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Archive for July, 2013

00

It surprises me sometimes, how long I’ve been doing this one little thing. It’s the weekly theme that’s stood the test of time. My TV round-ups didn’t go for more than about a month. Even the Doctor Who reviews are sort of floundering, though I /will/ get them all done eventually. But this remains, this simple exercise in brevity that challenges me more than any pledge to review all the episodes of everything. It makes me think. I like to think, even if I’m rather dull at times. It is a matter of conciseness, and I revel in the challenge.

01

There’s a lot I want to talk about someday. I want to write a post on the epic perfection of Pacific Rim. I want to maybe talk about writing in a way that doesn’t devolve into me moaning about my troubles. I want to talk about Hannibal, I want to catch up on Elementary and Once Upon a Time. I want to get back to my Topics in Doctor Who series with an epic write-up on River Song, followed by thoughts on Clara and the presentation of her character. I want to do so much, but I haven’t got time.

02

Not whining about writing in a future entry does not mean I won’t whine about writing right here and right now. I haven’t really written anything recently, though I took a tentative stab at it last night. Said stab ended with me writing a profanity-laden paragraph about how I’m a hack before I tore the page out and threw it to the floor in a ball. So that’s extra-encouraging. But I tried. I guess I’ll try again. It’s still awkward and strange, that I’m clumsy and bad at somethig that once came naturally. Then again, it’s like riding a bike.

03

I was going to write more, but when I sat to type, a sharp pain began in my sinus and has now cheerfully migrated to my jaw and my ear. I can’t say I’m feeling paticularly creative now, but I sat here and I typed this out, and now I’m going to lay down even though I should be perfectly well rested after sleeping in until noon this morning (ugh). I will probably read. But I wrote this blog post, and it counts. Or at least it counts for me, even if my readers are no doubt disappointed in it.

(147/260)

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I bet myself I couldn’t write an entry tonight, which is why I’m writing this.

Maybe I’ve discovered the secret to getting things done in your life: you bet yourself you can’t do something, and then you set out to prove yourself wrong. Or maybe that’s just how people with the lowest self-esteem get stuff done. Like me.

But I bet that I couldn’t write an entry tonight, and here I am, writing an entry.

I have also bet that I can’t write something for thirty minutes tonight, and that I can’t write in my journal tonight for the first time in yonks. (That’s a technical term, by the way.)

Also, I know this isn’t a Doctor Who review. I will get around to it. Eventually. The RTD-epicness-aversion is strong with this one, all right? It’s gonna happen, in much the same way that paint drying eventually happens.

I am writing this. I am thinking about writing in general, and fiction in particular, because it feels like I haven’t written a proper word of fiction in weeks. Which, according to my lovely calendars, is actually true. Part of me would just like to figure out why this has happened. I know the last thing I really properly wrote was an attempt at redrafting my novel. Which I then wholly abandoned the next day because I felt like my whole premise was flimsy and nothing happened and why am I a writer I suck anyway.

And so on.

Which sort of ties into this evening’s other bet, regarding my lately horrendous journal-keeping. I did not miss a single night of journalling from around the end of 2004 to late 2011 or early 2012. And then I just stopped writing for weeks at a time, and I’d keep picking it up and dropping it over and over and it’s been weeks again, because of course it has. The crappy thing about not journalling is that I don’t have a great gauge for tracking my moods from day to day anymore. Going through my old journals, I can sort of follow my bad periods and my good periods, and now that’s gone for me, and I have no way of telling if this writing slump is because of a mood slump (and if so, how that might be related to the meds I’m taking) or if I’m just being a grumpy cad who doesn’t want to work.

Hence the bet. I like having that sort of information around. I also like knowing when things happened to me. (I also enjoy having a quiet, unread space to complain about crap, because, you know, who doesn’t?)

I’ve won this bet, at least. Even if this entry is short and highly personal and not for everyone.

On to the next one.

(146/260)

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Excuses, Excuses.

This is a post about how I haven’t written in like ten days.

It is mostly about my total aversion for the tail-end of Russell T. Davies’ term as Doctor Who’s showrunner, and how it is preventing me from watching episodes, and how that is preventing me from reviewing episodes and therefore updating this blog.

