Since there are lots of theories roaming around the ether, and I was joking around about the Powerpuff Girls reference, I thought I’d take a more serious stab at theorizing. Or at least point out an interesting connection with another project. The thing that caught my attention through all this madness was the mention the creature in this possible giant monster flick was being referred to as “the parasite”. It got the wheels turning in my brain because it sounded so familiar… and it clicked this morning. A human astronaut taken over by a space parasite and upon returning to Earth goes into a feeding frenzy to become a…

A really fun comic book by Steve Niles and Nat Jones, but on the downside of this theory, I’ve never seen a mention of it being optioned (which is a shame actually).

Just catching up on some blogging now that I’ve gotten a chunk of writing and coding out of the way. For the coding, check my Comic Book Headlines website (looks mostly the same except WW Chicago and San Diego Comicon 2007 listings have been added… and there were lots of behind-the-scenes changes to set it up for adding some new features in the near future) and keep an eye out for some neat changes for the Brat-halla webcomic (new character pages and well… something special). For the writing I’ve been working on… it’s a secret, so you’ll just have to be patient. ^_^

Other things from this week: put together new t-shirt designs for Thor and Hod from Brat-halla (since we just hit 200 episodes of the webcomic this past week), researched lots (and lots) of mythological beings for the Pantheon Games arc of Brat-halla (for nearly 60 deities and creatures possibly making an appearance in the webcomic), added an extra 30 minutes to my workout routine, took my son to see Transformers, and met a waitress whose parents named her after the porn star featured in the movie they were watching the night she was conceived (sometimes I think writers project an aura capable of bringing weird stuff to them).

Rambly time…

• Cloverfield? Yeah, I saw the trailer before Transformers. Yeah, It’s gone viral. Yeah, the marketing is definitely ramping up the intrigue value. But why am I mentioning it? Cause after the trailer, my son looked at me and said, “That was scary, dad. And it was spooky.” In fact, I was chatting with my wife about it when I got home, and he jumped in with, “And it’s got a giant monster.” Never saw a monster in the trailer. Never mentioned a monster to him. But there was enough hints to make him think it was one. There’s all this conjecture of it being Gojira or Voltron (which hasn’t even started production yet… but it does have Robeasts) or some Lovecraftian inspired tale of Cthulu. But when my son mentioned a giant monster without seeing one in the movie, I tried to think of what he’s watched that has giant monsters in it. One show came to mind immediately, and thinking about it, the concept could really catch these Internet sleuths and theorists by surprise…

…live action Powerpuff Girls. ^_^

• Cool thing to note: Alamo Draft House (Lake Creek) playing clips from the original Transformers movie before the show started.

• Cool thing to note #2: My son reciting the lines being spoken in those clips from memory (he’s watched that movie a few dozen times at least).

Skinwalkers. Whether they be Norse skinwalkers or Native American ones… they’re technically not werewolves. I’ll go into more detail on that subject here on the blog later (I have a lengthy yet half-written post about the subject from when I first heard about this movie over a year ago).

• Cool thing to note #3: San Diego Comicon… less than three weeks away.

I may or may not be slightly offline for a bit depending on my schedule during the last part of my vacation here and unfortunately, it looks like my blogging will suffer the most. Don’t worry, you’ll get by fine without me. I have faith in ya. But before I disappear for a few days, I just wanted to toss a few quick thoughts into the ether…

Monster Squad. Nostalgia. Pure, simple, werewolf nut-kicking, fun-loving nostalgia… in a shiny DVD wrapper. I haven’t seen this movie in forever, and even though I have fond memories of it from my youthful days, I wonder what I’d think of it now. What if it doesn’t live up to the magical memories I have of it? I guess I’ll have to put the money down and find out. It’ll be a good excuse to kick back one night with extreme-buttered popcorn and chocolatey snacks.

