Writing Update: I drew! Meet Judgie Bear! (from my Instagram)

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1knr99n

While technically, this doesn’t constitute “writing” in a sort of “words-on-the-screen” kind of way, I did create this character and fill in a sort of back-story for him, so I’m counting that as writing. 😛

The story is that Judgie Bear is a teddy bear that judges you so your parents don’t have to. I think I could do a whole series of this guy in the form of single-panel comics and/or t-shirt designs, not unlike my plans for Skelly-chan. The same way I love the idea of something that symbolizes death being used to promote “cute,” I love the idea of something that represents light, friendly love being twisted around into something that could actually inspire a neurosis or two 🙂

Writing Update: I kinda didn’t Write

Well, I DID write yesterday and the day before, but not today.

Well, I sorta did write today, in that I worked on a tech review, but most of the time was spent on working out what photos and screenshots to include. So, I really didn’t do any REAL writing, which is depressing to me, but there are only so many hours in the day. And I’m trying to get to bed at a “reasonable” time (which for most folks is still on the late side), so I need to call it a night right now at 12:20ish AM.

Tomorrow I’ll do my best to get focused earlier in the day. It’s always hard for night owls like me to do.

Better luck after a (hopefully) good night’s sleep!

Fixing “FROZEN.” Yes the Disney Hit is Great but Could Have BeenGreater.

WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead! If you’re one of the three people on Earth who have yet to see “FROZEN,” please proceed with caution! I try to avoid mentioning major plot points, but we all define the word “spoiler” differently, so you’ve been warned!! By continuing to read this, you absolve me of all responsibility for possibly ruining the movie for you! That said, I don’t think I will…

So, I really enjoyed the Disney’s latest CG animated movie. It really resonated with me in a few ways that I suppose I should be embarrassed by–what with me being a male who is thoroughly into adulthood. However, there were some huge problems with that film. Three, to be exact–three missed opportunities with story, humor and music.

I’ll start with the part that I am least qualified to criticize–the music.

I can’t sing and I’m not musical, really, at all. However, I am married to a professional singer and actress who happens to be immensely talented and knows her stuff. One of the main complaints from her about the film was that the music had an over all “pop” feel that really clashed with the setting of the story. I agree with this. What’s more is that the film sets up a musical theme in the very first scene which it then quickly abandons. It was a shame, since I don’t know anything about folk music from northern Europe and it would have been nice to hear a style of music I haven’t already heard too much of.

That said, I tend to forgive the music, as the lyrics and context generally make up for it’s poppish, somewhat cliched sound. In fact, I was very pleased to find that the songs in “FROZEN” generally don’t fall prey to what I call “Single Plot Point Syndrome.” I’ve seen a lot of musicals in my day (as the son of a huge fan of musicals and the husband of someone who has performed in quite a few of them). I loathe songs that exist solely to remind us over and over that a thing has happened. My favorite example of this is from “PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.” That one song about them having a masquerade? I’m not sure why that needs to be a whole song. They’re having a maquerade. Yes, indeed. We see them in masks as they sing it. Why do we need this song?

I think the only song that sticks out in my mind as being afflicted by SPPS in “FROZEN” is the song Olaf sings about what he would do if he could experience summer. It’s such an adorable song, though, so I didn’t mind it. Or I wouldn’t have minded it if it weren’t for who sings it.

This brings us to my second criticism about “FROZEN.” That stupid f**king snowman. I know! I know! There is a HUGE contingent of Olaf fans out there. One of my favorite blogs even claimed Olaf was the best thing about “FROZEN.” But he isn’t. He’s the weakest thing.

If not, why isn’t he in the whole movie? He shows up a third or maybe halfway in. Sure, there’s the Proto-Olaf they build as children, but he doesn’t turn into a chirpier version of Woody Allen until he inexplicably shows up when the sister and her guy pal go looking for Elsa in the mountains. And when he does, he brings buckets of laughs, right?

Buy FROZEN on Blu-Ray

Well, not to me, but that’s beside the point. Sure, the hipsters sitting next to me in the theater laughed their asses off at Olaf, but that doesn’t matter. Not to me. Why? Because we already had an awesomely warm, funny, comic-relief character–the reindeer. Yep. He was charming, had great timing, and really lightened the mood nicely. He wasn’t even a talking reindeer so there was much less to strain my suspension of disbelief. I think if I was a little kid, I’d have an even easier time imagining this adventure could have really happened. As an adult, I just didn’t know why Olaf was there.

