WHACHOOTALKINBOUT WEDNESDAY: Fine, Happy F’ing New Year!

So I guess after 8 days, 2014 is here to stay, huh? I can’t be the only one who came into this year with a “It’s 2014? Goddammit <sigh> Fiiinnnneee…”

It seemed like this year came up entirely too fast. I wasn’t ready; I hadn’t made any resolutions or decisions or goals or anything. Last thing I remember, my mom was in my house telling me how “sexy as hell” Henry Cavill is as Superman in Man of Steel (folks, hearing your mom tell you ANYBODY is sexy as hell is disturbing anyway but I LIKED that movie. Shit…) and the next thing I know, Schmancy down the street is inviting us down for champagne and flank steak and God knows what else.

I wasn’t ready!

I didn’t even have a fantastic Facebook status or an end-of-the-year blog post or 140 characters worth of 40-year-old wisdom and optimism. I was just a collection of “Isn’t it time for these lights to come down?” and “when do y’all go back to school?” Then I got sad about it because I’m reading other people’s This Is The Year of Awesomeness posts and that only made matters worse. Guess I should say something, huh?

I spent the last 8 days trying to figure why I didn’t have much to say. Why, even toward the latter part of 2013, my little well of wordiness seemed to dry up. I think I get it now. Have you ever had that moment at work where you look down at the spreadsheet, or realize you haven’t heard the last 10 minutes of that conference call, or are having vivid daydreams of throwing shit at your boss and realize that there is not another productive thing you can offer in that day? Imagine having that in like October for the remainder of the year. Yeah, that’s what happened. If you look back, and I know you will, you’ll see a general decline in the timeliness of my posts right around October—right around when the Swoaps got arrested.

The truth is, I didn’t want 2013 to end because I wasn’t done. Somewhere along the way, I got sidetracked or fell into the tar pits that life often places in your path. I didn’t do everything I set out to do and I just wasn’t done. But enough lamenting, let’s look at how things shook out.

And a note, there is a reason to not write shit down: people tend to hold you accountable:

In the beginning of 2013, I wrote a little post called Hey 2012! You Can Kick Rocks! 2012 was a tougher year for me and I had plenty to gripe about. In that lovely post, reviewed my goals from 2012 and set a couple new ones for 2013. Only a couple. Which is good because I didn’t do shit. Well, let me clarify: I didn’t do a lot of shit. Here’s the nonsense I said at the beginning of 2013:

Author Goals

  • Write a blog post 2 times a week
  • Complete Come Hell or High Water
  • Participate in a 1 blog tour in 2013
  • Complete one graphic novel script
  • Write one non-Angel related novel

Publishing Goals

  • Publish Come Hell or High Water
  • Publish Crooked Letterz’ Big Book of Villains

Look at that—these are moderately feasible goals. They’re not ridiculous, they don’t smack of hubris or unrealistic expectations. They’re fair and valid goals. So how did I do?

  • Write one blog post 2 times a week. To be fair, I didn’t realize that schedule until I was like halfway through the year. But still, I knocked out 50 posts in 2013. 50! That is 1 post a week and I took December off! How bout that?
  • Complete Come Hell or High Water. I’m tired of talking about this book. You’re probably tired of hearing about this book. But I did actually complete it. Close your mouth—yes, I did. I finished it in July, thank you very much. Then came the spate of rewrites and climbing the mountain of making the book everything it should be dwarfed the molehill that was the first draft. Truth is, all of this lovely imagery is just a disguise for me saying I procrastinated.
  • Complete 1 blog tour in 2013. It is awfully tough to participate in a blog tour for a book you don’t have. Not a whole lot to promote. Um…this didn’t happen.
  • Write one graphic novel script. Believe it or not, this actually happened. My cousin is an artist and I’ve always had a dream about doing graphic novels. We shared some texts and emails, came with a pretty decent Nat Turner-meets-Superman type of story (you’d have to actually read it). It’s gonna happen, we just have these other commitments hanging over our heads.
  • Write one non-Angel related novel. Yeah, no. I planned it. Plotted it out. No words on the page though.

Let me be brief on the Publishing goals. I didn’t meet either one of these because publishing a book generally takes a book to publish. And on the Big Book of Villains, the only head way I made was working with an attorney to make sure I wouldn’t get my ass sued by Disney, Marvel, Sony, LucasFilm, Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount, Scholastic, Hasbro, Comedy Central, and fucking Katniss. Mission Accomplished. Seriously, I should be able to knock this one out in 2014.

But other stuff did happen that wasn’t writing-related. My wife got better, then got worse, then got better. That was a good thing. She took herself to Disney World, Disneyland, and then on a Disney Cruise—hey, when you survive cancer, you win. Do what you want. I changed jobs and got some FANTASTIC financial news in the process. I also learned I suck at managing money (but you have to say this like Debbie Downer). My aunt passed away and so did my good buddy, Rocky the WonderDog. I got a puppy, Lady the Damn Dog—now before you say anything, have you ever had a puppy? Ever? I can handle the “every 2 hours I gotta pee” thing. I don’t get the “let me eat your walls” thing. The fuck is that?

