Working on items again

Three years since posts. Four and a half since I finished the main story of TLC (book2). Been a mix of things to do in the years since, but finally been looking at my old works.

Re-watching and re-reading works that were my original inspirations.

Found an art style that finally doesn’t require me to have artistic sense (I have no ability for drawn art), that allows me to still create original images of some characters, though it’s time consuming and still limited in function, at least it gives me a path.

And have actually done an outline of Book 3, finally, with key scenes. Which the next day I redid, deciding they were not entirely the direction I wanted to go, but kept them because they give me an idea of how to use them in the written work.

Spending a few hours each week revising TLC (Book 2). Adjusting some items that had literally hung me up for years in how they went. Literally years a couple scenes bothered me, but it wasn’t until recently I figured out where to rewrite them. Since then it’s been better.

With the outline for Book 3 started, I’ve been working on a timeline. I had previously had a simple one for the world history, and a minor tracking of my main characters, but recently have been adding events that happened to their parents, their parent’s parents, to other nations that influenced things for the last two-hundred years, etc.

Still in the throes of anxiety wondering what’d be the point, never sure if it’s something that’ll be something I could do in life. After all, picking up a project you started ten years ago when you were a different person, different mindset, is daunting.

But Somedaybox emails keep coming, monthly newsletters I proofread and can’t help but be affected by. Sister’s music appears, and can’t help but appreciate, be in awe of it.

Even if only a handful of people end up reading (and some of them have been waiting a decade), it turns out that I’ve been pleased just re-reading my own works after all, and think I can write them for myself. TLP (Book1) was around 88k words. TLC(Book2) is looking like it’ll be almost 120k. It still almost feels a little scarce, as it covers a lot of time and several events it has to jump between often. Just drafting Book3, I feel like it has the potential to be longer than both combined.

A large influence on me were some adventures that were over 500k words per book. I’m thinking I’ll stop worrying so much about length constraints.

Book2 will likely still be self-published, this year. I’m strongly considering serializing all books as blog posts though.

The editing/revising process has been part of that idea. Going through book one again, I yet again found a half-dozen items to correct. But there’s a number of issues that crop up when deciding to fix the print copy of Amazon and Kindle.

I’ve also considered looking at sites that let you support by donation. I’ll think more about that when I get to book3.

I’ve stopped making definite commitments to times though. Giving out dates and saying “I’m doing this now!” and then not getting it done just leads to more failure. So, working on stuff. Maybe they’ll get published, maybe not. But, I’ve been wanting to see how Va’il and Ruby’s adventure continues, if I can continue it, and what becomes of it. I’ve even had a strange thought about making some of the decisions I’ve thrown out as an alternate history version. Just ideas.

Will see anyways. No promises, but, well, working on it all again, bit by bit. Slowly.

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Year of the Animation come to Life

Last year serial do-good-former-criminals was the go-to show. This year it appears that comic book heroes are having yet another hurrah.

Let’s start with the most obvious: right now The CW is putting out a couple DC-related shows, The Flash and the next season of Arrow. The Flash, starring Grant Gustin, has had a rather fun showing for its first season. This is a show that’s squarely aimed at a particular demographic, but it happens to do well. It’s a great watch, worth putting in some viewing time if weekly supervillains, witty writing, and light-hearted with dark rumblings fits your fancy. And Wentworth Miller (Prison Break) guest stars a few times, definitely a highlight when he shows up.

Considering Marvel is still doing their thing with Avengers 2, tying Agents of Shield into it, as well as the earlier-in-the-season Agent Carter (which was fantastic), Marvel is going strong. I heard Stan Lee has given his final official cameo, which is unfortunate but understood considering his age.

Which brings me to an old Spider-man comic I happened across. One of the early ones, in the first couple hundred. Stan Lee had his column in the comics, and I just happened to read this one from the 60s or 70s, where he informs readers he’ll be stepping back from the comic creation side of things to focus more on expanding Marvel. Then he goes on to tell how he wants more Marvel, comics, books, TV shows, movies. And it hits me: this creative man has seen his vision slowly come to life, and then expand more and more. What he outlined many years ago has come about. Sure, there have been times when comics were more popular, and there have been various TV shows and movies over the years.┬áNothing like the past decade though. It’s impressive, and really impresses on you that Stan Lee has been one of the most influential people in entertainment for a very long time.

