Stargate Universe (and other small-screen stuff)

While I’m grousing about things that fall flat on the big screen, I should report that I was also disappointed in the Stargate Universe season finale, which I finally saw on Thursday night. I had heard so many raves that I was sure, as I went into viewing the last four episodes, that things were going to pick up. Plot would happen, and someone would finally figure out what to do with Eli and his big adorable brain.

But no. A stack of cliffhangers later, it was all sigh and no sauce. I won’t be tuning in when they start up again.

The other new thing I’ve been watching lately is a Toronto-based cop show called Rookie Blue, which is about a bunch of brand-new cops in their first year on the job. This is a show that combines all of the best qualities of hard-hitting, tough-talking, sexy crime drama with the big-eyed adorability of something like Baby Animals. I mean, really. They’re like these tiny little law enforcement creatures, barely out of nappies and straight into uniform, Oh, honey, you forgot to take bullets to the hostage crisis again? That is SO cute!

Seriously, though, the show has had a few good moments. The female lead (her name is Missy Peregrym, so again I have to say Awww!) has the same kind of appeal Jennifer Garner brought to the character of Sidney Bristow in Alias–she is, simply put, very likable. The show is popcorn: not compelling, but good enough to burn an hour on here and there.

Which is true of many of the things I am planning to watch this fall: Glee (in whose closer I was also a little disappointed), House, Castle, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds and–when mid-season rolls around–Criminal Minds: Reboot, which will have all the Garcia, all the time, plus the smokin’ Janeane Garofalo. If anything can get me off the Lewis/Hathaway track… cough, never mind.

Do you know what you’re watching this fall?

Watching movies at home

I have had a membership (they’re the Canadian version of Netflix) for some years now, and its Send-Me-Stuff! queue tends to stand at just under a hundred movies. The top fifteen or so are the things I want right away–currently Inspector Lewis S2* is in the favored position. Everything after number twenty or so tends to have gone onto the list so long ago that when it arrives, kelly-yoyoKelly and I are left wondering which of us added it, and on whose recommendation.

We got Christmas in Connecticut not long ago, for example, and I remember putting that on the list in the spring of 2007, shortly before Kelly went to Taos Toolbox, because Connie Willis had said in an interview that it was wonderful.

Anyway, the corporate deities of random filmviewing sent us I Shot Andy Warhol and Atonement.

The former we’d queued because of Lili Taylor, and she was unforgettable: disturbed, brilliant and thoroughly unhinged as Valerie Solanas. It’s directed in a consciously arty way–very appropriate considering the subject matter–and it was about a little slice of Sixties history that was new to me. Good script, well shot, great performances–it all kept me riveted.

Atonement, on the other hand… well. It opens beautifully. It’s got that chewy, nuanced, ambiguous sort of storytelling that makes you argue about the meaning of every little thing. The first half made me want to go back, and watch again, and dissect. Meanwhile, Keira Knightly does a good job of looking like a Tamara de Lempicka painting, in her shimmering green ballgowns. She’s no Lili, maybe, but the aesthetic effect was far from painful.

Tragically, this film is all build and no payoff. I don’t buy much of anything after the big Atoneworthy sin, and it’s a biggie, is committed.

The cinematography in this movie is stunning–there’s a long shot set on the beaches of Dunkirk that took my breath away, and the things the camerahuman does with water and reflections… oh, they were gaspingly beautiful. But the end of the story falls flatter than a crepe; I was so disappointed. There will be no going back to examine the beginning in detail; the before was nearly brilliant, but the after entirely ruined it.

(*I am shipping Lewis/Hathaway bigtime, my friends, and poet and editor Clélie Rich is entirely to blame.)


kelly-yoyoKelly and I have been watching Daria, Daria and more Daria ever since we got the box set, and have been delighted to discover that not only does it hold up nicely, but there was an entire season we missed. Yesterday, though, we broke pattern, watching first the Merlin pilot and then, later, a movie.

We have a long enough list of wanna-see films at Zip that by the time something actually arrives at our house, we’ve often forgotten which of us wanted to see it and who it was recommended it. So it was with Five Across the Eyes, whose production values were so incredibly low that we gave it less time than we spent watching the previews (for Anamorph and Pathology, both of which got added to the queue. If they are appalling, let us know!)

I had been in the mood for some horror, but the other thing we had in hand was Christmas in Connecticut. By chance I do remember when I zipped this: it was in 2007, just before Kelly went to Taos Toolbox, and it was something Connie Willis had recommended in pre-workshop e-mails, or some interview she’d given at around that time.

