Friday, December 21, 2012

Affirming your resolve

Why do we have to wait until some predetermined day before we decide to put a plan in place to change the bad habits that hinder our potential? I certainly don't.

I am certainly not waiting until I am old and decrepit before (hopefully) planning to ensure my final years are not too troublesome. Maybe it is my distaste for working for someone else that agitates my desires to find a shortcut to early retirement. So far, so unsuccessful ... but I am trying.  

It bewilders me that there are not more people questioning why their world seems to revolve around a 9-5PM 'jail sentence' and, in particular, doing nothing to change the situation. I think people have fallen into a distorted form of Stockholm Syndrome whereupon they actually enjoy being confined to their cubicle and  enjoy whittling away the long business hours with solitaire and coffee breaks.

How many of you can honestly say that your life-long dream was to work in an office? I know when I was growing up I wanted to be a pilot, computer programmer (guilty) and maybe an artist. I never thought of writing because I always held authors in such high esteem. Maybe it was a lack of confidence that made me so reticent to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) but I pushed through and created something that I am proud of even if not everyone is as appreciative. This is but one step. One stepping stone towards a path of  independence but, as you know, you don't climb a staircase with just one step. 

My ongoing resolution is to succeed in being capable of independence, even if that freedom simply allows me to remain in my cubicle because, hey, it's pretty comfy and I'm pretty sure meetings are therapeutic for my mental well-being.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Buddhists are right

Throughout the life I would best describe as a series of fortunate (and unfortunate) events, my mind tends to wander. From Chaos Theory to Neo to Buddhists to Quantum Physicists to six degrees of Kevin Bacon, they have all come to the same conclusion. We are one with everything.

The basic principle is that, although from an external perspective we're individual entities, there is an unseen bond that connects us. Even the vacuum of space is connected by things like 'dark matter' that we have yet to fully grasp or perceive.

The more I think about it, the more I think that they must be onto something. If you zoom in or out far enough, you no longer see the individual elements you once perceived as disconnected. With the much vaunted 'god particle' nearing the point of being irrefutable to its existence, we can no longer follow the belief that the space between neutrons, protons and electrons is 'devoid of stuff'. How long will it be before we discover the sub-elements that make up the Higgs Boson particle?

If we were to zoom in on any human being, in the end all we'd see are spinning electrons and protons and nuclei - the concept of a human would be completely alien at this scale. Now all these seemingly disconnected nuclei are interacting with all their neighbours with varying degrees of influence based on distance and strength. The same can be said if you start scaling out to the scale of planets and galaxies. We would no longer see humans, cities or towns.

At this scale, the celestial bodies interact with each other through gravity and energy transference  If we were to scale out farther still, at what point do you no longer see stars, planets and galaxies? How far out would we need to scale before we see the resulting form of all these seemingly disconnected elements? Could the culmination of  all these galaxies and humanity somehow be contained within something as trivial as a marble

Give me a moment ... I'm thinking.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The disney formula

I love formulas. My world revolves around devising the formulas that rule our world. The one place I do not like them, however, is in my stories and films. If I recognise the trope early on, and the storyteller does nothing to deviate from this well-worn path, is the moment I begin getting irritated.

Romantic Comedies almost never deviate. Let me see whether you recognise this: An attractive but unlucky in love female meets an attractive rogue whom she instantly hates while this rogue annoys and teases her. They somehow form a pact where they're forced to be in each other's company (usually to assist the heroine in her plight to attract the man she's got her sights on  and that is coincidentally less attractive and has at least one character flaw). They fail in their quest but realise they're in love with each other. The End.

Did You Hear About the Morgans, What's Your Number?, For Richer Or Poorer, French Kiss, The Wedding Planner, The Bounty Hunter, Killers, He's Not That Into You, The Proposal, The Ugly Truth, The Dictator, Failure to Launch, Mr & Mrs Smith, 50 First Dates, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Maid in Manhattan ... and the list goes on

Horrible, because that's all I see. Sure, you can mix this up with different contrived scenes through the length of the story, but the trope still remains. Which brings me to Disney films. I hate them ... well, apart from the very few exceptions where the maniacal reigns are momentarily loosened and something less abortive is created. Anywho: I shall now divulge the Disney formula in all its gory.

The story revolves around an attractive young male/female from a less than ideal background. The protagonist gets together with one or two plucky side kicks which provide levity to the stale-as-toast personality of the main character that is as boring as ... well, something really, really boring. There is invariably some kind of rom-com partnership along the way (where the two of them inevitably fall in love) and there is almost always an adversary that needs to be defeated. Nearing the end of Act 2, there's always a lull where the main character needs to find themselves and loses hope ... before they discover the strength they need through the support of friends/family. Needless to say, cheesy morals abound, where believing in yourself, relying on your friends/family and following your heart is the true path to happiness etc. This gets bludgeoned into your head multiple times throughout the course of the story ... and the moralistic theme is always introduced early in the story so that the viewer knows exactly what kind of path the protagonist will take towards final redemption. The End.

Dumbo, Bambi, Snow White, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, The Rocketeer, Aladdin,  Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Tangled, Enchanted ... and the list goes on.

The by-the-numbers story telling and head-bangingly moralistic message makes watching Disney films an exercise in torture. 

please note the whitebread heroine and quirky sidekicks
I saw 'Brave' recently (against my will). A story that revolves around a spoiled child who does everything in her power to avoid responsibility. She has three younger siblings who help her avoid her Mother's ire through magic (and provides levity in the place of the boring main character). Hilarity ensues and she discovers that if she listens and respects her family's wishes, all will be well. She reconciles with her overbearing mother and learns her place (like a good little 1950's stay-at-home wife). Of course, there's an evil antagonist who adds drama/excitement to the mix. Ooooh ... way to break the formula, there.

I honestly don't want to dislike Disney films but there's no good reason that a multi-billion dollar company isn't able to make something fun, original and at least entertaining. Heck, they've had enough attempts. It's just that I want the formula to change. Please change the formula, Disney. Please.

Side note: I remember one of the producers (or something) discussing how they'd paid all this attention to imbuing the heroines' hair with personality. He seemed proud of that. There has to be something wrong with your priorities if you focus more effort towards injecting personality into her hair than into her character.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another interview with CM Gray

Today I'll be interviewing 'a regular' to my corner of the internet: CM Gray. He has a new book called The Flight of the Griffin and is earmarked for release in early 2013.

