The first of the two big Movie Seasons is almost upon us… indeed I daresay it starts rather soon. Last year, I wrote about the upcoming flicks that had captured my interest. I thought it would be a fine idea to do so again. In fact, if I can remember in time next year, maybe this’ll be an annual feature.
Here are the movies that have caught my interest this year, in a sort-of-order of my interest:
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug With a few relatively minor caveats (Storm Giants, anyone? What the Helsinki was that, and how, exactly, was it even remotely necessary for the movie?) I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the planned Hobbit trilogy, as I had expected to. Being a huge fan of both the Lord of the Rings books and movies, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the next Hobbit movie is my top flick-to-see in 2013.
- Man of Steel Only one comicbook superhero ranks higher on my all-time favorite list than Batman, and that is his boyscout, super-powered, primary-color-clad sometimes friend and rival Superman. So yes: I plan to see the latest incarnation of the cinematic Superman, and I have very high hopes.
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Dear Wife and I quite enjoyed first Hunger Games movie (well, I did; I can’t really speak for Dear Wife, but it is my belief that she enjoyed it). I finished reading all three books last year, and I’m quite looking forward to the second installment in the film franchise.
- Pacific Rim I think I’ve mentioned before how much of an anime geek I am. Not the hugest one around, but still… enough of one that I totally grok where this movie is going. Giant Robots (called “Jaegers“, no less) versus Giant Monsters (“Kaiju“). This is totally live-action anime. And so, I’m excited for this movie. I figure, though, that this could go one of two ways: this could be this year’s Inception… or this could be this year’s Prometheus. With Guillermo Del Toro directing, I’m hopeful it’s more like the latter… but then again, Ridley Scott carried a lot of cache into Prometheus… Assuming the sci-fi and fantasy community tends to lean more toward the former than the latter, then you can be sure, even if I miss this in theaters, I’ll queue it up on DVD as soon as I’m able.
- Star Trek: Into Darkness I saw and enjoyed 2009′s Star Trek reboot – although a few things about it left me unsettled. (Red Matter? And really, [Spoilers] did you need to blow up Vulcan? And with all that time-traveling going on, you really couldn’t, you know, travel back in time and save the planet? The last fact really miffed me fiercely. Once you’ve established that time travel is an option, you better have a dang good reason why it can’t be used again to undo later events in the story.) Regardless of those snafus, I enjoyed the Star Trek reboot enough that I’m very interested to see the next in the new series. Added to that the mystery of who, precisely, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing – is it Kahn Noonien Singh? Is it Gary Mitchell? Is it some other dude who combines the attributes of Kahn and Mitchell? – adds to the intrigue and interest in this film. As I expect this movie will skip the time travel plot problems of Star Trek, I expect this will actually be a better movie. Still… I figure I’m unlikely (all things considered) to catch this in theaters. So, as with Pacific Rim, I’m sure I’ll be queueing this up on DVD as soon as available.
- Oblivion The trailer for this flick has at least intrigued me – it’s hinted that not is all as it seems for Tom Cruise’s character, nor for desolate planet Earth in the far future. But what really catches my interest: Morgan Freeman as some sort of Resistance/Rebel leader. Is there any role that is not automatically cooler when played by Morgan Freeman? That gives me promise that this film can live up to the ideas presented in its trailers.
- After Earth ‘Tis the Year for “In the Future, Earth has been abandoned by Humans”, isn’t it? The attraction of this particular version of that story is in having real-life father-and-son acting team Will and Jaden Smith play a father and son stranded on an inhospitable future Earth struggling to survive. The downside? It’s directed by M. Night Shyamalan (whose last few movies have not exactly been great, and who lost whatever remaining goodwill he had left as a director when he miscast and ruined the fundamentally un-ruinable big screen adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender) – so don’t expect the trailers to pint that little fact out. The possible saving grace? This is Will Smith’s baby more than it is Shyamalan’s. Regardless, I’m interested, but I’ll see what the critics have to say.
- Ender’s Game This one very nearly snuck up on me. There’s very little buzz about Ender’s Game that I’ve seen so far. Many, many years ago I read (and enjoyed) the novel as well as the companion novel (Ender’s Shadow). I have yet to read (and not a terrible great interest in reading) the supposed sequels to Ender’s Game. (My understanding, for the most part, is that they diverge in some pretty radical ways from the story, characters, and world presented in Ender’s Game.) Anyway… I’m interested to see and hear more about this before casting judgment.
