Getting Close! And Check Out This Podcast!

Hello Dear Readers!

I am extremely excited to keep you updated with my progress in the quest to get a book published.  I have had offers from more than one publisher!  Now it’s a matter of choosing which one will be the best one for the job.  It’s a tough decision to make.  I’ll let you know when I’ve signed on with the publisher I choose.

In the mean time, I got to be a guest on a film podcast that goes in depth into a movie.  I chose “Children of Men” (2006) and Doug Ferguson and I talk about it for an hour.  If you want to check it out, listen to it here.

I really love Children of Men; it’s one of my favourite films.  Nerding out with someone else who loves it was a real treat.  If you haven’t seen the film, there are spoilers in the podcast, but we do say “spoiler alert” before things get spoilery.

Here’s the trailer for the film if you are wondering if you are interested:


But after hearing Doug and I talk about it like we do, how could you not be interested in it!

I’ll keep you posted regarding upcoming publishing excitement.

Thanks for stopping by!

Heidi out.

Advertisements

It’s a World of (S)Laughter: Jurassic World in Review

Jurassic World: It’s a world of (s)laughter

When I was little, I was all about dinosaurs. I had a subscription to DINOSAURS! magazine (from which I still have the glow-in-the-dark T-Rex skeleton I had to put together using a few bones that came with each issue). I went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and was supremely glad to have experts to talk to about the minutia I was worrying about, such as whether Parasaurolophus had a skin sail which connected its head crest to its neck and/or back. It was vitally important for my drawings to be up to date with the scientific understanding of my favourite animals ever.

That was the first time I realized that science was an ongoing process, that we were constantly expanding and refining our understanding of how everything worked, especially the further back in time you go, and that they couldn’t yet tell me with certainty if the parasaurolophus had a skin sail connecting its magnificent head crest to its neck and/or back. I was perplexed; they were the experts, how could they not know. But then- if the experts didn’t know yet, holy smokes there must be so much to learn.

So I grew up and retained my love of all things dinosaur. I created and mod the Dinosaurs subreddit. It’s been great fun to see the community grow as we share our mutual love of all things dinosauria. Heck when that drunken reddit post about Lam(e)beosaurus hit the front page at the beginning of last year it was basically the best thing since sliced pizza.

Last night I went to Jurassic World. I fully intended to be disappointed but prepared to see things that would make me happy. My expectations were low. Things I wanted to see included: 1) dinosaurs, 2) Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle hunting in a pack with velociraptors, 3) the Indominus Rex, and 4) parasaurolophus because they are the best hadrosaur and obviously way better than lam(e)beosaur.

I got to see all of these things and more. Here are some of my likes and dislikes from the film.

How I turned against the familiar theme music
Right off the get go my excitement turned to annoyance at their cavalier use of the much beloved Jurassic Park theme music. They brought it in way too early and it served literally no emotional purpose other than to tug at the viewers’ heartstrings. To me, they were saying “hey remember how magical it was when you first heard this theme? Well here we go again. Oh you’re expecting to see something magical this time around again? Best we can do is an arial flyover of a crowd of people milling around this theme park. Oh maybe how about these characters going into their hotel room.” What a tragically wasted opportunity. To throw away such beloved music on nothing-scenes actually made me angry.

The viewer being inserted into the film as a character
They had a great character that represented the viewer and I wasn’t even annoyed at how obvious they were about it being us. He was the guy in the control room wearing the Jurassic Park t-shirt. Kind of cringy, right? But no, I liked him immediately, and his lines were all spot on. He was us, and they did a great job writing him so that he felt real and added a bit of humour here and there.

The sound design is stellar
When Indominus Rex escapes its paddock and is slowly searching for Chris Pratt, we hear the noise it makes for the first time and it sent a shiver down my spine. There was something strangely human about it, but then there were all sorts of terrifying nuances in the way its breathy growl seeped out through those teeth (so many teeth) that made it seem alien.

They also did a good job of holding off on showing us the entirety of Indominus for quite a while. We got some spikes here, a foot there, which really left me wanted to just see the damn thing already, but in a good way.

Raptors, raptors, raptors
They did a great job of treading a fine line between making the raptors terrifying but also relatable, able to follow commands but also clearly wild animals with hunting instinct. The raptor “Blue” had a nice splash of colour which hopefully we’ll see more of in the future when dinosaurs are portrayed on the big screen. Watching Chris Pratt work with them was pretty killer, and was basically the thing in the trailer that got me on board with this sequel. It delivered.

