Monthly Archives: July 2012

One Straight Line…where John Carter of Mars went wrong!

As promised, I wanted to write a short blog about the 2012 Disney movie – JOHN CARTER OF MARS.

I grew up reading Burroughs. Edgar Rice Burroughs, that is – not that dude who wrote THE NEKKID LUNCH. I absolutely loved the Barsoom books, the Tarzan books, the Pellucidar books – hell, I even dug THE MUCKER.

So, when I heard that they were making a movie about Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series I was ten kinds of excited.

When I heard it was Disney that was making the movie I slid back to maybe eight point three kinds of excited – but I was still keen to see it coming.

Then, it hit the movie theatre at the very same time that I was broke. Now – I know that a lot of you people say that you are broke but the fact is I am so broke these days that I can’t even pay attention.

…what were we talking about now???

Oh yeah. JOHN CARTER OF MARS.

Well, for the first point they got the title wrong. It was A PRINCESS OF MARS. That’s what ERB – (which is what we cool hip geeksters refer to Edgar Rice Burroughs as) – originally called the first book in the series when it was published way back in 1912.

Now get this. A PRINCESS OF MARS was ERB’s first written novel. I know everyone knows the dude as being the guy what created TARZAN – (hell, he wrote more than two dozen Tarzan novels – and Tarzan made guest appearances in several other of ERB’s books) – but A PRINCESS OF MARS was the first work that was published.

That’s where it all started.

Mind you, he was writing the first Tarzan novel at about the same time – so this dude just started out chock-block full of nifty sword-swinging breechcloth-wearing ideas.

Now, I know full well why they went with the title JOHN CARTER OF MARS – rather than using the original title A PRINCESS OF MARS.

I can sum it up in one word.

Girls.

They were most likely worried that calling an adventure movie a title with the word “Princess” in it might be bad for marketing. They were afraid that all of us manly fellows wouldn’t be caught dead in a movie that might actually be based on a “kissing book” – even if just sounded like one.

I guess those marketing geniuses hadn’t heard of THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Anyway, they settled on calling it JOHN CARTER OF MARS – even though seventy-eight percent of their target market would not have the slightest idea who John Carter was – (didn’t he used to be a president or something?) – because – let’s face it – they made this movie wanting to attract a billion pimply-faced teenage boys – as well as the occasional old fart like me who had actually READ the book.

So – first thing off is they couldn’t figure out where to start the movie. First we were on Mars – where they introduced the love interest and the head evil dude and the the illuminati-X-filish conspiracy bald-headed uber-evil-dudes behind it all. I guess they had to show us all these characters first in case any of us movie watchers were too stupid to catch on as the movie unfolded.

Then we were in Old West – which is where ERB originally started his movie – only they spent waaaayyy too long farting around in the old west trying to make John Carter look like Jack Sparrow.

Then we were with an actor pretending to be ERB – who was related to John Carter who was coming to visit John Carter.

See, this is what they call a “framing” story in which we are told a story about someone telling a story. They used this to great effect in THE PRINCESS BRIDE, starting out like they did with Peter Falk – the grandfather – telling a story to the rotten sick grandkid – (have I ever told you how much I hate kids in movies?) – who grew up to act in THE WONDER YEARS. That framing story worked because Peter Falk was a freaking brilliant actor and William Goldman (the dude who wrote THE PRINCESS BRIDE) and Rob Reiner (the dude who made THE PRINCESS BRIDE) are both freaking brilliant in their own right.

Unfortunately, the dude who played ERB in the movie I was watching was NOT freaking brilliant.

Eventually – it took about fifteen or twenty minutes, as I recall – John Carter finally figured out how to get to Mars. He stumbled across one of those Illumati dudes in a cave that he’d been hunting for.

