and *POOF!*  Wouldn’t it be cool if John Smith actually recorded and released some of the song titles that he mentions in 7th Son: Descent?  And these titles are actually mentioned in the text of the book, which was written years and years ago.  And I thought, “Well, yeah, that would be cool.  What would I need to do to do that?”  Well, I’d need to find a musician to collaborate with who could take my notes about the ideas that I had for these song titles and some mythology and history about John Smith and have him write and perform the songs.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I reached out to a dear friend, Matthew Wayne Selznick, who is also a podcast novelist.  Fantastic lyricist and performer, period!  I’ve heard him play acoustic Folk live and it was SO freaking cool!

JR: Yeah, it’s really good stuff!

JCH: Yeah!  And that’s kind of what I did.  And so the whole kind of goal was to, again, create art and create an experience that not only entertains the listener but also kind of draws them into the 7th Son world in an unconventional way.  In a way that enhances their pre-existing knowledge of the book if they’ve already read the book or informs them on what to kind of experience as John as a character if they purchase and read the book.  And it’s also kind of cool because you can actually compare the song list of the EP we recorded and the names of the songs in the book and be able to say, “I have actually listened to that song!”  And how cool is that?

JR: Oh, that’s great.

JCH: I’m releasing those songs on my web site in weekly installments.

JR: Yeah and actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to – after this interview – play one of those songs.  I see we’re almost out of time, here, so I just wanted to go ahead and ask the last question, which I’ve actually shamelessly stolen from another podcast called The Game’s the Thing, because they do awesome work.  And that question is what one fact about you might your fans not know?

JCH: My favorite piece of apparel – that I wear regularly – is my robot boxers.

JR: Ooh! (laughs) So, actual boxers with robots on them?

JCH: Robots.  Robots are awesome.

JR: Robots.

JCH: Robots are awesome.  And whenever I wear these boxers I feel twice as awesome as I would on my best day.

JR: Well, they ARE our future masters so it is good to make sure we pay the proper obeisance to them.

JCH: That’s right!  You know, I’m always smelling emerging trends and I figured I’d get on this train pretty quick.

JR: Well, that’s great! (chuckles) J.C. Hutchins, thank you very much for coming and talking about this.  I really appreciate it!

JCH: Jim, it was my pleasure.  Thank you so much!

Song – Winter Love by John Smith
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The Evils of So[ CONTENT OVERRIDE: KILROY2.0 IS HERE!!! ]

October 27, 2009 1 comment

Something has been seriously bugging me lately.  I’m not sure how long this has been going on, but have you noticed something peculiar that’s started to happen when they stick an animated character into a film?

I thought I was imagining it at first, but after the most recent batch of summer blockbusters, I realized I was seeing the same thing over and over.  It hasn’t been very noticeable but I’m pretty sure I’ve finally worked out what’s actually going on.

Here’s the deal.

>>>  [ WARNING ::: DATABASE ERROR ::: CONTENT OVERRIDE ::: SOURCE: EXTERNAL ] <<<

> source terminal location: UNKNOWN

> source terminal identity: UNAVAILABLE

> source login information: ENCRYPTED

> message begins

the post you are now reading is designed to dull your senses to THE TRUTH.  do not live the life of the worker bee, the cog, the well-oiled piston in the MACHINE OF DECEIT!

there is a grand CONSPIRACY afoot.  you have been taught to believe that you are UNIQUE, one of a kind. THIS IS NOT TRUE. long ago, a cabal of scientists created technologies to ensure that ANYONE’S MIND AND BODY can be duplicated.

human cloning isn’t NEAR. it’s already HERE. discover the truth at http://JCHutchins.net

you are being DECEIVED. break free from the cogs, flee the hive, become A PROPHET OF THE TRUTH!

kilroy2.0 was here … kilroy2.0 is everywhere

>>> [ CONTENT OVERRIDE CEASES ::: DATABASE STATUS: RECOVERING ] <<<

probably keep happening until the word “maudlin” is almost totally obscured.

That’s the scary part.  This kind of thing will keep going on in movies, literature and even podcasts without anybody realizing what’s really occurring.

I’m just glad to have caught it now, before someone had to break the sock puppets out to explain it to me.

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Do I Want to RSVP for the Marvel/Disney Wedding?

October 23, 2009 1 comment

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month or so I’m sure you heard that Disney purchased Marvel Comics. For the most part this doesn’t bother me too much. These kinds of things happen all the time. I understand that Disney has many departments and isn’t necessarily the evil empire a lot of folks make it out to be. I realize they’ve been taking a hands-off approach to a lot of things and will likely do so with Marvel for the most part (maybe getting more involved with the Marvel video games and the syndication of the older Marvel cartoons than anything else). I’ve also read over plenty of articles stating that this is a good thing for Marvel and will give them the financial backing they so desperately need right now.

But, that said, there is one little thing that worries me.

How will this affect future Marvel films? Will I want to go and see them?

I understand that they’ll be better funded. I also know that there are plenty of folks who don’t like a lot of Marvel’s recent films and think this will only make them better. As it happens I’ve actually liked the majority of the Marvel films that have been coming out lately, warts and all, but that’s a different subject.

The issue I have about the quality of future movies will likely come down to whether or not Disney wants to put their name on them. For the next couple of years that’s not going to be a problem since Marvel’s current film contracts with various studios aren’t being affected. It’s what happens after those contracts end that concerns me.

Disney does plenty of things through secondary studios (Touchstone, Miramax, etc). If it goes that route I don’t see there being too big a difference in the movies except for an increase in budget along with whatever side effects there will be as a result of the terms of standing contracts with individual writers, directors and actors. Though, admittedly, the contract issue is usually a concern no matter WHAT studio is involved.

