Morning jolt: Stop it movie trailers!

Movie trailers were, at one point, a big love of mine. There is an art to creating such a piece of media, but lately, these bastards are getting out of control.

I will use The Avengers: Age of Ultron (Known moving forward as TAAU) as an example. This film’s predessor made, oh, a few billion dollars when it came out. Blowing away any expectations that the box office had for it and setting the highest bar imaginable for future comic book films. TAAU currently has around 3 major trailers out for it. These trailers have been coming out about once per month, at the rate these are moving someone online will be able to splice these trailers together and we won’t need to go to the movies to experience this film.
 
Why is this a thing? Why are trailers showing everything these days when compared to their ancestors from the 20th century? 
 
The difference today is that films have to compete against the internet, video games, and TV; I hesitate to say reading, but one day maybe it will be among the time sink activities! All of those categories are cheap, easily accessible, and in someways, are better than movies because of the cost per entertainment value. A movie was once the cheap form of entertainment, but now it is almost as expensive as tickets to an actual play. 
 
Add in cost, divide by attention spans waning, and you get what we have today. Does this mean that we can never again get a trailer that reveals small amounts of information? No, we have those still, but the last one in my mind that did this was Cloverfield, and it was effective because as a movie experience I knew nothing going into it.
 
And it was amazing for that reason, even if the movie was ehhhhhhh.
 
Trailers are supposed to tease us to get us into the theaters and watch the movie, but now they show all the cool stuff so you are excited for those portions of the film. The tease works better because you don’t know what you are going to get walking in and no matter what it will be surprising and entertaining.
 
In an age where signing up for surprises is a thing (Loot Crate and other package services) I think teasers will become more prominent and eventually will kill the all engrossing, spoiler ridden, government conspiracy driven, mantas men made, story driven trailers that we have today.
 
I am not the only one, here Glove and Boots talks about this very problem:

Morning jolt: Finish something

Starting a project is easy, even thinking about it is easy, but finishing something is oddly hard. Not many people can do it and it’s strange to think that a lot of the time it isn’t an outside force stopping us from completing a task, but ourselves.

In some cases it’s because we get tired of working on it. In others its because we keep having to buy pieces for it and just lose steam. Funny enough, a lot of the time we have everything we need right here and we just don’t do it. We stare at the project with an almost forlorn contempt, like a high school relationship after three months, and think, “Did I ever really love you?”

In most cases, you didn’t, you were inspired by a Tumblr/Pintrest/Facebook post and thought you could do the same. Rushing, you sprint to the store (or drive I guess) and get everything you need and race back to the house; you speed because for some reason you think you are out running your laziness. Slamming everything together on the table you begin to attempt this Herculean feet of making those cute bottle cap earrings you saw.

Two hours pass and you’re now watching Netflix, with nothing to show for your efforts.

I know I’ve done this and I am sure that many of you have done the same. It’s natural to take the path of least resistance, to glide our way toward complacency, because complacency is comfortable; like sweatpants. My problem with this is that I hate sweatpants and I hate not finishing something. Maybe it has to do with who I am, but finishing something is important to me, even with the fact I have about ten activate projects around me at all times.

Finishing something is important because without seeing it through to the end we never really know if what we have is real or not.

Pardon the pseudo-philosophical line there, but it is true. This is how you know if you’re a writer or not, an artist, a business person, a cop, a baker, a candlestick maker; hell, you may never know if you are an opera singer unless you see something to the end. Trying is nice, but to try without finishing is like making out without sex, a lot of huffing and puffing with no payoff and a bunch of chaffed skin.

I have had a lot people tell me that what I do is pretty amazing (not tooting my own horn here, these words have been said to me), and I always accept the compliment, but really what I do isn’t that special. Anyone can do this, its just a matter of seeing if you can do it in the first place.

This is why it is important to finish what you start, because calling it early does nothing for no one and yourself; also, you lose out on compliments, which feeds the small demon who powers my flesh suit.

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.

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

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!

Counter-Strike- An Anthropological Observation

Counter-Strike- Ritutals

 

I have been playing Counter-Strike since it was in beta.

