Thursday, 28 January 2010

James Cameron's 'Avatar' Diary

Dear Diary
Today I realised it has totally been over ten years since Titanic, and I can't coast off of that forever. Well, I totally could 'cos it made me mega-rich, but I don't want to. I'm totally gonna rite write another film.


Dear Diary
Coming up with a new idea is hard. I wish there was some way I could just, like, find a story that someone else has done and totally use that, but without getting sued or anything 'cos I hate that.


Dear DiaryToday I watched Pocahontas with the kids. It was awesome! If I still felt real human emotion I'm sure I would've cried a bunch and stuff. What a great story! ...Hey, that gives me a great idea!!! That film's, like, over 12 years old. No one remembers back that far, right? I'm totally gonna use that plot for my new story! I'll do a new Pocahontas!

Except I don't like the past, that's boring, I like the future and space and shit. I'm totally gonna set Pocahontas in space in the future!!! It will be mega-awesome.


Dear DiaryWriting my new film is going really well. Yesterday I watched Dances with Wolves and that was also pretty neat, there was this one great scene where the wolf that Kevin Costner has made friends with gets totally killed and it's wicked-sad. Costner also gets totally accepted into the tribe and shit, which is cool.

Hey, that film is almost like 20 years old! I can totally use those plot points and no one will know where they're from! Except I won't use a wolf ... Hey, there was that magic spirit tree in Pocahontas! I'll have a magic spirit tree in my movie, and it will totally get killed by the white men instead of a wolf. That will work super-awesome!


Dear Diary
I totally need a reason for white men to have come to my new magic planet, and thinking of a McGuffin is hard. It needs to be something that would totally fuck up the planet, something that will cause mega-huge damage to look for. Something you have to mine for would work, right?
It can't be oil, but maybe some kind of mineral..? I need something that sounds science-y. Wait: science things usually have "ium" at the end, right? So I just need to think of some science-y word that ends in "ium" and they can totally be mining for that. Until I think of something better I'll call it, like, "unobtainium" or something until I think of something better.


Dear Diary
I can't think of anything better. I'm gonna stick with "unobtainium".


Dear Diary
There's a shitload of exposition and background stuff in my movie that the audience will totally need to know. I have to try and find some clever way to deliver all the exposition in a subtle way, something that seems wicked cool like the rest of my movie. A smart way.


Dear Diary
Screw it, I'm just gonna go with a voice-over. That'll work.


Dear Diary
I've totally thought of a way to make the voice-over work in the movie! I'll have the lead make a video log and totally give reports and stuff. That'll fit real well in my space future!
But I've already written up like a ton of script for the early scenes and I don't wanna re-rite write them. Think I'll just stick with the voice-over then introduce the video log and the audience will totally figure it was a video log all along.


Dear Diary
The video log has totally made me think of something else! In Dances with Wolves it's Costner's diary that totally leads the white men to the Indian tribe that adopted him. I will so make it the video log that helps the white guys find out about the magic spirit tree and stuff! Oh, and the main white guy will totally have been working with the Marines all along and then he falls in love with the aliens and he totally becomes one of them and shit and then he feels wicked bad about telling the Marines all that shit. That will be super-powerful. People will cry and shit!!


Dear Diary
I was totally watching Terminator 2 earlier to remind me how freakin' awesome I am (note to self: I AM SO FUCKING AWESOME AND EXPLOSIONS ARE NEAT) and then I remembered: there's a Terminator 2: 3D ride, right? And that's pretty sweet. So imagine how sweet it would be to have the whole movie in 3D?! It will totally kick ASS!!!
And we can charge more at the theatres so I'll totally earn more money, which will rule. I can buy, like, three more houses and build another Titanic.


