Monday, January 01, 2007

New Years and Miscellany

Okay, should I cave and write the obligatory New Years resolutions? Everyone else is doing it, so maybe I should... but other things first.

One of the things I love about break times is catching up on my reading. I get lots of books, DVDs, and graphic novels for Christmas (the latter from my brother, the only person who still buys me comics-related stuff). So I love to use my break time reading whatever I've been dying to read lately. So far this break, I've only read two books, but I feel this is justified because I was taking care of a father with pneumonia and a wife with major all-day morning sickness.

Bret Easton Ellis's newest novel, Lunar Park, was an interesting work (it's not really new -- it came out in 2005, but I'm just now getting to it in paperback). The main character in it is Bret Easton Ellis, the much-lauded writer of Less Than Zero, who tries to settle down with the mother of his child but finds that the horrors he's unleashed on the world in his novels have come to life to haunt him. Now, this sounds like the plot of Stephen King's The Dark Half, and it is very similar. But where King's work simply uses the concept for a by-the-numbers horror story, Ellis uses it to explore the concept of coming to terms with your past. And given that he is the writer of American Psycho, one of the most controversial written works of the past 50 years (and a novel that, after reading it, I couldn't justify keeping in my house -- the only time I've ever gotten rid of a work of fiction), his exploration of what his own past has caused him to unleash on the world resonates. And, I admit, I love to read about writers, so reading about a writer like Ellis, even if it is only a fictionalized version of him, is interesting to me.

I've also read Michael Tolkin's The Return of the Player. This is a hard work to judge for a number of reasons. First, it's been a LONG time since I read The Player, and second, a lot of my recollections of the earlier work are colored by Robert Altman's excellent film version of it. It's hard to read about Griffin Mill without picturing Tim Robbins in the role. The other complicating factor is that I heard Michael Tolkin speak at the Virginia Film Festival this fall (about his film, The Rapture), and it's hard to read a novel by him without, in a sense, hearing his voice behind it. The Return of the Player contains a lot of satirical editorializing, and this stuff -- for me -- sounds like it's coming right out of Tolkin's mouth. And I think it is intended that way, but it doesn't work as well for me now. Having said that, I wanted to read this book because I loved the original (and the film) and wanted to see where Griffin Mill's story went next. And I got that. But I'm not sure it was a satisfying trip. The resolution is so over the top unrealistic that it's just silly, whereas the satiric resolution of the original novel was just right -- Griffin got what he wanted because his underhanded actions are actually rewarded in that world. But I think it just goes too far in The Return.

That's a rambling review -- sorry. I haven't really formulated all my thoughts on it.

Finally, I read Trinity, a graphic novel by Matt Wagner. In its story of Ra's al Ghul's attempt to use Bizarro (one of Lex Luthor's failed experiments to recreate and control a Superman), it details the relationship between Batman and Superman, as well as their first meeting with the amazon princess Diana (also known as Wonder Woman). I have never been a huge DC comics fan, but I'm coming around, especially to stuff like this that explores the inner life of these figures. I'm not interested in straight up superhero action stories like I used to be, and Trinity is not one of those. The relationship between Batman and Superman is interesting in this graphic novel. If you consider that Superman would probably hate Batman's methods, his defense of those methods to a horrified Wonder Woman is very interesting (and her reactions to and thoughts about both of them, including a possible attraction to Batman's dark side and an obvious attraction to Superman in spite of his need to be the protector to women, makes her a more interesting character than I've ever thought of her before).

And now, on to those resolutions:

Finish Clean Freak, my new film: which means I need to get off the stick and start on it in earnest. I've been avoiding thinking about it, in part because I don't know exactly what it's going to be yet, but I need to get to work on it.

Raise enough money to make my next feature, Endings: I want to shoot this next summer, and I need to decide by this summer if that's going to be a realistic possibility so that I can get it listed as a course on the summer course schedule (to have students work on it for course credit and to involve other crew).

Lose 20 pounds: I know I can do this, because I lost 100 pounds a few years back, and since I moved to Texas, I've put about 15-20 back on, so I just need to find my willpower again and stop going to Mexican restaurants so much.

Redecorate: with a baby coming, we're going to be doing some "room shuffling," and that means repainting, which I hate doing. So I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and get it done.

Prepare to be the father of four children: is it even possible to do this? Or should I just adjust my thinking when #4 arrives?

Decide on a name: My wife and I cannot agree on a name for this baby. I'm partial to Katie or Molly if it's a girl, and my wife likes Lilly or Ava. There has been very little movement on this issue. At least we agree on a boy name (probably Carter). After all, with three girls, we've had a lot more time to consider boy names that haven't been used.

There are, I am sure, other things I need to resolve to do. But these are the biggies.


Blogger Robert Hogan said...

All the best with the new baby, and the upcoming film projects. I will be raising funds for my first feature, so any tips you can throw my way would be great.

Speaking of tips, how did you lose 100 pounds? I want to drop some weight (okay a lot of weight) and could use a strategy that actually works.

1/01/2007 7:38 PM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...


as far as film funds, i wish i had better advice. for my first film, i approached a bunch of people, and the only one who "bit" was a pretty well-off uncle who gave me enough to get started. that, coupled with access to free equipment and some funds from my department, made the first film possible, but the $20,000 I had to spend was extremely tight. I'm looking to have at least $50,000 to make the next one, but I don't know where to start looking, LOL. My advice -- ask anyone and everyone.

Losing the weight -- for me, it was just the decision -- and once I decided, I never looked back. I used the weight watchers "points" plan, but I didn't attend meetings. I told my wife that dieting is not a group activity for me. So I weighed in every week and told HER my weight, and she charted it for me. I was about 270 lbs when I started, and I got down to under 170 (though I'm now up to 184-ish).

So -- for me, that plan worked because I had specific limits based on the numbers in the WW plan, and it also worked for me because it allowed me to eat pretty much anything I wanted as long as I was responsible about amounts. I could save up my "points" to eat pizza one night if I wanted, for example. So if I really wanted to go out to the movies and have some popcorn, I could do it as long as I saved up some points for it.

Felt good to fit into "normal" sizes ;-)

1/01/2007 8:15 PM  
Blogger DanBuck said...

Add - teach Dan how to be a Texan to the list. (or at least, how not to be such a yankee that he gets shot by Texans.) :)

1/02/2007 5:46 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

the nice thing about texas is they suffer yankees gladly. well, all the ones i know do ;-)

1/02/2007 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Good luck with all of your resolutions, Chris; especially rasing the money.

I find, in general, when I meet an author and actually can hear his or her voice when reading, it's so much better, so it strikes me as strange that that was a negative experience for you. I had really hoped to meet Michael Tolkin at the VFF and was sorry I didn't. (Stupid me waited until the last minute to get tickets; then they sold out.)

1/05/2007 10:13 AM  

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