Guns and girls.

This is going to be a very nerdy post: Three reviews of things, the first of…

The Miserable, and the wretched.

Saw Les Misérables yesterday.

Honestly, a musical is not my cup of tea, but the movie was just fine. I have familiarity and appreciation for the story, and the musical, from my youth, so I was curious to see how it would be adapted, and like everyone else, I had heard good things about the performances of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. I suspect they’ll both get Oscar nominations, but Anne Hathway is the one with the real shot here. She does a lot of heavy lifting with the relatively limited role of Fantine and even in her short time here no one hits the strides and the heights and depths that she can plumbs so easily. Jackman is good, but not as good as her. Plus, he’s got the unfortunate timing of potentially being nominated for Best Actor in the same award season as Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.

I dreamed a dream.

Tom Hooper, however, is as boring in his direction as he was in The King’s Speech, and possibly less so. Somehow that film was both nominated and managed to win the big awards, but I don’t think that will be the case here. Especially not in a year that produced a Lincoln, a Zero Dark Thirty, and a Life Of Pi.

Anyway, minor flaws of the film that aren’t so minor: Way too fucking long and not interesting enough to sustain that length. The stuff towards the end with the June Rebellion was dreadfully boring, and anytime Jackman, Hathaway, or even Russell Crowe as Javert weren’t on screen, you found yourself checking your watch. I did enjoy Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (she’s just doomed to always play the gothic clown now, isn’t she?) as the Thénardiers, and they did provide some much needed comic relief to the film, but their rendition of the film’s second most memorable song was pretty boring.

Anyway, my second review is of…

Mad hilarity, merciless action, dark cynicism, and incorruptible bravery.

Gun Machine, the new novel by Warren Ellis.

This is a fun, slightly nuts book, which is the usual from Ellis. His first novel, Crooked Little Vein, was a silly but interesting little pulp travelogue through America, and Gun Machine comes from a similar place, but it’s more of a harder crime novel. This is Warren Ellis sodomizing writers like James Patterson and Ed McBain with his ideas, sort of.

The premise is simple: A cop stumbles upon an apartment filled with guns, hundreds of them and nothing else, and each crime can be traced to a different unsolved crime. Somebody has been keeping these guns all this time as trophies.

I believe I read somewhere the book has already been optioned to be developed into a TV show, which is… exciting, I guess. Granted, they’ll take the premise, and they’ll tone it down. They’ll have to. This book is a little nuts, and filled with a lot of little minutiae that’s probably closer to the harsh reality of crime in a big insane urban cityscape, but not the kind of thing that the flyover states are ready to tune into from their local affiliate. The first scene of the book, for example, involves the main character’s partner getting half of his face blown off by a shotgun blast delivered by a ranting naked man.

Gun

That said, there are lots of little ideas and the basic premise that could easily translate into a very interesting serial procedural. That, and I would like to see the type of characters that Ellis writes on either the small screen or the big screen, as they’re usually broken, mouthy creatures who are incorruptibly brave (a nice way of putting it from the Wired review quoted as a blurb on the cover) and very good at what they do.

Half of this book is written in the parlance of the internet, almost as if Ellis got tired of scanning the internet landscape and fueled some of that excitement and anger into a writing frenzy. At the same time, as a fan of his comic books and ideas shared in various places online, I am excited to see him evolving in a new medium, but I can’t say that it feels like he’s challenging himself here. But I have to say that I would secretly like to see Ellis tackle one of his nonfiction books that have more than one foot inside music theory and hauntological futures (which he is working on, thankfully), or maybe some kind of insane sci fi novel – I would love to see Warren Ellis become the new Harlan Ellison – or really get into TV, writing for Doctor Who or resurrecting Quatermass, something like that.

The second review being of…

Victorian values.

“The Snowmen,” the recent Doctor Who Christmas special.

I miss talking about Doctor Who, here or anywhere else. I really need to develop a venue for that, but as far as this episode goes, in short: This was a merely so so episode with great characters in it. Matt Smith is always good and shining with the Doctor, and only improves as he continues to play the character, and Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are welcome ongoing returns to the series, and I can’t say enough nice things about Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara, who is mysterious and a serious breath of fresh air. If I’m being honest, I may be doing this post solely to post pictures of her.