Hi Stephen, great to be here, thanks so much for having me!

The Flight of the Griffin
Since the last time I interviewed you, how has life being a writer changed for you?
Well, I think I’m getting the hang of book promoting a little better. I’ve tried a few things and given up on several others but along the way I’ve discovered some good ways to bring traffic to my books on Amazon in particular. I’ve been spending too much time trying to draw attention to my books this year and not enough time writing, which is crazy, so I’m on a slightly different path for 2013.

One of the main changes since I was last here are the number of great reviews I’ve been getting for my first book Shadowland as a result of my marketing efforts. On Amazon US I now have 41 reviews and still an average of over 4 stars. I’m now on to The Flight of the Griffin, which is also getting some good reviews and I have nearly finished the sequel, Chaos Storm.

Give me an elevator pitch of your new book: "The Flight of the Griffin"
Okay ... bunch of kids, living on a boat, stumble on a magic book and its rather cool female guardian. The book sets them a task of seeking out three crystal skulls, lost in different locations, which must be united to complete an ancient spell. Once the skulls are brought together the spell will stop the world being thrown into chaos. However, there just happens to be some evil people and a whole bunch of demons that are trying to stop them!

I love the premise; your book appears to hearken back to my childhood loves of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis and Piers Anthony. Who or what inspired your story?
Oh I’m sure a whole lot of those kinds of books influence me in some form. I’ve been reading from an early age and have always loved the myth, legend and wild fantasy. I wanted to tell a fantasy questing adventure a little along the lines of a writer like C.S.Lewis but then with a few modern twists that are more David Gemmel. What I did try to do, despite having read so many books from all those great authors, was to be original. I don’t want to write like someone else and I hope you will see that I only write like me!

Is the Griffin (the Ship) as much a character as the children of this story?
Oh, it most certainly is. I won’t give one of the major twists away but there is a whole lot of magic in this book. The boat is very much a character in its own right and one that most readers love!

What inspired you to use Crystal Skulls as the pieces leading to 'the great spell'?
I wanted something mysterious yet something that people may be able to relate to living in our ‘real’ world. There is an ancient Mayan Legend that magical crystal skulls were placed by the ‘old people’ from a time before our records began. If you Google crystal skulls you can see pictures and read stories of skulls that have been supposedly found in different parts of the world. Many believe they are magical. I liked the idea that my characters would have something like this to focus on.

Your book seems so refreshingly unpretentious: clear goals, no love triangles and no angsty teenage ruminations. What was your goal when writing this story?
Well, don’t laugh... but the reason I started writing this was after reading J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter books. I thought, ‘I can write like that!’ Well, I couldn't and realised that I wouldn't actually want to just write like her. She did the wizard school thing so well there was no point trying to go down that path, so I went for a pure fantasy quest. What I took from Rowling was the idea of writing a story that could be enjoyed by older kids, teens and adults alike, just like she did. So no, there is no sex, no swearing and no gratuitous violence... although there are a few gruesome moments and some rather unsavoury characters to keep everyone entertained!  

I'll do a little word association. Choose one and give me a reason:
    Has to be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader because I have no idea what Firefly is [hang your head in shame :)] ... am I showing my age or some huge gap in my reading list? Anyhow, loved C.S.Lewis when I was younger. I watch the films with my kids now and will be encouraging them to read them as well.

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls or Uncharted (PS3)
    Indiana Jones, not because of the Crystal Skulls... just love an Indiana Jones story... another questing adventure, love em!

    The Far Away Tree (Enid Blyton) or Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
    Lord of the Rings. I’ve read it three times. Tolkien is the father of fantasy. He took all the great legends and wrapped them into one of the best stories ever written. To be a fantasy writer these days we all have to realise we owe a debt to Tolkien... or perhaps we should be upset that he took all the best bits and left us all scrambling around to find the rest!
Do you have any parting words for your fans?
If you have read my books and enjoyed them, I thank you for sharing my dreams. If you haven’t yet read my books, then come dream with me! The sequel to The Flight of the Griffin will be out early 2013, my beta readers are saying wonderful things about it so get ready for another ride!

Thanks Stephen I appreciate the time we have spent together today, good luck with your own writing and have a great Christmas!

Always a pleasure ... and hope you have a great Christmas too :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The sky is falling

I must be the last line of defense. I watched Skyfall (the new James Bond) a few days ago and even though it was masterfully directed by Sam Mendes and brilliantly filmed and slickly produced, where it counted, it fails.

It's all about the story, stupid.

This film went against the trope: with no discernible bond girl and a different spin on the plot other than 'just' saving the world from mass destruction. This story was a more personal mission that I appreciated but in the end felt like they cheated. Bond films have never been particularly cerebral and have always managed to play out every action scene with an asterisk that states "it's because he's James Bond." At the point where they attempt to put weight into this caricature of a human being (like Dark Knight) is the point where my eyes start to glaze over.

I won't ruin any punchlines other than to say that the film concludes in a cute but unsatisfactory way in which the entirety of the film feels like an old man rambling aimlessly about the origin of present day MI6. Other films have done the 'let me introduce you to a new version of this film's universe' better (Star Trek) whereas others have faltered (Tron). The more I reflect on the film, the more I don't like it. I feel like the second half is quite comic book while the story attempts to provide grounding and weight to the final scenes. This is the inverse of what was intended by the film maker and makes this a far more bitter pill to swallow ... and yet people will still enjoy this.

And so, to summarise, you will enjoy the 'splosions, the action and the presence of Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem ... but only if you don't fall into the plot chasms and prefer your Bond more grounded in reality while still, disturbingly, defying all laws of probability in his pursuit of justice.

Parting shot: I'm getting tired of the producers of these films overreacting to the pressures to convey equal opportunity. I'm pretty sure that Ian Fleming always viewed Ms Moneypenny to be a white woman, correct? The fact that she was a failed field agent that shot 007 and still remained on the payroll says more for reverse racism than it does for her competence or actual worth.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Interview with Loukia Borrell

Today I will be interviewing Loukia Borrell, the author of her debut novel Raping Aphrodite. Her novel combines two story lines: past and present day and deals with the resilience of the human spirit to persevere in the face of a militant invasion of their homeland.

