BOOK NEWS – DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES

Just a quick note.  DRUNK SLUTTY ELF AND ZOMBIES has been uploaded to IngramSpark.  It can now be ordered from the 40,000 platforms, including thousands of brick and mortar bookstores that IngramSpark spark!

Just a note of explanation – IngramSpark is to print books what Amazon is to Ebooks. They’re a giant publisher and distributor, hosting many titles, and providing services to small and independent publishers.  Getting onto IngramSpark is potentially a major breakthrough.

Does that mean I’ll be getting into real bookstores?  Probably not. The economics don’t quite work.

Basically, physical bookstores operate on a rip and return basis.  They order books, they try to sell them within a specific period of time. If they don’t, then they just rip off the covers, send them back, junk the rest and only pay for what they’ve sold.  Believe it or not, that’s the way it’s been working for a hundred years, and it’s been working fine… mostly. It’s the operating mode for books, magazines and newspapers.  And it works fine for big publishers, dealing in substantial volumes.

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TINY PLASTIC MEN – JUST GO WATCH IT

Tiny Plastic Men scores AMPIA award nominations | National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI)

I’m a horrible person. I freely admit that. But I’m not horrible all the time. I have moments when I’m even okay to be around.

And when those moments happen, you’ll find me searching for the gently quirky, the strange, the oddball. All those hidden treasures and diamonds in the rough we all go blasting past, on our way to our busy lives.

Which brings me to Tiny Plastic Men, a very quirky, very fun little television series that deserves cult status and a lot more attention than it seems to have gotten.

Tiny Plastic Men is about three guys who work in a little independent toy company, Gottfried Brothers. Gottfried isn’t Mattel or Lego, but by God, they’re in there giving it their all, from board games, to action figures, to video games and somehow, they’ve managed to care themselves a niche.

Our heroes are three peons who work in the testing department: Crad, played by Chris Craddock — the everyman of the group, middle aged, divorced, burnt out, anger issues and yet somehow struggling to get by and be a decent person while pining for his boss, for whom he nurses a crush; October, played by Mark Meer, who starts off goth and gets seriously weird, and Addison, played by Matthew Alden, a kind of stereotypical lovable lunk of a manchild. Rounding out the cast are Alexandra Gottfried, played by, Belinda Cornish, daughter of old man Gottfried, and a piranha in a woman’s body, who Crad pines for. Beyond that, there’s a revolving cast of recurring characters.

Given that this is a show about three buddies working as product testers in some second string toy factory, you shouldn’t expect this to be your regular sitcom about people sitting around their apartments or having real jobs in the real world. There’s a basic silliness to the premise, a bit of surrealism, a bit of absurdity, a lot of off the wall stuff. This is not Friends, trust me. It’s not even the Big Bang Theory.

In fact, I don’t think that there’s anything quite like it. The closest I can come to is a sort of Earthbound version of Red Dwarf or perhaps a more insane version of the IT Crowd.

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THE FALL GUY STUMBLES

The Fall Guy: Ryan Gosling & Emily Blunt, Two Forces Of Barbenheimer, Get A Thumbs Up In Test ...

So, I watched the Fall Guy, starring Ryan Gosling, and a bunch of other people I don’t really care about, and I came away … “meh.” Not even “Meh!” Just… “…meh…”

I kind of wondered why. It had all the ingredients. A bankable star, big set pieces, charismatic leads and supporting crew, a story. But oddly, I felt unmoved.

In some ways, I think I was hoping for something akin to “The Stuntman.” If you haven’t seen it, go find it. Basically, the Stunt man is about some shlub, he’s escaping prison or something, and he stumbles into a movie set, and ends up in the middle of some hair raising stunt sequence where he’s scrambling, terrified for his life, as everything goes to hell around him, until suddenly the Director yells ‘cut!’

Seems that the movie has lost a stunt man, he died or something, and our hero is thrown into the wild world of movie making, struggling through ridiculously contrived and impossible stunts, as a Godlike Director harangues everyone. Brilliant film. I want to go watch it now.

Then I think there’s an old Burt Reynolds movie, Hooper (guessing) about a stuntman. In it, Reynolds plays a stunt man, slowly wrecking his body, as he commits to increasingly dangerous stunts, second guessing his life, coping with rivals, trying to build a relationship and struggling with a callous director. I don’t know that it’s briliant, and there’s a lot of Burt Reynold’s being Burt in it. But there’s also something genuine in it, perhaps Burt had some resonance and insight into the tough guy stuntmen doing risky, reckless work that makes it worth a watch. That seemed more affecting than the fall guy.

But this? It just never really engages. For a movie about movie stunts, there’s remarkably little engagement. We never see the intricacies of how stunts are pulled off, the meticulous care going into an effect, the degree of planning, or the degree of genuine risk. We mostly just see stunts. But we know they’re all stunts, even when they’re played for real, so it kind of falls into this uncanny valley of artifice.

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TORONTO INDIE AUTHOR CONFERENCE

Well, the first annual Toronto Indie Writer’s Conference has come and gone. There will be one next year, and I’m signing up for it the minute they hang out a shingle.

