lookingland: (ghost rider)
( May. 8th, 2009 03:36 pm)

I thought I better turn in my "I saw the new Star Trek movie report. This is generally spoiler-free.

First off, I can't imagine how difficult it is for an actor to play another actor's character. while there's a little bit of room for doing your own thing, it's the moments when you nail it that it really works. Zachary Quinto was phenomenal as a different kind of Spock (though I confess: at first I had a hard time seeing him as anyone but Sylar from Heroes). Chris Pine was okay as Kirk. The final scene was the only real moment of recognition for me, though there were other moments where he was really trying. McCoy was dead-on in some moments, less so in others. Scotty was also excellent. I feel more ambivalent about Chekov (the voice was spot-on, but the hair was distracting), Sulu (generally good, but nothing particularly amazing), and Uhura (I think they felt the need to "empower" the character; she looked great, but I didn't feel a connection; also, there's some plot stuff with her that's maybe too weird).

The plot is good, but gives lots of room to complain. Some of it is a little facile and silly (but then so was the TV show). I think the writers wanted to create something new without violating the canon). I think they succeeded (and what a monumental task, considering!). There were a few things here and there that I snerfed at, but overall it was a rollicking good ride, lots of stuff blew up, there was plenty of good humor, and it was an opportunity for a new adventure with characters I love. A lot of it is origin stuff, so I'd like to see a sequel, though this is the last Star Trek that will ever feature Majel Barrett (she's in every incarnation of the show ever made). And who knows how long Leonard Nimoy will last. His role in this was just right and exactly needed to make the passing of the baton work.

Die-hards will likely call foul on many a detail, but I've always been an easy fan (which is why I never liked Next Generation: it was too snobby for my goofy "space western" tastes).

It's worth a watch whether you're an old fan or never even saw an episode in all your life. That's a pretty major accomplishment, so overall I give it the thumbs up.

: D
lookingland: (angel)
( May. 4th, 2009 08:44 am)
i haven't posted a picture of my desk in forever. mostly because i haven't been working at my desk and there's been nothing to see. even in this picture, you can see how sort of scattershot it is. i don't even remember why i have all the glue out (maybe i ought to put it away, you think?)

this weekend i managed to get a bunch of stuff done in spite of frittering my time on watching movies (among them: Crossing Over, which I recommend!), spinning about the usual quandaries, eating popcorn, and spending much of saturday running around at booksales and Cinco de Mayo festivities. a good time was had by all and very little damage was done to the pocketbook.

i also want to say that after 20 freakin' years my character's been lugging around a Navy Colt, i officially switched it to a Colt Dragoon this weekend. i had always wanted a heavier, more ridiculous firearm with a larger caliber (.44 instead of .36) ~ the dragoon is perfect. thanks, jamie, it's entirely your fault.

image for an up-coming scene

it's a good thing the dragoon shares a lot of similarities with the navy variety. it made drawing this one much easier than i suspected!

: D
lookingland: (reconstruction)
( Apr. 25th, 2009 09:48 am)

Mostly for my own amusement (and because I have a ton of stuff to do so I need to break up my day), I thought, after posting the draft of my next installment yesterday, I would sort of follow the process through to the finished deal (see if I can't kick this thing in the right direction).

So while I'm typing and futzing with the text (and this is a very short piece to boot), I'm also working on the picture. Above is the pencil sketch for it. My pencil sketches are usually much dirtier than this. I really managed some relatively clean lines here and less erasing.

Now I'm going to make breakfast and tea and finish up the text so I can move on to the next stage.

Hope everyone is having a happy Saturday!

: D

edit: rather than spam with a buncha little posts, I've added the followup on the above image! (apologies if it's a tad wide).

I will probably use this set of images (along with some narrative) for a "process" section in the FAQs on the website. It's a little bit atypical in terms of how I generally work, but I think it covers all the bases. And it looks cool, which, as we know, is what's really important ~ !
lookingland: (angel)
( Apr. 24th, 2009 07:05 pm)

one of the things that i really needed to fix with regard the Reconstruction site and its contents was the curious absence of Razi-el in all but the pale introduction. i think part of me has always been just a little chicken to fully integrate Razi-el into the story in an overt way, fearful of wrecking the sense of realism (clearly my sense of realism is a little off if that's the case). but considering that the whole story is driven by Razi-el's presence in Lewis Fletcher's life (irregardless of whether he's aware of it), i really need to make sure his presence is felt by the reader.

so, enter Razi-el.

