Author Archives: Guy Bergstrom

About Guy Bergstrom

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a novel that was a finalist for some award.

Just dogs freaking out about magic tricks

Loved this. Our own Hound of the Baskervilles gets faked out every time I pretend to throw the ball and palm it. Where’s the ball? The ball? I CAN’T FIND THE BALL!

But what about cats?

Yeah. Cat’s don’t care at all. Related: A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER

More posts for your amusement and possible education:

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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by | June 18, 2015 · 1:06 pm

Bourbon and birthdays and such

buffalo trace bourbon

So I try not to write about personal things, because a good blog is not a bad version of Dear Diary.

HOWEVER: It’s my birthday and I’ll blog if I want to. (Believe this is a song from the ’50s. Could be wrong. Not gonna check.)

Though I rarely drink now, my wife gave me two bottles of fine bourbon this morning: Knob Creek and Buffalo Trace.

A while bag, I toured the Buffalo Trace distillery while in Kentucky’s capitol, and they spent hours educating all about bourbon, which is rather complicated and interesting.

Also, the governor made us Kentucky Colonels.

I kid you not. Not really a military thing. Honorary advisory role from way back. Colonel Sanders wasn’t an officer who fought in World War II, then decided to open fried chicken restaurants. He was a Kentucky Colonel.

So yeah, those of us who went on this trip still joke around and call each other Colonel, though none of us have gone to the annual reunions.

The interesting part about the tour wasn’t just the ABC’s of bourbon and how each barrel was worth $25,000.

At lunch, they gave us pulled pork sandwiches and little taster cups. Columns were ingredients: rye whiskey, bourbon, vodka and so forth. Rows were age, with six months on the bottom row, a year, two years then the expensive stuff on the top row aged something like seven years or more.

Here’s the thing: didn’t matter if you loved whiskey and hated vodka. Every single thing in that bottom row, the six-months old, tasted like cheap moonshine. Rocket fuel. It was terrible, no matter what ingredients they used.

The next row was better. Third row was great.

Weirdly, the top row, the expensive stuff, wasn’t universally wonderful. Vodka doesn’t really taste like anything, so it was fine, but other cups weren’t smooth like the middle rows. Some of them tasted seriously off. Spicy, heavy, more concentrated. You’ve probably run into this if you’ve ever had an expensive bottle of wine. Uncorking it after thirty or sixty years is rolling the dice. Could be amazing. Could be sour and terrible. Either way, it’ll cost you as much as a used Honda Civic.

On the same line of thought, I’d always thought the Z3 was the best-looking car ever since Remington Steele drove one in GOLDENEYE: SEAN BEAN DIES AGAIN. (Love the Swedish subtitles on this video. Perfect.)

Last week, I spotted a Z3 at our friend’s house with a FOR SALE sign. Beautiful car, low miles.

She gave me keys to drive it. A dream, right?

Hated it. A fine car, just way too small, my head would poke out of the top of the soft-top. I felt cramped, like an astronaut shoved into a space capsule. I honestly feel far more comfortable in the Epic Black Car Part II: The Sequel, which sounds weird to say–I’d rather drive that instead of a Z3? But yeah, I would.

Sometimes, expensive is just expensive, and something one-third the price is twice as good.

Sidenote: Now that it’s summer, I’ll have time in July and August to do a few side projects for fun. Shout if you have ideas, as long as they don’t involve Gertrude Stein poetry.

More posts for your amusement or education:

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

 

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Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Housekeeping

4 ways to improve STARLORD VS MUTANT DINOSAURLAND (aka JURRASIC WORLD)

Seen it yet? Go buy tickets and eat insane amount of popcorn. Everybody on the planet is required to do so.

I’ll wait. Don’t want to spoil the ending for you.

Actually, I want to improve the ending. And the beginning. Maybe the middle, too.

Not that this is a bad movie. It’s summer popcorn fun and will make bazillions of dollars. Chris the Pratt is a great actor, our generation’s Harrison Ford, an action star who makes you laugh.

HOWEVER: there are four easy ways to radically improve JURASSIC WORLD, especially compared to the last two Chris Pratt movies, which were structurally sound.

This is more important than you think. A solid story is the difference between “Yeah, that was fun” and “Even though we just saw it, I’d happily pay another $15, keep this dorky glasses on and see this in 3D again right now.”

Despite my dislike for Tom Cruise, an amazing story structure is why I paid cash money to see THE EDGE OF TOMORROW in theaters three times and bought the Blu-Ray to see it twice more.

Want the easy way to see if a movie has story problems? Count the number of writers. One is great. Two might work if they collaborate a lot, or if they’re the Coen brothers. Three means trouble.

If you see four or more writers when the credits roll, that says “People gave us $389 million dollars for a film about transforming robots, lightsabers or mutant dinosaurs, so we spent about half a percent of the budget on script rewrites until we had a story that would thrill the high tastes and standards of 9-year-old boys sitting in theater seats as they drink 72 ounces of Mountain Dew.”

