My name is Charlie, but if your looking for my work, I go by C. E. Dorsett. I write scifi, fantasy, and a touch of horror. I like to play with gothic, steampunk, decopunk, epic fantasy, and wuxia. I love to tell stories and talk about books, movies, series, and music.
All I ask of a Superhero
A couple of people took me to task for my take on Iron Man 2. I like to think of myself as a simple man, but maybe that isn't true anymore.
Rethinking my expectations
I started reading comics as a kid. Batman, Green Lantern, The Hulk, and the X-men were some of my favorites. Growing up, superheroes were pure escapism. Granted some of the characters had family problems, personal problems, and even Batman lost a Robin, but the stories were all larger than life.
Superhero flicks are still larger than life, but they have more "realistic problems."
- Batman is a male Paris Hilton who fights crime.
- Peter Parker wouldn't know what to do with the girl if he got her.
- Tony Stark is rotting away from a self-inflicted disease + he is a male Paris Hilton who doesn't fight crime, he is bringing about world peace.
Holding out for a Hero!
Ok, everyone knows that I am a huge Bonnie Tyler fan, but every time I watch one of these movies, I hear her in the back of my head:
Where have all the good men gone And where are all the gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules To fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need
I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night He's gotta be strong And he's gotta be fast And he's gotta be fresh from the fight I need a hero I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light He's gotta be sure And it's gotta be soon And he's gotta be larger than life
I want a superhero who is, well a hero. They don't have to be perfect, and well they can have basic human flaws, but at the end of the day, they need to be a hero!
Returning to Iron Man 2, I thought Whiplash made a good case against the Stark family, and Tony just acted like the spoiled brat Whiplash thought he was. I actually found myself wanting Whiplash to win. I can't stand whiny, self-important bitches, and that is all I saw in Tony. His womanizing turned me off, and his self-pity made me roll my eyes. He dug his own grave, and I was ready to see him lay in it.
Escapism and Realism
I think my biggest issue with the film is that I was really looking for some pure escapism from the movie. That is what I look for in a superhero movie.
I watch a superhero for action, mystery, and pure escapism. Watching a super hero struggle with illness was outside the realm of what I wanted to see, especially with people in my life actually struggling with various illnesses that do not have a magical deus ex machina serum. It felt like salt in the wound.
The illness reminded me of my real life, and the magic cure just upset me. I went to see a movie where a superhero and super-villain tangled with each other until the film climaxed in a super-mega-ultra battle.
The movie, like all (not so) superhero movies since Batman Begins, opened with scenes of stark realism... but it is a superhero movie!! Superheroes just aren't realistic, and films cannot serve two masters.
I am not sure exactly when escapism became a bad word, but my life is complicated enough. Sometimes I just want to walk into a dark cave and forget about my real life for a couple of hours. It might sound petty, but that is it.
I want a great, escapist spectacle from time to time, but more than anything, I want filmmakers to be honest with me and with their material. If the movie is not an action movie, don't tell me it is. If the movie is not a smart, well written think piece, be good with that. Just don't pretend one is the other, and stop telling yourself you can be both at the same time.
A half-assed story with half-assed action is just a half-assed movie. Two half-assed jobs never make a whole.
I know some of you liked the movie. Great! I wish I was one of you. Keep having fun, and sharing. It is good to hear contrary opinions. Just remember, we don't have to love the same things, we just need to help each other find more things we can all enjoy.
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" literal music video, with Ninjas!
We shared this totally awesome literal music video of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" last June but now in honor of this weeks Glee.
Mr. Schuester this is my asignment for rehabilitating a song with a bad reputation.
Total Eclipse of the Heart is probably the greatest overly emotional "O $h!t I think I love you" songs ever written," but this literal version of the video takes over the top to a new and hilarious level.
Other videos that need a literal version:
- Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
- White Wedding by Billy Idol
- I want candy by Bow Wow Wow
What videos would you like to see get a literal treatment?
Introducing David J. Williams
I am so fortunate to have met David through Facebook. I really wish I had more time to read, his book, The Mirrored Heavens has cast a spell over me, and I sneak a moment to read a section every free moment I can. As soon as I finish, I will post a review. Until then, meet David.