Okay – so when they finally get to Mars the movie does turn pretty freaking brilliant – by spells. Who ever was responsible for the special effects had REALLY, REALLY, REALLY read the ERB books. The green four-armed Martian Tharks and the umpteen-legged ugly-dog Woola and the White Apes and the whole look and feel of it was amazing.  But every time they kept sticking in that evil dude Sab Than and that whole X-File conspiracy theory really muddied up the fishing hole.

I kept asking myself why didn’t they just start with Carter finding his dead family, riding out looking for vengeance and falling into Mars. We could have got that whole story up off the ground in the first two or three minutes. It felt almost as if they had been afraid to lose some early footage that they had shot.

Think about THE WIZARD OF OZ. We got Dorothy, we got Kansas, we got a tornado and then we got Oz. They knew not to fart around too long getting start. One straight line, that’s what they drew –  one straight line that took us from Kansas to Oz. We didn’t need to see Dorothy growing up. We didn’t need to see her getting pushed by a bully or molested by a drunken vagrant field hand.

One straight line.

If they had shaved off about eighty percent of all of that needless back story – if they had lost the unnecessary elements of steampunkery – if they had forgot about including the spare-me-dear-lord illuminati over-story – if they had just stuck with one clean straight line this movie would have sung!

I enjoyed it but I don’t see me sitting up nights waiting to watch it again. Wouldn’t own it and I’m glad I didn’t pay movie prices to see it.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Digital Revolution is Coming…HERE!!!

 

I got a flyer in the mail yesterday telling me that I could get all of my bills delivered to a single digital mailbox managed by Canada Post.

I could hear it coming, even then.

Just last night I watched JOHN CARTER OF MARS – which mostly sucked and I’ll tell you about that in a day or two – on a movie that I rented while watching my television. Those folks who know me know that I LOVE video stores – but there are no video stores close to where I live so I embracing the new technology and renting my movies from the devil-box rather than buying them.

It’s coming, I tell you.

Just a couple of days ago I read about a new program – started in Canada – for marketing e-books in traditional independent bookstores.

The company involved is called Enthrill. They are currently setting up free-standing kiosk displays in independent bookstores right across Canada – at which you can actually download e-books right in the store.

This is great news. All of this shouting about how e-books will kill off traditionally published books and bookstores could be neatly circumvented if there were more opportunities such as this one to marry the e-book with the traditional model.

There is a link to the Enthrill website if you want to find out more – just click on that photo up there as well.

So what does this tell me?

The fact is, the world is turning digital. We are entering The Matrix, and Skynet and the paranoiac cyber-country of writer Philip K. Dick. Every writer out there who thinks that e-books are just fad and won’t really catch on needs to shake their collective heads until their ears rattle off.

We vote online. We bank online. Just last year we did our National Census online.

Just take a look around you.

Standing at the corner of nearly crosswalk in the city is a pedestrian who is most likely going to get run over because they are caught up in either listening to their cellular phone or playing Angry Birds on their Blackberry or reading FIFTY MORE SHADES OF GRAY – THE NEW COLORIZED EDITION on their Kobo/Kindle/Nook/Apple gizmo-bot!

People, wake up. The digital revolution is happening. The desire to do everything while staring at a little metal box that we can carrying in our hands is overtaking people of all ages and sizes.

Maybe you haven’t come over to the dark side yet.

Maybe you still only read books that have been printed upon papyrus and bound in ox hide and fish glue.

Doesn’t matter.

We will infect you yet.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

This is BIG news and definitely worth a re-blog!

An impulsive contest…

All right – you try and find a funny shot of a vampire and a hockey player…

In fact – yeah – let’s have a contest. Funniest vampire meets hockey player image by the end of Sunday evening wins a free copy of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME!!!

Post it in your blog and link to here and let me know about your image in the comments to this blog.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

E-Book Marketing Today – An Author’s Guide

Like a lot of you folks out there, I am new to this whole e-book business. I am working away just as industriously as I can trying to get a better handle on e-books – and more specifically how to sell the freaking things.

