Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Saturday, Sept. 29

Thank God for Saturdays. I accomplished almost nothing today and it was everything I thought it could be. I did my usual wake up around 8:00 AM when one of my credit card companies called and promptly went back to sleep. I dragged ass out of bed around 11:30 this morning and hopped in the shower, thinking I was already running late for watching rugby over at Scott and Lynn's place. After the shower I called Scott and found out I was not running late at all but he had messed up and not recorded any of the rugby we were meant to watch. Not a big deal as far as I was concerned since the point of getting together was to hang out, with rugby being the excuse. I spent the next couple of hours mocking Scott via email, cooking some lunch, and monkeying around on the internets. Headed over to Scott's around 2ish and managed to get there around 2:30 after some jackassery involving a mission to purchase some kitchen paper, aka. paper towels, for Scott and get a couple of Cokes for myself. Hanging out was good. Scott had made some Rice Krispy treats, which are sinfully good. Rob and D showed up and then Bird and Brian showed a little later. We hung out, BS'd, kind of watched a rugby game from last week, and generally had a good time. Now I am taking my hour to write before I head over to Downing to meet Matt, and possibly Scott, for a couple of drinks and to exchange some DVDs. Matt wants to borrow the first two seasons of MI-5, an excellent show from across the pond about a group of MI-5 agents. I have the first four seasons series on DVD and I have enjoyed each of them. In exchange Matt was supposed to bring the first episode of Torchwood since BBC America is now running the series and several people won't stop raving about the series. Apparently he forgot the episode of Torchwood however he is bringing some Sports Night for me to watch, so I guess all will be forgiven.

Speaking of television this past week has been premiere week for a gaggle of new shows which I am interested in watching. So far I caught the season premiere of Heroes, which did a not totally unexpected thing in picking up the action a couple of months after the events of the final episode of season one. I think the biggest problem I am going to have this season is remembering that the first season of Heroes took a while to take off and I suspect that this season is going to be the same. I also caught the season premiere of Smallville after finally getting caught up on the previous season after picking it up on DVD last week. The season premiere left me feeling a little blah. The reveal about Lana's fate sucked any suspense out of the plot there and the sudden appearance of who I can only assume is Power Girl left me a little cold as well. She acted as a deus ex machina in this episode for no really good reason other than to get the writing staff out of a jam. we'll see if they do anything interesting with her or not. I find I tend to like Smallville a bit more when I can watch several episodes back to back rather than spreading them out over a couple of weeks. I also managed to catch the series premier of Reaper. The only reason that show is really on my radar is because of Kevin Smith's involvement in directing the pilot episode, however I am pretty glad I watched it. Honestly I think Reaper is going to be an example of the sidekick being the reason to watch the show since the main character plays too straight of a straight man. Another reason to watch the show is Missy Peregrym, who was in Heroes last season as Candace Wilmer, the girl who could make people see illusions. In Reaper she is playing the not too hot to actually be the neighborhood hottie love interest of the main character, who will inevitably end up being just a friend. Oh well.

I also watched Big Shots, Life, and Journeyman. I enjoyed all three however I think Big Shots is going to end up getting cancelled. While the humor in that show is right up my alley, it comes off as Desperate Housewives for the penis set and I just don't think it has the legs. Too bad because I really like Joshua Malina and Michael Vartan. Life looks to be an interesting concept, having a detective that was put in the slammer for killing his wife only to be exonerated twelve years later and rejoin the force, however I think they may have overcomplicated things when they gave the police force an in with his new partner. I have to say that with dialogue like this:

Knucklehead Guard - "Are you making fun of us?"
Charlie Crews - "It is the universe that makes fun of us all."

Once Dani and Charlie are outside:

Dani Reese - "Why exactly would the universe make fun of us all."
Charlie Crews - "Maybe it's insecure."

