Sunday, January 31, 2010

Top ten TV shows

A couple of weeks ago I listed my top ten movies. This week, I'll go through my favorite TV shows. I'm finding I trend toward comedy and science fiction, go figure. Anyway, here they are (in reverse order):

#10 The Greatest American Hero. Super hero comedy, gotta love it. I mainly enjoyed Robert Culp's character and the humor of not having the instructions for how to use the super suit.

#9 Babylon 5. The continuing saga kept this series interesting. Events would actually change character's lives instead of having a reboot at the beginning of each episode.

#8 Star Trek Deep Space 9. I know this wasn't the most popular Star Trek series, but it is my favorite because of the saga element similar to Babylon 5. The first couple of seasons tended to meander like typical Star Trek, but the last few seasons (with the Dominion War) were very exciting. Plus, it had my favorite Star Trek character of all time: Vic Fontaine.

#7 Eureka. Sci-fi comedy. The only series on my list that is currently running. The plot a lot of times is a little predictable (or it would have been higher on my list), but Sheriff Carter is a great character surrounded by some very intriguing personalities. I describe it as Mayberry meets X-Files.

#6 Get Smart. Spies and comedy. Granted, the show could be pretty dumb at times, but it was all tongue-in-cheek. Sometimes I like a show that is just so dumb it's funny. Don Adams was my idol when I was a kid.

#5 Star Gate SG1. Sci-fi comedy. It took a few seasons to find its stride. It technically isn't a comedy, but Richard Dean Anderson kept a lightness to it that was fun. Ben Browder tried to continue that and did okay.

#4 Star Gate Atlantis. In a lot of ways very similar to SG1. I liked it a little better, though, because of the banter between Rodney McKay and Col. Sheppard.

#3 MASH. Dramedy. You were never sure if an episode would make you laugh or cry or both.

#2 Home Improvement. Flat-out funny comedy. I never get tired of watching the reruns. They make me laugh even when I know the punchline ahead of time.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. The greatest television show of all time: The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. This was a bizarre mix of genres, which I loved. It was a western/sci-fi/comedy starring Bruce Campbell. It started life along side the first season of X-Files, but only made it one season. But it was a fun romp through the wild west that never took itself too seriously. I like that in a show.

As far as the ones that didn't quite make the top ten: Star Trek, Star Trek The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica (the REAL series from the 70s, not that Sci-fi channel fake), Bewitched, The Cosby Show, Hogan's Heroes, Beverly Hillbillies, Magnum PI, Farscape, The Red Green Show, and The Muppet Show. Sadly, other than Eureka, there's really not much on TV these days that really fascinates me. I guess I'll need to blog about that in the future some time.

By the way, I saw Avatar again. It still holds the #2 spot on my movie list.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dragon War Relic characters

I've started this post several times at night when my brain was functioning like Jello. Actually, Jello probably would have been able to think more clearly than I. Anyway, I'm trying it in the morning this time before my brain becomes another gelatinous mess.

I've had several questions from people about how I created my characters. The short answer is: I don't know. It comes down to the fact that I'm a discovery writer and I just sit down and improvise. The characters, like Athena from Zeus, seem to pop out of my head fully formed. I don't do any long work sheets to figure out where they were born or what their favorite food is. Details just come to me as I write. I've said this before, but I feel like I access the same part of my brain when I write as when I improvise jazz.

