Painting With Shotguns #65

PWS (Variant)

I know, I know. Didn’t I say something about not doing Painting With Shotguns every week? Well, uhh. Shut up. Who said I’m back to doing it every week? Huh? Who told you that? Was it the dwarf who hangs out at the bottom of my driveway, peddling his dwarf drugs to all the neighborhood kids? He keeps selling them little baggies of elf-cap, of brinestone dust, of brimcrack. That dwarf is causing all kinds of trouble. He’s got all the kids zoned out of their gourds. This neighborhood is going to hell in a handbasket.

Irregular Creatures: Steady As She Goes

IRREGULAR CREATURESwhich has a contest going where I give away a flying cat and an Amazon gift certificate — is still jogging along. Now up to 232 sales. We’re still looking at about 2/3rds of those being with Amazon, and the remaining third coming directly from this site.

My sales at Smashwords are, well, statistically insignificant. I have sold — drum roll please — two copies over there. So, that’s nice. Not really excited by my experience there. Actually, not all that excited by their site in general. Kind of ehhh, meh, pbbt, far as a shopping experience goes.

I am also woefully unhappy with the way my ePub version looks. I haven’t seen it on a Nook — some who have it there say it looks fine. I’ve checked it out on the iPad, and to me, it looks kind of like baked ass. Not happy with Smashwords’ conversion. Played with Caliber (Calibre?) — didn’t like that, either. Now toying with Sigil, which is maybe the way to go, but it’s a slow process.

I will say this, though — I am totally digging on the “direct sale” method here at the site. I know this isn’t a long-term big business solution, but let me tell you what I like about it. If you buy the PDF from me? I put your name in a spreadsheet with your email address. And as I do updates to that PDF — which I’ve done once already — I can resend it to the entire list (which I’ve done). I can immediately push the newest version back out. I see a lot of value in selling without a mediator or distributor. Again, you can’t do big numbers that way, but it’s the closest you get to a face-to-face transaction.

Did I mention there’s a contest?

Next week, I think I’ll talk a little more about self-publishing.

I also might just get drunk and fall asleep in a bowl of Captain Crunch. So, there’s that.

A Storytelling Pandemic

This week saw the end of the “Pandemic 1.0″ story experience over at Sundance (the film’s still playing). I wouldn’t count this as a post-mortem or anything, but I’m happy to toss off a couple casual thoughts:

First, yeah, I know, the opening day (and some moments throughout) saw some technical goblins and boogaboos. But even still, it was crazy to see the scripted stories and the roleplayed stories come together, and in the middle of those you had people not in Sundance coordinating with people who were at Sundance. Word from Park City was that the event was a blast there — lots of people running around and checking it out. Plus, got great press attention, too. Philly Inquirer, Wall Street Journal, Wired, and so forth. (No, I don’t know the end tallies or results yet.) And also: Kid Koala. I mean, c’mon. Kid Koala rocks.

Second, it was both a storytelling experience and experiment — it comes with an unholy host of challenges. Me, I think it played well. I got lots of comments and compliments, and I’m proud of the way the Pandemic team implemented everything. If you didn’t dig it, I am seriously sorry. But I hope you did. It was fun (if challenging) to put together. And it’s not over. This was, truly, just the opening volley.

Third, speaking of the Pandemic team — kick-ass bunch of people. From the writers (who I listed last week) to people like Zak Forsman, Janine Saunders, Mark Harris, and Nick Childs. And, obviously, Lance Weiler for being the visionary madman storytelling architect behind the whole thing. And Ted Hope (our feature producer) for writing a kick-ass blog post about the whole enchilada.

It was pretty awesome what the team was able to accomplish.

Naked Golden Dudes

So, I guess the Oscars got announced. And, I guess as a movie dude, I should comment.

The Oscars are always kind of a mixed bag, right? On the one hand, I’m excited that it’s a night to celebrate film. It’s my version of the Superbowl. I’ll watch the whole thing. And, like the Superbowl, I’ll marvel that there’s too many goddamn commercials and the whole thing is taking way too long. The night also often opens people’s eyes to films they might not have seen otherwise (like, say, last year’s Hurt Locker).

On the other hand, I also know it’s at least a little bit silly. Lots of great movies won’t ever get the attention they deserve from the Oscars. Little movies and big movies alike will find only ignorance from the Academy and its arcane practices of nominating and voting.