Elsa didn’t really create him. I mean, I guess she did with her sister’s help when they were little kids. But that’s not what I mean. When the Fairy Godmother in “CINDERELLA” conjures Cindy’s dress, it’s a dramatic, beautiful moment. When Elsa conjures Olaf, it happens off-screen. What the hell is that?

So, I say cut the boring, cliche-ridden character out of the film entirely. It works just as well without him. Either that, or make him matter more and put less of an emphasis on how he’s the comic relief. Every single joke he has hits the punchline on the head. None of it seems indigenous to the situation, really. It’s like he’s a little Deus Ex Joke Machine wondering through the story. That is, until he actually does become useful toward the end of the film. But really, I think Anna could have gotten out of her situation on her own. She is a wonderfully competent character, after all.

While I do feel that Olaf really did ruin every scene he was in, for me, I don’t think he was the biggest mistake of “FROZEN.” The biggest mistake of “FROZEN” was how they handled Elsa’s at-home-exile.

Once her parents lock her up, the focus of the film abruptly shifts to her sister and stays there for far too long. The film expects us to assume that being locked away is inherently unpleasant. Which, I suppose is fine, but it’s not that interesting, is it? Plus, if we had seen what she went through as a person, cut off from the rest of humanity, it would have made her “coming out” song in her ice castle that much more triumphant.

Just imagine the scenes where she sneaks out of her room and accidentally freezes dinner or almost turns the maid into an ice statue. Imagine she has a few more break-out attempts where she is soooo very much tempted to go over to the dark side, but she doesn’t. In her heart, she’s still a good person, so she goes back inside (literally and figuratively) on her own. Exiling herself–which she can then use to help fuel her rejection of her responsibilities to lead and keep her power in check. It would have made her break from “civilized society” that much more interesting and her motivation that much more ambiguous. Has she truly gone evil? Obviously, when she sings her “Let it Go” song, we’d know she hasn’t. But it’s called “drama,” right?

Wouldn’t all of that have made her character so much more interesting?

As she is, she’s a great role model for girls, which I definitely appreciate. However, she could have been a much more resonant character for everyone watching. It’s almost as though the filmmakers felt pressure to make her a typical Disney princess.

Well, that’s how I would have fixed “FROZEN.”

While “FROZEN” is a legitimately enjoyable film, you have to admit, it would have been a better movie like this.

Buy FROZEN on Blu-Ray

Writing Update: My first post is up at “Pete Saves Hollywood”!

Finally–the blog where I save Hollywood has it’s first actual post! Well, beyond the introduction post that has been on there for weeks. From here on out, you can expect a new post every Monday.

In the first post I talk about what was wrong with the Disney hit, “FROZEN.”

I know, I know, you probably think nothing (or at most, very little) was wrong with the film but there really are things wrong with it–that’s right–things, plural! What might those be?

Well, head on over to the “Pete Saves Hollywood” blog and read:

Fixing Frozen. Yes the Disney Hit is Great but Could Have Been Greater.

OH and be sure to turn off your browser’s ad blocker. In fact, you should always turn it off on any site you like and want to support. Feel free to click on any of those ads, too. You know, if you want to.

Writing update: I actually wrote some fiction (and some other stuff)

So, I’m nearly through with the very first post for my “Saving Hollywood” blog. I’m psyched about that. What I’m more psyched about is that I actually just wrote about 1200 words in a new/old project that I’ve been wrestling with for years.

I think my main problem with it was that I couldn’t find characters interesting enough to make the story go. I’m not entirely sure I’ve done that yet, but I know my new lead is much more interesting to me than the last one. I have a feeling it may also be about structure. I love first person, probably too much. This story may need a third-person structure, but I want to give first-person one last try.

