Archive for » March, 2012 «

Friday, March 30th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

This week, instead of a full story, I give you part 1 in what could possibly turn into a much longer story. I think I could whip this into a novella pretty easy. Maybe it’s best to call this a tease! At any rate, it’s an experiment in a new kind of character and some story telling from a different perspective than I’m normally comfortable with.

I don’t want to give up all the details here, but I will say that over the past few weeks I’ve had Super Heroes on the brain. That’s mostly thanks to writer/podcast friend Brother D. Derek and I are continually bouncing story ideas off each other to feel them out as well as bullying each other into writing when we’re feeling lazy. Derek’s got some big ideas cooking in the ‘Super’ front and it’s really started to rub off on me. My own novel that I’ve been working on, (slowly but surely) “Bloodhound” is a bit of a Super Hero novel. I tend to like my heroes to be more of the broken and troubled variety than the boy scouts in tights type. I like to think that to take up the cape and fight evil and what not takes a certain type of person that is perhaps…a little dark under the surface. Somebody who’s day to day life isn’t quite what they want so they press on to bigger and better things to try and fill that gap that they feel otherwise. I also think it takes a person with some ego problems to put themselves out there in the public eye, essentially becoming a vigilante because they can ‘do it better’ than the police.

But, maybe that’s just me.

Now, on to “Troublegum”. Troublegum has been rolling around in my head for nearly fifteen-sixteen years now. There was a time, fresh out of college that I was going to write a comic book called “Hall of Zeroes” and I was bound and determined to drag my artist friends into this foray with me. We never did get anything done with the comic itself, but we did do a lot of brainstorming on characters and such, late at night over beer. Good friend Kevin had the original idea for “Troublegum”, a girl unlike others in her school, a girl with special powers and such. I stewed over his idea for years now, always trying to figure out the best way to bring this character to life. Finally, I decided to get off my ass and do something about it. I myself kind of like where it’s heading.

So here is the first chapter of “Troublegum”. Be sure to leave comments, as they’re always welcome. If the feedback’s positive and you folks want more, there may be a serial or a novella in the future!

-C


“Troublegum”

Warm morning sun broke through slatted window blinds, the light bringing the motes of dust that filled the room of Cheyenne Winger to life. The owner of the room consisted of nothing more than a rumpled pile of blankets heaped upon a ratty twin sized bed crammed into the corner.

“You need to wake up, Cheyenne,” her mother said, optimism in her voice striving to match the hope and happiness that the foreign sunshine brought into the cave of a bedroom. With a purposeful stride she crossed the room, grabbing for the pull string and whisking open the blinds in one fell swoop. “You need to get up, get in the shower and get dressed. Today’s your meeting with the recruiter and you need this to go well!”

Cheyenne Winger groaned as she scampered deeper into her shroud of blankets, fighting for distance from the glaring light that now illuminated her dark sanctuary. “I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to go,” Cheyenne groaned.

The mother glanced back at the window, the motion of the pull string on the mini-blinds as it glided untouched through the air catching her attention. The string drew tight as the blinds began to close, Mother stepped over and pulled the string from the unseen manipulator without a second thought.

more…

Category: Comics  | Tags: , , , , , ,  | Comments off
Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

So here we sit, on the precipice of me getting the writing jones again. Many things have lead up to this; taking better care of myself, getting my thoughts in order, a want to creat, all that fancy stuff. Starting Friday Fondue last week was the first step on this continuing journey and I’m glad I did it. The feedback’s been good and it felt good to…create. It really did.

With such an adventure comes a need for ideas, and sometimes that can be hard. There’s either too many ideas to zero in on, not enough to make something meaty out of; the old brain pan can really be a mess sometimes. As I start off on this adventure again, especially while concentrating on some short fiction for while, I’ve found myself going back once again to the thoughts of one of the grand masters of science fiction; Ray Bradbury. He wrote the book that you see above some time ago, a collection of essays on the art of writing itself. I haven’t read it cover to cover yet, but I do find myself dipping in from time to time when I need motivation and inspiration. He’s a pretty outstanding man when it comes to the art of telling stories.

