Casually Watching The Glades

I may be somewhere in the … fourth season? I don’t know, it’s some marathon on A&E.

Main characters parents are getting a divorce after 42 years. He wants to continue working, meaning travelling to Brazil. Now that she’s on her own, she plans to move somewhere warm—Florida, to be near family—and also start travelling.

WHY doesn’t she just travel to Brazil with him now that she’s retired?

I don’t mind the effects of a broken marriage so many years on, but give me a reason other than MISSING the OBVIOUS resolution, please?

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Fan is Short for Fanatic, You Know

Not that it’s inherently a bad thing, of course, given that I’m a fan of a great many things.  I often cross the line into obsession, just a little bit. That doesn’t mean I blame other people for liking things I don’t. And that the creators probably have a different agenda than I do.

For an example I didn’t plan on using, Hawaii 5-0 (the new one) has decided to jump genres from quasi-police drama to extreme Super Spies! (this choice I don’t get so much).

However, many fans are complaining about the season premier of NCIS because they blew up the building last season’s finale and then wrapped up a plot line taking at least three months in less than an hour. While I missed the potential for character development and hurt/comfort, the writers aren’t thinking about it from a fan’s perspective. I also wonder if they understand fan angst after such a dramatic event: like that TV show that shot a main character and made the entire season a dream. It’s kind of a cop-out.

In the case of NCIS, though, a lot of time wrapping up last season’s plot probably would distract and tedious for regular television watchers. If you don’t obsess over a show, how are you supposed to keep all the necessary back story straight? The generally episodic nature of NCIS probably explains much of its longevity (and lack of on-screen shipping—offend no one, engage everyone!).

Have you heard the term ‘shipping’? I could link you, but you may want to preserve your innocence.

English: Shipping dock in Hawaii

Not this kind of shipping [Shipping dock in Hawaii] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Suffice to say, it’s the point where many fans start slipping the line to fanatic. People get passionate about which characters have relationships and who they have them with. I find the intensity odd, but since I read primarily non-relationship works (called ‘gen’), I don’t bother with it. More insidiously, some less than level-headed fans direct their attentions to just one character. Of course, they’re writing fan fictions, or participating on forums, and they are incapable of sympathetic reasoning toward any other character, cannot under any circumstances recognize on-show teasing, and refuse to recognize their character could possibly have any flaws.

Perhaps this explains Twilight. Despite all the flaws written into both Edward and Bella’s characters, when viewed objectively (snobbery, jealousy, possessiveness), because they are never explicitly stated in-text as flaws, and indeed, are written as virtues, people who enjoy the series can’t stand to hear that anyone dislikes what they  love.

Clearly there is a failure to teach critical thinking.

Just because I like McGee, for example, best of the characters on NCIS, doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that all his flaws are non-existent. Like all the characters, he suffers from inconsistencies  what with all the years and all its producers, NCIS isn’t a show built for canon purists.

But so many people can’t seem to accept this at all. They attack other fans, other fan-works and they can’t believe their prejudices aren’t supported by evidence: to the point where they can’t even participate in a reasonable discussion. For instance, NCIS takes little seriously, it’s a funny show. But Tony fans take every single joke as an assault on his character, regardless of whether the character takes any particular notice. I should also note this trend holds steady with any show, any character.

Fans can be the best at the ‘question anything’ mentality, coming up with wild theories to make sense of plot holes or reused actors playing different roles. Critical thinking begins with asking questions, but when fans find a pet theory and stop asking, it defeats the purpose. It’s not ‘thinking’ anymore, it’s delusion.

Winning Over Sherlock Holmes: with a Digression into Copyright

I just won The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part I: University!* Quite an unwieldy title, but it’s basically a Sherlock Holmes prequel (or possibly a prequel to another novel by this author, which I haven’t read). Hopefully what little I know about this story is enough to start with it, and I’m not a canon fanatic, so if it’s not strictly “accurate” (whatever that means in a fictional universe) I’ll still enjoy it just fine.

I love Sherlock Holmes pastiches. If ever there’s an argument for taking traditional copyrights from corporations and giving them back to lifetime of the author, I think Sherlock Holmes is it.

If the main stories hadn’t come into the public domain, we wouldn’t have BBC’s Sherlock, which despite its issues is a fantastic update. There wouldn’t be House and I know many of you love that show. There’d be no The Great Mouse Detective which is the best steampunk with talking animals I know. No Robot Watson!

Sherlock Holmes, whatever his creator thought of him, has inspired so much scholarship, so much creativity, it’s draining to imagine how much thinner our culture would be if current copyright length started before Doyle.

*Goodreads.com has a giveaway feature, where authors and publishers can offer free copies of their books to GR users for publicity.

Everything Sounds Better In Classical

My brother linked me to his Pandora station started from The Piano Guys, and it turns out there’s an entire genre of pop translated to music!

What can I say, I’m a snob.

I like pop as much as the next person, perhaps even more as so many people are convinced they’re too sophisticated for anything suitable for general consumption. As much as I may complain about the low standards of popular culture, or just people in general, I don’t actually object to the so-called low genres.

Actually, I’m not sure anyone actually uses the phrase “low genres”, but I’ve decided it suits my needs.

Genre Model - Interacting Elements

Genre Model – Interacting Elements (Photo credit: Derek Mueller)

Many people object to the idea of anything produced for the middle class: traditionally the largest and greatest commercial drive in the United States. With our Western idealization of the individual, even at the expense of community or society, anything aimed at the largest possible audience can’t be something to use to craft an identity. It’s a terrible sad development in our culture and I’ve already blogged of what comes from that.

But the elite especially despise the middle class: just read any “literary” novel. A great many are written by MFAs who (as far as I can tell) despise the middle class for taking up resources that they, as the battalions of culture, don’t receive.

I’ve got a whole ‘nother post in me about all the reasons I think that devoting those resources to the arts would be a bad idea, as radical as it seems.

Right now, however, I want to clarify that I don’t particularly consider myself better than anyone because of my taste in music. The reasons why anyone likes any kind of music and not another are far beyond my comprehension and aren’t related to intelligence, mental health, or virtue in any way outside of popular perception.  I’ve been reading Snoop, and in a recent chapter, Gosling reference a study saying that music is one of the primary topics people use to get to know each other.

That doesn’t mean it describes anything specific about you, but it can, and I think that has more to do which which music you enjoy, rather than the genre, and how people think of genres: like country music (is it really that bad? I just don’t hear the problem myself). So no need to judge me for being a snob (because I like the instrumental version better) or for being too low brow (because God forbid real musicians from even thinking about those dirty commoners).

Is there such a sad figure anywhere as the elitist confronted with reality?

 

This is what wish lists do to me

Since I haven’t made a post in ages and ages, but here’s an excuse 🙂

 

Re: Internet wishlists

(The point comes at the end)

 

I just add everything that vaguely interests me.  This causes a problem on  amazon, especially, but in knitting, there’s much less of a threshold.

 

I WANT IT ALL!

 

http://www.knitpicks.com/cfCart/viewWishlist.cfm?wishlistid=B047DD48-A9F2-C6EC-E4FE27DA2E100698&media=WLBL

 

So I’ll share it, because they’re doing some kind of sweepstakes. Crossed fingers and happy thoughts until tomorrow.

Deadlines

National Novel Writing Month

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Getting things done on a deadline is much easier than just generally deciding to ‘do’ something.

Something always comes with the time frame Sometime. Sometime usually comes right around never. Mostly because sometime, when you’re trying to plan for it, falls right around tomorrow. And as Hannibal says in The Curious Savage, “Today is safe, tomorrow may be filled with disaster.” Therefore, if you don’t sleep, tomorrow never comes. Anyway, only live todays and never tomorrows. Which makes Sometime awfully hard to plan for.

I’m trying NaNo again this year. National Novel Writing Month=NaNoWriMo=NaNo if you’ve spent time around certain websites lately and have maybe seen many of these permeations. Or possibly in earlier articles—it’s getting to the point that I can’t remember what I’ve written about.

For the past three years or so, I’ve intended to try NaNo. The first year I got all of three thousand words, or maybe a page and a half, and then I got busy. Then I scribbled in a notebook while hanging out in the laundry room—earning me several sideways looks from all the cool people who just abandoned their clothes. However, because of the notebook, it never got typed up and I didn’t get my participation badge on the official page. And last year was my last year of college and I missed November 1st entirely, so I just didn’t bother.

240/365 National Novel Writing Month begins

Image by owlbookdreams via Flickr

This year, I only (currently) have a part-time job, a play, several volunteer positions, and a few editing commitments, but still have lots of unstructured free time. As I think I might have said a few days and/or weeks ago in the post “Calendar Days” I need to have plans for my unstructured days or I don’t get anything done. Perhaps that is why I can’t even remember exactly what I wrote about.

I just had to stop writing to post some of the ‘recommended’ pictures, as they are very nice ones and already about NaNo! I very much like that leaf.

This year, I have an idea for a novel. Is it a good idea? That’s hard to say, especially since I can’t actually start writing about it yet. But it’s an idea. I have a little notebook called “cliffhangers” with a picture of a monkey on the cover. Inspiring, right?

My little notebook only has a few character sketches and the germ of an outline, but that’s already more than I’ve had any other year. Before, I just tried sitting at my computer (or notebook) and start writing. Maybe if I’d tried writing for more than a few pages, I might have gotten further —but without pushing past that first scene, nothing happened. And also, 2008’s “notebook” wasn’t a single book, but borrowed pages from class notes and from a sketchbook. In fact, rather than ‘noveling’ I ended up doing a nice little sketch of the folds in the black plastic trash bag.

This year, I’ll try again. And get somewhere, this time.

Artificially Black and White

Reading yet another spork, I realized that almost every spork I’ve read recently has similar complaints about fairly standard elements of fiction, especially in the fantasy genre.

Let’s be honest: For readers to connect to a story, they have to identify it as a story—something has to be recognizable to the audience. A completely “original” story, if it isn’t built with the constraints of fiction and the human brain in mind, may well be incomprehensible. Which you might say is what happened in the modern era of Literature and is why no one reads anymore. But that’s a different issue.

Ultimately, it’s the execution that counts, that makes the difference that turns a cliché into an imaginative world. Because they may often have two similar plots, ideas, or even scenes.

Compare, for example, the Harry Potter series and the Inheritance Cycle.

A skilled author will convince her readers that they don’t need to question this world; while it doesn’t conform to ours, it has it’s own set of internal laws and limits of ability. I admit I couldn’t finish the later books of Harry Potter and have little interest in doing so, but couldn’t start Eragon with any integrity because so many readers lashed back against the only given law of “it works because I said so”.  And I accept their opinions because they coherently argue this conclusion with textual evidence, I’ve seen their other articles on works I do have familiarity with, and I can understand how their opinions skew—whereas many defenders of cheap, popcorn novels nearly always respond with “U cant say anything bcuz u dont publish” and I am being generous.

Now occasionally perfectly literate fans will confess that they enjoy those works, almost always with the caveat

I know that it isn’t very good objectively, but sometimes I just want to read pulp.

Since that spork, I think of the preview chapters of Bran Hambric: the Farscape Curse, I’ve been thinking about the “tropes” of fantasy fiction, and trying to come up with an argument to prove they aren’t necessarily bad—go back to the difference between idea and execution. Then I watched the newest fantasy-movie-based-on-a-book-so-it-will-be-a-blockbuster-and-make-lots-of-money, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole—the owl movie.

Whether it’s an issue with the film or it started in the books, I certainly can’t use this movie as an example of what works. First, because Godwin’s Law should not be invoked so easily, which I want to avoid so as not to completely invalidate the rest of my argument, but there’s no denying that the antagonists call themselves the “Pure Ones”.

Then again, even the king and queen of the guardians are snowy owls and the whitest in the movie, much like the queen of the evil empire—who *spoiler* flies off in the end so as to return for the sequels.

But, especially to emphasis this fight is against GOOD and EVIL, the movie relies entirely on tropes (in this case, we can validly call them cliché) to move the plot forward, shoehorning the characters into their roles with effectively no development whatsoever—the mystical blue-tipped Hedgehog even names them: Soren “the leader”, Twilight “the warrior”, the small female who first is spunky-damsel-in-distress but ends up contributing nothing including getting kidnapped “the token girl who isn’t a mother figure”. The nursemaid snake gets to be “the heart”. Also a snake as a nursemaid to owl kids? And they are to be the Nine Walkers—wait, “Five Flyers” to save the world.

And then poor Clyde (at least that’s what it sounded like and I missed the credits). He is the designated EVIL because he is OMG!JELUZ!1!!111! of his super-talented GOOD brother, Soren. Not that Soren ever seemed particularly concerned about what his brother was actually feeling or thinking—he’s completely oblivious. Clyde evilly tells him *spoilers* at the end “Then you don’t know me at all” (paraphrased). That’s never been said before, right? But he’s right…from this movie, Soren has never had the faintest interest in getting to know his brother.

Just as Clyde’s “you don’t know me” speech might ring just slightly familiar, so does much of the dialogue. There were a few gems; inauspiciously, none of which I can remember—and even more revealing is that I can write this review in the theater while actually watching the movie, I can follow so easily the characters and story because they are so familiar. Like a fill in the blank.

I will grant most of these issues are probably the medium. Not having read the books, I don’t know how much ground is being covered (too much). It’s more a summary than a story on its own terms—critical failure for a standalone movie.

Since the movie is never as good as the book, the creators should think of it as such.

It is a beautiful movie. If you don’t have a brain that automatically analyses everything to death, more power to you. Most everything is well-rendered (if the snake looked a bit odd) and the owls are gorgeously and generously detailed. They paid full price for every feather, and it works. Even I have to admit the fight scenes were actually cool, and fun to watch—and unlike the rest of the movie, how owls might fight (even with armor), because like Alpha & Omega, it was mostly a story about humans who happen to superficially look like animals. The fighting however was in “3D” and not just in terms of having to wear special glasses because I watched it in 2D and it still worked (movie-wise instead of story-wise). But the owls used right and left and up and down when fighting and not limiting themselves to one plane. That was fun to watch.

Also, I the soundtrack was generally strong, if at times it got a little generic. They also had the odd idea of using Owl City music for a scene and for credits. Beyond the word, one of these things is not like the other. This is a dark movie, with very dark themes and the sudden intrusion of Owl City’s cheerful optimism jarred. Keep your theme in mind next time.