That said, this episode was not great. The webisode prequels were more interesting than a good deal of the regular plot of the episode, and I thought it was brave that the threat that the characters were facing down was given an extreme back seat to the character moments.

More guns.

Steven Moffat’s writing is always great, but if I had one major criticism of his tenure on Doctor Who as the showrunner it would be that everything feels too rushed. I assume that the fickle nature of television and the constant need to up the ante is what causes that, but as much as I enjoyed season 5 as the shakedown cruise for a new Doctor, companion, and way of looking at the show, season 6 seemed very rushed, big on set up and small on payoff, possibly because the payoff had to be pushed forward, forward, forward. Part of me wonders if a lot of that was necessitated by the upcoming 50th anniversary special.

That special lead to a lot of new additions in the Christmas special, including the introduction of Smith’s face in the main credit sequence (which I’m positive they’ve been threatening since he took over the role) and a redesigned TARDIS console room that brought back a lot of the blandness of the poorly executed production design from the show’s earlier regenerations in video with rubber monsters back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Cosby sweaters and scripts

And I’m as curious as the next person about some of the big things to come, like the presumed payoff of the First Question, but eventually it could get tiring to constantly finding situations for characters to say, “Doctor… Who?”

Anyway. That said, I’m looking forward to the second half of the current season and the (re)introduction of Clara, Mark 3. I suspect that she’ll be everything that we had assumed and hoped that Amy Pond will be, and I’m really looking forward it. The show regenerates each time a new Doctor steps out of the ashes of the previous one, but as they keep rightfully so telling us, the show is about the companions and the view they provide, and it really feels like the show could come to life again with the addition of Clara. I’m excited.

Remember.

“Melody Williams, that’s a geography teacher. Melody Pond’s a superhero.”

Last week was a hell of a cliffhanger and the start of a massive call to arms. This week we discover that the answer to the question “Where is the worst place in the universe to be standing?” is easily found out when you kidnap Amy Pond. A baby is born, a baby is kidnapped, a trap is sprung, some old friends return for the first time, we finally discover who River Song is, and this week on Doctor Who we discover that a battle can be lost and won simultaneously and that demons run when “A Good Man Goes To War.”

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“Shenangians” is a beautiful word.

Last time it was a spooky castle and Frankenstein motifs and doppelgangers going to war with their human originals, but this week on Doctor Who, the war comes to end, in which “The Rebel Flesh” become “The Almost People” and we’re left hanging from quite the narrative cliff…

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Dusty in space.

Last week it was time machines made human and the king of all dreams and stories and Michael Sheen and bubble universes and other good and fun stuff on Doctor Who. This week we take a step back and go a little more gothic with dark castles in the future and lightning strikes and doppelgangers and “The Rebel Flesh” brought to life!

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“The only water in the forest is the river.”

Last week it was the third three episodes of the current season of Doctor Who, with a planet called America and the moon landing and Richard Nixon and aliens you completely forget about once you turn your back and then pirates and alien medical Sirens and this week it’s dead spaceship graveyards and the creepy disembodied voice of Michael Sheen and a mad woman who’s bigger on the inside and who might just be “The Doctor’s Wife” and also the guy who brought you The Sandman is writing the words…

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The legs, the nose, and Mrs. Robinson.

This is a Doctor Who post.

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A planet called America, part two.

This morning I walked into work and said something to one of my co-workers along the lines of, “So, is your life any better now that Osama is dead?” She looked at me said, “OMG, the President is dead?” And I said, “Huh? What? No. NO. Osama. Bin Laden!” And then she squinted, looked at me curiously, and said, “What the fuck are you talking about?” Just then another co-worker held up the front page of the newspaper which had a huge picture of the deceased terrorist mastermind on it and a massive headline that said “BIN LADEN DEAD.” Or maybe it said “BIN LADEN KILLED.” Honestly, I can’t remember anymore. But the headline was huge.

from here.

