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There are a few things in my life that make me happy. Family, friends, all that crap. Writing, sure, sometimes. A decent corned beef sandwich. But one of the things that most consistently makes me happy lately is the show "Community," and last night was a standout in that regard. I know that some of you are watching that other show that's on another network on Thursdays, and if it makes you happy, great. But it would make me happy if you checked out this clip from last night's "Community", because I think after you see it you'll want to watch the whole episode. Then you can all start watching "Community" all the time, and we can all be happy together! Or something.
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I was a big fan of Ryan Murphy's surreal/satirical/campy/ridiculous show Popular back in the day. And now there's Glee; the pilot aired last night, but if you missed it you can watch it at Hulu.

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I have too much TV on my plate lately. Some thoughts:

Castle: I started watching this because it has Nathan Fillion; I'm still watching because it's pretty well-written, character-wise, and it's funny, and Fillion and Stana Katic have pretty good chemistry. On the other hand, the "mystery" part of the show is so lazy it's almost insulting. I am decidedly not a person who figures out most mysteries, and I usually know who the killer is by the :34 minute mark. Still, Fillion is very charming, and Katic's character is a good foil, and I like the supporting cast. So I'm keeping it for now.

Cupid: I was a big fan of the original, short-lived series; this one, I think I've already given up on. (Could be ABC has too, given that it didn't air last night in its regular slot.) It's down to the leads on this one: Bobby Cannavale isn't bad, but he's no Jeremy Piven, and Sarah Paulson is just meh. Not funny, not likable, not engaging. True, I'm still in love with Paula Marshall, but that is no excuse for Paulson to suck.

Scrubs: Oddly, the only thing I enjoy about this show now are the new interns, who are only on every other episode or so. If the rest of the cast leaves with Zach Braff and the show keeps going, I might keep watching. Mostly, though, it's only on because it's the lead-in to:

Better Off Ted: Dumb title, but possibly my favorite show right now. Smartly written, and sometimes reaches nearly Simpsonian levels of satire. The episode where the new motion detectors failed to notice the black employees was the sort of thing I never expect to see on network TV. Also, the Veridian Dynamics promos/commercials are fucking amazing.

The Unusuals: Another one that I jumped onto for the cast: Amber Tamblyn, Harold Perrineau, Adam Goldberg and that guy who was so good in that episode of House about the abrasive punk rocker. Kind of early to say how this one's going to go; it's OK so far, although they 1. stole an interrogation joke from The Wire in the first episode and 2. had a really bad running gag/mystery in the second episode that turned out to be about how much two of the detectives secretly wanted to sleep with each other, which they then did, (sort of) secretly. Has potential, though.

Parks and Recreation: I love Amy Poehler, but this just isn't very good so far. Hopefully it will get better.

The Office: Having Michael and Pam quit was probably a stroke of genius; depends upon whether they cancel it out somehow, like having the Michael Scott Paper Company get bought out by Dunder-Mifflin.

30 Rock: If Better Off Ted isn't my favorite, this is. That bit a few weeks ago, where they had the Kenneth-eye's view of the world? Liz Lemon as a Muppet = complete genius.

Dollhouse: Volumes have already been written about the problems with this show's conception and execution, on whether it's getting better, on whether Whedon is no longer the darling of genre television. Lately my main thought has been this: if the show were centered around Olivia Williams' character and not Dushku's, it would be better.

Kings: I'm not sure I'm still watching this. Not enough Ian McShane, really, and not nearly enough thought put into the world-building. An interesting failure.
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1. Dollhouse premieres tonight. I am warily giddy. I am also mindful that I watched BTVS the night it premiered, decided it wasn't worth my time, and only got hooked on it a year later. Also that Angel's first few episodes were rather shitty. Only Firefly hooked me from the start. So even though Dollhouse's premise has much more potential for skeeviness, I'm going to give it a few episodes to find its feet.

