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Archives, Part 14 (September 9, 2009 to September 22, 2009)

Twitter (September 9, 2009)

Well, it was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. After being on Twitter for more than a week for my company, I've gone ahead and made myself an account. If you're on there, be sure to follow @WarrenPawlowski. Otherwise, my most recent posts will show up here.

...does this kind of stuff really work to attract followers? For some reason, I'm really, really doubtful.

Review: The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein (September 10, 2009)

This title is available for purchase here.

The Past Through Tomorrow (8.3/10)

I've given the whole book an 8.3/10, but, really, the stories vary in quality and so I've decided to break down the score even further. This is even more appropriate, especially given one story, "Let There Be Light," was not in this collection but instead in The Man Who Sold the Moon. Many of the stories also appear elsewhere, so this particular collection, which supposedly collects "all" of his future histories (it doesn't), is not necessary.

"Life-Line"

A great short story and also Heinlein's first published piece, this story directly ties into the later Lazarus Long saga and is simply a fantastic "what if?" with a Twilight Zone twist exemplifying science fiction's prowess.

"The Roads Must Roll"

Written before the advent of the freeway, this is Heinlein's prediction of what mass transit will inevitably be. The story's entertaining in itself, and unlike some of his others, doesn't get too bogged down with technical info.

"Blowups Happen"

Definitely one of the more interesting tales of his future histories, as well as one of the longer, Blowups Happen kept me practically on the edge of my seat up until the very end.

"The Man who Sold the Moon"

Well, the title says it all, but while this lengthy story may be considered a sci-fi classic, there are times when the technicalities abound and made me want to shoot myself... though I'm not sure how many other writers could attain his level of detail.

"Delilah and the Space-Rigger"

Another short piece, but one of the more memorable, both because of its levity as well as what it meant to the larger Heinlein-verse. The story also has one of the most logical solutions to a problem I've ever seen. Ever.

"Space Jockey"

This is one of those stories that, while short, can be nearly unbearable because of the author's depth, though here it's quite easy to push through to reach the tale's sweet conclusion.

"Requiem"

Basically the conclusion to "The Man Who Sold the Moon," "Requiem" finally sees our boy Harriman make it to the moon in a manner similar to the 2000 film Space Cowboys. A great ending for a great man.

"The Long Watch"

In my opinion, one of Heinlein's best pieces ever. Truly heart-rending, this details the lengths a man can go to protect what he loves and the world he lives on. Truly amazing.

"Gentlemen, Be Seated"

Maybe one of his most comedic stories... but in a very sinister manner befitting the other tales in the collection. Actually, if not for the short epilogue (which I'm not entirely certain was there in the first place), this story would be a lot more... disgusting.

"The Black Puts of Luna"

A cute tale of a boys love for his annoying little brother... or is it his love of the moon? Maybe it's both? Either way, it's a pretty enjoyable story with none of the nonsense that tangles up other narratives.

"'It's Great to be Back!'"

This is an interesting piece because it serves as an analysis of our society, or rather, our future from the point of someone who used to live there but no longer does. We've all been there, but this does quite an effective job of recreating the experience and the desires to go back to our roots.

"'--We Also Walk Dogs'"

I wasn't particularly fond of this one, but I can't really pinpoint why. The story is rather unique, it moves at a good enough pace... but it did get bogged down slightly by technical jargon. I don't know. It does make another appearance later in another story, though, which is definitely neat.

"Searchlight"

How do you find a lost woman on the moon if she's blind? Well, Heinlein takes a few pages to figure out an interesting, albeit rather personal, solution to the problem. A prompt and satisfying read.

"Ordeal in Space"

This story was interesting because Heinlein basically created a new type of PTSD, one that, should space exploration continue, is likely to actually occur, and then places the affected person in quite a delicate position. Enjoyable.

"The Green Hills of Earth"

My favorite of all the stories in this book, TGHoE is a character exploration of a poet--a theme that has been popular among many sci-fi writers--as he becomes a true hero. Absolutely fantastic and deserves all of its credit.

"Logic of Empire"

Another story laden with extensive jargon, the story is very reminscent of Starship Troopers in that it explores other societies on other planets. It could be entertaining, if you can get past the nonsense.

"The Menace From Earth"

A really, really cute and touching story of teen romance as only Heinlein could create, especially as it pertains to teenagers learning to fly in an underground cave. Yeah, that's right.

"'If This Goes On--'"

Kind of a weird story, but really quite original. While it explored some mundane aspects of the world, the text was never overbearing and read quite freely.

"Coventry"

Probably his most "messed up" story in all the future histories, this tale resembles those seen in either Escape From New York or Escape From L.A., as well as a dozen other films and novels.

"Misfit"

Again, a story lost in details the reader simply doesn't need to know. I wonder just how different readers were then, or maybe this "hard" sci-fi is simply not my cup o' tea.

"Methuselah's Children"

The pièce de résistance, this story may be most popular because it introduces readers to Lazarus Long, a character seen in several stories and books and perhaps one of the greatest ever created. The story itself is rather interesting as well, and is a must read for other stories within Heinlein's world, including The Number of the Beast, Time Enough for Love, etc.

