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BlackChampagne -- no longer new; improvement also in question.: 2005-08-21

Friday, August 26, 2005  

Things of the Day: Weekend Edition (Just like on NPR?)

Quote of the Day: (QotD Archives)
"The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions."
--Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)

Soul-Devouring Worry:
Early to bed and early to rise.

Answer of the Day:
Because after you have a turkey dog for lunch, dinner is guaranteed to be an improvement.

Curse of the Day:
May you find it difficult to adapt to variably-sized sticks.

Books Lying Open:
Poisons, by Peter MacInnis
Depraved, the shocking true story of America's first serial killer, by Harold Schechter
Fiend, the shocking trues story of America's youngest serial killer, by Harold Schechter
Harry Fricking Potter 6, by the richest woman on earth

Movies to see list:
The Aristocrats, Waiting for the DVD.
Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, October 5 (Oh yeah.)

Busy Weekend

I'm awake hours earlier than usual, after dragging (with Malaya's wakeup assistance) myself out of bed hours earlier than usual. Unfortunately I did not go to bed any earlier than usual, so my eyes have that (holes burned into my face) feeling so many of you are no-doubt familiar with from your real lives and real jobs. "Sucks, dunnit?" you're probably saying right about now, with nearly as much sympathy as I feel for this lady who ran herself over. And you'd be right to do it.

I got up "early" (for me) because I have to get up by 8 Saturday, and then not much later than that on Sunday and again Monday. The ordeal! Since I usually write at night, and seldom get into bed before 6am... ugh.

Anyway, Saturday morning is this month's Kali workshop. We're doing it outdoors in a park down south, rather than at Tuhan's house, since this time it's staff, and you need a lot of room for 10 or 15 people to be swinging two meter lenghts of wood around. We've done some stuff with staff now and then in Kali in the past, but we're always limited in space, and people don't ordinarily bring such long weapons with them to class. My new stick is seven feet long, but it actually fits into my car pretty easily, once I fold down the backseat and stick it from the trunk alongside the passenger seat.

Malaya and I got our sticks on Monday, since we wanted to get in some practice before the workshop. We have no idea what we'll be doing then, but Tuhan almost always starts off with some footwork, then does a few form-learning exercises, and eventually we get to watch him fight with the weapon of choice for that workshop, and then see other students spar in various ways. Workshops are about 2/3 learn with a new thing, and 1/3 watch other people show off their Kali skills. Quite often, the most fun is in watching advanced students and teachers spar, and those always provide a needed reality check for the younger students who have been starting to think they actually know something about the art.

Saturday afternoon is the bridal shower for the upcoming wedding of our friends, and since it's a "Jack and Jill" affair, I've got to get to go. It should actually be pretty fun, since it's at the bride-to-be's parent's house, which is big and roomy, and there's going to be tons of good food (always at any Filipino gathering) and company. The event begins in the afternoon, and will likely go all evening as such gatherings usually do. There will be a huge buffet-style table of homemade cooking, lots of gaming outside (mah jong, texas hold 'em, etc) and so on.

I can't stay that late though, because my dad's in town for a quick visit, and is going to be driving down from Davis Saturday evening. I'll see him for dinner that night, and then Sunday we're driving up to Sonoma for more wine tasting and photo shooting. He's staying overnight then, and come Monday we'll do something in the morning before he flies back to San Diego in the early afternoon. Malaya's so busy with the wedding planning stuff and getting stuff done for work on Monday that she's hardly going to see dad at all; just dinner on Sunday when we get back from Sonoma, in theory.

As always when outside events impact on my usual idle-filled schedule, my thoughts are about how I'll get any writing done. Of course when I have pretty much all day to do that most of the time, I seldom manage to get started before 2am, once Malaya's asleep and I've got no remaining distractions; well, none other than the oh-so-succulent Internet and all of its unearthly delights. So I'm going to try and do some writing in the daytime, or perhaps start it earlier in the evening than usual, etc. I've been doing at least 2-3000 words a day for the past couple of weeks, and while I'd like to spend 12 hours a day and do 8000 words and finish the novel(s) in a month, I try to be happy that I'm at least making steady, if unspectacular, progress.

