Not in Los Angeles. Am still in Los Altos. Wasn't for a while. Sacramento. Will go back to LA on Tuesday. May go to Berkeley tomorrow. I am on. the. move.
It's 3 AM, and I am not lonely. But I am awake. Funny how that works.
Christmas, in the present-profiteering sense, was awesome. Christmas, in the spending-time-with-de-folks sense, was also awesome. Plus, we went to an outlet mall today, meaning that I am not only returning to LA with Firefly and three episodes of The Muppet Show, but also -- Abre Los Ojos! Wit!
A memory worth jotting down, before I take a crack at this bedtime thing:
Finishing up with my pizza at dinner last night, wandering outside to roam the minimall, entirely consisting of the pizza place and a large Goodwill store. My cousin Sean, freshly discharged from the Navy, joined me in trying on cheap sunglasses and comparing styles and coolness levels. He found an amber-tinted pair bigger than Sputnik. He insisted that I wear them. I insisted that he buy them for me first.
So he got those and three other pairs, and then we went outside into the chill and waited for the other extraneous family members to weary of black polyester skirts and used books for a dollar. Common-Law Uncle Glenn and his cigarette joined us as we hung out, wearing our sunglasses, too cool and too cold for Central California.
Cars roared by. I yearned for my coat. I put on my sunglasses.
Gratuitous Feminist Championship of Forgotten Heroes
So, in celebration of the centennial of flight, NPR last night and this morning was All Wright Brothers, All the Time. Which is ironic in a way, because NPR was where I first heard about Katharine Wright, sister to the Wright brothers and absolutely instrumental to their success. As is often the case with Feminist Forgotten Heroes, she's been almost entirely left out of today's hoopla, so today, I choose to reflect on her a bit. For, if the Wright brothers were a band, she'd be the bass player. If the Wright brothers were a building, she'd be the foundation. If the Wright brothers were an airplane, she'd be what helped them take off.
According to this essay, European newspapers called her the "third Wright brother" in jest, but the comment showed just how important they thought she was to their efforts. It's impossible to tell how large a role she played in the creation of their invention, but not only did she serve as de facto woman of the house while they were consumed with getting their airplane to work, but she handled publicity, became an officer in their company, and made the French love flight. (The French gave her the Legion of Honor. That's how much the French liked her.)
There are so many people like this throughout history -- the people who touched the lives of geniuses, who supported them throughout their endeavors, who made those successes possible. We make icons of great men and women, we put them on pedestals and worship at the altar of their accomplishments. But in the process of doing that, we forget that these people are human, and that we all get by with a little help from our friends.
When Orville fell to earth, Katharine left her job as a teacher to nurse him back to health. Imagine if she hadn't. How far would he have flown, the next time?
Not that I'm taking the 101 at any point today. But I still like the song.
So far, I got no complaints about today except this lousy caffeine withdrawl headache. I got to sleep in because I stayed late at work last night, got a few things done, then went to this lunchtime demo of Panther. Man, Panther is sweet. I wants it bad indeed.
At the demo, there was pizza -- and not just pizza, but Papa Johns, my favorite of all pizza. So I ate two slices and then as I walked back to the office, I got a few lines in mind for a short story, which I then typed up and emailed to myself. And then I started working on more things. And it's been a lefty-loosey kinda day like that.
I'm hoping it continues as such. After work, I'm going to the gym, and then home to shower before attending a friend's ice skating birthday party. I haven't seen this particular crowd of folks in quite some time, and inexplicably I'm nervous about it. But when I get home, I have girly superhero comic books to read. So no matter what happens, the day won't be entirely ruined.
I need to figure out my weekend. There are many things happening, but I have no idea when or where I'm doing them. Plus, there's my to-do list:
Get a Bookslut review done
Keep up with other writing
Decorate apartment for Christmas
Finish Super-Secret Christmas Project
Get some shopping done
Go to the gym on Sunday
Email everyone connected with the Bookslut Book-to-Film project
Write about books for this blog
Write an open letter to my nightstand
Get some sleep
Watch tape of Angels in America to make sure I have it all
Should be a fun weekend. Plenty of media, plenty of friends, plenty of things to do. Even if I don't get to them all.
