Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, it is a contest. And yes, you've lost.

I can't remember any more why I ever bothered signing up for a MySpace account, but I did. I do feel a degree of shame admitting it, but it's the truth. I had a MySpace account.

I probably only ever visited the site a dozen times, and more than half of those times were to receive friend-invites from strippers and people who existed only to be advertisements for online sex sites. Which was fine, I guess. I had no problems calling strippers my virtual friends. Come to think of it, I wouldn't have any problem calling strippers my virtual friends. I just don't get to meet a lot of them in my day to day life.

But outside of those few times I needed to drop by to accept friend requests from people I didn't know, there wasn't really much point in ever going to MySpace. At its most basic, the core users seemed to basically use the site as an online popularity contest. To prove just how awesome they were by having hundreds or thousands of "friends" -- with many of them, quite often, people they've never actually met.

So my response was, pretty much, "This is fucking lame."

Then along comes Facebook. And it's pretty much the same thing, except it doesn't look quite as disturbingly horrible as most MySpace pages, and unlike MySpace, it seems to actually be designed so that you can keep up on the lives of your friends. So, quite unlike MySpace, it actually seems to be, you know, useful.

Then, of course, Face book released their API, allowing third parties to design applications for use within its pages. And suddenly everyone's excited, because the possibilities of what you could do with the site are now limited only by the imaginations of the people who were working with the API.

But then something sort of sad happened.

Suddenly, a whole bunch of the people who were designing these apps started building apps that were, essentially, popularity contests.

Here's an example.

I recently noticed a "Buy and Sell You Friends" application on the facebook page of one of my friends, and I thought, "Hey, that seems sort of cool." So I installed it, and one of my friends ended up buying me, and then I bought a few friends, and thought, "Yeah, this is spiffy."

And then the friends I bought were promptly bought away by me. And then no one else bought me. And then I realized that the whole point of the application was to inflate your ego by watching as your other friends fought to possess you. But if no one gave enough of a shit about you to try to make that purchase, you just felt like a fucking loser.

Which is what I felt like.

And it's not just that one. There are "Do you want to kiss me?" applications and "Would you do me?" applications and "Am I not the most awesomest person you've ever known?" applications, and they're all there for same reason. Ego self-inflation.

And I just don't see how you can win with those.

If the application says that you're a fucking loser, then you're going to feel like a fucking loser. And if you ever realize that you're relying on a retarded online facebook application to make yourself feel like a more vital part of society, you're also probably going to feel like a loser. Because you probably are.

So instead of keeping the application installed to remind myself of how big a loser I was, I removed it, and made the decision to boycott anything that even remotely resembled a "Popularity Contest" app. Because they're just fucking depressing.

But the bigger problem for me still persists. I'm fairly sure that there are people around who like me (I can't be 100% sure, but I have it on fairly good authority that there are at least a few) and yet, somehow, I just don't inspire a passionate degree of interest. People like me, but at the same time, they don't really seem to notice a whole heck of a lot if I'm alive.

Which is also depressing.

I'm just not sure *why* this is. Is it that I'm likeable, but mostly in the background? Is it because I'm not constantly pushing myself into the front of people's consciousness? I feel like an average cheddar -- appealing enough to snack on from time to time, but nothing you'd ever go out of your way to track down.

And the worst part of it is that, until I had this Facebook experience, I didn't even really give a shit about whether or not people gave a shit about me. It wasn't worth even a moment's thought. And technically, it's *still* not worth a moment's thought. But now that I've thought it, I can't stop.

I can't stop wondering, "What the fuck is wrong with me? Why don't people give that much of a shit?"

But I also wonder, "Would I even want them to? Would I feel better if they did? Or would I just feel like they were invading my life?"

I probably *wouldn't* want them to. But that doesn't stop me from wanting them too anyway.

Thanks Facebook. You fucking bastard.

Self improvement doesn't necessarily trigger an orgasm, but it really should.

