Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Science Fiction Story with a Very Thin Plot

6/29/20

Hope everyone’s staying safe and healthy.

Recently, I wrote a short story for the humor site Points in Case. It’s called “A Science Fiction Story with a Very Thin Plot.” You can check it out HERE.

The basic premise behind the piece is: what if you had to write a science fiction story but you had no real story to tell and you had to REALLY pad it out?

Hope you enjoy it!  

Also, last year I wrote a Star Wars Adventures comic book story called “Majordomo, Major Problems,” which was illustrated by Drew Moss. It’s one of the stories reprinted in Star Wars Adventures Vol. 9: Fight the Empire, which is out NOW from IDW Publishing. For more info, and to see the book’s cover art (by Elsa Charretier and Sarah Stern), click HERE.

“Majordomo, Major Problems” is about Jabba the Hutt’s personal assistant Bib Fortuna, and how stressful it is working for an intergalactic crime lord like Jabba.

And speaking of Star Wars…

Hey, you know who’s part of the Star Wars universe? Darth Vader. Know what? He wears a mask whenever he leaves the house. Or whenever he’s around other people. Be like Darth Vader and wear a mask, people!

And honestly, that’s the ONLY way in which you should really emulate Darth Vader. But hopefully you already knew that.

 

That One Time I Tried To Write A Sonnet

1/1/20

Last Friday, December 27th, was my wife Nadine’s birthday. I decided to write a sonnet for her. I figured, how hard could it be? I’m a writer, right? So what if I’d never written a sonnet before. Was I successful? See for yourself:

 

Nadine’s Birthday Poem
A poem for Nadine’s birthday

– By Arie Kaplan

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate

Also, thou hast a body and flesh and blood and internal organs and a skeleton and hair and toenails

Whereas, a summer’s day is, you know, a time of day during the summer, and it has none of that “flesh-blood-skeleton-toenail” stuff.

Nor does a summer’s day actually take physical form in any finite way.

A summer’s day might be filled with any number of delightful physical THINGS.

A walk along the duck pond. That sort of stuff.

Ducks are physical objects, right? So is a pond.

But a summer’s day isn’t…it’s not…What am I trying to say? Help me out here…

A summer’s day is not encased in a body like a person is.

A summer’s day is not endowed with a psyche. It’s not self-aware.

A summer’s day doesn’t have emotions, opinions, wants, needs. URGES.

Does a summer’s day even know that it’s the daytime? No it does not.

And the concept of “day” is really just part of our artificial, manmade* way of marking time.

When it’s day where I am, maybe it’s night where you are.

Time is a construct.

So, you know, just to refresh: you and a summer’s day. Not really that much alike. The comparison is minimal at best.

Thou knowest what? Let’s start over.

Shall I compare thee to…wait.

I mean, come on.

Are you honestly telling me that there was a period in human history when comparing a woman to a summer’s day WASN’T a cliché? Like, did that work? Was that something men said to women to get their attention…AND IT WORKED? And how far back do you have to go to find a time when that DID work?

William Shakespeare wrote the ACTUAL “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” sonnet.

He lived from 1564-1616.

Comparing a woman to a summer’s day HAD to have been played out by that time. No?

I mean, even back then, I’m assuming Shakespeare’s in a pub with his buddies. And he’s like, “Hey guys, I’m thinking of writing this poem where I compare a woman’s beauty to…” And his friends are like, “Let me guess. A summer’s day?” And he’s like, “N-never mind…” And he just trudges off all frustrated because he can’t come up with a better metaphor. So this is what we’re stuck with.

You know what? How about “Shall I compare thee to a meat pudding? You’re both made of meat, but you wear it better.”

THERE. DONE. FIXED IT. I FIXED YOUR HORRIBLE AWFUL POEM, SHAKESPEARE, YOU IDIOT.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Nadine.

Love,

Arie

12/27/19

* Okay, so maybe saying “manmade” in this day and age is considered a microaggression. But I didn’t intend it that way. Also, nobody says “humanmade.” This isn’t the world I wanted. It’s just the deeply flawed world I was born into. And so were you, Nadine! So were you! Speaking of which – once again – Happy Birthday, Nadine!