Overall, the second half seemed much better paced, and while I saw the "surprise" ending coming (to the point where I was playing "Who's gonna be a Cylon?" for the last hour or so), I didn't guess right, and I'm a little upset about who they chose (to the point where I started muttering ::sleeperagentsleeperagentsleeperagent:: just because I liked Boomer so damn much). However, Starbuck is still my favoritest ever, with Madam President running a close second.
C., you are right -- they put Harvey in a dress. But he looks GOOD in a dress. I started out really disliking Number 6 at first, because she was nearly the exception that proves the rule about chicks in sci-fi (you gotta have boobies at some point), but last night she totally won me over, boobies and all. Lesson learned: it is easy to win me over when one is prone to making snarky comments and causing idiot men great discomfort. (God only knows what this says about me.) Meanwhile, one can only dream of the possibilities inherent in the Baltar and Number 6 Variety Hour (spin-off series: Baltar and Number 6, After Dark). I'd watch.
On a less fluffy note, it was a sad yet beautiful thing, watching BG take its place in the Media-Liz's-Mom-Will-Hate Hall of Fame. Because while an aspiring romance writer would probably like a series where the end goal is to "have lots of babies," I do not think she would deal well with Cami and her doll. Fuck, I didn't deal well with it. But no one dealt well with it, necessarily. The guy at TeeVee makes a vaguely reminiscent argument about how science fiction shows should be light and fluffy, that Galactica didn't have any right to pull out the big guns. I call bullshit on that. I'm tired of shows that play it safe, pull back. This new Galactica, a VERY different creature from the original show that this guy can't stop reflecting on (which may be part of the problem), may not be Shakespeare. But every scene was a moral and ethical mess, and the choices that were made were not made lightly. Frankly, I think if they hadn't shown the little girl, THAT would have been cheap. A decision was made, and we saw the consequences. It wasn't easy to watch, it wasn't fair, and it was necessary. Not to mention the fact that after living in a country where the commander in chief won't mourn his dead soldiers, seeing a president grieving for the lives she has decided to sacrifice was almost strangely cathartic.
I think, in the end, it all comes down to the same tired, boring, stupid argument made by people who like to trivialize certain genres as inconsequential. But guess what? This show has balls. This show has gravitas. This show is relevant. And this show is genre. DEAL WITH IT.
Sci-Fi can be so much more than spaceships and laser battles. And no one has said it better than Ronald D. Moore himself:
It gives you a chance to really say something, to explore things with the audience, to challenge your audience's expectations, to make them think about life and who they are, because it's surrounded in this nice wrapper. It's only science fiction. It doesn't exist. These aliens aren't real, so they don't threaten you. You can put things into that context because they don't threaten the audience the way it does if you set it in contemporary Los Angeles. Wrap it in science fiction, wrap it in Star Trek and you can do just about anything you want.
In happy news, the futon critic (a great TV site, if you don't already follow it) reports that the ratings were good -- great, even. So this fangirl's fingers are crossed for more Starbuck and Apollo and even Number 6, because this fangirl is ready for some Moore.
And you know what I just realized? My parents never showed me The Muppet Movie when I was growing up. Saw Great Muppet Caper more times than I can count, not to mention Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show, but no Muppet Movie. No wonder I'm so screwed up. *g*
So I'm not blind to the fact that Bush was elected with a near majority of the vote. So I'm not blind to the fact that his approval rating rests high above the 50 percent line, as a rule, and that a lot of people think he's doing a great job. I manage to make this thought jibe just fine with my own opinions regarding his administration, and can even say nice things about our president, when put to the task. I understand the opposing viewpoint, is what I'm trying to say, no matter how much I disagree with it.
So why is it that I feel like I've fallen into an alternate reality every time I end up watching Fox News? Is it because of the annoying-as-hell news crawl? The running and rerunning of Bush's political ads alongside the outright mocking of the Democratic candidates? The Botoxed smirks of its lady anchors and guests? Bill O'Reilly?
One of the TVs at the gym, invariably, plays Fox News, and also invariably, the only open cardio machine is usually right in front of it. So I watch people scream and bicker and condescend while, out of the corner of my eye, I can just barely glimpse CNN covering real news. And then a Fox News promo plays, lauding itself as "the most powerful name in news," and I start to feel sick. 'Cause news, this ain't -- but people are still watching it. It's popular. Das Roomie, who as a rule abhors and avoids the news, knew who Hannity and Colmes were. I didn't, until recently. I may have been better for it.
