Tuesday

Rainy weather, and messed-up trains on my evening commute, but otherwise a pretty ordinary day.

I think I may actually get some things accomplished this week. Well, at least near-accomplished, but that’s something.

Saturday and Sunday

Yesterday was warm enough to sit out in the yard for a little while, reading Kaleidotrope submissions. So that’s what I did. I sometimes worry than I’m being a little too choosy, after I’ve rejected a dozen or so stories in a row, and then one comes along that I don’t want to reject and I think, “Nope. Just choosy enough.”

After dinner, I watched American Hustle, which I wish I could say I enjoyed more than I did. At this year’s Golden Globe Awards, Tina Fey joked that the movie’s original name was “Explosion at the Wig Factory,” which really isn’t far from the truth. There’s some good acting in the movie, but a lot more over-acting, and a lot of over-the-top hair and costume design, all in service of a fun but kind of thin story — a very loosely adapted version of the Abscam investigation. It’s not hard to see why the film was nominated for ten Oscars last year. But it’s also not hard to see why it didn’t win a single one.

After that, I watched Area 407, which I can’t even pretend was any good. It’s exceptionally terrible, even by the low standards of found-footage monster movies, apparently ad libbed over the course of five days, and man does that show! It so very, very bad…and for that reason, it was absolutely wonderful.

I watched it with friends over Twitter, which is something we do semi-regularly — Heather has a rundown of some of the comments we made — and it was kind of magical. Heaven knows I’ve seen my fair share of terrible movies, but every now and then one comes along that’s terrible in all the right ways. This was definitely one of those, and I had a blast live-tweeting it with everyone else.

This afternoon, I went to see Captain America: Winter Soldier with some in-person friends. I enjoyed the movie, which is fun and has some nice little moments from its leads interspersed with all the acting — I don’t Steve’s ever going to get to ask out Kristen from Statistics — but there’s not a whole lot to say about it, really. I mean it’s no Area 407.

Anyway, before the movie we had our weekly writing group, and this is what I did:

“You gotta write it down,” Trevor Kettleson said. “His speech recognition software isn’t working at the moment.”

“This is the robot?” Dean asked. “Your investigator?”

“He doesn’t like that word,” Kettleson said. “Either one. It would be more accurate to call him a…’cyborg consultant.’”

“From outer space?”

Kettleson sighed, sat forward in his chair. “While technically accurate, detective, pre-judgmental language like that will only make it more difficult for Roger — “

“The robot. Roger the robot.”

“ — our consulting cyborg to adequately assist you on this case. It’s true that Roger’s cybernetic components were outfitted on a space station orbiting an abandoned planetoid, but the fact that this all happens three hundred years in the future — “

“I’m not here to prosecute your cyborg, Mr. Kettleson,” Dean said, all smiles, “just trying to get a lay of the land. Everyone who came through the time vortex was granted immunity, that’s the law. How I feel about it doesn’t matter.”

“It might matter to Roger,” Kettleson said.

“I’ll try not to step on anyone’s toes,” Dean said. “Especially if they’re made out of titanium.”

“Our firm has the utmost respect for Roger’s investigative skills. I urge you to turn to him as an asset.”

“He just doesn’t talk.”

“Oh, he talks. He just can’t process speech presently. We’re doing everything in our power to remedy that, but…well, we are talking about technology three centuries more advanced than our own.”

“And was Paige Caldwell working on this remedy?”

“Was — ?”

“Dr. Caldwell. The victim. Was she spending a lot of time working directly with Roger?”

“Well…I — it was one of her projects, yes. It’s been a team effort. Certainly you don’t think that’s what got her killed, or that Roger — ?”

“You said yourself she didn’t have any enemies.”

“That I knew of, yes. But, detective, that’s a very wide leap to naming Roger as a suspect.”

“I’m just thinking out loud, Mr. Kettleson” Dean said. He stood up and moved towards the door. “If I start making allegations, believe me, I’ll put them in writing. I wouldn’t want Roger to miss them.”

Three hours later, with the cyborg’s pneumatic-powered hands at his throat, Dean Hendricks thought he might have made a mistake.

“Make it look good,” he croaked. “We need her to think you’re really trying to kill me.”

Silently he cursed himself, remembering Roger’s speech recognition problem. He just hoped the cyborg remembered the plan. Those steel-tipped fingers were pretty tight around his windpipe. But they weren’t going to flush Caldwell out of hiding if they didn’t put on a good show.

And that, pretty much, was my weekend.

Friday

And so began my morning at work today.

It turned out to be nothing, or at least nothing much to worry about, after about an hour of alarms and then announcements, then the arrival of the fire department to check out a smoke detector problem on the twentieth floor. We were allowed to throw open some of the windows — which I’m not sure I knew was a thing that could happen — to help dispel some of the smokey smell…which, from all accounts, was unrelated. (Does that make it better, or worse? It was apparently the smell of welding smoke that got in from construction up on the roof.)