As the above probably hints at, blog posting may be sporadic to nonexistant this weekend. Adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Luckily, just like the past few weeks, there aren't any movies we're interested in seeing this weekend. I'd been hoping that Brothers Grimm might be watchable, but most of the reviews say it's visionary imagery in search of a plot. That and the CGI trees look like rubbery shit in the trailer and TV commercials. The Cave boasts the laziest and least-interesting title of the year, and appears to be of about the quality you'd expect of a horror movie being dumped in the late-August dregs. And thanks to the new titles listing on Rotten Tomatoes and its eye-catching 00% approval rating, I now know about Undiscovered, which seems largely designed to make the rest of us hate the aspiring celebrities of LA even more than we do already. You'll probably have more fun reading the reviews than watching any of those; my most memorable movie experience of the past week was following Aahz's recommendation and reading Ebert's zero-star review of Deuce Bigalow 2, which starts off snarky, turns cruel, and ends with some ruthless and entirely justified character assassination of Rob Schneider. Two quotes:
"Deuce Bigalow" is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes.

...Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks.
You get the idea.

Thursday, August 25, 2005  

Movie Trailers

  • This first one is not a movie trailer, it's a short animated film. However I can guarantee you'll enjoy watching it more than anything else linked in this update, providing you have a sense of humor. It's called Le Building, and I know nothing more about it than that. It may take a bit to DL, since it's a large and very high quality quicktime file, but I liked it a lot. It's completely safe for work, though there is loud singing and then crashing sound effects, so maybe you should turn down your speakers first.

  • I everyone made fun of the dreadful teaser trailer for Doom the Movie some weeks ago. Well, they've got a full trailer out now, and while it doesn't look any good either, they did try something inovative. There are scenes in the film that will invariably be called the "FPS Cam." They basically look like a real life version of the game, with a camera view identical to the view you get while playing a shooter. There's even a gun sticking out in front of you, a gun that's held up when a new clip is slapped in, a scene with a chainsaw against a fake-looking hellhound demon thing, and so on. I'll give them points for making this movie more like the game it's based on than anyone has done before, but um... games are fun because you're controlling them. Who wants to buy a ticket to watch someone else play? Even if you're watching slightly higher quality graphics than home computers can yet offer?

  • There's a new international trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter movie, and it's... another Harry Potter movie. The scenes with Harry the merboy look pretty plastic-y, the dragon looks okay, Mad Eye Moody's mad eye looks kind of Borgish, and um... yeah. Nothing awful here, but after the first 2 HP movies were boring and by the book and the 3rd one was more lively but wouldn't have made any sense if you hadn't read the book, my hopes aren't high. Even though all of the news about the movie, including the feature I just read in EW magazine, says this 4th one is the most unlike the book, with the whole "Hermoine tries to free the house elves." subplot jettisoned. We may go see it on a matinee, if we get bored one day. We still have the damn HP6 book sitting here on the desk, and the fact that we bought it the day after it came out, and neither Malaya nor I have yet so much as opened it is probably a fair sign of our general enthusiasm for all things Harry Potter, though.

  • Wednesday, August 24, 2005  

    A Streetcar Named Disaster

    I wrote 95% of this post a couple of months ago, just before I headed down to San Diego for my dad's back surgery. For some reason it's been ignored halfway down my notes page since then, but since I just looked at it for the umpteenth time and wondered why I hadn't posted it, I'm doing so now. You may need to update the figures slightly to add in recent accidents, but anyway:

    I first heard of the dangerous Houston Light Rail in various columns by The Sports Guy, back in early 2004 when he was in Houston covering the Superbowl. I'd link to them, but unfortunately has now locked all of his old archives away behind their $40 a year Insider wall, so you'll have to take my word for it. His jokes were all to the effect of how "insanely-easy it is to walk/drive in front of" the new monorail, and I thought it was just a comedic, "find something lame about the city hosting the event and joke about it relentlessly" effort.

    Turns out it wasn't; the Houston Light Rail really is a car-eating monster, with an accident rate running something like 2500% higher than the national average. It's so bad that the design of the trains has become a running joke, and the people of Houston have given their monorail two excellent nick names. It's known as both the "Wham-Bam-Tram," and the "Streetcar Named Disaster."

