Thinkbook 3 | Together Is the Way

This is a #thinkbook log on #ruckology by Brandon L. Rucker in which he presents a weekly upload of brain matter from the past week.

I’ve squeezed out a lot of brain juice this past week, and in this coming week and beyond it’s only going to get more voluminous and creative. More on that tomorrow in the Workbook log for July as I look back at the last month’s activity and forward to the coming month’s projected productivity.

So this week much of my thinking was dominated by the socio-political, given that we as a nation and world are still recovering from various calamitous events. And also this week was the Democratic National Convention, which did its best to calm the burning fires of the American socio-political fabric. There seemed to be a clear and prevailing message of unification, working together in concert with one another and a certain “we can do it” in the face of insurmountable challenges if we simply work together toward our mutual goals. In other words, there’s no need for division, walls or forced relocation. In my 3 Random Thoughts below I touch on this a little more.

And now on to the past week’s entertainment.

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Movie of the Week

++ Our Friday night date night culminated with STAR TREK: BEYOND. It was a highly fun and entertaining movie, right in line with the previous two of this J.J. Abrams reboot. We left feeling like it was really good, and I still have that thought a few days later. Coincidentally, there was a theme that ran through the story, a timely theme of togetherness and teamwork. Staying together in mutual purpose in order to achieve harmony and prosper – the common Star Trek theme, of course. But also this: no matter what our sins are in the past or present, in order to make a better tomorrow we need to unify, overcome and forge ahead together.

Upon reflection a couple of days later, something about this movie has me questioning whether or not I was as emotionally engaged in it as I was with the previous two installments. I don’t think it’s the actors’ fault that maybe I’m getting a sense that it lacked a certain amount of depth. Chris Pine as Cpt. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Comm. Spock seemed to do what they could to emote their character’s pathos. I would say that particular criticism would lay at the foot of director Justin Lin. For instance, I should have felt Kirk’s inner turmoil, Spock’s loss and even more inner turmoil, and even Krall, the villain’s century’s long plight a little deeper. I was surprised by the merely 2 hours running time, and maybe another ten minutes could have allowed for the story to delve a little deeper. I dunno, it’s just my opinion that stories/movies that are meant to be epic are even more so when the audience’s emotions are just as engaged as their intellect – amplifying the sense of awe.

In the grand scheme of things, this does not greatly diminish the overall experience, it’s more of a residual concern after the fact for me. Visually the movie was very stunning and impressive. The SFX contained both the great and not-so-great aspects of CGI. However, when scale is a big ingredient, you really can’t escape the necessity of all that CGI has to offer. As the credits rolled I noticed Simon Pegg’s credit as the co-screenwriter. A job done well. Happy to see that, for now, Kirk and Spock aren’t throwing in the towel just yet.

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TV Show of the Week

++ As we are on the verge of the season one finale of PREACHER on AMC, another thought on the show occurred to me. I’ve been on record here and elsewhere with a number of criticisms about this particular adaptation. Nothing too harsh, I don’t think. My latest thought is in regards to the show’s slow-burn, a criticism I’ve seen levied against it recently.

The thing is, there’s no need to decompress the story of PREACHER (i.e. drag its plots and storylines out unnecessarily) because there is plenty of material from the source to run probably six 10-episode seasons. Sure, they’d have to pad some things out, which they’re doing now, but they’ve actually compounded the situation because although they’ve slowed things, and have even rewound things to a point prior to where the story starts in the comics, they’ve also expedited certain things in the timeline that, in my opinion, aren’t for the most compelling storytelling reasons, at least not when in comparison to how things were plotted out in the original series. I know, I know, this is a * prequel * and they do not have the budget for what should be a weekly road trip show. Still, and I’m going to harp on this again: Tulip and Cassidy’s tryst, this early, not to mention this consensual, really bothers me and I have yet to see a compelling reason for it happening this early. Also, the Quincannon inclusion this early also has me taken aback just a bit. Still, I’m have to say I do enjoy the show and would largely consider it a success. I just can’t understand why I’m having such a hard time separating myself from the source material because that’s not how I am usually. I’m usually happy to see deviations if they make sense and are happening for compelling and understandable reasons. At any rate, I’ll continue to watch. And I’ll share my thoughts on the season finale here next week.

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Sounds of the Week

++ Leviathan and Blood Mountain by MASTODON ++ a JOE SATRIANI shuffle ++ VII: Sturm Ung Drang by LAMB OF GOD | Sincerest Misery by APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE

In other musical news, my band NEGLECT THE ALARM finally resumed practice and songwriting last week. More to come.

Three Random Thoughts of the Week

++ The socio-political divide in the United States could be simply summed up as this: inclusion VS exclusion. Think about that on a deeper level than you ever have before.

++ So many things in life that shouldn’t be about a competitive advantage actually are. Human nature is one seriously unbridled force in all of creation. Given our randomness and uniqueness, one could argue that we are a mistake. But I digress.

++ One drawback to being a writer is you spend a lot of time writing about living rather than actually doing the living.