I am in for the long haul on this one, plus it features Damian Lewis whose portrayal of Dick Winters in Band of Brothers made me a fan for life. (Or until he fucks up.) Finally there is Journeyman, another series featuring a lead from an HBO series. (In this case it is Kevin McKidd who played Lucius Vorenus in Rome.) The concept is interesting so far, however a lot of the previews ruined the main suspense of the first episode which was whether he was ever going to convince his wife that he is not crazy. Oh well, I am going to give this show a chance and see where things end up.

Chuck and Bionic Woman are the only shows I have left on the DVR to watch from this past week. I still need to figure out when the new season of Friday Night Lights is going to get rolling and figure out if Torchwood is something I am going to watch or not. After that I just have to wait for the new season of Battlestar Galactica to start and all of my current television needs will be fulfilled.

I spent part of the afternoon paying bills and taking a look at where I am financially this month. Ugh. I need to get all of these credit cards paid off and then cancel them so I can't spend money I don't have. I had the same problem at UCS but with lower credit limits. I have a plan to take care of all this by February of 2009, but that seems like such a long time from now. One of the bills that really pisses me off is my cable bill. I am going to have to take a long hard look at that and see if there is any way I can cut back. I can drop the HBO package I currently have, but I don't think I am going to make too many more cuts. We shall see.

Last night I watched Knocked Up and the first episode of Freaks and Geeks. Knocked Up was not quite as funny as I was expecting, however they sure as shit dropped the f-bomb a lot in that movie. Almost enough to classify it as a Kevin Smith movie, however there was not really any creativity to the characters cussing. (Saying that a band gargles nuts is pretty funny.) The first episode of Freaks and Geeks did not blow me away, but then I suspect that it could not meet the subconscious expectations I had due to the hype from UH Tim. I enjoyed it enough and will watch the rest of the series since I dropped the ducats on it, but I probably could have lived without buying it.

A funny side effect of watching Freaks and Geeks just before I went to bed last night is that I ended up having some weird dreams about a girl I knew in high school that I have not thought of in YEARS. It was Lindsay the character that tools around in her father's green army jacket that triggered these dreams about Amy. I think her last name was Horton. Amy, Christie, and I used to hang out quite a bit. Amy was the one responsible for getting us in to Odyssey of the Mind, something I had tried in junior high school but never really excelled at. If I remember correctly she and my friend Russel "The Love Muscle" Schnieder dated through his senior year. She was a hard core nerd like the rest of us, in to Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek, and all that other stuff. After her sophomore year she and Christie picked up and transferred to the Texas Academy, or something like that, up at the University of North Texas.

(At this point I would like to take a moment out of our regularly scheduled writing to say that the fat chick I lost my virginity to was one of Sarah McLachlan's back up singers on Surfacing. That is as close to being a star-fucker as I have ever come.)

Anyway, the Texas Academy was this program where exceptional high school students could go and finish their last two years of high school and their first two years of college concurrently. It is the sort of program I should have been in, but even then it could be said that I had a bright future behind me. She, Christie, Matthea, and a couple of my other freinds went to this program and were never heard from again. That's a dirty lie. Most of them were never heard from again, however Christie discovered she was gay and I was to blame. No wonder I fucking hate Denton and pretty much find any excuse to not go visit my sister up there. I wonder what Amy and Matthea are up to these days? Maybe I will be creepy and Google/Lexis stalk them later this weekend.

Oh well, this brings another episode of what the hell is that boy thinking to a close. Peace out, y'all.

Spandau Ballet - True (skipped too slow)
Meat Loaf - I'm Gonna Love Her for Both of Us (skipped this song can't be about what I think its about)
Digital Underground - The Danger Zone
Carl Orff - Carmina Burana Part III The Court of Love (skipped)
Franz Schubert - Ave Maria (I LOVE this version)
Black Eyed Peas - The Apl Song
Death Cab for Cutie - Stable Song
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Soundtrack - The First Date
Information Society - Running
Enya - La Sonadora
The Cheiftains - The Arrival of the Wren Boys
Dropkick Murphys - Take It and Run
Beat Crusaders - I Wanna Go to the Disco
Party Ben - Insane Medicated Hand 4.0
Combo Audio - Romanticide
Bowling for Soup - Really Might Be Gone
The Power Station - Get it On (Bang a Gong)
Rush - Double Agent
Sarah McLachlan - Black and White
The Killers - Bones
Ultravox - Vienna
Donald Fagen - True Companion
George Thorogood - One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Run-DMC - My Adidas
Monty Python - Parrot Sketch
ZZ Top - Pearl Necklace