Dear Diary
I need to think of some awesome alien creatures. Things with more legs look really alien, right? Look at bugs, they're just fucked up. I'm totally gonna give all my new creatures like six legs and they will all be totally badass and it will be awesome.
Dear Diary,
Thinking about all those aliens has made me think of Aliens. That movie was awesome. I am awesome. I totally love Vasquez, she was a badass character. I'm totally gonna rite write her into my new movie! Aliens is like over 20 years old, no one will remember that it's totally the same character.
I'm also gonna add a shitload more explosions, because they're mega-awesome.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Why I Hate Superman

It should be pretty obvious even from no further evidence other than this blog that I am a huge geek. Even so, there are certain comic-based characters that I am just not on board with, and the worst offender is Superman. Let me explain why.

1. The fact that
Superman is a dick. No, seriously. Even Chris Simms over at the fantastic Invincible Super Blog, who is a shameless fan of Superman, has several examples of Superman being kind of a dick. Yes, even in stories that are designed to showcase the Man of Steel as a hero, he comes across as a massive wanker. Way to go, DC.

2. There's no conflict. I mean come on, people, Superman has the powers of a god. A fucking god, and I'm not even kidding. Now, in all honesty, when you're watching the Spider-Man movies or reading a Batman comic, you know deep down that the superhero isn't really going to die. But they're not invincible characters; hell, Batman doesn't even have any superpowers, he gets injured and has nothing but his own fabulous wealth and modern medicine to heal him. There is a chance, played with by the better comic writers, that the hero could die, or at least lose. To fall back on the geeky example I know best, I'm going to go with Buffy on this one.

Buffy loses. More than once. By the by, if you're not of an incredibly geeky persuasion then look away now. First series, she was beaten by Darla and would've been killed if Angel hadn't saved her by staking Darla (BtVS, season 1, ep 7, "Angel"). Also, she was actually killed by the Master, by drowning, and had to be resuscitated by Xander (season 1, ep 12, "Prophecy Girl"). In the second series, the first time Buffy fights Spike, she loses - and it's only the timely intervention of her mother that saves her (season 2, ep 3, "School Hard"). Series 3 sees Buffy die again, permenantly - true, it's in an alternate reality, but it still shows her fallibility (season 3, ep 9, "The Wish"). The first episode of the fourth series sees Buffy completely lacking in confidence and getting her ass handed to her by Sunday (season 4, ep 1, "The Freshman") and until she combines her strength with her friends Willow, Giles and Xander in their final confrontation with Adam, Buffy doesn't stand a chance against that season's Big Bad. Buffy also isn't much of a match for Glory, the hell god of series five - and although Glory is ultimately defeated, it isn't Buffy who actually kills her and it takes Buffy's death to stop her plans totally (season 5, ep 22, "The Gift"). Yep, even in a series where the superhero's name features in the title, Joss Whedon is prepared to kill off his lead. He brings her back, but still. Series six sees Buffy lose to Willow (long story - season 6, ep 21, "Two To Go") and in seven she gets a kicking from the Uber-Vamp (season 7, ep 10, "Bring On The Night"). Anyhoo, my long, rambling point is this: there's no real way Superman is going to lose, there's no chance he's going to die, there's no suspense. He can do ANYTHING, up to and including turning back time according to the the first film. So there's no tension.

3. Why the hell are we supposed to sympathise with him again? He was technically adopted, sure, and I'm certain that can lead to emotional issues, but at the end of the day Supes was raised by two loving parents in a picture-perfect town, was supported and guided on the path of goody-goody two-shoes glory, had an idyllic childhood, frequently has two or more ladies chasing after him - those usually being Lois Lane and Lana Lang - he's got a job, a sycophantically loyal best friend and yet he's still pretty much a total dick. He also spends a great deal of time whinging about his childhood in the single most homoerotic comic ever and it's kind of hard to understand what the hell Clark thinks he has to be so upset about.

