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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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.

Belated announcement: My Stories in Carry The Light 2017

I should have posted this six months ago. Oh well.

In the 2017 San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest, I won first prize for my audio reading of “The Intellecta Rhapsody.” Holly gets into a big argument with her Batman-esque boyfriend’s car during her driving lesson. The background music is The Hungarian Rhapsody, a tune to which Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, and Woody Woodpecker have all danced.

I also won third prize for my short story, “The Lutefisk Door.” My Trumpy villain Billington Stumpfinger builds a nasty wall to trap Super Holly Hansson: the old trap-Batman-and-Superman-in-a-steel-and-kryptonite-vault trick. Can Holly’s boyfriend, Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert, save her before she succumbs to the deadly rays of the green lutefisk?

You can buy the print version of “The Intellecta Rhapsody” and “The Lutefisk Wall” in the book Carry The Light 2017 at Amazon. It has plenty of great stories, essays, and poetry from local writers. But it does not have the audio version of “The Intellect Rhapsody.” You can hear a previous version on a podcast I was on, details here.

 

Quick writing idea: phonetic

I often use phonetic dialog. From an upcoming novel chapter after Holly is brainwashed into thinking she is the evil cowgirl Laura Shrub:

Not them two dudes again. On the sidewalk, two teen guys gave Laura a look sadder than starving hound dogs. Laura crossed her arms and jutted her chin at them. “Whut’re yew lookin’ at?”

I was writing all the text in chapters where Laura is the point-of-view character to use her phonetic misspellings. But in the above paragraph, I kept that only to her spoken and internal dialog. Seems to work. I’ll try it more. (But I still might keep the style of the non-dialog to be Western.)

Fault Zone Uplift: My latest published Super Holly story

My short story, What Goes Up, is published in Fault Zone, a publication of the SF Peninsula branch of the California Writers Club. Super Holly Hansson saves the day several times in one day, but finds something she cannot save. I give many thanks to Laurel Anne Hill, who worked super-hard to put together this anthology, and who edited my writing into a story worthy of Fault Zone. Writers, editors are your friends.

Here is the start of “What Goes Up.”

The six-foot-tall, apricot-shaped computer on the auditorium stage glowed brighter. Was the thing about to go KA-BOOM, like old sci-fi mechanical brains computing love to the last digit? Super Holly Hansson gritted her teeth harder, tapped the console’s keyboard, and motioned toward Chris Jobz, the Apricot Computer CEO.

“Would you please hand me your tablet,” Holly said, “and get your butt behind the blast shields with your employees?” Too bad she couldn’t pitch that big yellow- orangish monster into the ocean. Too dangerous, according to Chris. “You’re not bomb- proof. I am.” So far… She swallowed hard.

Chris glanced in the direction of his staff, yet made no move to give Holly his tablet, as if he thought his lint-free black turtleneck was a supersuit. Arrogant but brave. He acted as if she could still channel superpowers into others, like she’d done to those comic book geeks months ago. She couldn’t do that anymore. Not even for a fellow geek.

“Miss Hansson, you need both hands and my help.” Chris shoved his Apricot tablet closer to Holly’s face. “You’re not an engineer.”

“I was a technical writer,” Holly said, “and this geek girl can read code.” But could she get through this in one piece? All those kids in the hospital would be so sad if she didn’t show up today. She typed faster, restraining her super-strength. Last year she’d

pulverized her favorite wireless keyboard. The shining apricot’s timer taunted her: 01:29, 01:28, 01:27…

“I know women can code. Forty percent of Apricot engineers are female,” Chris said. His eyes shot virtual daggers toward the smiling teen boy his employees restrained. “But if you don’t finish writing this Swoop code before that timer reaches zero, this Apricot will destroy the Internet.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Holly hissed as her fingertips tingled. “I suppose it was that kid’s bright idea to build a doomsday Apricot with a super-scalding keyboard.”

