But I Digress…, Episode 23: A Review of ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’

By Nathan On July 19th, 2014 | 27 views

But I Digress…
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

Would you believe I’m a Transformer? In this episode, I become Nerdimus Prime and go against the critical grain in my review of Michael Bay’s newest Transformers movie–but not before battling the evil Hatertron! Is the movie “more than meets the eye”? Watch and find out!

(With apologies to James Rolf, aka the Angry Video Game Nerd, for “stealing” a modified line from his “Nightmare on Elm Street” NES game review).

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But I Digress…, Episode 22: How to Write Speculative Fiction – Part 1: Worldbuilding

By Nathan On June 21st, 2014 | 149 views

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

As promised, I’ve started my series on writing speculative fiction. In this episode, I give tips on world building. Be sure to take notes. Leave comments so we can discuss the topic.

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A Response to Arthur Chu

By Nathan On June 5th, 2014 | 174 views
Image courtesy of www.quickmeme.com.

Image courtesy of www.quickmeme.com.

Recently, I read an article by Arthur Chu where he likened the motivations of Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger to the frustrations espoused by nerdy guys. It’s a well-written, thought-provoking piece with valid points, but it offended because of its blanket statements. It prompted me to write this response. I recommend reading it before you continue. There’s much I could address, but I’ll limit it to a few big points.

Mr. Chu, you’re of the opinion that all nerdy guys are misogynists. Not all of them are potential murderers and/or rapists, but they all suffer from misogyny. This was fed to them by the culture thanks to movies like Revenge of the Nerds or characters like Steve Urkel from Family Matters: the “lovable nerdy protagonists” who scheme and obnoxiously pursue women until they win them. They feel like they’re “entitled” to any woman they want because they work hard to win them, but those women reject their advances, so they end up hating and/or mistreating women.

That’s not true.

First, I know nerdy guys who are happily married. Second, pardon my ignorance, but did (the shooter) identify himself as a nerd/geek, or are you just applying his frustrations to that of nerdy guys? Third, how dare you accuse me of misogyny! I’m not a stalker. I’m not a murderer. I’m not an abuser. I’m not a hater. Yes, I have been rejected by multiple women. I’m 30 years old and still single. I’m not happy about that. Did I try too hard to win some of them? Yes, but that was after they dumped me and I was trying to mend things. Will I do it again? No. Did I do it because of those “lovable nerdy protagonists”? No, I did it because of stories I’d heard about couples breaking up and then reconciling. Have I wanted to blame all women for mistreating me? Sometimes, but it never took hold.

This issue cuts both ways. Why did this mindset propagated among nerd culture get started? Because women found nerds unappealing. Originally, that was probably due to their, yes, social awkwardness and lack of athleticism. (That old nerd stereotype exists for a reason). But that stereotype has been getting eroded for years. I don’t look like Steve Urkel. Big Bang Theory doesn’t use the stereotypical appearance of a nerd. That, however, isn’t my point. My point is this: women have bought what culture has fed them—that nerds aren’t appealing. They were taught that nerdy guys were annoying and/or unattractive. Sometimes even in the same shows or movies you site as misogynistic! So, this is a two-fold problem. To say the only victims are women is to ignore how nerdy guys have been mistreated by women. I know because I’m one of them, and so are several friends I know. Neither side is completely innocent.

I believe that nerds/geeks of both genders (though I’d still argue that nerdy guys outnumber nerdy girls) have trouble dating because they’re substantially different from other people. They’re creative, intelligent, and passionate. They can just as easily muse about silly things like which fictional characters would win in a fight as they can talk about the philosophies of Plato. Many people don’t know how to relate to that. It takes either a fellow nerd/geek or someone with a special understanding to appreciate them. But when that connection is made…it is glorious!

I would direct your attention to a blog post by Chelsea Fagan entitled, “Why Everyone Should Love Nerdy Boys.” It provides the opposite perspective of your article. The gist: nerds are genuine. When they find a special someone, they love that person with the same un-ironic passion they do their interests. I can vouch for that.

