jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
J. Michael Straczynski (dev.), Babylon 5, most of.

General: Groundbreaking but flawed. Fatally hamstrung by attempts to tell a single story over five seasons through the loss of actors and network sabotage. (Full disclosure: I also despise bound book-fragments and have trouble reading individual issues of comic books rather than full storylines.) I don't regret having watched B5 but I doubt I'll go back to it.

S1: Occasionally cringe-inducing, but decent. I'm enjoying Sinclair, and the Sinclair/Ivanova/Garibaldi triangle. G'kar is a jerk and Londo is mostly kinda sympathetic. Delenn needs more to do. Vir and Lennier are great. Needs more Kosh, and more Morden.

S2: Sheridan feels like a nonentity; half his appearances make more sense if I think of them as written for Sinclair's background instead, and the other half lack personality. Londo's transformation to jerk is complete and I find myself sympathising with G'kar. Needs more Kosh, and more Morden.

S3: Looks like Londo will suffer no consequences for committing fucking GENOCIDE at the end of last season. On the bright side, Sheridan developed a personality! Also the return of Sinclair, who... I can understand why the actor had to be replaced. On balance this is probably my favorite season. Needs more K-- DAMMIT.

S4: Meh. The conclusion of the Shadow War feels rushed. The quick and easy resolution of the civil war even more so. I cannot believe that the people of Earth just said "Oh, we've been duped into believing the xenophobic crap Clark was selling us, our bad" and embraced Sheridan with open arms. I also disapprove strongly of G'kar suffering for Londo's sins.

S5: No Ivanova. No real point to the story. We abandoned ship not quite halfway through. I've been meaning to at least watch the Neil Gaiman episode and the closer for over a year now and haven't managed to work up the desire.

(Currently watching Futurama, which holds up surprisingly well.)
jazzfish: Pig from "Pearls Before Swine" standing next to a Ball O'Splendid Isolation (Ball O'Splendid Isolation)
Last week (from Monday) was just kinda unpleasantly grey and heavy. I started the morning spacey and forgetting things, and then Bowie.

(Interlude: the setlist from the 1997 concert, courtesy Megan H-- from high school who I met up with there. Holy cats that was an amazing show. Now that I see the list I remember "I'm Waiting for the Man" and "White Light / White Heat," plus "Scary Monsters" and his weird spoken intro to "Hallo Spaceboy" and "Earthlings on Fire" and and. Yowza. Interlude over.)

That pushed me down into a pretty blah place overall, with no real chance to recover during the week. News of Alan Rickman didn't help any but that was more numbing shock than an actual emotional blow: I don't have as much connection to Rickman's work. And then the weekend was decent: among other things we picked up the first three seasons of Futurama and are working through that. It's aged surprisingly well, and so far every episode has had multiple not-just-heh-but-genuinely-funny moments. Sold some games, had barbecue from the amazing barbecue joint across the tracks, mostly hung around the house and worked on getting back up to speed.

But for whatever reason I haven't been reading LJ/DW. (Or twitter, but no surprise there.) I'm slowly catching back up: I've started reading at work now, for one thing.

Anyway, if you're wondering: I'm doing alright, but I miss you.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
We're finally watching Treme, David "The Wire" Simon's series about a poor New Orleans neighborhood in the aftermath of Katrina.

Christ. If that storm had hit just a year earlier, before the 2004 election... well. I doubt I'd be in Vancouver, for one thing.

Also, when John Goodman is one of the least interesting parts of your show, either you have an amazing cast or you are criminally underusing John Goodman.



Today:
  • Catbox
  • Call Canada Revenue about missing tax refund Tax return accepted, will finally be processed on Friday.
  • Write to a random internet person Wrote to TWO random internet people! This is, in fact, more soul-crushing than jobhunting is.
  • Jobhunt Nothing new available. I did schedule a final interview for Thursday at a place that it would probably not totally suck to work.
  • Eat a thing Eggs and toast! Of which, one came out fine if v.slightly undercooked, and one overcooked. Still tasty.
  • Viola
  • Organize scattered novel brainstorming notes, preferably into something resembling an outline, or at least a structure.