2. Periodic Table of the Elephants. (Via [ profile] jaylake.)

3. I don't think you heard me before: DEADWOOD VALENTINES!!! They are the best and probably most offensive thing you will see today.

4. I ended up seeing New In Town with my folks, because we Minnesotans like to see our local color reflected back at us. (Well, maybe like is the wrong word.) It was actually worse than you'd expect. It was like someone pitched Fargo meets Gung Ho, wrote the script over a weekend and hired a flagpole to do the cinematography. Oh, and filmed it in Canada. Plus Harry Connick, Jr. = Never Good. And was J.K. Simmons wearing a fatsuit, or what?

5. I have been thinking about [ profile] mrissa's One Year Closer to Balance thing. It's actually fairly apt for me right now, because until recently my life has been overbalanced in one big way, in that everything was pretty much weighted towards writing. And lately I've been thinking, there are other things. Which doesn't mean that writing won't be important, still, but that I have been realizing that my life is, in fact, unbalanced and that needs to change. I am in the process of figuring out how to do this. Which is a short and fairly lazy way of saying that I am thinking about this too.
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1. For some reason the cold triggers a small voice in me that wants to go out and play in the snow. I shall name this voice Thanatos.

2. Female Mechanics Calendar! You know, women wearing sexy clothes is one thing, but women doing things well is another, sexier thing.

3. A small poll:

[Poll #1332513]

4. Keanooooooooo! Why would they even make a Bebop movie? Just leave it alone, dammit.

5. I tend to get bored with video games, but for some reason I really like tower defense games, which probably says something very deep about my personality. My favorite right now is GemCraft. It's easy at first but gets difficult later, and requires persistence. Luckily I am obsessive persistent.

6. Dollhouse vid! I am very concerned that this might not be good, but Joss seems to live to subvert my expectations. It would be nice to have just one show that felt unmissable again.

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OK, so which one of you was it that pointed me towards Last Exile? I'm one disc in and it may be my favorite thing ever. Yes, I am prone to exaggeration, but this has so many greatnesses that I can't even process it, from the techno-bagpipe theme song to the flightsuits to airships at war. Not to mention that I love Claus and Lavie FIERCELY and I am so caught up emotionally that I am talking to the TV, mostly "No no no no no" whenever I am worried that they are in over their heads, which is most of the time. (I am a crazy watcher-person. Fear me.) Maybe later, when I have watched it all, I will have something more coherent to say besides just JOY and YOU ALL NEED TO WATCH THIS.
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The Riches is my new favorite show; I really liked the pilot, and after the subsequent three episodes I'm sure of it. Just, wow. Great, great characters, thanks to genius acting by Eddie Izzard, Minnie Driver, et. al. Karen M. made the observation while we were in the desert (we had both only seen the pilot at that point) that it feels sort of like a modern-day fantasy epic, only without any magic at all. It's just a hidden world, one which may or may not really exist, but which feels rich (sorry) and weird and has the modern-day analogues of royalty and treasure and you really need to watch the show.

The Spring issue of Farrago's Wainscot is live, and while I hesitate to support any endeavor undertaken by that bastard Farrago, he has stories by Hannah Wolf Bowen, Sandra McDonald, Paul Jessup and Jason Erik Lundberg, not to mention poems by Ryan Cornelius and Bryan D. Dietrich, nonfiction, and more stuff. Also, check out the serial novel by Mark Teppo!

Happy Hang Onto Your Spot At the Mall Day!

Today(?)'s writing strategy (not recommended); stay up all night (literally) watching "Ugly Betty" episodes, then walk to the cafe to eat breakfast and write the chapter I didn't write yesterday. On the way home, figure out the chapters I need to write tomorrow to catch up. Be exhausted. Fall into bed for a very long nap.

