The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen

So last week I descended into the maelstrom of Internet madness. Sort of. See there’s this thing called GISHWHES, or “The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World has Ever Seen.” It was created by an actor named Misha Collins who you may know from the series Supernatural and a certain SyFy Channel film of note:

Ahem

Ahem

Basically it’s what it says it is – a scavenger hunt. In 2012 it shattered two Guinness World Records: one for the largest scavenger hunt ever, with more than 14,000 participants from 69 countries and the second, for the most pledges to commit a Random Act of Kindness.

Now living in my little bubble I had never heard of GISHWHES and was totally in the dark about its existence until one, then another person emailed me out of the blue thru this very website to ask if I could help their team out. The task they had been given was “have a published Sci Fi author write a 140 word story about Misha Collins, the Queen, and an Elopus (an Octopus with an Elephant’s head)”.

Apparently this “get” was a major one, given that authors and writers tend to be a curmudgeonly lot who avoid doing anything for anybody unless it involves money exchanging hands. But as we all know I’m not one of those writers. And to me the challenge of telling a story (okay, 2 stories) in 140 words or less was too good a challenge to pass up. And also because the people asking seemed really nice and enthusiastic and were doing a lot of charitable work as part of their work, and we so rarely get chances to do good in a world that seems full of bad.

So I wrote two stories. And with GISHWHES 2014 wrapped, I am publishing them below for your reading enjoyment.

***

Story #1: “Investiture”

He tried not to tremble as the sword rose before him, but as she spoke the hairs on his neck stood rigid.

“May I borrow your sword?” he asked politely.

He didn’t wait for an answer, snatching the blade and pivoting clean as the beast released its suction grip on the rafters high above and dropped, trumpeting its battle cry.  He swung the sword, separating the Elopus’ head from its neck. The eight limbed body sprayed ink as it spasmed uncontrollably. The head bounced off the marble floor and landed upright, its trunk limp, its eyes already fogging over. Then, silence.

He handed the sword back. “Sorry your majesty, that Elopus has been hunting me since Cairo.”

“We see we weren’t hasty in our decision” the Queen smiled. She touched the sword to his shoulder. “Rise, Sir Misha Collins.

***

Story #2: “Elopus Apocalypse”

The Elopus lunged, limbs flailing, trunk blaring its battle cry.  It lurched —  and shuddered to a halt. Expletives sounded deep within the rubber suit.

“Goddamn it, CUT!”

Technicians raced in and removed the mask. The sweaty operator gasped for air. The director threw his script down angrily.

Misha handed his prop gun off and took a seat in his folding chair. They were already a day behind on a twelve day shoot and SyFy would not be happy. Someone tapped his shoulder gently. “Cappuccino, he said without looking. The hand tapped again and this time he looked.

“Sir Misha Collins?” the clipped British tones asked. The man was dressed formal, an envelope with the Royal Sigil in hand. Misha took it, opened, and read.

He was on the next flight to Heathrow. SyFy could wait. The Queen could not.

***

I like to think of them as sequels to each other, with “Elopus Apocalypse” being part of a new trend of SyFy Channel movies based on true stories. My only regret is I didn’t get a third request where I’d be able to finish the trilogy. Maybe next year.

And yes I am aware this is the second (and technically third) time I’ve written something for Misha Collins. You’d think he’d return my calls by now.

100%

This is the 100th post on my official website.

Frankly I’m amazed I stuck with it this long.  When it was decided I needed to boost my “web presence”, I created this place to do just that. The theory being people interested in hiring me would Google my name, and this website would appear in the search results. They’d then see how brilliant and insightful I was, they’d hire me on the spot and pay me lots of money.  Ergo, I was to use it to promote myself and my work, as all professional writers are supposed to do.

It didn’t quite turn out that way.  Instead I ended up using it to just write about things that interested me, kind of like my Twitter profile became a platform to crack stupid jokes and test material for projects I am writing. Ironically I am very successful at this, having gained more followers on Twitter than I had “friends” on Facebook (which is not the reason I deleted by FB page — though there is a diff. reason for that).  Here I usually blog music, some pop culture, and some promo work, namely my comic book series Mixtape. Some said I was “doing it wrong”, and that this website should exist primarily as self-promo.

But the way I rationalized it, there’s so much self-promo going on in the land of the internet, why not break with that and just write about things that interest me?  I’m never going to get tens of thousands of visitors to this thing, or hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers either, and I’m okay with that, because I’m one of those types prefer quality of interaction over quantity.  Instead of promoting my work, why not write amusing and interesting work, and let people judge it and me based on that work?