The Boy was…The Boy. His phone met a hammer, his Xbox went out the window, and he is now officially taller than me. The Honey Badger dropped that childish innocence with an unauthorized pool party, fucking FaceTime, and 3am texts on New Year’s Eve. Her phone is currently on Craigslist. And we got a new kid in the mix: The Fox joined the party and all she wants to do is DANCE! No, seriously, all she wants to do is graduate and she has 6 months left.

My point is, even though I didn’t reach my writing/publishing goals for 2013, I lived those 365 days. I made the most of my time with my wife, my family, my dog, my career. Every day I didn’t put words on the page was a day I was putting time into the living, breathing mammals that inhabit my life. My sole goal for 2014 is to find balance. To find the time and energy to give each facet of my life the attention it deserves.

And just when I started to feel bad for what I hadn’t accomplished over 2013, I read this:

No Regrets

That, my friends, is the Happy New Year’s post from your friends and mine, Melanie and John Swoap. She makes a point here–a HUDGE one: if they can enter a New Year with no regrets after defrauding a bunch of little girls, getting arrested for back child support, taking a cruise while under indictment, lying to the state of Tennessee for continued unemployment employment benefits, refusing to pay their employees, and trying to gain disability benefits for being bipolar and a couple of shoddy suicide attempts, I can certainly sleep well for missing a couple publication deadlines.

Perspective, people. Perspective.

Happy New Year! Catch ya on Friday!

Saturday Night Fiend: Misogyny Part II

Wonder WomanI know you think I don’t love you. I know you get tired of me sweeping in and out of your life, one day I’m here and have a schedule and the next I’m off in radio silence. Yeah, well sometimes it be’s like that.

Actually, I haven’t said anything because I haven’t had much to say. It wasn’t writer’s block—it was life’s block. In the last month or so, my life has been 2 parts Brian McKnight’s Where Do We Go From Here? and 1 part Bebe &Cece Winans’ It’s OK and while things are cool (or getting cooler), they demanded my focus. Oh yeah, in the midst of this nonsense, like a disease, I contracted a hater too. But, as much fun as it would be, I’m not gonna talk about that yet—we’ll save it for Tuesday.

But today, in the afterglow of Thanksgiving and the advent of the holiday season, I’m feeling thankful. I’m thankful for you, for hanging with me after all this time. I’m thankful for every eyeball on my words, every comment and like and Share. I’m thankful for the Swoaps (say what???) and DMFRHs and Friday Night Fiends and Stacy Case and…my hater.

Today, I want to revisit an older idea. A little bit ago, I wrote a post about misogyny, particularly in superhero movies. I lamented the lack of female heroines in the movies, highlighted Scarlett Johannsen’s portrayal of the Black Widow in The Avengers, and dogged the shit outta Warner Bros and DC for their hesitance in bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen because she was “tricky.”

Well, this week somebody called my bluff. If you haven’t heard already, not only will Diana Prince be in the next Man of Steel movie, she’s already been cast. Say whaaattt? Yep, in 2015 we’ll see some incarnation of the Amazon princess in a major motion picture and she’ll be played by Gal Gadot.

Aw, that’s aweso—wait, who?

Yeah, that’s the first thing I said: who the hell is Gal Gadot? Then I looked at the pic:

Gal-Gadot

Oh, she’s one of the women who look like the other women from the Fast and Furious franchise?

But the first reaction I got was, “She doesn’t look like Wonder Woman. She’s too skinny. She’s too small.” Same reaction you heard too, right? If you checked the comments on any site anywhere that reported on her casting, all the responses where about her physical appearance. My problem was, those reactions I was hearing came out of my own house. And some of them came out of my own mouth.

Now I don’t generally debate a woman’s physicality. I watched every episode of Linda Carter as Diana Prince didn’t have an issue. I bought Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman and buff-ass Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Michele Yeoh will beat the shit out of all of us. Anne Hathaway made it happen as Catwoman. Zoe Saldana is rail thin but have you seen Colombiana? She scares me.

But when they said Wonder Woman, here’s where I went:

GINA CARANO at the Fast & Furious 6 Premiere in Los Angeles

That’s Gina Carano. She’s a UFC fighter. She’s RAW! She’s tall, beautiful, curvy, got muscles and the fearsome demeanor, and a thing going with Henry Cavill—but she can’t act to save her life. She has this movie called Haywire (you can find it on Netflix) that I’ve tried to watch twice but can’t stomach it. And that’s saying a lot: I liked the first Wolverine movie, am a fan of Out of Sight with Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney, and have watched (and loved) almost all of the Godzilla movies. I like shitty movies. I couldn’t do this one.

Here’s the thing: I bought hook, line and sinker into an overly-sexed, objectified view of a what a powerful woman must be. Because it’s Wonder Woman, does she automatically have to look like Jessica Rabbit? She’s the most iconic, most powerful woman in DC or Marvel universes and she’s relegated to wearing a bustier and hot pants—the idea is we wouldn’t buy her power, her capability, if she didn’t show cleavage.

