Blackwolf the Dragonmaster's Diary of Magecraft

Being a Chronicle of the Inner Secrets of, and Spells of Magick as Wielded by, the Philosopher of the Internet and Unofficial Sorcerer-in-Residence of the City of New York

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Location: New York, New York, United States

As New York's Unofficial Wizard, my mission is to encourage the Mortals of Manhattan to imagine responsibly!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Blackwolf @ the Oscars 2011: What to Know

Well, no sooner do I greet you folks again than Oscar Night doth loom upon us! Mo'Nique will be joining Academy President Tom Sherak at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Academy Headquarters in Beverly Hills the morning of January 25th, to announce 10 of the 24 major Academy Awards you'll see LIVE on Sunday, February 27th, on ABC! Those ten, as usual, will be as follows:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Best Screenplay Based Upon Material Previously Produced or Published
Best Achievement in Directing
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature
Best Picture of the Year

And, of course, you know where that leaves me. Now, meet the team:

DON MISCHER, Executive Producer/Director
BRUCE COHEN, Co-Executive Producer
BOB DICKINSON, Lighting Designer
DANETTE HERMAN, Coordinating Producer
STEVE BASS, Production Designer
DOUGLASS M. STEWART, JR., Supervisor, Film Package Segments

There. Now you know enough to go on with. And of course, if certain matters are permitted to happen, I shall again (in civilian garb, mind you, and only if they're willing to put up with me) report on the telecast as it happens, on the spot and LIVE from the Southern Hospitality BBQ Bar & Grill at 77th Street and Lexington Avenue. This time, however, I'll be watching things from a booth in the back, where, hopefully, I shan't have a chance to make waves. Further news, and the gory details re the Nominees, are forthcoming!

New Year's Greetings from Blackwolf

Well, King Magni Bronzebeard and the Pagemaster having shared their nice thoughts for you goodly gentles, 'tis time to restore control of this Diary of Magecraft to the star of this here show. That would be me.

For you newcomers to my adventures, know that I am Blackwolf the Dragonmaster, legendary scatter-brained Unofficial Wizard of New York City. My mission: to restore the forces of Niceness, Creativity and Imagination to a Byg Appyl sadly lacking in the aforementioned. Oh yeah, did I also mention I've been making a movie, too?

That movie is called Quite an Imagination: The Story of New York's Unofficial Wizard, and is currently in post-production. Now if only I could find a way to get Stephen Steinberg and Orlando Fonseca II, the two sillies who run Eternal Damnation Productions, to get with the program and rendezvous with both their editor partner Otis Harris and myself, so that we can get this damn movie finished and shipped off to the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, as we've been planning all along!

Anyway, and again in case you don't know, this is MY blog: Blackwolf the Dragonmaster's Diary of Magecraft, where I bring you a few of the wild, nutty insane commentaries not only of myself, but also from some of my weirdest, wackiest friends from all across the Greater Multiverse.

But if you want to find out more about my adventures within and beyond Cyberspace, you need but access my fabulous Dark Chambers website; or, if that tends to bore you, you're welcome to bug me on Twitter and Facebook as well. You never know what adventures I might cajole you Mortals into following me on! (Heh-heh!)

But, in all seriousness, may I briefly pause to wish you all, my faithful fans, a joyous 2011, Mortal-reckoning! See you all bright and early on Easter Sunday, along with burly, rainbow-bearded Ms. Colombia; the twits from expletive deleted Rapid T. Rabbit and Friends (I'll grumble at them properly later!); and the newly-crowned Emperor Vanity Society and Empress Pepperica Swirl, from the Imperial Court of New York, who will have just celebrated their Silver Anniversary Night of a Thousand Gowns Dinner Dance and Charity Ball at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Midtown Manhattan's Times Square! I'll be among them all, plugging the movie, posing for photos and otherwise being rather silly!