    Amused enough by those names to look for more info, I found a lot of sites talking/joking about it, but very few making any actual effort to explain the problem. As best I can tell, the trains run right alongside major roads, all through downtown Houston, and since cars must cross the tracks every block, the chances for a collision are extremely high. This is compounded by inadequate warning signs, lights, and guardrails, and the possibility that Houston drivers are really, really reckless. But certainly not wreck-less. Improvements galore have been made, mostly in terms of adding additional warning lights and guardrails, but there are still tons of accidents happening.

    One of the first Google returns on my search was this one, and it's worth a read for the amusement, largely for a few lines like this one:
    It should be noted that when Houston's MetroRail supporters were trying to generate public support for the vote on light rail, they told voters that it would take automobiles off the road. They just didn't mention that it would do it one car at a time.
    The oddest thing about my search results? Like 75% of the first page of Google returns were Libertarian sites, a fact that generally became clear when I checked out other links on their pages. I guess it's logical Libertarians would compile pages about the Wham Bam Tram; their political ideology opposes basically any sort of public spending (since those things require taxes or bonds to pay for them) and few things are more expensive than major public transportation systems. So when one comes along that's expensive, dangerous, and impractical, like Houston's, their eyes must light up like a pinball machine. Or like mine do when a new fantasy novel comes out that's famous, popular, and written like shit.

    Political biases aside, I think we can all agree that the Houston system is a bad one, with a poor design, and we can all try to learn from it. While laughing at the astonishing amount of accidents they've had already, in less than 1.5 years.

    I'm probably biased on this issue, since I now live in the Bay Area where we're blessed with the excellent BART system, and a geography that makes a mass transit system extremely viable. I should look up some info about San Diego though, since they were just getting their trolley system going full bore when I moved away from there, two years ago, and while I was amazed at the amount of trolley stops and the engineering they did to build them (clearing out an entire hillside along 8-East, just to get the trolley out from downtown to SDSU), I have no idea if it's helped traffic congestion, if it's worth the tax dollars spent on it, etc. The new trolley stop to the stadium was hugely popular for baseball and football games, during the last couple of years I worked there, but that's a special case with tens of thousands of people heading to a location with far too little parking, for a relatively short time. I have no idea if any of those same people actually rode it to work on weekdays, though the trolley parking lot near my condo in La Mesa (east of San Diego) was very full every weekday I drove past it.

    More Wal-Mart Violence

    When I first saw the news that someone had blown away two Wal-Mart employees I suspected an outraged customer, or perhaps a petty shoplifter showing solidarity with the guy Wal-Martians sat on and killed last week, but news today says he's just nuts. A contention his mug shot would seem to support.

    GLENDALE, Ariz. - The man accused of killing two workers in a Wal-Mart store parking lot appears to be mentally disturbed, according to court records released Wednesday.

    Ed Lui, 53, was arrested Tuesday after allegedly driving into a Wal-Mart parking lot in this Phoenix suburb and shooting two cart collectors.

    The documents released after his initial court appearance early Wednesday alleged that after shooting the workers, Lui reloaded his .40-caliber handgun and then shot them several more times while they lay on the ground.

    The court documents indicated that he appeared mentally disturbed but gave no details.

    Glendale police previously said it didn't appear Lui knew the victims or had a vendetta against them or Wal-Mart.
    Perhaps he was just outraged by continually seeing hundreds of shopping carts strewn all around the parking lot? I'm occasionally tempted to plug a few of the cart collector guys at CostCo, except that there aren't any. And as we all know, murder is never a solution.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005  

    Cartoon Recommendation

    It's the laziest type of blogging to simply toss in a link and say, "This is good; go look at it." but I think the new Tom Tomorrow cartoon so perfectly summarizes the state of mind of Americans who still support the Iraqi occupation that I can't resist. So here I go.

    This cartoon is good; go look at it.