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Friday, Sept. 28th

I have been in a funk of late fighting the general feeling of depression I slip into around this time of year plus a serious case of writer's block. As I was driving around today running some errands (read: spending too much money at Best Buy, which we will discuss later)and contemplating a writing piece I wanted to do I kind of had a break through. Right now I need to concentrate on writing. It does not matter what I am writing, just that I am spending 30 minutes to an hour a day in front of the laptop pounding the keys. This means I am going to fundamentally change how I am blogging.

Initially I did not want to have this blog degenerate into one of those, "And today I did this blah blah blah," blah-gs. I wanted things I post to have some sort of meaning, even if it is just me being a snarky dick about things, however I am going to change that and start posting my musings as I find time to get them up here. I have no idea what is going to be in these dispatches since they are going to be thread of consciousness things. I am also not going to play grammar cop or rewrite them, so you will be getting a slightly spell-checked stream right from James' brain to your screen. Maybe I should title them downloads or dumps since I am all cyberpunk and shit.

Remember when cyberpunk was all the rage? R. Talsorian came out with the Cyberpunk RPG in an attempt to capture the flavor of William Gibson's novels and a couple of years later FASA followed up by adding elves and dragons to the mix and calling it Shadowrun. Billy Idol (I almost typed Joel) came out with the Cyberpunk album, which wasn't half bad, really, and towards the end of cyber-chic Wired launched, only to eventually be consumed by the media giant Conde Nast. (Which is sadly not Condi Rice's street name but it so should be.) Why were there no good movies that embodied the grittiness of the cyberpunk aesthetic? The laughably bad Johnny Mnemonic tried, but ultimately it was too clean. A real cyberpunk movie needs to be shot on push-processed film so it is grainy as fuck (BTW I am not going to edit my language like I have in the past. Suck it) in black and white with a real film noir sensibility. There is so much potential there for coolness and I am not aware of any movies that really got it. Shit, I still think Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive could be adapted into really good flicks. Some day when I am a big shot producer I will have some monkey do that for me.

My 34th birthday is creeping up on me. Creeping? Shit, it is this coming Thursday. Every time my birthday comes around I catch myself thinking that this is not the life I was planning on having. By 34 I was planning on being married, having a house, and at least one of my legion of kidlets. I was supposed to finish high school, go to college and meet the future Mrs. James Wood, get married soon after graduation so we could spend some time being a young couple before it was time to get serious, be adults, and start having kids. I get all bitchy about this and then I step back and think about what my life has been like, particularly since I turned 30, I realized that I have had opportunities few other people have and I have lived out so many of my childhood dreams. I have been to England and stood on ground that has seen continuous human occupation since nearly 900 A.D. I have been published; several times. I have walked the streets of Tokyo. Climbed to the top of Seoraksan and saw all of Korea spread out beneath me. I fucking went to Scotland! I have sat in a bar in New York City and taught a couple of Irishmen new drinking tricks. I have my own kilt. I have learned to SCUBA dive. My thirties are not about where I went wrong but rather about all the dreams I have cherished since I was young that I have gotten to live. How fucking lucky am I? On top of all that I have some very close friends that make the down times bearable. I don't say thank you to them enough, so thank you Scott, Matt, Rob, and Diana. I am not sure where I would be without you cats there to commiserate with me and give me a kick in the ass every once in a while.

So the other day I suffered a minor setback in a writing project that I was actually making some okay progress on. I was finally getting serious about writing that script for Starship Farragut when I found this posting on their website:

Farragut Films has closed the door for script submissions at this time. We have a roadmap in place for our stories, as well as scripts in place that take us well in to the forseeable future.