One of the biggest ideas that I’m drawing from as of late come from Bradbury’s discussions in “Zen in the Art of Writing”, his telling of how he used to get his own story ideas when he started out. This isn’t exact mind you, but throughout any given day, he would see any number of things that might give him the spark of an idea. This could be a random idea, an item, a person or anything that caught his attention. He would then write the things down in a list that he carried with him throughout his career. When he needed a new story, he pulled out his list and read through to see what grabbed his attention once again and of he’d set to scribble out a new tale.

I found this idea pretty amazing. I myself find a lot of little things that give a faint spark. These sparks are never a full fledged plot with outlines or even an ending. Many times, it’s simply a scene that comes to mind. Two years ago or so, back when I first read the essay in which Bradbury discusses his list, I was so won over by the idea that I started my own list. It’s short in comparison of course; but I’m just starting out.

So here I am some time later, looking for inspiration for some flash fiction, short stories and the like. I dug out that list this weekend and gave it a once over and I found myself pretty happy and excited. The process worked! I found a number of random thoughts that made me smile and give life to a brief scene at the very least. That’s all it takes, too. Just a scene, a scant idea that can be built upon and a story starts to take shape. So here in the future, maybe you’ll see stories about things like ‘my third eye’, or “my old cat”. Maybe you’ll see a story about a young child lost and the fear that comes with them, or maybe even a story about that sneaking fealing on the back of your neck when you shut off the lights in the living room before bed, that feeling that there’s something there in the corner watching over you, hot on your heels as you make your way to the bedroom. I’ve quite a few of them, i’m kind of excited to share!

For this week, I actually got started early on a new story and though I haven’t gotten far; I’m liking it. I like to feel the gears turning, I like the idea of developing characters and sending them through their paces. This time around, I’m playing with an old old character a friend of mine stuck in my head nearly 15 years ago. Curious about a young teenaged super heroine, faced with the stresses of adolescence, peer pressure and the responsibilities of super powers all weigh on top of her? I may introduce you to her this week.

Until then….

Category: Writing  | Comments off
Friday, March 23rd, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

It’s Friday afternoon, you don’t want to work any more and my writing has become lazy at best. I need to knock the rust off, you need something to help pass the rest of the afternoon. “We can help each other out” is where I’m going here! In an effort to spur things writing wise, I’ve decided to play with some short fiction, flash fiction, etc. here on Cinema Fromage. This story, “Don’t Spit Into the Wind” is the first output of said venture. I’m not sure that it’s great, but I like it well enough and it’s a good start to get the gears turning again all the same. All the same; I’d love to hear what YOU think.

I can’t say that this will happen every Friday; as soon as I do, I’ll forget about it until next Thursday, panic then get all butt hurt over the fact that I didn’t post on Friday! Nobody wants to see that. It’s going to happen frequently however. It all depends on the work load of the week between the family needs, the day job, the podcasting and all that stuff.

These won’t all be horror related either mind you. This is “Casey’s Grand Experiment” and you, you’re the test subjects. We may cover all sorts of territory as I work out some new ideas, test new voices and the like.

So without further adieu, I invite you to dip into Friday Fondue #1: “Don’t Spit Into the Wind”, a new short, by me.

-C


Don’t Spit Into the Wind

“You son of a bitch, you almost hit my wife!” The overstuffed man with the handle bar moustache grew red in the face as he pulled his Harley up onto its kickstand. Jim Lowry stood outside his dusty SUV, the gas nozzle still in his hand wondering where this small bundle of fury was directing its vitriol.

“You didn’t even look before you pulled out in front of her, you could have killed her!” The man shouted as he trundled up to stand toe to toe with Jim. He was a mere five foot and five inches in comparison to Jim’s solid six foot; it didn’t stop the smaller man from staring up into Jim’s face with hatred, the wings of his moustache quivering with anger.

more…

Category: Writing  | Tags: , , ,  | Comments off
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Man, it’s beautiful in Central Indiana here lately. Summer like, as I’m sure you’ve all heard. With my new found changes in diet and such, I’ve been making an extra effort to get outside more here as of late. Yard work, eating lunch out side, all that good stuff works wonders on the dreary winter disposition. I still loathe yard work, but I’m enjoying the excuse to run around barefoot in the grass, so I can’t really complain that much.

