Cryogenic Love

MJG Love Ballads, Tiny Life 7 Comments

Here are more little people, this time sweating out a hot summer in giant bricks of ice. Like the aurochs from ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, they gradually melt free of their frozen prisons, to gallivant across the world and teach us all a thing or two about the most stylish way to wear swimming trunks. Or perhaps this is a love story, not a southern-gothic fable, wherein two permafrost golems eyes each other through the glass walls of their cages, and by the heat of their endless ardour, over the extremity of centuries, finally burned their way free, to lie alongside each other and gasp at the air, look into each other’s eyes, and know communion on my draining …

Why Pixar’s ‘Brave’ missed bullseye

MJG and how to fix it 10 Comments

There’s something wrong with Pixar’s Brave. It’s not anything to do with the acting, the animation (which is pretty stunning, especially around Merida’s fluffy hair), or even the surface level script. The problem is deeper, in the structural bones of the story, and I’ll tell you why, with SPOILERS abounding. First off, what is Brave? It is a classic-style, though (to my knowledge) brand new fairy-tale. It features a teenage princess, who doesn’t want to do what her very nice mother expects her to do (get married for the sake of her Scottish highland Kingdom), so by happenstance takes action to ‘change’ her mother and ends up turning her into a bear. Her father hates bears, there’s a big comical …

Synecdochic Picnic

MJG Synecdoche, Tiny Life Leave a Comment

Look at this lovely couple having a picnic. Good thing there are no ants about. What fetching lime-green pants he has on! Bazinga. Can you spot the tiny picnic? (HINT- it’ just above the watermark ‘i’) And for comparison- Some points of note- Lime-green pants: I ‘rented’ them from Uniqlo, by buying, wearing (with great care), then re-bagging and returning them. I would never have worn them again. I felt a little dishonest, but no harm, no foul. Plastic ground: You can see a kind of plastic netting under the ‘grass’, which is common in Tokyo parks. It’s very uncomfortable to sit on. I suppose it’s meant to encourage grass-growth, by protecting seeds from being blown away? But really it …

story craft #17 Thin vs. Fat Stories

MJG Story Craft 2 Comments

What is the right balance of thin vs. fat in a fantasy or sf story? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I’ve had a few story sales to the pro and semi-pro markets now (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Ideomancer, etc..), plus dozens of rejections, and been trying to deconstruct the patterns that work. I think I’ve found the/a winning pattern, and it’s all about thin vs. fat. First off, what do I mean thin vs. fat? Thin is plot, conflict, movement, Dan Brown style writing. There’s very little time spent establishing character or setting, so very little sense of stakes, little to care about- it’s all on the surface, so it’s thin. We’re skating on the thin ice …

Onsen Stroll

MJG Japanese Tradition, Tiny Life Leave a Comment

I shot these onsen stroll photos as a proof of concept, but liked them so much I went back and added a final component, in the fourth shot, so the stroll and outfits would make sense. “Keep up, Junior!” says Dad (in Japanese). Get it? It’s tricky to make water stay in the top of an aloe plant. Also tricky to photograph and make it look like water. But that is the intent. The big clues are all kind of buried in Japanese stuff- the word ‘onsen’ means naturally occurring hot springs, around which spa-like baths are built. Families (especially in rural areas as pictured) will often go to onsen all together for an outing or just to wash up. …