Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm a fan of Electronic Arts games for the most part.

But after things like this happen, can I not shake my head in shame?

Peace out,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Imagination and Art

Fantasy's biggest strength and greatest weakness is that it's a fan-based art form. People read it, draw it, and learn to write it, all because they love it. But few actually will go the lengths to study it, instead spending all their time writing or drawing or whatever.

So whenever someone comes along who is both amazingly educated and understand what fantasy is, it's always amazing work.

Right now a friend of mine, Kristi Kirisberg, is having her senior art show on BYU campus. I met her through ballroom and for the longest time didn't know she was an artist. But after seeing her show I can say she is one of those few artists who get both the imagination and the art behind Fantasy.

There are so many fantasy artists out there who can draw dragons and pictures of their favorite characters from fiction, but it never has that something that touches your soul and makes the picture's subjects real people. On the other hand, there are many good painters who can give you real, live people on the canvas with their own unique feelings and emotions, but they have no idea what we as fantasy enthusiasts are all about. Makes me think of the pictures of slutty fairies you'll see at some Asian Import and Martial Hobby stores.

But Kristi gets it. She's had all the schooling, all the talent, all the practice it takes to be a world-class artists, with a sensibility to the imagination few artists have. Her fighters aren't fanboy depictions of women with weapons, they look like real people. Her mystical settings aren't showing off a location, they're evoking emotion in. I think my favorite is Ghost of Haapsalu Castle when seen in person. It's never as good online as seeing in real life, but check out her website if you can't see the show. And if you can see the show, it's in the middle of the Harrison Fine Arts Center right now.

I guess that's where true art happens in our genre. If you get David Farland's newsletter, you realize the man isn't just imaginative, he's educated to a scary degree. This is a man who's studies literary theory, Dramatica, the classics, Joseph Campbell, Shakespeare, and all the best authors he could find. He's not just doing the writing, he's learned what it takes to be the best. Listening to him talk sometimes is scary when you learn just what he's done to get where he is.

No one can survive in art anymore without education. I lucked out and got a wife with a huge literary education I can talk to, but seeing Kristi's work gives me a whole new appreciation of what's involved to be good at your art form.

See you all in Print,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mistborn 4

So, did everyone know that there's another Mistborn book coming out? And this one's steampunk, a few hundred years in the future? Just letting people know if they didn't already.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fighting Back

As far as I can understand, the story goes like this:

Casey is a sixteen-year-old Australian who always got bullied. For almost two years he'd been pushed around, punched, and humiliated by others. Then one day (while someone was filming him being bullied, I can only assume for fun) he snapped and started fighting back, delivering a WWF-style body-slam to the bully and becoming an internet phenomenon in the process. As the story spreads, there's two definite camps on the issue: the internet is clearly on Casey's side, hailing him as a hero, while Child Experts are trying to stifle the story, saying it will only cause more violence.

And, honestly, I can't say that would be a bad thing.

I was a quiet kid in school. I can't say I was bullied to the extend that others sometimes are, but there are always people who get their kicks by picking on the quiet, awkward kid in the back of the class. For a long time I tried the "ignore them and they'll go away" approach. It never worked.

Now I am NOT advocating violence as the solution to problems; I just wanted to say that first. But what I AM saying is that the only thing that ever worked for me, the only way I ever succeeded in stopping a bully, was by letting him know I wouldn't take it.

I remember one kid in middle school who decided his place in life was to put others down. He went out of his way to find those he could hate on without repercussions, and I was in that group. Until one day he decides to insult me and shove me, which got me so mad I put him in a headlock and threw him on the ground. The best part? He never bothered me again.

And then there was the upperclassman in high school who thought it was all sorts of fun to pick on me. He kept it up until one day he got me so mad I punched him. The funny thing is that, after I got out of the teacher's office, he came up and apologized to me first. He said razzing people was just sort of what he did, even with his friends, and he hadn't meant to get me so mad. I can't say we became good friends after that, but we did parted on friendlier terms, and we both had a much greater respect for each other.

Now this isn't always how things go and violence is often the worst option. Sometimes, a bully really is just a kid who needs a friend himself. Not to mention the other extreme: the kids who take knives to school and treat the place like a prison yard, just hoping you'll give them a reason to shank you.