    Monday, August 22, 2005  

    Celebrities I Can't Tell Apart: #01

    For today's installment, I bring you Catherine Zeta-Jones and Salma Hayek. Both beautiful, exotic-looking brunettes, Salma is 38 and was born in Mexico; Catherine is 35 and was born in Wales. I've never been able to tell these two apart, but compounding my current confusion is an upcoming movie role for Catherine. She's starring in a new Zorro movie (why?) with Antonio Banderas. They made another Zorro movie seven years ago, and if you'd put a gun to my head yesterday I would have sworn that film starred... Salma Hayek. See because Zorro is set in Mexico, and Salma is Mexican, while Catherine is English, or something very much like it. Adding to my dilemma, I saw the last two Desperado movies, which were Western-style films set in Mexico that starred Antonio Banderas... and Salma Hayek. So really, if they made a 4th Desperado film with Antonio and Catherine, and a 3rd Zorro with Antonio and Salma... who would notice?

    Here are a few pictures of the ladies just to illustrate my point. I'd say which was which, but hell, I don't know. Isn't that the whole point of this post?


    Lawrence Phillips Back in the News

    It's always nice to see when an ex-pro athlete hits rock bottom.
    Former National Football League running back Lawrence Phillips was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder Sunday after he allegedly drove a stolen car into a throng of boys with whom he had just played pickup football at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, police said.

    Phillips, who has a decade-long history of arrests for violence and traffic violations, apparently was angered when he couldn't find his belongings minutes after the game ended and accused the youths of stealing from him, according to the mother of one of the victims.

    None of the victims' injuries were life-threatening, police said.
    Of course the car was stolen, and he was wanted on felony charges in San Diego for beating yet another "girlfriend." The article helpfully provides a capsule timeline of his distinguished career. (Whether that's a career in football or in beating up women is open to debate.)
    Phillips, who spent his teens in a West Covina group home, first attracted national attention for violent behavior when he was a star player at Nebraska. In 1995, he was charged with trespassing and assault for an attack on a college girlfriend, who said he threatened to shoot her in the kneecaps and elbows. The university provided her with 24-hour protection. Phillips pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a year of probation.

    Before Sunday's incident, Phillips' most recent run-in with authorities came when San Diego police said that he had choked a 28-year-old girlfriend Aug. 2 at her home in the Mission Valley area. A second attack allegedly took place 11 days later when Phillips confronted the woman at a party.


    Despite his troubles with the law, Phillips received many opportunities over the years to start fresh. After pleading no contest in the attack on his college girlfriend, he was drafted the following year by the St. Louis Rams as a first-round pick and No. 6 overall. That same year, he was arrested for drunk driving, a parole violation that carried a 23-day jail sentence.

    The Rams released Phillips in 1997 for insubordination. He was signed briefly by the Miami Dolphins, but was dumped again after a woman claimed that he struck her after she refused to dance with him at a nightclub. Phillips pleaded guilty to battery and was placed on six months' probation.

    After being signed and then cut by the San Francisco 49ers, Phillips was charged in May 2000 with attacking a girlfriend in Beverly Hills. That December, he was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading no contest to felony charges of beating the woman and making a terrorist threat. He also was given three years' probation and ordered to take anger-management training.

    Phillips briefly found football success in Canada — where he had to get special permission to work because of his criminal record in the U.S. — but was dropped by two teams for behavioral problems, despite agreeing to additional anger-management counseling, according to news accounts.

    In late 2003, Phillips was back in criminal court, charged in Quebec with sexual assault, assault, and uttering threats, apparently against another girlfriend.
    It's really sort of sad that this guy who might be in the prime of his multi-million dollar NFL career, is reduced to cruising aimlessly around LA in a stolen car and playing pick up football with a bunch of 14 year olds. That after a lifetime of arrests, and misery, all stemming from emotional scars he received growing up a ward of the state.

    On the other hand, he's a complete bitch who has beaten dozens of women (If 5 or 6 actually pressed charges, imagine how many others did not bother?) but never seems to pick on anyone his own size. (Note how he simply gave up when the cops were on his tail in LA.) I sure hope they like him in prison.

    Saddest of all, this surely isn't rock bottom yet. He'll likely get no more than 5 to 10 for the current charges; no way attempted murder will stick for a moment of road rage that left no serious injuries, even with his long criminal record, and he'll be out by 2010 and free to work on bigger and better arrests. I'm predicting cocaine charges by then, assuming that drug is still a big deal in 5 years, after he gets hooked on it in prison and gets taken in by some real criminals for his brief post-prison career.