The book in ye olde Kindle there is Michael Cobley’s “The Seeds of Earth”. Not yet available here in the states, I managed to get an ecopy from the UK. It was well worth the footwork to get ahold of it, because this book is a pretty fantastic space opera. You can read more about the book over at the author’s official site. It’s full of crazy alien races, colonization, politics, war, subterfuge, all SORTS of good stuff! I find it pretty well written as well. The plot flows quickly and keeps from getting too bogged down in any one particular part, jumping to different points of view frequently and skipping the boring minutae when needed.

Next up on the reading pile is Stephen King’s 11/22/63 that we’ll be covering on the next episode of “Dad and his Weird Friends”. I’ve heard nothing but praise for this book and it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten through one of King’s more recent books. Not to knock the guy; I like his books well enough. None of the recent ones have held my attention though. On this episode, I’m being joined by film maker and podcaster (and mistaken brother) Bryan Wolford of the Drunken Zombie podcast, so should be fun.

Finally, speaking of the “Dad and his Weird Friends” podcast, my latest episode is now up for your listening pleasure! With the release of Disney’s “John Carter”, I decided it was finally time I get around to reading “A Princess of Mars” and it turns out that I was quite pleased that I did. Tracey from the Disney Indiana Podcast stopped by and we had a good time geeking out on the adventures of John Carter and Dejah Thoris.

The crowning achievement for me this episode was having my own daughter join me on the show to discuss James Patterson’s “Daniel X: Watch the Skies”! She was a little nervous as can be expected; podcasting’s a big deal after all! I think she did great though. As you can tell by our discussion, she’s a bit of a chip of the old block as far as liking scifi and genre stuff in general, so it was pretty great to have her own. She’s already talking about coming back on again, so look forward to that!

If you haven’t grabbed it yet, Episode 9 of the Dad and his Weird Friends Podcast can be grabbed from the Bloody Good Horror Feed!

Until next time,

Buh bye.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

In the wake of myself trying to make changes for the better, I’ve taken to waking up at obscene hours of the morning and riding the exercise bike. To help pass that time, I’ve been chewing through TV series on Netflix. So far, I’ve gone through the second season of “Supernatural” which was quite a bit of fun, but after copious amounts of word of mouth on my various forums and on my twitter stream, I decided to check out the first season of “The Killing” on a lark.

Man am I glad I did!

Of the many things I heard about the show, little of it had to do with the plot itself. I really had no idea what I was in for when I hit play on the first episode. I’ve heard many comparisons to “Twin Peaks” which lead me to believe we’d be seeing a lot of weird and trippy stuff but that wasn’t the case. The show IS reminiscent of “Twin Peaks”, but that comparison is due to the show’s structure rather than bizarre antics. The entire first season follows the murder investigation of a teenage girl named Rosie who was found brutally assaulted. From there, we watch as this long over arching story unfolds and intertwines the lives of at least four different groups; Detective Li nden and her partner Holder. Rosie’s parents who are understandably devastated by the turn of events. A young teacher that was influential in Rosie’s life. And finally, a politician running for Mayor of Seattle, who’s campaign is oddly roped in to the ongoing murder case.

To put it bluntly; I find the show captivating. The dreary landscape of Seattle is captured pretty masterfully to give the show an underlying current of gloom and doom. This is a great fit as the story is full of gloom and doom. Adding to the depth of the show is the fantastic character development that is going on. Our main character, Detective Sarah Linden is struggling with the case as much as she is struggling with her personal life. You feel that she IS a good detective though, so it’s not inept ability that has kept her from solving the case thus far. Even her partner Holden has an air of mystery around him, knowing that he’s come from the undercover narcotics division and has a shady manner about him.