In the film "Fight Club," the character of Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) says, at one point, that self-improvement is masturbation. He then implies that self-destruction is better path to choose.

It's an appealing notion, particular for someone like me who, for far too many years, has drank too much, eaten badly, and smoked like a chimney. Fuck self-improvement.

Except for the fact that this sort-of brush off of the idea manages to brings something appealing to it as well. Which is this: Masturbation is actually kind of fun.

I mean, it's not the most fun you can have, for sure. It's probably wouldn't even break the top five of sexual pass-times. But sometimes when there's nothing on TV and you haven't picked up a good book lately, masturbation can kill some time in a pretty entertaining way.

What I'm trying to say is, I've been masturbating a bit more than usual lately.

Which is to say, I've been on a sort-of self-improvement kick.

Nothing seriously over-the-top or anything like that. I haven't quit smoking, I haven't quite drinking, I haven't become a vegetarian, I'm not at the gym for two hours every single day. I tend to think that the people who do go over the top with stuff like this are the sort of people who tire of their attempts at self improvement very quickly, and return to those old habits they were trying so hard to break.

So, instead, what I'm trying to do is drink a little bit less, eat a little bit healther, get outside and take a walk every couple of days. Just little things. But little things that can be done without wearing yourself, without making you hate this stupid self-improvement kick and why the fuck did you ever think it was a good idea, little things that can eventually become a routine. And once they do, maybe push them a little further.

Masturbate a little bit more often, you could say.

All of this was ratting around in my head tonight, essentially, when I was making my third cup of herbal tea, thinking to myself, "I really do prefer these London Fruit and Herb teas the other brand I was drinking. They're much better." And then I realized that two months ago, I wouldn't have been drinking herbal tea, I'd have been drinking beer, at least a six pack tonight, because, let's face it, beer is awesome. But, instead of drinking beer, I was standing in the kitchen, noting to myself with brand of herbal fucking tea I preferred.

And I though, "Holy crap, I'm not sure I recognize myself at this moment."

And it was weird, because it was like I caught myself masturbating. And I felt a little guilty about it.

But at the same time, it felt pretty good too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Commentary Commentary: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Most commentary tracks have a pretty common formula. They'll usually have the director talking about the movie, maybe by himself, maybe with a few other people. They'll usually throw in one or two of the primary cast members to join him, if he's not by himself, and maybe one of the tech people. A cinematographer, if the film had a particularly compelling visual style, or perhaps one of the effects people, if the film had a lot of CG work done. And that, generally speaking, is your commentary track.

And for people who want to learn about how movies get made, or find out some of the dirty secrets behind the production, or just listen to a handful of people shoot the shit and reminisce, this formula usually provides a pretty entertaining commentary track.

But sometimes you don't want to listen to that. Sometimes you want something a little bit different. Sometimes you want to spend two hours listening to just a little bit of madness. And for that, you'd be hard pressed to find a better commentary track than the Hunter S. Thompson commentary on "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Hunter Thompson, of course, is the man who wrote the novel the film was based on, and a man who has lived his life pretty much the same way as his counterpart on the screen spent his time in Vegas -- pumping horrible amounts of every drug and every drink he could get his hands on into his body. And you can hear that sort of living in his voice. And in the occasional whooping hollers he bursts into, on occasion, while watching the film.

This isn't really the sort of commentary that you learn much of anything about by watching. Thompson refers to the film's director Terry Gilliam as gay on several occasions, explains which scenes he likes and which were shit, whoops, eats a radish, tries to phone Johnny Depp and then leaves a brutally violent message on his answering machine, and talks, at length, about what a disgusting human being Timothy Leary was.

In other words, it's pretty much like reading anything Hunter Thompson wrote in his life. Which means it's pretty goddamn awesome and pretty goddamn psychotic all at the same time.

