Do or Do Not.

Archive for September, 2005

Update on the Writing, or the Lack Thereof

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As you might possibly have noticed, I’ve been having some trouble writing lately. I admit it. Those of you who drop by here regularly might have noticed that A] I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, and B] the little novel-progress bar over there on the right hasn’t budged in a few weeks. Yes, I’m lame. I don’t even have a really good excuse–yeah, sure, stuff’s been going on, but not so much to excuse my not writing anything.

Honestly, I feel like I’m kinda stuck on the novel. I need to figure out how to get myself moving forward once again. I was doing pretty well for awhile with the “just keep pressing forward” strategy because I had momentum. That momentum dried up (thanks to the aforementioned life stuff) and I’ve had a great deal of difficulty getting it back. It doesn’t help that I had written myself to a point where I had no idea what was going to happen next in the story. I’m afraid I still have too many sitting-around-talking scenes and not enough stuff-happening scenes.

My goal had been to finish the first draft by the end of October. I’m starting to feel kind of iffy about that goal, thanks to the three or more weeks off I’ve wound up taking. I need to find some way to kickstart both my plot and my momentum if I’m going to have any hope of making it–suggestions are always appreciated from the writers in the crowd, of course.

(I also need to get back to posting here regularly…I know how much my worldwide audience hates it when I leave the site fallow for too long.)

Written by Allen

September 22nd, 2005 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Writing

The Emmys: Celebrating the Not-Quite-Great

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In just a couple of hours, the most telegenic and name-recognizable members of the television industry will gather together in Los Angeles in a vain attempt to pretend that they know which are the best products put out on TV in the last year. Those of us who actually watch TV know what a fraud this entire process is, of course; any awards show claiming to honor the best of TV but which has consistently failed to even acknowledge the existence of “Gilmore Girls” and failed to bow down before the mighty and fearsome talent of Joss Whedon clearly has its head so far up its own ass it can smell its own duodenum.

But I have no vote in the Emmys; I don’t get to pick who makes the final cut of five for each of the categories. I can only contribute by trying to pick the winners and mocking the losers mercilessly.

Best Drama Series: If there’s any justice in this cocksucking world, “Deadwood” will take this trophy home. My sense is that the real competition will come down to “Deadwood” and “Six Feet Under,” the latter more because of the “lifetime acheivement” effect than anything else. [1] I just can’t quite bring myself to completely count out “The West Wing,” though I can bring myself to do so to “24″ and “Lost”–genre shows have a hard time winning the big one, and just the nomination is usually enough to pat them on the ass, tell ‘em they did good and hit the showers.

Best Actor in a Drama Series: In the event Ian McShane doesn’t win for his absolutely riveting perforance as “Deadwood”‘s Al Swearengen, he has my permission to throttle every last drop of life out of each of the other nominees. Nothing personal–I like Hank Azaria, James Spader, Kiefer Sutherland and Hugh Laurie just fine. But this award can only go to McShane, lest I go all violent-like. (I won’t be surprised if “House”‘s Laurie wins it, though. Disappointed, yes; surprised, no.)

Best Actress in a Drama Series: Um, geez, I’ve got no frickin’ clue. I’m going to go with Glenn Close from “The Shield” since she’s got the movie cred backing her case (meaning even those voters who don’t actually watch TV have heard of her). If it’s not Close, I’d probably go with “SFU”‘s Frances Conroy.

Best Comedy Series: “Arrested Development” damn well better take this one because it’s the funniest damn show on TV. “AD” won in a surprise last year, so it’s possible voters might decide they don’t need to vote for it again; I hope that’s not the case, or it’ll simply confirm that Emmy voters really are as big a batch of idiots as they seem to be. “Desperate Housewives” might have some trouble here since it’s not a comedy in the traditional half-hour sitcom sense, and that might confuse said batch of idiots. I can’t count out “Everybody Loves Raymond,” if only for the “hey, it’s your last season, thanks for leaving before you really overstayed your welcome” effect. “Scrubs,” sadly, has no chance and falls into the “just happy to be here” club. “Will and Grace” might have an outside shot if voters forget it’s not 1999.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series: I’ll be happy with “AD”‘s Jason Bateman, Zach Braff of “Scrubs” or “Monk”‘s Tony Shalhoub (who I think will actually win it again). Eric McCormack and Ray Romano have both already seen plenty of days in Emmy’s sun, so no go for them–likely both are nominated more for their connections to shows Emmy voters prop up every year based on name alone rather than actual quality.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series: I swear to whatever gods you deem it acceptable for me to swear to, if Paticia Heaton of “Everybody Loves Raymond” wins this award for the upteenth year, I will find every single person who voted for her, tie them down, tear off their eyelids and piss into their forever-staring eyes. No more, you hear me, Emmy voters?! NO MORE!!!

(Conversely, if Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman wins, as I think she will, I’ll send each and every of you pretty flowers. And a pretty hooker.)

(And I suppose it’s too much for me to hope that “Gilmore Girls” star Lauren Graham steals this one in a write-in, huh?)

[1] Note: That’s completely different from the “achievevment on Lifetime” effect, which only applies to middlingly-successful actresses between 35 and 45 who discover career resurgence in movie-of-the-week land.