The plight of Rosie’s parents, played by Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes, is downright heart breaking at times. They’ve captured the sense of exasperation that you would expect to come with a family who’s had the floor ripped out from beneath them. Sexton who comes from a shady past wants to use his old ways to find closure, but can’t bring himself to do it. Forbes wants to care for and help with her family, but can’t bring herself out of her deep depression. As a parent, this side of the story is very very effective and helps to make for some gripping moments.

Really, now that I think about it, it’s the great character arches that make “The Killing” shine. The plot is straight forward as far as murder mysteries go; nothing crazy or out of the ordinary here. It’s the fact that that they peel back a new layer each and every episode on each and every character revealing just a bit more that brings you back each time. Just fantastic story telling all around.

There is not much in the way of gore here, so if you’re worried about a show called “The Killing” about a murder mystery being too oogey…it’s not very bad at all. In fact, while the events and the effects of said events are truly horrifying…I wouldn’t even label “The Killing” as horror. It’s a mystery/drama. Actually…it’s great TV. That should be enough to get you to watch.

It makes great viewing for my early hours on the exercise bike. When I’m not feeling quite up to getting back in the saddle at 5:30 AM, the promise of the next episode does help to motivate a bit!

Season 2 of the “The Killing” starts up on April 1st over on AMC. Probably not enough time to cram Season 1 in before then if you haven’t seen the show yet but trust me…you NEED to see Season 1 first before you dive in! You can count on me having Season 2 sitting on the DVR until I catch up!

Category: Netflix Streaming, TV  | Tags: ,  | Comments off
Friday, March 16th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Spring is upon us! A time for lifting spirits, a time for new growth, a time for ch-ch-ch-changes. Which is something I myself have been trying to fully embrace, i.e. making changes. Almost a year and a half go (16 months ago to be precise) I gave up the wicked temptress known as smoking and it’s gone great! I feel better, I have more money in my wallet and I no longer smell like a greasy pork chop served up on a dirty ashtray. (/Chet) The dumping of those bad habits improved my health…but it also opened the doors for some bad habits as well.

I’m a nervous guy by nature. I’ve spoken many times of anxiety disorders and such; those times that I got twitchy were often offset by a smoke. It helped me de-stress and was a crutch to help me cope. Since I gave those up, (and have no intention of going back) I subconsciously fell to my back up vice; food. Lots of it. I’ve put on a shitload of weight and it kind of sucks. Last year around this time, I started a quest of walking and such that went well for a bit. Anxiety reared its ugly head after a bit though and it wasn’t long before I made all those positive changes I’d made moot. Again; kind of sucks. But…we press on as usual.

Here we are in spring again and I’m kind of tired of being the fat guy. In order to stop being the fat guy, I knew I had to start making some changes. So three weeks ago, changes I made and after three weeks, I’m kind of surprised by the effect they’ve had! The big change this time? No soda. I only ever drank diet soda before, but I drank way too much of it. So, I got rid of it. I got rid of smokes, I can get rid of soda easy. And I did! This coming Sunday will be 3 weeks and I got to tell you…the changes have been shocking. Before the break, I got home every day from work feeling drained. Needed a nap, no energy to speak of. Now? The daughter and I have been riding bikes, going for walks, getting chores done all that kind of stuff. It used to be a constant battle to drag my ass out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. Three weeks later? Up at 5:30, ride the exercise bike for twenty five minutes.

Now, I’m well aware that a large part of this change is mental. Bike making these changes, I’ve convinced myself to for other changes. I do know that it *is* healthier for me though all the same. And if the new found energy was a mostly mental change with the quitting soda as a catalyst? Who cares, it gets the job done, right?

So…there you have it. I’ve had some minor breakthroughs like not having to stretch out my shirt this morning to get it to fit the way I’d like and having to tighten the belt a notch which was awesome. I’m making a effort to keep the posts on this stuff to a minimum though. I got carried away last spring with it and frankly…who out there really gives a shit and wants to read that stuff all day every? Regardless…when things hit full swing, maybe I’ll post some progress pictures or something. We’ll see.

