My Process

I’m closing in on the end of the first book in the space opera series — THE HIGH GROUND.  I knew in a general way what the big action sequence was going to be, but I’m almost there, and it’s crunch time.  A general sense wasn’t going to be good enough.  I needed specific scenes.  So I grabbed the cards, assigned a colored pen to my two POV characters, and another color for my antagonist, and settled onto the floor in front of the board and started tossing up actual scenes.

What is Mercedes doing?  What is Tracy doing?  What will go wrong?  What do we learn about non POV characters?  Amazing how this all started coming into focus from just the act of writing.  I still have one outstanding question regarding the antagonist, but I have some cards and questions to myself off on the far side of the board.  Sometimes just writing down the questions starts the brain turning.

I know that “pantsers” or “gardeners” would have just started writing and hoped the subconscious took them in the right direction, but sometimes the subconscious gets lost and confused and then you’re just typing aimlessly waiting for inspiration to strike.  I prefer to find the pitfalls before I’ve written several thousand words.

Superhero Shows — The Creepy & The Lame

Overall I’m really enjoying both ARROW and THE FLASH, but before I sing their praises I need to complain about a couple of things.  THE FLASH is squicking me out over Barry’s romantic mooning over Iris.  They were raised from childhood as siblings.  The research indicates that normal humans don’t fall in love with their siblings, and this rule holds true even when they are unrelated by blood.  Basically the studies found the close association creates sexual aversion.

And over on ARROW I really need Laurel to take a pill and calm the hell down.  Now normally I’m all for kick ass women, but we have plenty of kick ass women on the show.  I adore Felicity because she proves that she can be effective and powerful and not carry nunchucks.  She has her brain and her training.  I’d like Laurel to remember she has a brain and training.  The law is a powerful tool.  It should be honored and celebrated.  Yes, it’s a show about a vigilante, but can we have a little balance here?

Arrow

It a rather marathon session I finished watching the second season of ARROW last night.  I still really like the show, in particular Stephen Amell — Oliver Queen, Willa Holland — Thea Queen,  David Ramsey — John Diggle, and Emily Bett Rickards — Felicity.  I also have a soft spot for John Barrowman — he’ll always be Captain Jack from Dr. Who and Torchwood and he makes a fun villain in ARROW.

I really, really wish they had a lawyer on their writing staff however.  I can deal with miracle drugs that make people super strong and super violent.  I can deal with a bow being faster than a gun (silly but fun), but the legal system in Starling City — well, let’s just say the Justice Department would have moved in years ago, and clearly the law schools in Starling are mail order and no actual classes every occur.

People keep getting arrested for ludicrous reasons.  Daddy getting put in jail for exchanging information with the Arrow as a way to try and make him give up the identity of the masked man.  Better ways to do that.  Fire him and threaten to take away his pension for starters.  And our supposedly brilliant lawyer — Laurel — solves every case by blackmailing the D.A.  How does the law work in a society were there are people with meta-human powers?  And how do you incarcerate those people?  I want to see something that tries to realistically addresses these issues and shows a competent attorney at work.

I am really liking the cross over with THE FLASH which is also an enjoyable show though lighter in tone then ARROW.  I like superheroes.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have written for and edited the Wild Cards series with George R.R. Martin for all these years, but I want ARROW to be even better by not undercutting one of the cornerstones of our county — the legal system.

I, for example, would be a great addition to the show.  :)

Revisiting Dragon Age — How Games Help Writers

I started a new Dragon Age campaign here in CA on the new XBox 360.  For the first time I played the human origin story where you are the child of the Tyrn of Highever.  I chose to play a son because I didn’t really want to try romancing Alistair, and I thought I would try to get through the sappy romance with Liliana this time.

Anyway, I’m up to the point where you deal with the civil war and I’m finding myself actually giving serious considerations to the upcoming choices.  Just as I would if this were a novel I was writing.  When I play my beloved Dalish elf I don’t give two hoots for the humans and their fight over the crown.  My loyalty is to my tribe and my companions so I back Alistair to take the throne and I usually manage to broker a marriage with Anora.

But this time I’m human and a noble, and Alistair is a bastard and presumably I’ve been raised to admire Loghain because he freed Ferelden from Orlais, and I’ve probably known Anora since we were both children.  So am I really going to kill the hero of River Dane and marry off my friend Cailan’s widow to an indecisive bastard?  Or if I’m really a self-serving son-of-a-bitch won’t I try to marry Anora and take the throne for myself?  Or is this deeply religious sap I created more likely to take the killing blow at the end and die in an act of noble self-sacrifice?  If I go the self-serving bastard route I’ll probably have Alistaire or Loghain kill the archdemon.  The one thing I can’t see is this character taking Morrigan’s dark deal.  My elf had no problem with that.

Apart from the fact I’ve been busy I also stopped playing while I wrestled with these questions.  It’s silly.  I know it’s just a game and a game I have played a number of times, but the writer in me wants to “play fair”.  I usually play total paragons or light side Jedi — however you want to put it, but to ignore birth and background seems wrong when you are crafting a character.