And I’m mad at myself that I went there too.

Wonder Woman is strong, complex, beautiful and a warrior. Gal Gadot meets all the requirements for the role. She is actually an actress. Say what you want about that franchise but she’s been in movies that have grossed nearly $1B at the box office. That means she can carry the nuances of a character that has spent her life as a warrior and a princess of an island full of women and acting as an ambassador to the rest of the world. Complex? Check. Gadot is beautiful, no question about that. She was Miss Israel in 2004 and has been a model. So we can check off pretty. And she can fight. See, Israel has this mandatory 2-year service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). They have their own martial arts called Krav Maga. If you’ve ever seen it, it’s an exceptionally efficient, brutal technique of disarmament and overpowering. She can kick some ass. And she does all her own stunts in the Fast and the Furious. So strong and a warrior? Yeah, check.

Lastly, she actually looks like Wonder Woman. Like the comic initially intended.

Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman

Actors transform themselves for their roles. Christian Bale last 50 pounds for the Machinist and then adopted both an American accent and that heavy growl for Batman. Henry Cavill for so bulked up and sculpted my mother said “I think he is sexy as hell” (which set up an exceptionally awkward night of movie watching). Heath Ledger went from being a gay cowboy to a psychopathic, anarchist, murderous clown in what has become the definitive portrayal of the Joker. The point is we can do better. I can do better. Instead of focusing on how that woman looks or whether she measures up with some comic book ideal of what a powerful woman should look like, I decided to take a page from the Honey Badger. I told her Wonder Woman was finally making it into the movies. She just smiled and said, “Cool!”

Cool.

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND – GENERAL ZOD (I know, I know, we did it already)

ZodHey hey hey friends and foes, welcome back to another does of your weekly villainy.  Can you hear that? Can you? Mr. Anderson! That is the sound of regularity. OK fine, so it doesn’t sound like Agent Smith from The Matrix but it does sound like the posting schedule is working. And that is a good thing.

Today is Friday and that means it’s time for your Friday Night Fiend (Fiend Fiend Fiend…) Last week, we looked at the first of our previously Crooked-ized villains who had been rebooted and dove into the JJ Abrams version of Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness. This week, we hit the other dastardly do-over with Zod from Man of Steel awesomeness.

And I am biased. I LOVED this cat!

Well…loved is pretty strong. I LIKED him. A lot.

We’ve looked at Zod before. In the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman: The Movie and Superman II masterpieces, we are introduced to a Hammer pants and deep-V Zod played by a Pimp Named Slick Back AKA Terrance Stamp (if you watch the Boondocks, you know how funny that is). He’d been caught by the Kryptonians for the crimes of sedition, trapped in a couple hula hoops and sent off to live in a Romper Room pane of glass with this threat, “You will bow down before me! Both you, and one day, your heirs!” Not bad. He gave us some fantastic lines that I still use everyday like “Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?” (my kids love it!) and, of course, “Kneel before Zod!”

But beyond the revenge thing, there really wasn’t more to Zod. He actually got bored in the movie. After he beat the cowboy shit out of Superman, what was the plan? Boom, one dimensional character.

Then they made Man of Steel.

This Zod was on some other shit. Entirely other shit. Not just world domination shit, but he was on a world-building, people-saving bent. The first time we saw Michael Shannon as Zod he walked in the door bucking people. Shutting down the studio. “On whose authority,” they said. “Mine.” Pew pew and people started to die. He killed a council member, launched a coup and killed Jor-El in 20 minutes—the first 20 minutes of the movie. He tried to kill a baby (Kal-El), spit on people, threatened Supes’ mama (twice) and when he said “I WILL FIND HIM!” you knew that MF was serious.

And then he found him. Best Hide And Seek Player EVER. Across the entire universe, Zod found his man, showed up and threatened a whole planet. Then, once he had Superman, he told him the truth, told him he was gonna kill 7 billion human beings, told Kal-El a) he better pick a side; and b) that he killed his daddy, and then threatened his mom for the second time. He had his folks tear up a small town then got busy terraforming planet Earth with this lovely little exchange:

Jor-El: You’re talking about genocide.

Zod: Yes. And I’m debating its merits with a ghost.

I mean, Damn. And when everything was lost, when he realized he didn’t have any people, Zod decided he was going to just kill every single person on Earth. By hand. He learned Supes’ powers, learned how to fly—he beat the shit out of Superman and made him commit the one atrocity that prevented Man of Steel from being a billion dollar movie.

As a character, Zod has always been an issue for Superman. I’ve kind of delineated his role in the comics already and I think this version strikes much closer to the original intent. Zod has always made Superman choose between being a Kryptonian or being a human—this was no different. What I loved was you actually saw Zod snap. Not that his terraforming-kill-the-humans plan wasn’t already fucked up; you actually saw him lose his rationale for everything he ever did. What started as an imperative to save the remains of his dying race—a noble sentiment for Zod—became full circle to a revenge story in the end. And you saw Zod lose his shit on screen.

It was awesome.

That’s my word! I’ll swing back on Tuesday for more crooked nonsense.

Out!