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‘Destinies Entwined’ now available!

By Nathan On June 4th, 2014 | 114 views
Cover art by Nick Hayden.

Cover art by Nick Hayden.

I have a new book published!

Well, I’m part of an anthology.

I’m part of the team that created the fantasy serial Children of the Wells, and for our first anniversary, we’ve released an anthology of tie-in short stories entitled, Destinies Entwined. I wrote a story that was inspired by Nick Hayden‘s novella, The Select’s Bodyguard. It tells the backstory of the soldier who took Calea’s arm (and was written before Nick conceived The Well’s Orphan, I might add).

The eBook can be purchased here from PayHip. You can pay whatever you want–even $0!–and it’s yours!

Enjoy, True Believers!

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But I Digress…, Episode 21: A Review of ‘Godzilla’ (2014)

By Nathan On June 3rd, 2014 | 67 views

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

My hiatus is over! (“And there was much rejoicing. Yay…”) I’ve made it no secret that I’m a huge fan of Toho’s Godzilla franchise. Most of those films are among my guilty pleasures. So, since my friend Sergio Garza is a horror movie fan, I decided to have him review Garth Edwards’ big-budget reboot of Big G with me. Enjoy!

You can read my review of the film for GigaGeek Magazine here.

My review as a guest host on the Strangers and Aliens podcast is here.

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I review ‘Godzilla’ (twice!)

By Nathan On May 22nd, 2014 | 132 views
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge of Toho’s Godzilla franchise. I have been since high school. With a few exceptions, I consider these movies to be some of my guilty pleasures.

That being said, this week I reviewed the new American film–which I loved–not once, but twice (and there may be a third!) First, I wrote a review for GIGA Geek Magazine. The second, however, was the most fun. I was the guest host on the “Strangers and Aliens” podcast with my friend and fellow Christian writer and Godzilla fan, Ben Avery. I enjoyed it so much, I want to be on his show again. ;) You can listen to it here.

What will the third one be? Most likely an overdue new vlog! (Until then, you can watch my review of last summer’s Pacific Rim).

And for all you kaiju  fans out there, be sure to check out my own giant monster story, Destroyer.

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Flame On! (or “Going Stir Crazy!”)

By Nathan On April 18th, 2014 | 311 views

Be careful what you delete from your laptop thinking its malware—it may be a $100 mistake.

A few weeks ago, I did just that. My laptop had been running slow and bombarding me with pop-ups. I went into control panel and deleted any programs I didn’t recognize. I restarted the computer, but I got the newfangled “blue screen of death.” I called a comic/hobby/computer shop in Columbia City, Indiana, to have it repaired. I’ve been going to that place since high school and knew everyone there, but I had never utilized the computer repair service before.

That was nearly two weeks ago. Apparently, I deleted a recovery partition, and fixing the thing is proving to be more difficult than they expected. (So they say. Other techies I’ve talked to say it shouldn’t be such an issue).

This has put quite a damper on my writing. I have several half-finished projects still on the thing’s hard drive (thankfully, I backed most of it up on a portable hard drive). I also have a few videos I want to make. Now, I can use my local libraries’ or friends’ computers, but that isn’t always convenient. As for writing, it’s been suggested I write it shorthand. I’ve done this before, but I must admit I like the immediacy of having it saved on the computer so I don’t have to transcribe it later. (Makes me wonder how old-timey writers could write multiple drafts before the advent of PCs!)

I’ve felt unproductive, for the most part, the last two weeks. It drives me crazy. Despite hanging out with some friends, I feel like I’m wasting time. Perhaps I’m a closet workaholic (I hope not). It’s like a weird version of cabin fever.

(Gotta love the Muppets!)

More likely, it’s because I have all these things to say, all these stories to tell, and I can’t get them out of me.

