Saturday, January 19, 2013

Movie Review: Excision

I was going to do a review of Django Unchained, but there isn't much to say other than it's pure awesome Tarantino goodness. So I thought why not review something less well known, like Excision--a black comedy about a disturbed teenager who has sexual fantasies about blood, dead bodies, and dismemberment... Did I mention she was disturbed?

 Another reviewer has said this was a cross between Carrie and Napoleon Dynamite, which is pretty accurate, although I found this far more entertaining than Napoleon. The main character Pauline, an outcast at school and rebel at home, navigates the waters of teenagehood with aspirations of one day becoming a surgeon. Her overbearing mother wants to make a proper lady out of her, while the father seems to have no say. Her little sister Grace, the only person she connects with, has cystic fibrosis.

It's also a lot like a John Water's film (who interestingly enough, appears in this movie), with Pauline's morbid dreams of sex and blood/surgery. As the story progresses, her dreams turn more and more into grandeur, as she envisions herself as being beautiful, desired, and worshiped.

Paulines is played by AnnaLynn McCord, who does a phenomenal job playing the creepy teen, from stooped posture and awkward smile to the outrageous comments she makes. Not to mention, a dramatic makeover.
Left, Pauline; right, actress Annalynn

An interesting thing about Pauline, she says in the beginning that she doesn't believe in God, yet continual prays to him. But towards the end, she says: "I find it harder and harder not to believe in you." As she thinks God has given her this gift of surgery, part of her deepening delusion.

The rest of the cast is basically cardboard cutouts; they do a fine job filling their role, but there's nothing unique or interesting about them, which works in this film as Pauline is meant to be the only weird one.

A theme that pops up is that Pauline is constantly bringing up the need to see a psychiatrist. She's aware that she's not quite right, and even confesses to God that she does some crazy shit, but her parents refuse to "break bank" to have her see a psychiatrist. Instead, her parents refer her to their local priest. Even when she lashes out at other students, after they teepeed her home, the principal laughs at her suggestion to send her to a psychiatrist. In light of recent events, where mentally ill individuals committed horrific crimes, and you know how people always say there were "signs", but sadly, nothing was done. I think this film, although released in Jan. 2012, was poking at that. It's not until the very end that Pauline finally gets signed up to see a doctor, but of course, it's too late by then.

If you're looking for an entertaining black comedy, and don't mind gallons of blood and some disturbed images, I'd recommend this. There's a few good scenes that'll make you chuckle, and many more that'll make you cover your eyes. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Duotrope blues and The Grinder

As you all know (and if you don't, you need to get out from under that rock), Duotrope recently went to subscription, $50/year or $5/month.

At first, I was very disappointed at all the users for not chipping in more, which ultimately led to Duo forcing all of us to pay to use their services. I did consider subscribing, but ehhh... So I thought I'd subscribe for a single month, give me extra time to shift my data over to another source.

But turns out I couldn't even do that much. For whatever reason, Duo didn't like my card and it took two emails to them to finally get a response. Either it was my browser (FireFox) or the bank wasn't allowing the card to go through. Well, I know it's not my bank, because I recently made an online  purchase with the very same card. And if I have to switch browsers to make a single purchase, then forget it.

Fortunately, someone pointed me toward The Grinder. Although still in its beta stages, it does everything that Duo did--but, with the guarantee that they'll never go to subscription. Which is awesome. For the statistics to work, you do need a large amount of data, and when you cut off 90% of contributer data, you create defunct statistics. This isn't like a psychology study or a political poll study, where you only need 300 participants and that's it. Writing markets (and any market for that matter) are a changing beast, and as we all know, the response times last year don't necessarily apply to this year. For example, in 2011, Abyss & Apex had very speedy response times, and were open four times. In 2012, their response times dramatically increased and they were only open twice.

Another awesome thing about The Grinder, is that you can import you Duotrope tracker file, picking up where you last left off. There are a few issues with this at the moment, but I contacted the admin, Anthony Sullivan, and within a day got it all sorted out. Far superior customer service than Duo, I might add.

So if you're in need for a tracker for your writing, I'd give a The Grinder a try. There's also the possible Submitomancy, which looks like they'll have a lot of nice features and will have both free user and subscriber components. Problem is, they're no where near their Kickstarter goal. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

December W1S1 Update

Happy New Year! Wow, 2013 already. And whatdaya know, we're all still here--until science gives us zombies.

So how did December turn out?

Stories written: 1 (currently ~4,800-word horror--my hopeful for Cemetery Dance)
Stories submitted: 19
Stories accepted: 0
Stories rejected: 17

Overall a slow month, but nonetheless, a good year. Managed to sell more stories than last year, including sales to Eschatology, Lovecraft eZine and Cosmos. Also, if you haven't already, definitely grab a copy of Unidentified Funny Objects, which contains my flash story "All I Want for Christmas..." and I have to share this review from Collen Chen over at Tangent, because it's hilarious. As she says about my story:

  Abby encounters Santa by the Christmas tree. We first think she’s just another kid who’s been exposed to too much violence when she requests a katana like the one she saw in Kill Bill, but we soon discover that she needs to kill some zombies or she can’t play outside.
This is a short, one-gimmick story, and I’m afraid I’m in the least likely demographic (a mother with young children) to enjoy the humor of this story because I was aghast at the premise—that no, kids aren’t watching too much violence on screen; they need it to learn how to fight and kill zombies. Sorry…I just couldn’t suspend my maternal urges enough to enjoy this.
See there? It offends mothers, ones with small children who think video games/TV causes violence, so you know it's pure win.

For those curious, my 2012 stats:

262 stories submitted. Only 5 accepted. 25 stories pending. Do the math and you'll know the rejection rate, haha.

Looking back at 2012, I do feel that I'm stronger writer today than I was back in Dec. 31 2011 (I originally wrote 21022, I must be from the future), and although I wrote a lot of crap, I wrote some good stuff to convince the editors that it's good.

Happy New Year's everyone and happy writing in 2013!