Cowboy abductions. From the writers of Children of Men and Iron Man, comes the script to the movie adaptation of the graphic novel, Cowboys & Aliens. What’s that? Haven’t seen even seen a trailer for Iron Man yet? Haven’t heard of Children of Men? Don’t sweat it, you’re definitely not alone. But hey, how could anyone mess up a cowboy story with aliens in it? Will they go all spaghetti Western? Will they run with a lovely dark comedy like Mars Attacks!? I don’t know. I didn’t even realize the graphic novel had finally been published back in December (and I have been keeping up with one of Platinum Studios other books, Hero By Night and still somehow missed the release of the GN). Guess I’ll need to check this book out now.

Funtastic Four. I went in expecting a fun yet not too cerebrally-challenging flick and got my money’s worth out of the weekday matinee showing. Some cheesy bits, some corny lines here and there, but there was enough entertainment value to overcome all that. It probably won’t pull in any Oscar nods or rave reviews from the serious comic geeks, but for me, an entertaining movie is all I really need sometimes. Probably won’t make it back to the movies until the Transformers movie. Another one that looks fun. And considering my son’s eyes lit up when the trailer for it started before Shrek the Third, I don’t really think I have much of a choice with that particular movie (I was a proud geek parent when he recognized the Autobot emblem on the steering wheel at the beginning of the trailer).

The young detective syndrome. Following more of the nostalgia trail, I’ll eventually check out the Nancy Drew movie. I remember growing up with my ink-smelling, papery friends… Nancy, those trouble-finding Hardy boys, and Encyclopedia Brown. When I was young, the library was my babysitter after school for a couple years, and those books all made my reading list (along with books on mythology, science, archeology, and psychic phenomenon). One of the nice side effects of a movie like Nancy Drew hitting theaters is the reruns of Nancy’s old TV show reappearing on TV for a little while.

I have more I’d like to ramble on about (that’s the theme of the blog after all), but I’ve glimpsed into the future where I see a very, long travel day ahead of me (and trust me, I’m not looking forward to eight hours in a car with a sunburn on my back from trying to eliminate my programmer’s tan too quickly).

I was playing around with my daily writing exercises (gotta keep those writing chops in shape) recently, and since this month I’ve been playing around with charging up my creativity, I started putting together a list of questions to push the brain cells into overload. One of the questions that really fascinated me dealt with looking backwards at your life… “If you could give one piece of advice to yourself in high school, what tip would you share?”

Coming up with advice is pretty easy in itself…

• Invest in Microsoft.
• Don’t wait so long before trying to get your writing published.
• Don’t let the doctors miss the tiny tear in your meniscus that led to the current condition of your knee.

Etc., etc., etc.

What really gets interesting with this question as a creativity drill is to think about what happens to your life if your younger self follows through on this advice. How does your life change? How does it affect the mish-mash of experiences that contribute to your personality? Who won’t you meet because of these changes? What won’t you learn because of this?

Simple actions take on a whole life of their own as they take your life for a spin down new paths. Take for instance a simple thought like, “What if I never joined the military?”

• Never would have gained the tons of confidence I earned in combat control and survival instructor training.
• Wouldn’t have a firsthand vantage point of the workings of the military… the knowledge of which opened the door to my first big writing project.
• Wouldn’t have met my wife.
• My job in computers could have developed differently and might not have put me in a position to ride out the bursting of the tech bubble.
• Wouldn’t have met the friends that put me in a position to meet and date (for a short while) a Victoria’s Secret model.
• Wouldn’t have gotten all the extra fiction writing experience from assisting my supervisor with writing performance evaluations.

And hundreds of other things also change. Some small, some big. But all of them because of that one choice. Gets kind of crazy when you think about it, but crazy’s good. Crazy gets you some fun material to work with in your writing. Crazy makes life a bit less boring.