I’ve written over a dozen of them. You can see some of them lined up temptingly along the right hand side of this blog – and you can even buy yourself one of those e-books just by clicking the cover.

But blatant self-promotion isn’t the real reason I’m blogging today.

Today I want to tell you about a new e-book (released June 20, 2012) written to help publicize and support the Kindle Fire Department.

I picked up a copy today for 99 whole cents. Undoubtedly the stock market and world banks felt the resulting financial repercussions – but Donald Trump has refused to comment.

The book is a useful quick read that will give any indie e-book writers – (gee, I love that term – makes me want to wear a beret and take up smoking and maybe start wearing sunglasses at night) – an abundance of ideas of better, slicker and more sophisticated ways to market their e-book once you’ve written it. There are a lot of useful links and tips for expanding your market and raising your authorial profile.

The most useful feature I found were the helpful and inspirational anecdotes from successful e-book authors such as Scott Nicholson, Jason Letts, David Dalglish, Sibel Hodge, Susan Kaye Quinn, Ernie Lindsey and Addison Moore.

It is a thin read and a lot of topics are somewhat glossed over but the author definitely goes out of their way to point you in all the right directions – so that if you spot a particular marketing strategy you want to employ this handy little guide will definitely point you to where you can find out just exactly what you need to know.

So – if you are an e-book author in general – or a Kindle author in particular – you might definitely grab a copy of this e-book – especially while it is priced so cheaply.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DGO0EU/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My 5000th Hit!!!

On May 13, 2011 I wrote the first entry in this blog of mine.

https://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/international-black-cat-day-friday-13th/

Since then I have posted 123 posts.

There have been a total of 230 comments.

I have 73 followers.

And – as of today – I have just reached the 5000 hit mark.

I want to thank all of my blog-followers. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to make a comment. I want to thank everyone who bought my e-books – for a writer without readers is like a sailor without stars to steer by.

If it wasn’t so darned late – (I just got in from a long shift at work) – I would write something truly entertaining – but instead all I can offer is my honest gratitude.

Let me just jot down one cool writerly quote to give you folks a little inspiration to make up for all the inspiration that you – in turn – have given me.

“The writer must entertain – or else his manuscripts will molder upon the shelf – written but unsung. He should shed at least a ray of light on human experience – on the human condition. These are his moralities – entertainment and illumination – enforced by the high resolve to write his very best.” – A.B. Guthrie Jr. (author of THE BIG SKY)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The writing is on the wall…can you read it?

Stupid Writing Tricks…

See that man with the Coke cans on his head?

Why is he doing that?

What possible gain could be achieved by sucker-planting a half dozen Coke cans on your head?

Let me tell you this.

The mind is a monkey and easily tricked.

You can convince yourself to do anything that you want to do – even if you don’t want to do it. All that you have to do is fabricate a little motivation.

Trick that mind hard enough and you can cheerfully skip across a bed of smoldering coals.

In my last blog entry I cross-blogged to fellow blogger Lauren Waters site http://laurenwaters.net/ where she discussed a motivational trick that was explained in a LifeHacker article on Jerry Seinfeld.

Here’s a link to that article.

http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret

I have decided to adopt that method. I have a calender and a red marker and I have already scratched my first X for 1000 words of writing. Well, actually, I did about 1500 words today. Still not a lot for a day’s worth of work – but it is a start.

I intend to keep that red chain growing.

Now I know that there are folks out there who are reading this and saying to themselves – “Hey, this is Steve Vernon. The dude who chews up syllables and spits out chapters. The man is a born writing machine.

Well – you are right. I have, in the past, put a tremendous amount of work out there. Since 2004 I’ve written SEVEN regional books through local publisher Nimbus. I have written about a dozen e-books – and am working on another. I have written about a dozen novellas and a couple of full length horror novels. I have written umpteen blog entries and a thousand Facebook entries – not to mention poems, book reviews, articles, interviews and even a couple of recipes.

