Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

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CHUD: NUMB3RS

October 18, 2007

My first DVD review for CHUD (Cinematic Happenings Under Development) has gone live. This time out, I take a look at the third-season DVD set of NUMB3RS. Do check that out, if you care about such things. At least two more reviews in this vein are coming soon.

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Battlestar Galactica Wanders the Desert

October 11, 2007

Here’s something I wrote in the comments on someone else’s post. It’s substantial enough to share here, I suppose. It felt good to get some of this off my chest, though.

So. About Battlestar Galactica:

I certainly don’t think it’s “pitch perfect.” While I enjoy the show quite a bit, and there’s a whole lot that’s right with it, the way the show introduces and then drops threads is frustrating as all hell. The lack of consequences for characters bugs the shit out of me.

Earthlink beacon and deadly disease? Oh, nevermind. Cylon homeworld out there somewhere? Whatever, I guess. Cylons want to exterminate us. Or, no, wait, they want to use us to make babies. No, no, they want peace. So they can occupy us. Unless they want to follow us to Earth. Or something. It’s all about the Cylon God. Or it used to be. But that was just Six. Or something.

What the hell is Lee Adama’s story? Not, like, what’s his background or motivation, but what is his story? When this show is over, I bet it’s just going to be a tangled mess of good-looking emo nonsense (very well played by Jamie Bamber, but still). He resents his father, but really he loves him, but really he defines himself by being CAG, except for all the insubordination, and his loyalty to the President, and all the times he’s pulled a gun on important people, or run off and hidden with them, or killed kingpins, or floated in water and wished he was dead, or become a lawyer. Or something. And gets away with it every time.

(By the way, Romo Lampkin is still a ridiculous, awful, LARP-quality character. Mark Sheppard makes that character into more than he deserves to be. I want more explanation of how these characters came to be survivors of the Cylon attack. And the occupation. You remember all that stuff, right? How do you so utterly forget the inciting event of the series? It should be influencing every character you introduce.)

Lots of good stuff in the show, but this is not a well-planned epic. This is a collection of exciting ideas, doled out in bursts, and threaded together with the appearance of a narrative trajectory. Put it another way: Ron Moore’s making it up as he goes along. And that’s fine, but let’s not celebrate the great genius behind the master plan, because there is no master plan. I reserve my judgment on the presence of genius until the end credits roll on the last episode.

Music: Tom Waits, “Walk Away”

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Things Toby Says

October 10, 2007

Who would have thunk that I’d get the most hits ever to this site just by not having a job. Thanks to everyone who commented or wrote in with kind words. Unfortunately for those of you here looking for dirt, I can’t say much more yet about the future or the past. Not yet.

So let’s talk about writing. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like a pretentious and self-involved writer1, except I’m not actually sitting down and writing anything, I watch this clip of The West Wing (episode: “Arctic Radar”) in which Toby vets Will’s writing. I like the part where he says, “This is incredibly good, Will.” I close my eyes and imagine I’m there.

But I also like the way he describes something that’s maybe akin to writer’s block, but isn’t quite the same. Writer’s fatigue, maybe? Whatever. The point is this: Toby’s talking about how badly it’s going, but he’s still got his own “500-word stanza on American leadership in a globally interdependent age,” doesn’t he? In this little parable, “the President” is anything or anyone for whom you are writing.

(While we’re at it, I adore the writing and the timing in this clip about the funding available from the NEA.)

If you’re not a regular visitor, I expect you won’t be coming back for long, so let’s save you some time. Here are three of the most-read posts on the site. In most cases, this is because I fell backwards into valuable Google keywords. In one case, I think it’s because the post is sort of good. You decide:

1. The punchline is obviously, “So, just when I’m awake.”
Music: The Drovers, “Book of Songs”

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To Play It Like An Instrument

September 20, 2007

So, I bought one of these. (Why? Because I am irresponsible with money.) Am using it now. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

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How It Feels #32

August 23, 2007

Jordan: What if you did tank tonight? What are you afraid would happen?

Matt: Strangers wouldn’t like me, friends wouldn’t like me, the network wouldn’t like me, the press wouldn’t like me, women in general wouldn’t like me, and Harriet wouldn’t like me.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

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The Bourne Ultimatum Review You Knew Was Coming

August 6, 2007

The script is fucking brilliant, transforming material from the previous films into new motifs and moments of foreshadowing. Rather than cheeky callbacks, we get a film that rhymes with the first two. Classy and brutal, aggressive and intelligent.

The only thing stopping me from calling this a flawless sequel is my intense desire to see it again. Just to be sure.

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The Surrogates

July 12, 2007

The Surrogates is one of those comics that I tried to follow as it was coming out, but failed. I missed this issue and that. In a five-issue series, any one absence is substantial.

But that’s just as well, ’cause the collected volume is a terrific product, like a great DVD loaded with extras. The actual story of The Surrogates is better conceptualized than it is executed, but the interesting explorations of the setting’s futuristic mega-Atlanta are worth your time. In the world of the comic, lifelike robotic avatars, called Surrogates, naturally, are used by people sitting in their homes to go out and explore the world through a kind of VR interface. Like internet avatars, your Surrogate(s) might look nothing like you, and are certainly good at things you’re not. Want to go bar-hopping as a gorgeous blonde girl, but you’re an obese dude with Cheetos in your beard? Want to go rock-climbing, but you’re confined to a wheelchair? Send your Surrogate.

This is, of course, a speculative cautionary tale, and so we have a rogue antihero out to wake the population out of their misguided ways. It’s Steeplejack, the dude on the cover over there, who’s out ruining people’s Surrogates in the hopes that they’ll get out of their homes and live their lives for real. On his trail is a grizzled cop who interfaces with the world through his real, banged-up, fleshy body. A mystery involving corporate interests and mistaken identities ensues, and while some of the storytelling is predictable, the setting evoked throughout the book is pretty well imagined.

Script pages, a “deleted scene,” author’s notes, sketches, pin-ups and a collection of fake Surrogate ads from within the fictional world round out this terrific package from Top Shelf. A classy folded cover goes the extra mile, for bibliophiles. This is what I want all collected comics to be like.

Music: Syrian, “Musika Atomika”