Thursday, July 16, 2009

Give Parsons the Emmy

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:

First off, it's cool that four of the nominated actors are on broadcast and I've actually seen three of those four shows. Well, I've encountered The Office while flicking channels, but it was way too creepy for me to watch past a few lines of dialogue, so I can't judge on Steve Carell's nomination.

I do enjoy both Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock and Charlie Sheen in 2 and a half men. They're good actors with great comic timing. But the roles they play are relatively attractive and, as the 2-1/2 men song goes, "manly men".

Jim Parsons has impressed me as an actor who is doing a fine job with an exceptionally difficult role. He manages to balance his portrayal of an innocent, egotistical nerd with obsessive-compulsive issues without making the role either too broadly cartoony or too uncomfortable to watch. He keeps it at a light-comedy level, good characterization, and fun to watch. That must be really hard. He deserves the Emmy.

Outstanding Commercial:

My favorite commercial this past year was the Verizon cell phone commercial about a teenager who got an actual but vicious pony for Christmas, instead of a new Verizon cell phone like her two friends,who are shown commiserating with her, along with the Verizon network personified.

That wasn't among the list of nominees.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Readercon Thursday Goblin Fruit Party

At the open "Launch Party" for the poetry e-zine Goblin Fruit, I met a poet Mary Alexandra Agner, who works with satellite technology at Lincoln Lab. I flipped through her chapbook (new word I learned that night) and thought her poetry was rather good, which was a pleasant surprise for I usually have trouble connecting with modern poetry.

Two women played harp and several women sang. It was pleasant and made me nostalgic for lute music.

I heard a publisher of a print magazine Realms of Fantasy trying to coax an on-line author to publish in print as well. She called an e-zine publisher from across the room to her defense of online over old print media. The e-zine publisher was way more inclined to discuss rather than debate. He and the print publisher had an interesting time comparing experiences and business models. That is, I found the conversation to be very interesting and a kind of a continuation of an interview I'd heard recently on Terry Gross with an editor of Wired magazine who recently published a book called Free, about on-line business models.

Then an acquaintance started talking to me, which pulled me away from my shameless listening in. After figuring out how we knew each other, I looked at my watch. 10 before midnight. Way past my bedtime, and I still had an hour's drive home. Sleepiness thus intruded on my vacation Friday, but I think it was worth it.

world's oldest

Prostitution ought to and will some day be a respected profession, with training, certification, professional societies, and a code of ethics. Like lawyers, mental health workers, and clergy, prostitutes will and should be able to provide clients with legally-protected assurance of confidentiality.

And, no, that won't take the fun out of it. Quite the contrary. These are the Dark Ages.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday night Readercon Panel: Character..Breakthrough..Mind

From 9 to 10 the crowd and I were at a panel discussion called: The Origin of Character in Breakthrough of the Mind. It seemed to be on how characters can run away with a story and do things that the author hadn't planned for them in the first place.

The most interesting anecdote on this was told by Peter Straub. He was writing a story about two families. His purpose was to contrast the life of two boys being raised in different trying environments, one rich and one poor. Across the street from one of the boys lived a cranky old man. The kind of cranky old man always yelling at kids to get off the grass. Eventually the cranky old man turned out to have a very interesting past and story. He took over the novel. The novelist talked about having to throw away pages and pages that didn't belong in the story any more, and that his wife complained, "those were the best pages."

Writers talked about the "gift story" that would show up as inspiration. Ellen Hand had such a story occur to her about 20 years ago. One morning she began to think about a woman who saw Elvis. She started writing at 10 am, finished at 10pm, mailed it off the next day, and it was published. She says that these gift stories occur only once in every eight years or so. The young writer Daryl Gregory said that he's still waiting for his.

The moderator Jim Kelly kept referring to the voice of his subconscious that tells him how to write as "the little guy". Soon the entire panel was referring to their "little guy."

The panel ended with responses to a question as to how to silence the inner critic when the critic suppresses your writing instead of helping you improve it. Some talked of the value of deadlines, so you can tell the critic you don't have time to listen.

Thursday night Readercon 8-9pm

So after last year's exhausting day at readercon, I decided to go just to the free Thursday night this year.

(Actually, my natural cheapness was at work. Soon after I started a new job across the street from the readercon hotel, I checked the website for early registration. It was more than early registration for Arisia, and they don't have the whiz bang costumes and movies and special effects to pay for. And I wasn't sure what I'd be up to in July. Early July is usually a hot sunny time when people go to the beach. That hasn't happened this year, but how were we supposed to know?)

At 8pm I went to a reading by Elaine Isaak. She read from an as-yet-unpublished novel. It has an interesting premise, in that the main character is a barber-surgeon from the Middle Ages. Actual magic occurs, so it is fantasy, not historical fiction. I heard some kludgy words in beginning paragraphs, but later the story got more interesting as the main character developed depth. I would like to read what happens to him when the book comes out. Though I know, of course, it's bound to be bad, for you don't want to be one of her heroes.

Around 8:30 I poked my head into the panel discussion on authors talking about reviewing books. One author (Malzburg?) was giving a tribute to a reviewer named Burgess, who'd been reviewing SF books since 1965 and who died two years ago. Maltzburg turned to another panelist, Gene Wolfe, and said: "You know, Burgess called you one of our Greatest Living Science Fiction Writers".

Wolfe replied, "Burgess was very insightful."

That was a great response, and got a big laugh. It seemed a little bit too true in this case, at least to me.

I know that authors need to be egotistical. On the other hand, I gave up after the second book of Gene Wolfe's Torturer series, because it was just going on too long and he didn't move the story forward and he was just too pleased with himself and what he could write. The details of his world were just too gruesome to put up with any more without it moving the story forward at a more reasonable pace. After the first book, I thought he was a great writer and had created a compelling character. I got the second book to read more. After the second, I decided he was too egotistical to be a good-enough writer for me to keep reading him. Of course, he's the famous published author on the podium, and I'm not.


As we were leaving Earthfest, an esplanade concert sponsored by WBOS, I met a young intern from rival station WFNX. He was handing out cards for his station.

Aren't you in enemy territory? I asked.

He said yes, but was there to tell people that FNX was better. I like FNX and said so. I also grinned, called him "sonny", and waxed nostalgic about the early '80's, when WFNX was "The New Music Source".

"We still are" he said.

I reminded him that WBOS had just given us a great concert. He agreed, but said that BOS wasn't a real local station like FNX was.

"They have robots. We have live DJ's. They stole our playlist."

Fine, but, driving to work a couple of Fridays ago, I listened to 92.9 playing FNX music, while on FNX the DJ's were having a call-in as to whether Michael Jackson was going to heaven or hell.

My guess would be heaven, but who the hell are they to pose such questions?