But lately I have been having a little bit of difficulty. I have got a lot on my mind. Bills to pay and a few personal issues and just the usual sort of psychic bricabrac that all of us face on a day-to-day level. Nothing huge, nothing drastic – but these last few months I have been having a hard time producting consistently.

So I’m going to use this stupid little trick to try to get myself back on the track.

Why?

Because stupid tricks work.

I’ve got another stupid trick for you.

This one involves a cooking timer. It looks like a plastic tomato. I can set it to tick for a whole hour. And that’ what I do. I set it for an hour and let that silly little plastic tomato tick on – and while it is ticking I do NOTHING but write on my manuscript.

I don’t check my e-mail.

I don’t check my Facebook.

I don’t even freaking Tweet!

When it goes “ding” I stop writing.

Oddly enough, by the time that goes ding, I usually have a thousand or so words.

I do that for two months steady and I have a book.

Still needs to be edited. Still needs to be revised.

But in two months – a thousand-freaking-words an hour and I have a fair-sized novel.

So that’s all there is folks. People wonder what it takes to write a book.

All that it takes is a red plastic tomato cooking timer, one calender, and a red Sharpee marker.

This isn’t freaking rocket science.

Stupid tricks work.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: I should mention that I got that tomato-timer trick from an entry in Salt Lines from Nova Scotia writer Gwen Davies http://writers.ns.ca/members/profile/64

And if you want to learn more about Salt Lines – https://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/seeking-inspiration-in-writing/

This is some great writing advice. No rocket science here. Write every day, EVERY-FREAKING-DAY, and tick it off on your calender.

laurenwaters

I’ll admit it. I was one who balked whenever I read others suggestions to write at the same time every day for a certain amount of time/word count/chapters.

Isn’t it better to just pick up your computer and write whenever you got the chance? That must be more productive. And what about writing when inspiration overtakes you? How can creativity be clocked-in?

It wasn’t until I read Catherine, Caffeinated’s fantastic post, Don’t break the Chain, on advice from Jerry Seinfeld about having a daily writing goal, that I wondered if I should give it a try. Everyday. No cheating.

Weeks ago, I was furiously writing (for five days!), then life interfered once again even though the inspiration was still there. How was I going to be productive while still spending time with my kids and giving them a happy summer?

I needed to try something different, so I folded…

View original post 251 more words

THE GREEN SLIME…

Can you hear it in your head? Will you believe it when you’re dead? GREEN SLIIIIIIIMMEEE!

I grew up in a little town called Capreol – about twenty miles north of Sudbury. I am talking high north boondocks – just a little town built up around a bend in the Vermillion River.

I loved that little town.

Capreol was a junction for the CNR and the CPR. This is the town where the two railroad lines shook hands and said howdy. My grandfather, Hanlan Vernon, worked as superintendent of the shops – where they worked and repaired the big locomotives.

I could spin this whole blog entry into a long running free form of nostalgia – but what I really wanted to talk about was the Audion Theatre.

The theatre was built in 1923 by Henry Plexman. It was built with people in mind – complete with what they referred to as “The Crying Room” – a separate room at the back of the theatre from which parents with babies could watch the movies without disturbing any of the rest of the audience with the sound of their crying babies. Plexman’s daughter, Jean Bilsborough, worked in the ticket booth and at the snack bar. Back then it was called the Imperial Theatre – and it ran Roy Rogers and Johnny Weismuller and the Bowery Boys movies regularly.

In 1943 Plexman put the theatre up for sale. His daughter Jean and her husband Harry Bilsborough bought the theatre and renamed it the Audion Theatre.

Like I said, I grew up focussed on that theatre. There was a new double bill every week and I always waited breathlessly for the new program to come out. It would be run off on colored paper on a ditto machine and would show every movie that was coming out that month. I would save up my paper route money and what I could collect from the empty pop bottles I would scavenge and bring for a deposit to Mazzuca’s IGA – our local grocery store.