    Mega M&Ms?

    On the same theme as the last candy-eating post, Malaya and I have lately been idly wondering just how big those new giant M&Ms are, based on seeing perhaps 5000 commercials for them over the past week of the ad blitz. They never show the actual product in the commercials (just huge fake ones the size of a hubcap), and there aren't even any photos of them on the M&Ms website. So I searched on the subject, and found success with the second return, a business article from the NYTimes. If you haven't done so before, you'll need to register to read it, or use for a password, but I found it interesting. It answered my most basic question, and then gave me far, far more.
    FIRST there were regular-size M&M's, then tinier ones. Now, the Masterfoods USA division of Mars is bringing out a supersize version, called Mega, with each milk chocolate or peanut piece about 55 percent larger than the equivalent standard-size M&M's.

    ...Mega M&M's will be aimed at adults rather than children. Although the animated M&M's characters appear on the packages, they are absent from the ads. And the colors of Mega M&M's are meant to appeal to more mature audiences; the regular hues like red, green, yellow and blue are being supplanted by shades like maroon, gold, beige and teal.

    "Adults have said they like a bigger bite-sized product with bigger bite-sized taste," said Martyn Wilks, president for the Masterfoods USA snack-food division. "This is definitely for a subset of our target market."

    ...Mega M&M's will mostly be sold in packages that are intended to be passed around, like 12.6-ounce and 19.6-ounce bags, rather than in single-serving bags.
    I like how they've got the colors all thought out and the product designed scientifically. I'm not likely to eat them since we're not fat and we therefore avoid candy when possible, and because the big Shrek M&Ms clogged up our M&Ms dispenser. Plus they were bigger, but like 75% of that was the crappy M&M chocolate, with tiny little peanuts floating deep within, like the poison gas center of a golf ball.

    Wondering about the market trends of larger-sized candy and junk food, what that means for Americans in general, and the market risks of overextending an existing product line? Read the whole article. Here's a little chocolate-y taste:
    Mega M&M's joins a lengthy list of variations on the M&M's theme that include, in addition to regular M&M's and Minis, crispy M&M's, almond M&M's, M&M's filled with peanut butter, dark chocolate M&M's and pieces for baking. The strategy is a common one in consumer marketing, known as line extensions, by which new versions of a best-selling brand are brought out continually to capitalize on the popularity of the parent.

    Marketers often deem it safer and cheaper to introduce a line extension of a tried-and-true product like M&M's - a Top 10 candy brand with estimated annual sales of almost $1 billion - than to develop a new brand that consumers may ignore or not like. A problem with line extensions, however, is that they run the risk of diluting a brand's image.

    ..."It just sows confusion, and confusion is the enemy of effective marketing," Mr. Trout said, adding: "People stare at the shelf and don't know what to buy anymore. It's bewildering. And you see it in every category: 'This Bud's for you.' Which Bud do you have in mind? Bud? Bud Light? Bud Select?"
    How about people buy the kind they like the best, while not buying the kinds they don't like, much the way they don't buy brands they don't like? Still, perhaps Mr. Marketing Consultant has a point, though I don't see various different types of chocolate in a candy shell, or types of weak American beer in a can, as being different enough to confuse consumers. Companies get into trouble with that when they diversify overly, and start making clothing and toothpaste and food and dish soap and other unrelated things all under the same product name. Read Matt Haig's excellent book, Brand Failures, for more information about that issue.

    A Confession

    Honey, I couldn't help myself. I ate a box of your mini-cereal 30 variety pack. Since I saw that there were Froot Loops in there a few days ago, and told you that story about when I was 8 and flying unaccompanied and had a big bag of Froot Loops and just wanted to eat them and read my book and kept having to shake my head when the damned flight attendants kept coming by to ask me if I wanted any food or something to drink, I've been thinking about Froot Loops. So I ate some.

    They were staring at me.