Lessons learned from various eras of my life…

Drama kills. On the inside. It eats away at you until you’re all chocolate Easter bunny hollow inside. And look at what drama does to people in soap operas. It kills there, too. Sure, they come back, but as soon as the drama ramps up again, they die. It’s the classic drama infinite loop. Character dies and turns out they were just lost for 5 years? Bring on the drama. Character gets reincarnated as an albino meerkat? Drama. Character dies but it turns out to be his twin brother who was actually bitten by vampires and destined to rise again as a blood-guzzling playah of the night. Yep, drama. You’ve been warned… drama kills.

Breathing = teh good. Don’t bet someone you can hold your breath until you pass out. I’ve seen someone foolish enough to try this… and succeed. He woke up tied to a flagpole wearing nothing but shaving cream.

Caffeine cocktails are counter-productive. We had projects that needed to get done overnight and one of my friends whipped up a concoction of No-Doz and coffee to help keep him awake. He was awake all right. Awake with hands shaking so bad, he couldn’t control his manual dexterity long enough to get his work done. Plus, every time I walked by his open dorm room door with shiny objects (which I did frequently that night for fun), he’d stop what he was doing and poke his head out into the hallway. “Ooh! What’s that?”

Regret outlasts rejection. Sure, the rejection stings a bit worse upfront, but the pain of regret lingers for quite a while. It’s the whole, “I’d rather have tried and failed than never to have tried at all” kind of thing. I was out at a club once and there was this beautiful girl sitting by her lonesome to the side. I looked over there and got a smile from her, but never mustered the courage to go talk to her or ask her to dance (I was a shy one back in the day). So, I try to mooch a little confidence from my friend by pointing her out and asking what my chances are. “Zilch,” he said.

Because he then went over there and asked her out… and they dated for a while… and I became friends with her through him… and they got married… and about an hour or so into the reception, she’s sitting all by her lonesome because my friend’s dealing with some family drama (see above). So I go chat with her and eventually ask her if she’d like to dance. As we’re dancing, she whispers to me, “if you’d done this all those months ago, it could have been us at the altar today.” That thought… that regret stuck with me for a while since I saw her all the time (until I moved away), and thinking back, the pain of the rejection would have only lasted one night or maybe two at most.

A question about learning how others broke into writing…

I’d like to know how famous writers like William Goldman, Stephen King, and Joss Whedon got their big break. Ya know, learn by example and see how the famous writers did it.

Josh Joshington, Turnpike, NJ

There’s a saying out there when it comes to breaking in… “if you find a way in, they’ll patch it up the second you get through.”

What works for one person doesn’t always work for someone else. But failure… well, failure is pretty universal. Learning to avoid failure means learning from mistakes. I’ve always found it’s better to let other people make those mistakes, and after you’ve finished laughing at their misfortune, you can analyze their approach to determine better ways of reaching your goal. To show how this principle works, The Creative Adviser worked around the clock (okay, you got me–it actually took a couple minutes on Google) to track down someone complaining about their failed writing career for this special interview.

Read the rest over at PopSyndicate’s The Creative Adviser.

And here’s another walk down my “thought bucket” memory lane. Dead Messengers was an idea spawned from the phrase “don’t kill the messenger” and the fact that many story villains prove their evil disposition by killing off the person delivering bad news to them. People working in the villain’s organization have to know this and would probably be willing to part with a sizable chunk of their criminal cash to send someone else in their place to deliver bad news (Money does you little good when your dead… or does it? That’s an entirely different story.). Thus, the Dead Messengers service was born.

The service scrounges up people with suicidal tendencies but afraid to act on them because of a sense of responsibility to their families due to the suicide clauses in most insurance policies. But at “Dead Messengers”, you don’t have to worry about a thing… you give up crazy things like salary and benefits, but if you die in service, your family gets taken care of (all bills paid and comfortable living expenses). The only problem you might have to deal with is if (like the hero of our story) you find something to live for… and can’t get out of your contract.

Apparently. the time has come for studios to throw down in the fight for the expendable income rolling around in the pockets of all us sci-fi/fantasy/comic/video game geeks.