So it turns out we didn’t have to evacuate, and I basically had to spend the day doing the work I thought I was going to doing. Which hardly seems fair, when you get right down to it.

I’m pleased as punch that it’s the weekend. There’s a tiny part of me that thinks I should maybe try to do some more work this weekend — the amount of collating I have to do, you would not believe — but I think the weekend will be better spent in reading Kaleidotrope submissions, writing a little, and watching movies and TV.

Though wasn’t it just last weekend? Time…it does that whole flying thing a lot, doesn’t it?

Random 10 4-11-14

Last week. This week:

  1. Four-letter word just to get me along
  2. The damn thing gone wild
  3. Your obsessions get you known throughout the school for being strange
  4. You’re like a tired child
  5. You haven’t got the whole disease
  6. Occupational hazard be my occupation’s just not around
  7. You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex
  8. Crabs in the bucket can’t have me
  9. What’s with all the screaming?
  10. I got your phone number written in the back of my bible

This is how it goes. Good luck!

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome

Third time really is the charm.

After unexpected snowfall in January, then unexpected illness last week, I finally went to see a Broadway musical last night.

I actually don’t go to the theater all that often, despite this being the third attempt in almost as many months — and the second in less than a week — but my parents had for whatever reason purchased tickets to see Cabaret, starring Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams. So they trekked into the city and I met them a couple of blocks from my office for dinner.

My father still isn’t always feeling well, so he unfortunately opted to head home before the show, walking over with us to the theater but then taking the subway and train back. It’s a shame, too, since he was feeling better not long after — I called him at intermission — and the show was really very good.

I had only a passing familiarity with the show, and then only with Joel Grey’s lead performance in the original. Cumming’s quite different in the role, less elfin and more dirty, and the musical definitely has a very risque edge. But Cumming and Williams were both terrific, as was all of the supporting cast, and I had a great time.

The rest of the week — is it really Thursday already? How? — has passed by very busily at work. I do a little bit of writing every day, even if yesterday proved the exception, and I watch a large amount of The Good Wife on streaming video. (Cumming’s in that, too, as it happens, but playing a very different character.) A night out at the theater notwithstanding, I lead a rather boring life.

Sunday

A quiet day. Not that yesterday wasn’t, really, but at least today was relatively free of health problems.

I had my weekly writing group and wrote this:

The city below them lay in ruins, or at least it did from the vantage of command, where the smoldering rubble flickered in the static of the ship’s main viewscreens.

“You can’t put much stock in that,” said Tendall. “Those images are from at least twenty-four hours into the future.”

Bergen grunted, it seemed in assent, but then just ask quickly she asked, “And how many hours until we make actual landfall?”

Sighing heavily, Tendall said, “Thirty-seven. Even if we push the engines to the breaking point, we won’t be back in same-time for another day and a half.”

“So we’ll miss being concurrent with the disaster?” Bergen asked.

“That’s assuming it happens, ma’am,” Tendall said. “But yes. I’m afraid if these images are the future, we won’t exit the probability stream in time to prevent this disaster from happening. Or even to ascertain its cause, most likely.”

“Can’t we turn around, then?” Bergen asked. “Or exit the stream earlier?”

“You’ve never flown in a timeship before, have you, ma’am?”

“No,” she told him. “We don’t have much call to in the Ambassadorial core. This trip was…unexpected.”

“Well, we’re fighting more than the usual tug and drift of spaceflight,” Tendall said. “We’d just as likely tear the ship apart if we tried adjusting course once we’ve entered the stream.”

“Can’t we even send a message ahead?” Bergen asked. “If we know in twenty-four hours the capitol city is going to be destroyed, we have an obligation to send them a warning.”

“You’re free to talk with engineering about that, ma’am. I don’t see how it would work, but that kind of physics is a little above my pay grade.”

“You seem remarkably calm. Don’t you have family in the capitol?”

“I’ve had family in most of the cities I’ve seen destroyed in the future, ma’am. After a few relative-centuries, I’m afraid it’s an occupational hazard. If I let not being able to do anything about it bother me, I couldn’t pilot the ship.” He offered her a smile which he knew she would not return. “I suppose that’s why time-flight isn’t recommended for you folks in the core.”

I dunno. The prompt was “When we lose our innocence, how do we regain it?” Yeah, I dunno.

Saturday

This turned out to be a very different day than what I was expecting.

I started the day off with the G.I. Joe episode of Community. (Yes, the G.I. Joe episode. There’s a young fanboy inside me whose head just exploded.) I did my taxes, and I hung around the house. I did some laundry, watched some TV, and then watched Ghost in the Shell, which was decent, and interesting, but probably not as revolutionary as it seemed back in 1995. It wasn’t a very out-of-the-ordinary kind of day.