To write a pretty sizable book as your first novel is quite an achievement. How did you keep yourself motivated?
I learned very early in life the importance of perseverance. My parents were immigrants and they came to America without a formal education or deep pockets. They had other things though: youth and a clear idea of making it. Their strong work ethic and their dedication to family is something I have felt all of my life. Their story and the story of my relatives who endured the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, are things I have carried around for several decades, but was too young and undisciplined to do the work. Now, I know how important it is to tell their experiences - the story of what happened in Cyprus, to the country and its people. Keeping all of them in mind kept me motivated, as well as my own desire to say, at age 49, "Hey, I wrote a book." I spent more than 20 years working for newspapers, magazines, raising children, and caring for family members who were ill. I didn't want to surrender my belief in myself as an author. So, I stayed on target and made a commitment to finish. I was raised to complete what I begin. I also knew I was alone in this. Without an agent or a big publishing house, my chances of selling the book were even harder, but I decided not to let that stop me. What I felt inside was more important to me than having a best-seller. You have to do what you are meant to do. For me, that is writing.  I couldn't agree more.

Writing is a rite of passage. What did you learn about yourself during the process?
I learned I have gotten old enough to do the things I thought were too hard when I was younger. That it is never too late to change your direction, to begin a new project. I also learned that I wasn't afraid of this book. That I put my mind to it, did the best I could and that as long as it was written, I had succeeded.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unravelling the thread

I don't usually like the King of the Hill series but, the episode I am about to discuss, I do. For those not in the know, It's from the mind of Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead 'fame', Daria and the most excellent satire Idiocracy. I would describe this series as a realist's interpretation of The Simpsons but with a more subtle humor and bitter-sweet after taste.

This episode covers the story of Hank's wife Peggy and her attempts to rehabilitate herself after a plane crash. Her rehabilitation is agonisingly slow and she loses heart with the lack of progress. That is, until Cotton (Hank's father) decides to take up Peggy's cause. He does not treat her with kindness or patience, but rather, insults and the heartless goal for her to help herself, even if that means having her crawl on her belly to do it. I know the story is schmaltzy but I guess I must be a sucker for it because I liked it ... or at least I liked the message.

In its essence, it is about pushing through the can'ts and won'ts that frame your perception until all that is left is will and can. I don't wait, I don't wish, I don't hope, I don't dream, I aim, I target, I conquer. You are only limited by your desire to succeed and as long as you keep trying it is only a matter of time till you succeed*.

*success is not necessarily guaranteed :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Am I missing something?

We have come full circle. Where once men were "all powerful" and women were only "meant to be seen not heard", times have changed. I'm all for woman's rights but when the knee-jerk reaction is to shift the balance too far the other way, I am compelled to get up on my soap box and talk about men's rights.  For instance, I have noticed an interesting trend to degrade men in ads nowadays. Take this ad, for example:

It starts with a woman breaking up with a guy by stating that he is boring (... boring ... boring). Post break-up, he proves that he isn't by buying tickets to look at pictures in a museum (which could still be viewed as boring by some), getting spoon-fed by a female cooking instructor (like a baby) and then going to an Alicia Keys concert. Well, at least he's finally out of the closet. If Citibank was aiming to get people excited about their private pass, I'm pretty sure that they failed ... at least for men. Despite the protagonist of this ad being a guy, I would say the target audience for these private passes is women not men. 

I would summarise the moral of this ad as teaching men that the only way to not be boring is to buy stuff, which seems to go against all sense of logic (unless you have a bottomless well of money) but, if you're in the interest of people amounting large sums of personal debt, it makes sense. He still doesn't get his lady friend back but, hey, at least "he's shown her" that he's not boring anymore ... to himself. Assuming he spent outside of his means, like most people, he'll be on cup-a-noodles while he pays off that debt ... but only if he has any intelligence remaining. And then the cycle continues.

 Well played, Citibank.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Is it just me?

When I am reading a book, or watching a film, I become engrossed. If it is well written, I become the person to such a degree that I am no longer just experiencing the story, I'm living it. It gets to a point where I sometimes have to consciously separate it from reality.

Sometimes I will have dreams that wouldn't look out of place in reality. While I am still in the dream I will find myself considering the repercussions of my dream persona's actions; mapping a path out of the mess that I have created. I cannot tell you how relieved I am when I wake up and realise it was just a dream. I think I have always been like this. When I was about four years old, I first questioned whether I truly existed. Did I have any effect on the world around me? I then hatched a devious plan to test this by cutting holes in the skirting of my bed. My mom soon proved to me that I did. 

I now believe that everyone impacts the world even if that impact is not immediately apparent. Your world is ruled by your perceptions and interpretations. You have the ability to be happy, angry, start wars, make friends, do nothing. Not everything is measurable but you will know from your internal barometer whether you have made a difference. Change is realised internally before it is ever perceived externally. The mere notion of questioning whether you have an impact on the world is enough to do just that. Every great person has started with a dream that they have chosen to share with reality. So pay attention to your dreams as it might just hold the key to ruling your world.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Breaking bad down

I've watched every episode of breaking bad (...well, to episode 8 of season 5, anyway). For those that are not in the know, it's about Malcom's Dad getting diagnosed with Cancer and turning to meth production with the help of a high school drop-out (who would assist with distribution) as a means of providing his family with a little cream for when he passes on.

Needless to say, things go a little (lot) awry and he realises that meth production is a lot harder than he thought it would be. I enjoyed the premise although the implementation left little to be desired. Far too much time was spent fixing issues that they created because the producers/writers needed another set piece to be introduced and they had nothing better than forcing one of their characters to do something completely out of character to produce this desired effect. They also go out of their way to make every single female character completely annoying ... apart from one**.

(spoilers ahead)
**She soon over-doses while Walter (Malcom's Dad) watches on and his partner lies passed out next to her ... which is completely out of character for anyone that isn't suffering from cancer and isn't a sociopath. This show cannot possibly have a likable female character but her demise was inevitable. I did predict her downfall as soon as I saw her if that's any consolation (pretty, sane woman befriends ex meth-head = death from overdose). This is a 'gritty' drama, and so, it's only natural that every person gets their come-uppance in the end. FYI: there are references to Scar Face in season 5. Hmmm... wonder what Walt's going to be doing in the grande finale? Considering Season 5 starts (a flash forward one year into the future) with him purchasing a machine gun/grenade launcher almost exactly the same as Pacino's should make the finale pretty obvious.