It was great! 

Most writer’s conferences tend to focus on craft – how to write, what to write, the political and social issues of being a writer, the technique, and sometimes the fun stuff.  It’s all very literary.

This was about Trade – how to do a Kickstarter, the techniques of Facebook ads, that kind of thing.

We do get a bit of that in occasional panels at regular conventions – but usually it’s a group of people who are very experienced on the panel talking shop with each other. It’s like listening to a lively discussion in Greek.

This, on the other hand, was really focusing on working trade issues, mainly single presenters, exploring topics at skill levels in systematic ways. It was fascinating. Of the eight sessions and four round tables, there wasn’t a single dud in the bunch. Everything was useful or interesting, even if I didn’t necessarily understand it or wasn’t in a position to take advantage of it.

Honestly, some of it, was just totally above my level, I could barely follow along, but even then, it was good – If I couldn’t handle it now, I picked up enough to have some idea of how to learn, and the feeling was that I could master it eventually.

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COMING SOON – SQUAD 13

[draft cover by Dean Naday]

SQUAD 13 –  Suppose all those unkillable, masked slashers from the 80s and 90s were rounded up and enlisted into the army as a nightmare squad of unstoppable killing machines. Suppose you used them for problems just as terrifying – vampire infestations, zombie outbreaks, alien invasions, incursions from another dimension, all those supernatural paranormal nightmares. The situation is bad, the Squad goes in and they never leave survivors. Suppose they’re worse than anything they face. Suppose you’re trapped in their nightmare.

2-24 TORONTO WRITING WORKSHOP

Back from the 2024 TORONTO WRITING WORKSHOP it was a bit of a whirlwind. Flyout Friday evening, do the workshop, and fly back literally immediately.

Literally immediately:  The workshop ended at 5:00, took the cab to the airport, went through security and back home a few hours later.

So … the experience?

This was a bit different from other Conventions I’ve attended.  There were two tracks of programming, a couple of morning sessions, a couple of afternoon sessions, but that was peripheral. What really drove this Convention was the opportunity to make pitches to Agents and Editors.

I did attend a couple of programming sessions. Marketing yourself and Ten Keys to Writing Succes – they were okay, mostly inspirational. There were some practical sessions I didn’t make because I was doing pitches that would have been useful. I’m sorry I missed those.

There programming sessions I couldn’t care less about. Twelve ways to start a story, crafting satisfying endings, that kind of thing. I’ve been writing thirty years; I’ve got multiple short story and book credits. Don’t teach grandma how to suck eggs.

The Pitches:  It was like speed dating. Or what I’ve read speed dating is like.

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Welcome to the Attic! My Youtube Channel!

WELCOME TO THE PREMIERE of my new YouTube Channel “The Attic, with D.G. Valdron”, which will feature info on my books and novels, as well as takes on literature, movies and TV that may amuse and disturb.
The whole thing is driven by my friend, Dean Naday, the producer of the channel, and Patrick Lowe, our guest editor. Dean in particular is the driving force. Dean’s background is in Independent films, and he’s produced and directed works including The Exquisite Corpse, Momento Mori and StarWatchers.  Dean has been pushing us to get a youtube channel going, and I’m really looking forward to collaborating with him on an ongoing basis. Patrick of course, has his own Youtube channel and a long history as an animator and independent film maker.
There’s a video on last year’s booklaunch of my “Drunken Elf Chronicles” hosted by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild at Artspace, and a separate video on the questions and answers session during the event.  There’s also a movie review of “The Marvels”, and a video analysis on how the DCU failed as a superhero movie franchise. In the next couple of weeks I’ll have an introductory video on Dr. Who fan films, and a video on the Canadian cult sci-fi series “The Lexx”.
In the future there’ll be more videos related to my books, as well as movie and TV reviews, and perhaps interviews with other writers, artists and assorted mad and unsavoury types.
Please check out the channel, and consider liking, subscribing and commenting on the videos, and of course share with your friends and others who might appreciate the content.

DEATH AND THE ARTIST

I think that most Artists and Writers think a lot about three things: Sex, Death and God. Personally, God can take care of themself, and I’m not getting any sex. So let’s talk about Death, specifically, Death and the Artist… or Writer in my case.

Once in a while, quite erratically, someone says something, and it triggers some random synapses in my brain, and for no discernible reason, I say something sensible. It’s always disturbing when it happens, and often quite frightening for anyone nearby. It’s like discovering that a Bengal Tiger has hacked your GPS and passwords. But anyway, since I had one of those moments, I thought I’d share, for people in the arts field.

Suppose you’re a writer or an artist, someone in the creative field. A poet, a playwright, a short story writer or a novelist, a composer, a lyricist, a film maker, etc. Maybe you are, in which case my sympathies.

Maybe you aren’t, in which case, just pretend.

Now, suppose you’re going to die.

Well, there’s no supposing that is there? You’re going to die, in relative terms sooner than later, and in geological terms, any minute now.

But never mind that – as an artist or a writer, what happens when you die?

THE POST MORTEM LIFE

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