furthermore, i thought it would be amusing to share a rough draft of some small something with you. i often read about the process of other writers on my flist and enjoy (in the best sense of the word) their struggles and wonder, sometimes, at the piles of papers and edits and other detritus that may litter their desktops. editing is a violent thing (leastways i think some part of it should be!).

this is something i wrote last night (from Razi-el's pov to get him into the game). you'll notice it's accompanied by a wee little scribble (thinking forward to what picture to draw to accompany it). you'll prolly get to see the finished product of this by sunday. for the terminally curious, this is written with a plain ol' black Pilot pen on the back of a draft of some boring work thing (you can faintly see the ink bleed from the printing on the other side). sometimes i throw a color wash on the scribbles if the paints are handy.

hope everyone is off to a great friday! i have beta stuff to read and much to write, so i expect it will be a productive weekend in this corner of the world.

In reorganizing my website for Reconstruction, i decided to put some texture on the page (it's always been too flat for me). i'm also cramming the glug of "information" onto an information page to free up the homepage for the latest updates. not quite sure how this will work, but it's getting closer to what i want (is that even possible?)

i think the only thing i'm fretting about is having a link somewhere to make the "recent updates" more readily available rather than having to paw through the archives (which are still cumbersome, but i'm leaving them alone for now). the "recent updates" menu on the left just feels sort of lost. i feel like i need something a little flashier. what i think i will do is just have a "posting order" update page so it's easy to see what's new. it's one more page to maintain, but that's all right. it's not a big deal to just have piles of links somewhere.

anyway, so there it is. all of the changes aren't "live" yet and i have a lot of work to do still ~ including some slash and burn on the scenes that have already been posted (bad, i know ~ but it has to be done). this weekend, i hope, everything will be more in order. i'll definitely be very glad when all of these technical issues are resolved and i can just focus on the content for a change.

I'm running a little late today, but I haven't forgotten about Millennium Monday! Blasting through season two, we're headed for big transitions in the show. Check out Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss, as always, for details, more pictures, and other cool stuff. To read more about the episodes from my own meager perspective, click the cut-link! )

I'll try not to miss next week! Too bad there's only one more season to go!

: D
lookingland: (angel)
( Apr. 19th, 2009 10:02 am)

Let's see ~ a list of things that might make a book delightful: under 150 pages long (check), illustrations (check), George Washington (check), snow! (check), Christmas (check), Valley Forge (check!).

With a list like this, S. Weir Mitchell's A Venture in 1777 can't help but be satisfying!

Okay, so the story isn't all that much. Young Tom Markham and his twin brothers (but mostly Tom) conspire to steal an important military secret from Colonel Grimstone and relay it to Valley Forge just after Christmas. Their house is occupied by the British and they'd like very much to get rid of their unwanted guests ~ and get their father back (he is currently a prisoner of war).

Mitchell apparently enjoyed writing "historical" fiction and has a number of books set during the American Revolution and Washington's term as President. This particular little tome, he wrote for charity with the proceeds going to the Philadelphia Church Home for Children. The book isn't terribly fancy, but it does have some nice vignettes and illustrations (spot colored in cyan). The artist, unfortunately is uncredited, but you can see what nice work was done in the image below.

I have to say it was especially nice to read this simple, uplifting little story after what's been passing lately as bedtime fare. A little Mitchell is a good tonic for the ills of research. Though there is mention of the privations at Valley Forge in this book, the story is clearly written for a young audience and so the hardship and violence is kept to a minimum. That does not mean it isn't full of adventure, however, and the capture of Grimstone, especially, is a good time. I especially like Tom's sense of "fairness" in handling these matters (oh chivalry, thou art dead). Tom as a principal character is nicely restrained and his interview with Washington is the best part of the book (totally expected, of course, but also totally satisfying).

Near as I can tell, the story is entirely fictional outside of the circumstances of the war. General Washington would appear to be the only "real-life" character. I've haven't yet read any of Mitchell's Revolutionary War novels, so I don't know whether he's predisposed to adhere to much fact. His Civil War novels are certainly grounded in fact, but the historical people who appear in them generally pop in and out of scenes rather quick (much like Washington in this one).

By the way: Two amusing things about the illustration above: Tom is fifteen (nearly sixteen). In the picture he looks more like twelve! Also, do you really think Washington wore stockings at Valley Forge? Much as I like the picture, the shoes, I had to laugh at.
I spent most of Sunday gnashing my teeth. the reasons why are pointless to explain (same o'crud). then I did the stupid thing of reading myself a bedtime story so depressing that it carried my mood overnight and now I am officially in the glums.