If you're not a fan of the man's work, you're not likely to be a fan of the film (even if you *are* a fan of Gilliam's, because even while it's Gilliam behind the camera, and the film is full of Gilliam's visual style, this is really Hunter's movie), but if you are a fan of Thompson, there might be nothing more entertaining than sitting back and spending two hours with the king of Gonzo himself.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grindhouse: Half Awesome, Half Teh Suckz.

I finally got the chance to check out the Grindhouse double feature from filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez last night -- Tarantino's "Death Proof" and Rodriguez's "Planet Terror."

Unfortunately, I was checking out their individual DVD releases and not the official, theatrically released double feature. On the bright side, each film was released uncut, with about 20 minutes of footage replaced in "Death Proof" and about 10 minutes of footage returned to "Planet Terror."

I can't say either film was necessarily improved by the additional footage (having never seen the versions of these films without that footage) but I can say that "Planet Terror" was undeniably awesome, while "Death Proof" was...well, boring as shit.

Okay, the first half of it wasn't all bad, there were some psychotically gory death scenes. And the final car chase scene was definitely fun. But there's a point about halfway through the film where things just bog the fuck down, just when things were starting to pickup. And the problem is obvious. The film decides to spend just way too much time with a bunch of pointless Tarantino-esque dialogue. Worst of all, it isn't even terribly *good* Tarantino-esque dialogue. It sounds like some wannabe hack trying to sound like Tarantino and failing. Except it *is* Tarantino. So the failure is that much more painful.

In fact, while sitting through those scenes, I began to realize that out of a nearly two hour movie, there was maybe thirty minutes or so that was actually interesting. The rest of it was just...a bunch of people sitting around shooting the shit about crap we didn't care about.

Which is sort of old news, in the Tarantino department.

Then I realized something else: That there were eight hot, young chicks in this film, all dressed as exploitationally as possible (after all, these Grindhouse movies were an attempt to recreate the look and feel of bad exploitational cinema). And that, in all likelihood, Tarantino's entire creative impulse for this film was based on surrounding himself with women that he could try to hook up with.

Okay, so it sounds extreme, but I'm having a tough time thinking of any other reason for a movie with eight near-naked women and a script that was obviously slapped together during a single drunken afternoon. When Tarantino can't even effectively make a Tarantino-esque movie, you know he's just not trying. And probably into it for the poontang.

Also, I can't help but feel, watching him blather on about his film in the mini-documentaries on the second disc, that Tarantino is...well, a bit of a douche, actually.

A pompous, self-important, head-firmly-up-his-ass, douche.

It's sort of unfortunate that, for the most part, he's a pretty effective director. Outside of "Death Proof," of course.

On the flip side, "Planet Terror," is maybe the best movie ever made.

Srsly. See it. It is 17 different shades of awesome.

That is all.

Monday, January 21, 2008

That vague, sort-of radio-friendly melody makes me sad...

I'm sure we're all fairly well aware of the connections between our senses and our memory. You smell a certain smell, and it transports you back in time. Or a certain taste reminds you, vividly, of a particular moment in your own past.

For example, the taste of Eat More chocolate bars always remind me of the smell of chlorine (and, in fact, vice-versa, with the smell of chlorine always reminding me of the taste of Eat-More chocolate bars) because, as a kid, when my dad would take my brother and I swimming, we were always allowed to buy one snack from the vending machine afterwards. And I'd always pick up an Eat-More.

Certain spring smells -- sweet, fresh, and somehow *green* -- always remind of me of that fantastic period as you approached the end of the school year, summer vacation just around the corner, and even though it was still maybe 4-6 weeks away, it was close enough to taste.

Generally, these are specific senses leading to specific memories. But I just discovered -- just today, in fact -- that there's a vague, general sort of music that reminds me of someone I used to know, someone I used to be quite close to, in fact. It's that sort of dull but kind of catchy, radio friendly rock and / or pop music. Something like Nickelback, for example. Or those thousands of other bands that sound almost exactly like them.