Regardless, hey, here’s my thoughts. I’m not going to do one of those Should Win / Will Win breakdowns, because, well, you see those everywhere. Every film blogger does it. Hell, you should go check your own blog right now. You might have, in some kind of catatonic fugue state, done your own insidious list. They’re like roaches, these lists. I saw this homeless guy the other day, and he had a sign that broke down the Should Win / Will Win Oscar predictions. My dogs have their own prognostications. (The big dog wants Pauly Shore to win Best Director. For what, I dunno. He’s a dog. He’s not very smart.)

Instead, here’s a random smattering of Oscar-flavored feelings.

I loved the shit out of Black Swan, so I’m happy that’s getting some love. I would love to see Natalie Portman secure best actress. Her descent into madness (from a starting point of obsession) was superb.

Still, though, if you gave it to Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone, I wouldn’t fault you. In fact, two of the year’s best crime films — Winter’s Bone and Animal Kingdom — are getting a little love this year. If you’ve not seen either, then you will live a doomed, cursed existence until you rectify that. I’ve just cast a hex on you. A cinematic mojo hex. That shit just happened. You better get to stepping.

John Hawkes. Oscar nomination. Fuck yes.

I agree more or less with Marty Henley (aka MC Henley, aka MC Scat Cat, aka one half of the world’s biggest black man) that Toy Story 3 won’t possibly win Best Picture but it’s a shoe-in for Animated which kind of belabors the reason to even have animated. I’d argue somewhat the opposite, though, where I’d actually like to see Oscar have categories for Best Comedy, Best Drama, etc. to widen the field and allow room for some films that might never make it to the vaunted Best Picture category.

Also, I’ll agree that Toy Story 3 is sometimes really creepy. I liked it, but it’s my least favorite of the three Toy Story films. Gives off a distinct nihilistic Requiem For A Dream vibe. For reals.

How To Train Your Dragon is probably the inferior film. That said, it’s also the one I prefer — like, by a thousand miles. That flick, along with Easy-A, snuck up on me and became a fast favorite.

The lack of Christopher Nolan in the Best Director category stinks of moldy vagina.

I never thought I’d see Trent Reznor get an Oscar nod.

That is all.

Whiskey Fiction

I am, at present, drinking Balvenie Doublewood.

And in my slightly goofy Scotchy haze, I am convinced that if I were to write a series of short stories while drunk on whiskey, it would be the best thing ever and I would sell millions.

This is pure whimsy.

This is the Scotch talking.

Which makes me think that whiskey is a parasite that controls brain chemistry.

A delicious, wonderful, warm and caramelly brain parasite.

Mmmmm. Brain parasites.

And Then There’s This

15 comments

  • Dude. Chuck, I like you man, but seriously? You LIKED the cliched POS that was Animal Kingdom? That film was every crime film piece of wank ever done rolled into one. Ugh.

  • I have had mixed results writing with whiskey, and only one result writing with too much whiskey. Awesome. Mixed Awesome. It’s like Mixed Nuts but it’s ALL cashews.

    (Could somebody smart tell me how to get a picture that isn’t a cartoon skull?)

  • I’m so glad I’m not the only one who got a super downer vibe from Toy Story 3. I thought the movie was great, but I can’t imagine being a kid and loving that movie. It’s just so…depressing.
    I’ve been hearing such good things about How to Train Your Dragon that I’ve added it to my Netflix queue. 97% on Rotten Tomatoes must mean something good.
    Black Swan looks interesting, but I’ve never even heard of Winter’s Bone. I suppose I’ll have to seek it out to see what the fuss is all about and remove the hex from my soul.

  • I actually haven’t been able to get my hands on Irregular Creatures yet. Rory keeps hogging it, huddled in a corner and giggling at the evil things you are filling his mind with. Every once in a while he’ll look up, read a sentence to me without much context and go back to diddling himself over your words. I’m actually starting to get quite concerned.

    HTTYD needs to win. As much as I love Pixar and all their superior CG goodness …. Toothless. That is all.

    And lastly, I haven’t written under the influence (of much of anything) since college. Perhaps I should rectify this, as I recall a little alcohol makes the whole experience just about the most fun thing to do ever.

  • I loved Winter’s Bone. The film makers pulled a few of the punches that Daniel Woodrell put in the novel (most notably substituting music for sex), and they clearly didn’t have the budget for the visual I was most looking forward to (frozen snot and tears), but the performances were outstanding.

  • I also loved Winter’s Bone and hated Animal Kingdom, and can sum up why in one short phrase: “active protagonist”. But I can’t (also won’t and shouldn’t) argue with an opinion.