Anyway, Walter does a whole bunch of really stupid things that only a moron (or meth-head) would do. Except he's an intelligent (ex) high school chemistry teacher, which makes what I am about to list of out-of-character moments even more out of place:
  • Walter goes into partnership with a meth dealer / ex student of his high school class.
  • Walter makes a move on a colleague at high school and is instantly fired from his high school job.
  • Walter spouts random dark words at 100% inopportune moments any chance the writers feel that there isn't enough drama. This mostly occurs in front of his DEA brother-in-law.
  • One day Walter doesn't want any partners, the next he does.
  • Walter poisons his partner's pseudo child just so his partner's focus can return to full-blown meth manufacturing.
  • Walter buys a muscle car + luxury sedan *cash* and flaunts it under his DEA brother-in-law's nose
  • Walter, apparently, doesn't have an understanding of basic arithmetic as he's always surprised when his cut isn't larger (despite being able to do complex yield calculations in his head).
Other bone head moments:
  • Jesse does *not* use plastic containers to dissolve the dead gunman, despite Walter's expressed desire that he should. The guy dissolves through the bath tub and then through the floor of his parent's home. Hilarity ensues.
  • Walter and his wife devise  the weakest cover story possible by stating that "Walt's good at cards" and, therefore, that this is the perfect cover for his new-found wealth.
  • Apparently the girl that Walter witnesses O.D. was the daughter of an Air Traffic Controller, which results in a mid-air crash that just happens to occur directly over Walter's house, hence the burnt pink teddy bear. Ridiculous ... or the world's best example of chaos theory in effect.
  • The wife has an affair (not so far fetched) and because she's the accountant for her bone-head boss,  then feels compelled to cover her boss' cooked books with Walter's money to the tune of around 600K ... without Walter's knowledge.
  • The boss decides to buy/lease a 300K sports car instead because, hey, what's the IRS gonna do? Put him in jail for tax evasion?
  • She orders her lawyer's thugs to go and push him to pay the outstanding taxes and he snaps his neck through an act of god.
  • Walt kills Mike for no good reason other than "he's now Heisenberg" (the god particle?). I'm sure this will play out somehow where Jesse (the partner) finds out. What drama.
  • His DEA brother-in-law finally cottons onto Walt possibly being a meth manufacturer. NOT because he doesn't work anymore. NOT because he's a brilliant chemist. NOT because he bought multiple cars cash. NOT because he bought a car wash cash. But because he found a book in Walt's house signed by the guy Mr DEA found murdered (also referring to Walt as W.W. in the inscription). Way to sleuth that one, Mr DEA.
I could go on but I won't - far too many bone head/silly moments to list. But the biggest point is that every single woman in this is really annoying. The writers must all be misogynist because no love is directed towards them and pretty much nothing particularly consequential comes from anything they happen to do ... outside of them being a pain in the ass every time they're on screen. You could quite happily watch this series without any one of them and the story would be a whole lot better.

Classic example ... need I say more? (Although Nurse Ratched did make the  film)
  • Walt's wife: nagging, vindictive, philanderous, catatonic, suicidal, prone to silent treatments, prone to aggressive outbursts, smokes cigarettes while pregnant.
  • DEA's wife: nagging, kleptomaniac, unable to keep a secret, gossiper, prone to jealousy.
  • Skyler: pretty cool, attractive, a little punk ... and dead through O.D on meth/heroine.
  • Lydia: squirrely, opportunistic, prone to putting hits out on all those that know her, compulsive liar.
The women really get the short end of the stick most of the time. The guys are still annoying but less so. I think this series would have been far better if the characters had stayed true to their personae and not as prone to uncharacteristic outbursts for the sake of creating a situation. This broke the realism and destroyed any sense of rapport with them. This is a series of coulda and shoulda. So close, but no meth for you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dystopia by definition

Dystopia is a word that's thrown around a lot lately. The word, by definition, means:

"A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding."

Which brings me to this video that attempts to convey dystopia through many forms of media; multimedia if you will. I think this video is interesting (but not as interesting as their slow-motion flying dogs). I think they went for a far simpler definition of what dystopia was to them (mostly over-population) my personal view is that our society is nearing the zenith of what I see as dystopia. Already, far too many people know far too much about you simply through using their services; whether directly or indirectly.

I had an interesting experience recently:
I've recently been on the lookout for a new laptop over the last few weeks, I was surprised when I started receiving emails from Amazon about cool laptops that were on sale. Without prompting by me, they knew that I was a likely candidate for a new laptop and, therefore, they were proactive in ensuring that I knew all about their clunky low-res laptops (I'll refrain from getting on my soapbox this time) . A little scary, sure. And all of this came about because I had decided to browse a few laptops on their site while logged into their system. Apparently every website that utilises facebook integration automatically collects information about your browsing habits irrespective of whether you actually click or comment via their facebook integration. They collect information just by you going to that page (while remaining logged into facebook). Unless you choose not to be very social, they are guaranteed to know quite a bit about you (even if all they're able to trace is your unique IP address).

bonus points if you know what this is from :)
Scary, indeed, but that's the price you pay for living in the information age.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What an ordinary web you weave

The Amazing Spider-man. With a movie like this I cannot help asking why? Why did they feel a need to rehash this story? Why did they choose to rehash this with an extra dorky version of Peter Parker? Why did they think there was a market for a movie that should still be relatively fresh in your memory (and infinitely better). I would like to think that Spider-man 3 did not exist but unfortunately the horror that is this film still haunts me and should serve as a warning that drugs are bad, 'mkay? The one positive is that at least everyone managed to not get all teary in the grand finale.

From the start, there is a chronic sense of déjà vu. A dorky but smart college student, Peter Parker, attends school and is brought up by his grandparents and is then bitten by a radioactive spider. Yawn. The one cool bit is that he gets back his spider-web-shooter thingies (official scientific term) rather than having spider web shooting out of his wrists. That's one point for science, albeit comic book science. Compared to Raimi's films, the web swinging and snarky New York Spidey repartee is more fun and the effects are better realised. I liked it and at this point I was holding out hope that the rest of the film would only get better. But that is about the time that we are introduced to a very poorly transposed Reptile/Rhys Ifans amalgam that just looks all parts ridiculous and zero parts scary or intimidating. Even the fights are not memorable and the grand finale is just plain boring with little reason to care whichever way the movie chose to fall (the good guys win once again).