"Let There be Light" [Found in The Man who Sold the Moon]

This short exemplifies precisely what I believe should be done when something life-changing is created. In this case, it is free light, heat, energy... just an amazing thing. Think the power industry would let this happen, though? No, I think not.

Changes! (September 18, 2009)

As I said a few entries ago, it took me a moment to react to the entirely new interface Blog.com recently introduced. Now that I've had the chance to peruse these changes (most notably the "categories" option), I've decided to update warrenpawlowski.blog.com in several ways:
  • Reviews will be posted on many more things, as these posts seem to be the most visited. Expect to see graphic novel, book, movie and game reviews coming on a regular basis.
  • Blog posts on random thoughts, idea or other rants will be appearing on a weekly basis. These will be aside from the usual reviews and writing updates and will be collected under the category "Teh Blog."
  • Aside from the blog, there will also be a weekly update on all creative activities (outlined further in today's inaugural Teh Blog post). This will not be handled on the same day as blog postings.
  • Twitter and Facebook will be more integrated integrated into the daily grind than before.
  • Categories will be integrated into back matter while tags are as of now no longer used.
These changes are all well and good, but, what does it mean to you, the reader? It means you get more content, more reviews, better reviews, and actual, MEANINGFUL thoughts on various subjects. It should be a great experience, and I hope to see you come back every week!

By the way, be sure to use the RSS Feed option!

-Warren

Creativity (September 19, 2009)

When I was much younger than I am today, my paternal grandmother, after living in Hawaii for a dozen years or so, took an extended vacation to pay her (my) family a visit. Since I hadn't seen her since I was able to keep a recollection, you can imagine this was big news that managed to get me extremely excited.

Unfortunately, though, it did mean I'd have to give up my bed and sleep in the top bunk usually reserved for sleepovers and shirts I was too lazy to hang (soon after, this bunk was forever filled by my foster brother, Billy, so my plan was quickly torn apart anyway). After some grumbling, I acquiesced, and I spent a few weeks sleeping in the same room as the grandmother I hardly knew.

There are two things I remember quite vividly from that time. One: due to the temperature and humidity difference between Connecticut and Hawaii and the fact my grandmother was already quite frail, she almost immediately came down with a cold. I remember this not because her coughs were memorable or her tissues piled into mountains high enough to reach my bunk, but because, every night, before going to sleep, my grandmother would take a spoonful of Vick's VapoRub and swallow it whole.

Now, being a young child at the time, Vick's was probably the one thing I hated most--aside from canned Tuna--due to the fact that, whenever I was sick, felt a chill, had a runny nose, or just looked funny, my mom would break out that blue container and lob a mound of slimy gunk on my tubby tummy. To this day, I still don't know if the concoction actually worked or not, but when it was on you or if it was even in the room, you knew (funny thing is, some researchers recently conducted a study that showed Vick's isn't even good for children. All that suffering for nothing!).

Aside from that gross image, the one other thing I recall is rather sweet. At the time, previews for GoldenEye, the quintessential Bond film of the nineties, just hit screens, and (needless to say) I was ecstatic. Honestly, it was all I could think about (Pierce Brosnan! Guns! Planes! Snow! OMG!).

Hold on, hold on. Before I get into this story, I want to say one thing. I can almost 100% guarentee this will have absolutely nothing to do with what you're thinking about.

With that said, back to the story. One day, I found my grandmother painting a wooden nutcracker. It was small, maybe three inches high and an inch or so wide, and she was using simple watercolors and a brush. After some time of silent watching, she asked if I would like to paint one as well. Of course I said sure (what kid doesn't love messing with paint?) and sat down beside her with a paper towel and a grin.

The result was modeled very much after hers, except for two key differences: my nutcracker had a jetpack and a patch of gold ink wrapped around its left eye.

See, I didn't really quite get the whole GoldenEye-is-a-Top-Secret-satellite-up-in-space-that-could-wipe-out-civilization-in-an-instant theme. In my young, imaginative mind, GoldenEye was like Gold Finger, in that, instead of having a finger made of gold, he instead had an eye composed of the rare metal. Logical, no? Yes, I know Gold Finger didn't have any gold on his index finger or anywhere else, but I was like eight years old--cut me some slack.

My point is that, in that moment, my grandmother and I clicked like we'd never done before, all because we sat down at my mother's kitchen table and painted some wooden dolls. And after looking mine over and laughing about the jet pack, she caught my eye with a smile and said, "That's the Pawlowski gene; we've all got to do something creative or we'll go nuts."

(I think the "or" part is a little flexible)

It's true what she said. I've written somewhere within this blog before that I've been writing since the first grade (whether a simple story with me and the Hulk, a twisted take on my classmates and a declaration of prepubescent longings, a pseudo-Matrix story written long before a Wachowski even thought Keanu Reeves would look cool in a black trenchcoat, or anything in between) but what I haven't written of were the many paintings I produced alongside the pages, or my absolute fixation on art class and its teacher (Mrs. Polizzo!), or the many forts I've created and subsequently destroyed, the numerous images created in Adobe Photoshop, etc. and so forth.