Finally, a little Knut.
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Am leaving tomorrow early, on a jet plane. Will be largely incommunicado until I come back again in a week. I can think of two things I want to tell you. One, the first issue of Buffy Season 8 is out in comic stores as we speak. It's pretty cool. Some time has passed, a lot has happened, and certain beloved characters are held in abeyance (no doubt for future issues). There is the funny. This is the first ish of an ongoing series, but it's about as official as you can get, 'cause Joss is writing it. If you are a Buffy fan you will probably want this. If you are a Buffy fan who doesn't like comics, well, you do realize that Buffy was pretty much a comic book put on TV, don't you? Hold your nose and go buy it.

Two is also TV-related but not-so-good. Veronica Mars is in serious danger of cancellation. That, or a majorly weird format change which I am pretty "whahuh?" about. Honestly, my feelings about this are mixed enough that I won't be writing any letters; after the masterpiece of the first season the show has become a rather frustrating mess, albeit a very charming one. But if you're the sort that writes those letters, there's an address at the link above.

Finally, in honor of the holiday, a meme:

Not that far off, actually . . . )
snurri: (Veronica Cranky)
"Veronica Mars" was so weird last night. I mean, OK, I missed the first couple of minutes, and I was a little drunk. But I couldn't figure it out. I guess Veronica was investigating this dance group or something, so she went undercover to try out for them? Only I couldn't actually figure out which one she was. I think Wallace was there, too. He looked kinda disturbingly hot in drag. Anyway, the whole thing was in this sort of faux documentary style? They kept on flashing up people's names, only they weren't characters I remember seeing before, and I had trouble telling them apart because it seemed like there was a regulation hair length for this dance troupe. Oh and the dialogue was REALLY bad. And Keith was like pretending to be a choreographer? I think. All through the thing they kept playing that "I'm a hot freak and your girlfriend goes to sleep at 10:30" song by that Saber-tooth Mannequin person, too. That was annoying. Anyway, this one girl got sick, and I think some of the other girls that were auditioning might have killed her? Then Mac gave this little speech about empowerment, and she was wearing fishnets and a cutoff dirndl top and stuff . . . I think I must have passed out at some point, because I missed the end, but then they said it was going to be continued next week? I thought they weren't doing the arcs anymore? Did anyone see it?
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I just saw "Little Miss Sunshine" last night, and when they flashed to Alan Arkin during the ceremony I had a moment of shock, because I was thinking he was still dead.

Things which it would be hard to believe have ever happened to anyone else: last night I had my headphones on, listening to iTunes while I wrote, and I started air-drumming to the Poster Children, pen in hand. I was into it, head bobbing, eyes closed. I opened my eyes to find that the pen had begun to leak ink, and droplets of black ink were all over the wall, blinds, and futon.

Also, I was nearly run over on my way home, and I wasn't even jaywalking. Stupid right-turning Chicago drivers. I think I may have hurt my hand banging on the guy's hood. Typing with two fingers in an improvised splint? Not so very easy.

I downloaded some "Ugly Betty" and it may be my new favorite show. (I still love you, Veronica, but it's not as easy as it once was.)
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According to yesterday's poll happiness is "Something to do with food," with "A warm puppy" and "A chemical imbalance in the brain" rounding out the top three. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.

On the way to work I saw a woman doing perhaps the weirdest walk I've ever seen in a non-physically challenged person. She would walk normally for a quarter-block or so, then hunker down and sort of lope forward (in the lupine sense, not the equine), taking really long strides and staying low to the ground like she was stalking prey. It was like running, only really slow so I can't figure out any benefit as far as speeding up her commute. I was fascinated and also freaked out. Keep on keepin' on, weird lady! Rock on with your weird self!

Today I am very excited about my book, specifically the new one I am still writing. This doesn't happen every day, so I thought I'd mention it.

Speaking of rocking on with your weird self, as we were before the commercial break, HOLY SHIT DUDE I KNOW EVERYONE ALREADY LINKED THIS BUT IT'S LIKE THAT "ASTRO-NUTS" SHOW COME TO LIFE IF IT WAS ABOUT CRAZY ASTRONAUTS. I think Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin need to give this woman a good talking to.