Reconning the (outdated) look of the dinosaurs
The had a little attempt at retconning the inaccuracies with the appearance of the dinosaurs. As you may know, we know understand that many dinosaurs, including plant eating dinosaurs had feathers. And they had colours! Heck dinosaur eggs just got a nice makeover when these ones were discovered to be blue and green! So why does Jurassic World have naked, boring brown dinosaurs? Wu says that if they had created dinosaurs as they had actually looked they would be very different “but that’s not what you wanted”… Sort of a nice nod to why they’re showing last centuries version of what dinosaurs look like, but also a little lazy. You’d think they’d be transitioning their theme park- you know, the theme park all about displaying animals meant to inspire awe with their appearance- to having more accurate looking animals that would be much more visually compelling. You know, with bright colours, camoflage, display patterns, and feathers? I’m a little disappointed they’re sticking with the outdated model of dinosaur appearance. When when WHEN will we get to see a big screen dino flick with right proper looking dinos? I hope it’s soon because it’d be nice if their images could get a massive update with the general public.

The skinny
All in all it was massively entertaining. There is a ton to knit-pick and many flaws, but over all I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was just good fun. Dinosaurs: check. Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle hunting in a pack with velociraptors: check. The Indominus Rex: check check check. And finally parasaurolophus: check. Granted they had minor appearances but you could tell they were the best dinosaurs in the park.

If you get a chance to check it out I hope you enjoy it! The discussion in my beautiful subreddit is here if you want to take part.

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

Juxtasubbing: Watching a movie with another movie’s subtitles

So during one of our long-distance-friend skype calls, my friend told me about a happy little accident which set me on this new hobby.

She loaded up an episode of Top Gear, famed British car show, but accidentally got the subtitles for Disney’s “Mulan” over top of it.

It produced some hilarious results, which the Top Gear subreddit loved.

She watched the whole episode like that and took screencaps throughout.

It brought a totally new meaning to the show of course.

So as she was telling me about this, my runaway brain began working on intentionally recreating this effect.

After some thought, I figured I’d need something to call it.  Juxtasubbing: watching a movie with another movie’s subtitles.

You load up the film and manually use another film’s subtitles- you play them together from the start, sit back, and take screenshots.

My first experiment with this was to juxtasub Scott Pilgrim and Fight Club, that is to say, I watched Scott Pilgrim with the subtitles for Fight Club overlaid.

It was quite challenging, as I was essentially watching two films at the same time (I know Fight Club so well that I was seeing it in my mind’s eye and hearing the dialogue as I read the subtitles).  This was exhausting for one not practiced in this strange new form of movie watching.  I’ll get better at it, I’m sure, but for now, I had to watch it in fits and starts.

I hit play, and looked for places where the subtitles created different meaning to the visuals on screen, or where they lined up in serendipitous ways. I didn’t jump around or alter this in any way; if you play Fight Club and Scott Pilgrim at the same time, you’ll get these same results.

Also, SPOILERS! If you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim and/or Fight Club, this juxtasub will spoil parts of them for you! I’ll keep them to a minimum in this blog post, but I’ve included a link at the end to the full album and that is spoiler city!

And also this post is NSFW for language.

Onwards.

Pleasingly, the dream sequences lined up.

Then things started to make crazy sense.

And sometimes just little things would be brought together, like foreshadowing relationship problems between Scott and Knives.

Sometimes the fight scenes matched up, including the first one of each film.

And then this little sequence was too perfect (extra good because Wallace is gay, Scott Pilgrim is not):




There are tons more of course.

Full album is here if you want it.  (Like I said though, SPOILER CITY!)

So that’s Juxtasubbing. I am going to experiment with it some more. If you do, I hope you’ll share the results! The possibilities are endless. Mash any two films together and see what happens. We’re bound to find some delightful matchups.

If you’d like another movie-related thing to read, check out my post Aspect Ratio Madness!

Have fun!  Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

Prisoners

I just got home from seeing a screening of Prisoners.

Holy smokes, I was not expecting that.  It had me on the edge of my seat for almost the whole film.  My chest is tight, my heart hurts from living in my throat for the past almost 3 hours.

The performances are excellent, the soundtrack is so unsettling, and the visual storytelling here is just top notch.  Oh, but the best thing, the very best thing, is the script.

I am so jealous of this script.  I want to give it a read and find out just how it managed to take me on this journey.  It had me in the palm of its hand and did things to me… things that films don’t do to me very often.  Like seriously, the intensity of emotion they managed to create; the craft level on every aspect of this film is stellar.  And like I said, the script-fu is just… damn.

I am a huge Hugh Jackman fan so I basically had to see this film, but it became apparent very early on that I was going to be in for way more than I bargained for.