But sometimes there are people who have, through meticulous planning and careful application, placed themselves where they are in the social food-chain by putting others down. People who build up their own self esteem by taking it away from others. People who live for the victims they create out of the quiet, awkward kids in their classes. And, sometimes, the only way to stop these people is to prove you can fight back.

So will Casey's story encourage other kids to fight bullies? Probably. Will that lead to more violence, and will some of those kids lose those fights? Most likely. Terrible things happen when kids get into fights and sometimes people get seriously hurt; we should always look for the better option. But at the same time, if kids start standing up for themselves, start taking their lives into their own hands and start showing bullies they're not easy prey, is that really something we should discourage?

As a martial artist, I believe everyone needs to know how to defend themselves. Violence really should be the last resort, but the confidence you gain by knowing that last resort is strong is irreplaceable. As one New York martial arts teacher put it: it's about learning how to walk the streets with your head held high and your shoulders back. If you know how to defend yourself, you look like you can defend yourself, and people leave you alone. New York muggers generally don't go after the guy who looks like he can take out a city by himself. Like bullies, they go after the weak, the ones who won't fight back. Sometimes, the only way to avoid violence is to show the world you aren't afraid to use it.

And so, hoping I don't offend too many people with this, I guess I can say my feelings on Casey are the same as those of Penny Arcade.

Casey, what you did was wrong,

And thank you so, so much for doing it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Updates A-Hoy!

I found the coolest article today.

Yes it's old now, but it's still an interview with a stage choreographic legend. One day I will be him.

I got the part in "The Diary of Anne Frank." I'm playing Mr. Van Daan, the jerk of a roommate the Franks are stuck with. On one side it's cool: my wife in the show is being played by a friend of mine. On the other hand, I have to do that special acting trick of learning to like playing a douche bag. But that's why we're professionals.

Still working on Hoc Moiraad, and I've been learning from my writing group that my ideas are great, but I still have a while to go before my prose communicates to others what's actually going on in my head. It's not surprising: up until now, most of my work has been with screen plays, where you don't have to write what the actor does. In prose it's not that easy.

I've heard the advice to new authors before that you should figure out what actor would play your character if it were a movie, and that helps you write your character well. I was always afraid to go that route, but maybe I should try it. It's just that when I write for an actor, I only write the words and trust him to communicate the nuances. Yeah, that doesn't really work for prose...

Oh, and it's official. Brandon Sanderson will be appearing in Episode three of my upcoming series: "The Writing Group." Have I mentioned I feel pretty cool about that?

See you all in print,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Extra Credits

I think this will be a trend for me: Plugging things I think are awesome. Today's plug, however, goes beyond awesome. More like bungee jumping from a freight train into an active volcano awesome. The kind of place usually reserved for Andre the Giant and David Farland.

As I'm sure you've figured out, I'm a big fan of things with great artistic value. Not that stories, books, movies and such can't just be amazingly fun, but there's something to fun that's also meaningful. To something that can change your life and make you see yourself in a new light. I'm happy to announce I've found like-minded souls.

Extra Credits is a webseries hosted by that likes to discuss video games. However, unlike a lot of other group of internet users who like to discuss video games, these guys each have extensive experience in the video game industry, building games, advancing the industry, things like that. The best part, however, is how amazingly smart each of them is. (Seriously, the only other person I've heard rattle off the names of so many philosophers and literary theorists is my wife.)

They don't just talk about games, they discuss, in depth, how games really are changing the face of art. They discuss it takes to be a game designer in today's market, (a working knowledge of psychology, art theory, programming, communication, and the universe itself,) what's going on in current events with the game industry, and what it means both for the industry and for us as a public.

And it's really, really funny, too. Like, laugh out loud funny without losing a single, delicious, poignant moment. That's what I really love about it.

So for anyone interested in storytelling, art, or playing video games, please take a look. Seriously, it's that awesome. Not only will you discover how Mass Effect 2 succeeded and God of War 2 and 3 failed to be true cultural achievements, you just might learn something that, as an actor and a writer, you just might be involved with one day.

In other news, Life as I Knew it has encountered a problem, but will be put on the back burner and just might get done some day. For now, I'm still working on my book (I've got to get a working title. Hoc Moiraad just doesn't cut it,) and I'm working on a new web series as well. this one is tentatively titled "Minecraft!" (Yep, after the game.) More on that as it unfolds, but this one should be promising and highly entertaining.

So you all in print,