    I hadn't tasted the things in maybe 20 years, and of course they weren't as good as I remembered, and I didn't have them with milk since I don't really drink it anymore. Then again, I didn't have any milk when I was eating them on the plane either, all those years ago, so perhaps that just added to the nostalgia. I think they have more colors now than they used to; I don't remember neon green and aqua colors back then, just grape, orange, red, and lemon. I was pleased to see that they were still like M&Ms though, in that all the hues tasted exactly the same. I can still remember when I was a kid and used to separate them into piles by color, and then eat them separately while trying to notice if they tasted different. I was an analytical little shit too; and I'd sometimes do a blind taste test to see if I could tell red from orange, or lemon. I even remember arguing about them with some kids in school, when one other kid insisted they tasted different, and that he didn't like the yellow ones.

    Anyway Malaya, that's why one box is missing from the cereal assortment. I was going to try an blame Dusty, but since he only eats non-food items (even more non-food than artificially flavored, Skittles-colored puffed corn rings) I didn't think that one would fly.



    Sunday, August 21, 2005  

    Fiction and Martial Arts

    After my last Kali-related post, Lanth made a comment that I liked enough to save and answer in separate post. I didn't mean to wait 3 weeks to do so, but like all good questions, this one is timeless. Or something like that.:
    Do you find with your experience in Kali that it's changed your book-writing ('the fantasy novel') at all? Have you introduced characters who are experts at particular styles you use, or changed some of the characters slightly now that you've experienced it more (ie someone who only ever used staves becoming someone who uses staves and daggers and swords when forced to)? Are the general fights now more thought-out to be realistic rather than appearing and sounding cool on paper (although I know it's hard to write realistically and describe it without losing the audience).

    And following from that last patenthesised interlude, have you found that your writing in these blogs about kali all the time has helped you in your ability to describe battles/fights, now that you've had plenty of practice at struggling to convey your actual real-life experiences on 'paper' for so long?:
    I haven't mentioned the fantasy novel lately, but it's going well. I'm definitely more than half finished, and I've recently figured out how the conclusion is going to come about. I've known the conclusion (and the brief, surprising, sequel-setting epilogue) for like 3 years, since the early days of my plot planning, but I also had a long list (and it kept getting longer) of interesting scenes and character revelations and plot twists that had to fit somewhere in the last third of the novel. I just wasn't sure quite where they would all fit, or how they would all fit together. I have them all mapped out now, and while they aren't 100% set, they're at least 90% there.

    I'd end up making changes from the 100% version anyway, if I had one. I always do as I write it and get better/new ideas for how to arrange things.

    That aside, the questions were about, 1) how Kali has influenced my writing about combat, and 2) how my blog writing about Kali has helped (or not) my writing about combat.

    As for #1, I've stolen a great amount of stuff directly from Kali and stuck it into the combat in my novel, to the point that if I don't stick my Kali teacher into the acknowledgements, she'd have as good a case at suing me for royalties as Tolkien's estate would have had with Terry Brooks bestselling fan fic. Not every character does Kali, and it's never called Kali, and no one character's fighting is entirely in the Kali style, but the influence will be very clear to anyone who knows them both and reads the novel. Hell, anyone whose read a few of my blog posts on Kali and then read the novel would see it.

    It's not a huge change from what I'd intended to do with combat in the novel, oddly enough. I'd always planned on the old Necromancer character being a sort of martial arts master, in terms of moving sinuously, dodging and turning aside hits rather than hacking away like a knight in shining armor, using guile and technique rather than brute strength, etc. If I hadn't started doing Kali (almost a year ago) I would have had to just be creative and invent his style as I wrote it, and it's actually damn convenient that I'm now practicing a style myself that's very much like what I envisioned Quinoss using long before I'd ever even heard of Kali.

    As for #2... sort of. I've always known that combat is very difficult to write about in the blow by blow style. Physical choreography is just hard to describe, whether you're writing about wrestling, boxing, sword fighting, sexual positioning, dancing, or anything else. A common lexicon is a great help, but you can't assume people have that with martial arts or any type of combat, though that depends largely on your audience.

