Just like the Spanish Inquisition…

…creativity strikes when you least expect it.

Last night I sat down to read and take notes from Myth and Religion of the North. I ended up getting distracted and spending about an hour knocking out 1,600 words of a story that’s apparently been rattling around in what passes for my brain.

Good distraction!

Why Odin takes warriors

The story began as a bit of dialogue between Odin and an unnamed warrior. I was trying to get into Odin’s head. As I’ve detailed in this blog, Odin favors strong warriors b/c he’s recruiting for the Einherjar–the army of undead men who will fight in Ragnarok against the Jotunn.

From a mortal’s perspective, we can’t explain why anyone is taken before what we might perceive as their time — particularly valiant and heroic warriors. So, wesay a “god” is responsible for the death. (By “we” I mean my conception of what a pagan Norseman might think…which could be totally off base…but that’s the mindset I’m trying to get into)

And, in some cases, Odin’s given the hero a weapon (Sigmund) to use and then Odin causes that weapon to break. Then a valkyr scoops him up and it’s off to Valhol to prepare for Ragnarok. Mortals might call that “betrayed” by Odin.

From (my) Odin’s perspective, though, he doesn’t think of himself as “a liar.” He thinks of himself as a man who will lie if he has to — to get what he wants, protect his people, etc. Not that that’s better, necessarily. He’ll also do other things–whatever it takes–to protect his own.

A little help here?

In my proto-story, Odin lies by omission to the warrior. Odin sees potential in the warrior (but how does he see it? ;)) so he says: “Warrior, I will help you, but you agree to fight for me in my army when you die.”

I’m specifically thinking of Sigmund and the sword Gramr (which means Wrath in Old Norse and is an amazing name for a sword). Odin gave Gramr to Sigmund. And with that sword, Sigmund became a mighty king over the course of many years.

Then a great battle began (read the Volsunga Saga) in which Sigmund, though old, fought so well that none could stand against him…

the battle had dured a while, there came a man into the fight clad in a blue cloak, and with a slouched hat on his head, one-eyed he was,  and bare a bill in his hand; and he came against Sigmund the King, and have up his bill against him, and as Sigmund smote fiercely with the sword it fell upon the bill and burst asunder in the midst: thenceforth the slaughter and dismay turned to his side, for the good-hap of King Sigmund had departed from him, and his men fell fast about him; naught did the king spare himself, but the rather cheered on his men; but even as the saw says, “No might ‘gainst many”, so was it now proven; and in this fight fell Sigmund the King,

Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/vlsng/vlsng13.htm

The man in the blue cloak is Odin; the bare bill is Gungnir. And if I remember correctly, in the Icelandic sagas if a man dons a “blue cloak” (or is seen wearing one) it signifies the intent to murder/kill. (And in the sagas there’s a legal difference between murdering and killing. It’s a murder if you don’t immediately go to the closest homestead and declare in front of witnesses what you did. Murder is despicable; a killing can be totally justified.)

Anyway.

That’s what I had in my head with respect to the help Odin would provide to my unnamed warrior.

My story then evolves from a scrap of dialog in which Odin and the warrior make their bargain to a scene in which the warrior, having died valiantly in battle b/c his sword turns in his hand, is caught up by a valkyr. He then awakens in another place, seemingly healed. He gets up and stumbles into a hall bigger than any he’d ever seen with gold-bright shields hanging from the ceiling.

Hundreds of warriors are in the hall and my unnamed warrior is pushed and shoved through the throng till he staggers out into the clear space before Odin’s throne.

My warrior is angry and confused. He feels betrayed. But one of the warriors around him (an Einherjar) presses a cup of Heidrun’s mead into his hand and whispers to him, “All here have stood where you are now. We all made fools of ourselves before the Valfather. But don’t worry, you’re among brothers.”

Or something along those lines. I forgot what I wrote exactly. There’s more to the story beyond this brief sketch. The POV is the unnamed warrior and he tells his backstory in flashbacks–which totally evolved as I was writing.

Enthusiasms

I’m not sure how “good” my story is or even where it’s headed. I’m just glad I WROTE.

