July 29, 2015
July 27, 2015
In a nutshell: The great Sherlock Holmes finally learns the value of love and relationships before it’s too late.
That sounds like a super sappy cheesy story, and in some ways it is, but because it’s also a British historical so it ends up being grounded and poignant and in some ways very difficult. This is a rough movie to watch if you have anyone in your life who is aging, and suffering for it.
That gets me to thinking about what must be the very intentional casting of Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes. A beloved actor playing this beloved character at the end of his life — even if you don’t have a loved one going through that, it’s still really difficult watching McKellen be so old and broken — especially since we get the flashback of Holmes’ last case, with the old but vibrant wizardly McKellen we’re all used to. And in the very next scene he’s an ancient man scrawling names on the cuff of his sleeve because that’s the only way he can remember who he’s talking to. I don’t think this would have the same impact with a more obscure actor.
This kind of movie is an acting showcase — McKellen, Laura Linney as his house keeper, and Milo Parker as her son, another one of those utterly precocious British boy actors who all look just a little bit alike. (Seriously, I kept thinking, is this Freddie Highmore’s younger brother? Asa Butterfield’s? Neither, it turns out!) They’re all great. Watch this to appreciate good actors at work, if nothing else.
For all the tears, this is ultimately an uplifting story by the end of it. Maybe not a brilliant movie, but a nice one.
July 24, 2015
The Tor/Forge blog has posted the first chapter of KITTY SAVES THE WORLD. The countdown to release goes on! We’re getting closer…
So, Turner Classic Movies was showing George Burns and Gracie Allen movies last night. I watched some, because I had never watched Burns and Allen. I grew up with wry old George Burns, the wizened wise man with the cigar. I knew about Burns and Allen, and whenever there was some kind of retrospective of George there’d be a bit about the first half of his career — and usually only still pictures of him and his wife and show biz partner. Maybe a clip from the TV show, a one-liner from a comedy routine.
So nobody actually told me Gracie Allen was a phenomenally hysterical comic genius. Oh my goodness you guys.
There she is, the only comic in a room full of straight men, cheerfully handing them all golf balls out of her purse because Reasons. It’s not really her jokes that are funny — it’s how she plays the dumb chick with so much glee. (“I heard of vice but I never knew they had a president for it!”) Her character is constantly, enthusiastically oblivious, but you realize pretty quickly it’s her world, and everyone else has just stumbled into it, much to their horror.
I can also see the lineage of oblivious women comic personae, from her to Lucille Ball to Carol Burnett to Gilda Radner to Sarah Silverman, whose bit in The Aristocrats is gut-busting, best one in the bunch, in large part because she plays it with this wide-eyed innocence, like how Gracie Allen moves through her films.
Burns in these old movies is an angry, edgy Burns that I hardly recognize. Burns with Gracie was different than Burns without her, and I start crying when I think of how hard it must have been for him to go on for thirty years alone.
Also, they danced:
July 22, 2015
Two weeks til KITTY SAVES THE WORLD is released to the wild! I’m entering the nerve wracking phase of things. I should start hearing about reviews soon, and feedback should start to come in. Gosh, I hope people like it! Ain’t nothing I can do about it now but wait to hear what people say.
In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the playlist for the book. And yes, it has struck me that the last half might appear a bit. . .apocalyptic. *rubs hands together gleefully*
- Traveling Wilburys, “End of the Line”
- Patsy Cline, “Walkin’ After Midnight”
- Bob Geldof, “The Great Song of Indifference”
- The Fabulous Glittering Aquanazis, “The Song That
Will Get Us That Parental Advisory Sticker”
- Everclear, “Strawberry”
- Ian Cooke, “Fortitude”
- The Pogues, “If I Should Fall from Grace with God”
- Celtic Legacy aka Kiltic, “Amazing Grace”
- Johnny Nicholas, “John the Revelator”
- Musica Antiqua, “Sheep May Safely Graze”
- Pandora Celtica, “The Leaving”
- Jane Siberry, “Calling All Angels”
- Anonymous 4, “Angel Band”
July 20, 2015
There seems to be this crowd of online commentators who are eagerly waiting for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to go bust. They gleefully look at an offering like Ant-Man and declare: this is a stupid, obscure character that can’t possibly anchor a good movie and therefore this is the one that’s going to topple the empire. (Never mind that at this point the MCU has earned room for a couple of duds before it’s declared moribund.) This baffles me, because these are exactly the same complaints the naysayers had about Iron Man, Thor, and even Captain America. Guardians of the Galaxy will flop because talking raccoon. These concepts are obscure, weird, geeky, and mainstream audiences won’t go for it.
You’d think the naysayers would have learned to shut the hell up by now. Because they’ve been wrong every single time.
Ant-Man is great. I had so much fun. SO MUCH FUN. (And that’s really the key to these movies, isn’t it? They’re so much fun, and that’s what so-called mainstream audiences ping to.) I will also state for the record that I’m completely incapable of commenting on MCU movies as independent entities. It’s impossible for me to consider them as stand-alone cinematic endeavors in their own right. Nor do I think I should have to. Not when…
…the opening scene has Peggy Carter and Howard Stark in 1989, in the newly built SHIELD headquarters, dealing with a furious Hank Pym, and I ACTUALLY STARTED CRYING because I just love Peggy so much and it’s always so good to see her, and the movie has already won me over in literally ten seconds of film without introducing any story or even the main character.
**END SPOILERS** (Actually, there are probably a lot of spoilers below as well.)
The way I’m now thinking of it: The MCU is my favorite show, but it only has two episodes a year (and the Peggy Carter We-Love-Carrie-And-Want-Her-to-be-Happy Holiday Special). Ant-Man is a stand-alone story, but it’s so interconnected — deeply, and yet appropriately, and seamlessly — with the other movies that it feels like a chapter in a larger story. And yes, stay through the entire credits because there’s even story in the last bit of easter egg. (Why do we have to still tell people this? Why do people still leave the theater early?)
So yeah. I’m not really talking about Ant-Man as a movie. I’m talking about it as the latest episode of my favorite show. And it’s a good episode.
If I were going to talk about it as a cinematic endeavor: I think the superhero action in this is great. It’s really original. I kept thinking about how I’ve never really seen action like this before — and it’s not just the weird and whimsical use of ants everywhere. (Seriously, if you have an ant phobia DO NOT go see this movie.) It’s that the action is based on clever movement rather than brute force. In Cap and Thor and Iron Man battles, concrete gets smashed, people fly across rooms, everything is so heavy. Here, Scott is growing and shrinking in a flash, he’s dodging, he’s all over the place — we can’t really follow it, but we’re not really supposed to because we can’t actually see him! But we do see his opponent fall over. It’s just so different and interesting.
Two more things and then I’ll shut up. I got a little annoyed at Scott’s three racial stereotype sidekicks, who were saved from being outright cliches by their hardcore competence. I love competence. And Luis — Luis was actually just amazing. My friends and I decided we really want to go to a wine tasting with him.
And the other thing I can’t finish without commenting on: Wasp. Wasp Wasp Wasp. WASP. Wasp. WE HAVE THE WASP. OMFG. The flashback of Janet Van Dyne in action, even though it was far too brief, made me so ridiculously happy. And then it turns out we have two Wasps. And that’s fantastic.
Now, what is the MCU going to do with its two Wasps? Your move, Marvel.
July 17, 2015
Could it be I accomplished a ton of stuff this week because I didn’t travel last weekend? Am I just going to have to resign myself to the fact that traveling pretty much shoots down the entire week after I get home? Or did that just happen this one time? Or did I just feel like I accomplished more because I’m in a better mood?
I may be over thinking this. But I did have a good productive week which felt nice.
I love my to-do lists, so you can imagine my consternation when I stumbled upon an article that said the most brilliant genius type people in the world don’t use to-do lists. They use schedules, and instead of simply making lists they actually plot out what they’re doing with every minute of every day and that’s how they accomplish things.
The problem with this sort of article of course is how it implies that if you don’t do things this exact way, you’ll never be successful. Meh.
This article (which of course I can’t find now) insisted that you can’t prioritize to-do lists the way you can prioritize schedules, and that by actually planning your day out to the minute, blocking out chunks of time for each task, you’ll accomplish more.
I decided that would drive me bonkers. As open-ended as my days are, it would be really easy just to blow off entire schedules like that. And that would make me feel so defeated and awful about myself. . .
Because you see, I can prioritize my to-do lists. I have a master list, and at the end of each day I make up the list for the next day. That list goes on a little square post-it note. I can’t overschedule. And it’s very satisfying to actually cross off everything on the post-it note and throw it away. If I ever find myself looking for something to do, I refer to the master list. I’m always doing something, and my schedule can’t get entirely blown up by the unexpected.
One size does not fit all with this sort of thing. What works for you all? Precise scheduling, a to-do list, or some combination of both?
July 15, 2015
CARRIE’S RIDICULOUS METAPHOR
RE: SUPERHEROISM IN THE DC TELEVISION UNIVERSE
Superheroism/villainy in Starling City is viral. Slade is Patient Zero, Oliver and Sarah are carriers who, once infected, spread the virus to Roy, Laurel, and Thea. And possibly Diggle and Palmer? But it’s spread from person to person in that tangle of relationships. Eventually, everybody on that show is gonna be a damn superhero.
In Central City, superheroism/villainy is acute. That is, one inciting incident produced all the metahumans. There won’t be any more without another inciting event. Like, oh, SOME KIND OF COSMIC TIME VORTEX???
We’ve already gotten hints of other classic DC cities in this world — I remember Opal City getting mentioned at one point. (Starman cameo!!! Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease.) So of course I’m now wondering what other disease metaphors/vectors for superheroism might be possible…