4. There's a really finite number of stories you can tell about Superman. Sure, you get the whole Silver Age Madness thing going on where you can, say, end up with Lois and Lana becoming insect queens, but when you break it down a Superman story can only go in a few, very limited, directions. Now I'm going to borrow quite heavily from a hateful aquaintence of mine here, but he has a very valid point. Superman has the aforementioned god-like powers, so in order to engineer a story you can only go in one of four directions: have kryptonite feature heavily (lucky so much of it managed to land here on Earth, huh?); have a villain that's also from Krypton/the Phantom Zone (again, hell of a lot of them manage to get to this planet. Funny, that); have Superman lose his powers, temporarily, which usually involves Kryptonite; have Supes fight some kind of version of himself. You can mix up the details a little, but essentially it's same old, same old.

5. He's meant to be the last son of Krypton. I mean hell, it's his subtitle: Kal-El, Last Son of Krypton. And yet more and more relatives and enemies from Krypton keep appearing, including his cousin Kara (Supergirl) and his freaking dog. Turn that frown upside down, Clark, you're not alone.

6. He's too ... good. This is pretty much a personal taste thing, but I've always been one to root for the villains. All I wanted from cartoons as a kid was once, just once, for Road-Runner to get caught and eaten, on screen, by Wil E. Coyote and I'm now a big fan of Dexter, so that should clue you in to my preferences. At least with Batman you get edgy, and Peter Parker had that whole Venom period, and Buffy started shagging Spike (and who can blame her?) - but with Superman you just get random red kryptonite moments and general dickery. All in all there's no edge. He's a goody-goody. And I'm not a big fan of that.

.........And that's not even counting Superman IV.

Monday, 18 January 2010

2009 Hated Me - and Probably You

I don't know how glad you were to see the back of 2009, but if it went anything like mine I imagine you're pretty damned grateful it's over. Here is a brief and (hopefully) bleakly amusing summary of all the things that went wrong with my year.

First and foremost, I had a couple deaths in the family, but they weren't immediate family so I won't really count those as "my" disasters. Also a couple of my friends had fucking awful things happen to them, and while again the pain and suffering of my friends gets to me, they're not "my" disasters so I won't count them either.

My 2009 went a bit more like a system of checks and balances: something good would happen, then something disasterously awful would happen to utterly destroy the joy I felt as a result of this. Like thus:-

The good: I finally got a full-time, permanent job! Huzzah, no more living uncertainly from temp contract to temp contract.
The bad: I got vertigo. Two weeks of feeling like I was on a Waltzer - which results in feeling nauseous, dizzy, and leaves one unable to walk, rather than being the constant joy you might think. I couldn't even make myself a cup of tea and carry it into the living room, because I would fall down, spill the tea, and end up retching on the floor. I also couldn't watch TV or films because looking at movement on the screen made the vertigo worse.

The good: It snowed! Spectacularly!
The bad: Despite still living a one-hour-and-fifteeen-minute journey away, I still had to go to work or they would deduct the time or pay from me. So instead of getting to play out in the snow, I had to wait forty minutes at an exposed train station, in a blizzard, for a delayed train. And then be told I had to make up the time because I was late in.

The good: I went on a three-week holiday to Florida, staying for free with friends of the family, during which time we drove up to north of Atlanta, Georgia, to stay with more family friends, and I also spent my 27th birthday at Universal Studios. Which was all AWESOME.
The bad: While paddling in the Gulf at Desoto Beach, FL, I got stung by a stingray. Which feels like getting hit with a stick and stabbed at the same time, rapidly followed by the burning, writhing agony of the poison spreading up through my leg. Just FYI.

The good: I got rescued by a lifeguard, who I shall call Handsome McSexybody. He carried me in his arms to the lifeguard station, and he smelled like sunshine and rescue.
The bad: I got an infection in the sting site. My foot and ankle swelled up to about three times its normal size and was absolute misery, leaving me unable to walk for a couple of weeks. The resulting scar is disappointingly small - I wanted something that reflected the suffering it caused, and not this teeny tiny little mark. Another fail.