I’ll never forget playing match after match during Thanksgiving when I was a kid, sneaking time on the PC between meals, and I am amazed that I am still playing it today. It’s a strange game because in the world of the “modern” FPS (First Person Shooter) it’s a bit of an old-timey thing. You don’t have regenerative health, you have to buy your weapons every round (If you don’t die), and the weapons are completely the same for everyone (minus their looks that now include stickers, making your AK-47 into the adult version of a Trapper Keeper).

It’s weird to say it, because most gaming websites and web comics have made fun of it so much, but it’s a very skill based game. At it’s core, you have to be good at CS or else you just get stomped. Sure, there are auto-win guns *cough AWP/Auto cough* but even these take a bit of skill to use and they can be countered easily; and there is nothing like outfoxing an AWPer. Sitting there, waiting, mentally stroking their ego as they compare themselves to Tom Berenger’s character from the Sniper movies, only to be blind sided during the climax by a load of buckshot to the face.

There will be rage, in chat or in voice, but you have won. You did this. You two met in a digital space and you won, be it blind luck or skill, regardless, you are the victor. There isn’t any additional gameplay mechanics helping you. There isn’t anything but yourself and your ping between victory or defeat.

If any of you have wondered why this game has been around for fifteen years, it’s because of that fact.

At one point I got sick of CS and stopped playing. I even joined the boat of haters for a bit. Then a friend got me back into it and I haven’t regretted a minute since. Yes, this game has the nut-jobs, the twitchy-overly-racist 10 year-olds, but it also has some of the best game mechanics out there by not giving a lot of help to the player. In a world filled with hand-holding games, this isn’t one of them, and it’s a trial by fire, love-it-or-hate-it, kind of game.

Counter-Strike is a strange place, filled with strange people, some terrible, some hilarious, and it’s because of this bizarre mixture that is continues to thrive. It’s a game that is both beloved and reviled for the same reason: If you suck, it’s just you being terrible, so stop it. Not many people can deal with the starkness of that statement in real life, and in gaming this goes doubly so.

To conclude, I’m not saying it’s the best game ever, but it certainly has it’s merits; and if you hate it because of whatever reason I have one thing to say. Stop being bad.

On Making Content

You can accomplish content creation through a number of avenues and when they are explained to you the person saying it can and will come off sounding like a douche bag. This is a fact and one that cannot be avoided because explaining how to create content is a lot like explaining how to paint. Anyone can do it, but some people do it better than others, and if you try to break down their techniques, you are going to be seen as that know-it-all jerk.

Now, I am generalizing here, because it is the presentation of information that really matters.
There is but one rule to content creation and that is it must be genuine. If you create something and it lacks that human connection you can rest assured that your content will never be read or watched. If you try to act bigger than you really are people are going to notice. This is why I find it so fascinating when I read articles about this topic and the person writing it quotes a bunch of numbers to show how “successful” they are as a company.

News flash chief, if you were really successful you wouldn’t have to quote your popularity or backup your professionalism. You would simply approach the microphone and say, “I am Mr. Tibbers and I run the site Tibbersbemad.com.” or whatever it is you do. If you say, “I am Mr. Tibbers, owner of Tibbersbemad.com a site with over 4 million hits a day.” you’re a dick trying to compensate for something.

Half of the time these companies do the bad Mr. Tibbers intro in order to feel important, but if you just approach the mic and be confident then people will take note.

This sidetrack ties back to content creation because if you are not confident in your content it will show and people will notice. I am in the boat of if you’re going to do something you throw yourself at it and hold nothing back. If you pump the breaks when you are making anything you are limiting the potential awesome that may ensue. Plenty of these successful websites became successful because they were honest about something and that related to people and either made them laugh or cry.

Emotion is the core of anything you make.

Content isn’t merely blog posts, videos, podcasts, and what have you. It extends into anything we make because whatever comes into being from the mind of a human is content. If you want to be known or noticed make something and put it out there for everyone to see. Show your passion in what you make because it will register with others and that is how a picture posted on Twitter explodes on to hundreds of websites.

You are what you make, so go make something dammit!