- World War Z Funny… I think I saw this title on a list of movies I made somewhere, once before. Oh yeah: It was last year’s list. Obviously, World War Z didn’t make it out in 2012. But I find myself more interested now than I was then, thanks to several trailers that have given me a better idea of the film. On the other hand… long delays and changes in release dates usually don’t bode well for a film.
- Elysium What was that I said above about the year for desolate or abandoned future Earths? Okay, so the Earth of Elysium isn’t really desolate or abandoned, but it may as well be: it’s a place where the poor and downtrodden are confined while the rich live high above. (And the meek shall inhereit the Earth?) What Elysium has going for it is a top-calibre cast, including Matt Damon and Jodi Foster. Again, however, other than this, I know relatively little about the movie. So I’ll take the wait-and-see approach.
- The Wolverine Remember when I said Superman was the superhero who ranked just above Batman at the top of my personal superhero pantheon? The guy right below Batman is Wolverine. And yet… I did not see the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. I heard the reviews were pretty bad. But I’m open-minded. I’ll wait and see what the buzz says about Logan’s second solo-outing. On a semi-related note… I’m still keen to catch X-Men: First Class on DVD some time.
Those are the movies that I expect I’ll actually see in the theaters. After that… there’s a big drop in the likelihood that I think I’ll manage to catch anything else on this list.
These are the movies I feel like I want to see (in theaters, where possible). But a few other movies have hit my radar, too. Some of these I have no interest in seeing theaters, but may be interested to catch on DVD later, some it’s practically too late to catch in theaters, and some I just don’t know enough about.
Oz the Great and Powerful There’s no way I’ll find the time to see this before it makes its way out of theaters. I’m interested in it, but not enough to try to make the time, and especially not enough to to press the issue when there’s a brand new wee bairn at home.
Frozen Frankly, I don’t know enough about this movie yet. I think it’s an animated Epic Fantasy sort of movie. But… I’m not really sure I’ve read about it right. If and when I hear more, I’ll make a judgment at that time.
Monster’s University It’s Pixar and it’s not Cars. So that’s a good thing. On the otherhand, while I enjoyed the previous Monster’s Inc., I didn’t love it enough to want a sequel. This movie seems… I dunno… gratuitous. But because it’s Pixar and, Cars and Cars 2 notwithstanding, Pixar has a lot of goodwill with me, I can almost garauntee I’ll watch it on DVD at some point.
The Lone Ranger I was convinced, when I heard about this, that it had “Epic Flop of John Carter Proportions” written all over it. I thought: Johnny Depp (no matter how good an actor he is) in a racially insensitive portrayal of Tonto? This thing is going to get cremated in the blogosphere! Now I’ve seen the trailers and I’m… less convinced. And the buzz is actually pretty decent. And word is Disney has done a lot of legwork (enough? I don’t know) to make good with Native Americans over the casting and portrayal of Tonto. (I’m that mythical “1/16th” Native American, which basically doesn’t mean anything, except that a deep respect for Native American peoples has been passed down in my family, owing to that ancestry as told in family legend. I haven’t done the genealogy work to back up that claim. But the end result is that I’m a little sensitive to the question of how American Indians are portrayed in stories.) So… If all that holds true… well… you can expect The Lone Ranger to do bonzo at the Box Office.
Iron Man 3 I have not seen Iron Man 2 (nor, for that matter, The Avengers). So I know there is Zero Percent chance I’ll make it out to see Iron Man 3. I at least owe it to the movie to see the two preceeding flicks (even if I still manage to avoid Thor because I think the idea of “Thor” as a superhero character is basically a bit cheesy and overwrought). I did see and enjoy the first Iron Man movie, though, and I enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Stark. So, whenever I get around to picking up Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, I’ll eventually follow that up with Iron Man 3.
What happened to 2012′s Movies?