Call me a pinko liberal elitist. But Fox News just can't exist in my reality.
So I've been looking forward to Galactica for about a year now, and guess what? It didn't really disappoint. In response to some of the crit I've seen so far, some spoiler-filled thoughts:
The Sexpots, And These Women: So. Yeah. I've seen many different sci-fi series in my lifetime, populated by strong women making tough choices. But there's always been this token feel to it, this "Lookit! Girls rule! They really do! ::Now go get into your catsuit, Nana Visitor::" vibe that occasionally drives me up the wall. Not to mention the fact that so many strong female characters became, for lack of a better phrase, walking wombs near the end of their series -- Scully and Aeryn, I'm looking in your direction.
The first time Apollo called Madam President sir, I expected a too-precious ST: Voyager bit ("What should I call you? Sir? Ma'am?" "Captain will do fine."). And... it didn't come. Starbuck flew a Viper and punched a superior officer and did push-ups in her jail cell and grieved her lost lover. Boomer made out with the Chief and fixed her ship and saved any survivors she could. And it wasn't a big deal.
I understand the crushes on the original Starbuck and childhood icons changed and made different and strange. If someone remade Babylon 5 and made Marcus a chick, I'd probably be upset. But these women? These women are fine by me.
In space, no one can hear you go boom: I loved Firefly very much indeed, and its gritastic take on space battles, with the whip-pans and the silent explosions, were a lovely palate cleanser after a lifetime of Star Wars. It occasionally felt strange, however, sacrificing key dramatic tension at the altar of authenticity, and I liked the cross-pollination here - some sound effects, but still with the grit - and the visceral impact that sound can bring.
(Trivia note: Zoic Studios, who also did the visual effects on Firefly, did a great job here -- and allegedly, Serenity can be seen in the Cylon attack fleet. I'll have to do some TiVo work to confirm.)
In the navy...: Despite my fuzzy-wuzzy liberal tendencies, I tend to drift towards military-oriented narrative fairly often -- the Boys' Own Adventure, high-class heroism of Nicholas Meyer Trek films and so forth has a certain amount of appeal for me. Grand and lofty tales about sacrifice and duty and loyalty that just happen to be about the military -- but probably couldn't exist without them.
Vee asks, does space exploration always have to have a military bent? And I waver on the subject, because ideally I'd like to think so. But military systems are designed to maintain order in extremely chaotic situations. And what's more chaotic than floating through space in a tin can, with every breath you take dependent on technology and your hull straining against the vacuum outside? NASA may be a civilian organization, but it does have a military bent, with Commanders and Missions and tough life-or-death choices. Farscape went the opposite path with this concept, and in the end proved the same point; they elected a captain to make the tough decisions, because Moya couldn't handle the chaos anymore. Whether it did any good or not is beside the point -- they recognized the need, and gave into it.
If Galactica is picked up as a series, the conflict between civilian government and military chain of command will probably play a large role, and that's really where Vee's question will be answered. Mary McDowell vs. Edward James Olmos. Looks like the first round started last night, but the title bout is still to come. What kind of compromise will they pull together, is the question, and a fascinating one at that.
Not exactly over the moon: I did think there were some major pacing problems, especially in the first half, because if you're going to base your entire series on the death of a society, you really do need to go for it. That first explosion over the city was key, but completely underplayed and disconnected from anything I'd seen previously, and while they did a good job of humanizing the impact -- the reactions of people were great, especially Madam President's assistant -- I can't help but feel like they chickened out, pulled back from really making the impact of the attacks felt. Maybe I'm grateful for that -- the trailer for The Day After Tomorrow was a more visceral two minutes than the first hour of Galactica. But that trailer messes me up something fierce.
I'm looking forward to the next part, even if I may not get to see it until tomorrow (going to see Cirque du Soleil tonight -- wheee!). I just can't believe that I don't have to wait another year to see it. That there will be more dark human science fiction on my TV, very soon.
Ronald D. Moore, I'll say this much. You don't disappoint.
When Travis covers "Hit Me Baby One More Time," it's actually not such a bad song.
