Sunday, January 4, 2015

What It Is – week ending 4 January [2015]

With apologies to Dave the Thune (as well as Mike Baron & Steve Rude).

Every day.  1000 words.  That’s the goal.

The New Year arrived this past Thursday.  New slate.  And so far, I’m three for three with writing.  I looked back at my progress for 2014 at this post, and it was my most successful year yet, across the board.  I wrote a total of roughly 316,000 words (236K last year), submitted 53 stories (## last year), had 4 accepted (2 was my previous best), and 2 of those were published by year’s end – “I Gotta Get Outta Here” in Firewords Quarterly #2 and “Silence” in the Winter 2014-15 issue of Needle: a Magazine of Noir, both of which are short prose stories.  The other two accepted stories are comic shorts I wrote, one of which has already been drawn by Angel Allen and should see publication soon.  So, a good year.  Here’s to even more success this year. 

Reading Gotham Central right now, by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, and a small host of other talented artists.  I’m about three-quarters of the way through, and I’m loving it. I’d read a story here and there before, but never the whole thing.  This has me excited to go back and watch some NYPD Blue or Homicide.  We’ll see if I have time for that. 

Got back to Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics history tome, and it’s interesting and enjoyable, if a bit off-putting when Howe goes into full hyperbole mode.  I’m almost to the point where I started reading comics and am anxious to see what he has to say about that era. 

Still in the first season of The Americans.  I am impressed with the audacity of the writing – in a recent episode I watched they killed off a character who had been set up as one of the main FBI agents; it was surprising and daring – but I am finding my interest in the show waning.  The trouble they seem to be running into, for me, is twofold.  The Russian spies, though they do run into some difficulties, always come through successfully, while the FBI, even when it seems they’re on the cusp of discovering some important information, always lose.  This makes sense – if the Russian spies are captured, the show’s over – but it lessens any tension for future episodes, similar to a criticism I have for House of Cards.  Secondly, the dynamic of the relationship between the two main leads, the Russian spies posing as an American married couple, fluctuates back and forth like a metronome, with them dedicated to making their arranged marriage work in one episode and then at odds about loyalty to the motherland and the reality that this marriage is a sham and part of the job the next.  It may be the underlying theme of this series, but I wish they didn’t swing it back and forth so much.  Give the audience time to watch the marriage flourish before undercutting it again – that would make for better drama, in my opinion.

I’ve also been watching the first half of the final season of Mad Men.  There is a reason this is lauded as such a great show.  Because it is.  In this half-season, Don Draper is finally trying to put his life, at least his professional life, back together after being given a leave of absence by the company, at the end of the previous season.  It’s pure Mad Men, with some amazing writing, but with a change in status quo that still has Don as partner in the agency, but forced to take orders from his replacement, a tired ad man who doesn’t like to lead so much as lord over those beneath him, and from Peggy, while most everyone in management openly holds him in contempt, with the exception of Roger.  This is one of the best shows on television, and the level does not seem to have waned, as they drive toward the end.

The ITMODcast had its double-length, two-part, year-end extravaganza, with Matt, Brad, and Darren being joined by Bryan Young to discuss their top ten movies of the year, as well as those deserving of “worst of the year” status.  It was a fun four hours, and I continue to be impressed not only with the insightfulness they bring to the discussion but also the fun and joy that is inherent in these episodes.  These podcasts seem to breeze by, even at around two hours each, because there are no pregnant pauses, no fumbling for words (for the most part), and there’s such an energy surrounding the entire thing.  It’s fun to listen to, and, if you enjoy movies and aren’t careful, you might just learn something too.

And, as always, check out my friends – Brad & Matt and Don McMillan for their own weekly recaps on things comic-y and geeky, and we'll see what's what in seven.  


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