As for the 2012 movies that I had listed previously? As alluded above, I did see the first Hobbit movie and the first Hunger Games movie. I also caught Dark Knight Rises and Brave at the theaters. I did not get a chance to see The Secret World of Arietty, but that’s okay, because I’ve always consumed anime on the small-screen in the past. (I love Hayao Miyazaki, but I’ve never seen a Miyazaki movie in theaters.) Prometheus was… well… based on all the reviews I heard, it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. And life’s too short to waste a few hours on a basically dumb movie. The Amazing Spider-Man, as predicted, I did not see. I still expect I’ll see it on DVD eventually. Also didn’t see The Avengers, so no, I did not contribute to that massive box office haul. John Carter, I heard, was actually better than many gave it credit for. But, again… well… my own sense of it was not super-positive from the trailers. (I said it looked “vistual-tastic”, but I also worried, based on the trailers, that there wasn’t much “there there”. I still sort of feel that way.) Again, life’s too short.
So, that’s where I stand on movies in 2013. How’s about you?
Let’s see… how did this week go?
More work at the dayjob. Busy, that was. Good busy, you know, but busy.
More home-life of the neo-parental kind on the home-front, combined with home-life of the rambunctious toddler parent kind as well.
The highlights of the week included planting flowers in the front garden. Plus, I committed a deliberate act of Barbecue! (Actually, that’s the second time this year I’ve barbecued… we had a beautiful run of warm weather back in late-February/early-March.) I concocted some sort of non-duplicable dry rub from various seasonings in our spice drawer for some chicken kabobs, and it was quite delicious.
Of writing or time therefore there was narry a peep. I mollified myself be engaging in a nice bit of readage. I got through a good chunk of the book I’m currently reading (A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, if you’re curious). It turns out: it’s hard to write when you’re feeding a baby, but relatively easy to read.
That’s life down at the Casa Chez Watkins. How are things in your neck-of-the-woods?
Yes, I did no writing last week. Again. So, starting this week, and continuing until I’m actually writing with something that I consider regularity again… I’m going to forego my weekly writing updates. I’m taking the stance suggested by T.S. Bazelli in response to my last weekly update: I’m a writer on sabbatical.
But I don’t want you to think I’ve dropped off the internet, or whatever. I’m on sabbatical from my fiction writing, but I’m still going to try to keep up the blogging – if I drop it now, I’ll lose the few readers I do have (all five of you). Hey, it took me like 3 years of regular blogging to build up a readership of 5-ish folks. I’d rather not go back to square-one and start from scratch, nor throw another shrimp on the barbie, or pack another cliche into this sentence. So I’ll be back each week if nothing else at least with a short note letting you all know what’s up in life. (Longer and more interesting posts will still be infrequent, based on when I can find the time to write them.)
Last week? Mostly, more of the same. But thanks to the magic of Dear Wife, we did have a family movie night on Friday. We – all 4.5 of us – snuggled up together (the dog curled up at our feet), ate our dinner on the couch, and watched Finding Nemo. Well, three of us watched Finding Nemo. V.R.’s eyesight doesn’t extend the distance from the couch to the TV, yet. And Shasta doesn’t really get TV.
I am happy to report that Finding Nemo still holds up as a fun movie-watching experience all these years later. We had a great time, and felt like a normal family with actual free time to do actual fun things.
Everything else continues busy unabated. But I look forward to a few more occasions of tentative relaxation in the near future.
Spring may have sprung*, but when it comes to writing, there’s no spring in my step:
Book of M:
- Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
- First Draft Wordcount: 0 words
Story of V:
- Wordcount: 0 words
Grand Total: 0 words
There’s no need, I think, to rehash all the reasons why my writing hasn’t exactly blossomed. Suffice to say that the pace of life with both V.R. and B.T. continues unabated. At the moment, I have no reason to expect anything else.
As I said last week, it is now quite clear to me that I was being overly optimistic when I set my goals for the year. I knew V.R. was coming, obviously, but I thought it was possible for me both to have a baby and to find time to write. Maybe if I didn’t already have a demanding daytime career, that might’ve been true, but I do and it’s not.
I have no reason, at this point, to expect the next several weeks to be any different. If I get any writing in, it won’t be much, and will almost certainly be substantially lower than my stated weekly goal of 1,750 words.
As the regular reader here could possibly tell from the tone of my recent posts, this all leaves me in a bit of an anxious and emotionally conflicted state. As I should hope is obvious, adding V.R. to our lives has been a happy and much-looked-forward-to occasion. And I regard the developments at the day-job that keep me so busy as being largely positive. But as a writer, which is a big part of my self-conception, all of this is a significant set-back. It’s difficult when you go through a sustained period of time where you must, of necessity, suppress an important part of yourself. For me, there’s a lot of internal angst and conflict over whether I can even honestly use the term “writer” to describe myself when I can’t even perform the most basic and self-definitional of tasks attributed to writers: namely, to write something, anything, regardless of quality. If I can’t even put words to paper, then what am I, really? A poseur?