    I can write in detail about exact moves and counters and techniques and footwork about Kali, and have it perfectly understood... by other Kali students. For a while I was trading long emails about class with a fellow student, and she understood just what I was saying, since she had shared the experience regularly. Yet that same email posted here, or sent to my mom, would have been greeted with incomprehension. It's the same in sports writing; anyone with a level of knowledge about baseball, or basketball, or whatever, can understand a quick game summary, or a description of a great move. Imagine trying to write about a crossover dribble move with a 360 spin that ended in an alleyoop dunk and have it be understood by someone who doesn't know anything about basketball, though?

    That's pretty much were I'm writing from with my novel.

    I can assume people know what swinging a sword means, and an uppercut, or a downward slash, or a stab, or a block with a shield, etc. But if I want to describe detailed movements, say a slash thats pulled through high, then swung around over the attacker's head to a leg cut on the opponent, which bounces over to the other side of the neck for the kill... I've already lost most of you. And I didn't even describe the hip and shoulder turns of the attacker to give his hits speed and power, his hand position on the sword to turn the blade from side to side, or anything about how the defender was positioned, how he blocked the first hit, why he was too slow to block the second, and so on.

    So I don't bother with that style of writing, much though I might like to do so. I envision every fight scene in the novel in detail, act it out sometimes standing up and moving around the room to do so, playing both parts in the battle, etc. I've even had Malaya stand still or hold an arm up or something from time to time, so I could see just how the other character would react or move or dodge. Unfortunately, very little of that makes it into words. Doing so would make every fight scene painfully long on the page (and take so long to read that the excitement and speed of it was lost), would confuse most readers unless they read it several times, and would give them far more than they needed or wanted to know.

    I have far more interest in that sort of thing than most people, based on my ongoing martial arts training and sparring, and I try to keep that in mind as I write, so I don't get carried away. It's not an article for a martial arts magazine; it's a fantasy novel, and while I put in enough of the move-by-move details to let the reader know what's happening, and to give them an idea why one guy is winning and the other guy/girl is losing, I try not to go overboard. That's the theory, anyway. How well it works will be judged by others. Malaya's enjoyed the fight scenes so far, but she likes fight scenes, and she knows as much or more than I do about Kali, so she would get it even if I had far less detail. I'm curious to see what my mom thinks (she and Malaya are the only 2 reading the novel as I write it) since she doesn't have any kali experience. Will mom be able to follow the action and movement and style? Will it interest her, or will she wonder why I'm once again writing about how one character is learning to move sideways and backwards and to cut rather than slapping with her sword?

    That reminds me; this is more about question 1 than 2, but the way I'm putting in most of the Kali stuff is from the POV of the character who is learning it and seeing how useful it is. So she's basically standing in for the reader, describing what she's being taught and giving her opinion of it. In this way I'm able to write more about the theory and style, rather than just having some guys fight and writing how one of them moves, which would involve a lot of physical detail of the type I said I'm not using, for reasons elucidated above.

    So my short answer to #2 would be that writing about Kali on the blog has had little effect on how I write about combat in the novel, and if anything the blogging has reminded me of why I don't do much play by play style fight discussion. Now when it comes time to work on the screenplay... that will be full of physical action and movement descriptions. All of which will be ruined by some eventual rewrite, long after I've taken the money and washed my hands of the entire thing due to their insistence that the entire thing be set in 2206 on Mars, and feature at least three cyborg laser battles. But hey, I'll be in good company, at least.

    Things of the Day: Forgetful Edition

    Quote of the Day: (QotD Archives)
    "Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day."
    --Jim Rohn

    Soul-Devouring Worry:
    Things of the Day amnesia.

    Answer of the Day:
    Because if they didn't constantly state the obvious they'd never fill three hours of non-stop football non-action.

    Curse of the Day:
    May you either speak too much or too little.

    Books Lying Open:
    Poisons, by Peter MacInnis
    Depraved, the shocking true story of America's first serial killer, by Harold Schechter
    Fiend, the shocking trues story of America's youngest serial killer, by Harold Schechter
    Harry Fricking Potter 6, by the richest woman on earth
    The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
    Savage Pastimes, by Harold Schechter

    Movies to probably-not-see list:
    The Aristocrats, August-ish, 2005. (Waiting for the DVD?)
    The Brothers Grimm, August 26th (Doubtful.)
    Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Wererabbit, October 5 (Oh yeah.)


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