So 100 posts in, that means time to reflect, right? So in that spirit, I’m re-posting the most popular, most visited, and all around best posts as decided by clicks on those posts, in descending order. Yes, because I’m too busy/lazy right now to write new content.  But some of you new arrivals may not have dug back that far, so it’s new to you anyway.

Here we go:

10 – HAVING AN AVERAGE WEEKEND

Nostalgia time, as I reflect on a teenaged ritual that sadly only exists in memory.  For me, anyway — I like to think teens today still embark on searches for that special something without doing it from their computer.

9 – GRATITUDE

A.K.A. “The Blog Post I Wish I Didn’t Have To Write” because it was written the day after the passing of Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch. And yes, it’s a huge loss to music, like losing a Beatle must be to my parents’ generation.

8 – LIVING IN THE SPRAWL

This is actually my personal favorite of anything I’ve written here.  Typically it’s lodged at number 8, but I felt like I channeled something of the sense of longing one gets, growing up in the suburbs, the excitement of downtown and the big city like a siren’s call.  Also, a companion piece of sorts to “Having An Average Weekend.”

7 – MIXTAPE 2013

This one dropped just before Christmas 2012, and details the future of my comic book series Mixtape.  The future is bright.

6 – NO EXCUSES

Written early in April 2012 (less than a month before the passing of Adam Yauch), this was written about another year’s passing since the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain … and how the passing of another Grunge era icon is too often forgotten.

5 – THE REAL THING

This was posted to mark the release of Mixtape #1 in April 2012.  Mixtape #2 dropped in December.  I promise the wait between future issues won’t be that long again.  Hopefully.

4 – THE PROMETHEUS MENACE

The title is pretty self explanatory. Note to self: next time I see a really lousy Sci-Fi film, write about it immediately and the hits will follow.

3 – TIRED OF WAKING UP TIRED

The most recent update to this blog was surprisingly one of the most popular.  Maybe because we’ve all had crazy vivid dreams.  Maybe because we never forget the most memorable ones.  But really, it’s probably because there are pictures of booze, and zombies, and cute/funny cats — all thing people are known to enjoy reading about.

2 – T.R.U.E.

My first webcomic.  Hopefully not the last either, as people really seemed to like it.  It was created for a Spanish comics fanzine, their final issue.  This is the English language version, and is totally based on a true story involving Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, and some CHUDs.

And the most popular post on my website ever …

1. THE OTHER WHITE MEAT (PART 3)

Though you really need to read parts one and two first to get the whole story (the links of which are embedded at the top of part three).  This detailed the 15 year journey of my screenplay “Hell For Breakfast” to the big screen (in New Zealand, anyway) under the name “Fresh Meat.”  A cautionary tale of sorts, but I was surprised to see how popular it was.  I guess other people’s pain is funny.

So that’s the top ten of the first 100.  It doesn’t even include such personal faves such as how Writer’s Block isn’t necessarily a bad thing; or the one about my love and fear of Horror Movies; of how I became a comic book fan.  It doesn’t include the one I penned nearly a year ago, about how I hate celebrating my birthday, but ultimately consider myself fortunate to be able to celebrate one at all.  It doesn’t even touch on my fixation on Degrassi Jr. High and Degrassi High, and the unexpected influence that seminal Canadian teen soap had on Mixtape.

So, if you have some time to kill and want to know more about me, my writing, and how I’ve manage to carve a living out of it, the above are as good a place as any to start.

Now, I think I’ve procrastinated enough, don’t you … ?

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Apocalypse

February 2012 set a record for numbers of visitors to this website.  I trust it’s because I’ve been updating it with greater frequency than previously, all detailed in my “screw this internet garbage” post.  I know it’s also because of MIXTAPE, which was unfortunately delayed.  On that front I should have details on the new publication dates for stores and iTunes in the next week.  Or not.  Bear with me.

But amidst all the MIXTAPE happenings and goings on, it’s easy to forget that I have a day job, which happens to be writing movies and TV.

Movies like this:

I co-wrote it, it aired on SyFy, and scored huge ratings.  Like, 2.14 million viewers huge.  It got big ratings around the world in face.  Reviews were … well, not that bad, overall.  Hint: If you’re expecting hard science fact from a movie called STONEHENGE APOCALYPSE, I don’t know what else to say than “it must be wonderful there on your world.”