There’s just something about a first-person story that I prefer. When you’re reading one, it’s like you meet a new person without having to do the work. Plus, you can generally trust that person to not lie to you. There’s a lot of stability with a first-person perspective for the reader and also for the writer. As a writer, I get to climb into just one person’s head and interpret the fictional life around them instead of having to do that for every character who ever holds the perspective of a scene in an entire novel. Sure, I have to come up with realistic voices and motivations for other characters, too, but living inside of more than one character is hard work!

Plus, it guarantees I’ll get through the project. If I have one person “in charge” I can follow that person through until the end. No other character is going to derail things by going off in some other distracting corner of the story universe.

Aaanyway, I should wrap this up. It’s a Saturday night/Sunday morning as I type this and want to sneak in a movie before bed. I hadn’t planned to write any fiction tonight, but did. Which is a welcome thing. Writing fiction is my favorite thing in the world to do.

Writing update: A couple of Essays and a GREAT idea for a Short

Sadly, I did not update this blog for the past few days. My life (all of our lives, really) is filled with distractions. The Distraction Highlight for today is that I had to spend about 45 minutes troubleshooting why half of my home office lost power (it was a dead power strip). That’s just one of the many distractions, the likes of which I mentioned in my last post about writing and discipline. There were plenty more, less dramatic, distractions today and even more over the past few days since my last post–hence the lack of updates. But whining aside, I did get writing done every day since my last post. So I am practicing some of the discipline I wrote about in that last blog post.

Most of the writing I did was done on some essays/reviews I am writing for other blogs I maintain, including the very first post for my “Pete Saves Hollywood” blog (I am very excited about getting that blog going). So, that’s good. However, last night, in bed, I came up with a really interesting idea for a short film that I think is pretty exciting. It’s just a vague structural idea on how to shoot a short, super-cheap scifi short film right now, but it’s got a lot of potential (and hey, the idea is literally less than 24 hours old–whadya want?). I just need to figure out how to fill in the story that will best utilize this format I have in mind.

I have plenty more on my back and front burners, but, that’s it for now!

Thanks for reading!

Discipline and the Writer: For 2014 I haven’t had the former so I haven’t really been the latter.

Writing is haaaard. It’s something you really shouldn’t do unless you are driven to do it and even then, you need to exercise a lot of discipline. It’s easy to get distracted or to accidentally put everything first because you think (OK, *I* think) that you just need to get these necessary everyday things out of the way first.

This can be something like the dishes, taking out the trash or some other chore-related activity. My personal favorite (less “favorite,” more “often used”) distraction activity is dealing with my various digital devices. I am in the middle of a slow, multi-year process of turning my old VHS tapes and DVDs into mp4s playable on the average smart device. It seems as though, at least once a week, one or more of my hard drives run out of space. I will spend hours during a day rearranging stuff so that things I am converting will fit on my media drives. Yes, I even delete some things if I absolutely have to.

Of course, there is also the most infernal distraction activity of them all: the dayjob.

Yep, I mash the two words together–it’s not a “day job” but a “dayjob.” The idea is to denote it as something different from what you do for your living–this is just what you spend your day doing. Your life should be spent writing. Taking away the space in between the two words makes the threat of that first world even more clear. You cannot trust the dayjob!!

2014 started for me with the idea that I should write something–anything–everyday. Like NaNoWriMo 2013, however, I just couldn’t get my shit together this year until 7 days in. Then, a few days after that, I got sick for a week. While I was sick I felt strongly that if I tried to do anything at all creative during that time, I’d only make myself more sick. So, I held off on doing anything but watching a lot of TV.

So, now I’m back, feeling healthy again and all I have to show for this year so far (and for my resolution to write something every day) are three finished essays and this one that I will finish soon.

This is not acceptable. I need to be writing. It’s who I am and I consider myself very driven and yet, I have this paltry pile of almost-nothing to show for the twenty days that is this year.

So, 2014 will have to be the year I prove to myself that I am a disciplined writer. I need to use this blog to track my progress writing something every day–even if it’s just a paragraph.

So, here it is. For today, January 20, 2014, I polished an essay and wrote this post. That’s quite a few paragraphs, right?

I’ve also been suffering from the urge to write some good old fiction for several days now and I hate that my laziness has slipped me away from my keyboard each day in favor of the TV shows I actually still watch. See that? Another distraction activity.

I also need to read more–but that is fodder for an entire other post.