The answer, I think, is that right now, and for the immediately foreseeable future, I’m not a writer. I’m a father who sometimes, on rare occasions when opportunity presents itself, indulges in a fantasy hobby of writing. I hate to call myself a hobbyist, because writing is so much more important to me than a mere hobby, but at the present time it feels the height of pretense to call myself a writer, much less an author, aspiring or otherwise.
I know that’s just the stress of the moment speaking to me. This, too, shall pass. But in the meantime, the fact remains: I’m not writing. And I don’t see that changing for a while.
Which leaves me wondering: why am I running through these paces, going on about how much writing I’m not doing, every week? I wonder if the time hasn’t come to say: “Hey, I’m not writing right now. I’ll let y’all know when that changes.” Then, I can focus what very limited blogging time I have to writing something more interesting than the same old “hey, no writing this week” post.
What do you, dear reader, think?
*Spring offer not valid in all locations. Please check your local weather listings for more details.
I haven’t written much so far this year. Obviously there’s a good reason for that, and I’ve said as much in my weekly writing updates, but I haven’t exactly been forthcoming about what that reason might be. There’s a good reason for that, too. If you follow the blog very closely, you may have figured out the reason for yourself. Or maybe not. If you know me in real life, you almost certainly already know the reason.
Regardless, enough time has passed to leave sufficient ambiguity regarding exact dates, thereby protecting the privacy of all involved, that I feel comfortable revealing the truth at last, here on a public forum.
I’ve made only two prior mentions of V.R. here before. I explained what I meant by “V.R.” one of those times, but it was a small, passing remark. Here’s where the very close reading comes into play. Longtime readers of this blog will know I refer to my dear son by the identity-concealing epithet “B.T.” So it will not be shocking when I point out again that “V.R.” is the code-name I’ll be using here to refer to his little brother.
That’s right. I’m a daddy. Again. I’m the father of two little boys, now.
So maybe you can start to see why I haven’t had much time for writing. (Incidentally, this is why I gave myself fourteen whole weeks off from writing, when I set my goals for the year, which was the second time I mentioned V.R. In retrospect, I may have been overly optimistic in how much free time I’d have for writing with a new baby in the house.)
It’s not just the baby, mind you. It’s the rest of real-life, too. Like many – probably most – authors and aspiring authors, I have a day-job. A day-job I happen to like. I work on a rather small team in a much larger company. At the beginning of the year, however, that team shrank one person smaller, as a coworker left for a new position at another company.
This has turned out to be quite good for me in professional terms, on balance. I’ve had to step up to the plate, and take on increased responsibilities. I’ve now been involved in more high-profile projects, and I’m playing a bigger role on the team. In time, I believe this increased exposure will lead to professional development opportunities.
But in the short term, it means a significant investment of time at work. Where I used to have relatively free lunch hours, I now regularly work. It has become not uncommon at all for me to work late – one, two, even three or more hours late. All of this eats into time that used to be somewhat available for writing, reading, blogging, and following the blogs of other authors and writers. Inasmuch as I’m working more, I’m doing those things less. For all we mortals (and especially the sort into heavy-duty self-help) like to talk of time management, ultimately time management is a zero-sum game.
So this is how my days go: I wake up early… Earlier than I used to because there’s more to be done each morning before I get out the door. At this point in the day I’m already groggy and tired, because I didn’t get a great night’s sleep the night before. (Nor the night before that, nor the night before that…) Because there are now two children, getting ready is somewhat more complicated. I get out the door a little earlier than I used to. For now, I’ve taken over primary responsibility for B.T.’s daycare drop-off. That means I have to build in a little extra commute time each morning. (Dropping B.T. off at daycare frequently involves reading a book.) I still arrive at work about ten to twenty minutes later, on average, than I used to, when I did only a couple drop offs per week.
Most days I get to work already knowing at least one or two things I have to start work on – usually things I didn’t quite wrap up from the day before, sometimes a chance to work on longer term but lower priority projects that get pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of a normal day. It isn’t long before the rest of my coworkers and my supervisor are in, and then it’s really off to the races. I try to catch breakfast before everyone gets there. But once things really get moving on the day’s work, it’s pretty close to non-stop. I usually work through lunch, eating at my desk. By the time I leave work, on a regular day, it’s a little north of nine hours later. But it’s increasingly common these days that it’s a lot further north of nine hours.