It is also about how I screwed up my sleep schedule again, even though I am taking medicine that is supposed to help that.

It is furthermore about how I stayed awake for thirty-one hours across Wednesday and Thursday last week, which mostly turned out to be all right because of giant robots and then largely spiraled out of control when I realized I was broke (and how specifically I realized this when I was trying to purchase a book at Barnes and Noble).

So that is what you are going to get from me tonight, and if you’re lucky, tomorrow you will get something worth reading. (more…)

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Meeting Neil Gaiman

This is something I feel I ought to have written sooner, but I suppose we’ll all have to make do with my writing it now. Nine days ago, my brother and I drove down to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend a book event featuring Neil Gaiman. This was my first time attending any kind of major book event; I’d gone to readings while in university, but nothing on this scale, and certainly nothing for an author I knew and loved and admired.

Around 1700 fans filled Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium, after filing through a line that wrapped around the side of the building and trailed down the street and around the corner until it snaked back nearly to the entrance again. My brother and I found decent seats up in the front row of the tier, to the left of the stage. It wasn’t as close as being on the floor, in the first few rows, but it offered a good view nevertheless.

In both his talk on the book and in the audience Q&A later on, Gaiman was pretty much everything I figured he’d be: funny and charming and clever and well-spoken. I pulled out the notebook I’d brought along and scribbled down some of the things he’d said that I liked. Such as this: Not long into the program, he mentioned Doctor Who, which was met with whoops and cheers from the crowd. He immediately responded by telling us we had to agree not to do that anymore, “otherwise we will be here until Friday.” He talked about writing The Ocean at the End of the Lane and about writing in general, when someone asked about his notebooks and his process. To be honest, a week and a half on, I don’t remember half of what he talked about outside of what surrounded my scribblings-down.

It thunderstormed in Nashville that evening, something I count as fortuitous now. “I’ve been hoping for a thunderstorm,” Neil said as peals of thunder sounded overhead of us, reverberating in the auditorium. There is a scene in Ocean that has a thunderstorm, he explained, and he promised us that, if the weather complied, he would read that passage for us, rather than material from the first three chapters as he’d done on the other tour stops.

The weather complied.

I won’t talk much about what he read (it’s the scene starting on page 80, for those of you who have the book), but how he read it was perhaps the most remarkable thing of the whole evening, for me. The quality of his voice captured me quickly, encompassing the panic and desperation of the narrator in that moment. The way he said names and how he spoke for the speaking characters, changing his voice just so, not doing a voice but nevertheless bottling the exact qualities of the person speaking. Gaiman probably wasn’t halfway through the passage when I grew rapt, hanging on his every word, my clutch on my pen growing tighter and tighter as the tension of the scene wound higher, twisted higher still by the accompanying rumbles of thunder above. (I would almost bet that Gaiman had made some deal with the weather, given how often the thunder seemed to perfectly accentuate what he was reading.)

While the reading came in the middle of the program–before the Q&A and before things finished off with a delightful reading from Gaiman’s children’s book Fortunately, the Milk accompanied by Bela Fleck on the banjo–it nevertheless was the highlight of the main event for me. It was everything about why I came to the event in the first place: his writing. While I haven’t been a Gaiman fan for all that long–I believe I started with American Gods and branched out from there–I have come to appreciate the quality of his writing, the stuff that makes it his. And what he read to us was all of that and more.

Of course, after the event ended, there was still the signing, and before the signing, there was the waiting. I want to give major kudos to Parnassus Books, the bookstore that put together the event, for organizing things so well. People were called into the queue by a random drawing of the sections and rows of the auditorium, and in the meantime we were entertained first by an a capella group and then by an audiobook of Gaiman reading some of his short stories. My brother and I were lucky enough to be called and make it through the signing line before midnight. While we were queued up, we chatted with the couple behind us about random things, like movie adaptations of Neil’s books and my brother nearly-encyclopedic knowledge of all things Disney.

I was only in the room with Neil very briefly. It was still slightly surreal, to see this person in real life who I’d mostly only seen on Twitter and Tumblr and the occasional YouTube video and television interview. You forget, sometimes, that those people are real.