I heard a song earlier today, I have no idea who it was from, but it had that safe, radio-friendly sound to it. And, just like that, I was thinking of her. Out of the blue. Much to my surprise.

It took me a few minutes to figure out was going, to figure out what the connection was. It wasn't really a song that I had any specific memory of her listening to or being particularly fond of, so the connection, at first, seemed almost completely random. But then I realized that, even without that specific memory, it certainly seemed like the sort of song she'd listen to, and groove to, and say, "ooooh, I like this song," even thought it was really more or less a terrible song.

She had horrible taste in music, for the most part. Well, at least compared to my own taste in music, which is probably equally horrible, but at least more...diverse, let's say. For lack of a better word.

I'm getting a little bit off topic, which wasn't a terribly clear topic to begin with, so let me just try to steer it back to the point. Which was this: I was equally surprised and fascinated to discover that this simple little song, which had no specific memory attached to it, could still very rapidly fill me with an almost overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness.

Just like that. Bang. It happened that quickly.

I didn't feel particualarly bad today. In fact, I was sitting here at work, feeling fairly good, fairly well rested, maybe could use a glass of water or something, but for the most part I was fine. And then bang, 60 seconds into a song, and I sort of want to hide in the bathroom and have a bit of a cry.

It was weird.

I'm going to be 35 years old in August. Middle-age-ish, based on current aging numbers (and based on current lifestyle choices, *cough), but you know, science, feel free to keep working on that whole extending the lifespan thing. I'm cool with that.

But at 35, I can't even imagine to think of how many different things are stored, somewhere, in my brain. Things I've forgotten about. Things that I may never remember again. Or things that might suddenly burst into the front of my brain with the help of something as simple as a sound or a smell. And I can't help but wonder, how many other times am I going to find myself suddenly filled with a surge of emotion -- happiness or sadness or anger or whatever -- because of some external stimulus, and yet have no idea what that stimulus is or what it relates to?

I'd like to be prepared for that sort of thing, if I could. Better to be able to say to myself, "Whoa, there it goes again, my volatile emotions being triggered by a faint memory that stirred by an outside source," as opposed to, "Holy fuck, I suddenly want to cry again for no apparent reason. Clearly I'm going insane."

Though I suppose in a worst-case scenario, I could just track down an Eat-More and distract myself with the vague sense-memory of chlorine.

Mmm, chlorine.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Commentary commentary: Halloween (2007)

So I had a bit of a panic when I realized that, after only one movie, I had already forgotten to maintain my intended regular-viewing of movie commentary tracks. Last weekend *should* have seen film number two of 2008 viewed, but, well, I forgot.

And, okay, it wasn't so much of a panic. I didn't break out in a cold sweat, my heart didn't start hammering in my chest. It was more of, "Oh, hey, I forgot to do that, crap," sort of realization. More disappointment than, panic, I guess.

But, not one to take disappointment well, I decided it was best to fix this problem as soon as possible. So last night I plugged in 2007's remake of the classic horror film Halloween and spent two hours listening to Rob Zombie yack about the production.

While I was a fan of Zombie's first two directing efforts -- House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, I wasn't quite as impressed with his reinvention of the Halloween franchise. The extended opening, focusing on the young Michael Myers, was interesting but added little to the story, and may have actually undermined the character by attempting to overly humanize him. The middle -- and the core of the film -- is so reminiscent of the original that there seemed little point making it again. And the ending, which diverges quite drastically from the original, seems to diverge simply for the sake of saying, "Ha, see? It's different! Surprise! Boo!"

But, I am a fan of Zombie's work, and I am a fan of the Halloween franchise, so the opportunity to listen to the man dig on the process of creation while giving the movie a second crack (albeit in the background of the director's monologue) was appealing enough.