The good: I finally moved out of my mother's! After years of trying to get a permenant job and save up a bit, I managed to move into a shared house in the city, with two fantastic housemates. Score!
The bad: I got chicken pox. Yep, aged 27, I got a childhood disease that was so debhilitating that I had to move back in with my Mum for a couple weeks so she could care for me. I was off work for another three weeks and am now covering in pox scars. Dammit. Incidentally, the pox was torture and the worst thing I had ever endured.

The good: My wonderful, wonderful friends!
The bad: Having a check-up to see if I was fit to return to work after the pox, my doctor noticed a mole on my back had changed shape and developed dark spots. It was suspected cancerous, and I had to have it surgically removed, leaving a scar on my shoulder over an inch long, and the over-hanging threat that I might have skin cancer. Joy.

The good: Living near the city centre means that I can pretty much hit the town whenever I want.
The bad: The town hits back. As mentioned in previous post, I broke my right ankle (yes the one I got stung in) just before Christmas and am now going absolutely crazy with cabin fever. It also turns out that, yes, breaking an ankle is more torturous than having chicken pox.

Random other negative events:
I ordered some fancy pricey conditioner off eBay. When it arrived, turned out the seller made a mistake and sent me the wrong item. They agreed to replace it for free - but then I was out working when the postman tried to deliver the replacement conditioner. By the time I had a day off work when the collections office was open, the conditioner had been sent back to the main sorting office. In Belfast. I arranged re-delivery: they couldn't deliver to my work, because it's a different postcode than my home; and the local post office wasn't open any time I could get to; so it was going to be over two months before they could redeliver. On the day of redelivery, I stayed in waiting for the postman to arrive. He didn't. I call the Royal Mail - turns out they've fucked up spectacularly and my item is still in Belfast. And I can't expect it before February.

Getting a lift back into the city after the pox, my Mum's brand-new car got hit by a rock falling off the back of a truck. The rock hit the windshield and cracked it - right in front of my face. Which frankly scared the shit out of me.

On my first day back to work after the pox, the bus I was riding got hit by another bus. It was only a minor traffic accident, but we all had to get off that bus and then I had to run to the next bus stop so I didn't miss the later bus. Other bus-related stories, I was late to work a couple times because of buses simply not showing up. Thanks, Cardiff Bus.

Well, I think those are the lowlights of the year! 2010 has already kicked 2009's ass, by the way - results back from the hospital and the mole was completely benign; and despite smashing my ankle up good and proper, I don't have to have an operation on it, so that's another win for me. Fingers crossed I won't manage to set fire to the house with me still inside it and unable to flee in time because of being slowed down by my broken ankle....

Friday, 15 January 2010

Creative Problem-Solving 101

Well, to round off a thoroughly shitty year (more on that another time), I ended up breaking my right ankle (and fracturing a bone in my foot and rupturing the ligaments) on 22nd December, and have spent the weeks since with a cast and crutches to hobble about on. Oh, sure, 7 or more weeks off work sounds like a laugh - at first. After 23 days of being essentially housebound (I made part of the family Christmas festivities and have been for fracture clinic check-ups twice), the novelty is truly wearing off and I am developing severe cabin fever. I'm also semi-watching Megashark Vs. Giant Octopus, which should go some way to clueing you in to my mental state.

Anyhoo, in the spirit of keeping myself occupied, and passing on hard-earned Cast Survival Tips for the similarly afflicted, I thought I'd share the following hints and tips, gleaned from four weeks of having the cast and crutches:-

1. The Chair-Shower (patent pending)
"Don't get your cast wet", they say. "Don't even try taking a shower", they say. I say, you serious? Seven weeks of nothing but stand-up washes at the sink (also known as the "Tart's Bath"*)? Not on my watch. To install your own Chair-Shower, take 1 (one) metal or plastic chair, without wheels obviously, and place it in your shower cubicle. Put it on a towel or bath-mat so it doesn't slip - Health and Safety, people. Then wrap your cast in a towel, tucking the edges into the top of the cast, and drag a stool or second chair to the front of the shower. This requires a lot of hopping and balancing and I suspect I will have one crazy-strong leg at the end of all this, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Sit on the Chair-Shower chair, rest the leg with the cast and towel on the stool/second chair, outside of the shower, and you're ready to go.