• Stan Lee. Disney. Sounds like it could be the makings of some crazy lawsuit. Oddly enough, it’s a partnership. The with the voice burned into the brains of many comic fans has set up a first look deal with Walt Disney Studios and his very own POW! Entertainment.

• Someone secured the film rights for the City of Heroes game. I remember when my wife, my friends and I first heard of this game. We came up with a crazy/fun idea for a theme-based team called, “The Scientists”. My wife wanted to play a flying, gravity manipulating character known as “Neuton”. One of my friends wanted to be “Tesla” with lightning powers. And I wanted invisibility with a character named “Schroedinger” (I also wanted to have a costume with cat ears). We later decided the team would work better as a group of villains. ^_^

• Warner Brothers snatched up the screen rights to Terry Brooks Shannara series. Almost every person I’ve played or discussed D&D (and many other role-playing games) with in the past has read books from this series.

• The WB also optioned one of those wordy screenplay thingies for a live action Thundercats movie. Hmmm, I remember Rachel McAdams mentioning she’d like to play Cheetara a couple years ago.

• Warner Brothers (again, damn they’ve been busy lately) released more details about the live action Speed Racer movie being done up by the Wachowski brothers (yeah, those Matrix guys).

• Even more Warner Brothers? Yep… along with Joel Silver. And Orson Scott Card’s Empire.

• And Spy Hunter has a director now. It’s the same gent that brought us the AvP movie. Not sure what to think about that yet.

The King of Kong. Ahhh… Donkey Kong. It’s not just for reminiscing about the old days or Futurama What-If Machine skits anymore.

With a gazillion different things on each planet, doesn’t it seem probable a hungry world-eater would run into a major food allergy sooner-or-later?

“This is galactic correspondent, Iffy Gotcha. I’m here today chatting with an anonymous world-eater about how to break into the planet chomping industry.

“Sir, can you tell us… wait… you don’t look so well.”

“It’s the purple helmet. Gives my complexion a funky appearance.”

“It’s not that. You’re sweating. And I think your lips are turning blue.”

“Oh… that. Yeah, I got a hold of some bad terrestrial matter on a planet I had for dinner the other night. I think it might have been polluted or something cause my stomach’s been doing flip-flops ever since. And I have heartburn something fierce.”

“I’m sure some other would-be world-eaters would like to know… is that a common occurrence when devouring planets?”

“Oh yeah. Happens every few planets or so. Mostly on the civilized ones. The only thing worse is when I get those little trees stuck in-between my teeth. They don’t exactly make floss in my size, so I have to cope until they work themselves out on their own.”

“Do you have any advice for the planet devouring public?”

“Sure… don’t eat the yellow planets.”

So, the group behind National Novel Writing Month has a new insane venture that kicked off this month… Script Frenzy. The goal for this one is to write a screenplay in one month. Take a wild guess what I’m doing with my spare time this month.

And just how well is this writing endeavor proceeding? Well, I still have all my hair, and the hair turning white seems to be giving me a nice distinguished appearance. My fingers are still a far way from cramping up or blistering. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m sacrificing sleep for this (so those close to me don’t have to deal with the cranky force of devastation known as tired Jeff just yet), but I do have over a dozen Diet Coke cans stacked up on my desk.

I’m also thinking of getting a sign for my home office that says, “Office of Solitude”. ^_^

Honestly though, I’m still in the fun portion of all this. Going through the process of discovery as the flurry of words breathes life into characters and places and events. Not debating on whether some cool thought comes to mind would actually work with the story or not… you get to toss it in and let that cool thought adrenaline drive you onward toward more cool thoughts and scenes.

In a week or so, I’ll hit that wall of “this movie makes no sense and completely, utterly sucks” that I’ll need to get over. Gotta remember it’s okay for this first draft to be crappy. It’s okay for there to be some clarity issues. It’s okay to have extraneous scenes. It’s okay for characters to spit out inconsistent voices in their dialogue. Hell, it’s okay for all the characters to wind up sounding like Barney Fife during this part of the process.

Well, it’s all okay as long as I keep writing.