Zombie is probably one of the more entertaining commentarians among those I've listened to. His comments on Halloween include anecdotes from the film set, explanations of the mistakes that frustrated him the most, and information on which actor's were most prone to dickheadery. While none of this adds any particular depth to one's understanding of the film, it's an entertaining two hours. And let's not forget, this is Halloween. There isn't much depth required.

Most entertaining part of the commentary? Probably Zombie recounting how Daeg Faerch, the boy who played the young Michael Meyers, enjoyed the heck out of pretending to cut people up, beating the crap out of things with an aluminum baseball bat, and getting to say things like, "Fuck off." And seriously, what ten year old wouldn't?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Growing old is not growing up.

Sometimes I look around my life, and I see it cluttered with things like books and movies on DVD and video games and comic books, and I think to myself, did I ever actually grow up?

And then sometimes I think, Do any of us?

I remember as a kid watching my dad go off to work. He worked for the school district, so he was a formally dressed, suit-and-tie kinda guy, and for whatever reason that made the impression on my youthful brain that this was how one dressed as a professional. This is what a grown up did. This is how a grown up dressed.

And I remember family dinners with mom and dad and my brother, always at around 5:00, always with the four of us at the table. We'd say grace and then we'd eat, and we'd talk about our day, and none of us would be allowed to have dessert until everyone had finished their dinner, and none of us would be allowed to leave the table until everyone was finished desert. And I remember going on family vacations, the four of us. Sometimes to visit relatives, sometimes to just get it away, but it was a family event, a pilgrimage that the four of us would take as a unit. And I can remember thinking, these are the things that grown-ups do.

And now I look at my own life, with no wife and no kids and no family of my own. I don't feel like I'm lacking anything because of it. I don't feel a terrible absence in my heart. But I do feel like maybe the absence of that absence is yet another sign that I haven't grown up. That I don't feel the burning urge to get married and start a family and buy RRSPs and read the Financial Post and plan for my future and my children's future and my children's children's future is some sort of a failing on my part.

But then I wonder too if the people that *do* do these sorts of things aren't doing it because of any sort of burning desire, but simply because it's what they've been taught they're supposed to do. Get a job, get a career, get a wife, have some kids, grow up, grow old, die. This is the cycle of life, or so we've been taught by generation after generation.

How many of the people who did this actually *wanted* to do this.

Are the people who live their life like that just as jealous of my rejection of that lifestyle as I am of their ability to conform to that supposed ideal? Are they more jealous?

A strange part of my brain still feels like I should be wearing a tie to work, if only because that's what you do. If only because that's what it means to be a professional. I don't, and I won't, because a bigger part of me thinks it's silly. It's the same part of me that buys video games because they're fun and reads comic books from time to time because some of them have some pretty goddamn good stories in them. It's the same part of me that doesn't want to grow up.

It's a part, I suspect, that we all have. It just speaks at different volumes, depending on who you are.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Deadlines suck

I don't like deadlines, at least not in my personal life.

Professionally, they're a necessary evil. It's a part of life in the printing industry. You need to get your product to press by a certain time to get it out on the streets by a certain time. And to get it to press on time, you need to make sure that every other phase in its production is done in time. So week after week, day after day, there's deadlines.

In fact, I've been working in newspaper for so long I don't think I could get anything done at work without a deadline looming over my shoulder. And maybe that's why I hate deadlines so much when I finally get home.

I was laying on the sofa tonight, trying to read, and I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I was tired, wanting to nap a little, but I was trying to push my way through the book anyway. Because I was thinking, "You've got to get this done. This is reading time. Which is followed by surfing the 'Net time. Which is followed with some writing time. And then you have to go to bed."

And I suddenly realized that my whole evening was being governed by some set of self-imposed deadlines. So I promptly set the book aside, closed my eyes, and napped for an hour. Because, fuck deadlines.