The Writers' Block has an interview with rockstar editor Ellen Datlow. Check it out. And Strange Horizons has a story from the talented Joey Comeau. It's kind of a meditation on the scary power of blood and words. Check that out as well.

I had this whole thought forming about how 24 is a workplace drama and the turnover is making it a less interesting show, but then last night's episode wasn't bad so I kinda lost interest in it. I was going to tie it into Studio 60 and how Sorkin's shows all pretty much reflect a worldview in which everyone loves their jobs and works all the time, which is pretty far from my own experience. The shows sort of work--Sports Night is a fun place to work, and The West Wing is about the most important place in the world you could work, but one of the problems with Studio 60 is that everyone is too caught up in their little dramas all the time, and they won't shut up about them, and pretty soon you just want to go get a nice quiet job as a parking lot attendant.

Prince at the Super Bowl. (Part Two is here.) Man, that makes me feel good.
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Note to the young man on the train: (Yes, I called you "young man." I'm thirty-six, but I have the crankiness of a much older gentleman.) Dude, if I can hear your iPod over the train as if I was wearing your headphones, it's too fucking loud. Or your hearing is shot. In either case, you need to get your head checked.

I had kind of a crappy weekend, but it's over. It's not like my life is falling apart or anything; overall things are really good. But I do get kind of lonely sometimes. That's all I got. Let's not make a big thing out of it.

Something cool: Ricky Gervais meets Garry Shandling. I love both these guys. Parts one, two, three, four, five and six. (Yeah, it's long.) The person who put these up on YouTube says Shandling creates some awkwardness, but all I see is Shandling being Shandling, which is awesome. Overall the interview has some unexpected depths, and makes me realize how much I miss Shandling. (I first fell hard for his comedy when he guest-hosted "The Tonight Show" and shot off this zinger during the monologue: "The Meese Commission"--ah, for the days when Ed Meese was in the public eye--"has determined that there are [four-digit number] pornographic publications in the United States. Which is frustrating for me, because I can't figure out which three I'm not getting.") Why the hell isn't more of his stuff out on DVD? "The Garry Shandling Show" was sort of cultish, so I can see it being a harder sell, but "The Larry Sanders Show" is a no-brainer. I see they're putting out some sort of a DVD set with highlight episodes, but why not the whole thing? That man's a genius.

I saw "The Departed" on Friday during the old people showing (3:30). A few people walked out, which I don't get. Was it the violence they were not expecting, or the swearing? Have they ever heard of Scorsese? It was unexpectedly funny in parts, and really very good. Unbelievable cast. I used to really despise DiCaprio, but that guy can act. I haven't quite placed it in the hierarchy of Scorsese films, but it's up there--very tense, with some great visual metaphors about voyeurism/observation. I have to admit that the last shot almost ruined it, though. I can only guess that it was meant as a humorous touch, but in the context of the last scene it was off-key.

Speaking of the cinema, I see that Strange Horizons has a review of "Children of Men" up this week, and as much as I think it might be good to review a film for them that I didn't love, I'm glad it wasn't this one. I dislike the movie even more in retrospect, which makes no sense. I know there were things I liked about it as I was watching it--it's nice to look at, and Clive Owen was good--but overall I thought it was clunky, manipulative, and heavy-handed. I know some of the reasons I feel that way, but I can't pinpoint the reason for my overall loathing for the film, especially since so many folks have loved it. It can't just be my Julianne Moore hate. Did anyone else not like the film? Maybe I am just that cranky.

I've belatedly begun doing some research on the French Revolution, since the WIP is supposed to be in part riffing off it and I don't in fact know hardly anything about it. I picked up The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert and so far it's great; very readable and evocative, with the sorts of details that make me realize there are things I've been glossing over. I'm going to want to read more of Hibbert's books after this.