The book, Dennis Brandt's Pathway to Hell isn't spectacularly written ~ it's rather short (barely over 200 pages), and isn't exhaustive about much ~ but that made it perfect for me: no long explanations of campaigns I already know too well, no endless nattering about hardtack. instead it's a true chronicle largely in Angelo Crapsey's own words from his letters and diary, documenting in the most painful way imaginable, his slow decline into self-destructive dementia.

Crapsey's story is unique as far as books of the war go, though there's unfortunately nothing unique about what happened to him. It tells the story that Paulson's Soldier's Heart tries to tell, but doesn't.

When I think back on the origins of Reconstruction, I think i wrote it in part because this book hadn't been written. Crapsey's story is more heartbreaking than any novel anyone could ever write: a disaster that could have been avoided a hundred different ways. The circumstances of his bizarre upbringing at the hand of a religious whack-job father, his fervor for the Union, his abolitionist sentiments that sour after emancipation drags the war into a seemingly endless slaughter, the shame of his surrender and imprisonment ~ all of it horrible, horrible ~ and then to come home to the father-figure and friend he looked up to the most only to find himself rebuffed, feared, and ostracized. And finally the everyday event that led to Crapsey's end is so banal, almost ~ so utterly human in its simple cruelty. It isn't any wonder he blew his brains out. Twenty two years old.

Of course I imagined a different end once upon a time for Reconstruction which is in many ways this same story: an endless cycle of addictions, an abusive marriage, desolation, death. Even I was never so brave to actually make any of that stick, though. I had to find some hope in there somewhere. So I did.

But there was none for a lot of young boys like Crapsey. Even Howard Bahr didn't shrink from drawing us a picture in The Judas Field (which is maybe why I didn't like that book as much as I wanted to ~ it hit a nerve with me).

So yeah. I don't know why I am writing this except to wonder at the meaning of it all. I really seem to be out of touch with the world in so many ways. I don't see that improving, either, and it concerns me from time to time.

from LookingLand.com

Nucleus LiveJournal Plugin © Evgeny Lykhin

lookingland: (angel)
( Apr. 11th, 2009 09:50 pm)

this is what i am working on, so this is what i am posting about, insipidity and all (and when i ought to be writing, of course).

the hardest thing about Reconstruction sometimes seems to be that I'm just not in the mood to draw certain things on certain days. i've been trying to draw a close-up on a stagecoach for two weeks (with horrific results on a variety of dreadful drafts). i was about ready to chuck it all and go with something else when i forced myself to commit to a composition just to get it down. well, i'm mostly okay with the results (not shown in full here) and i think once it's inked, painted, and tinted it'll be just fine ~ but boy was it a fight every step of the way.

my favorite part of it is the detail of the dog, buster, sitting at his master's feet (which is shown here!). i didn't think i would be able to draw a convincing bloodhound, but i did (yay!), and he actually came out rather adorable, which is good because i really like buster as a character.

dog lover that i am, it's always been odd to me that more of my characters aren't dog people. James is. Preston is. Whit is (well, he is ~ geh). Sid is. That's four out of about a bazillion. most of the rest of them are either cat people or wouldn't know what to do with a pet if they had one. so i guess i better make use of the handful of dog characters i have to work with.

and, of course, i have to share a picture of my own dawg. because he is adorable, after all, even if he is sooo hard to photograph that this picture surprised even me!

: D
i originally made the threat here, and then i followed it up by actually conceiving a character here. but i put it all in the back of my mind because i wasn't quite sure how to fit this strange outsider into the careful epic that i had spent so much care constructing.

well thanks to a wretched sinus infection and a lot of medication that has made me both loopy and cranky (and i mean really cranky ~ like, sleepless, homicidal cranky), i think i've solved all those niggling problems and whitney ballard will be making his debut this weekend (Sunday) on Reconstruction (in his own words, no less, which is utterly terrifying to me!).

i have to say, spending time with ballard, getting to know his particularities has been very disturbing, but likewise very rewarding (especially in terms of bringing together a few loose sheep in the story ~ if i ever thought the plot was intertwined in an impossible complex fashion, it's now ridiculously so). but even more gratifying, perhaps: it's not often that i challenge myself to write a character so utterly repugnant and try see things from a point of view I couldn't disagree with more ~ and to find good in someone whose whole livelihood depends on a gross systematic bigotry.

i actually found qualities to admire in ballard, which is frightening, but i hope good for the story. and i'm proud of myself that i am not going to shrink from putting this character front and center in his own little opera.

a rather cleaned-up whitney ballard
and his long-time nemesis (unfinished),
the mysterious "reverend" luther.
three guesses who the dashing mister luther really is
(and the first two don't count)

some slightly spoilery background for the truly masochistic )

Millennium Monday is here! Continuing with season two, which is chock full of delicious episodes. Check out Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss, as always, for details, more pictures, and cool trivia. And as per the usual, click to continue on the episodes! )

More Millennium next Monday!