Off topic: what is it with modern-day film makers (Raimi and Nolan included)? Why do they have a hard-on for exposing the hero's secret identity to anyone willing to give them the time of day? I don't remember my Spidey being as flippant with his alter ego but maybe this is a warning sign of my impending dementia.

Peter Parker you ain't
It is unfortunate. I think a lot was right with this film although there was not enough to make it good. First and foremost, the story isn't particularly good, The main actor (Andrew Garfield) sort of flounders in the role and the love interest is classic damsel in distress with a hint of girl power but not much purpose outside of trying to look fabulous. Go and watch Sam Raimi's Spider-man and (the most excellent) Spider-man 2 instead. The only thing amazing about this film is the name.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Interview with Sarah Dalton

Today I welcome Sarah Dalton to my corner of the internet. She has a new book named The Blemished that instantly intrigued me. The premise is about a society that has been engineered to be perfect ... for almost everyone. The story revolves around a 'blemished' individual's plight through a dystopian future where the beautiful live a charmed life over those less engineered.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m twenty-eight and British. I grew up in a remote part of the countryside amongst many animals, meeting lots of crazy country-side folk, yet I think I am a city person at heart. I’ve been writing seriously for around three years and have had some success with short story writing, however, novels are what I am far more interested in.

At what point in your life did you realise you had a story to tell?
Possibly always… I used to write terrible soap opera style bits of a novel and read it to my friends at school. They loved it. But I fell in and out of love with writing and it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I became a more serious writer.

If you had to give an elevator pitch about your new novel, The Blemished, what would it be?
If Margaret Atwood wrote Uglies

What did you want your readers to gain from reading The Blemished?
Firstly, escapism. Isn’t that what everyone wants from a book? But also a new perspective on the world, any aspect of it no matter how tiny.

It would be remiss not to discuss the correlations with Gattaca; how does your novel deviate?
Gattaca was a little before my time but when I did some research it came up. I didn’t watch it until after I’d finished the book. There are two main similarities – the idea that parents can buy genes for their children and the classification of people who have genes considered ‘invalid’. But that’s where it ends. The Blemished tackles many other themes and in more depth, such as poverty, segregation and lack of purpose. I concentrated on what effect genetic cloning would have on an image obsessed and patriarchal society. It is as much a commentary on celebrity culture and the beauty industry as it is on genetics. I thought about how cloning would affect women and took it from there, although that isn’t to say that men will not also take something from reading the book. Gattaca seems to concentrate on intelligence and physical strength and the only female character in the movie is both genetically flawed and really quite boring, it seems predominantly interested how cloning would affect men. I’ve flipped this.

I like your premise and story's focus - sounds compelling!

I've always thought that if the majority of people were attractive (relative to society's present perception), that ugly people would be perceived as attractive. Do you agree?
Yes and no. There is a biological reason to find people with symmetrical features and a slim body attractive – these features are indicative of a healthy mate. You could argue that this instinct is something which can never be overridden. Personally, I think humans have evolved to be far more intelligent to be controlled by basic instincts (aside from the obvious!) and as long as our world continues to be complex, artistic and over populated there is really no reason that the human race cannot concentrate on the intellectual. I think, or like to think, that in a world where the average person is considered physically beautiful that personality and intelligence would become far more important. Perhaps then physical attributes would become so secondary that they are barely noticed. Or maybe I am being far too optimistic…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Dark knight of whatever

First of all, I must apologise to all present Dark Knight fans. This might be a little hard for you to read ... because I am one of the few people who didn't actually like The Dark Knight Rises. Shock, horror! Sure, these films are infinitely better than Joel Schumacher's camp exposition into all that is wrong but, with these new ones, I'm not sure you can even call them Batman films anymore. Well, technically, they're Dark Knight films ... but I digress.

Look on in horror ... if you dare
I really like Christopher Nolan, I like his films and I like most of the actors - especially Tom Hardy (he was great in Warrior) ... up until this film. There is a good reason you never hear him speak in the trailers and it's simply because he sounds quite ridiculous. He speaks as if he is performing an over-reaching and overly-enthusiastic rendition of Sean Connery as James Bond while breathing through a gas mask. Since I haven't done any review for any of the preceding films, I'll just say that the first was probably the best of the three, the second was bad (although I liked Heath's performance) and this one was by far the worst. The only thing that can be concluded is that Christopher Nolan is really tired of doing Batman.

First off: spoilers for anyone that continues reading below - read at your own riskI'm about to summarise the whole film (and point out a whole bunch of sloppy storytelling) ...

All is calm in Gotham, with Batman ousted as the evil vigilante he is (not), with Commissioner Gordon about to address the public about Harvey's (two-face) vision and success to clean up Gotham in remembrance of his sacrifice. Even though he promised Batman that he wouldn't divulge the truth to the general public, he goes through and writes a very long essay detailing Harvey as the real baddie ... and brings it to the speech ... and shows it to the public ... and says the public isn't ready for the truth ... and then goes onto state how pleased he is by the clean-up initiatives put in place by the late Harvey Dent.

Wrong. No one would write this little expose, show it to the public just before giving the speech, publicly state that the public isn't ready for 'the truth' and then go along with the other speech/lie as if he hadn't just told the public that Harvey's public image was a big fat lie.

Anywho, we jump over to the story of some random cop doing random things for some random ungodly reason. This cop turns out to be Robin, apparently.

Wrong. I thought the back story of Robin was that he was an escapee from a high-flying circus act and not some orphan who grew up to be a cop. I guess the orphan bit is still accurate.

Anyway, a bunch of nothing happens and then we cut to some soiree. We are introduced to Cat Woman who sasses her way across the screen like lipstick on a pitbull and steals Bruce Wayne's (Batman) finger prints and his mother's pearls ... that has a tracker in it ... and the battery isn't flat ... despite having remained for decades in an apparently uncrackable safe. Anyway, this is the impetus for Bruce to come out of hiding to get back his Mother's pearls (like he's sentimental or something).

Wrong. If you remember that in the first Tim Burton film, you would know that the pearls are ripped off his mother and go spilling all over the ground. Any sentimentality that he had would have disappeared as they gurgled down the drain or were ham-fisted into Jack Nicholson's pockets as he ran away.