“Yes. Me. Crestley Smusher, to you.” The teen’s voice was nerdy, gleeful, and dripping with condescension. “It was a science project to put my highly intelligent, brightly smiling face upon every display on the planet. Upon the exact second of my eighteenth birthday, less than a minute from now. Except my superior code merged with inferior code from lesser engineers to form a nasty virus—”

“Shut up, Crestley,” Holly and Chris shouted. Holly tapped out the last line of code and turned. Behind thick, clear, plastic bomb shields, several angry Apricot geeks held Crestley’s arms. A six-foot-six and rather wide engineer got a stranglehold on the techie, whose smug smirk vanished. Speaking of vanishing, how much time had elapsed?

…00:03, 00:02, 00:01… The timer stopped. Just like on Stellar Trek, where the countdown always stopped at one. Whew! She’d done it.

Chris examined the Apricot’s display. “The Internet is saved.” He shook Holly’s hand. “Thank you.”

Such firm fingers he had, like a writer. “You’re welcome.”

“Auto destruct in fifteen seconds,” the monster Apricot voiced in a monotone. “Fourteen. Thirteen.”

“What the hell?” Chris sputtered. He and Holly whirled to face Crestley. Crestley smirked again. “All doomsday devices need a failsafe.”
“Nine. Eight.”
A failsafe? Time for Holly’s own brand of mind over matter. Crap. This was

gonna hurt. She reached out. A telekinetic hand—big, blue and transparent—shot from her own flesh-and-blood hand and engulfed the Apricot monster.

“Seven. Six.”

She punched her free fist upward. A telekinetic fist cannonballed out of it and bashed a hole in the ceiling.

“Five. Four.”
She flew through the roof and into the bright blue sky.
“Three.”
The Apricot campus shrank below her.
“Two.”
She held the doomsday Apricot in her telekinetic hand.
“One.”
Damn all arrogant nerds. Well, not all.
“Zero.”
KA-BOOOOOOM!

TO BE CONTINUED!

A rubber cop beats me to the punch.

I watched The Flash tonight. They introduced Ralph Dibny, The Elongated Man. Ralph has super-stretching powers. And he’s a cop.

My character, Bennie the Rubber Cop (based on Lennie Briscoe of Law & Order) also has super-stretching powers. (Long arm of the law, get it? Wink wink, nudge nudge?) I have not even published his short story yet (The Criminal Cupid, click to read an excerpt). Bennie does show up at the very end of my little Kindle book Super Bad Hair Day. He helps Holly deal with her… um… twin physical adjustments when her superpowers manifest.

Oh, well. My Bennie will stay rubbery. There is room for more than one stretchy cop in the world. Bennie is older. Wiser. World-weary-er. I just hope I can write more former-homicide cop wisecracks.

Demeatballization!

Last week, author Anne Fadiman spoke at Google about her memoir, The Wine Lover’s Daughter. One chapter was titled, “Demeatbllization.” Within is the following paragraph:

But, oh, how my father must have loved it all. The anachronistic formality of the gathering. The setting, a literary association to which George Santayana and T.S. Eliot had belonged. The leatherbound volumes of the shelves. The portraits of dead WASPs on the walls. The definitive demeatballization of his children.

Fine writing, but I, and thus my superheroine Super Holly Hansson, are more meatball. We are Swedish-American. I like Ikea chicken meatballs. I used to make meatballs, but all that raw ground meat and eggs really gets messy.

But “demeatballization” belongs Holly’s world. Say, a villain who zaps people with a meatball gun, encasing their heads with giant meatballs and making them into obedient meatball minions! But Holly’s love interest Cal “The Intellectual” Critbert would swoop to the rescue in his black-caped glory: “Hold still, Holly, my love! I shall restore you to your super beautiful self with my Intellecta-demeatballization-izer!”

I told Anne I really wanted to use that word. Anne signed my copy of her book, “To Dave, with the mandate: make ‘demeatballization’ a word on the lips of everyone at Google.” I will start with some comic book geeks and see how that goes.