Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And Now Back to Vampires

So I took the dumb vampire quiz: "What Type of Vampire Are You? expecting to be annoyed by the answer, but, no, this is totally the kind of vampire I find hot (and thus, would like to be):

Walking Sex Vampire
Walking Sex Vampire

What type of vampire are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Mercury Retrograde and Other True Tales of Magic

Do you know that saying about the gods of Cthulhu? The more you become aware of them, the more they’re aware of you? I think magic is like that (and astrology, too).

Here's my story. I have this ritual I do every calendar New Year. On New Year's eve, I take a number of dimes (I think it started at five and we've added one every year we've been doing this) and wrap them in a gold colored silk scarf. I place the scarf outside on our doorstep (hidden from the neighbors, of course.) We leave it there overnight. The idea is that the physical act of bringing the money inside the next day represents being receptive to good fortune, particularly in the form of cash, throughout the upcoming year.

Well, this year we forgot about our dimes for a couple of days.

And I have to say there have been a number of things that make me feel like this is exactly what's been happening to us this year in terms of my incidental writing money. Like, so far, it hasn't been anything big, but there are a number of short stories that I have out to market which have made it past various first cuts (or so the editors have informed me), but which seem to have gone into a kind limbo ever since getting the initial good news. Similarly, my agent sold Japanese rights to books I wrote under another name and the IRS and I have been back and forth (with my tax consultants acting as an intermediary) over one silly little form which means the world of difference in how I get taxed on such things. In other words, the money is there, it's just being held up.

Weird, huh?

And, of course, Mercury is retrograde (and has been since March 2).

Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Sure, you do. You just don't know it. Thing is, if I tell you want Mercury in retrograde means, I know you're going to find yourself suddenly aware of its effect on your life. I know, because this is exactly how I got sucked into astrology.

I get these silly little astrology alerts about various retrograding planets, and here’s what says about Mercury: “It's that time again: Mercury turned retrograde on March 2, and will continue its apparent backward journey until the 25th. Better dust off all the standard Mercury-retrograde cautions: Back up computer files and go the extra mile to express yourself clearly. When the Communication Planet is in reverse, it can feel like productivity is in park! But no two retrogrades are the same -- and Mercury's latest move makes this a crucial time to strike new balance."

"Mercury retrograde is always cause for introspection -- even more so as it takes place in Pisces, the imaginative final sign of the zodiac. The Fish swim through deep, dreamy waters, so pay close attention to your subconscious cues for the next few weeks. Reason may be particularly obscured, but as typical modes of communication become tricky, we'll all benefit from indulging those creative sides!”

For me, Mercury in retrograde usually means I should shut the hell up. So I will.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Less Than Serene


I finally saw "Serenity." I meant to watch it much earlier. In fact, I meant to go to the theatre and help with the box office numbers, but I blew it. We couldn’t find a babysitter for opening weekend, and then... well, at least I bought it. Or rather, my nephew Jonathan bought it for me for Christmas. So, Joss Whedon got my money, just later than I’d intended.

At MarsCON I was on a panel about Firefly/Serenity, and I accidentally heard a few spoilers that made me want to watch the movie to... well, basically, get it over with.

I've been a fan of Firefly since its first episode aired. Up until Saturday night, I would probably have cast myself in the ranks of the browncoats.

I was disappointed in the movie.

My big complaint boils down to this: it wasn't very funny. I'd been warned that that movie was much darker than the series, and I was (and still am) okay with that. I don't mind dark futures, in fact, I prefer them. But one of my favorite things about the series was the way the characters found humor in the darkest of hours. The fact that they said stupid things or made sarcastic/sardonic side comments made them seem more real, and gave the 'verse that much more depth. The worst part was that when Shawn and I viewed the deleted scenes we discovered that many of them were the funny bits. It's like Joss had it, and then purposely torpedoed it. I thought he was smarter than that. In fact, seeing those reminded me of viewing the deleted scenes of "Attack of the Clones" where George Lucas talks about how he'd ditched that stupid character building stuff for more action. It's like neither of them realize that the stupid character building crap is really what we wanted.

Speaking of which, I was also pre-warned about the fact that the movie was not so much an ensemble, as it was about Mal and River. I like Mal. River... I was never a huge fan of the River sub-plot. Secret, living weapon, evil empire, yeah-yeah. I feel like we've been there and done that with so many other science fiction films/TV that it was neither fresh nor interesting to me. What I loved about Firefly was its ensemble cast. That was fresh. Everyone had equal screen time – or nearly so, depending on the episode. The characters-- Jayne, Wash, Book, Kaily, and Zoe-- all played off each other to the point where when Mal talked about his ship as a family, I totally bought that. Not so much in the movie.

In fact, one of Mal's big issues in the film is supposed to be his struggle with his duty to his ship's family and the hard-cold reality of survival in space (especially given he has two fugitives aboard.) Joss made the assumption we'd all remember how cool everyone was from the TV series, and that would ride us through Mal's struggle. It mostly worked for me, because I'm such a big fan, but I think the point would have been hammered home a lot more if the "damn family" had had a few more lines. At least one good sitting around having dinner in the galley scene, even. There was no sense of the usual camaraderie.

Plus, when Wash bites it (in a cheap way, I might add), Zoë’s complete and utter despair makes no sense on the screen. Wash previously had six lines and half of them were "I am a leaf on the wind." (Funny, but over done) Who cares that he's dead? (Well, I did. Deeply. As he was my favorite character from the series.) But, I could totally understand why someone coming in off the street could hardly give a flying rat's ass.

Same with Shepard Book. Also, can I say I can't believe that of all the people on the colony Book stayed alive long enough only to whisper something unintelligible to Mal? Annoying. That's the biggest movie cliché in the 'verse. I would have expected Joss to turn that one on its head, but he didn’t. (Also, some of the blooper reel had better lines, I thought, like that scene, where Mal says that they should put Book's body on their reaver ship out of respect and this and that, and Jayne stop stealing people's shit! <-- because you know that's what he’s doing.)

That's not to say there weren't good moments, and it was good to see everyone again, kinda. (It's the everyone I’m kinda-ing.) I was really glad to see Jayne's stupid hat, for instance. I just wanted more.

I suspect that Joss was afraid to make a two-hour episode. I think he should have embraced the fact that critics were going to say that's what he did no matter what he did, so why not make it the best two-hour episode ever? I suppose there are many out there who would argue that's precisely what he did. I disagree. I think he ruined a perfectly good TV concept by trying to make it too "big screen-y," as one of his characters might say.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"It's Racing Day!"

I've become a HUGE fan of Doug Wieselman.

I know, you're thinking, "Wow, that's so cool, Tate. Uh, Who?"

Dude, Doug Wieselman, the guy who writes the best music for Nick Jr's The Backyardigans. I've been singing "It's racing day, it's racing day. It's racing day, it's racing day. It's not picture-tracing (nervous pacing, puppy chasing, sausage casing, doily lacing, self-effacing) day. Today's the day we race." Over and over.

It makes me smile. Every time.