Anyway, Bruce's finger prints are then used by Bane to short-sell on Bruce's behalf while holding Wall Street to ransom. 

SOOOoo wrongIf finger prints are required to authorise multi-billion dollars worth of put options ... and this event occurred while at the stock exchange ... while Bane was holding everyone hostage ... and the cops were outside with the place surrounded... and Bruce Wayne was nowhere to be seen while this occurred,  you *might* have a smidgen of doubt relating to the authenticity of this transaction. Especially when it turns out that these put options result in the bankruptcy of Wayne Enterprises.

Anyway, excitement ensues and Batman joins the chase, whereupon the Gotham Police Dept chases Batman while the real perps get away. Them Gotham folk are fickle, is all I can say. This is where it gets boring. Because he's now 'broke' (while still keeping the mansion) and he knows something's afoot so he decides the best way forward is to finally divulge to 'someone he can trust' that he has a fully-operational fusion reactor (as part of some eco endeavour). Of course, he doesn't want it to get into the wrong hands, and so divulges this secret to a petite attractive young thing that has a tonne of money and also had originally invested in this eco project.

Now who could the big bad of this film be? huh? huh? I'll give you one hint: it's not Batman.

Anyway, Bane has been quite benign to this point - although his accent hasn't. He's just digging and excavating a whole bunch of tunnels and being all secretive. Meanwhile: Robin stuffs around and Cat Woman takes makeup tips from The Joker.
fun for the whole family
'Jeeves' gets all teary and runs off sobbing, Bruce gets his groove on with Big Bad and Commissioner gets shot ... and I notice that the dry-wall I painted has dried ever so slightly. Bane finally makes his move and converts Gotham / Chicago into an island. Or something. He has also managed to mine Batman's toy box and automagically discovered the location of the (super-hidden) fusion reactor ... what a coincidence.

At some randomly-defined moment, the backstory of Bane is told. Of course, it's heavily symbolic and repeated multiple times with twists to the retelling. I'll give you four choices and you can pick which one sounds more plausible:

I prefer luchador Bane
Which one is Bane's backstory?
a) He was brought up by monkeys where his rite of passage was realised through killing a tiger.
b) He was the bastard son of a nurse who was raped by a bunch of patients in a psychiatric ward.
c) He was born inside a prison where the only way in or out was through a large open-air tower. The inmates were free to try at any time, with easy-as-pie handholds to grab onto. Apparently despite the inmates being strong and spry, they had never made it to the top but, of course, he was able to do this ... when he was a teenager.
d) He'd always wanted to combine steroids, cocaine and elocution lessons because he thought it would be cool. And so he did.

Answer: It was a trick question
a) That was Tarzan
b) That was Freddy Krueger
c) Actually, this is Big Bad's backstory ... including the schmaltzy climb to the top. Bane is her protector in the jail. 
d) That's my definition of this version of Bane

Anywho, despite this not being Bane's backstory, he plays it out as if it was, where he spouts the virtues of giving people the appearance of hope even if there isn't any. Ah well. Anyway, Bane breaks Batman's back and ever-so-kindly ships him out to the same prison to let him rot while Gotham is incinerated and Bruce is forced to watch it all unfold on the twenty-four hour Anarchy-in-Gotham TV Channel. Judging by the fact that this film is called The Dark Knight Rises, it shouldn't be too surprising if every audience member instantly realises that Bruce shall have "to rise" from this prison as the first *man* to escape the shackles (after the first teenage girl). Conveniently, this fusion reactor (despite being disconnected from whatever keeps it stable and rigged to work as an atom bomb), has a gestation period of ... about the time it takes Bruce to recover from being in a coma, spoon-fed gruel until he can move, endure a prisoner's remedy for a broken back, train/rehabilitate from his ass-whooping, finally master escaping the tower/prison, work as a man-whore for months, pay for a first-class flight back over Gotham, open the door mid-flight and (finally) jump out while using his inflated ego to safely land next to his camouflaged 'Bat' and ever-ready bat suit. I can only assume.

This part is conveniently left out, but considering he had no money, no credit cards, no friends, no mobile phone, no GPS and so, outside of stealing, he would have no way of getting back. There is no logical way that he could get there unless he had some offshore account with cash ... that he kept away from the IRS. That must be it. All I can say is: shame on you, Batman. Shame on you. You give billionaire playboys a bad name.

From the time that Bane graciously placed him in the jail and paid for his care, the chances of him returning within even a year would have been pretty remote. Anyways, he returns with maybe a half-day or so to locate the bomb and rescue all those that he cares about. He does and all is right with the world. It also ends with the schmaltziest foreshadowed-by-jeeves ending that has possibly been realised on film. Really? You went with the parting shot of cat woman/bat man laughing in Paris while Jeeves watches on approvingly? I'm not sure my insulin levels can take this ...

The sad part is, I don't even remember how Big Bad or Bane died. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. It wasn't compelling ... and that is the biggest travesty of all. I don't think I would have minded this film as much if it wasn't Batman. If it had been repackaged as some sort of coming-of-age for an egotistical billionaire playboy, I would have been fine with it. The fact this is a Batman film and, for the majority of the time he isn't Batman is why I really dislike this film. More Batman, less Bateman. Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You rock my world

I just thought I would post an update on the reviews I've received for my first novel so far: all positive :)

At of the time of writing this, I've got twenty-six reviews with an overall average of 4.19 or 84% and a 100% like rate (excluding one DNF). I actually appreciate the DNF as I was beginning to worry I had inadvertently written my magnum opus on my first attempt. This provides me the motivation to not rest until *everyone* cannot help but like my next book ... well, that is my nefarious scheme, anyways.

I am chuffed. You like my book, you really, really do. My appreciation goes out to all those who took a chance on reading an indie satirical zombie novel. Thank you all!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why things are serious

So, for those that don't know, the latest Batman has just been released. Alongside this, all the crazies have come out to play, with one particular individual getting a little too riled up and shooting up a cinema. Apparently he was described as dressing like The Joker with red (?) hair. I cannot help but think the way public media has covered this story simply as a way of generating more buzz around this film for the sake of a few more ticket sales. It certainly worked to great effect on previous movies (known as The Brandon Lee/The Crow Effect or Heath Ledger effect). Far be it from me to question the questionable techniques they employ in the hope of maximising their return on investment.