Templeton

11/20/19
Charlottes-Web cover

When I was in second grade, my teacher Mrs. Alstein assigned us Charlotte’s Web. I hadn’t expected to enjoy reading the book, but I quickly found myself becoming engrossed in the story. The characters were well developed, and the central narrative was emotionally involving. There’s a reason the book’s so beloved, you know?

However, toward the end of the school year, I suppose as a reward for making it all the way through the book, Mrs. Alstein decided to show us the animated Charlotte’s Web movie from 1973. Now, if you haven’t seen that particular film, it’s not a bad movie overall, and it’s pretty faithful to the source material. However, the screenwriters also decided to add in a few slapstick-heavy comic relief sequences.

Templeton the rat, giving a typically subtle, nuanced performance

But even as a 7-year-old kid, I found those scenes REALLY hard to get through. I remember specifically, there was some scene featuring Templeton the rat, voiced by Paul Lynde. And if you don’t know who Paul Lynde was, I don’t know, Google him. For pretty much his whole career, Paul Lynde could be relied on to give the most cartoonishly broad performances imaginable. That was kind of his thing. So most of the slapstick comedy in the film was written around his character, Templeton. And there was one particular scene where Templeton is – I don’t know – ranting and raving about how he’s eaten too much junk food and has a bellyache or whatever. And every sentence out of his mouth is a joke, and it’s a HORRIBLE joke. A horrible, labored, predictable, hacky, lazily-written joke. And everyone in the class is just laughing their damn heads off. They’re eating the stuff up, the little 7-year-old sheep. But not me. I’m sitting off in the corner, sulking. And Mrs. Alstein notices this and asks, “What’s the matter, Arie? Don’t you like the movie?” And I just stared at her imploringly and yelled, “It’s just not FUNNY.”

 

Ewwww, Templeton! You NASTY!

So. Make of that what you will. That either means that I was a MASSIVE snob from day one, or that I had really high comedic standards, even in second grade. I prefer to think that it was the latter, and not the former.

(Come on, you think it’s the former, don’t you? I know you do. It’s okay. You’re wrong, but it’s okay.)

When I was watching all of the other students laughing at Templeton’s onscreen antics, I kept thinking to myself, “Why do they think this stuff is funny? I could’ve seen that punchline coming a mile away. Don’t these kids have STANDARDS?”

 

The LEGO Ninjago Visual Dictionary, co-written by yours truly (not to be confused with Charlotte’s Web)

 

Yes. “Don’t these kids have standards?” That’s how I was thinking about the world at 7 years old. Did I mention that I didn’t have very many friends in elementary school?

But now that I have a child myself, I see some of those same qualities in HER. As I type this, my daughter Aviya has just turned 9. (Today is her birthday.) She and I were recently discussing an animated series proposal I’d sent to a couple of television networks. See, in addition to my work as an author, I’m also a television writer. And usually I work on other people’s shows. But sometimes I’ll put together a proposal for my own series and shop it around. In this particular case, the proposal didn’t end up generating any real interest from the networks. However, when I told my daughter about the proposal, she loved it. I don’t want to say what it was about. Let’s say it was about vampire bats who were also sentient baseball bats. (NOTE: That’s not at all what it was about, but you already knew that.) Anyway, when Aviya heard that the networks all passed on my brilliant idea, she said, “You’re KIDDING me! You mean that they put a show about TALKING DOGS on TV (I think she meant Paw Patrol), but they won’t put your show about Vampire Bats on the air, even though it’s MUCH more interesting?! Who CARES about talking dogs!” So, in essence, she was saying, “Don’t these network executives have STANDARDS?”

 

Me with my daughter Aviya, during a book signing at the 2019 New York Comic Con

So, Better Late Than Never, I Guess?

9/19/19

You know what? I’m gonna tell you an embarrassing anecdote about my writing career. (Just like I did last time. And the time before that. And the time before that…You get the idea.) But first, some announcements:

Recently, I wrote a book called The Despicable Me Little Golden Book. As you may have deduced from the title, this book is a Little Golden Books adaptation of the first Despicable Me movie. It’s illustrated by Elsa Chang, and it was published by Penguin Random House on September 3rd, 2019.