As ever, I remain,

Fearlessly yours,

Master Blackwolf

Dispatch from Dun Morogh and Ironforge, with His Royal Majesty, King Magni Bronzebeard

Hey there, World of WarCraft fans! King Magni Bronzebeard here, and boy, am I a happy camper! The powers that be here in beautiful, downtown Irvine, California have seen fit to turn lovely, talented, Royal, Dwarven, ass-kickin' little ol' me into an action figure! Cool! What that means is, for a nice, excellent $16.99, including the obligatory shippin' and handlin', you Dwarf-lovin' dudes and dudettes out there can take me home with you!

Frankly, I've never been an action figure before; I'm just so darn tickled pink that the Blizzbrass wanted to make me one! Now, I can truly say I rank among the immortals of collectible action figures: Barbie! Ken! Superman! Batman! Spawn! The Powerpuff Girls! (OK, I have yet to see them as action figures, but I'm sure you get my drift.)

Anyway, I'm so happy about my new action figure status that I've declared it a holiday here in Dun Morogh and Ironforge! And I'm calling it Let's-Hear-It-for-Me Day, because I think I'm gonna like being an action figure!

So, all I can say at this point is: Buy me --- or else! Catch ya later, Dwarf-lovin' dudes and dudettes!

Blushing as pink as a Dwarf King can ever blush,

Your humble Royal Dwarf Dude,


The Death of Books? The Pagemaster Responds

I am the Pagemaster, Keeper of the Books and Guardian of the Written Word!

For those of you who don't know me, 17 years ago, 20th Century-Fox and Turner Pictures, with the help of Macaulay Culkin and Christopher Lloyd, made a big-screen, live-action/CGI-animation feature (OK, so it ran 75 minutes; nonetheless, I still thought it was rather terrific!) starring yours truly. Macaulay portrayed young Richard Tyler, a boy so fearful of even his own shadow that he couldn't even dare to so much as buy a box of nails from a local hardware store!

Anyway, I am guest-blogging here in Blackwolf the Dragonmaster's Diary of Magecraft to respond to the rather rude remarks of one Bill Deresiewicz, essayist and critic, concerning the death of the printed book, as presented in the op-ed section of the New York Daily News. Here, then, are his remarks in their entirety, followed, as promised, by my response:

Yesterday morning, like many thousands of Americans, you may have unwrapped a Kindle e-reader. Or perhaps it was a Nook, or an iPad, or a Kobo --- all, like the Kindle, devices that will take reading from the printed page into the digital domain.

Yes, the printed book is dead.

If that isn't universally apparent, that's just because it hasn't hit the floor just yet. Those of us who love books, those of us like me, poor schmuck, who are still dumb enough to even write books --- we're like medieval scribes in the decades after Gutenberg. They probably thought that they could hang on, too.

Physical books still dominate the market, bookstores talk about reinventing themselves, Luddites like me extol the virtues of the printed page, but these are all just signs of an age in transition. Books survive for now because there are still a lot of people around who grew up reading them. 50 years from now, there will hardly be any. Can you really imagine that anyone will still be printing books then, or building special furniture and buildings to store them? The whole idea will seem ridiculous, like hauling water from a well.

Already, we're reaching a tipping point. E-book sales are almost at the billion-dollar mark, projected to triple by 2015. By 2020, according to one expert, electronic sales will represent some 80%-90% of the entire publishing market. Sales of the Kindle may be as high as 8 million units this year. And with Google's launch of its own platform this month, e-books are now available on almost any Web-enabled device.

None of this means that reading itself is going away. But it will change, just as it did after Gutenberg invented the printing press. Reading online means skipping, skimming and surfing, rather than the deep immersion of the printed page. People rarely spend more than a few minutes on a given piece and then they tend to get impatient with anything longer than a few hundred, or at most a couple of thousand, words.

At the same time, because young people refuse to look at anything that isn't on a screen, the new e-readers are introducing books to an entirely new generation that would otherwise never go near them except under extreme educational duress.