FYI: this is photoshopped
The biggest issue I have is that a civilian of questionable mental stability was able to get his hands on two glocks, an AR-15, a shotgun and head-to-toe armour. This was, and still is, the real issue. When civilians have access to military-grade weaponry under the pretext of "the right to bear arms," something is wrong with the picture. When the other classic excuse used by gun owners is that they have a right to protect their home ... and statistics state that you're more likely to be shot with the weapon you purchased to protect said home, that argument doesn't hold much water. When the true reason that you have a firearm is because it is "cool" or you "like shootin' guns like Rambo," there needs to be a frank discussion on what the public truly needs rather than what it feels it deserves.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Letting go

I have recently made a rather large change: I've accepted a one-year secondment in the US. Alongside this acceptance, I've also given up my apartment and (pretty much) all my worldly possessions. It is quite scary and also quite liberating to be happy to be able to travel so light but logically it made sense as well. It would have cost me a bare minimum of $2,000 to put my stuff in storage ... and probably the same amount to ship it to America. I managed to sell all my furniture, TV, PS3 and stereo for $2,000 and have now (theoretically) made about $4,000 on the deal.

I now have a suitcase full of clothes, my work laptop, roller blades and tennis/squash racquet. Everything else has been liquidated. The few personal items that I couldn't take were shipped to my parents' place and now I have the ability to start again. For those that are following my progress, I also managed to write a bit on the flight over. I'm now at about 14% (note the progress meter to the right) and having a bit more free time and minimal distractions should allow me to quickly put a sizable dent in what remains.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tipping the balance

I am progressing nicely through the next book. I think the pacing and writing is comparable and, now that the mythos of my world has been established, I can focus more on character development and the trials and tribulations of what Zed goes through to avoid unrest-threatening situations.

I have the plot worked out and it's just a matter of painting by the numbers and hopefully injecting the same level of fun dialogue and neurotic musings that the first one did. I think if I had to put the first as a basis of five for the litmus test, I would say this next book would be a seven. There are more characters, more perspectives, more story arcs and more is seen of the world. Of course, I don't want to go all Michael Bay on this book and think, naturally, that more is always better but I do think that the story will benefit from this broader scope.

Random musing:
Feel free (for those who have read my book) to give me suggestions or ideas for what you would like Mr Zed (or Chase) to do next. You never know; I might just add it to the story (and credit you in the book) :) Alternatively, if I'm 100% enamored by your idea, you might even become one of the characters in my story!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Interview with Robert Downs

Today I am interviewing a fellow author by the name of Robert Downs. He proudly writes Manfiction (the opposite of Chick lit) and is not afraid to put a few noses out of joint because of it; whether from a right-hook or a callously chosen gibe. He is the author of the novel Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Detective.

What five words would you use to best summarise your novel?
Manfiction, hard-boiled, sarcasm, dialogue

Who is your intended audience?
It would be nice if it was every reader on the planet, wouldn’t it? Sorry, I have to dream once in a while, before I get smacked back down to reality. Since I ended up writing myself smack dab in the middle of the Manfiction category, without even realizing it—sometimes ignorance is bliss—my intended audience focuses around those individuals who enjoy Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler, as well as modern authors, such as the late  Robert B. Parker, Robert CraisLee Child, and Michael Connelly, to name just a few.

What inspired you to write Falling Immortality?
I literally have no idea—although I wish I knew, because it would make my life easier in many respects—but my muse decided to bless me with a main character who is absolutely perfect for me, even though on the surface it looks like the worst match imaginable. Once I had my main character, I needed a story worthy of his attention, since he has the attention span of a gnat in a thunderstorm; otherwise, my tale would have had trouble breaking short story length.

But I can tell you that Falling Immortality came about through my own failings as a writer. I needed to focus as much as possible: I was all over the place as a writer, and my original manuscripts were tales only a mother could love. By writing a first-person mystery, I had a goal and a writing standard I could more easily follow, and once I decided on a first-person tale, I searched within myself and came up with the strongest male lead I could possibly envision. And he gives me a voice I wouldn’t have otherwise found on my own.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Breaking the rules and loving it

Ah yes, I've decided to break the first rule of fight club - uh, I mean - the rules I set out when writing my first novel, Zed. The one and only rule was that it would be written first-person for the whole book - and now I am in the process of breaking it for the second.

I think it is already paying dividends, with the fun of multiple story arcs and the enjoyment and excitement of witnessing certain events played out from a different perspective. Of course, our grisled zombie will still be tormenting the reader with his ever-pertinent thoughts but it's just that his won't be the only perspective. It is all going according to plan and I'm loving the opportunities it affords me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Two is underway

Ah yes. The second book in the Zed Trilogy has commenced. It is nice to see a beginning ... now all I need to do is see an end! The start has been unrealistically smooth, with a smooth first chapter and a pretty good introduction to the key antagonist of this book (I'm sure you can guess who if you think hard enough).


It's all been pretty smooth and now I'm leading into the first major battle of our grisled protagonist, which should be a little trickier to orchestrate. I'm taking my time, ensuring that it plays out imaginatively and makes sense to my readers. It should be 'awesome' to use an American vernacular. And hopefully you will be on the edge of your seat and filled with, at least partially, some awe.

Anywho; It's a short post so I'd best get back to writing my book! Oh, and Happy Birthday Mom!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An order too tall?

My mind is fickle.

On one side, I would like my next novel to be different to the zombie genre so that I stagger the Zed trilogy (and don't get pigeon-holed) to its final completion but now think that this might be the wrong strategy, and so, have decided against it. At this point in time I am aiming to write the last two books in short succession of each other over the next few months.

My view is to write, refine and release the books with a manufactured six-month delay between the two of them. I think that would be best and I think the last two books would benefit from this as I would be able to maintain a more even tone through the remainder of the series rather than having to rediscover my voice each time.

If I can pull this off I will be 'quite the hardened author' in the end. Despite the teething problems of the first one, I think that each successive book should be simpler to knock into a final polished shape. I believe I have developed an interesting story arc and this should result in a great conclusion to the trilogy. Well, here's to hoping the general public also agrees with me ... and here's to facing up to the challenge!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An impromptu interview by Zed

Well, it had to happen. Zed came out of hiding for an impromptu interview at fuonlyknew and took a moment to discuss the subtleties when choosing the next brain to eat (not that he does anymore).