[Oh, a note about that pic?  I took it at at a Barnes & Noble here in Enn Why See a month back.  I went to that same B&N last week, to find it was gone, meaning that at least one person in the Tri-State area owns Stonehenge Apocalypse on Blu-Ray]

So yeah, I’m a writer, and currently what I’m writing as my day job is movies.  Two of ’em as a matter of fact; one sci-fi, one fantasy (with a third on the boards, depending on which way the wind blows).  That’s my bread and butter, really.  There’s also the matter of the third (a horror) due in theaters sometime this year.

Well, in New Zealand at least.

I am ridiculously fortunate to be able to do what I love to do, and actually make a living off it.  People would chew off their own arms to have the life I have, even the ones who gave negative reviews to Stonehenge Apocalypse and RoboCop: Prime Directives.  I realize this, and accept it with a great deal of humility.

Writers are notorious for their ability to bitch about how their work is received and reviewed.  Sometimes we’re justified, sometimes we’re not, and we’re not always right.

But ovies are a collaborative process.  There’s no way around it. Movies take a lot of time and a lot of money, and involve the efforts of hundreds of people, from the cast and crew down the line to the distributors and marketing people.  One of the things about doing MIXTAPE as a comic series was its streamlined nature.  I write the scripts, the editor gives notes and suggestions, the artist draws them, I approve everything, and that’s it.

It’s been said that nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie.  That bears repeating:

Nobody sets out to make a bad movie.

True story.  Years back I was watching some TV talk show (Canadian) about movies, and it was one of the worst circle jerks I’d ever witnessed.  The general gist of it was “it’s better to be critically acclaimed than financially successful”.  One filmmaker who’d had some degree of both said he’d rather have the critics on hsi side than the audience.  I wish I could tell you what he’d done recently but (big surprise) he’s fallen off the map.

Because how does one define “bad”?  If taste is subjective, why does one person’s voice take precedent over another’s?

Another true story.  Years ago I was listening to some radio call-in show right around Oscar time (you know, the months-long industry circle-jerk that culminates in the awarding of a bronze statue of a naked dude).  People were calling in and naming their favorite films, and among the usual suspects – Star Wars, Gone With The Wind – some dude, without a hint of irony or dishonesty, chose Bloodsport as his all-time favorite movie.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bloodsport, this’ll jog ya:

Yeah, that one.

Thing is, this guy was completely sincere — this was his favourite movie.  And know what?  I make movies for that guy.  I respect that guy more than someone who picks Dr. Strangelove or The 400 Blows as their favorite, regardless of whether it is their favorite film, or just the film they know is the “correct” answer. I don’t know who this dude was.  I don’t know where he lived, or what he did for a living, but I can see him on some rainy weekend cracking open a beer and saying “fuck it, I’m watching Bloodsport”.

Guys like him are in the majority too.  They’re what keeps the movie biz going.  Not the critically acclaimed art-films, but the meat and potatoes that keep the engine running.  I’ll take one of those guys over a hundred self-proclaimed intelligensia any day of the week.

So, for filmmakers aspiring or otherwise, take heart when you consider the odds.  Of the estimated 6,840,507,003 people on this earth (and given that we know at least one of them thinks Bloodsport is the greatest movie ever), then it’s a certainty at least one who thinks Stonehenge Apocalypse is the greatest thing ever committed to celluloid.

And yes, that makes me damn proud.

Back In Black

So you’re possibly wondering where the hell I’ve been the last month (or in equal likelihood you haven’t noticed I’ve been gone at all).   Well, the excuse I’m choosing to give is “technical difficulties” even though the real reason is a lack of inspiration coupled with a very strenuous workload.

Lots of things are going on, and they’re going so well I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I plan to get back into more regular updates of this website, as well as starting to spill details of just what I have been working on since 2011 began.

In the meantime, I encourage all of you to visit Tuning in to SciFi TV who recently hosted an hour long podcast review and discussion of STONEHENGE APOCALYPSE, which featured yours truly as guest of honor/guy in hot seat.  It’s a fun listen and a much better use of your time than work and all that nonsense.

The Apocalypse Will Be Televised

I just got word that the STONEHENGE APOCALYPSE is striking Canada, my home and native land, starting September 10th (with repeat airings scheduled to finish the job).  The Movie Network is carrying it, so if you don’t have TMN, your only recourse is to subscribe, or find friends who do receive it and watch it at their house.  They don’t even have to be there — just jimmy the lock using a credit card and you’re good to go …

Hold that thought — just got an email from someone …

Hmmm …

My site Admin has just informed me that I am to tell you NOT to break into the home of a TMN subscriber to watch Stonehenge Apocalypse, and should use whatever legal means are at your disposal to watch the apocalypse unfold.

buzzkill.