I think I need a nap.
snurri: (Buffy)
First of all, NOTE MY SHINY NEW ICON. Who's a fanboy? (That would be me.)

Second, if you love Grover, you should watch this video of his greatest rival delirious with pain. Hilarious, but not safe for those without a tiny bit of the sadist in them. (Via BoingBoing.)

Gingerbread Bergen. While you're on Flickr, check out this elephant migration.

David Moles has some thoughts on characterization.

Apparently I'm just not that much of a gadget geek. Or maybe my standards are too high? I mean, that iPhone is pretty, but until they have a model that holds 80GB of music and doesn't require me to switch to Cingular, no thanks.

Ashleigh Banfield is coming back to TV. Must. Find. Court TV.*

Strange Horizons has a podcast? Just put this address ( into your iTunes, and listen to the sweet dulcet tones of Susan Marie Groppi as she updates you on all sorts of things. Coooool.

Bruce Campbell RULES. Now I have to start wearing Old Spice.

*Occassionally I am shallow. Live with it.
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Jed discusses the (somewhat murky and suspect) etymology of the term "can of corn." I must admit, I thought everyone knew this term. But then, I am rather myopic when it comes to baseball stuff. Man, do I miss going to games.

Chance sent me a picture of a baby elephant eating a Christmas tree. Chance is my favorite now.

Something I keep meaning to point people at is the Blue Sky Studios blog, where the thing that is done is that a challenge is posted, such as "draw a superhero" or "draw an evil robot" and several amazing artists rise to the occasion with pieces like this or this or this or, well, just go check it out. Blue Sky is an animation company, BTW. Like, the animation company that did "Ice Age"--so the artists are a bit higher caliber than the web at large.

Cat and Girl address the problem of elephant alcoholism.

I'd never have the guts to go so far, but this guy's tattoo is kind of awesome. (NSFW.)

Also, because I have the power of BitTorrent (Bwah-hah-hah-hah!) I have already seen the first two episodes of the new season of "24," and I just want to reiterate what I think we all already knew; Alexander Siddig is a sexy, sexy man.
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Am presently watching this version of Nicholas Nickleby, my fave Dickens, and this movie is awesome. Nathan Lane is killing me.
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It was a beautiful morning, and now it's raining like mad. Ah well. The snow will be here tomorrow, I guess. And after that, the snowmen. Those creepy interlopers, loitering on lawns with their mocking grins . . . I swear, come February I'm going to buy a flamethrower and melt the bastards down.

Speaking of violence, yesterday morning at the place where I get my tea and sometimes my breakfast two guys nearly started a fistfight. At 7:30 in the morning. I mean, seriously. That's way too early to be throwing punches. Wait until after lunch, at least.

Things you may not have seen:

Mr. Dan Kelly has the awful truth about Hell. Also, I think he wants me to kill a barber.

Speaking of killing things . . . There was a time when I would have liked a patron, in the Renaissance sense. My skin is crawling away. (Via everybody.)

Hm, perfect murder? I suspect everyone in Veronica's Criminology class. Piz may be cuddly but maybe a scary boyfriend is better sometimes? (This paragraph has been encoded.)

HBO is making Preacher into a TV series. Considering how bad it was in comics form, I don't expect that this will help them regain any credibility.

Pitchfork interviews Tom Waits. In case you haven't figgered it out, he's got a new album out--technically, a new boxed set. You know you want it.

While you're buying stuff, I would like to note that the first season of "St. Elsewhere" is now out on DVD. If you've seen the show, you know you want this; if you haven't, you need to. It's got Denzel before he was famous! Ed Begley Jr. before he was old! William Daniels before he was on "Boy Meets World"! Howie Mandel before he was annoying! OK, scratch that last one, because it's possible that Howie Mandel was even MORE annoying back in the day. Anyway, I remember this show as strange, funny, startling, and engrossing. I can't wait to see how it holds up.


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April 2011

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