A product of two families blooming with creativity as well as an imagination -nurturing childhood, I have an endless desire to build, write, paint--anything that can be considered artistic at all. And, honestly, I just let the fluid spill out. Sometimes results are quite good (the Master Dew, for instance) and sometimes, not so much (the many comics I've attempted to draw over the years, including that one [Love at the Rink] I drew many moons ago with my old friend John... good times).

Whatever the case, I have to do something. It's not a choice. Honestly, I wouldn't be writing this now if I didn't feel it necessary for my sanity. When I can, I focus the energy and write something perhaps worth a glance, but, as you can tell, that's only a fraction of the time (oh, modesty, you heartless wench).

Yet, whatever the case, I do use the energy to be as creative as possible (unless, of course, I'm playing a video game. Those horrid, addictive beasts are the giant, alien sponges sucking the life from everything that is innovative... and I LOVE THEM). However, as I've hinted, I don't always employ my inspired juices toward the most fulfilling goal... so, I've decided to draft a Creativity Chart.

This is something you can do at home as well, and, for those who consider themselves rather inventive, could acutally quantify how well you are performing within your desired profession. The Chart highlights several activities, such as writing, drawing, etc., and keeps track of the time spent on each during the normal course of a week. Simple, yes?

My goal, to help myself become a better writer and to simply amuse you in the long term, is to write for at least an hour a day, every day. I'll be sure to keep you updated, as I wrote in the previous entry, whether you want to be or not (it's fun to be in control of content).

I want to be a professional writer, and this is how I will do it. Practice. Practice. Practice.

It makes perfect, so I hear.

Film Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (September 22, 2009)

When X-Men Origins: Wolverine debuted earlier this year, I avoided it like the plague. That isn't to say I didn't know anything about it; as a matter of fact, I did. I knew plenty. Some might say I knew too much. And so, instead of going to the movies that Friday, I went to have a drink, not because I wanted to get drunk, mind you, but because I wanted to toast to the Wolverine I knew was now lost and needlessly forgotten in the comic lore of yesteryear.

However, over the past weekend and thanks to the brilliant minds behind the $1 DVD rental goodness they call the Red Box, I took myself home a copy of this doomed-from-the-start film. With hundreds of forum posts condemning it, several years of comic knowledge refuting it, and Rotten Tomatoes simply dooming it, it was with some pause that I eventually stuck it into the player and pushed start.

And, after sticking to the t.v. and only allowing myself to be called away for dinner and pie (peach, and oh so delicious), watching the "hidden ending" they were so sly about in theaters (two possible versions, really?), and staring numbly at a Non-Smoking PSA (the only "special feature"), I can only say one thing about this film:

WTF was the big friggin' deal?

Seriously, why the hate? Maybe because the movie serves more as an "origin" to the whole X-U created by Fox rather than Wolverine alone? Is that it? Okay, I get it. There's a few characters too many, sure (we've got Vanisher, Sabretooth, Silverfox, Gambit, Blob, Agent Zero, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and even a few cameos by the likes of Toad, Prof. X, and Quicksilver. Oh, there's also Deadpool, but let me knock this point off my list first). Yes, the cameos were a bit... much, but what of it? It certainly can't be any more ridiculous than the forty comics Wolverine says "bub" in every month, right?

Back to Deadpool. For most of his life, Wade Wilson has only been what is fondly called a "cult classic." Though he's basically Wolverine-lite, the Merc with a Mouth never really brought the same crowd as Mr. Adamantium. Cutting the long story short, despite being loved by only a few, those few have very, incredibly loud (keyboards) mouths. And their objections are, at the very least, somewhat valid: movie Deadpool is NOT comic Deadpool, though Ryan Reynold's portrayal at the beginning was nothing short of spot-on.

But, again, so what? He has swords growing out of his arms, beams shooting from his eyes, teleporting abilities, and a handy-dandy healing ability... but it's just a handful of extra powers shoved into the film for gimick's sake, and certainly nothing some comic/movie logic couldn't fix in future installments, especially given the way Deadpool "died" during the climax. I expected an abomination, something as demonically horrid as Greg Land's traces, but all I found was a generic villain showing promise for his own film.

That said, I'm sure we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Ryan Renolds is a huge fan of the Deadpool character and has gone on record that the new film (oh yes, there will be blood) will most definitely be as hilariously outrageous as the comics that spawned the oddball (anyone else suppose he'll break the fourth wall again and know, for a fact, he's in a movie? Love it) as well as possibly a reboot.

Of course, the forthcoming Deadpool film isn't likely to be the only one launched from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (unless Disney has something to say about it...), so I suppose we might as well get used to the annual X-Men blockbuster bearing only a slight resemblance to the comics we know and love. Hell, if you can shut up for a while, stash the keyboard for a few minutes, and keep from reading the damned forums where 45-year old creepers in their parent's basement rant about who shot first, you might even enjoy them.

I did, and I will.

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