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That last thought will be further addressed in The Evening Muse later this week.

No Reads of the Week this time because nothing I read was much of a standout. Next week should have plenty though.

And that’s all the brain juice I can squeeze out here. Much work to do this week. Check out tomorrow’s Workbook for more on that.

I leave you with only one request: please be awesome to each other. Thanks.

-BLR

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Thinkbook 1 | Art Can Make Your Day

#ruckology #artjunkie First in a series of weekly brainjuice leakages, an upload from my cerebral mainframe to yours.

Art. Man, it really can make your day. Be it visual, audio, audio-visual, practical or virtual. Art just has that uncanny ability to touch the soul, spark the imagination and be a general catalyst to positive things in our lives. I’m a sucker for the stuff and spend an inordinate amount of time mentally immersed in it on a daily basis, whether it’s my own or that of others. Over a decade ago I used to go by the handle artjunkie online. In fact that was the name of my first ever blog (on Livejournal) some eons ago. I am certainly an art junkie for life, no doubt.

We’re certainly in some dark times these days, socially and politically. Do yourself a favor and try to make time to consume your favorite kind or art, better yet, discover some new art.

Btw, hello and g’day, my friends. I am going to attempt to do this on a weekly basis.

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Artist: Kathleen Marie Kralowec

++ So I spent part of my morning immersed in the wonderful artwork of an artisan New Yorker (transplant of California) by the name of Kathleen Kralowec, whose artwork is the featured image of this post. She’s ridiculously talented in a variety of mediums, employing a diverse array of styles. Although I’m just now discovering her, she’s been in the art game for the better part of a decade now, creating visuals for games, animations, comics and sculptures and dolls as well. She’s a graduate of Scripps College (art, philosophy) and U of C, Santa Cruz (digital art, new media). A shot in the dark, but I reached out to her to let her know that she’s a phenomenal artist and that I’d be honored to create a project with her. You should check her out using the linkage below.

Websites — ++ http://cargocollective.com/kkralowec  ++ http://cargocollective.com/KMKralowec  ++ https://www.behance.net/kkralowec

Social Networks — ++ Facebook  ++ Twitter  ++ Tumblr

Buy — ++ Amazon  ++ ComiXology  ++ DriveThruComics

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Project: CrimeTime

++ Speaking of collaborating with an artist, last weekend I met with my best friend, musical and artistic partner Joshua S. Hooten at a Mexican restaurant to enjoy some yummy food (that carne asada was the bomb!) and discuss our crime comic project.

The skinny is this — We will essentially be putting together a one-shot issue of this first project (which has a title, but is classified for now). I liken it to a demo recording by a band just starting out and trying to appeal to club promoters for opportunities to play shows. So the story will be self-contained but will act as a great tease for more to come with the batch of featured characters we have. Joshua will be handling all art duties digitally, including colors (using his MacBook Pro, Cintiq tablet and various software by Manga Studio, Adobe and Affinity). I will be providing the story and most likely the lettering as well. This will possibly be a self-publishing endeavor and will serve as a promo tool us two aspiring comic creators as we look to co-create several more comics projects for what we hope will be a long career creating together.

Here’s some test images (not final) from Joshua for a couple of characters we’ve been working on.

*Note: you can expect more art images from Joshua here in the future as we further develop our project.

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Movie of the Week

++ Saw THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS last Sunday with the fam. It was immensely entertaining and anyone with pets (we have three), particularly dogs and cats, should find all the humor bits to ring true.

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TV Show of the Week

++ After the excellent and humorous 6th episode “Sundowner” from a couple of weeks back, PREACHER and I have finally reached an accord with each other, I suppose. I’m starting to judge it less in comparison to its comic book/graphic novel source material, finally. Last week’s episode, “He Gone” was fairly good. Still, I have issues with Cassidy and Tulip hooking up so early in the overall scheme of things. And while Tulip’s TV portrayal has been a tour-de-force by Ruth Negga, her likability compared to comic book Tulip has been compromised, thus far, IMHO. Yet, overall, I’m still entertained and intrigued at this point, so I’m in for the long haul.

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Reads of the Week

++ Chapters 15 – 19 of DRIFTER, a novel by Nicholas Petrie.

++ Finished up “Coward” the first volume of CRIMINAL, a recurring comic series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips now from Image Comics. I’ve just started reading the second volume, “Lawless”.

++ Issues #3 & 4 of THE FIX, a comic series by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber from Image Comics.

++ Issue #3 of JACKPOT!, a comic series by Ray Fawkes and Marco Failla from AfterShock Comics.

* Recurring genre here is naturally that of crime and suspense.

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Sounds of the Week

++ I usually listen to a variety of music, podcasts and audiobooks on my iPod daily at work and in my car. This week I mostly rocked a shuffle of tunes. One full album I do recall listening to was FOR ALL KINGS by Anthrax.

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That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’ll be back next week with even more brainjuice. Maybe next time the spotlight will be on writing and storytelling.

-BLR

Images are copyright © Kathleen Kralowec and Joshua S. Hooten, respectively.