A week ago I said to a friend: “Dealing with your enemies is simple and easy. The best way to combat them is to simply make friends with them. Make friends with them so hard that it hurts.”

It’s so weird to me still that one of the time I felt most unified with this crazy, amazing, fucked up country was on 9/11. The wost metaphor I could use here would be: It’s like that girlfriend, the one who’s really fucking amazing, if a little weird, and way too good for you, and you just treat her like shit. She should really quit you and your bullshit. You just don’t appreciate her and for some reason she just won’t leave you. And you don’t realize how important she really is to you until someone else threatens here. Some clarity only comes to us on the precipice of great and terrible disaster. Life is funny like that.

Part of me is glad that Bin Laden wasn’t captured and forced to answer for his crimes to us and to the world in person, though I would have wanted that, of course. Part of me was glad to hear that this was finally over, that everyone who had been wounded by the tragedies that seemed to be dialed up at this man’s fingertips can now crawl just one more inch ever so slowly and painfully into the past. I wouldn’t really call this “justice “though because, well, there is no such thing as justice. Scales aren’t balanced because Bin Laden is dead. His life will never ever begin to be equal in worth to those lost on 9/11 or those who have put on an military uniform and defended a certain set of ideals and beliefs that we all take for granted every single minute. America is a brilliant, beautiful idea, but not a perfect one, and it can be hurt and it can be dented, but it’ll always be stronger than some cheap thug, no matter where he lives, no matter what he looks like, no matter what he worships. It can only be killed by those who give up on the idea, or who sell it out bit by bit in the name of “freedom.”

from here.

The death of what we consider to be an evil man on the other side of the world doesn’t bring back all those special people that we lost but hopefully it helps some people to breathe easier. Hopefully it reminds us why those people were special to us and hopefully we never forget what they meant to us. I’d like to say that hopefully it makes us appreciate each moment we have on this planet all that much more, but we should’ve been doing that long before now, and of course should continue doing that to the moment we draw our last breath. Hopefully someone like Bin Laden will never ever come close to challenging that idea every again.

I’ll admit to being conflicted or just confused about this news and how I should be feeling, but I’m lucky. Lucky to be here, lucky to be typing this in the land of the free, home of the brave. I’m lucky that I didn’t lose anyone ten years ago on that strange September day or in the fights and wars that followed. Who Osama Bin Laden is and what all of this means is something for you to decide. I can tell you that I don’t view this man’s death as closure, but honestly, I won’t look down on anyone who gets it from this news.

Thank you, mom. Thank you, God. Thank you, Barack Obama. Thank you, Donald Trump (with your stupid ass hair and head full of shit). Thank you, Pakistan. Thank you, India! Thank you, everyone who’s ever stood up for what they believed in and put that belief above themselves. Thank you, Bill Murray. Thank you, internet jokesters and “expert thinkers.” Thank you, Doctor Who. Thank you to the moon and to The Onion, both. Thank you, mainstream media. Thank you, “Mission Accomplished.” Thank you, those who agree with me, and thank you to those who would never agree with me in a million years. Thank you, Jack Donaghy, and thank you, Condoleezza Rice and thank you, Margaret Cho (for guest starring on 30 Rock). Thank you, strange new/old world that has such people in it. Thank you, post-Now. Thank you to everyone who thinks this matters and everyone who knows that it really doesn’t. Thank you to all those who never forget and especially thank you to those who are doomed to remember.

I saw this picture posted on the internet a little while ago…

…and I had a might good chuckle.

The terrorists are always winning. And the terrorists are always losing. And the battle will keep raging and hopefully we’ll never forget what we’re fighting for or who we should actually be fighting.

It’s doesn’t even matter that Superman’s no longer an American citizen or that The Rock had the #1 movie at the box office this weekend AND knew that Osama was dead before you did because…

Well, because the story’s not over and the dream is never ending.

And like PKD said, Maybe the Empire never ended?

Like fake MLK said, “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”

It’s been over 24 hours now and tonight when I go to bed I’ll be thinking the same thing I was thinking last night, “Okay, so Osama’s dead. And what will tomorrow look like?”