Which then had me wondering about why I’m so blocked with respect to my 2nd book. I’m kinda thinking that I enjoyed, and was spurred on by, the act of making this new story up on the fly. Of discovering the story as I wrote.

With my 2nd book, I outlined the crap out of it. I’m not really able to discover–or I don’t think I’m able to discover–much about it. And when I do discover things I have to make sure they make sense relative to what I’ve already decided. And if the discoveries are better then I have to scrap the older stuff…which causes changes to ripple, etc etc.

Or maybe all of that’s in my head and I’m just making up excuses while shying away from some hard work. And in some ways it’s easier to write a story with nothing tied to it–it’s a lark. But the novel, oooh, that’s important. (Not really, but you know what I mean.) I’m so stressed about making it good that I’m robbing the joy from it.

Either way, the Einherjar story was — and will hopefully continue to be — a fun side project.

Now to re-find the fun in that other story.

 

Less Random Thoughts on Infinity Wars

Stormbreaker belongs to Beta Ray Bill! If he’d had it, then he wouldn’t have been a face on the Grandmaster’s tower!

*ahem* Spoilers.

Full disclosure: I saw all of the following in my first go-round with the movie but elected not to write about them. I thought that maybe I was being hyper-critical. But on the 2nd go-round I was just as annoyed as during the first viewing.

So, here goes.

Thanos

Thanos’s plan is still stupid. In talking to Gamora he says something along the lines of: twenty years ago, I murdered half your planet’s people. Now it’s a paradise.

His next line should be: And I’ll be going back to wipe out another 50% when they start consuming too many resources again.

Or maybe: When I get the 6th McGuffin, I will wipe out 50% of those who remain on your planet which means I won’t have to go back there for a much longer period of time. Gosh, I hope I’m still alive by then!

Or, wait, is Thanos immortal? Gamora should ask: So, Daddy, just how many resources have YOU consumed in your long life? Hmm? What about the planet of the Groot you wiped out to make all that quilty smooth Charmin? We’ll send that old dude from those ancient commercials after you….

And why is it half? Why not kill 80%? 90%? Burn ’em down to minimum viable population? Presumably any of those options would preserve still more resources. But, I guess 50% just rolls off the tongue better.

Gamora and Thanos

Thanos has a spaceship. And a cool teleport power. Why didn’t he and Gamora just teleport to the top of the mountain where the soulstone was kept by Tantalus? Er, Red Skull.

I don’t mind the “must sacrifice something you love” trope, only how dense Gamora was in the moment. For such a savvy character, why didn’t she see it coming?

I get that she doesn’t think Thanos loves anyone so what happens in the movie makes sense from that perspective, but we also know that she loves (and hates) Thanos.

Consider that Tantalus said that to gain the soulstone you had to sacrifice something you love. (Or maybe Tantalus said “what you love most?” I don’t recall exactly.)

Since Gamora loves Thanos and b/c she’s so savvy, what if she was just slightly quicker on the uptake than Thanos and uses that microsecond to try shoving him over the edge? And let’s say she almost gets him, but he uses the power of the McGuffins to screw with reality thus gaining the upper hand and realizing his goal.

Does that rob the scene of weepy Thanos? Or does he remain sad/grieving because he loves Gamora all the more for fighting so damn hard. She is a firecracker, right?

I don’t know if my scenario would’ve worked better or not, but imo its truer to her character than what does transpire. A little tinkering with the prior scenes could’ve set up all of the above.

Thor

As enjoyable as his scenes with the rabbit were, I’m annoyed that he survives the blast of a neutron star but gets his ass kicked by Thanos. Does that mean Thanos is as powerful as a neutron star? Or is the plot convenience more powerful still?

And when the heck did Thor get *that* strong? He got pounded by the Hulk like 5 seconds ago…and Hela….

And did Thanos really leave Thor to die in the purple fire? Really? Why didn’t he wring his neck like Loki? (Who died in a really dumb way.) Moreover, you’re telling me that Thor doesn’t know the difference between a rabbit and raccoon? Really?

