29 October 2012

National Novel Writing Month: A Five-Year Vet’s View

November is almost here, which means for tens of thousands of people spanning the globe the time has come to crunch numbers over thirty days to maximize their ability to write at least fifty thousands words of a novel. It is called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and by this point most of you with any connection to the world of books—whether writing, reading, wholesaling, or propping up the couch—have heard of this social creative writing event. In fact, I expect “NaNoWriMo” and “WriMos” to enter the Oxford American Dictionary within a few years.

Three years ago I wrote a lengthy post explaining NaNoWriMo and why I started doing it; if you want a longer explanation from a participant about what the month entails, check out that hoary article. Or you can look at the official site. Last year, I again offered my evolving thoughts on NaNoWriMo.

16 October 2012

Universal Classic Monsters on Blu-ray

Cross-posted to Black Gate.

This year, the home video divisions of all the major distributors banded together and plotted a full-scale assault on the wallets and bank accounts of Blu-ray owners during September and October. Only the wealthiest could possibly survive an attack that began with the first Hi-Def release of the Indiana Jones films. But the supreme weapon, the ultimate October Surprise, is Universal’s huge ebony slab of fear, nostalgia, and latex make-up: Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection. Spanning twenty-three years and nine films (advertised as eight, sorry Spanish Dracula), the long-anticipated set brings the Masters of Halloween into glorious 1080p for the first time, and in perfect seasonal position to drain your money before you waste it on a Jack Sparrow costume that forty other people are also going to wear to that same party.

Few movie series have had such an impact on filmmaking and popular culture as Universal’s stable of ghouls. They are as much a part of Halloween as Pixie Styx and pumpkin carving. I can’t imagine there are Blu-ray owners with any shred of geek cred out there who won’t want to add this to their shelves. When I received mine in the mail, I rejoiced at the anticipation of a week full of evenings revisiting some of my favorite movies in beautiful restored editions. The box set did not let me down—except for the one film that doesn’t really belong on it, but I anticipated that.

10 October 2012

Lost Scene from Bride of Frankenstin: The Script Pages

A recently recovered copy of the shooting script for James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein revealed a previously unknown scene from the last third of the movie between Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and Dr. Praetorius (Ernest Thesiger) in the watchtower set. It is unknown if the scene was ever filmed, or if it was scrapped before production:

FRANKENSTEIN: Say, Dr. Praetorius—what’s this here on the laboratory list?

PRAETORIUS: Please read it to me, dear boy. My eyes are weary from watching the electricity crackle.

FRANKENSTEIN: “$200 for destruct switch.” What is that?

PRAETORIUS: Would you prefer I convert it to British pounds?

FRANKENSTEIN: No, that’s not the bother. But what in God’s name is a “destruct switch”?