The plus side to all this healthier diet and exercise leading to more energy? It’s changing my writing slump, fairly drastically. More on that later though.
I’ve also come to realize I can’t spell exercise without the help of a spell checker as well!

Category: Movies  | Comments off
Thursday, March 15th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell


oh god I don’t know how to do this

Category: Movies  | Comments off
Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

I just added this one to the list this morning after reading a review over at Bookgasm. With my recent obsession with “Justified” and hearing some of my favorite podcasts discussing sphagetti western’s here lately, the idea of reading some western’s has been piquing my curiosity. Seeing as I’ve not read many (any), I figure a western mixed with an urban fantasy might be a good jumping in point for me!


This one, I blame Mark for. Mark knows who he is. He’s been pretty adamant on Facebook that I need to give this one a read. Mark and I have a history; back in say…’94-95, we went to college together. Between classes, we’d take a smoke break and talk about books and such. Mark was adament then that I needed to read “Elric” which I finally gave in and did…last year. Yes, 16 years later. This book though, I’m all for military sci-fi epics, so it’s going to get read soon. (I promise Mark)


“Throne of the Crescent Moon” is getting some rave reviews by many of the book blogs here lately and the plot blurb DOES sound fun! It’s no secret that I’m a pretty huge fan of fat fantasy but I am woefully inexeperienced with anything with an “Arabian Nights” flavor to it. Ahmed’s use of this setting makes this book pretty tempting simply on the fact that it’s not sword & board or the typical dragons/orcs/trolls type monster fare. I’m pretty excited to get to this one, truth be told!


I stumbled across a description of “The Dig” in a book forum somewhere and it sounded interesting. I’ll be honest here though; It got added to the list for nefarious reasons. The main character and basic plot is vaguely similar to some of the ideas I’m playing with in my own misguided (and oh god so slow) attempt at a first novel. Frankly; I wanted to see what he did with the idea. I also want to make sure I don’t wind up inadvertantly ripping off any of his elements.


Jack McDevitt is a perennial entry on many ‘must read’ science fiction lists and…well…I haven’t read him before. With my recent attempts to go back and read some of the classics that I have missed in the past, I’ve seen “A Talent for War” mentioned as a must read many times. (It’s not classic in the ‘age’ sense, mind you) I’ve enjoyed a bit of future history before, so the plot seems like it’s right up my alley. Or in my wheelhouse as the corporate blow hards here at work would like to say.


This entry is nepotism at it’s finest! Well…not really. I’ve been a member of the Something Awful forums since late 2002; author Zack Parsons is one of the better known contributors and staff members there at Something Awful. Zack has had two non-fiction books I’ve enjoyed, “My Tank is Fight” and “Your Next Door Neighbor is a Dragon”. “Liminal States” is his first foray into straight up fiction, so I figure it’s worth a shot!


Good friend Derek hit me up a couple weeks back raving about “Nobody Gets the Girl”. Seeing once again as it was delving into the territory of my own writing project, (yes, the same one mentioned above) I figured why not see how the professionals write super hero fiction! Sure, I know super hero fiction in the comic book form. I can’t say I’ve actually read any in novel form. Derek is normally pretty spot on with his opions (except when he’s wrong about things such as The Vampire Lovers).


It’s been ages since I’ve read a trashy Star Wars novel. Honestly, it had been a bit since I was into much of anything Star Wars related. Following a recent bout playing Star Wars the Old Replublic, my rabid Star Wars curiosity piqued again. Darth Plagueis has had some decent word of mouth as far as dark side stories go, but now that I’m done playing SW:ToR, I don’t know how much longer this book will stay on the to-read list.


Yes…THAT “Solaris”. I was never brave enough to try and sit through either movie, but the plot of a planet sized alient entity sounds pretty intriguing. Again, this book is a product of my effort to read some older sci-fi novels and it comes pretty highly recommended. Who knows, maybe I WILL watch the movie!