Right. Back on my head.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Let's see. I spent the week of Christmas in a bit of a fog due to a cold, which remarkably did not transform into an unpleasant sinus infection. Then I spent the week of New Year's on vacation from my vacation. Having trouble getting back into the swing of a semiregular regular routine, now.

What are you currently reading?

Frances FitzGerald's Fire In The Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. I'd picked up the wargame of the same name on a whim earlier in the year, and the book was cited as an important and useful source for the game, and I happened to stumble across it in early December in the thrift store. I'm about fifty pages from the end. It's good, I think: I knew basically nothing about Vietnam or the war going into it. I'm coming out with the impression that there was no good way for the Americans to interfere or to "stop the rise of Communism," and they still managed to go about it in the worst possible way. FitzGerald puts much of the blame for this on Westmoreland, who persisted in fighting a conventional Western war in a situation that was none of those things, and on Johnson, who created a culture where no one involved could say anything negative about the 'pacification' efforts or suggest a change of direction.

(The title comes from the I Ching hexagram for 'Revolution.')

I've also started reading Kameron Hurley's God's War, because I snagged it and Infidel (the sequel) for free in ebook a couple of years back. Three chapters in, it's good stuff: gritty Muslim-influenced SF.

What did you recently finish reading?

Before that I blasted through The Wire: Truth Be Told, which [personal profile] uilos got for my birthday, which gives you an idea of how long I've been at the FitzGerald book. It's a companion to the TV series. I skipped the episode recaps but the rest of it is really good stuff: interviews and essays with various people involved in the making of the show, and on how it ever got made in the first place, and all that.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ebook, Infidel, and then I'll likely pick up Rapture, the third of the trilogy.

Hard copy, William Gibson's The Peripheral, because I promised semilocal J-- that I'd read it next and also because I really want to. I like Gibson's recent contemporaryish novels a lot (well, I liked Pattern Recognition and Zero History; I felt like Spook Country was a lot of buildup for next to no payoff, but it's also important backstory for ZH), and I'm looking forward to what he does now with SF.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
The trip home from Arkansas was almost more exciting than it needed to be: a nasty ice/snow storm swept up through the middle of the country in the middle of the week. It looked like it wasn't causing any trouble right up until I checked my mail before walking out the door to go to Memphis, and discovered that my flight to Chicago had been cancelled. Some scrambling on the computer and sitting on hold with United revealed that, to replace MEM-ORD-YVR (8 PM), they'd routed me MEM-HOU-SFO-overnight-YVR (11 AM). Luckily Dad was able to get through and convince them to fly me MEM-DEN-YVR (9 PM) instead. I'm sure San Francisco is a much better city to unexpectedly spend the night in than LA but I would rather not find out.

On the recommendation of [personal profile] sorcyress we watched The Middleman over the past few weeks. It took a few episodes to grown on us but by the time we started the third disc (of three) we'd reached the point of being very sad that there isn't any more. It's nominally a superhero show (with a superhero who appears to be channeling Benton Fraser) that mixes unexpected pop-culture references and millenialist ironic detachment with enough earnestness and genuine humor ("Guy I Don't Know, you're starting to sound like Guy I've Known My Whole Life") that it doesn't grate. Its sensibility reminds me of Wonderfalls, a similarly doomed one-season show... but I think Middleman did what it set out to better and more coherently than Wonderfalls.

Still feeling wrung out and dull. Not sure what it'll take to shake me out of this. Hopefully spending next week in Mexico with sunlight, neat people, and no work will do the trick.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Because I feel better when I'm talking and writing about my life.



Media. Currently halfway (4/10) through season 5 of The Wire. So far this season can be summed up as "Marlo kills everyone while Jimmy descends into farce." I have Thoughts on this series but they'll keep until we finish it off. It is, as expected, still Very Very Good.

Rereading Wolfe's Long Sun. I keep rolling my eyes at some of the excesses and improbable characterisations, and then reminding myself that, as someone else said, Long Sun is 'Patera Silk fanfic written by Horn and Nettle.' I think I will be less annoyed by the Big Reveal at the end of the series (the inhumi) than I was on first reading, because I think I can see bits of where he's building up to it.