: D
oh the immensity ~ !

[crawls into a corner and dies]

Welcome once again to Millennium Monday! Lost yet another week and I've got lots of episodes to cover, so we'll press onward! And, as always, check out Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss for details, pictures, and cool trivia about the series. We're beginning season two in today's post, so click to read all about it! )

More to come next week!

: D
lookie what i made while listening to really bad 80s music (oh Lord, i was a closet fan of Falco's "Jeannie"!). anyway, try not to think about that (i fear your harsh judgment). instead, look at the pretty logo! i figured since i just finished the Reconstruction website, i ought to use my current coding-fu to set up the In Pursuance of Said Conspiracy site (i can't believe i still have everything in a folder called "Poppet").

you will, no doubt, hear more of this as we get into April. consider yourselves forewarned.

: D
~ my dog is the cutest thing that ever lived.


Recently I posted about a project I brought home involving the experimental restoration of 14 volumes of Harper's Monthly Magazine. As I have been working on the books, I've been perusing some of the contents. In June of 1881 an article appeared about Edwin Booth. This opening is the sort of film-worthy anecdote that makes the Booths so irresistible, so I thought I would share it.

article portion is under a cut for bigness )

p.s. the article respectfully makes no mention of that other brother.

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] jwb1865.

It's nearly April and I haven't gotten back to In Pursuance of Said Conspiracy, which is just a crying shame. If I can't "launch" it mid-April, I will definitely at least try to be knee deep working on it then. I just ordered Steers's two new books: The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators: Their Confinement and Execution, As Recorded in the Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft ~ (grumble grumble grind and grumble), and The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence (less grumbling).

I'm sure they will kick me off in the right direction ~ if only out of sheer fury on the first count.

But then, this is what happens when you come up with an idea and then sit on it for two years. I will never learn.

: o p

i had a three-day weekend during which i was really hoping to accomplish something. i started off well. did the dishes, went to Stillwater just for a nice outing. but i felt mungy all weekend and ended up watching really bad movies:

director: here's a great idea for a film ~ it's the end of the world and we have all these great special effects ~ trains! planes! we can make it horrific and exciting!
executive: what's the plot?
director: who cares! stuff blows up!
executive: who's your star?
director: hmmm, witlessly scripted, insipid plotless mess overreaching for profundity, but with great special effects...how about nicholas cage?!
executive: perfect! roll film!*

that's my imitation of [livejournal.com profile] utter_scoundrel, who is fall more clever than i in such matters.

anyway, i tinkered a little with Reconstruction, but not nearly as much as i wanted. i added some about the author-type info (as requested). i added a new scene which might actually be an old scene to some of you, though it has a pretty new picture! and i forgot to mention that i added a rating warning to the site (which you can read here). most of the time i don't worry about what other people think of my writing, but i did this is because i think my Disneyesque illustrations can give the wrong impressions about this project.

oh, and i wrote a very brief early history of the Darkesville Independents revealing at least a few little never-before mentioned details. this is not a live link anywhere on the site, so consider it exclusive content (aren't you special?)

i also discovered that the notifications are broken (and i haven't the oompa to fix them ~ meh). i am not in the proper flow with this and i still haven't got the archive or the galleries in order, which is a frustration. but i am going to work on the stories this week and maybe with more content, some solutions to the organization will begin to present themselves.

happy monday all!

: D

* in my defense, i did not actually pay to see this drek.
it's taking all my willpower not to bid on this.

because owning two copies already just isn't enough.

i am so sick.

: o p

meanwhile, i have increased my weir mitchell collection by three (soon to be four) this past week, and am likewise resisting this.

edit: oh holy crap! to say nothing of this!

(and this is why i have no business on eBay. period.)

Welcome to Millennium Monday! Lost another week (I'm so bad!) so I am still catching up. As always, I refer you all to the Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss for more details, etc. These comments will wrap up the first season and then next week I can start in on the second season, which I actually finished this weekend (I've been savoring the show, knowing it's finite!). Click to read final notes to the first season! )

More next week!

: D