I LOVE Sci-Fi. Yes, I love Sci-Fi even more than horror. I REALLY love colonization stories. Like…I get all giddy and become totally obsessed by stories of mankind clawing it’s way to the far corners of the universe to survive. “First contact was not supposed to be like this. The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning and swarmed locust-like through the solar system. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the savage invasion, Earth’s last, desperate roll of the dice was to send out three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. Earth may perish but the human race would live on… somewhere.” Oh yes. I NEEDS IT. (P, if you read this far, you know we gotta read this!)

Anybody else notice Orbit has been putting out some really great books?


Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Marvel has had some bad PR in the news here as of late, but they’re pressing on and still trying to sell comics all the same. Recently, they’ve announced a new interactive element to their upcoming books called “Augmented Reality”.

Essentially, as you flip through the pages of that comic you just picked up from the shop, you will come across a panel with a special designated ‘spot’. When you find this, you sit your book down, grab your iphone or android device, load the Marvel AR app and hold it over the spot. Then presto, you get an additional…something that hovers of the page! This extra something could be anything from 3D images, hidden characters or even commentary down the line.

Marvel sees this as adding something akin to DVD commentaries to a comic book but me? I can’t see it as much more than a gimmick. It will be neat the first couple of times, but how long do you really want to carry on switching between the book you’re reading and your phone, taking time to load apps, waiting for the extra content to load on a slow connection, etc. etc.? I can see some benefits here myself; annotations from the author would be pretty slick, sort of like Pop Up Videos for comics. Little extra do-dads like additional artwork and the like just really doesn’t seem like it’s worth a whole lot of effort.

Not to mention; if you’re like me and like to re-read comics down the line? What happens if the the app and AR servers are ever closed down and done away with? You’ve lost that ‘extra content’ you originally paid for.

I’ll give Marvel credit for trying to come up with some value adds and a gimmick to keep people going to comic shops. (Let’s face it, in the digital age, comic shops need help.) I just don’t see this as lasting too terribly long.

Source: The Verge

Category: Comics  | Tags: , ,  | Comments off
Monday, March 12th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Real life has reared it’s ugly head once again, delaying me from posting here on ‘ye olde blog’, but here we are once again!

Just over a week ago, I released Episode 8 of the Dad and his Weird Friends Book Podcast, and this episode was a special one. For myself at any rate. Never before have I taken up the charge to sit down and actually interview somebody. Thankfully for me, author Jesse Petersen agreed to stop by and have a chat! Despite my nerves and everything else, the interview turned out quite well.

For those of you not familiar with Ms. Petersen, she’s penned a three book zombie series known as the “Living With the Dead” series. (There’s a short story collection in there to boot!) The covers of the first two books, “Married with Zombies” and “Flip this Zombie”, are seen above. My introduction to these book started with my lovely wife reading them and having a blast and then proceeding to pester me to get me to read them.

The Mrs. “You really need to read these books!”
The Mr. “But..they’re…pink.”
The Mrs. “So? Zombies! They’re really good!”
The Mr. ” But…Girlie…”
The Mrs. “They’re not chick-lit, read em!”

That conversation went on much like that over a couple of days until finally I relented. The next few days were broken up in two day chunks as I poured through each novel and broke into a typical “Those were really good books!” “….I told you so.” routine with the Mrs.

That said guys…they’re not girlie at all. It’s okay. The covers are just a design choice, you can read them. They are solid zombie novels!

Since this episode has been released, Jesse’s third novel “Eat, Slay, Love” has been nominated for a Dead Letter Award over at Mail Order Zombie! If you enjoy the interview and decide to give the book a read? Why not throw her a vote!

While we’re here…since I am in full bore book mode here as of late, I invite you to come join us in the Dad and his Weird Friends Book Club over on Facebook! Nothing more than a place to hangout and chat about books with like minded nerds! It’s a little quiet and dusty in there right now, but if you come join us, it’s bound to liven up!

Without further ado, I give you Episode 8 of the Dad and his Weird Friends Book Podcast! Enjoy!

Category: Books  | Tags: , , ,  | Comments off