Why did you start writing?
For that I have (at least) five answers. I hate to privilege one above the other, so let's just chalk this one up as "overdetermined."
Answer #1: I was working in management consulting, I'd turned thirty, I was bored shitless with the corporate world, and I could feel time burning down on me like a #$# candle.
Answer #2: I'd done some work on the side with friends in Vancouver, BC in the video game industry, and through a strange fluke got co-writing credits for Relic Entertainment's Homeworld. But the next day I was back at the corporate world, hating it more than ever, and wondering why I was living in a universe where I had friends who drew spaceships for a living while I was stuck staring at profit-loss spreadsheets.
Answer #3: I suddenly had one of those moments like in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy realizes all the Nazis are digging in the wrong place: i.e., I got a glimpse of an area of SF that no one was tapping into (near-future space weaponization across the Earth-Moon system), and I wondered what a novel in such a setting would look like.
Answer #4: I became obsessed with the notion of what cyberpunk would be like if the state DIDN'T wither away.
Answer #5: I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Where do you get your ideas?
I read a ton of history, and that's where a lot of my ideas come from. What's happened in the past offers plenty of rich source material, especially because you can mine all sorts of obscure events and everyone thinks you're being totally original. : )
Also worth mentioning is the extent to which I study the U.S. military, and their planning for future war. The military's under no illusions that the center of gravity of warfare is shifting into space, and they've got a lot of stuff in the public domain tracing the implications. I tried to map that out a hundred years, and ask what would space war be like if it was realistic, and obeyed the laws of orbital dynamics, and didn't just feature spaceships doing physically-impossible dogfights. (don't get me wrong, I love that kind of thing, but it's not what I write.)
What was the process of writing The Mirrored Heaven like?
At first it was like running around in the woods with a flashlight. You think there's something out there, but you don't know what, and you start to think you're going crazy. Eventually I had hundreds of pages of incoherent writing, and at some point during that process I started to realize how badly and totally all of it sucked. It was four years before I managed to find the voice/style I'd been searching for, and about that long before the plot really started to come together. (having an eighty-hour-a-week dayjob from hell might have lengthened the process, but OTOH maybe it made me more focused). But in the last few years, things started to really move, and by 2006 I felt like one of those rock bands that's gotten really tight, and might just get lucky enough to land a record deal. Which I eventually did . . .but sometimes I miss those days when I circled round the far side of Mars and didn't even know what I was staring at . . .
What was the process like to find a publisher?
About as hard as people tell you it is. Agents only want to look at veteran writers, and publishers only want writers with agents. As a general rule, unless you know somebody at a publisher, you have to start with the agents, but the problem is that the query-letter process is a #$# meatgrinder—or at least, one that I never mastered. In my opinion, the key is to somehow meet the agents directly; I met mine (Jenny Rappaport) at WorldCon (LA, 2006) . . . though anyone who knows anything about this business knows that WorldCon is the LAST place to meet an agent. But sometimes not knowing the rules is a big help.
What is it like working with a publisher?
You hear all these horror stories in the blogosphere, but I gotta say, working with Bantam Spectra has been great. Largely that's because of Juliet Ulman, my editor; she made the book heaps better than it was when she bought it, and taught me a great deal across the editing process. Plus I love the cover the artist (Paul Youll) did . . .eighty stories above the burning Amazonian delta city of Belem-Macapa . . .
What has the post publication experience been?
On one level, awesome. To have characters who dwelt for years within my head out in the world being experienced by readers is absolutely #$# amazing.
But on another level, it's humbling. At the risk of revisiting that rock band analogy, most bands that make a debut album never make another. It's the same with novels; this is very much an "up or out" business: you have to break through to that next level, or you won't survive. I'm fortunate in that I signed a three-book deal with Bantam Spectra, which gives me more momentum that I might have had otherwise. Above all else, the thing to remember about post publication experience is that you've got the second book to worry about, and that had better be ten times more insane than the first.