Gaming. Finished my Apocalypse World campaign last week. The ending came a bit more abruptly than I would have liked; another 3-4 sessions would have been good. Overall a success, though. I seem to have reined in my tendency to Keep Adding More Stuff.

One thing I love about Apocalypse World: the GM never rolls the dice. The players roll at times, when it's useful to have a bit of uncertainty or suspense, but the GM just reacts to the players' rolls. This is perfect for me. Randomness is for my players; I want control to shape the story they're living through.

As far as Stuff... for years I've said "I just make it all up as I go." I've been thinking about that in light of this campaign, and it's not entirely true. I started out with two separate ideas, but they were story ideas, not just setting elements. ('An alien invasion fractures the world's psyche' leads to a resolution involving the aliens; 'personified fragments of the collective unconscious battling in a god-game' leads to, well, all kinds of things, but paired with the alien invasion leads to 'the fragments fighting the aliens.') Everything I just made up (the specifics of the fragments, the character of the various regions, the weird things that turned up) was in service of one of those two elements. It worked well.

In my best games (this, the Amber game I ran for Vond's departure, the abortive Changeling game) I have a direction to channel all the stuff I'm making up and throwing in. Contrariwise, when I've just been flailing around (Technoir, or the first half of the Over the Edge game in McLean) the game suffers: the players flail around too, everything feels thin and disjointed, etc etc. Useful to have something to build towards. Will bear that in mind for my next game.

I am pretty sure this applies to writing as well. The stories I'm happiest with, I've written most of while knowing how they end. I think that's why I keep wanting to sit down and rough out a plot for the blood-mage thing, instead of just writing and seeing where it takes me. I'll try that when I sit down with it next.



Next weekend we head for Montreal and Farthing Party. I am more surprised than I ought to be to discover that more than half of my VP teachers will be there. (Yay!)

By then I'm hoping to have Memory ready for beta-readers, if not on submission. That way I can at least feel like I've been doing something with my time.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Veronica Mars is not The Wire and it is unfair to hold the one to the narrative standards of the other.

That said, it is painful to go from watching very smart people plotting, proper procedures, and social commentary, to broadcast-television bubblegum noir whose main saving grace is snappy dialogue.

There's nothing wrong with VM per se and I'm sure I'll adjust after another couple of episodes. It's just jarring.



We went and saw Mr Neil last night. Sadly semilocal J-- couldn't make it, so we took her ticket along with us, and managed to sell it to a guy who showed up to talk to a friend of his who was waiting in line ahead of us.

I'm still willing to show up to things an hour before the doors open to get a decent seat. And Mr Neil was great as always. He read from Ocean, and took a bunch of audience questions, and read from the forthcoming Fortunately, The Milk, which I will also have to acquire, and was fun and funny and personable.

Then came the signing. Here it became apparent that I'm getting old and crotchety. The light was awful for writing and not much better for reading, the chairs were comfy but not overly so, and since the reading was at 6:30 (doors at 5:30, we were in line by 4:30) there had been no dinner. After about twenty minutes the combination of all these things plus the dawning realisation that I had nothing really to say to him and would have maybe thirty seconds to say it in anyway was enough for me to give up on the whole enterprise.

Still, well worth going. I'm sad he's not doing any more book tours, but given that he was likely there until after midnight signing things I cannot say that I blame him.



Yeah, writing. I've been using the Neo to write on the Skytrain etc: it's lighter than Taranis the Macbook and it's got fewer distractions. Got around 750 words on a sword-and-sorcery-type story in the past few weeks, and am approaching the point where I don't quite know what happens next: I know where it's going but not how it gets there. I am told that's the fun part.

scattered

Apr. 17th, 2013 08:47 am
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
The real problem with being sick is that it's entirely thrown me off my running. I was doing alright for the first week of April. Now I can't even take a deep breath without coughing, or even stand at my desk for several hours without getting light-headed and needing to sit down for a bit. Makes it hard to keep up any kind of pace.

It's been pretty bright out lately, which is nice even if I'm still coming to terms with the sun being up at seven PM. I just got used to it being dark at four-thirty and now they have to go and change it on me. Stupid seasons.

Media... dug into The Cloud Roads a couple of days ago. Even in my somewhat muzzy-headed state it's quite enjoyable. On advice/praise from a wide variety of people including [livejournal.com profile] daghain, [personal profile] silmaril, everyone at LG&M, and my friend Kosh from junior high, we watched the first episode of The Wire a couple of weeks ago. I immediately ordered the complete series DVDs. This looks like exactly the kind of in-depth storytelling I'm looking for.

The last of the immigration paperwork is off to the immigration lawyer, so there's that. Now we just wait for some amount of time which will probably be less than a year, and we're permanent residents and can start the much more involved citizenship process.



101 in 1001 update )
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Option 1: take acetaminophen + pseudoephedrine, stare blankly at wall while breathing through nose.

Option 2: skip Tylenol/Sudafed, sniffle every three minutes.

I was hoping I'd dodged whatever this sinus thing is that [personal profile] uilos picked up after New Year but no such luck. Oh well. If it follows the same progression yesterday & today are the worst of it.

I imagine the Sudafed will dull the WTFery of the Battlestar Galactica series finale if and when we watch it this evening. So far I am genuinely astonished at how the writers have made most everything follow logically from their utterly stupid plot shifts. ("Let's make some of the Cylons super-sekrit-Cylons!" "And they're crew members but they didn't know it!" "And they're two thousand years old!" "And God is speaking to Baltar!" "And Galactica is falling apart!" "And Cavil knew what was going on the whole time!") The characters keep talking about how "there must be a destiny / plan / meaning" and all I can think of is Nick Lowe's The Well-Tempered Plot Device:
One thinks irresistibly of Gandalf's famous words to Frodo when explaining the logic of The Lord of the Plot Devices: "I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker." Frodo, unfortunately, fails to respond with the obvious question, to which the answer is "by the author".
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Friday night I put a large number of things in a slightly less large number of boxes. Satyrday, tripped down to Bellingham with [personal profile] uilos and [livejournal.com profile] culfinriel. Spent around $80 on the USPS because even with the car rental it's cheaper than shipping through Canada Post. Faster and less US Customs-intensive, too.

Bellingham has a new "game store." Disappointingly, it's actually a Warhammer / Warmachine store with a bunch of Magic cards and two shelves of boardgames. So that took about five minutes to peruse. On the other hand, Mallard's is currently serving frankincense ice cream (ETA: recipe courtesy [personal profile] thanate), which may be the best ice cream I've ever had. (The pomegranate sorbet from Moorenko's is disqualified on the shaky grounds that it's a sorbet, not an ice cream.) And the dueling used bookstores remain fine places to find any number of things. One, for instance, has volumes two through four of Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet, which I've heard a couple of people say nice things about and which I have resisted picking up because, hello, volumes two through four are of little use to me. I did pick up a(nother) giftable copy of JMF's Growing Up Weightless, because it's one of those books (along with The Dragon Waiting, and The Last Hot Time, and Heat of Fusion if I ever saw that in the wild) that I buy on spec because surely I know someone who needs it, and because I adore the cover. (Of which there is not a satisfactory image online, because much of what I adore is only visible in the wraparound.)



Since then I have been fairly brain-dead. Not sleeping well has been part of it; not sure about the rest, if there even is anything that's "rest." I did have a lovely evening last night with a handful of people I'd mostly never met before, at a small local poly meet... thing. The jury is still out but it may be the type of thing I'm looking for.

Also, as of season 4, Battlestar Galactica has gone so far off the rails that it can no longer see the rails from where it is, and in fact retains only a dim memory that once there were rails for it to go off of. Or, to quote Douglas Adams, "I think this is getting needlessly messianic."

... and we just had five minutes of snow hail downtown. All melted now of course, but still nice to see.

I am...

Feb. 11th, 2012 11:00 pm
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
... running a Technoir game on Thursday nights, for [personal profile] uilos, semilocal J--, and M-- who physically reminds me a great deal of Andy "Not the President" Jackson. Character creation... I'd like to say it went well, and maybe it did, but it also involved a great deal of flailing about on my part because I'm not all that familiar with the system and I didn't have a Transmission printed up and ready to go. Still, I'm looking forward to the first real session next week.

The whole concept of Transmissions (insta-plot generators) is bloody brilliant and may have been designed expressly for my GMing style. A given Transmission contains a page-long description of the city it's set in and six lists of six items each: contacts, events, objects, factions, locations, and threats. Contacts (NPCs the PCs have some relationship with before the game starts) and threats (smaller than factions; usually 3-6 NPCs who'll be opposing the PCs in some way) are fleshed out and given stat blocks; the others get a sentence or two and maybe some tags (system-specific attributes). I randomly add three of these items to a plot map during character creation and brainstorm connections between them. Then any contacts that the PCs call on for favors during chargen get added to the plot map as well. As the game goes on, the PCs lean on their contacts for information, the contacts get connected to other plot nodes and bring in additional random plot nodes themselves, and I tie it all together in a coherent fashion. The hard part, as usual for me, will be knowing when to stop adding nodes and start moving towards wrapping it all up.

... through the first season of Leverage, which was great fun. The pilot and the two-part season finale are some excellent television and the rest of the season didn't suck either. Good inspiration for a cyberpunk game. Parker and Hardison make me inordinately happy, too, and it's so very nice to have a show where I don't dislike any of the main characters.

... writing a story in the space of two weeks for a contest, in the hope that external deadlines will motivate me more than self-imposed ones and/or this story won't run into whatever it is the Bookwyrms one did. Already got a setting, a plot, and some events that are pulling the story in a completely different direction. Business as usual.

Is there a word or phrase for the kind of TV/movie SF that involves brightly-colored diaphanous robes and buildings made of featureless white stone with glowing crystals and control panels inside? Ray guns and blocky silver robots may be involved as well. It's not exactly atompunk / Raygun Gothic, or maybe it's a narrow subset of that aesthetic.

... making a habit of going on not-dates with women after they've said, for varied and excellent reasons, that they don't want to date me. (In other news, two! and it's not even Valentine's Day yet.) I'm mostly okay with this development. I've very much missed one-on-one conversations with people I trust other than [personal profile] uilos.

... laughing my fool head off, in a combination of admiration and self-recognition.

... very tired. Goodnight Gracie.

slow times

Feb. 2nd, 2012 10:46 pm
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
PSA for those of you on both LJ and DW: you can now associate your LJ OpenID with your DW account. In practice this means you can claim comments made on LJ and imported to DW, so that they show up as being under your DW account and not "username.livejournal.com."



What the heck have I been doing for the last couple of weeks, anyway? Right, sulking and/or hiding, I remember now. *ahem*

Mostly it's been pretty quiet. Gave up on Farscape sometime week before last; started watching Leverage instead. It is exactly the kind of thing I like: fun characters with enough depth to be interesting, complex plots, and witty banter. I'd like to see more development of either plot or character as the season progresses. So far, though, it's sufficiently entertaining that I'll keep watching until either the arc picks up or I get bored with the lack of one. (Or rather, until I run out of season 1, at which point I'll probably switch over to Burn Notice because that's what's here. Which is okay too.)

Last week I went to see William Gibson with semilocal J--. Gibson is very tall, and stoops more than I do, which is impressive in its own way. He's also got pretty much no Virginia accent. Being gone for twice as long as you spent there will do that, I guess. He also talks fairly slowly, but consistently has some interesting things to say. Would stand in line to see/hear again.

Been kicking around ideas for a role-playing game since I seem to have stumbled into a few players. And still beating my head against a brief scene I don't think I'm good enough to write. Perhaps tomorrow I shall conquer it.

... it occurs to me that in addition to being the HUGELY IMPORTANT scene where the story either works or falls flat, it's a heavily visual scene, and I am whatever the opposite of a visual writer is. Nngh. I couldn't give myself a nice simple story to ease my way back into things, could I. Oh well. Learn by doing and all that.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
So almost a year ago I asked the internet what television I ought to watch. The consensus seems to be: Avatar is awesome, Babylon 5 is good but this may be colored by nostalgia, BSG is either really really good or pretty good and then it falls apart, and Farscape is kinda iffy although the people that love it really love it.

Avatar was, in fact, awesome, and I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone.

We then watched season 1 of Damages (ugh), and then the entirety of Slings & Arrows to clear the vile taste. After that, well, I'd acquired the first season of Farscape before the move thanks to [personal profile] rebelsheart, so we dived in.

We're eight episodes in so far, and... um. Of those eight:
  • Two have been Pretty Good: "Exodus from Genesis" with the space cockroaches, and "PK Tech Girl" with the Peacekeeper love interest.
  • Two have been Decent: "Premiere," and "Throne for a Loss" with the battle-drug junkies who kidnap Rygel.
  • Three have been Interesting Premises With Meh Execution: "I, E.T." with the alien UFO watchers, "Back and Back and Back to the Future" with the flash-forwards and the !Luxans, and "Thank God It's Friday... Again" with Hippie Planet.
  • And one, "That Old Black Magic," had a premise (an evil sorcerer? seriously, sci-fi show?) that snapped my Disbelief Suspenders enough that I couldn't muster up much caring about the (probably quite decent in retrospect) character development at the end.
Episodes tend to end on a pretty open note, which is good: it's setting up things to be carried forward and resolved later. Trouble is, nothing is actually getting carried forward. Every episode starts from the baseline and ignores anything that's gone before. This... is the opposite of what I'm looking for. I want story development. I want progression from episode to episode. In the absence of that I need a really compelling reason to keep watching, and a hit rate of 0.25 isn't doing it for me.

I'm not giving up yet. Right now I'm mostly watching for Aeryn Sun and Zhaan and the Creature Shop creatures, hoping each time for another Pretty Good episode, and waiting for something that'll blow me away. I've heard that parts of season 1 were weak and getting past those will help. Plus it looks like at least the first half of the season was originally aired out of order from how it was written and filmed.

So... it's got until the end of the first season to make me want more.



At this point I'm also interested in any comments people may have on Burn Notice, Leverage, and/or Veronica Mars.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
The first episode and a half of Slings & Arrows S1 isn't quite as funny as I remember the rest of the show being. I think it's because there's not enough Geoffrey. (Or Nahum, but there's never enough Nahum.)

Also, watching S&A after having watched the entirety of Due South is... disconcerting. It's the hair. WHY IS FRASER'S HAIR MESSED UP?

"Furthermore, I believe the government has no place in our bedrooms, and, by extension, our graves." Oh, Geoffrey. That last scene with the morticians is nothing short of brilliant.

I never did rant about Damages, did I? We watched the entirety of season 1. I ought to have liked it: twisty turny intrigue plot, lots of great female characters, good actors. Instead it was filled with characters the writers had no respect for, padding out the plot with needless chicanery and manipulation, and then in the last episode popping up a whole mess of new plot complications and out-of-character behavior so they could have a second series. Left a fouler taste in my mouth than anything I've seen (or read, or consumed in any fashion) lately.

Onward to more revising.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
If I'm not posting, it usually means there's something wrong that I don't want to think about. Be nice if I could at least let myself know what it is. bleh. At least I recognise the 'don't wanna do anything' feeling: combination of overwhelmed and under... somethinged. Still don't know what to do about it, other than keep trying to get more sleep. (Harder than it ought to be: I have yet to master the art of going back to sleep when it's bright out.)

We finished Avatar last weekend. It was several kinds of amazing, and my only complaint is that they didn't spread the ending out over another two or three episodes to give the enormous supporting cast all the time in the spotlight they deserved. I, um, might be a bit of a Mei fanboy. I don't know what's up next: a couple of movies, probably, and then maybe Farscape S1 or Wonderfalls since I've already got those.