The question, however, is what those books are going to look like. Google, to its credit, is keeping it simple: Its downloads will feature nothing but the words. But part of the allure of the other platforms is all their bells and buzzers that they embed within the text: links, multimedia, social networking opportunities. On the iPad, for example, reading competes with music, text messages and a literal carnival of other distractions. The Nook, which was born as a "dedicated" e-reader, is moving into the same direction --- its latest version includes streaming Pandora radio. That's great if you feel the need to listen to, say, Bruce Springsteen, but not if you wanna finally get into the end of Moby Dick.

And so the book becomes yet another Web page, a cacophony of come-ons and temptations. Young people may keep on reading books, but they're going to read them the way they do practically everything else --- on the run.

And if reading changes, so too will writing. For one thing, it's gonna get a whole lot more simplistic. Our sentence structures have already become far less sophisticated since the rise of television. Now, they will become more simple still. Complexity and sophistication can take time to process, and for that reason, they can be lost on the typical skimmer and/or skipper. They also take time to create, and if no one can appreciate them anyway, most writers will find that it usually doesn't pay to take the trouble. So once reading becomes skimming, writing will eventually become jotting. Just look at a typical blog comment: Montaigne's essays, they're not.

When you take the trouble to print something on paper and then bind that something between covers, what you're saying is that it's valuable enough to keep around for a little while. And once books have migrated to the realm of the screens, they will end up being blighted by the evanescence that touches everything else there. The pixels come and go, disposable and weightless. No wonder we never bother to give them their full attention: They simply don't ask for it. And if we won't spend at least more than a couple of minutes on one website, are we really going to force ourselves to sit through an entire book?

That's what worries me the most. Not that we won't create new literary forms, but that we'll no longer be capable of understanding the old ones. We might have every volume ever published at our fingertips, but even if the computer software is there to even access them, the cerebral software --- the human brain --- simply won't be. At least 99% of everything valuable that's ever been written is contained in books. When we lose the ability to comprehend them, we'll find ourslves trapped in a prison of the present instant: ignorant, empty and alone.

Ignorant? Empty? Alone? Now, because, as Keeper of the Books, it is my solemn duty to defend the printed page at all costs, I should like to address Mr. Deresiewicz' harshly written pronunciations on this issue:

Humans, as a rule, will often live to battle their own fears at their own pace; indeed, as I reminded young Richard Tyler: "Had I brought you into my chambers right from the start, you would not have had the courage to confront your own fears." Sadly, we do tend to move faster than the human eye can comprehend; the problem is simply that information is a constant pill, to be viewed as opposed to being swallowed. Yet there are still those for whom the written word, and thus, the physical book, will continue to mean everything, and that is why I, the Pagemaster, have decided to speak out on behalf of the physical book and those that love them.

When, 17 years ago, the movie that bears my illustrious name was released, critics dismissed it as a thinly-veiled, overly-preachy message picture about the world of books. Secretly, however, there are still those out there who take my movie's message on the thrill and power of reading seriously. Facing up to one's fears was just one of the issues addressed by the film; I realize that some of you may not have gotten the idea, but let this be understood: It was Steven Spielberg, oddly enough, who declared that, in his words, "Only a generation of readers can inspire a generation of writers." What Bill Deresiewicz wonders is: can a new generation of writers survive a digital age? Were you to ask one such as I, the answer you would get from me would be YES!

The fear of the death of the printed, physical book may cause others to speculate, that much is certain; indeed, as you read these comments, both Barnes & Noble and Borders, the two major bookstore chains in America today, are fighting not just for their survival, but also for the right to maintain their relevance in a world where modern technology can inspire the future. Needless to say, this old Pagemaster still remembers why books matter, even in a digital age.

And as for complexity and sophistication: let it be known that great art and all that it symbolizes cannot exist without a great artist to nurture it, to safeguard it, and especially to CHERISH it. That is what authors of books do; and I look forward to defending more and more of their kind for aeons to come.....