You can learn more about David at his site: Autumn Rain 2110, and don't forget to say "Hi!"in the HQ
The Rob Alley Trio Concert Review
Trumpet and Effects: Rob Alley String Bass: Derek Doyle
Drums: Craig Collison
Before the show, it was really heart warming to see a High Schooler came up to Craig (the drummer) and asked for advice. He promptly pulled out a piece of paper and began making notes for him. The connection was real and immediate.
With a laptop on the table, they rolled through their sound check getting ready to record the night.
Find more photos like this on Project: Shadow HQ The first song swelled with a rocking soft drum, the plaintive cry of the trumpet, and the subtle back and forth of the drum. The strong presence of the bass made me feel like the room should be full of smoke, and people snapping their fingers to the beat.Effortlessly, they floated from song to song. The echoing sound of the trumpet filling the air like a old singer in search of himself, contrasted against the hard breaks of the drum. Tension fills the room, only to be released by the blair of the trumpet.
The full house applauded and cheered.
There wasn't an empty seat in the house. At each table, the people sat, enthralled by the band. The Tortugas, lattes, beers, and wine flowed from the bar, as the chef prepared his magical dishes.
The spicy smell of the food melded with the rich, deep melodies of the Rob Alley Trio.
A little latter, a fourth, Corey Emerson (Assistant Band Director from Poplar Bluff High), joined them on Trombone.
It may be cliche to say that the band was electric on the stage, but when the wahwah kicked in, the energy of the room changed. The surreal wah of the trumpet reverberated throughout. You couldn't help but bop along to the tune. The music took over. It ruled the night.
Somehow, they stepped up the energy and the tempo, but never crossed the line into funk. Each member soloed in turn. The room erupted with applause at each transition.
I almost fell out of my seat when they started their jazz cover of "Smells like Teen Spirit." The vocals covered by the trumpet, the guitar split between the bass and trumpet, and Dave Grohl would be proud of the drum work. That was actually a surprise. I don't know if I would have believed it if I hadn't heard it.
All in all a magical night. It is hard to explain the presence of the music and the enthrallment of the audience. If you ever get a chance to see the Rob Alley Trio, don't miss it. You won't be disappointed.
I am came out, not knowing what to expect. I am not a huge fan of Jazz. I like Wounded Buffalo Theory, if they count, but I am a convert. This is not the Cosby jazz that I learned about through my light pop culture exposure to the genre. As a fan of the blues, I find most Jazz inaccessible, but I now feel that I was never given a proper introduction to the genre. I am going to have to set up a Pandora station with their influences as the seeds and give the art form a second look. That is the best kind of show: the one that expands your horizons and makes you want to try something new. For that, I am thankful to the Rob Alley Trio for the show, and to the Wine Rack/Java Stop for encouraging me to come out and test my limits.
Check out the Rob Alley Trio at their MySpace.
2004- Year in Review
Poplar Bluff, MO... in the 21st Century
In early January, we moved back to the city of my birth: Poplar Bluff Mo. Neither Brian nor I were too excited about the prospect, but we were unable to secure work in California, and my mother was having a lot of health problems. The move was meant to be advantageous for all of us: we would help out around the house, and the odds of finding work increased.
Not long after we arrived, my father fell, and hurt himself at work. The hand of Providence had indeed brought us here. We had to pick up the slack. Brian found work, and I helped out around the house.
Editing "Liquid Sky"
By march, I had some free time, so I polished "Liquid Sky" into what I thought was a good book. It wasn't easy. The interruptions and agitations were constant. I can't tell you how many started: "Since you're not doing anything..."
My folks just don't see what I do as work. Probably because I enjoy it. That appears to be their real problem. With a great deal of perseverance, I finished my rewrites...
That wasn't the only thing I gave up. On June 1st, I quit smoking. Not because I wanted to, not because I felt like it, but because I thought I would slit my wrist if I had to hear what a disappointment it was, and "how did we go so wrong." I decided to quit because their words were killing me faster than the cigarettes.
I find it laughable that I started smoking because I wanted to, and I quit smoking because of "peer pressure." For someone as prone to depression as I am, I had to make the attacks on my character stop before they drove me over the edge.