The signing table was run with the same efficiency as the rest of the event. As Neil personalized my copy of Ocean, I told him how much I loved his Doctor Who episodes. He said thank you, and mentioned that he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to do another, given how busy he is. His fountain pen stopped up as he signed my copy of The Graveyard Book (brought along as my extra item), and he had to fiddle with a mechanism inside to get the ink flowing again. And then I had my books back and I thanked him, and my brother and I went through the doors into the courtyard and it was over.

But it had happened, and I’d been there for it, and in spite of what a long and tiring day it had been, it had been worth every moment. And it was wonderful.

(144/260)

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It is, genuinely, difficult to know what to say about this episode. This is the episode of modern Doctor Who. It’s the episode you show your friends when you want to get them into the show. (Indeed, it’s exactly how I convinced my brother.) It consistently tops best episode lists. It’s won all kinds of awards. It introduces the most terrifying New Who monster to date. What’s more, it’s a pretty consistent favorite among the show’s persnickety fandom.

This is the episode of New Who. Anything I might want to say about it has been said already. But I’m still going to try. (more…)

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00

I wish I could say that I’ve been doing something with my time every time I go on a little hiatus from updating. Truth to tell, though, I haven’t got anything you’d call an excuse. I’ve just been absorbed in the usual things: refreshing Tumblr endlessly, poking at books (or otherwise devouring them), and lately, playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf to the point where I’m a better mayor than my brother is. And he’s the actual mayor. I should be writing but I’m not. I should be watching films and I’m not. I should definitely be exercising and I’m not. (more…)

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I think this story would win out as the best of this series were it not for “Blink.” It fully embraces its period setting, making good use of its being a prelude to the First World War without overdoing it. Though being set in and around a boys’ school by necessity limits the female characters, we nevertheless have great moments from Martha Jones and from Joan Redfern, the school’s nurse, who plays a rather large role in the story’s events. Best of all for me, though, is seeing David Tennant fully seizing the opportunity to show us what he’s capable of as an actor.

So yes, I love this story. I love that it’s another opportunity for the show to demonstrate to us just what Martha Jones is capable of. She holds her own in a time period where she’s constantly faced with racism and belittlement because of the color of her skin and the station assigned her accordingly. She does a better job of keeping John Smith out of harm’s way than he himself does. She stares down the murderous Family of Blood with cool collection, but at the same time is vulnerable and lonely. Much as I didn’t really like the nods to the useless crush plot (“and it wasn’t me,” namely), here it definitely helps to underscore what Martha has been forced to go through for the Doctor. In a way, it also kind of highlights how much the Doctor doesn’t appreciate her and what she does. The thank yous she receives in this episode (both in the Doctor’s message and in the denouement) are well and good, but there should be a few more of Ten’s trademark sorries in there as well, I think.

Speaking of the Doctor–or rather, of John Smith–these episodes are such a refreshing change for me as a viewer. David Tennant is a fine actor (something I can finally back up now that I’ve seen him in Broadchurch), but I have never really caught a lot of nuance in his performance as the Doctor. To me, it always seems that he’s either full-tilt manic and shouty, or quiet and moody and despairing. I can’t seem to find the range in his performance. Having seen him in other works now, I feel like this is more a problem of the writing and direction than with Tennant himself, but it’s here, where he’s playing a totally different character that he really shines for me. John Smith is kind and clueless while being selfish and an obvious product of his time (particularly as regards Martha). He’s a man who’s comfortable being who he is, even if he’s adrift half the time, and in the end he wants desperately to hang on to his life but instead chooses to give it up. Joan is right–he was braver, in the end.

Of course, there’s plenty else I loved about these episodes. I loved Tim Lattimer. I loved how Harry Lloyd basically nailed creepy-as-fuck with Baines/Son of Mine. I loved Joan. I loved how Martha did her best to put up with everything thrown at her (though seriously, her sarcastic door knocks in the first episode were funny as hell). It was all simply wonderful to watch, if I’m being honest, and this is one of those stories that I have often revisited since watching it for the first time two years ago.

(141/260)

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