I am having a hard time figuring out just exactly how to recommend this film; it’s not going to be for everyone.  Its pacing was brilliant, but it was slow (although it didn’t feel slow, if you know what I mean).  And if you have kids, god help you; I already feel sick to my stomach after seeing it, I don’t know how parents would survive this film.

 

Prisoners.

 

26 Minutes.

26 minutes.

A lot can happen in 26 minutes.  Tomorrow, I do believe movie theatre audiences will be put to the test.

Is 26 minutes too long?

Are 26 minutes of ads and trailers too many?

The time from when my movie ticket says The Hobbit starts…

…to the time the The Hobbit starts.

Is 26 minutes.

The adverts and trailers will take 26 minutes.

26 minutes.

One of my favourite books is coming to the silver screen

“Ender’s Game” by my favourite author, Orson Scott Card, is coming to a theatre near you.  As with most book-to-film adaptations, I am cautiously optimistic, hesitant, excited, and hoping for the best.

Today, the first look at Ender’s Game left my heart hammering in my ribcage.

In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.

I am ridiculously excited for this.  They cast the battleschool children a little old, but that might be a necessity of having more capable actors to do justice to the complexities of the rolls.

And Ford as Graff…  oh man oh man.

Can you feel my heart pounding?

Here’s hoping.

Good News Everyone!

Hello all.  So glad to be able to share some more good news with you today: a short story of mine, “Mirror Twenty-Two” has been published!  It’s part of the online portion of the Haunted Waters Press ‘From the Depths’ magazine.

…And you can read it for free!  It’s a paranormal-military-action-horror.

“For our purposes, that little girl is no longer a little girl,” he said with measured calm.

I want to thank everyone that has subscribed to my blog.  It’s really nice to have a few people interested in my work.  I’m so, so grateful for your readership, and it’s nice that I can share some nifty things with you.  🙂

“Mirror Twenty-Two” by H.G. Bleackley

Hopefully I’ll have something more in this universe to share in the new year; I’m working with an artist to adapt another story into comic form.  I’m really excited about that one… And I really dig the world I’m building using short stories.  I think there might be something more there, something bigger.

Also, I’m adapting my latest novel into a screenplay, which I will start shopping around in January/February.  My screenplay chops are a little rusty, but it’s coming along.

So I’ll keep writing, and submitting, and sharing.

Thanks once again for reading.

Heidi out.

Robert Browning followed me home after a movie last week…

…and keeps whispering in my ear.

All he says is this:

At times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sages’ way,
And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
Ages ago; and in that act, a prayer
For one more chance went up so earnest, so
Instinct with better light let in by death,
That life was blotted out—not so completely
But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
The goal in sight again.

Sooo… What I’m saying here is go see Cloud Atlas.  3 hours, beautiful, and worth it.  I remain heartbroken that it is drastically similar to a project I’ve been toying with; it may have to wait for a while, until editors are through a phase of submissions inspired by the movie.

Adding to the melee of ideas

I’ve been seeing a ton of great writing recently.  Not in print mind you, I’ve been woefully inadequate in my reading habits lately, but on screen.

Skyfall was just fantastic.  The direction was brilliant, the cinematography a veritable bath of candy for my eyes, and the script- well damn.  The actors of course brought it to life with gusto, but they couldn’t have done so without the words there to work with.  Javier Bardem took it and ran with it, to great, great effect.

Some possible spoilers (but amazing images) in an album of amazing shots from Skyfall.

Fantastic imagery.

Also, something you may not have seen, is a cartoon called Gravity Falls, which I’ve been hearing all all about and finally started watching.  It’s a) extremely well written b) cute c) hilarious d) all of the above.

I can’t wait to see Grampton St. Rumpterfrabble as the rousable cockswain Saunterblugget Hampterfuppinshire.

Here’s an episode to get you interested.  I hope it can get some more buzz so we can see more episodes; the writers on this one have got it goin’ on!

And then there’s Wreck It Ralph.  Amazing!  The script is just awesome.  I’ve never heard the term “Pixar Level Script” until I heard people all abuzz about this film.  And it’s true.

How awesome for Pixar to have put out such a consistently amazing product that it’s become synonymous with tight storytelling. Trailer below.

And now I’m off to the cafe to sit and think and drink awhile while I stir the pots that have been simmering on my back burners.  Recently my mind stove has upgraded from a two element deal to four.  :O!  This means I have to pick my next project?  I have multiples I could be pursuing?  Man oh man.  Well, time to go suss them out.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you get a chance to take in some amazing storytelling on the big or small screen!