In college, my friend and fellow writer Keith Osmun shared a Bible passage with me he called “the writer’s verse.” It goes, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,’ His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Now, I’m not about to put my writing—or anyone’s writing—on par with Scripture. However, it does describe most writers, especially Christian writers. God made us storytellers. He blessed us with talent and ideas. If we keep them in, we would burst like overfilled water balloons. In Jeremiah’s case, it was like containing an internal inferno. It will eat us up inside until it is released. Since I’ve temporarily lost my primary means of release, I’m about to lose my mind. No wonder most writers are neurotic.

Anyway, that’s another reason I’ve been quiet—too quiet—on the site. I meant to write something about why I’m not participating in National Poetry Writing Month this year, but that will have to wait.

Until then, fellow writers, be like the Human Torch and “Flame on!”

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I’m Starting an American Version of ‘Doctor Who’!

By Nathan On April 1st, 2014 | 395 views

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks. Well, I’ve been a busy fanboy. I decided to utilize the connections I’ve been making in the writing world—most notably Jonathan Maberry—and you won’t believe what I managed to do. I convinced Steven Moffat, the showrunner for Doctor Who, to let me make an American version of the show!

A promotional title card for the series.

A promotional title card for the series.

First, I must say that I was honored that “the Grand Moff” took time out of his busy schedule (what with Peter Capaldi filming his first season as the Doctor) to talk to me. I told him about a Buzzfeed article (and subsequent video) published a few months back where a fan mused about the equivalent American actors who could’ve played the Doctor had the show been an American production. This inspired me. I was a longtime Whovian and had written the pilot for what I thought would be a respectful American remake of Who. The episode was entitled “Bigger on the Outside.” The episode would start in the 1960s, and the TARDIS would be a phone booth. He said he’d look it over. A few days later, he called me and said he loved the script and so did BBC. Obviously, my jaw dropped. “This might distract the fans from hating me,” he said. I immediately started talking about casting. I told him my friend Scott Klaus, an even longer-time Whovian, would be perfect, but then Moffat threw me a curveball. “You should be the American Doctor!” he says. “What?!” I blurt. He says Mr. Maberry referred him to my Facebook page, and he liked the photo of my Tenth Doctor cosplay. But what convinced him I should play the part was this photo:

"Dude, you could play Dr. Who!" (Photo by Sergio Garza)

“Dude, you could play Dr. Who!” (Photo by Sergio Garza)

He took one look at that and thought, “He can play the Doctor, too!”

I tried to tell him I wasn’t cool enough to be the Doctor, but he would hear none of it. He was already talking with executives at BBC America and the SyFy Channel about the show. “A thirteen-episode season should be enough, right?” he asked. “Um…sure…” I replied.

Looks like I finally got my big break, True Believers! The writer and star of my own science fiction TV series!

Whether it’s picked up by BBC America or SyFy, the show will premiere April 1, 2015.

As my favorite Doctor always said, “Allons-y!”

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Why Shouldn’t Characters Make Mistakes?

By Nathan On March 11th, 2014 | 421 views

My mind tends to wander at my day job (no surprise, right?) and contemplate random ideas. Most recently, I thought about how audiences are averse to characters making mistakes.

Critics and comedians alike have made careers out pointing out the “stupid” mistakes characters—villains in particular—make in many stories. I’ll be the first to say I’m not beyond making such criticisms/jokes and I love websites like the Evil Overlord List. But this begs the question: What’s wrong with characters making mistakes?

"Now here's my little secret--I AM YOUR FATHER! (oh wait...wrong movie!)" Image courtesy of www.queeofsarcasm.tripod.com

“Now here’s my little secret–I AM YOUR FATHER! (oh wait…wrong movie!)”
Image courtesy of www.queeofsarcasm.tripod.com

The specific instance I was thinking when this thought came to mind was Scar in The Lion King. When Simba returns to Pride Rock, Scar forces him to confess that he’s responsible for Mufasa’s death. He pushes Simba over the edge of a cliff. Then, with his nephew clutching the precipice, Scar whispers that was actually him who killed Mufasa. Simba suddenly finds a second wind and pounces on his uncle. The climactic showdown follows.

