I Used to Like Blogging

I did. I really did. It was a creative outlet, it was a chance to connect with people over a medium I felt moderately talented at; it was a way to share my thoughts into the void, and sometimes get a phenomenal response out of it. There was a point where I was posting 3-4 times a week, or more. I was featured on WordPress’ front page – twice!

I don’t really know why I stopped. It wasn’t all of a sudden, either; it kind of just petered out, slowing to a post a week, then a post a month, then maybe two or three in a year. Part of it is my bipolar, I’m sure; when I’m severely depressed, I really just don’t feel like doing anything. But part of it is, I suspect, a severe lack of self-discipline.

You see, it’s not like I don’t create anymore. In the past years I’ve written books, songs, albums … I’m currently working on a classical requiem, for no other reason than I want to. All of this takes energy, effort, and time, but there are also long periods of time where I just don’t do anything. I don’t create. Yesterday, I got home from work at 8 PM, ate dinner by 9 PM … and then just went to bed. No work, no creativity; just sleep.

I do like sleep.

But this lack of discipline, I suspect, is chronic in my life. It takes me forever to achieve anything. In the time I write one book, others write four or five. In the time it takes to get a promotion at work, others are three or four levels ahead of me. I think the biggest issue with my life is that I give in to complacency: an idea that what I have is enough, and that working towards more is not worth the effort.

But I’m also getting older, and I have to recognize that half my life is behind me. There are still things I want to accomplish, and I don’t have forever to do so. I want to finish The Redemption of Erâth. I want to write a symphony. I want to see it performed by a real orchestra. So many things, so little time.

But it wouldn’t be so little time, if I had a little more discipline.

So here’s my attempt. My attempt at discipline. I will try – try, mind you – to write a post once a week at a minimum, for the rest of the year. I will post it on Monday each week, no matter what. No excuses, no delays. Today is number one. It doesn’t matter what the posts are about; I don’t care if they’re deep, profound, or totally banal and boring. And NO repeats – this doesn’t count if I post previously-written material. The goal here is to actually just write.

And who knows? Maybe 2023 will be the year my blog takes off again. I mean, probably not, but you never know.

So here’s to 48 more posts. This is number one.

Movie Night: Hellboy (2019)

I actually purchased this movie on iTunes a long time ago (I think because it was on sale for under $5), but never really got around to watching it until just the other night (for Halloween, actually!). I was initially attracted to the premise because of the success of the earlier Hellboy movies starring Ron Perlman, and the promise of gore and violence to excess. I didn’t really know who David Harbour was (still don’t, if I’m being honest), and I knew it wasn’t well-received, but I thought perhaps it would be one of those entertainingly bad movies, at least.

It turned out to be the first movie in a very, very long time that I actually stopped watching halfway through, and have absolutely no desire to finish. Violence and gore is about all it has going for it – and even then, it’s tainted by poor CGI and prop/sets that appear to outright defy the laws of physics.

Essentially – from what I gathered in the first thirty minutes or so – Hellboy is on earth, part of some society of folks that go around dealing with monsters and demons and preventing them from wreaking havoc in the world. We’re treated to a dreadful opening flashback in which Milla Jovovich is gorily skewered and decapitated because she’s some kind of evil blood queen (this doesn’t appear to kill her, interestingly enough), before returning to present-day in which Hellboy fights an old friend-turned-vampire in a Mexican boxing ring, before being despatched to England to deal with some giants. (Yes – this is the opening of the film.)

From here, he is swiftly betrayed by the giant hunters in England, though we don’t learn why as they are themselves swiftly decimated by the giants themselves. Hellboy wakes up some time later only to take on the giants and destroy them with what seems like reckless ease, only to then pass out (I guess from the exertion of destroying giants?) and wakes up in some girl’s flat and that’s when I was just like nope – this is making zero sense whatsoever. (All the while, Jovovich’s character is being reassembled from her severed body parts found across the land by her demon-slaves, or something.) Again, this is the first thirty minutes of a two-hour movie.