I guess what struck me to was the stark contrast between today and yesterday -- which was my day off, and a day without any deadlines at all. Today, by 7:00 p.m., it seemed like that end of the day was rapidly closing in on me and I had to make sure I accomplished everything that needed accomplishing before it arrived. Yestarday, by 7:00 p.m., the day was still young, there was still so much that could be done, and there was no pressure -- self-imposed or otherwise -- about when it should be done.

Which got me to thinking. Is there a middle ground here?

How am I going to actually accomplish the sort of self-improvement projects that I'd like to do if I don't impose some sort of routine or schedule or...well, or deadline. How can I make sure I get some writing done each day if I don't say, "You have to sit down no later than 11:00 p.m. and start writing some shit down, whatever it is."

Is that even possible?

When I'm deadline free, stuff *can* get done. I had a fantastic day a few weeks back where I house-cleaned, took a walk with the dog, got some writing in, and *still* had time for video games and movies.

Unfortunately, most of my deadline free days don't go like that, as much as I wish they would. And if I try to force them into being that way, then I'm pretty much just imposing the same deadlines on myself that drive me so nuts when I impose them on myself.

It's nothing I can't live with, nothing I'm going to lose any sleep over, but at the same time it's at least a little annoying to think that, as much as I want to, I really can't have it both ways -- it's either deadlines, or non-productivity. I guess that's the way of the world.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Crappy digital cameras are so much awesome...

I got a digital camera for Christmas from my parents. It is, to put it bluntly, pretty crappy. Which is awesome. For reasons far too complex for me to explain, I absolutely adore crappy digital cameras.

This is what it looks like:

Yes, it's about 2" wide by about 1.5" tall (or at least those are my awfully rough estimates -- I'm digging out a stupid ruler just to double check how big this camera is). Apparently it's supposed to be kept in the glove compartment of my car in order to photograph damage to the car during horrible, fender-bending accidents, so I'll have evidence to provide to the insurance company, should such a horrible, fender-bending accident occur.

But that's boring. I'd rather use it to take self portraits.

Or to take pictures of my dog.

I'm assuming you can tell by these photos that I wasn't kidding when I said it was a crappy camera. These pictures are exactly as them came off the thing -- not cropped, not downsampled, and not cleaned up in any way shape or form. That's just how this thing takes pictures. And they're really not that good.

I also hope you believe me when I saw that's so much awesome. I'm really not trying to pick on my folks. Assuming this little camera doesn't eat battery life (as I've seen some cheap little digital cameras do in the past) I think I could get quite a bit of fun out of this little thing. I'm weird that way.

Also: It appears this is my 500th post. Nothing significant to report on this particular day. Perhaps something more significant for post number 501.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

People talking about movies

One of things I've decided I want to try to do this year -- which, I should point out, is completely different from resolving to do something -- is listen to more DVD commentary tracks.

I like movies. Particularly good movies. Which is to say, I like movies that I like. And liking movies, I tend to buy a fair number of DVDs. I don't have a ridiculous number of them, but I do have a collection that's growing just about every week. Because I like movies, and I like to add movies I like to my collection.

One of the things I like about DVDs are the special features. And the consistent special feature on DVDs that I think has the potential to be the most interesting is the commentary track. Listening to the director or the actor or the cinematographer or whoeverthefuck talk about the process of making the movie can help you learn about the process of making movies, as well as give you interesting (if useless) trivia about the movie in question.

The problem is, as a general rule, I never get around to listening to those commentary tracks. I buy the movie, I watch the movie, I check out the *rest* of the special features, then the movie goes on my shelf and sits there, usually until I bump into someone who hasn't seen it, then I can force them to watch it, because it's obviously an awesome movie if it's on my shelf.

But this year I want to try to change that. I want to try to listen to more commentary tracks. Specifically, I want to try to listen to one commentary track a week during the course of 2008.

I got this particular ball rolling tonight with the commentary track on David Fincher's "Zodiac" -- the 2-disc special edition of which I picked up on Friday. I'm a huge fan of David Fincher ("Fight Club" is probably the best film around about the 1990s) and I've had a perverse fascination with the Zodiac killer since I first stumbled upon the book in my adolescence, so the combination for this film was almost perfect.