Wednesday night we went down to English Bay to watch Spain's entry in the Celebration of Lights. This is an annual international fireworks competition, with teams from China, Spain, and Canada. It's a Big Deal, big enough that [personal profile] uilos got there around 4:30 to hold a spot on the beach for us. And, yeah. I have never seen fireworks this impressive. I'm generally not such a big fan of fireworks but these were worth going out and sitting for four hours in the sun and crowd and smoke (cigarette and, um, other). Lots of colors, lots of the kind of sparkly that rains down into the water rather than flaring once and dying off, some neat ones that explode into corkscrews, a couple of smiley faces, and general brilliant amazement.

I picked up Onirim on a whim. It's a solitaire or two-player-cooperative card game with a loose dream-labyrinth theme. The solitaire version is enjoyably frustrating; I've not tried the two-player version yet. Mostly the game makes me wish I were an iOS programmer, since it cries out for a computer version.

The baby seagulls nearest the apartment have grown up crazy fast. They've gone from being barely-detectable little blobs of grey and brown fuzz to light brown, and recognizably seagull-shaped in the space of about six weeks. They'd very much like to be flying now. There's a lot of hopping and flapping and wing-stretching going on. Two of them have summoned the courage or foolishness to jump off the edge of the nest platform, down about a floor, and can't quite make it back up. The third is still looking over the edge and thinking "you guys are nuts."

I was hoping some sort of ending would occur to me as I was writing this, but it doesn't seem to have.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Based on the advice of an overwhelming majority of the people I know, plus seeing the first few episodes courtesy [personal profile] tam_nonlinear, we started watching the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender back in May. (Elevator pitch: Aang, the twelve-year-old titular Last Airbender, journeys across the world in the company of his friends, learning to master the four elements so he can stop the Fire Nation from taking over the world.) The first season is deeply episodic: it's got hints of backstory and overarching plot, but for the most part each episode is a self-contained story of the "Aang and company stop off at an island on their way to the North Pole to learn waterbending; hilarity ensues" variety.

For most of the first season, my reaction was "okay, this is pretty decent. Entertaining, light, I'm glad I'm watching it and would watch it again, but nothing earth-shattering." All the snark and wackiness in season 1 made the characters feel less like teenagers and more like people playing teenagers in a role-playing game. Which isn't bad, just... not deep. My opinion started changing around the two-part (three-part, really) season finale, which successfully juggled at least three plot lines, added some complexity to the already complex villain, and generally made for Good Television.

The first several episodes of the second season are like most of the first season, only with the crazy dial turned up to eleven. This includes not only the travelling hippies of "The Cave of Two Lovers, and the strange detective story "Avatar Day" which would have felt at home in Due South, but what's possibly my favorite hijinks episode so far, "The Blind Bandit." Because of course earthbending can be taught in a martial-arts-style academy, and of course there are earthbending tournaments, and of course those tournaments end up looking like professional wrestling. (They even got Mick Foley to do the voice of The Boulder, resulting in my favorite bit with neither Iroh nor Appa the flying bison: "The Boulder is conflicted about fighting a young blind girl...")

We're now about halfway through the second season, and the tone's shifted for the darker. Some of this is due to just having a more competent and scary villain at work, because "deranged psychopath who will stop at nothing" ramps up the tension faster and harder than "honorable prince driven to prove his worth to his father." Some of it's that the stakes are genuinely higher now: the episode of nonstop pursuit, or the recent kidnapping of my favorite character. Whatever the reason, recent episodes have had a lot more "holy cow, they did that in a kids' show?" moments than I'd ever expected.

Good stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

Also, Zuko's total incompetence when he tries to "help" with putting a new roof on a barn? Hilariously adorable.

television!

Feb. 7th, 2011 09:34 am
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
I have a vague desire to drown myself in television. Which of these, o lazyweb, would you recommend? (ETA: I've seen none of these except the BSG pilot)
  • Babylon 5
  • Farscape
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Something else entirely
(No poll because I'm more interested in the Whys.)

Not that this will be happening anytime soon: the next four months or so are kinda busy. But once we get settled I may do something like 'i made my wordcount for the week so i get another episode of X.'

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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