Of course, I was doing all of this while my parents spent the day at the hospital.

Let me just preface this by saying that everybody is fine. My father hadn’t been feeling well for a few days, and there was definitely some concern over the ten hours or so they spent at the emergency room this afternoon, but he’s fine. It’s just kidney stones, which admittedly isn’t at the top of the good news list, but it’s a treatable and temporary condition. I don’t want to talk about it a lot — partly because I wasn’t there, partly because I’m not him, and partly because…well, do you really want that? — but everybody here is fine.

We did, of course, have to skip our plans for dinner and a show this evening.

We had tickets — my mother’s Christmas gift to my father — for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and dinner reservations, and both ended up going to waste. After my failed attempt to see Waiting for Godot back in January, 2014 is not turning out to be a good year for me and Broadway.

But, really, my father’s the one who had the lousier day.

Or maybe the dog. He’s the one who has to constantly be on guard against insidious threats like home mail delivery. Yes, the dog definitely had it rough today.

Random 10 4-4-14

Last week. This week:

  1. “Watching the Detectives” by Elvis Costello, guessed by random passer-by
    They beat him up until the teardrops start
  2. “Unforgetful You” by Jars of Clay
    You never minded calling me a child
  3. “Vienna” by Billy Joel, guessed by Occupant
    You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
  4. “2 Bit Blues” by Kid Koala
    It’s what I do with what I got
  5. “Korean Parents” by Randy Newman
    Never forget who sent Fido to the farm
  6. “Mama Kin” by Aerosmith
    Shootin’ fire from your mouth just like a dragon
  7. “Night and Day” by Sarah Blasko
    How could we grow old together?
  8. “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger, guessed by Clayton
    You don’t dare make a stand
  9. “Evil” by Interpol
    Leave some shards under the belly
  10. “Youthless” by Beck
    Shake your seasick legs around

Good luck!

How I Met Your Wednesday

Last night, I decided to marathon my way through the last nine episodes of How I Met Your Mother‘s final season. I first discovered the show on DVD, and I’ve often felt, particularly in the last couple of not-quite-as-good seasons, that the show holds up a lot better, at least for me, in larger block viewing. There’s a certain momentum to watching it like that, and while it can sometimes throw a harsher than usual light on the show’s flaws — like, for instance, that this last season had surprisingly very little momentum of its own — it can also underline the show’s strengths and build up my investment in the characters. I’d watched most of this last season already, but I’d decided some two-thirds of the way through to take a break and let the remaining episodes pile up for one long, final watch.

And then I started hearing over Twitter about terrible the series finale was.

I should probably say that this post is going to contain some spoilers. Also, that the Twitter chatter was right. It was a very disappointing way for the show to end.

Todd VanDerWerff, who is one of my favorite TV critics, wrote a long post about the show, and the episode, and he sums it up I think nicely:

The ultimate takeaway from the final season is that series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas were at once too good and not good enough to tell the story they ultimately wanted to tell.

The problem for me was this: for the show’s creators, the title was apparently just a misdirect, another joke nested within all the others. And yet for those of us watching, those of us who cared about these characters, it was the driving force behind the show. We wanted the love story, wanted that genuine — and moreover earned — happy ending, and, yes, we wanted to know how Ted met his future children’s mother.

VanDerWerff writes:

Bays and Thomas simply looked like shitty long-term planners, unable to understand that getting the audience so invested in the Barney and Robin coupling or in Tracy as a character would make it all the harder when the series finale abruptly dissolved the former and treated the latter’s death as an aside in the narration. That the show never seemed to suggest Ted mourned her feels like a vital betrayal of his character.

So they were telling a different story than they seemed to be, and the evidence suggests that they’d been doing so all along. (A scene at the end with the kids was clearly filmed very early in the show’s run, if not in the very first season.) But it’s the story they seemed to be telling that I cared about, and this other story, the one in which “How I Met Your Mother” is just a joke, was terribly disappointing. I don’t think it’s a story that could have worked when introduced like this, and after nine years with these characters.

So I don’t know if I hated the episode, but I did kind of hate where it ended the show, and what it decided to break in its attempt to get there.

Monday

It snowed this morning, which came as something of a surprise. It’s not that it never snows here at the end of March, or even into April, but I don’t remember seeing anything but rain in the forecast. Almost all of the snow had melted by late afternoon, which makes the whole thing feel like some early, strangely elaborate April Fool’s Day prank.

Still, I’m glad I didn’t have to trudge through it to get to the office this morning.

Meanwhile, there’s a new issue of Kaleidotrope up and waiting, if you’re looking for some short stories and poems to read.