Given many of the folks I know, there was little chance that I wasn’t going to get bombarded by statements, screeds, and opinions about the possible changes to the Open Game License (OGL) the owner of Dungeons and Dragons currently offers and many people (including some of said folks) use.
This hour-long lecture comes from when Bradbury was around 80, so it should come as no surprise if your curmudgeon detector goes off. However, other videos can give you more of a taste of that.
Here, I especially like how he tackles:
How to get started writing
His advocacy of attempting short stories before getting deep into novels mirrors other a lot of what I’ve read and heard in the filmmaking realm, where doing shorts is often vital in learning various aspects of craft. It also matches what many people say in that the quantity and mindful practice is invaluable to getting better.
How to get your brain percolating about writing
I mean, as the lecture goes on, he does keep on adding to one’s evening homework, but Bradbury isn’t the only one who advocates reading poetry (I’ve had acting teachers and dialect coaches push for the same).
And it seems like a good way to keep your brain active in any case (writer or not).
Why you’re writing in the first place
As with any creative pursuit, it should all roll back to love, which he mentions generally near the beginning and closes with very personally at the end.
I have a new source to look for regarding Public Domain Day every January… that is assuming Steve Shives returns for more merriment next year. I’ve already enjoyed his Star Trek commentaries and now I learn how much of a classic film buff he is — and he doesn’t mind singing. Truly, he contains multitudes.
His phrasing is occasionally delightfully NSFW at moments, so be warned for when you watch.
What with starting the year off with a Public Domain post, I’ll continue in the intellectual property realm with a topic currently being discussed and debated mightily amongst indie artists and writers I know: how artificial intelligence (aka “A.I.”) is starting to do creative jobs.
I especially appreciate him tackling the fact that the existence of technology neither means its inevitability nor that it will be implemented a specific way with no societal discussion. Naturally, those who stand to profit from a particular technology and specific implementation are going to push for whatever way benefits them. He touches on this and, sadly, that recurring theme of technology implementation has a high probability of impacting a lot of independent artists, writers, and voiceover artists — the last group being the main topic of the article above.
As someone who both works as a voice actor and casts voice actors for an audio theater troupe, I can’t imagine relying on artificial voices. Theater itself is about collaboration and connection, including with an audience. Its value isn’t derived from its efficiency. And, as Wendig points out, in this economic system, making a living is a reason for creative work too, so, hey, A.I., maybe don’t steal fizzy lifting drink?
Author Cory Doctorow has many thoughts on the Arthur Conan Doyle estate no longer having rights to Sherlock Holmes (though noting some legalistic clinging may yet occur) and his piece is a good reminder of how we all benefit from works entering the public domain.
The efforts of estates and entertainment conglomerates to hold onto intellectual property for as long as possible is also explored in an article by Aaron Moss that will likely interest many of you.
So there it is: a whole new year’s worth of goodies that may fuel your own creativity. If you do something with any of the 1927 works, leave a note about it down in the comments. We’ll see you next year when a certain 1928 cartoon is sure to be the headline for many a public domain post.
Given my most recent Favorite Films list, I figured it’d be nice to highlight the National Film Registry, a project by the Library of Congress. Each year, they add titles to the registry, serving as an annual reminder of the work they do and highlighting some films that might have fallen off people’s radar.
You can read about this years inductees at the link above, from NPR and Variety, or via this fun video below:
It’s that time of [even] year where I reflect on the many films I’ve seen and perform that most Internet of activities: ranking them. I mean, I’ve done an offline sort of my favorite films for about 30 years, but the past 10 year online have been right at home here on the Intertubes. You can see my previous entries here (including how I do the sort by pairwise comparison).
This year, the total of films sorted was probably close to 600. This is, in part, due to all the films I watched in the past two years where I added new cards for the films. Many of these did not even make the first cut, but it was only fair that they go into the sort, even if they were doomed.
Just as with two years ago, there are many changes to the previous list, while many of the longstanding films remain… and there is a new #1.
Hush! What part of “Surprise is on our side” do you not get?
Anyway, here are the ground rules:
These must be feature films (narrative or documentary). Short films aren’t included.
Film series or franchises do not count as one entry. Each must fend for itself.
TV movies can be included (I don’t think any are in the top 50)
TV mini-series are not included.
Regular TV series are right out.
These are my favorite films, not a “best of.” If anyone else entirely agrees with my list, one of the two of us is an alternate version of me, possibly allied with Jobu Tupaki.
Number of films dropped/Number of new films added to the Favorite 50 (compared to 2020): 12
Number of films new to the sort and added to the Favorite 50(!): 2
Mean average year of the 50 films (rounded up): 1992
Decade with the most favorites: 2000s (13 films), followed closely by the 1980s (11 films)
The film at #51 which at least one reader will insist should rank higher: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
All right, here’s some other thoughts…
Feeling a Bit Lighter… Kinda
There are ever-so-slightly less dramas and more comedies, though some of those are arguably action-comedies or comedy-dramas, which usually don’t have the same jokes-per-minute as, say, Airplane! (#69, naturally). Still, the list doesn’t feel as grim as two years ago… though perhaps I should do a list of top 10 outright comedies sometime.
There’s Something About the New
I love older films, our dad showing us “the classics” before the existence of Turner Classic Movies. However, looking over my Favorite 50 over the past 10 years, both with the average year of the 50 films and the decades with the most selections, I like a lot of films that came out in my lifetime… and new films may resonate with me stronger.
18 of the films I watched for the first time got into the top 200, including entries from this year like Prey and the newest version of All Quiet on the Western Front along with recent films I’ve finally had a chance to watch, like Crazy Rich Asians.
Oh, and speaking of the extended sort, Die Hard (#81) has retaken its place as top Christmas movie from Klaus (#89)… for now.
But back to “the new,” I think of the two films new to the sort which made it into the 50. Everything Everywhere All at Once is right up my quirky, genre-bending alley and I’ve loved the story of Dune for decades. I’ve watched it seven times since it came out, for crying out loud!
We’ll see how all of these rank in two years. The impetuous Hamilton, for instance, pushed its way into the Favorite 50 in its first sort two years ago and has since fallen off (though at #62, not too far). This leads me to…
Rethinking the Ranking
My brother mentioned he prefers to rank films in more fluid levels versus a strict ordinal ranking and this year’s sort made me think about that. In fact, we sort of ranked films that way growing up, something I’ll write more about next week. I mean, I can honestly say I love many of the films that, in the sort, would be ranked 100-200. Ask me next month and will they still be there? How much of an ephemeral snapshot is this? How much can I quantify the criteria of Quality + Watchability + Resonance (clearly, it’s kind of like PERT where “Resonance” gets more weight in the average. Something to think about.
So there you have it. Another biennial sort completed. Who knows what 2024 will bring? In any case, if you’re tempted to check out or revisit some films on this list, my job here is done.