On to four easy ways to improve JURASSIC WORLD: Continue reading

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by | June 16, 2015 · 7:03 am

8 reasons why blockbusters are meta-stories instead of Villain of the Week (Walking Dead, Star Wars, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Harry Potter, Avengers, Game of Thrones)

Name something popular, anything at all, and chances are it’s a series instead of a One Hit Wonder.

This is about why that is, despite a serious quality handicap, and how your favorite series either does it wrong, does it halfway or flat-out nails it.

There are two basic types of series: evergreen and meta-stories.

Evergreen

This includes sitcoms, mysteries, and other shows where things don’t really change … except for the villain or problem, which constantly changes, until the movie series runs out of steam, the novelist gets sick of it or studio execs at NBC look at the dying ratings and pull the plug.

The advantage of an evergreen story is the audience can fire up Netflix and watch any random episode without being lost. You can , buy any of Lee Child’s series at Barnes & Noble and enjoy Reacher beating people up for 325 pages without needing to know anything about the other books.

Star Trek, in all its forms (original, TNG, Voyager) was an evergreen series.

HOWEVER: the best string of movies was a meta-story about Spock, with Spock sacrificing his life to save the Enterprise and crew (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Corinthian Leather), then Kirk and crew sacrificing to bring Spock’s newborn body back from Planet Crazytown (Star Trek 3: We Stole This Sweet Klingon Warbird) and finally Spock is back with us and directing the movie, which was smart {Star Trek 4: Save the Whales), except it lead to a future movie where Shatner directed, which turned out to be an Achy Breaky Big Mistakey.

The disadvantage of an evergreen series is huge: it inevitably grows stale. Also, the lead actor will always be tempted to cash out and bail for the movies. And often, the ratings or sales simply tank, making studio exec or publishers pull the plug, ending the series with a whimper. Continue reading

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction, The Big Screen, Thrillers and mysteries

7 reasons why music videos possess tremendous power

This is about why lectures never work, poetry is powerful, even instrumental music can make you cry and the humble, silly music video can be one of the most devastating weapons of persuasion and change on this little rock orbiting a ginormous burning ball of nuclear fusion and fire.

1) Lectures never work

If you have a toddler, or a teenager, or are married, you are well aware of this fact.

Lectures are basically journalism, writing or speaking to inform. If your purpose is to persuade, journalism and lectures won’t do the job.

It’s common to hear, “If I just had more TIME to explain the facts, they’d understand and agree with me.”

No. The longer you stretch out a lecture or bit of journalism, the more bored and hostile your audience will become. Because structurally, writing and speaking to inform is a horrible format for anything of length and not designed to persuade at all. (Related: Why the Inverted Pyramid must DIE) Continue reading

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Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

Hard and Complex versus Impossible and Bizarre

This is about why Flappy Bird was such a surprise hit, Taylor Swift’s newest mega-video is meh and why your favorite movies, novels and video games work when others fail.

Here’s why: audiences want something interesting, and entertaining, which means different and surprising. Yet there’s a fuzzy line between Hard and Impossible and a deadly chasm between Complex and Bizarre.

It’s like thinking, “chocolate chip cookies are yummy, so why not chocolate chip cookies with almonds, M & M’s, pecans, Oreo sprinkles, peanut butter and a Snicker’s Bar on top?”

Watch the big Taylor Swift video, BAD BLOOD, then we’ll chat.

Now, this has high production values and great costumes, and I’m sure Michael Bay watched it on an endless loop all weekend. Yet it’s not elegantly complex and entertaining. It’s a hot mess, the music video equivalent of THE EXPENDABLES, with so many random stars thrown in for cameos that I have no idea who’s who. Does it look cool? Sure. Do we care one bit? No. Not even half a bit, or a quarter bit.

Compare that to the simplicity and beauty of Iggy Azalea’s BLACK WIDOW, which is a masterpiece, paying homage to KILL BILL and flat nailing it.


Continue reading

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, The Big Screen

Top 6 reasons why MAD MAX crushes AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON

Now, I enjoyed AVENGERS 2: GIVE DISNEY ANOTHER BILLION DOLLARS and it’s perfectly fine as another piece of the Marvel movie assault on the galaxy.

It’s just that I wouldn’t happily head to the theater tonight to watch it again, while I will go back to see MAD MAX: FURY ROAD with friends who’ve yet to see it.

And I’m not alone: critics are going nuts for MAD MAX, with 98 percent of them loving it on Rotten Tomatoes vs. 74 percent giving the thumbs up for AVENGERS 2.

The New York Flipping Times wrote a glowing review of MAD MAX. That’s nuts.

Why is the Australian underdog kicking the pants off the greatest collection of box-office superheroes ever assembled? Continue reading

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen