Swords suck

Now, before you get your tights in a bunch, this article is based 100% off of my opinions and contains facts to back up what I am saying.

So suck it.

You see, swords are very hard to make, even today they are difficult to actually pull off correctly. They take time to make, which brings me to my first point.

Swords are a time sink

A blacksmith makes money from the objects they make. This is a shocking revelation, I know, so if you can make two double headed axes and three single headed axes in the same time it would take you to make a single sword, which would you pour your time into?

It’s simple economics. A sword is built for a single purpose and that’s to kill people. You don’t go hunting with it, dig ditches with it or cut down tress. Thing is though, you can kill someone with a bow, axe or shovel in the same manner as a sword and you will have save a bunch of money. Which leads us to…

Swords were (and still are) expensive

A sword today costs around $120 and up per pop for the ones that are worth a damn. You have your job, that hopefully pays around $15/hr, and you think that is expensive, but try seeing that price point and make around $.06/day. Now that looks freaking impossible, right?

Well, that’s about on par with how people back in the days before guns felt about swords. They were reserved for the elite fighter in a military or for those of a high caste. Point is this, you either knew how to use the damn thing or you were a inbred douche. Even if you were in the military back in those days, you didn’t get a sword most of the time, you usually just got a pointy stick.

Yeah, swords were made primarily for assholes. Which leads me to my last point…

They are high maintenance, like the people who own them

Swords require a finicky mother’s worth of attention in order to keep them looking and working correctly. Guns today, even the cheapest ones, require less maintenance. If you don’t keep a sword oiled it will rust, not just a light rust mind you, but like an avocado level of rust where it is fine one moment but then suddenly becomes a squishy mound of crap.

This rust can happen from just touching the blade. Yeah, super cool.

Most likely you won’t actually see these swords in this condition because the people who own them usually take good care of them. They maintain these pieces in a room, filled with enough swords and sharp pointy objects that even Clive Barker would go, “Whoa!”

But don’t you point out their obsession to them and how it has destroyed the last three relationships they’ve had or the fact that their hair is longer than your sisters. Don’t point this out to them, because they will get offended, they will storm off, and they will polish their sword collection with a fiery rage.

Wait, I take that back, tell them everything.

To sum it up

Swords have a long and proud tradition in the history of the world. They have contests today built specifically for fencing, and my personal favorite, claymore/double handed sword fighting; which has recently made a comeback from 800 years of being out of the spotlight.

Swords suck simply because they are overused, cliché, and frankly I’m tried of people going nuts or on and on about them in books or in real life. What I said above is true, maybe with a bit of an exaggeration toward the last part of point 3. In all seriousness, stop having every character use these damn things in the stories you write as if everyone had one back in the time of typhoid.

Hack job: Sword fighting in film

I am not going to talk about what sword fight is the best in film, or even what is the worst one, but rather I am going to talk about the art form itself and how it has really fallen in Hollywood film. Yes, they are still thrilling, but when I stopped watching the fight, and started paying attention to the actual action on screen, I began to notice that the fight scenes in modern film were missing something.

I am excluding Asian cinema in this analysis because I am talking about classic Hollywood films. This doesn’t mean that overseas films are lacking or anything, but it’s late, and my brain can only analyze so much before exploding.

Also, this article would last forever.

A brief history lesson

Sword fighting for the stage allowed a production to have a more dramatic conclusion and give the audience something thrilling to see while they watched the stage. The fighting was choreographed with the audience’s viewpoint kept in mind which allowed the actors to essentially cheat their movements in order to make their actions seem more intense or riveting from the crowds PoV.

When film first started coming around, stage combat was integrated and used whenever Hollywood made a period piece film. The actors were drilled and taught how to fight a specific scene. This is still used today, but with modern cinema techniques, the training isn’t shown off as well as it was in the past.

Current events

What isn’t done today is showing the action. Now, I’m not saying that film has no action today, that isn’t it. What I am saying is that modern Hollywood films use a lot of close ups and medium shots without the actors in the same frame. This is done in order to make the action feel more intense, but it also cuts down on choreography for the scene and saves time; something every shoot worries about when they are in the field.

Time has effectively killed off seeing two talented fighters on screen, which is a real shame, because seeing a well choreographed sword fight go off without as few cuts as possible is a real treat. It allows the actors in the scene to really utilize and pace the action rather than having an editor do that job for them in post.

Case in point, The Court Jester with Danny Kaye (Danny Kaye was a badass, but that’ll be another article for another day).

The fighting here is shown predominantly in the wide. There are inserts and some close ups, but they are done for a reason, and that’s to allow for comedic bits to occur. Seeing the skill on screen is always fun and inspiring to watch because you are seeing two people parry, counter and attack one another without feeling like you are going to have a seizure from either the amount of cuts in the shot or the lighting changing direction within those cuts.

I present a few more examples:

The Great Race

The Princess Bride

Now these films are predominately comedies and this kind of combat lends itself pretty well to that genre. What I am stressing here is that while these two films are meant to be funny, what the audience is seeing on screen is a lot of skill and hard earned practice.

Now compare those scenes to The Mask of Zorro:

The action here is muddled. You never really see the main actors fighting one another in the same shot and whenever a major hit is about to be landed we are given a close up. The cutting in this fight scene really undercuts the action happening on screen. We get it’s dramatic, but it doesn’t really hit as hard as it could have and this is mainly because the cutting acts as a disconnect between the action on screen and the emotion that the audience is experiencing. In Zorro the speed of the cuts and music is creating the drama rather than the actors in the scene. If you want the audience to be floored by something in a film, show it and do not cut away from it. Cutting is telling the audience, “This is important and you should be paying attention” letting the scene run its course is saying, “Pay attention because this is important”.

If you watch a lot of modern Hollywood films, you’ll notice this technique being used for the vast majority of the main fight sequences. Allowing the audience to witness what is happening in a film is going to not only make the fight feel more impressive, but it will even be remembered. In my humble opinion, if you hack up the action in a sword fight, you are lessening the effect it can have on an audience; and this can even be applied to car chases and hand to hand combat.

Or you could just continue to hack up all the action and be a jerk.

First Line Stories

The opening lines of a book are always the most important, but what if that’s all there was?

During lunch at work, I had a thought, a dangerous game to play, but I wondered what would happen if I strung together a bunch of first sentences? Could I make a story out them?

Here is the first batch, if people enjoy this, I am going to be tempted to make more.

 

Title: The Flames Of Our Love

Author: Chris Hanson

First line: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. It was a pleasure to burn. It was love at first sight.”

Analysis: I think what Mr. Hanson is trying to do here is encapsulate the forbidden love he’s always held in his heart. For whom, we’ll never know.

 

Title: My Life, My, Words… My Story.

Author: Christopher Walken

First line: “Call me Ishmael. I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.”

Analysis: I… don’t know what Mr. Walken was trying to say here, but he writes with such conviction that I just can’t look away.

 

That’s about it for now! If you enjoyed this, I will do more, but please tell me so over Twitter!

Citations

-Lolita, Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22

-Moby Dick, Notes From Underground, The End Of The Road

Rocket Bikes & Shooting E.T.- Destiny

I have a freaking hover bike, it’s called a Sparrow, and I can do wicked cool jumps in it. I ride this vehicle across the surface of Venus and find a pack of Fallen soldiers, aliens that look like an evil Jiminy Cricket. I take out my scout rifle, throw a grenade, and attack the group after leaping off of my Sparrow. Among them is a floating eye ball that is pimp purple, I shoot it, destroy it, and retake the ancient library.

Killer Robot , the 3rd
Lord Killer Robot , the 3rd

Destiny is fun, pure and simple. Sure, it has it’s problems, the grind can be a bit tedious, the story is thin, and enemy variety is a bit low as well. None of these complaints override the fact that this game is just fun to play and none of them touch the best part of Destiny; and that’s the lore of its world.

In the fantasy future that is Destiny, the solar system is screwed and only the guardians, powered by The Traveler, can take back what was destroyed. You find as you play that there is something larger than yourself at play here, the snippets of the story just grazing past you reinforce this notion, but that is done in order to show you that while you are important you are not the savior of the universe. Master Chief type singular heroes are something that gamers have gotten used to, and that isn’t the case here.

In Destiny, you are a part of a legion of guardians who are honing their skills to take on The Darkness. Of course you are not going to feel special, you’re not supposed to as there are millions of players out there doing the same stuff as you.

The problem with most MMO’s is that the storyline tries so hard to make you feel like the hero of the story and it’s really not needed because it feels contrived over time since everyone is this same savior for the same village. When you do something in Destiny, it feels like a footnote in a much grander story. You are a grunt doing grunt work and that’s the long and the short of it for now.

If there is one thing I have noticed with the bitching surrounding this game its that it didn’t live up to the potential of the marketing. I will say that the marketing really was too much for this title as it built it up too much in the minds of the players. What should have been used is the idea of lore, legend, and forging forward. If the marketing was more intimate, it would have made the game feel much larger when the players finally logged in for the first time.

Although, I did enjoy this one.
Although, I did enjoy this one.

 

If you can’t deal with the game for whatever reason, then don’t play it. If there is one thing I hate it’s those who preach ‘The End is Nigh’ on launch day. Giving games time to improve is something that is seen as a weakness, and this is a title that was built from the ground up to be upgraded over time, rather than be a single experience that is buggy as hell.

This title on the other hand...
This title on the other hand…

 

This game will last 10 years, and it is ripe for some awesome experiences and change over the course of that time. I look forward to playing with my friends in this place and seeing where my rocket bike will take me. If you want to come along for the ride, do so, but if you’re going to bellyache from the sidelines then please just shut up about it.

TLDR; Haters gonna hate, but I don’t give a damn because I have a rocket bike!

Book Trailer!

I usually find book trailers to be rather, well… bad. Typically they are really boring and take themselves too seriously. You’ll find that many a book trailer is just a series of images with text flashing by the screen or filled with terrible acting. No matter what, they all appear to have been made by a film school student trying to ape their favorite director’s look.

 

Seriously, college students these days.
Seriously, college students these days.

I decided to take a different approach and tried out some stop motion. It’s a form that I’ve loved for a long time and it was a blast to make. Lots of mistakes made and lessons learned, and insert further platitudes here. Point is, I hope it made people laugh, because that’s the whole point of the damned thing.

And to sell books, yes.

I wanted you, the viewer, to be entertained rather than spoken to about a product. I find this kind of marketing to be the better kind because it sticks with you and is memorable. I’ve received a bump in sales due to the trailer, so it appears to be working!

Till next time!