We threw it in. It’s a 1945 romantic comedy, with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan–neither of whom I remember seeing before in anything–and thoroughly delightful. There’s some interesting gender stuff–the male love object is quite passive, almost demure, and Barbara is an independent career woman who’s chasing him, in an adorable way, from the moment he wanders into her field of vision. By the end, of course, Dennis does get to prove he’s got some manly initiative, but it’s not a big reversal, or in any way a diminishing of Barbara’s awesome. The cast has a collective chuckle over her lack of traditional girl skills, she’s in no way crushed, and we end with love.

Definitely a better way to spend the night than watching five badly-shot teenaged girls getting (one assumes) dismembered.

Kitty sitter

Twitter has moments when it rocks my world. After we’d checked with some usual suspects I’d posted a note saying we wanted someone to stay with the cats this August when we’re cruising to Alaska with my mother’s family. I got a whole bunch of nibbles right away, some good referrals, and in the end what’s happened is an artist friend from Ontario’s going to come stay with the kids. We get cat-care, she gets a cheap vacation, and as a bonus we get to see her for the first time in a fair stretch of years. It’s really win-win-win!

Cats-Rumble-love me

I didn’t sleep much Tuesday evening, so yesterday I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how much work I have upcoming in July. The answer seemed to be a lot; now that I have slept, it turns out that’s entirely true. By three I was circling the office, looking at the pile and knowing I had no brains to tackle it, and then circling around again.

Instead of continuing to freak out, I bundled my butt off to a 5K walk arranged by Weight Watchers and The Running Room. I’d thought of bailing, because of the no-sleep thing, but somehow my addled brain served up the memory that one of the few things I’m good for in that state is exercise, and off I went.

It helped. It helped a lot. I ended up walking with someone I’d only met once, and it turned out we had plenty to talk about, nothing astounding, just that thing that happens when you meet someone who’s in the same stage of life. She had her very tall eight-year-old daughter with her, and the kid motored along, keeping our pace–which was challenging. Toward the end she was stumbling. I remember that happening to me as a kid: getting tired, still pushing on through will alone, but failing to lift my feet high enough to clear minor obstructions like the cracks in the sidewalk.

I came home tired, sweaty, and in a much better mood and after I’d showered and suppered Kelly and I broke out the DARIA DVDs. Not only are we enjoying re-viewing episodes we watched over and over and endlessly over at the end of the Nineties, but it looks as though we missed most of an entire season in the middle of the run. So in the past couple of days we’ve seen six or seven shiny new episodes, one of which, “Pierced,” gets my vote for funniest Daria ever. Yes, I am a Daria/Trent shipper. (Would that amalgamate into Drent? And what are Gleeks calling an imaginary Finn/Puck pairings? Because the word that comes to mind isn’t Pinn, if you know what I mean.)

Speaking of Television and GLEE, a note to the lovely elves who will be hanging with the kittehs and watching  while we’re away this weekend–there’s a musical episode called “Daria!” I’ll try to figure out which disc it’s on if you’re interested.

Away, yes. We will be at the LOCUS Awards this weekend, hobnobbing with Kelly’s Taos instructors, Connie Willis and Walter Jon Williams, along with lovely folk like Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge and so many others it would be silly to try to name them.

Hammer hammer, saw saw

I converted to a WordPress site in June of 2010, with the goal of integrating the static site about my writing with the more dynamic content of my blog, which originated on Livejournal, and whose archives still live there. I have great plans for this site, and given my posting habits, I know that all of the areas you see in the menus on this site will soon be brimming over with new, up-to-date, recent, sexy content. I will continue to grab text fragments and post mini-reviews of books as I read them, talk film and TV, discuss the music I’m listening to as well as whatever I’m singing with my choir, and write about food, wine, cheese, and eco-consumerism.

I am also getting ready to launch an interview series, Journeys, which will discuss the career paths of various authors in the SF and fantasy fields.

I could dig up old posts on some of these topics and whip off a few new ones, if I wished, but I want this process to happen organically. I want to write good thoughtful posts, things you will enjoy, things that will make you hungry or thoughtful or maybe even mad once in awhile–things that will get you talking. In the meantime, this post is just a quick note to say I’m sorry there’s nothing more on point here just yet, and to beg your patience while I generate content that’s really worth reading.