I dragged my ass out to the theatre to see the movie in the summer, and wasn't disappointed in the slightest.

While the movie is a lot less visually flashy than some of Fincher's past pictures, it tells a fascinating story -- not as much a story about a killer as it is a story about the obsession of the people trying to solve the mystery -- with generally strong performances working with a generally solid script, shot beautifully by an always interesting director.

Loving the film, as well as the subject matter, I was quite eager to get a listen to the commentary track for the film. There were two to choose from -- one featuring just Fincher, and one featuring a collection of cast and crew members.

I'll admit, I have a bias for directors. They're the ones who put the movie together. They're the ones who really pour their blood, sweat and tears into a production to bring it to life. Not to discount the efforts of everyone else on the production, but let's face it, however good a job anyone else did, a movie still belongs to its director.

Unfortunately, I'm always wary of single-person commentaries. It's a lot easier to get a dialogue flowing about the movie with the help of one or two other people, than it is to provide a monologue.

To Fincher's credit, there are very few silent moments in the film, though the discussion isn't always as fascinating as you might hope. For my money, the most interesting parts where where he conceded the changes that were made to the true story in order to better serve the film they were trying to make -- the moments of artistic license. Knowing that the film took some flack from serious Zodiac experts / junkies, I was glad to see Fincher acknowledge these changes, accepting that a film is a film and sometimes you have to do what best suits the film, even if it perhaps dishonours the facts.

Which I think is an important consideration to make with this film -- and any other film that claims to be "based on true events."

The true events of any story will likely take place over the course of weeks or months or years. If you're planning to adapt those true events into a film, there is going to have to be some condensing going on, because you're going to have to cram those weeks or months or years into 120 minutes. That's not going to happen easily. And it's not going to happen without taking some liberties with those facts.

Occupational hazard.

Watching the film, and being at least loosely aware (having read the book a couple of times in the past) of the material it was based on, I can say that Fincher and co. did a fine job bringing the material to the screen. While they might have played loose with some of the details, when it was time to get the important stuff on the screen, they did a great job.

As for the commentary track, as much as it had the occasional moments of interest, it was generally a bit too dry for my taste. Anytime I feel like getting up in the middle of something to look for something to eat, or to check my email, you've lost me at least a little bit. And the Zodiac commentary lost me, at least a little bit.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A consistent, regular output

If there's one thing I should have learned from the three years I did National Novel Writing month, it's that writing -- and by that I mean having a consistent, regular output of words on a page -- is easy. You just do it. You sit down, and you write.

Now, it's not always going to be brilliant, of course. That's something you expect going in. And, I mean, isn't that what the editing process is for, at least in part? I think it is.

So as long as you're not going to lose sleep over the quality of the work, just sit down and do it. Sit down and write. Dump a bunch of words out.

Even if you're not feeling terribly inspired by one project, you pick a different project. Or you just ignore all your projects and write a stupid blog post. Like this one.

It's not hard. You just do it.

I remember another piece of advice I heard from an author -- who it was I can't recall for the life of me at the moment -- which said, force yourself to write for 30 minutes every day. That's the only commitment you need to make. It's juts 30 minutes, how much of a loss out of your day is that?

And if the writing goes bad -- if it's uninspired or weak or whatever -- you just pick up and walk away when the 30 minutes is done. You've at least done something. But if things go really, really well, you may find yourself writing for longer than the 30 minutes. Maybe an hour, maybe two. Maybe you'll put a whole bunch of really good stuff on the page. Who knows.

And that's stuff that never would have ended up there if you hadn't sat down for those 30 minutes.

I know these things. I've experienced them first hand. Now I just need to do them regularly. And not just by wasting time with a blog post on January 2 in an attempt to prove that, yes, in the new year, I really *am* going to write more often.