A blog about a book . . about a blog.

What with starting my own blog, and being a big fan of pretty much everything Star Trek, I have recently been checking out Wil Wheaton dot net. Best known in most circles as starring in Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation , Wil Wheaton is now best known in geeky circles as a blogger and published writer, and also as being a fairly big geek himself. Hence the title of his book ‘Just A Geek‘.

A book which I decided to buy and am really glad I did, as it is one the few books that I have read in one day, and possibly the only one I have read in one go. Based on posts from his blog, the book goes into often very personal detail about many things, most notably his personal battle with what he calls ‘Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake’, his need for acceptance and recognition for his own merits, which he often amusingly talks about in the second person.

Chronicling certain events, Wil shares all aspects of his life including his struggles as an actor, the joys of living with his wife and step children, and his mixed reactions to the large impact of Star Trek and its fans. All of which makes for funny, honest and very compelling reading. Certainly the best book I have read recently, and almost possibly the best book I have read in a very long time.

Tag, I’m it

Having been tagged by three people (even though Kate tagged everyone, which is probably cheating) I now apparently have to reveal 8 random facts about myself. As many of my friends often describe me as a random person, this could be very random indeed.

Random squared, one could say. So here goes.

1. My favourite Subway sandwich is Ham and Turkey on Italian herb and cheese, not toasted, with extra cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, gherkin (or pickle, as they insist on calling it), with either barbecue or ranch sauce.

2. I once used the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 on the lottery. I didn’t win anything.

3. The only email I ever had from my personal tutor at university read “Email Mikel Koven.” Mikel Koven was indeed very helpful.

4. I have seen three films from the so called ‘Video Nasty’ list. The Evil Dead is too slapstick to be taken seriously and I got bored watching The Last House On The Left and The House On The Edge Of The Park. I subsequently don’t consider any of them to be nasty.

5. In sixth form drama lessons, my group and I used to quote I’m Alan Partridge to each other. Abso-Bloody-Exactly!!

6. The album I am listening to at the moment (when I say at the moment, I mean at the time of my writing, not whenever you are reading this) is the Life On Mars soundtrack.

7. One of my favourite facts is that the elephant is the only animal to have four knees.

8. My earliest memory is of having my brother’s friend’s family argue over who will feed me fish fingers. I have no idea why I remember that.

Fairly random, I think you’ll agree, but since the only people I know who have blogs are the ones who tagged me, I can’t really tag anyone else myself. Unless Mum, Kate and Deb can think of another eight random facts???

Write from the start . .

I know it hasn’t been a full week since my last post, but I’ve actually started to do stuff this week! I did some work in the garden with my Dad (no, I’m not going to call him HG), had some more unexpected hours at smiths, and played some football with my friends. Each of which managed to make me draw blood at some point!

I also saw Stranger Than Fiction for the first time, which I have to say is a really good film. Not only is it a good story with good actors and all that gubbins, but it also helps to show how stories are constructed. When he starts to hear a narrating voice in his head, the main character Harold (Will Ferrel) visits a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman) who explains to him the structures of a story, plots, the difference between comedy and tragedy etc.

When looking at any story it is easy to just see them as a series of events where things happen which causes something else to happen, when in reality its much more complex and structured. It was only in my second year of uni when I discovered this in a writing module, and now I cannot help but watch films without analysing the different elements that make up the narrative. There is not one rigid structure that every story follows, as there is a vast array of ways in which stories develop, but the majority will nearly always follow the same basic pattern. One of the first things we learnt in this module is that all stories are essentially made from the same basic ideas, but each story will use them in different ways. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for example, in which a group of teenagers go camping in the woods to discover a house owned by cannibals, is Hansel and Gretel. It is the fact that stories use this same basic structure but are able to adapt it for such a wide variety at the same time, is why I am considering returning to UWA as they have an excellent Masters course on screenwriting. That, and it will give me more time to decide what I eventually want to do.

First of all, rather obviously, something has to happen. If Harold didn’t start hearing the narrators voice in his head, he would have carried on with his boring routine, and it would have been a boring film. Likewise if Bilbo Baggins never gave his ring to Frodo, he would have just stayed in the Shire. Basically, if nothing happens the main character would just sit at home all day and do nothing (sounds rather familiar actually. . .) and would make for a boring story.