Would you prefer eating brains from a man or a woman?
Hmm…it would be relative to what I am in the mood for; the flavour of a woman’s brain is intense, sweet and decidedly complex with hidden nuances that require my full attention. A man’s brain is musky, with a strong flavour that underlies the overall demeanor of the host. Of course, certain nationalities would result in some differences, for example, Italians/Spanish are prone to irrational bursts of flavour.

I hope you enjoy the interview - it was amusing to see Zed's perspective on things ! Thanks Laura

Monday, June 11, 2012

A whirlwind tour

You probably have noticed that I've been relatively quiet in the last few weeks ... well, maybe a little more quiet than normal, but at least this time I do have a valid excuse. I was on holiday that was quite short but definitely appreciated.

[IWDRM] "If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?"
It all started with a fifty (!) hour trip from America via a convoluted path to my final destination in Amsterdam, Holland. Why did it take so long? I won't go into details, but the multiple aircraft did begin to feel like a second home by the end. I also made a good number of single-serving friends along the way, although I unfortunately did not make Tyler Durden's acquaintance (shame on you if you didn't get the references).

All of this effort was so I could be there to celebrate my Grandmother's birthday (and to celebrate the end of another successful project). It was wonderful, with all of my Dutch relations doing their best to make the short time I had in Holland as enjoyable as possible. After my time in Holland, I then headed over to Malaysia to the wonderful warmth, humidity and my family and then finally back to Australia for the cold and dreary. It was a whirlwind tour ... and somehow I automagically handled every time zone with aplomb and guile. Whether I have become a hardened traveller is anyone's guess, but I somehow clinched it each time.

I am unsure whether I should be proud of that or just a little bit worried.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview with Christopher Gray

Today I am interviewing a fellow author by the name of Christopher Gray (or C.M Gray), author of Shadowland; a tale that attempts to answer the mysteries surrounding the origins behind Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of the round table.

Tell me a little about yourself.
Image of C.M.GrayHi Stephen, well thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself and my books. I’m an Englishman living just outside Barcelona in Spain. I’ve spent the last twenty plus years living all over the world, with longer stays in Hong Kong, India, Israel, The Philippines, Holland and France. I’ve always sought out interesting locations and have a taste of adventure that has got me into trouble on more than one occasion. I think a lot of the experiences I’ve had and the locations I’ve been in find a way into my writing. I have a love of Aikido, which I practised since I was a teen, anything in the great outdoors like walking and sailing, and playing guitar rather badly! My working life has encompassed everything from the restoration of church organs, building work to raising finances for a reforestation company.

What made you want to become a writer?
Two things made me want to become a writer. Firstly, I have always loved to read. I devour books in a very short time and read everything from fantasy to spirituality, the only genre I dislike is romance. I always heard the saying that ‘we all have a book within us’ and wondered what ‘my’ book would be like. The second thing that got me writing was The X-Factor. I took a distinct dislike to the whole concept just as my wife was rapidly becoming addicted to it, I fled the room and started tapping on my laptop. Thank you Mr Cowell because writing turned out to be a lot more fun than watching you!

If you had to do an 'elevator pitch' for Shadowland, what would you say?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview on Love Hate Poetry!

I always feel like a celebrity when someone chooses to interview me and this time is no exception. That someone would care what I have to say about random (usually book-related) topics is always fun.

The interview covers a few taboo subjects (well, religion), so I apologise in advance to those that are easily offended

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thank goodness for Apple

I'm not one to go about expounding the virtues of Apple or their products ... although I do like their engineering. The reason that I am giving them a standing ovation is for their retina display technology. What is retina display, do you ask? Well, put simply, it's a very high pixel density screen. This might not sound like much to you but means everything to me. The iPhone 4 manages to cram a 960x640 resolution in 3.5" of screen. The new iPad continues this tradition with a resolution of 2048x1536 in a 9.7" screen.

old vs new
On the PC side, we are on bread and water. There has been a rash (some would say an influx of STD's) of laptops that are sold with 'high definition' displays, although I'm not sure how they come up with HD when a 15" screen usually involves a resolution of only 1366x768. My first PC twenty-two years ago was 1024x768. If we were to project the resolution on the iPhone to a 15" screen, you would have a resolution nine times higher (or seven times for the new iPad). With murmurings that the new Macbooks will be utilising retina display screens, the pressure on the PC industry to follow suit will be palpable and I will welcome this 'revolution' with open arms.

I am a developer by trade and when the only way to see a complete page is by being forced to scale a document to 60% of its actual size (while hiding the space-hogging ribbon on office) is annoying to say the least. Considering I had a higher resolution screen about fourteen years ago on my desktop is a joke (1920x1080, followed by 2048x1536 about twelve years ago).

So, in conclusion, I am not heralding Apple for being innovative but rather applauding them for being willing to point out the hilarity of today's modern age.

UPDATE: It seems that the new macbooks have a resolution of 2880x1800. All I can say is YES!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Worshipping false idols

Ah facebook. After all the hub-bub surrounding the company (apparently) being worth hundreds of billions of dollars, it is heartening to see that the stock investors are not as unrealistic in their assessment. After floating at $42 dollars a share, it is now sitting at just over $30, with a one-day drop of 9%. I'm the first to question the 'value' in facebook and, despite using it, don't see where their revenue stream is sourced. I've yet to see/know of one of my friends ever clicking on a link or purchasing a virtual whatever on one of their integrated games. Sure, it's polished but I just don't believe there's that much to it.

The only place that there is any actual value is in collecting data about its users. This is their value ... and is probably worth maybe 5-10 billion dollars for that. My profile's value is apparently around a few cents although my profile is probably not indicative of the average user. The only way that the company is worth 100+ billion is if every person's profile is worth over $200 which I find a little hard to swallow.

GM apparently agrees with me, because they've dropped their 40 million (!) advertising campaign with FB because they saw little-to-no return. I would personally have fired the person that decided to push that much in a market where the users don't focus on adverts ... but I guess I don't have a few million dollars sitting around gathering dust. They can always get a few more billion pushed their way from the US Government if things turn sour once again.

Whether the emperor's new clothes will remain transparent is anyone's guess but I'd rather keep my cotton duds. A realistic value would be around $15 and unless facebook brings a new compelling revenue model, that's where it should and will remain. Update: for my 5-10 billion dollar value to be true, apparently the stock price would have to be around $5. Interesting ...