"The side effects have been profound, but the dizziness is subsiding. I can't wait to be off the patches though. I have quit before, and I hope this is the last time I will go through this torment [from the Blog- June 1]." The patches made sicker than I have ever been. It was almost impossible to get anything done... and the nightmares grew worse. Vivid claws and ripping teeth... My nightmares are terrors on their own, but the patches intensified them into horrors beyond all description.
Ending all suffering... well, it's a goal
"My greatest goal in life is to achieve a state of freedom from suffering, attachment, and aversion. My addiction to tobacco is the purest form of attachment and suffering I have in my life. I will walk the path of Liberation to the best of my ability [from the Blog- June 1]." I had vowed to end all of my attachments, to end my grasping mind. I took refuge (privately), and began my practice in secret.
"I ride the waves, but I am no longer tossed about. That may seem confusing for some of you, and if it does, I'm sorry. But right now it is a private struggle... I just wanted to give you all a sneak peek [from the Blog- June 1]."
This is something that took me a while to talk about freely not until 2005: [http://christiansangha.blogspot.com/]
Parents' Health Improves
Mom and dad were feeling so good they went on vacation to visit my sister...
Lights in the Sky (July 4)
This was the first year Brian got to set off firecrackers on the fourth. His eyes light up with every rocket he launched. His joy and laughter were infectious. I hope this is not the last time, he enjoyed it so much.
The Submission Process
None of my submissions for publication were accepted... I am not sure why, exactly, but I have done a lot of studying since, and I think I wrote a poor query letter. I also think I started the story too late.
This will not be the end of "Liquid Sky," but it will have to wait.
Less Human than Human (August 3-4)
For the second time in my life, a state I lived in told me that Brian and I could never be married, because there constitution is stronger that the dictionary, justice, and love. What made things worse was all of the rhetoric, "We love homosexuals, but we just don't think they should be given special rights."
All I can say is, "Your love makes me sick... You and all of the other bigots like you. You can disagree with my politics, and 'tolerate them,' but you cannot be prejudiced against me because of who I am and 'tolerate me.' The KKK is not tolerant because they are only speaking out against minorities, but allows them to exist. They are still bigots!"
One of the brightest points on the year was the exhilaration I felt in the run up to National Novel Writing Month (Nano), in November. All year I had struggled to find time to write, and now I had something to rally around. No one could object to me taking one month for writing... or so I thought, but the dream of finishing another book drew me in. I began to prepare...
My Music Charted!
Just for fun I decided to release some of my music to Amazon.com. I didn't give much thought to it, I just sat down and uploaded it one day. Then around October 1st, I thought it would be fun to see how the songs were doing. To my surprise, they were charting!
In the end, they all did better than I could have Imagined:
- Alternative Chart- 60
- Electric Blues Guitar Chart- 20
- Ghost Dance
- Progressive Rock Chart- 3
- Goth & Industrial Chart- 10
- Mission of Love (Ultimatum)
- Alternative Chart- 194
- Progressive Rock Chart- 26
(From Blog 10-21-2004)
The Thanksgiving from Hell
Your soul can be rubbed raw... to the point where it bleeds and cries out within you. The pain of a thousand and one invisible needle delivering their poison one by one slowly over a life time is more than I can bare. My soul may be shattered and hollow, and I may have become too comfortable with that, but even I have limits.
I hope my optimism may return someday, but I am not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.
Reflections on Nano
One month of justifying why I write instead of actually writing... When I got to pound the keys, it was amazing. I loved the rush, the sheer thrill of naked writing (see blog), This year I will be ready for it. The idea is not flawed, but in my current situation, it is hard to find time to be alone to write. I usually work on the site while cooking, or doing dishes.
The Failed Quest for a New Book...
No new novel... no published novel... but 2004 was not a wash. I learned a lot, and I had to become more hardcore. Writing is in my blood or this year would have beaten it out of me. On the contrary, it made me seek out new out lets for my creativity.
2004 marks the death of naïveté and the birth or guerilla writing. Hardcore short fiction to expel the idea for it expels me. Just wait... you'll see.