In that time frame, we will be producing numerous films that will provide our audience and fan base with a better understanding of our characters and will enable potential script writers to write even more compelling stories.

We appreciate the overwhelming response and the number of scripts we have received thus far.

When the window of opportunity opens again, we will post that information on this page, so, check back here often.

Thank you.

FUCK! Fuckity fuck fuck fuck. FUCK!

Just the night before Scott and I had sat in Downing Street while we discussed my story idea. I had finally found the character conflict which was going to drive the story and Scott helped me talk through a couple of different ideas on how to approach the story. I was planning on having the script done by the end of October, giving myself a two week period to get it out to a couple of people for comment before rewriting. After that I was going to have a small party where I screen the two completed episodes of Starship Farragut for my friends and then do a read through on the script before doing a final polish and submitting the script. This development does not really need to change my timeline, but it is just irritating. Oh well, I still need to get this done because I think that what I have dreamt up is a very timely story about command decision, responsibility, and the right to of people to demand answers from their leadership. Of course I do not know how to end it on the up beat that many Star Trek episodes seem to demand.

Among other accomplishments I managed to get completely caught up on my comics reading this week. I was so far behind from all the time I had spent in SCUBA classes, diving, and just being out of town over the last couple of months, so it is nice to not have more than a weeks worth of new comics sitting around waiting for me to read them. The Immortal Iron Fist by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction is one hell of a comic and if you are in to old school kung fu movies then you need to check it out. I also managed to read volume one of Whiteout: The Definitive Edition, which collects the four issue miniseries "Whiteout" which was novelist Greg Rucka's first comics work and a break out hit. It is an interesting murder mystery set in Antarctica which, I believe, has been optioned for a movie starring Charlize Theron. It should be a good one. I also managed to read through the first volume of Dark Horse Comics Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus which collects all of the BtVS comics Dark Horse have ever produced. Rather than collect them in the order the stories were published, this collection puts them together in chronological order so they follow the events in the television series. I am not a huge Buffy fan (I wonder if Buffy fans have a special name for themselves? Are the Buffers?) therefore I find the comics interesting but I am not really into them. My favorite story in the bunch was "Dawn & Hoopy the Bear", but I think a lot of that has to do with my own attachment to my long-enduring Winnie the Pooh bear. (That's right I am almost 34 and still have a stuffed animal in my bedroom. Now where's that payphone, smartass?) I think the series will be good for people who are big Buffers but for the casual fan they're not really worth picking up. Of course the second volume features the artwork of Ryan Sook in several stories and thus is worth checking out just for that.

Other than that my geek-fu has been rather weak this week. I did go and drop some mad cash as Best Buy today. I had to swing by and pick up Knocked Up before it was not on sale anymore. I also wanted to pick up Elizabeth so I could watch it before Elizabeth 2 comes out this month. I had also decided to pick up a season of TV on DVD. I was hoping to find the first season of Wild, Wild West so I could check it out since the folks that produce Star Trek: New Voyages are making some noise about doing a Wild, Wild West revival and it would be cool to get in on the ground floor of that. Barring that I would like to get Sports Night since it is another Aaron Sorkin show and I have never seen one episode. Sadly they had neither of these so I went ahead and picked up Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series. I have never seen an episode of this series however it has been on my radar since UH Tim was such a big fan. Here's hoping it is worth it since it is my little birthday gift to myself.

I made one more purchase while I was there. As I was walking down the aisle to the beginning of the Drama section, which shares a riser with the end of the Comedy section something caught my eye. Something so amazing that I actually did a double-take and stopped dead in my tracks. That something was this:

HOLYFUCKKNUCKLEBATMAN! I had to shake my head to make sure it was actually working and not just having a little fun with me. I closed my eyes when doing this and when I reopened them, slowly as not to scare the DVDs, I saw this:

Christopher Hitchens can bite my pasty white ass. There is a God. And God, he answers the prayers. We watched this movie WAYYYYYY too much during and right after high school and it has not been available on DVD ever. I had consigned myself to buying another VHS player and purchasing a VHS of this classic POS movie. Now I don't have to because I have it for my very own on DVD. Guess what I am doing once I am done posting this? That's right boys and girls, its time for another game of "Whose Underwear is That?" with your host, its Fitz!

