Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fanboy! Sneak Peek! Ten Cents!

If you haven't seen the international trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, do yourself a favor.  Click the link, load the video in high definition, turn on your speakers/plug in your headphones, and watch it.

Back?  Pretty sweet, huh?

If you've spent any time around me in the past few weeks, you're probably ready to murder me with a giant hammer, flaming sword, or telekinesis.  My gigantic crush on this movie starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz") borders on obsession.

Ok, so it careens through the border of obsession and ends up barely short of mouth-breathing fanboy cyberstalking.  Deal with it (but please still hang out with me)!

The comic by Bryan Lee O'Malley upon which the movie is based caught my attention with its punchy black and white illustrations, silly dialogue, and complete disconnect from reality.  Sure, it's written by a Canadian but I'll give him honorary American citizenship and maybe build a theme park in his head.  I'd pay to watch this guy's dreams.  Ten bucks says they put any acid trip to shame.

I did find time between my fifteenth and sixteenth viewing of the trailer to think about how much of our identities are caught up in the media we consume.  My younger self was never fully comfortable with his geekdom.  Maybe he thought his soccer teammates would shun him, or his bandmates would mock him.  Neo-Matt (a term I've been using since about five minutes ago) has no clue as to the why.  But I hid my obsession with my Dad's yellowing sci-fi books from everyone outside my family and closest friends.

Something changed as I got older; just yesterday, I told my sublet-roommate about the countless days of my childhood spent in silent communion with those ten cent books.  They are objectively awful, filled with misogyny, colonialism, and horrid, stiff prose.  But instead of being shameful wives locked in the attic, they are eccentric uncles whose stories you ate up as a kid.  And as an adult, you smile during the tellings for different reasons.

Most of those authors couldn't write.  The weakness of their words hampered the power of their vision.  But even at their worst, they conjured desolate worlds orbiting dying suns.  Brokenhearted bounty hunters limping after their last big mark.  Alien geniuses plotting for the thrones of celestial empires and the hearts of eight-breasted princesses.

I am not ashamed to count myself among their fanboys.  No matter how old I become, how withered my body and brittle my bones, I will always dream these impossible dreams.

With this in mind, I proudly present a H&K exclusive sneak peek of my newest short story, "Reckoning."  It follows the last days of Sean, the sole survivor of a failed mission to an icy wasteland and maybe the last human in the universe.  You can find the first few lines under the tab at the top labeled "Reckoning" or by clicking here.  There will be more to follow on Monday.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sample!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Why and Where of Writing

When people find out I'm a writer, there are two major questions that always seem to crop up.  They are "Why do you write?" and "Where do you find inspiration?"  While these queries may seem cliche, no artist or writer or musician is going to honestly answer in the same way.  So this seems like a good place to mark the true start of H&K Redux.

I write because I have stories to tell, and telling them brings me joy.  I am not content to only consume the thoughts and dreams of others; the urge to create is too strong.  Even my music, such as the yet unfinished "Ballad of Roger and Rose," tells stories.  There are worlds within worlds inside and outside the universe proper.  Why not explore them?

Like all storytellers, I am an inveterate liar.  My recollection gains embroidery through the years, not because of malice (at least, no longer), but from the sheer joy of weaving a more interesting narrative.  Our memories are the messiest of oral traditions and are wonderful because of, not in spite of, this casual inaccuracy.  In truth, none of us are ever fully the hero, nor others villains.  Yet who is not the hero of their own story?  So I take this human impulse, the telling of tales, and formalize it.

Inspiration for these stories comes from everything.  This not a cop out or deflection; it is the unvarnished truth.  There are characters leaping out of the newspaper, hiding behind shady oaks, and screaming in your basement.  Stories rest in every handshake, car ride, and commercial for weight loss pills.  The writer's art is to distill this chaos into something real, something true, even if that something involves invisible weather gnomes wearing bowler hats.

So, faced by this bounty of inspiration, the question I wish more people would ask is "How do you manage to write day after day?"  Thomas Edison had it right when he said, "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."  The evidence of this small statement's truth is everywhere.  How many talented baseball players fail because they are not willing to sacrifice everything in the pursuit of winning?  How many world-class artists burn out after toiling endlessly in poverty and obscurity?

Writing is no different.  Failure is the neighbor who tap-dances on your ceiling at night and mangles his ukulele at your moment of greatest calm.  Words, sentences, and paragraphs stubbornly refuse to work; they howl and flail like rabid donkeys as you desperately traverse a rope bridge over a bottomless ravine.  And as rejections make not-so small piles on your desk, the tap-dancing grows infinitesimally louder.

The answer is simple albeit a bit recursive.  Writing is the cure to its own suffering.  There are moments in every day when despair seeps into my fingers and my eyes lose focus.  A bit of dialogue limps to a comma and tries to commit hara-kiri.  But before I hurl my keyboard away in disgust, a small voice calls my name.

The goblin prince strides onto the screen and points up.  To the sky, he commands.  We must see the stars!  My eyes sharpen and fingers dance.  Pull yourself together, I tell the dialogue.  There is no time to waste!  There are worlds to discover and never enough moments to explore them!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hummus and Kimchi Rebooted

It is with great excitement that I welcome you to the new Hummus and Kimchi!  The site has undergone significant changes so please excuse (and let me know about) any problems you encounter.

While H&K started out as a record of my time in Israel, its focus has changed to my fiction writing.  But do not fear!  There will still be posts concerning personal and world events although they will be fewer and farther between.

Here's the upside: H&K will give you access to my thoughts as each piece progresses from idea to draft to final product, along with H&K exclusive short works.  You will find concept art, sample pages, and much more as my various projects proceed.  Writing is a journey through the woods, and I will be happy for the company.

So come; let us wander among these trees together, and see what wonders they hold!