Also, I co-authored a book called The LEGO Ninjago Visual Dictionary (New Edition), which was published by DK on September 10th, 2019.

And I wrote 2 humor pieces for MAD Magazine #9, which is on sale now. They are:

  • “What If Batman Were Actually 80 Years Old,” illustrated by Pete Woods
  • “Signs She’s NOT Into You,” illustrated by A Person

BTW, you can read my “What If Batman…” humor piece in its entirety via this Nerdist article about the piece. 

This Sunday September 22nd at 7pm, I’ll be giving a lecture called “Flickering Shadows: Images of the Holocaust in Film & TV” at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

And remember just a few sentences ago when I mentioned that I co-authored the new edition of the LEGO Ninjago Visual Dictionary? Well, I’ll be signing copies of it at the New York Comic Con in a couple of weeks. All of the signings will take place at the DK booth, which is Booth #2205-J (Part of the Penguin Random House booth). Here’s my signing schedule:

  • Thursday, October 3rd from 3-4pm
  • Saturday, October 5th from 11am-12pm
  • Sunday, October 6th from 2:30-3:30pm

Last week, my friend Gabe Eltaeb interviewed me for an episode of his YouTube show Inside Comics with: Gabe Eltaeb. In the interview, we talked about my writing career, we talked about storytelling in general, and I answered viewer questions. You can check it out here.

That’s it for the announcements. Now, if I remember correctly, I owe you an embarrassing story about my writing career. Ask and ye shall receive:

There’s a pretty popular online animation studio out there called JibJab Bros Studios. These days, they’re known for animated e-cards and music videos. But back in the day, back when it was called JibJab Media, they produced quite a bit of original scripted content. Mainly, they produced animated webseries, like Geezers, about two little old men named Leo and Cicero who’d sit on a park bench and comment on the world around them. Writing scripts for Geezers was one of my first writing credits of any kind and my first-ever credit as an animation writer.

So imagine how thrilled I was when I showed my father the first produced episode of Geezers I wrote. Now, before I go on, I need to provide a little bit of context. See, unlike most people, my folks were supportive of the fact that I wanted to be a writer. All throughout my childhood, they were very encouraging.

That’s why, when my first episode of Geezers came out, I whipped out my laptop and told my dad that I wrote the script for the Geezers episode I was about to show him. He said, “Okay,” and I hit play. The episode is about five minutes long. My dad didn’t laugh once. He had this pained look on his face, like someone was making him watch their kid play a tooth in the school play. Shortly before the end of the episode, he shook his head sadly and groaned, “What IS this garbage? Who actually thought this was funny?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Dad,” I said, “What are you talking about? I wrote that.” He got this bewildered look on his face. “You did?” he bellowed. “Well yeah,” I explained. “Don’t you remember? I told you right before I hit play. Why did you think I was showing it to you?” “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I thought it was something you saw somewhere that you liked.” “Okay…,” I sighed, trying not to sound frustrated. My dad slapped his knees and looked up at me. “Play it again,” he suggested. “From the beginning.” “What?” I was very confused. “But you just saw it, dad. You REALLY didn’t like it. Why would you want to see it again?” “Just play it again, Arie,” he demanded. “Come on!”

“Sure,” I muttered, and I played it again. This time, he laughed at every damn line of dialogue. Oh, it was as though he’d never SEEN anything so funny. I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking that he was laughing in that forced way people do when they’re showing you pity. But no. This was not that. On the contrary. On the most contrary of contraries. He was genuinely, falling-out-of-his-seat-wetting-himself laughing. IT. WAS. SO. WEIRD. I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since. It’s like he was a robot, and between the first and second viewing of the episode they turned on his emotion chip. After the episode was over, he gave me a big hug and congratulated me on doing such a good job. With no hint of irony whatsoever. There was no, “Well, the first time I saw it, I wasn’t aware that my genius son wrote it, but now that I am, I can appreciate its brilliance.” Even though that was exactly what was going on.

Let me repeat: It was so weird.

And my takeaway from that experience is: Um, thanks, dad? I think?

 

 

 

 

Please contact me if you want to use this for any reason. arie@ariekaplan.com