About davemstrom

I am writing stories about Holly Hansson, the Super(wo)man who'd rather be Clark Kent.

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2018: duel of the cousins!

Last night, Cousin Ben and I saw the Oscar nominated animated shorts. He emailed me and a few others a quick review. Following are his reviews, followed by my reviews in italics.

Negative Space – short and sweet. Best per-minute. Good for anyone who has had a dad, and who has ever packed a suitcase. Sad and funny ending, I do that kind of thing in some of my stories.

Dear Basketball – also deserving goodness per few minutes. A real thank you note/good bye, look forward. As Ben was driving us back to his place, we were trying to remember the exact order of the shorts. Or rather, he did and wanted me to do that too. He is 6 foot 6 so his wants are persuasive. I googled the show on my handy-dandy Android phone, and unfortunately found a whiny critic who complained about how Dead Basketball was just a commercial for Kobe Bryant. I said that I do not want to buy parts of Kobe Bryant. I am not a sports fan, but I liked this. A quick review of his career, and how it ends, and how he loved it, and I felt for him.

Lou – hey! Pixar is here being very Pixar which is always good. Ditto.

Revolting Rhymes – not very short. in-between a movie and a short. Reminds me of Into The Woods. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Woods_(film). Thoroughly enjoyable. Half an hour, which is long for a short, but it held my interest the entire time. If a show lasts long but feels short, it has done its job. British humor, creepy British ending. Storyteller Roald Dahl wrote this short that twists fairy tales and obeys the Elements of Style advice of “Omit Needless Words,” for it has no wasted moments.

Garden Party – dark, disgusting, beautiful, humorous. Unique and deserving of consideration. I knew what the big reveal at the end would be, of course. The visuals and the humor at a gristly locale shows the great divide between frog and human.

Lost Property Office – decent classic contrived animation. Not on the Oscar list, maybe it was a runner-up. It was okay, it had a happy ending, the stop-motions animation was grayscale and moody, but I do not care for lingering shots on lost and found shelves. Okay, that last thing was just one scene, but still. I remembered a short film from years ago about a guy who was probably the filmmaker’s uncle: interesting to his nephew, but to me, not so much. That short had the probable uncle stand on a hill and stare at the horizon for a long time. In a short film. Short means you don’t have a lot of time. That grated on my writer nerves. A lot. When the script says, “Annoying guy stares at horizon for a long time,” the script needs rewriting. But this sort of thing can work in the right hands: even more years ago, I saw another short film called A Garage Door. It was just that. A shot of garage door for about a minute. A minute that felt like a week. The crowd started yelling. I think the filmmaker knew exactly what he was doing.

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Crystal Gonzalez draws Super Holly LOVING coffee!!!

At the PLCAF Small Press Comics Expo today, I bought a comic from Crystal Gonzalez: In The Dark. I had to find out what Super Holly would look like drawn by her. Her style is crazy, loopy, scary, funny, the characters want to leap off the page and stick to your face while screaming. So I had her draw Holly having coffee.

A few tiny glitches. Super Holly has one e-bracelet, not two. (Kinda like Leela on Futurama.) The hip purse is attached to her belt. And her nose should be more eagle-beaky. BUT LOOK AT HOLLY’S INTENSELY CRAZY-SCARY-HAPPY FACE!!! AND THAT ELECTROSHOCK-CAFFEINATED HAIR! AND THAT EARTHQUAKING CUP!!! I LOVE THIS!!!!! (And I sometimes feel this way about coffee.)

Thank you, Crystal. I started reading your comic about the guy tossed into hell and trying to stay alive. It has coffee references. How fitting.

A couple of comic cons for me this weekend

I am headed to the PLCAF Small Press Comics Expo: 12-4pm Saturday Feb 10 at the San Mateo Public Library, 55 West 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, CA. Price: free.

On Sunday Feb 11 from 10am-5pm, I will go to the East Bay Comic Con. Location: Crowne Plaza, 45 John Glenn Dr, Concord, CA. Price: $8.

That’s it for now. Going to a voiceover class tomorrow. Then it is off to comic cons to meet local writers and artists, and maybe get some Super Holly artwork drawn. Or maybe Kittygirl?

Kittygirl and I are quarter-finalists!

My unpublished short story, Kittygirl Vs. the Fiendish Brain Freezer, made the quarter-finals in ScreenCraft’s Cinematic Short Story 2017 Contest. They wanted a short story, not a script, with special cinematic potential. I guess Kittygirl has that. Yay!

Out of 1400 contestants, I am in the top 350 or so. I submitted my story in December. In February, they will pick the five finalists. The top prize is about $1000 and introductions to agents, publishers, and genies who can grant three wishes.

Will I be one of the finalists? 5 out of 350? I wish. But I got a prize already: by paying a little extra upon submission, I got professional feedback. I love that. Makes me feel like an author.

A movie story idea for Black Widow

Okay, ideas are a dime a dozen. But I still offer the Marvel movie franchise a story that would be perfect for Black Widow. And the beauty of it is that Marvel already owns the story.

In 1989, Marvel Comics published The Agent. Written by James Hudnall, it is the story of Rick Mason, freelance spy, and his battle against supervillains taking over South American countries. I loved its James Bond dialog, spy action, and a non-super hero who defeats supervillains with his brains, skills, toughness, and wisecracks: I do have a superpower. I’ve got the power to make you wish we never met.

Black Widow was born to be in a spy movie kicking supervillain butt. All The Agent story will take is one little protagonist gender flip. I know screenwriter Jac Schaeffer does not need my help, and I am glad the screenwriter is a woman, but I have wanted to toss this idea out there for years. So now I did. So there.

P.S. Please do not do an Electra-type movie. Nobody likes CGI ninjas. Nobody.

CD or not CD? This is the question.

My question: Do most people have CD/DVD drives with their computers nowadays? Or are they getting to be obsolete?

I am considering getting another printer, or loading up on cartridges for my current printer. My current printer is an HP Photosmart C5550 all-in-one that does something few printers do nowadays: print on a CD. (Which I have never tried. But I digress.) For every copy of my little paperback book that I sell at little conventions, I burn a data CD with ebook files, artwork I have had done at conventions, and my audio readings of my stories (mp3 format). I want to be an author who gives you more stuff with the sale.

Please let me know if it is worth burning CDs or if I should find a better way to hand out my ebook/art/mp3s because I will soon have Costco reward $$$ to use up. Thanks.

P.S. Audio CDs are still a thing at open mics. But an audio CD only holds 45 minutes of music. Skimpy for audio stories. I burned a couple for my barber so he could listen to my audio stories over the holidays while driving to Santa Cruz. He did that without crashing his car. He liked the stories, even though I do not think I imitate his voice very well (he helps Super Holly with her mangled hair in Super Bad Hair Day).

Snoke or Skooki?

I just saw The Last Jedi. I liked it. Give me a good story with good characters (Finn! Finn! Finn!) and I am happy. But I kept thinking that CGI Sith guy’s name of “Snoke” sounded like “Snookie.” Like that Snooki girl in Jersey Shore (a show I saw very little of, thank god). When I was a kid, my brothers and I used “Snookie” as a name for a nice Swedish character. I thought of the line from Star Trek: First Contact where a woman said, “Borg? Sounds Swedish.”

I still love the emperor from Star Wars 2 and 3. An over the top villain played by a fine English actor with great manners. He said the character was a blob of pure evil. Yes, and he was played deliciously. There are times when CGI does not beat flesh and blood. (And makeup at the end. And a little CGI for lightsaber duels. And lots more makeup And a voice whose every syllable drips with poisonous evil.)