And it can’t just be anything happening either. It has to be something that gives the character a goal of some kind. If Bilbo gave Frodo an ordinary ring, he would have just said ‘Thanks uncle, that’s a nice ring’ and still carried on living in the shire. The fact that the ring needs to be destroyed necessitates that several characters all go on the quest to achieve this goal, whilst also giving the audience the sense of ‘will they/won’t they, agggh, whats going to happen now??’, at which point they went and bought the book before the next film came out.

Like I said each story is different, and this only covers the beginnings of the stories, but I think you get the idea. Basically nearly every story, book, film, TV etc will go along similar lines of:
Something happens, something has to be fixed, things will generally get worse before they get better.

PS: Yes, knowing this can spoil the fun of just watching a film, but I refuse to be held responsible if anyone hits you for constantly saying ‘Oh, now I get it’ every time you see a film from now on.

My New Blog 2: The Sequel!!!

It’s been over a week since I started this new blog, and I haven’t put up any more posts since. The main reason being I haven’t actually done that much worth posting about. I’ve had a few hours at Smiths, and started unpacking all my uni stuff, but I’m guessing that not many people would consider that very interesting.

I watched A Scanner Darkly which I kind of understood but didn’t really like, Pi which I didn’t understand but found really fascinating, and When Harry Met Sally which I didn’t understand why I particularly wanted to watch it, but enjoyed it anyway. It’s pretty much the only non-British Rom Com I can actually sit through, but that’s mainly just because Billy Crystal is a genius in that film. He improvised the whole thing about the pecan pie (and the woman who says the line “I’ll have what she’s having”, is actually the director’s mum as well).

I have also been trying to film some of the birds we get in our garden, but its not going that well. They very rarely seem to stay in a place that the camera has an un-obscured view of, and even if they do, they fly away before I can press the record button.

Hopefully this time next week I might have actualy done something blogworthy, and if I’m lucky I should have enough bird footage to edit something together. But we’ll see how it goes.

And reading the last page of a book first doesn’t sound like a bad idea . . .

My new blog!!

As a university Graduand, I have come to that point in my life where I don’t really know what to do. I have just come back from studying a bachelors degree in Film and Television Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth which I enjoyed immensely, but I am not entirely sure what to do next. I am aiming to have a job in the TV or film industry, but have no idea doing what. Ultimately I would like to work on my own projects, but that is a long way down the road. My current plans are learning to drive and working back at my local WH Smith, but I still need to find something to fill that gap.

And so what else is there to do, other than start a blog????

My mum and two of my friends in Canada all have blogs that they have been working on for some time, and so I thought what the hell, why don’t I get one as well. Unlike Deb, Kate and Mum (Christine to everyone else, but as she has to put me up for the next who knows how long, ‘Mum’ is the least I can do) my interests don’t tend to include gardening, cookery, Paris or anything that can generally be described as ‘cute’, so I think it fair to say that my blog might be rather different to theirs. As you may have guessed, my main interest is film and television, and generally anything on a screen.

There may be many people that would assume that means I am nothing more than a lazy slob, and for some part you are indeed right. But to me films are much more than mindless entertainment. When most people think of films, they probably think of the latest Hollywood blockbusters starring big name celebrities and featuring nothing but explosion after explosion, which is fine up to a point. But they can also be much more than that. I sit and down to watch a film just like others curl up to read a book. I like watching them for the stories that I can get caught up in, stories that make me think, laugh and if I was able to, cry. If a picture paints a thousand words, then film paints twenty-four thousand every second. Not all films live up to this potantial, but when they do the results can be fantastic.

The last few times I have been to the cinema I have been rather dissapointed. Spider-Man 3 had been hyped up so much prior to its release, but in the end was a really dissapointing film. Something like Inside I’m Dancing on the other hand is a film I had never heard of before seeing it on a shop shelf, but decided to watch anyway, and is one of those rare films that is perfect in almost every way.

I’m guessing this blog will be a mixture of films I have seen, and my progress on my way to making my own, so you’re welcome to come back and see how I get on and/or have a go at me for my outrageous opinions that I am bound to share from time to time.

Be seeing you!