2. "How the hell can I feed myself now?"
Sure, most major supermarkets deliver, and by adding a note to your order they'll even know to give you more time to grab your crutches and hobble your way over to answer the door, so you won't run out of supplies. But how the hell do you go about preparing your meals, and, once cooked, how do you get them to the table, or, more realistically, the couch, so you can eat your dinner in front of the TV like the lazy slob you are and always have been? Well, my friends, the answer is simple: another chair. Ideally you want a dining chair with a firm seat - you can then push this chair around your kitchen, using it both for stability and as a transportation device. Push it to your fridge and freezer, put the things you want to cook with onto the chair, then push the whole lot over to your worksurface. Hop around gathering up other materials, then you can rest your injured leg on the chair while you cook (or microwave; see the aforementioned "lazy slob" comment). Once your meal's ready to go, you can hop into the living room with it. Unless it's soup or something; then I'd reccomend getting a housemate or family member to carry it for you. Voila! Dinner is served.

3. The bathroom's upstairs - the TV is downstairs....
If spending the next few weeks confined to your bedroom doesn't appeal, then at some point it's likely that stairs will become an issue.
a. Going up: There are two ways I've found - and my life is currently empty enough that I now switch between them just to mix it up and keep things fresh (don't cry for me - I'm already dead. Inside). The first is going up on your hands and knees; as long as you have a below-knee cast, you should still be able to bend your leg enough that you can do this without much fuss. The second way is backwards: sit on the stairs and push yourself up onto the next step above with your arms and one leg. Done.
b. Going down: Slide! Remember when you were a kid and you used to slide down the stairs on matresses, blankets, trays, anything, nothing? Do that. But keep it controlled by using your arms to brace yourself - you don't want to pick up speed, not be able to stop, and whack your already broken leg/foot/ankle when you hit the bottom.

4. Get a Helper Monkey
There are loads of things that will now be just impractical for you to do, yet are still pretty essential. Tidying and cleaning up, carrying cups of tea or coffee from kitchen to living room, laundry etc. Lucky for me I have a wonderful housemate who has been doing these duties for me, and visiting friends have taken it in turns to perform the role of Helper Monkey for me. True, by the time this cast comes off I will have burned through the good graces of every friend I have and will owe my housemate two solid months of cleaning the house and making tea for her, but it's a fair price. If you can, get a friend, housemate, partner or family member to help you around the home!

5. Ensure you have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings
Ties in with the whole cabin fever thing, but is also probably a symptom unique to me and those who don't just see the glass as half empty, but smashed into pieces on the floor. You'll be signed off work/school for at least four weeks, and enjoyable as books, DVDs, Lego Batman and Guitar Hero are, you'll need to find some sort of purpose because otherwise just getting out of bed and getting dressed seems so utterly pointless and futile. Arrange for friends to come visit, see if you can find someone to play taxi and take you out to the cinema or somewhere crutch-accessible, obsessively alphabetise your DVDs, arrange your records/CDs into an autobioghraphical order, anything to fill your days and nights and prevent you from just becoming one with your sofa and losing the will to live.

Well, that's all the tips I can think of for now! If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this programme, there's probably a BBC helpline.

......Thought of another!

6. Get a bag
Trying to carry books, bottles of water etc around the house, and wondering how to do so when you've got your hands full of crutches? Simple! Get a bag. I'm using a canvas messenger bag, 'cos it leaves my hands free to hobble myself around with crutches and has lots of space. I've also borrowed a flask off a friend's parents and so have a ready supply of tea/coffee that I can take into the living room. Ahh, what a success I've made of my life....

* Washing the underarms and undercarriage.