So to continue with the comic theme, I found myself looking for Superheroes the past year. I checked through the animated section of Netflix streaming, and while there were the expected too-childish and too-pointless ones, there are some real gems that are worth watching even as an adult.

Young Justice, actually a DC show, combines fantastic writing and a great plot (season one) with teen heroes. Not teen versions of heroes, but sidekicks and other characters. It has excellent plotting and a great story arc, and is not in any way a gag show.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures is aimed at a slightly younger audience, but that doesn’t hinder it. It makes Tony Stark a teen and has a different animation style, but once you get used to both it stands out as having a strong plot and good writing. The characters also develop well. It’s a fun show, especially when there are so many others that try to seem fun, but are just repetitive.

Finally I watched the show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Talk about a surprise. This at first appears to be more typical, but the writing, the characters, and the plots just make it great. Until the final ten or so episodes of the second season where Man of Action start writing for the show (MoA tend to be too episodic and aimed much more directly at children and weekly shows for my taste), and that’s where the plots stop and the episodic pointlessness begin. There is a follow-up show, Assemble, that isn’t worth watching. But the first season and a half of EMH is fantastic, and a string of interesting plots, characters that interact and develop, and arcs.

There’s something special about superhero shows, whether in animation or acted. They give creative freedom, making plots, arcs, and characters that exist outside the confines of reality. But the ones that are amazing are the ones that have all the fantastical elements on top of great writing, thoughtful storytelling, ultimately real characters, and plots that fill arcs. There aren’t many out there, but I appreciate that the comic book guys are trying harder than ever to make something good. It really is an old guy’s dream come to life. Now to see what this year brings.

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Last year Leverage, now it’s White Collar

The irony, I wrote the below, then went to Netflix… and found out the license for this show expired today on Netflix. Which pretty much cancels out all of the fun. Way to go content licensing, way to go being stuck in the middle of a season.

So doing the Netflix shuffle on what’s good and fun to watch, and last year saw a fun series called Leverage, staring Timothy Hutton. My first exposure to him was his role in a television version of several of the Nero Wolfe books, for which he does an excellent Archie Goodwin. Leverage had him rounding up a gang of thieves in the Ocean’s Eleven style and helping people out.

White Collar has been in my current Netflix list, and it’s been some rather fun watching. It’s marked as similar to Leverage, but there are a couple parts to it that I’d like to point out as why it’s different, and why it’s a fun show.

First instead of having a full team of assorted talents, there’s really just the two main characters, the con-man and the FBI agent. They each have a surrounding team of various sizes, but that’s unimportant. It’s really more buddy cop, just one person is a criminal. They play off each other very well.

The con-man, forger, Neal, gives a reminiscence of Timothy Hutton’s character in Leverage, but with the charm and youth and looks of Hutton in his younger Archie Goodwin role. Neal’s actor is one of those guys who is ridiculously “symmetrical” as one person in the show puts it, but the act he puts on lets you forgive that detail. And his interactions with the FBI agent, Peter, tend to be refreshing.

The show itself has a couple elements in the writing that I enjoy. They are a “weekly” show instead of a continuous one, so they have some standalone episodes. That’s not something I normally care for, however there is an underlying developing plot that keeps the story moving in the background through the episodes and seasons. Again, since it’s a weekly that doesn’t necessarily move quickly, but they do sprinkle enough in the non-dedicated episodes that there’s no need to skip over any “filler” content. That and each episode’s story will stand alone well enough. And then every so often you do get a dedicated episode to the plot, so the pacing is rather decent for a cable weekly.

It’s a USA Network show, and those have always been somewhat fun, like Monk and Psych. I never really cared for Burn Notice, but all the USA Network stuff has a common theme in general, and their focus on Police Procedural with a “twist” has usually made for some good watching.

I’m still running through what’s online and haven’t finished, but apparently the fifth season ended earlier, but they have now planned a 6-episode season 6.