Back then I was watching John Wayne and Kirk Douglas go up against the War Wagon. I watched Mike Henry as Tarzan – (in a suit?) butt-kicking the Barcuna the Jaguar Man. I watched Peter Cushing stake his life on killing Dracula in about six or eight different Dracula movies.

And in 1968 I saw THE GREEN SLIME.

I was ten years old when I saw this movie. I remember being scared and a little confused. I wasn’t always sure what was going on in the movie – but when those creepy one-eyed June-bug-critters started climbing all over the space station and the lasers started blasting I knew exactly where I was – in the middle of a space monster movie!

Cool.

I saw it again last night. I had DVR’d it from the Turner Movie Channel – (and I by god, love, the Turner Channel).

Did it hold up.

Well, not exactly.

I really dug the cool Thunderbirds-style special effects. All of those rockets ships and space stations and the occasional wire – it is way wicked cool in a geeky uber-ten-year-old kind of fashion. I have a great appreciation for this old school SFX approach. It feels so much like something that somebody jury-rigged in a basement over a long summer of time on their hands. There is none of that slick Hollywood CGI that has almost spoiled things for the old school cheese fanatics such as myself.

The dialogue sucked harder than the great black hole that all of the little black holes in the universe are thinking about when they are fiddling themselves on certain Saturday nights.

The acting was nonexistent.

The love interest was there – and I think if that lady doctor with the please-put-me-out-of-my-misery accent ever got out of the way long enough those two dudes – whose hair never mussed no matter how many space helmets they dragged on or off of their carefully-gelled hairdos – could have gotten off to a quiet corner of the space station – (shit, does a round space station even have any corners???) – and danced kinky mambo moves over a psuedo Jimmy Hendrixs soundtrack.

And speaking of music – that tune has stuck in my head ever since I saw the movie way back in 1969 – when I watched it at the Audion Theatre.

According to Wikipedia – (you can stand now and sing the Wikipedia anthem, if you have to) – the script was written by a couple of dudes named Charles Sinclair and Bill Finger – whose sole claim to fame appear the creation and scripting of the original Adam West BATMAN television series – and I believe it whole-heartedly.

There were a few shots that made me wonder if maybe the dude who made ARMAGEDDON with Bruce Willis might not have been thinking about the beginning of this movie when he sat down to script it out – and there were a few shots that made me wonder if the dude who wrote ALIEN might not have been thinking of THE GREEN SLIME when he wrote his wonderful script – so if nothing else we should be quietly grateful that this little American-acted Japanese-filmed movie was ever made – in order to inspire those two dudes who made ARMAGEDDON and ALIEN.

(and I know there are a lot of you out there snickering at my reference to ARMAGEDDON – but if you didn’t care for that movie you can cheerfully go and enema-cize yourselves with a mixture of squashed chili peppers, prickle thorn, itching powder and liquid flea-bites – because I still dig watching Bruce Willis blowing the sweet cheerful shit out of an asteroid the size of Texas)

I enjoyed watching it – and might actually watch it again sometime if I ever happen to stumble across it – perhaps blind drunk and experiencing a fever of one-oh-three degrees – if nothing else but for those cool little rubber-suited one-eyed tentacle monsters that grew up out of the green slime.

I love me a rubber-suited monster.

Lastly, I want to mention that according to IMDB – (and you can all rise and sink the IMDB theme song, if you have to) – the rubber-suit monsters were actually manned by little Japanese orphans that they found out in the streets of Tokyo. They stuffed them into the rubber suits backwards and let them wander around the set. There is reported to be at least two or three children still alive today – wandering the back streets of Tokyo – still trapped in those rubber-suit space boogie outfits. They’ve grown a bit – which makes it a little hard to understand just what it is they are mumbling in those rubber monster suits.

And last to lastly – I really want to learn how to boogy like a space man.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon