October 19, 2015

I’ve given myself some homework — something you need to know if you want to be a pro writer is that there is always homework.  I’m analyzing LeGuin’s The Dispossessed for structure.  This story follows one person through much of his life, alternating between current pivotal events and flashbacks telling the story of his life.  It’s a good structure, I think, that packs in a huge amount of information about the main character, his world, and his place in it.  I’m contemplating a similar structure so I really want to get a handle on what the book does well.

It also turns out this is a book that reads differently at different points in one’s life.  The last time I read it (and first time, I think) was for grad school 15 years ago.  I was 27.  I turned down a lot of pages to note things on those pages (without actually marking passages, alas), and this read through I can’t think of what I wanted to note back then, because of bunch of entirely different parts of the book are jumping out at me this time.  Some of them are things I need to hear at this point in my life, oddly enough, so I’m enjoying this read through.  And making notes.

TV:  I seem to have stopped watching Castle.  This used to be the center of my Monday night dinner parties, but we have so many other shows we’re trying to watch (Flash!  Arrow!), that we can’t be bothered.  The end of last season was such a perfect series finale, and the one episode I’ve managed to catch from this season doubled down so egregiously on the stupid conspiracy thriller plot that the show does so badly, that I just stopped watching and barely noticed.

I’m finally watching The Bletchley Circle, and I started liking it after I decided to stop being so furious at how condescending Susan’s husband is toward her.  It’s such a contrast to the couple of times she speaks with men who have an inkling of what she did during the war.

And…I hear there’s some Star Wars buzz around today?  Up late last night, someone posted a 15 second clip from the new trailer.  15 seconds.  But it had X-wings and pilots and something big happening and dammit but I started crying.

I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to with all this new Star Wars stuff:  meeting some new people.  Following some new characters and new stories.  My favorite Expanded Universe stories were always the ones dealing with new characters:  Rogue Squadron, Tales of the Jedi, etc.  This is a huge, rich, amazing universe — that’s why we keep coming back to it.  But I want to meet some new people in it, please.

more from the archives

October 16, 2015

Okay, so this is why I save everything, and go through everything piece-by-piece rather than throw away entire boxes.  I’m one of those people who saves Playbills:


As you can see, this was for Arsenic and Old Lace at the Morris Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore.  Ticket says November 1987.  (A quick google tells me the Mechanic Theater was demolished just last year.  This has made me unexpectedly melancholy.)

But what’s really cool about this, and getting to see this particular production, is the cast:


Just in case you can’t quite read that, it’s Jean Stapleton and Marion Ross as the sisters.  Jean Stapleton, aka Edith Bunker on All in the Family, and Marion Ross, aka Mrs. Cunningham on Happy Days.  Is that inspired casting or what?  As I remember it (which is somewhat well — I vividly remember going to this, but Arsenic and Old Lace is one of those plays that’s so familiar it’s hard to remember how much of the actual performance I’m playing back in my mind, and how much I’m remembering the play rather than the performance.) Stapleton and Ross played it pretty much like Mrs. Bunker and Mrs. Cunningham are dotty old sisters who moved in together and start casually murdering lonely old men, and it was deeply, wonderfully hilarious.  I wonder if this is on film somewhere?  To the googles!  Aha, here’s a tiny little clip of it.  Just a taste.  But here’s a full review.

I’m so pleased to be reminded of this bit of theater adventure.


In another bit of theater adventure:  I went to see the live movie broadcast of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet last night, thanks to the generosity and foresight of friends.  I have to confess:  the performance was a little slow to find its feet, and a little uneven after.  Cumberbatch played Hamlet like he plays everything:  flamboyantly moody.  I didn’t understand what was up with Hipster Horatio — he didn’t match anything else in the play.

And all I could think when the second half came up and the stage was absolutely covered in whatever that dirt analog was (I’m guessing some kind of foam):  that poor, poor stage manager.

I’ve been home for over a week now, you guys!  What am I gonna do with myself?!  It’s so weird!

I’m going to actually get some freaking writing done is what.  That feels so good.

In the meantime, it turns out I’ve been talking about Babylon 5 so much that a friend of mine just went and got me a set of badges so I’ll go make the damn uniform already:

B5 badges

Geeks are so easy to shop for.


The Universal Trouser Constant (UTC):  The little-understood physical force existing in superhero stories that ensures that no matter what happens to the person wearing them, their pants will always fit.

(I’ve been re-watching some MCU movies (Age of Ultron out on DVD now!), and it isn’t just the Hulk that this applies to.  Seriously, keep an eye on those pants, y’all.)


happy Monday

October 5, 2015

I’m still on the “clean the house and get rid of stuff” kick.  Complicated by the fact that my parents and grandparents are doing the same thing and keep dropping off more boxes of stuff.  I can’t remember when I started but clearly this is going to take years.  On the other hand, I managed to get rid of an entire box of books!  Maybe there’s hope!

If I spend a half-hour a day tidying for the next month, I think I can make a dent.  Not that my house will actually look cleaner, but I’ll feel better.

I need to knit something right freaking now.  I haven’t knitted anything in over a month.

Why haven’t I started knitting something?  Because I spent last week making my niece’s Halloween costume:

Emmy Zita

Emmy and her dad have been reading Zita the Spacegirl, and so that’s who she wants to be this year.  I obliged.  I’m pretty proud of this one.  It’s the first accurate cosplay I’ve attempted for someone else.  And it’s TINY.  So adorable.  I can’t stop giggling.

Babylon 5 and Captain Power

September 28, 2015

If I may indulge in a little TV literary analysis.  I think I mentioned I’m rewatching Babylon 5. I’m about halfway through season 2. I might also have mentioned that one of my favorite TV shows of all time is Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, an obscure one-season wonder kids show from the 80’s. I was fourteen when it aired, and the show had a huge impact on me creatively.

I mentioned this because the story editor and head writer of Captain Power was J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5.  I make an argument that Captain Power was something of a dry run for Babylon 5 — maybe not intentionally or consciously, but you can see Straczynski trying out ideas that would come to fruition in B5:  an ongoing science fictional storyline with a plot that builds from episode to episode, an ensemble cast of close-knit characters who all have rich and diverse backstories.  An ethos that values peace over war and is continually determined to show the destructive cost of warfare.  It’s unusual to be able to track common literary impulses of a single creator across TV shows and/or movies because they’re usually so collaborative, but I think this is one example where it’s possible. (Another is Joss Whedon and his talent for writing stories about broken people coming together into emotionally close-knit teams, and his reliance on impalement as a plot device.)

Then there are moments where the ties between the two shows are a lot more obvious.  Like how both shows have ultraviolet clearances, and how CP character Tank comes from a genetic engineering program called Babylon 5.

And then I’m watching B 5 and suddenly think, “Wait a minute, that scene looks really familiar.”  Which leads to this:

This is destroyed San Diego from B5 Season 2 Ep. 6, “Spider in the Web:”

B5 San Diego Scene season 2 ep 6

This is destroyed San Francisco from Captain Power Ep. 1, “Shattered” (I tweaked the brightness a bit because the original was really dark):

San Fran CP ep 1 - tweaked
Yup, they flat out used the exact same FX footage, with tweaking and filters.

And taking screen caps in order to do a side by side comparison may very well be the third nerdiest thing I’ve ever done.



September 16, 2015

Do I think magic exists?  Yes.  You wanna know I how know?  Because I was able to turn this:



Into a bunch of pesto that will last me all winter:


(Okay, so I didn’t actually turn all the mint into pesto, just the basil and sage, because mint pesto would probably be kind of…interesting.  But I will turn the mint into tea which will be AWESOME. And magical.)



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