It’s been fun enough to come here and write a small update, so I’d consider this a recommendation of what to watch when you’re looking for a fun Police Procedural that still has a plot, and the entire family can watch it.

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Villains, how do you take them, bad or with a side of sympathy?


I want mine with no redemption. Gimme a good-old bad guy.

I like the old-school “try to take over the world – just because I want to” villains, and have been bothered by the number of “the world should end because the world let my daughter die and I’m so depressed” pseudo-villains that have become more common.

Take note though (definitions are important), an antagonist is different. In several of my favorite stories the Protagonist and Antagonist resolve their issues near the end of the story and work together to defeat a real nemesis. Sometimes the evil one can be an antagonist (or in some cases even a protagonist, while the hero working on the side of good is the antagonist), but that doesn’t change what their motivation should be: true evil.

It’s fiction, after all, and it doesn’t have to be realistically complicated with moral ambiguity. Just my preference.

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Review: Due South

Last year I finished watching the full four seasons of Due South. Beginning to end. It was a pleasure to be in such fine company as the characters portrayed.

To begin with, Due South has is almost unique in all the western shows I have seen. For example, the Japanese stuff I watch are mostly single-season series. Some are based on longer written or serialized works and thus are abridged or just contain the first few books, but for a good number they are simply created as one-season shows. They’ll either be three months, six months, or a year. Some are longer. And very rarely they’ll continue on.

In the western world it is different. Most shows that get put on the air in the western world are made with serialization in mind, to form a series and a continued viewership.

What does this have to do with Due South? Simply put, it is one of the few western shows I’ve seen that wasn’t cancelled, nor was it because the course of the plot had run out. In fact, it’s quite interesting how Due South came about as a series.

It was a made-for-tv movie. And then it gathered fans, who asked for more, and so a series was created. It ran. And then when that series was over, people still wanted more. And so they made more. Due South was never cancelled. It was only expanded until it had reached four seasons. That in itself is astounding. Just that background adds something to the intrigue of it. But that story about it’s expansion is mostly a byproduct of the actual material.

Due South concerns Benton Fraser, a Canadian mountie. He first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father… and if you’ve seen the show you’ll know the next few lines. It’s repeated often, the statement about how he stayed on with the consulate, a liaison and helper for the Chicago PD. It becomes a running joke throughout the series. As the seasons go on and the characters change, that line appears again and again.

Due South is so enjoyable because of that line. Not because it is said over and over. But because of the inside joke it symbolizes. The entire show is one big joke. Benton is superhuman at times, and by the final season the writers simply go with it, letting their imagination run wild at times, but never to an excessive degree. By that I mean there will only be one or two completely impossible events happen per episode, rather than other shows that may harp on it too much.

They never overdose you on the superhuman. Certainly, some of the doses are stronger, and played for comedic effect, but the show plays most of its jokes quite straight. Paul Gross, the actor who plays Fraser, and who later directs the latter seasons, does a fantastic job of doing absolutely fantastic things with the straightest face on his character. Much of that is his character’s insane politeness.

Let us speak of politeness. And the running jokes. Benton Fraser, a Canadian, is very polite. And courteous. And a gentleman. And nearly perfect, as perfect could be. That too, is a joke. One played by the show in very interesting ways. Fraser will politely ask a group of people pointing guns at him to drop their weapons because their firearms may be illegal. He’ll hold doors open for everyone. He is courteous to all.

So when someone doesn’t believe him, or the things he’s saying, his partner looks at the guy and says “He’s Canadian,” suddenly the person has this look of understanding, knows that Fraser is telling the truth, and immediately accepts it. And thus the plot for that episode continues.

These are just a couple examples, but they stand out to me. It’s hard to quantify their meanings in words, and I also don’t wish to spoil anything. For if there is a show worth watching, it is Due South. It’s a buddy-cop flick, with a touch of Superman, a dash of straight-laced comedy, and all-around feel-good watching.

There’s a lack of watchable stuff that plays itself so well that you feel good at the end of each episode. That you watch because you know it’ll be good time and again. Due South fills that gap. No wonder it wasn’t cancelled. The world needed more of it.

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