Breathing makes my brain work better.
I'm getting a ton of hits from people wanting to know when Jonathan Brandis's funeral is. Wish I could tell y'all, but I got no clue.
On Friday, I had originally planned to just go home and chill out before the play -- but around 4 or so, I just needed to MOVE. So I left work a few minutes early and hit the gym. And it was AWESOME. I love coming back from the gym, all warm and loose, showering and washing my hair and feeling comfortable in my own skin. For once.
People also want to find out if Mr. Brandis enjoyed sex with members of his own gender. I got nothing on that front, either.
So, I meant to watch Angels in America tonight, work on my screenplay some, and then tuck myself into bed with tonight's Alias. Instead, I went into a coma halfway through Angels, waking up an hour into the cinematic classic Drumline and stumbling towards the TiVo to watch Alias. Why? Because I was incapable of doing anything else. Napping leaves me dull in the brain, semi-conscious and barely able to move. Even an hour later, I'm not quite awake -- and given that I didn't get a lot of sleep this weekend, I think I'll just go back to bed. After updating my life as best I can, of course.
So, you got a Moby fan in your life? Then you want to give them the 18 B-sides/DVD set for Christmas. It's economical and delicious -- if only because the DVD includes a CD's worth of Moby remixes, on top of yet more songs AND a live set from Glastonbury. And if there's something I love, it's Moby live. In the game of Anywhere But Here, my answer always varies between London in the rain and Moby performing live. Moby performing live in London while it rains outside? Heaven.
I so often tend to get obsessive about the things I like best, so it's strange to me how I'm not fangirlish about Moby. I just LIKE him, the same way I like my cat and pizza and rainy nights. Maybe it's because I've liked him for so long -- most of my favorites from high school have either faded into obscurity or no longer jibe with my current sensibilities, but Moby -- my first college love -- remains intact. Maybe it's because his style has evolved, to a degree -- I couldn't care less about the new Sarah McLachlan album, but that's because it sounds exactly like the stuff she was doing six years ago. Six years ago, I was interested. Now? I'm looking forward to the dance record Moby's putting out. A album entirely of dance music. I dig on the ambient stuff so much that sometimes I forget, how much Moby can make me dance.
And Moby at the Apple store was awesome; self-depricating and sensitive and very funny. I like him as a person, almost as much as I like his music. He's just... neat.
Friday night, I saw a play written by a friend of a friend, and it was pretty gosh-darn good. Not exactly what I was expecting, but funny and dark and strange. If you're in the LA area and like theater, Little by Angela Berlinger (second stage at the Actor's Gang) is a good bet.
Saturday, there was sleeping in and reading and laundry and bathroom-cleaning, with some writing in the evening. And then a wine-and-cheese party, which was full of tasty tasty cheese and some decent wine (I don't like wine, as a rule, so that's saying something). I actually talked to people, too, like a grown-up. It was fun, to be a grown-up with a glass of wine, eating cheese. I met a lot of actors -- some of whom had actually done things I'd heard about. There are so many actors in this town. Weirds me out.
And then Sunday, today, I did something new and exciting -- volunteering at a community arts festival in Venice. Pretty much all I did was chair-moving, face-painting, and tamale-eating -- but it was fun, tripping me right back to my Girl Scout days (all twelve years of them). I even attempted to remember some Spanish from kindergarten (ah, the joys of the Texas public education system). Attempted being the key word, there.
Out and about and active. The way I like my life.
I had an awesome dream last night -- the kind you don't want to wake from -- where I was a cast member on an improv version of Saturday Night Live, and I was successful and happy and a huge hit. My family was there and they were ridiculously proud. Really, a fantastic dream.
And it made me think about how I live walking distance from a Second City training center. It made me think about the time I tried out for an improv workshop, just completely abandoning dignity in the name of comedy and not only having a great time, but getting accepted to the workshop. I couldn't actually do it at that time -- didn't have the hundred bucks or the Saturdays -- but it was still fun as all heck. Something to consider for spring, perhaps. I miss learning things. Especially fun things like comedy.
Bed now, I think, though I have much more to get down. Updates on skin, cars, comic books, work. Rainy days and sunny mornings. Cirque du Soleil and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Oversleeping. And writing. Always writing.