And that brings us to the end of this hour we have spent together. I hope you had as much fun as I did. See you in a couple.

(This is what the iPod decided to spit out while I was working on this post but I am not going to take the time to put links in here. If you have questions you know how to use Google.)
Bay City Rollers - Saturday Night
Tom Petty - Love is a Long Road (skipped)
Ultravox - Hymn
Sheryl Crow - Soak up the Sun
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Soundtrack - Victory at Ed Parker's (This movie rocks the casbah and I think it was my first exposure to Randy Edelman as a composer)
Camille Saint-Saens - Le Carnaval des Animals Final
Blaque - Blaque Intro (WTF? Why do I have this?)
The Corrs - Radio
Kim Carnes - Betty Davis Eyes
Pogues - White City
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Soundtrack - Hedwig's Theme (skipped because this is not the music I need right now)
Dropkick Murphys - For Boston (Ahhh...that's better)
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire
Gwen Stefani - Orange County Girl (skipped)
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Soundtrack - Brandon
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and - Highwayman
Shania Twain - Dance With the One That Brought You (old skool Shania)
Hootie & the Blowfish - Not Even the Trees (HOOTIE!!!! skipped)
Dine Alone - Coming to Senses
Ozzy Osbourne - Black Sabbath (skipped)
David Sanborn - Crossfire (Man I won some crap. Skipped)
The Nixons - Happy Song
Toto - Rosanna
Digital Underground - Sex Packets
Dean Gray - Boulevard of Broken Songs
Matty the Mutaytor - Rodan's Revenge
The Killers - Smile Like You Mean It
Beauty and the Beast - Home (Reprise)
Les Miserables - Castle on a Cloud
Mediaeval Baebes - Alba
Eve 6 - Superhero Girl
Tommy Tutone - 867-5309/Jenny
Scorpions - Alien Nation
Erasure - All Through the Years
Joan Osborne - Love is Alive
Ace of Base - Cecilia (skipped)
Iron Maiden - The Mercenary (skipped)
Stray Cats - (She's) Sexy + 17
Rob Thomas - Fallin' to Pieces
Dixie Chicks - Wide Open Spaces (Oh thank god I am done!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

MTV VMAs 2007

I have the MTV Music Awards on in the background as I work on a couple of other things and as I listen and watch two questions have occurred to me:

1. What the fuck is a scripted drama? MTV is advertising its new show, "Kaya," as a scripted drama and from the advertisements it looks likes a show that is intended to follow the look and feel of a reality show. Actually I know what is meant by scripted drama and while I am glad that MTV is doing something besides craptastic reality shows, it kind of bugs me that they are not going to show more videos and that scripted drama can actually be a selling point.

2. What ever happened to the classic tuxedo? I know the MTV music awards might be the wrong place to wear one, however it seems like most of the guys are wearing t-shirts and jeans. Seriously guys, I know your shirts probably cost upwards of $500, but seriously you look ragged. Class up the joint a little. You don't have to wear a tux but guys, seriously, try wearing something with a jacket that does not involve jeans.

To illustrate how firmly I have my elbow placed on the pulse of popular music today they just announced the nominees for Male Artist of the Year and I have no idea who two of them are. Justin Timberlake won, which I guess I can't quibble with too much since he is bringing sexy back and all, plus at the end of his acceptance speech he just called out MTV for not playing videos anymore. The audience seems to agree.

Okay, I might have spoken too soon on the craptastic reality series thing. Looks like MTV is putting the bisexual Tila Tequila (H-Town represent!) in a house with 16 straight men and 16 lesbians. Tila will then do things to the contestants to determine with whom she will hook up. 16 lesbians in one house? I do not see this ending well for anyone.

Gah, Fergie just won female artist of the year. Really? Oh well, that makes a nice segue into my next piece titled "Spelling with Fergie."

'Til then I want to wish you all peace, love, and humptiness forever.