Thursday, April 22, 2010
"A Creative Force"- Part III
After poring over the arcane secrets provided by the good people at Random House I threw the Jedi storybook down in disgust.
"This can't be what really happens!" I raged. "After all, didn't 'Starlog' say that some of the actors got fake script pages just to keep the secrets safe? Maybe the storybook writer got some of those fake pages by mistake..."
But it was not to be. When I saw the film a few months later my worst fears were confirmed. Amongst my issues with the film:
* Wow, another "Death Star", huh? Real original...
* What's with all the fake-looking Muppets? Half of the creature masks look like they were cobbled together by Don Post on an adrenochrome bender.
* Han Solo may have been thawed out, but apparently he left his balls back in what was left of that carbonite block.
* Boba Fett, who's been built up as the galaxy's greatest bad-ass, dies accidentally with all the majesty of an actor in a public service television ad for workplace safety.
* Why is everything burping? Isn't there any Pepto Bismol equivalent in "A Galaxy Far, Far, Away?"
* Why is Carie Fischer acting like she's all strung out on coke? Oooooo, eeeee, sorry 'bout that...
* Leia and Luke are brother and sister?!! Look, I can handle Leia just picking Han, but this is a f#@%ing cheat! And Lucas has the gall to tell us he had this planned all along? Well, I call bull$#!% on that unless Georgie Boy had a very unconventional relationship with this sister as a kid.
* Yoda's dead? Why?! One minute he says: "Soon I will rest" and the next minute he's deader than the escaped salamander I found underneath my radiator last week.
* Ewoks. Sweet, suffering Christ I hate these fake-looking little Jeezlers. They bean themselves in the head with their slings, single handedly annihilate dramatic tension whenever they're on screen for more than five seconds, say sickeningly cutesy crap like 'Yub! Yub!" and turn in the worst piece of music at the end of a movie since "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" drove a stake through the heart of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Anyway, you get the idea. Up to this point in time, George Lucas was my creative hero. I didn't understand at the time that the first two films succeeded in spite of Lucas, who has long since proved to be a conceptual and editorial genius but a complete moron when it comes to dialogue and working in collaboration with real, talented human beings.
But at this point in time a thirteen year old kid was suddenly inspired to try and do better. It's all well and good to say something sucks, but it's another to point out exactly why it sucks and then to make it better. This is what I became fascinated by.
I'd already been encouraged to start writing back in 1979 when my Super 8 Star Wars film fell apart. I'd written an extended story based on the Disney movie The Black Hole and soon I'd find myself up in front of my class reading my latest chapter to them, serial style. The saga gained so much renown that my principal at the time took my Hilroy-scribbled manuscript and promised that he's return it only after it had been typed up and copies were made available to any student who wanted one. Wow, my first publishing offer!
Well, I'm still waiting. Asshat.
Yes, that's right, MY F#@$&*% PRINCIPAL LOST MY FIRST BOOK! Hey, I know it likely sucked like a Hoover, but I would have preferred a scathing diatribe in "The Literary Review" versus completely excising it from reality. After all, Battlefield Earth still exists, am I right? Who knows, maybe he was a mole for Disney studios and was tasked to destroy any unauthorized fan fiction on sight? I hope he didn't catch up to Mike...
Discouraged, I fell into a creative lull. Eventually my spirits were buoyed considerably by a pair neo-hippie school-teacher friends of my parents who had a Golden Retriever named Gandalf (how pimp is that?) and a huge library. They lent me a slew of books like Stuart Little and Jacob Too-Too Meets the Hooded Fang, both of which were considerable departures for me. After all, despite being a budding cinephile, up to then I'd really only read comic books and film novelizations, half of which were written quite competently by Alan Dean Foster.
One particular book of theirs that caught my attention was James Clavell's Shōgun. This was fascinating to me since I'd often caught fleeting glimpses of the miniseries on T.V. and was captivated by it. You mean books could be adapted into movies and not just the other way around? Fascinating!
So inspired, my first "original" novel was Amazōn (complete with bitchin' macron) which detailed the harrowing tale of a crew of Western sailors in the 1930's being ship-wrecked on the eponymous island, which is filled with savage tribesmen, snakes, piranha, and...rather inexplicably, dinosaurs. It was kind of a fusion between King Kong, The Most Dangerous Game and a piece of poo.
Despite it's dubious quality, Amazōn did well in local circles (read: my Grade Five class) so a sequel was soon green-lit. Return To Amazōn also acquitted itself nicely, despite featuring a team of futuristic fighter pilots (?) now crashing on the deadly island and trying to cope with ever-escalating dangers. In order to come up with "futuristic" names for the characters I was forced to steal fabric names from my mom's electric iron settings. This resulted in the regrettably dubbed "Rick Dynel" and "Dan Fortrel" as protagonists in the novel.
With space and the future as a re-occurring theme my next novel was a real quantum-leap, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi opus Enter the Oblivion. Oblivion was set on Earth after a nuclear war nearly destroys humanity. An advanced "friendly" alien race happens by not long after and attempts to shepherd humanity back from the brink, but, naturally, they have ulterior motives. You knew you were reading a hard core, speculative sci-fi masterpiece when one of the characters at one point employs the use of a "thermal injector unit" to make toast. Sheeesh.
Enter the Oblivion was never completed, mainly because I was about around the age in which I'd seen Return of the Jedi. I'd to come to the harsh realization that what I was writing was nothing short of awful. Enter The Oblivion was merely a blatant rip-off of the television mini-series The Day After Tomorrow and Arthur C.Clarke's Childhood's End. I needed to find an original voice.
At the same time, as I've discussed prior, we as student in school were being encouraged more and more to abandon creative pursuits and concentrate on our Sciences and Advanced Math. Except for occasional diversions in English or Language Class, my germ of creative writing was left to fallow.
But it would eventually return with a vengeance.
EPIC: I've actually seen worse recruiting methods...
FAIL: Could be an omen, could be an ottoman...
And also, here's this week's Star Wars-themed comic...