So that’s it. Tune in tomorrow or so and we’ll recap to see either just how brilliant or how Emmy-voter-like I am.

Written by Allen

September 18th, 2005 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Pop Culture,TV

In other news, fire reported to be hot

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I haven’t actually clicked on the link to read the story, so I don’t know exactly who is being discussed here (nor, honestly, do I really care), but when I see a headline on CNN.com that says:

Report: Supermodel admits cocaine use

…I start to think it must be a really, really slow news cycle.

Written by Allen

September 17th, 2005 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Media

You might want to sit down…

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Oh…oh…oh my gawd! It’s a new review by Allen up on Moviegeekz! I know, I know, it’s–hey, hold on, are you okay? You’re looking a little…oh, jeez, c’mon, pick yourself up off the floor–you can’t? Let me help, hold on, I’ll get you up onto the couch…

I realized when I posted the new review (this one’s for Layer Cake) that it had been three friggin’ months since I’d written a review. That certainly wasn’t my intention…I just hadn’t seen any movie at all since we went to see Batman Begins for Father’s Day. We’ve watched a number of TV shows on DVD since that time–all of “Wonderfalls,” season three of “Gilmore Girls,” the first season of “Deadwood,” plus another go-round with “Firefly”–but I didn’t want to write those up since they’re not technically movies, and the name of the site ain’t movie-n-tvgeekz.com.

But I’m starting to reconsider that decision. The two forms are quite obviously similar enough that it wouldn’t be absolutely out of place to discuss DVD sets of TV series on the site, and I’m sure whatever audience there is for the site wouldn’t complain much. (If they’re not complaining about the overall lack of updates, I seriously doubt they’ll complain about getting new reviews of TV shows.) Also, I don’t see my appetite for watching these series dying out any time soon–hell, season four of “Gilmore Girls” comes out the week after next. And of the 300+ movies in my Netflix queue right now, I’d wager about 100 of them are discs of TV shows. I’m growing more and more fond of series television as a storytelling medium with every excellent series we watch.

So I guess that’s settled then. Reviews of DVD sets for TV series will start appearing on Moviegeekz starting as soon as I write up a review for season one of “Deadwood.” Keep your eyes peeled. (Not literally, of course; you couldn’t read the reviews if your eyes were really peeled. Gross.)

Written by Allen

September 14th, 2005 at 11:11 pm

Posted in Movies,Pop Culture,TV

Review: Layer Cake

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Take a story about several denizens of the criminal British underworld, mix in a few spoonfuls of dark humor and a couple of cups of violence, a handful of plot twists to taste, and what do you end up with? Snatch. Well, OK, yes, you do, but if you mix the recipe up a bit and drop in a couple of shots of character development, you isntead get Layer Cake, a movie which clearly follows in the footsteps of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels but jumps off the path and finds its own way.

The story of Layer Cake follows a cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) who’s on the verge of retiring, getting out of the drug business–but we all know how those sorts of plans turn out in movies like these. And sure enough, our hero finds himself set up and double-crossed, forced to break the rules he’s created to allow himself to survive and even prospsr in the viscious world of narcotics commerce–all over one million stolen high-octane ecstasy pills. Eventually he ends up caught between two competing crime bosses (Sir Michael Gambon and Kenneth Cranham), each with an agenda far beyond our hero’s grasp, and a ruthless German assassin (menacingly named “Dragan”) brought in to retreive the pills for the cartel that manufactured them in the first place.

(Why do I refer him to simply as “our hero” above? Because we never learn his name. It’s never entirely clear whether the other characters know his name or not, though it seems to me conducting business–especially this kind of business–with someone whose name I didn’t know would be more than a little difficult. But it’s a fun conceit, and leads to a nice twisty bit of black humor at the end of the movie.)

Layer Cake (2004)
Grade: B+
Starring: Daniel Craig Kenneth Cranham Michael Gambon Colm Meaney
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: J.J. Connelly
Studio: Paramount

Director Matthew Vaughn, who was one of the producers of Guy Ritchie‘s Snatch and Lock, Stock, clearly took some of Ritchie’s story sensibilites but left aside some of his more garish visual excesses. (Side note: I like some of Ritchie’s garish visual excesses.) Layer Cake deals with character far more than either of those movies, however, and Vaughn wisely lets his excellent cast do much of the heavy lifting. Vaughn, in his first effort as director, works the story’s many twists and turns well and keeps the tension cranked high throughout the movie. And while the visuals might not be quite as stylized as Ritchie’s, Vaughn certainly has his own flair which owes as much to David Fincher as it does Ritchie.

Daniel Craig’s name has surfaced several times as a rumored successor to Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, and watching Layer Cake, you can certainly see why. Craig has an effortless command of the screen, an easy but intense presence; even when relaxed, he seems coiled, as if he could explode into action in an instant. He might not look quite like a typical Bond (especially if he were to be following Brosnan, who seems to have been scuplted from clay scooped directly from Ian Fleming’s brain), but he possesses exactly the right kind of masculinity for Bond, the kind that makes women swoon and men envious. (Or the men swoon and the women envious, depending on your inclinations, of course.)

Written by Allen

September 14th, 2005 at 10:47 pm