And when Thor takes Beta Ray Bill’s rightful weapon, plot-point-dropping Eitri says that the weapon oh-so-conveniently incorporates the power of the Bifrost.

(Many sentences start with “and.”)

So…why does Thor go to Wakanda to battle the zerglings? And, for that matter, how did Thor know to go there?

And if he knew to go to Wakanda, why didn’t he also know to go to Titan to fight Thanos? If he’d gone there, he could’ve gotten the glove off.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seemed like those two fights were happening at roughly the same time.

The Fight on Titan

Starlord’s “loss of control” when Gamora’s death was revealed to him felt forced either b/c of the acting or the writing or both or b/c the business plan required Thanos to not lose in the first movie.

Wouldn’t it have been cooler if, sure, Starlord goes ballistic but instead says: “Let me help you get that effing glove off so I can kick his ass man to scrotum-chin.”

But b/c Mothra is tickling Thanos’s memories the Mad Titan realizes what’s happening thanks to his grief being so powerful. So Thanos bellows, “Get out of my mind!”, regains his control and beats the piss out of everyone.

But when he says “get out of my mind” he has to say it in the exact same way as the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother says it to Paul Muad’dib in Dune (the movie).

IMO, you get the same result with my half-assed scenario above w/o the “er, what?” record stop noise.

The Fight in the Blue Bubble of Stargate: Atlantis

And, to wrap up my Negative Nancy-ness, the whole battle scene in Wakanda was just dumb.

They make a big show of forming up ranks only to raggedly charge a force that greatly outnumbers them? That makes no sense to me.

Sure it allows the heroes to have some individual moments but those are yawningly predictable. Guess what, they win!

Why not have the bad guys break the shield wall and the heroes rally the troops to reform the wall. And…spoiler…why didn’t the bad guys just pummel Wakanda from orbit with very small rocks a la The Expanse (and Monty Python).

And, sure, Thor looks cool being the lightning and wielding his now over-sized hammer (Freud much?) but his actions on the battlefield are literally sound and fury signifying…nothing.

Someday, somehow, I will write a book with equally glaring errors and make a similar amount of cash as Infinity War.

Or, maybe I’m just being hyper-critical. After all, the movie was, on the whole, enjoyable.

Thoughts?

Random Thoughts on: Extinction

I’m of course referring to the Netflix movie Extinction not species extinction. But, both are bad.

And I’ve apparently turned into a movie “reviewer” since I stopped writing (again) b/c my family and I moved into a new house. Last. Time. Ever.

What follows might spoil the movie so, if you care, move along…or, because I like Michael Peña, “back it up, just back it up.”

 

Last warning. 🙂

 

So, Extinction was “meh.” The first ~30 minutes were brutally heavy-handed and boring. I contemplated giving up on it, but I literally had nothing better to do and I was hoping that Michael Peña might take it up a notch. But, maybe the script just wasn’t there? Or the directing? I dunno. Either way…. “boh-ring,” as Homer Simpson might say.

Also, Luke Cage was a totally wasted opportunity. Speaking of…I should “review” Season 2 of Luke Cage, which I never finished, because I got bored and tired of all the stupidity in that show. I bailed on Ep 13 (the final episode) b/c I just didn’t care anymore. But, I really like that actor (Mike Colter) so I gritted my teeth for 12 episodes and I suppose I’ll watch #13 eventually. If those Marvel/Netflix shows had fewer episodes I don’t think they’d bog down quite as much.

With respect to Extinction, I was glad I stuck it out b/c of the twist about halfway through. I didn’t see it coming, either because the Hammer of Boring had flattened my brain or (more likely) they successfully pulled a fast one on me. Kudos.

After that twist, I was a little annoyed at some of the trickery that had been used up till that point. Specifically, the cracked space helmet, the way one of the bad guys moved and the look of the space suits themselves.

It was the look of the space suits themselves that I think was most annoying. Felt cheap. And I didn’t buy the (lame) explanation for it.

But, that twist was the movie’s bright spot. And it’s worth thinking about how foreshadowing and twists/reveals can be similarly executed in my own writing. But better, natch. 😉