Excepting the extra morning commute time taken to drop B.T. off at daycare, the evening commute is invariably worse than the morning. By the time I get home, my family is sitting down to dinner. Or sometimes they’ve wrapped dinner up already. Either way, my evenings often begin by going straight from my car to my kitchen table to eat, and from there to play time. At this point, I haven’t seen Dear Wife all day save for a hug-and-kiss goodbye in the morning. The time I’ve spent with B.T. consisted largely of trying to herd him out the door followed by car-driving time (which is not typically the most interactive of times with a few exceptions). And I pretty much haven’t seen V.R. at all. So I want to spend time with my whole family, being a good husband and father to them all. Most days, there isn’t much time for that before it’s time for B.T. to head to bed.
Bedtime is it’s own lengthy ordeal. Dear Wife and I mostly take turns, though not evenly, and if I’m not putting B.T. to bed, I’ve got V.R. to care for. Like his brother before him, V.R. likes being held. A lot. If I can manage to put V.R. down, there are dishes to be done and lunches to be made for the next day. Most of the time, none of that gets done until after B.T. is firmly ensconced in his bed.
By the time all of that is done - and we’ve largely abandonned any pretense of getting any additional house-work done – Dear Wife and I both are thoroughly exhausted. We’ve both had busy days, and for my part if there was time I missed there that I could’ve been writing, I’m too sleep-deprived to see it. We take maybe ten or fifteen minutes of downtime to decompress (frequently with chocolate-based assistance)… and then it’s off to bed.
Yet, despite our mutual exhaustion, a truly restful sleep remains elusive, as V.R. makes it known frequently throughout the night that we are terrible parents for starving him. I mean, it’s been like two hours since he last ate. We should’ve been on top of that like twenty minutes ago! The delay is simply unconscionable. Or at least, that’s what it sounds like he’s saying when you translate his hunger screams into something more polite.
The morning comes too quickly, and the cycle begins anew.
Obviously, I’m less happy with this week than I am with the last:
Book of M:
- Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
- First Draft Wordcount: 0 words
Story of V:
- Wordcount: 0 words
Grand Total: 0 words
If I need to spell out why, I’ve not been doing a very good job at spelling out my writing-related goals for the year…
For those following along at home, I’ve now burned through 7 weeks of this year without writing, compared to only 4 weeks of the year spent writing. I’d allotted myself 14 weeks this year for non-writing, anticipating that I’d need quite a few. Yet, it’s clear that I was being… optimistic.
Overall… I’ve written just north of 3,000 words so far this year. That’s not a lot of writing, so far. In fact, even if I take out the seven weeks I’ve spent not writing this year, I’m only at 43% of my goal for the year. (I should’ve written around 7,000 words if I’d written 1,750 each week that I spent writing.)
From where I stand now, quite honestly, I don’t see a near-term end in sight for this drought from writing. I know it will end, eventually, but I just can’t tell for certain when it will. A few weeks? A few months? Will most of the year pass before I am once again able to find enough writing time to make some solid forward momentum? Time will tell, I suppose. There’s your daily cliche for you.
So, how are you doing, this week? If you write, did you get much writing done?
All things considered, I’m really happy with this week:
Book of M:
- Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
- First Draft Wordcount: 1,024 words
Story of V:
- Wordcount: 0 words
Grand Total: 1,024 words
The circumstances that have limited my free time have not abated, but with a little help from Dear Wife, I was able to find a little time to squeeze out a little writing progress. A thousand words I’d no where near my weekly goal, but it’s substantially more than I’ve been able to do for most of this year. For that, I’m pretty happy.
Structurally, I’m passing through the first turning point, reaching the end of what I’ve been thinking of as the first of five acts. At about thirty-thousand words, that puts me roughly on track for my wordcount target for this book. Of course, that has several assumptions built into it. For instance, while I’ve plotted the book out, I haven’t really dug into my list of scenes to tease out what the structure actually looks like. The assumed five acts is based on a gut feeling. I’ve also assumed the first act would be the shortest; it has the fewest number of scenes.
Regardless, it’s nice to see that the novel is shaping up more or less how I expected, even if the pace of writing it is much slower than I’d like.
So my week was good. How was yours? Tell me about it in the comments.