    I didn’t see Toy Story 3, but my filmmaker fiancee did, and she said it was creepy, emotionally manipulative on Forrest Gumpian levels, and a heavy-handed parable on faith, so I’m instinctively opposed. Loved HTTYD, too, so it gets my support.

    As someone who buys a fair number of pdf books (mostly indie rpgs), I really dig the idea of ongoing updates/big fixes. I also like the moment of connection (however fleeting) between creator and consumer. It’s like the Internet age equivalent of shaking hands at a con.

    Anyway, even if it does nothing for your fiction, Scotch seems to make for good blogging!

  • In hindsight, I shouldn’t have thrown down a link to my blog without actually joining the discussion, Chuck. I’m new to blogging and the etiquette surrounding it. If I walk into someone’s house to discuss movies, it’s poor form that I ask everyone to walk over to my house before I share my opinion. Your house, your party. Dick move on my part, which I aim to rectify right now. ;)

    Black Swan underwhelmed me, probably due in part to my own expectations. I was hoping for a return to Requiem for a Dream by Aronosky, but Black Swan wasn’t quite as crazy. Consequently, I liked Portman’s performance, but her months-long coronation strikes me as premature. I’m happy if she wins, but it’s silly to declare the race over in November. Portman’s closest competitor, Annette Benning, is arguably the wrong woman nominated from The Kids Are Alright.

    I loved Winter’s Bone and I was happy to see it get more than just a token Best Picture nod. A year after Bigelow and The Hurt Locker, we couldn’t have Debra Granik or Lisa Chdolenko nominated for Best Director? Let’s at least try to check the box every year, AMPAS. John Hawkes must win his category, since I’m also generally down on The Fighter and Bale is collateral damage of that position.

    I saw HTTYD twice in IMAX, dragging my wife the second time because I knew she’d love it. I do think that Toy Story is the stronger film (I’ve not read your link above yet), but HTTYD is only a dragon scale behind in terms of storytelling. I really thought that Tangled should have landed the third nomination.

    Christopher Nolan is on pace to become this generation’s Scorsese when it comes to Oscars.

    As I slug it out in the Oscar trenches this month, Easy A will be my battle standard. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the biggest omission or snub this year. I’m sufficiently lathered about it that I’ll probably write an entire blog post about it.

  • In regard to the whole “writing under the influence” thing, I can totally relate.

    In the interest of full disclosure, my ideas for original IP dried up last year. So, in order to keep writing, I turned to fanfiction. Mass Effect fanficiton, to be precise. I had moderate success with a few of my multi-chapter dealies (which are still ongoing, and I fully intend to finish them both) but nothing mind-blowing.

    A while back, I came across an ME-specific prompt list, and one of the prompts intrigued me. I was busy with other things at the time, so I saved it and put it in the “what if” folder. Eight months later, the prompt was STILL bugging me, poking me in the cerebellum to DO SOMETHING WITH IT, ALREADY, so, one night during the Thanksgiving holidays, while drunk, I said, “Screw it,” and ran with it.

    The next morning, I took a look at what I’d done, and said, “Damn. Drunk!Me is BRILLIANT…but I bet no one will care.” I edited out the typos, posted the story to the fandom in three chapters, and went to work.

    I opened my email when I got back from my shift and found that my inbox had EXPLODED. The short story had become a runaway hit while I was slaving away alphabetizing game boxes at the local game emporium. 5, 000 hits in less than a day, plus mentions/linkage on three different fandom threads and numerous messages and reviews, thanking me for writing the story.

    Subject matter? Aliens getting it on.

    Moral of the story? Sex sells, and it’s best written while hammered. *sigh*

  • I’m reading Irregular Creatures in epub format on a nook and it doesn’t *quite* look like processed ass, but the page formatting is screwed up. I can still read it but I have to get used to “Wendig” showing up in random sentences instead of at the bottom (or top? I honestly don’t know) of the page all by its lonesome. I’ve started processing “Wendig” as some sort of pseudo-swear, now.

    The page numbers also show up in the middle of the page, just after the “Wendig”s, and sometimes the sentences have paragraph breaks in the middle of them.

    It’s not a problem for me, I’m used to it from trying to read PDFs on the nook (at least the sentences are all showing up in the right order, unlike one PDF I tried to read). But I thought I’d point it out.

    As for writing under the influence, I write most of my first drafts with a couple fingers of whiskey under my belt. Helps to loosen things up and just get the words out, instead of fretting over whether or not I’m doing it right.

  • Ugh, there’s part of the problem. Take the footers (or header or whatever with page number and name) out! Gods know where it will show up if you leave it in.

    There’s a style manual somewhere floating about I’ve heard.

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