Heidi out.

P.S. Cloud Atlas is next up on my list, and hopefully this week I’ll get to Seven Psychopaths as well.  It’s a good fall for movies! 

12PAX: Coming at it as a Writer

This was my first PAX.

For those not in the know, PAX is Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention.  It spanned the three days over the Labour Day long weekend, and had many things that interested me.

I went to a ton of panels with interesting people talking about interesting things.  I mostly tried to come at it from my perspective as an author.  It was nice; a lot of the talks really applied to writing, and not just in video games.

I wanted to share a bit about some of the writing related panels I went to, and the points I took away from them.  The speakers were engaging and humourous, informative and well thought out.

First up: Loving The Alien: Non-Humans in Fiction and Games.

This is extremely relevant to writers of science fiction and fantasy in particular.

The panelists were Erin Evans, author of Brimstone Angels and The God Catcher, David Noonan, lead writer of TERA, and referenced weekly in our D&D campaign, and Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron campaign setting in D&D, writer of two trilogies, as well as the creator/writer on a host of other RPG and computer games.

I know, right?  Writers makin’ it.  So good.

These good folks talked about non-human characters and the challenges faced by writers trying to flesh them out.  It was interesting, though I felt rather pretentious when I had the thought “I know all this.”  I DON’T know all this, but I guess it feels like that sometimes when you’ve spent time thinking about a topic.  …But then, I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about this; I am in the throws of writing a novel where the main character is non-human.

The one point I hadn’t really thought about was, when you have non-human species, show them interacting in places where they’re forced together with other species.  You get to see all kinds of tensions, their differences, but also their similarities when you show where their borders clash.  Showing a non human character in their element is fine and dandy, but show them at odds with other species to really make them shine.


The next day, a panel that caught my eye was called Making Magic Work: Designing Magic Systems for Games and Books.  I was, unfortunately, behind the last person admitted.  :/  The Tabletop Theatre was consistently too small for the number of people that wanted to see the panels there.  I saw tons of people turned away from every talk there!  I hope next time they have a bigger venue for such interesting panels.  I found an interesting read if you’re into magic systems.

One good thing happened there, even without me actually getting into the panel: a girl in the line got a game going.  It was a simple game to learn, and a lot of fun.  It drew strangers together.  I purchased it post haste!  I ended up proliferating her idea, and started a game of it while waiting in another line up.  It was just a fun social interaction that left everyone feeling great.

The game is “Spot-it” if you’re interested.  Colours and shapes; you’d think it was easy.

Anyway!

Later that evening, I attended “Setting the Mood”, on what makes a good RPG.

I was pleased to see Keith Baker again; he had a lot of interesting things to share about his experience with RPGs.  Also on the panel were Will Hindmarch and Logan Bonner.

These guys had a lot of RPG experience between them. They went over many great ideas, from using music as an aid, to party cohesion, to dealing with problem players. It was all about steering the story in the direction it should go, helping players play their characters, and just having a good time.

Ok, not explicitly about writing, but it was about storytelling.  It was a lot of anecdotes, some good Q&A, and just a lot of fun.

On the third day, I went to a panel called “Sympathy for the Devil: Creating Killer Villains for Games and Books.”

This was a lot of fun too.  It was hosted by, again, the fantastic Erin Evans, as well as Susan Morris (author of Writers Don’t Cry, five books, and D&D for kids!) and Philip Athans (author of several of the Forgotten Realms books).

What this panel made me want to do was just talk with them about vilains.  Interesting panels have this effect.  It sometimes causes the Q&A to get a little dumb (we’re here to hear the panelists, not you, random audience member).  But my friends, who were also listening with me, and I had some great discussions afterwards about villains and villainy.

It was interesting hear the panelists talk about their favourite villains; my friends and I made observations about them based on which villains they identify most with.  I completely agreed with Erin Evans, who said the her favourite, Ozymandeous, was not actually a villain.

One of the most interesting points they made was to have someone trusted turn out to be the villain.  Guy keeps supplying you with weapons?  Arms dealer bent on destabilizing the region for his master plan.  Sometimes it’s easy to have a stereotypical view of villains.  But the best villains have good ideas, make you want to join their cause, help them carry out their grand plans.  It just so happens that they’re going to kill millions of people in the process.

The more human you make your villains, the more compelling they are.

So, that was PAX from a writer’s perspective.  There were a lot of other interesting things going on, and I think in my next post, I’ll write about it from the perspective as a gamer.  Good times.

…Especially when the creative team from Ubisoft joined our gaming session in our hotel on the last night.  Wow.

But more on that in my next post!

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.