Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review – 2010

Well it’s nearly the end of the year time to look back at what I was able to accomplish writing.

The first item was to have at least two blog entries a month for my Storytelling in All its Forms blog. I was able to keep this goal. I admit that in the last couple months its been tough to stay current with this blog, but I’ve done my best reaching a total of 25 blog entries for this page this year. Its about half of what I did in 2008 and 2009 but that was to be expected.

Over at Movie Reviews and Musings I had a total of 110 reviews and blog entries this year. That number is a bit skewed since the first couple of months I used a style for my longer entries where I separated them into two blogs. I decided to just make them on entry with my review of Toy Story 3 and I think it works out better that way. I’ll probably go back and do some tiding up this year so I have a more accurate count of the reviews. They are probably closer to 80 or so, but still that’s a lot of material for my first year. I had a blast doing this, writing about all kinds of movies and getting some great feedback. Thanks to all of you who read and provide the feedback.

The big game changer was becoming a staff reviewer at DVD Verdict. This has not only put my name out there to a larger audience but allowed me to review movies I wouldn’t necessarily pick – especially in the documentary front. I love writing for the Verdict, but it does eat into my time a bit more and that is why you see a major decrease in movie reviews at my blog site around October. I was doing about 10 reviews a month and it died down to around 3. In 2011 I want to get it around five reviews a month, with some of them being the mini reviews. I’ve got plenty of material to review and that I planned to review, but time is just not there.

My fiction writing has suffered a bit. My big plans for this year was to get a second draft of two novels and get a new one written. I was only able to achieve one goal. I got a second draft of my space opera done, and my wife started reading it (until work issues began to eat into her reading time). I started work on my second draft of my supernatural thriller, but got sidetracked part way through by… a video game. Ah “Dragon Age” you were so wonderful to play and you ate up so much time. As for the new novel, we planned our vacation right in the middle of NaNoWriMo this year and that took away the month I was planning to spend writing (pre-Verdict). I did have one short story submitted to a magazine this year and it got rejected.

So where does that leave me. Well I’m writing about movies and having a great time, so I can’t complain. I feel a bit bad about my fiction writing getting the short shift, but I’m thinking that with some planning I can work out a better schedule next year. But the key is, I’m writing and I’m enjoying it. I’ve got a few loyal readers of my blogs and I appreciate your feedback and encouragement. It’s nice to know that someone out there is taking the time to read my work. I’m looking forward to next year and seeing what it’s going to bring.

What was your writing year like? Did you set and meet any goals? Anything unexpected (good or bad) happen?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Humanity Stinks – Gulliver’s Travels

My encounters with “Gulliver’s Travels” have been many and sordid. When I was a kid I watched the Max Fleischer animated version of the story. I also watched the Ray Harryhausen version called, “The Three Worlds of Gulliver” (featuring an amazing musical score by Bernard Herrmann). I didn’t actually read the novel until my senior year in high school and at that point we only read the first two adventures – Gulliver’s visits to Lilliput and Brobdingnag. My first year in university we jumped to the final voyage to the land of the Houyhnhnms. I never read the story of the floating island (with both teachers explaining that it was a satire of philosophy and scientific thought particular to the 1700s).

I was reminded of the book because I enjoying the musical work of Herrmann for his Harryhausen epics “Jason of the Argonauts” and “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”. When I found out THAT Hermmann also wrote the score to the Gulliver film I was reminded of the novel I never read completely. Turns out I could enjoy it for free on my Kindle, so it was the first novel I downloaded (but not the first I read).

Anyway, I was surprised how entertaining the whole novel was. Being able to read all four adventures and be a bit older and wiser now, I think I found it a lot funnier than I did originally. But I also have to say that the third book is the least entertaining, and actually caused me to read “Nausicaa” instead. But I stuck with it to get to the fourth and nastiest bit of satire the voyage to the Houynhnms.

Did Swift really loathe humanity that much? Or was he driving his point home in as obvious a way as possible. The view of the yahoos and Gulliver’s constant comparison of them with humans is pretty fierce and nasty. At the same time Gulliver himself changes as the book progresses. The man at the beginning is not the man who ends up laving the land of the Houynhnms. So is Swift the bitter angry one or Gulliver?

Still the story takes a good hard look at humans and doesn’t like what it sees. And for all the social and government commentary in a book written in 1735 a lot of it is very relevant today. Would Mr. Swift find that funny or sad? One thing is for sure he would shudder with terror at the Jack Black feature bearing this story’s name.

What do you think of “Gulliver’s Travels”? Was Swift the angry one, or is Gulliver the bitter man? Do you think the stories are still relevant?