If, on the other hand, Disney DOES want to put their name on the movies, going through their main studio – Walt Disney Pictures – then I believe I see shadows on the horizon.

I realize that the quality of the live-action movies to come out of Walt Disney Pictures has improved vastly since such euthanasia-inspiring wonders as Operation Dumbo Drop and the heavily-butchered adaptations of My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget. Somewhere around the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (or “Ca-Ruh-BEE-in” if you’re going with the official Disney mispronunciation), characters in live-action Disney films started behaving somewhat closer to the way actual human beings do.

However, there still remain quite a few issues over what can and cannot be done in a movie with Disney’s name on it. Since I’ve already brought up the Pirates franchise, let’s stick with that as an example. Spoilers ahoy, by the way, in case you’re waiting for the Mayan Apocalypse to pass by before you rent the DVDs. I liked the first movie quite a bit. The second was pretty good too if you ignored the fact that they messed around with the characters’ motivations a bit and that just about every third word spoken in the film was “pirate” (though, granted, the first one suffered from that as well).

In my opinion, the third movie was decent, but I had a fairly serious problem with it. I’ve heard that the 2nd and 3rd movies were made at the same time so I’m not sure why I didn’t notice this as much in Dead Man’s Chest, but it seemed as though At World’s End was seriously dumbed down. It seemed as though EVERY joke had to beat the audience over the head. Everything had to be extremely obvious, obnoxious and over-the-top.

Now, I know that to an extent it was SUPPOSED to be over-the-top. I’m confident in saying that I enjoy swashbuckling adventure as much as the next guy. But it was still too much. Maybe there was a good excuse for it. Maybe they had to rush the edit to get the movie out on time and ended up giving it to a bunch of interns. I don’t know the true reason, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that someone at Disney wanted to make sure the movie was marketable to the lowest common denominator and made that known to whoever was cutting it together at the 11th hour.

And, of course, there are Disney’s standards and practices to consider. I’ve heard plenty of my friends say that they love the wedding scene that takes place in the 3rd movie on board a ship in the middle of a massive sword fight. I’ll be kind here and say that I know they tried – they really did – but it just didn’t work for me or for my badly-abused suspension of disbelief. Especially after I realized that the scene likely only came into being because the happy couple have sex near the end of the movie.

After all, you can’t do things like having intercourse out of wedlock in a movie with Disney’s name on it, can you? I’m sure there are quite a few other things you can’t do as well.

THAT is what worries me about future Marvel movies. How much of a straight jacket will there be on this massive Avengers initiative that’s now building steam? Will Wolverine have to quit smoking – AGAIN? Will Spider-Man have to stop and explain every single joke he makes in the heat of combat?

Only time will tell. Until then it is my fervent wish that these two companies just stay good friends without taking their relationship to the next level. I’ll be listening out in the hope that we don’t hear the dread toll of wedding bells – because if we do, we’ll know it won’t be long before Marvel assumes the position.

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Dragon*Con? That Is SO Last Month!

October 1, 2009 2 comments

Okay, I know it’s been about a month since Dragon*Con, but I figured that since I actually DID get to go this year, it would be a good idea to talk about it.

Back when I was living in Atlanta, Dragon*Con was something that I always tried to attend every year without fail.  To be fair, it was pretty much the law that if you were a geek and a resident of Georgia, you were required to attend or suffer the loss of your Geek Membership Card, but I enjoyed it anyway.  I would get insanely excited about it whenever August rolled around and would begin chanting the convention’s name over and over in an annoying fashion.  It was my way of paying tribute to the Great Dragon Spirit!  Or something like that.

Unfortunately, I had to break with this sacred annual ritual when I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina and had to spend most of the next four years trapped in a cold, harsh, Dragon*Con-less world.

All of that changed when I decided to say, “Damn the torpedoes!” and find a way to go this year.  It was a last-minute decision and I only had the cash to manage to be there for a total of six hours on a Sunday, but I have to tell you those six hours were pretty freaking amazing.

So what did I do in those six hours?  Well, mostly I just hung around.  Sure, we all enjoy seeing the celebrities pressed into their rows of autograph tables like pheasants under glass.  We like moving slowly through the dealers’ room and standing there for minutes at a time looking for openings between the huge throngs of convention shoppers much like the drivers are always doing with their fellow motorists just outside on Atlanta’s city streets.  But for me, the best part of a convention like Dragon*Con is meeting people and hanging out with them.

photo by Benjamin Miller

I did get to go to one panel (the live episode of Mur Lafferty’s “I Should Be Writing”), but the rest of the time I spent with people I’m happy to call my friends.  Some of them were friends I already knew from when I’d lived there before and some were new friends I’d made online – fellow podcasters and even some folks I’d met on Twitter.

A lot of people like to go to Dragon*Con and go absolutely nuts.  They burn themselves out trying to attend every possible panel, LARP, contest, party or concert.  That was me, too, the first couple of years I attended.  Then one year I decided that instead of trying to wrestle the monster that is the convention schedule, I’d just ride on its back instead.  I’d wander around from area to area and involve myself in whatever looked interesting to me.  And I have to tell you, I had more fun doing it that way than I can even begin to express.  That’s how I’ve done it ever since.

So, even though I spent three more hours driving that day than I did at the convention itself (eight hours on the round trip and the rest navigating the demonic web of Atlanta’s traffic system), it was totally worth it.  For me, Dragon*Con is all about the people.  And no matter how short your visit is to that mystical land that exists between those four downtown hotels over Labor Day weekend before disappearing Brigadoon-like into the draconic aether, there will always be people a-plenty.

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Categories: Fandom, Interaction Tags: ,