Okay, now for the long answer. I still had to make some decisions about the characters, so here's a break down on some of those decisions:
Jared: He's a lot like I was as a teenager, except he's smarter, more motivated, and a lot less messy. I wanted someone who was kind of an anti-Harry Potter. Not that he's the opposite, but I wanted him to be a good student who could figure things out on his own, unlike good ol' HP who needed Hermoine's help. I also used the color code theory on personality, so I made Jared a blue.
Doug: Color code: yellow. He was pattered after some guys I knew in California and in college. He might be a little dated, since he would have fit right in with California culture in the 80's. He's also a little like I wanted to be as a teenager but was afraid to be.
Gar: Gar is a blue-red. He's also a little like I am now as an adult. I wanted someone who was serious and fun. My kids first compared him to Hagrid, but in my mind he's a little more like Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker's Guide.
Kayla: She is the hardest character for me to relate to. Naturally, I kept unconsciously making her docile like an angel, but I wanted her to be contrary to the stereo-typical angel, to be kind of a snot. What finally helped was that I cast an actress to play her part in my mind, but I won't say who. Of course, I'm still having this struggle with her in The Scepter of the Ancients. She's a red. Maybe that's why I struggle with her since I'm a white.
Sprock: Of course, he's a big fan of Mr. Spock from Star Trek. But where Spock is outspoken and unemotional, Sprock is shy and very emotional. He's an extreme white.
Kerk, Sprock, and Bob: These three were originally just supposed to do comic relief cameos, but somehow they inserted themselves into the story. So between them and Doug (and Gar, to some extent) I have a cast of comedians and one very, ultra-serious person for them to make fun of.
Tyke: Of course, you don't know who Tyke is. He was a character who was cut from one of my failed drafts for book 2. My daughter, though, said he was one of her favorites, so I need to figure a way to get him back in. He's a former Angel fighter pilot (from the Angel-Demon wars) who now drives an air taxi on Angelon. He's also not your typical Angel: unshaven, sloppy robes, and dare-devil.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top ten movies of all-time (according to me)

I finally went to see Avatar last weekend, which has forced me to have to rethink my top movies list. At first, I thought that it might be my new number one, but there were still a few things that bothered me about it. I'll still put it in my top ten, but I need to see it again to be sure of where I'll put it.

Here's my list thus far:
#1. The Incredibles. Avatar didn't quite unseat it. The whole idea of a middle-aged superhero just appeals to me. What keeps it on top for me is the totally freakin' awesome soundtrack.

#2. Avatar. This is a tentative ranking until I can see it again. The CGI was incredible, plus the story sucked me in. I'm still a little bothered about wanting to cheer for the aliens in the end, though.

#3. The Fellowship of the Ring. This is my favorite of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I think Boromir is the one who did it for me. For some reason, I like the tragic hero.

#4. The Empire Strikes Back. Best of all the Star Wars movies. It's nice to see the good guys get whooped every now and then, as long as you know they'll get back up and win.

#5. Ironman. Just a well-done superhero movie. I liked the character arch that Tony Stark went through. Now, I hope the sequels continue the arch and don't have him returning to his sordid ways, but I'm afraid they will.

#6. Star Wars: A New Hope. I still get tingles when Han comes out of nowhere to blast Luke free.

#7. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Great bad guy. Enterprise gets the snot knocked out of it. I don't know why, but I think that's cool.

#8. Spiderman II. In this case, it was the tragic villain. Had that a little in the first movie, but I felt more for Doc Ock. Also, Peter had to make up his mind about who he really was.

#9. The Magnificent Seven. Coolest western of all time.

#10. Men In Black. Just a good ol' fun movie.

That's the list for the moment. I'll probably change my mind again tomorrow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A little vacation

I hope my faithful readers aren't too disappointed in my lack of blogging, but I needed a break. And it felt good, too. Of course, I did work some more on The Galactic Adventures of Doug in 3D and will do a third draft this next week. Then, if things are going right with it, I'll try to put episode one up on Saturday. It's a different approach for me, since it has Doug as the point-of-view character and it's in first person. It's fun to write in his voice, though, so I hope it will be fun for the readers, too.

Our family news of the week was that we took our oldest son to the Missionary Training Center in Provo on Wednesday, December 30th. That's part of the reason for my little break, since we wanted to spend some time with him before he left for two years. He'll be going to Dallas Texas, Spanish speaking so he'll have to develop some Spanish chops while at the MTC. We're very proud of him, though, and know that this will be a big growing experience for him.

Starting tomorrow, I need to figure out how to balance my life. I still need to keep marketing my book, but I need to spend less time on that now. I have to put some attention to my music business, since I'm starting to pick up more students. I also want to get back to working on the sequel to The Dragon War Relic. My goal is to have another draft done by February.

Speaking of goals, I thought I would philosophize about New Year's resolutions. My take is: don't do them. Not that we shouldn't be trying to improve ourselves, but why wait until New Years? I believe that if you find something in your life that you want to improve, just do it, don't wait for some magic date. The best time to pursue a goal is when you are motivated.