This movie is literally a disaster. From the pacing to the dialogue to the shoddy CGI and ham-fisted plot, there is just … just no redeeming this abomination of cinema. At one point Hellboy swings a sword four times his own height into a giant’s skull, parting it almost completely and showering the viewer in CGI blood that looks like nothing more than melted plastic, or the blood effects of a 2005-era video game. In the same sequence, he skewers another giant with a tree. A literal tree. And yet tasers seem to incapacitate him fairly easily.

I don’t know. I think it’s a shame, really, because there was potential here; the opening boxing ring sequence wasn’t bad, and it wastes great talent such as Ian McShane (Winston from John Wick, or Blackbeard from Pirates of the Caribbean) on ancillary roles with absolutely no meaningful dialogue. It’s boring, predictable, and worst of all, has zero structure that sets up conflict. It’s rushed, too; along with everything else described, we also learn (in the same first thirty minutes) that Hellboy was raised from hell as a child demon, and taken in by Ian McShane’s character to raise as a son … because that also just makes so much sense.

Anyway, there’s really not much else to say about this film, other than save yourself the rental fee – or at least the time out of your life – and watch something better. Almost any other movie on earth is more worth your time than this disaster.

★☆☆☆☆

New Music Is Available!

So … when I’m not writing, it seems, I’m writing music. Whilst The Redemption of Erâth has been on pause for a few months, I’ve been revisiting some music I created between 2019 and 2021 – an album of symphonic metal called Despair.

Recently, I upgraded the orchestral sample libraries I use, and re-recorded all five tracks of the album using EastWest’s phenomenal samples and sound engine. Whilst the final result may not sound exactly like a live orchestra, it’s (in my mind, at least) pretty damn close.

So without further ado, I present to you: Despair, a suite of orchestral heavy metal in five parts, channeling the deepest, darkest emotions of human nature!

1: Depression

Depression is the first track from Despair, opening with quiet strings and horns, building to crescendo before the crushing heaviness of the metal band comes crashing in. Segueing to a softer, melodic verse section, things eventually take off with pounding guitars and drums, intertwining a full orchestra through rises and falls until a heavier recapitulation brings us to the outro – soft and quiet again, building into a sudden wall of orchestral noise and a thundering drum punctuation that leaves on a cliffhanger, waiting for the next track.

2: Anger

Bursting in with furious strings and brass, Anger ups the pace and energy tenfold, a full orchestra blasting away until dropping out suddenly to allow for the metal band to take over with churning, grinding riffs. Never giving in to a slower beat, the song carries forward in a kind of scherzo-and-trio format, building to a climax before a middle section that leads again with devastating riffs, before recapitulating to the opening. Finally drawing to close with every instrument at full tilt, Anger is a crushing ode to unbridled fury.

3: Fear

Opening with a rumbling, unsettled bass line, Fear is deliberately the most disjointed piece of the suite, wavering between numerous time and key signatures throughout. There are moments of melody interspersed between longer passages of chromatic atonality, but the overall mood is one of anxiety and unsettled, indescribable fearfulness.

4: Grief

Almost entirely orchestral (the band comes in only briefly at the very climax of the piece), Grief takes us through a journey of pathos and heartbreak, with sweeping strings and devastating horn lines drawing influence from the raw emotion of the greatest of classical composers – Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and more. From the soft, distant opening to the thundering timpani that bring the song to a heaving climax of sadness, Grief will tug at your heartstrings and (hopefully) give you chills at all the rights moments.

5: Despair

The epic conclusion and title track, Despair opens with a hammering timpani roll and huge, crashing chords from the band and full orchestra – nearly a full two minutes of opening to a 20-minute track that winds through many layers of instrumentation before coming to a quiet close halfway-through, only to burst back into life with grand horns and strings sustaining the melody over churning guitar riffs. Through a varied development we finally return to a grand reprise of the opening, announced with a huge gong crash, before moving on to the closing of the song, and the album, with a revisiting of the very opening of Depression, bringing the full album to a close.