On the surface, this seems like a variation of the tried-and-true “villain’s monologue before killing hero” trope. If Scar had just kept his mouth shut, he’d probably still be king. Plenty of other villains have made the same mistake. Is it often contrived and stupid? Yes. But I would argue that when done right, it serves the story.

One of the great ironies of villains (and other characters) is that they’re undone by their own hubris. For villains it usually manifests as sadism or narcissism. In other words, they show off. They can’t just kill the hero: they have to flaunt how badly they’ve beaten them. The hero, usually being the villain’s foil, exploits this weakness, thus proving that humility trumps arrogance.

But this isn’t limited to villains. Many have criticized Hamlet’s reluctance to kill his uncle when he had the chance in Shakespeare’s classic play. (I’m amused at the unintentional irony because The Lion King was loosely inspired by Hamlet, but I digress). If he had done so, Hamlet not only would’ve avenged his father, he probably would’ve prevented his own death. (My apologies for the spoiler). :P

I think much of this criticism stems from audiences’ own arrogance, whether they know it or not. They watch characters make mistakes and think, “I wouldn’t have done that.” Maybe they wouldn’t have. Or they would’ve made a different mistake. The truth is that both good and bad people make mistakes in real life. Napoleon made an infamous one at Waterloo. Hitler foolishly tried to invade Russia during winter. George W. Bush gave a war speech under a banner that said, “Mission Accomplished.” The list could go on. Nobody’s perfect. Art is a reflection of reality, and mistakes are part of it. That can be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Mistakes can and do service a story.

So be careful next you criticize a character’s mistakes. You may as well be indicting yourself, too.

Besides, Vizzini avoided making “one of the classic blunders,” and it still got him killed!

"...but only slightly less well-known is this: "'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line'! Ha ha ha..."

“…but only slightly less well-known is this: “‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line’! Ha ha ha…”

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By Nathan On March 8th, 2014 | 391 views
Image courtesy of www.Gigaom.com

Image courtesy of www.Gigaom.com

I (usually) have the patience of a saint, but even a saint has his limits.

While things like the Internet and self-publishing have given writers greater opportunities for instant gratification, the writing life remains the slowest business in the world. A writer must have patience, among other things, or else he will give up early in the race. I know this firsthand. It took at least six months longer than normal for Hades Publications to pick up Pandora’s Box, and even then it was because I pestered them to the point of a restraining order. It takes time for editors to rummage through manuscripts and separate the wheat from the chaff. Then that “wheat” must be threshed (i.e. edited).

Lately, I’ve felt like my life and especially my career have been in a holding pattern. I’ve tried to contact publishers about writing for them; agents about representing me; and artists about creating artwork for self-published books. Many of them take a while to respond, if at all. I joined a freelance writers group, but was put on the waiting list since there aren’t any openings right now. I tried to sign up for this year’s Writers’ Corner at Gen-Con, but it filled up fast, so I was—you guessed it—put on the waiting list. There’s no guarantee I’ll return as a merchant to the convention this year. :( I’ve also been considering going to grad school, but due to a combination of ignorance and tarrying, I may have to postpone that until next year.

This drives me crazy because I am a man of action. When I set my mind to do something, I do it. Unfortunately, I can only do so much. Eventually, I must let someone else, like an editor, do his job before I can continue. On the other hand, I’m not immune to the sting of failure. Past disappointments have paralyzed me; made me hesitant to forge ahead. It’s hard to move when you haven’t any momentum. Perhaps my difficulty with beginnings goes beyond writing stories.

I began 2014 with the goal of trusting God more. Little did I realize that like Morgan Freeman’s God said in Evan Almighty would be true: “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?” Patience, like most things, requires trust. In order to foster both, one must have opportunities for them. An athlete can’t develop muscles unless he exercises. So it is with developing virtues.

I say all of this to say that, perhaps, these holding patterns are God’s ways of answering my prayers. I may not like it, but in the end, it will be the best thing for me.

As the old saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.”

However, I think my favorite Bible verse says it better: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV).

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