This is one of the reasons that I think playing video games can actually be helpful for a writer.  If your not just playing hack and slash you might learn some skills that will help you with your own stories.  Certainly our role playing group back in the day spawned a lot of characters and a few stories.  For example WILD CARDS.  Or Richard in my Edge books.  Or Tracy in the IMPERIALS saga.

Must Have Been In the Ether — Connections between Interstellar & Big Hero 6

This post is filled with SPOILERS about two different films so you have been warned.

*************************SPOILERS************************SPOILERS*************SPOILERS*******************SPOILERS***************

This past week I’ve seen two movies that, while vastly different in tone, delivered the same essential message — BIG HERO 6 and INTERSTELLAR.  I know people are going “seriously, Melinda?  An animated light hearted romp and a deeply serious space odyssey?  Yes, really because there were so many similarities.

First there was the celebration of science and technology.  The idea that bright kids should be encouraged and supported.  You have Hiro the brilliant ne’er-do-well wasting his life building fabulous robots and then betting on them in robot fights.  His older brother Tadashi wants him to use those brains to improve the world, and entices Hiro by taking him to Tadashi’s “nerd school” where Hiro meets other brilliant kids doing amazing work.  Result — he wants to be part of that world.  (I can identify.  I was the unhappy lawyer who met the writers and wanted to be in that world).  At any rate you have a celebration of brains, and study and science.  A lovely message in a time when our current Congress is filled with either the willfully ignorant or the truly stupid.

Tadashi’s life work is to create a robot that’s not a fighting mech, or a Terminator, or a Cylon, but instead a physician, a healer, kind and gentle.  Tadashi is killed early in the film in what appears to be an accident, and Hiro’s work is stolen.  What starts as simply an attempt to recover Hiro’s invention leads to a pursuit of vengeance for his brother’s death.  In fact Hiro warps his brother’s creation and also his brother’s memory by turning the gentle Betamax into a killing machine. 

He is saved from this path by the intervention of his new friends, and what he ultimately learns is that is brother’s death was caused by a man in pursuit of vengeance for the death of his daughter.  Except she’s not dead.  She’s trapped in, in essence, a wormhole, and Hiro and his large dumpy robot friend go in to save her.  And Betamax does what he was designed to do.  he saves and heals, and leaves Hiro with the means to create more gentle healers.  It’s just a lovely message.  A celebration of connection between friends and family and by extension to humanity at large.

Now we come to INTERSTELLAR.  I talk a lot when I give writing workshops about figuring out the theme of a book or a screenplay.  I always ask myself — what is this story about?  Not the plot, but the heart of the story.  What human condition am I trying to elucidate.  Interstellar is an example I’ll be able to use in future lectures.

There was a lot of “plot” in Interstellar, and much of it I figured out early — the identity of the ghost for one.  But let’s put all that aside and look at the issues that the Nolan’s explored.  This was a story about the drive to survive.  On the meta level of a species.  As a single individual.  As a family — to see a bloodline continue.  As an individual because you want to see the face of a lover or a child again.

What’s interesting is that the character that personified the drive to save a species, but not necessarily individuals is one dark side to this drive to survive.  The Matt Damon character — willing to lie to save himself is another dark side.  What the Nolans appeared to be exploring is the idea that finding balance is hard and that sometimes all we have to go on is the human heart — Cooper’s need to see his children again.  Brands desire to see her lover again.

I thought the exploration was fascinating and moving and beautifully done.

Other things I also really liked about the film (aside from the stunning visuals) — I loved the fact that The Others were humans who lived in a five dimensional reality and could reach back to their ancestors and communicate.  It wasn’t godlike aliens.  It was human ingenuity.  It was us.

This is where the similarities with Big Hero 6 come in.  This film was a celebration of the human mind and human drive and ingenuity.  It’s science and technology wedded to the human heart that can solve problems.  I loved the little swipe at the push by a certain political segment to warp and bend or outright ignore science in favor of ideological agendas.

I also loved the raw human emotions displayed by the characters.  Murphy’s agony over being abandoned by her father.  Brand pleading to see her lover again.  Her moving speech about the power of love.  Cooper needing to fly free one last time and yet feeling like he was abandoning his family.  Telling himself it was to save them.

Other kudos — taking up and presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience.  Discussing relativity and black holes.  Was it perfect?  According to scientists no, but it might spark a young person to want to know more about that crazy physics stuff.  And how I envy the power of Chris Nolan that he got to have no sound in space.  It adds to the mystery and the majesty.  I tried on my little pilot to win that battle.  I lost.  Another battle I lost was not having a robot in my pilot or at least a robot that was not humanoid in form.  Hence I adored TARS and I want one.

My biggest complaint was with the score.  I saw it in IMAX, and perhaps the mix was just off, but at points the music drowned out the dialog and I wanted to hear all the dialog.  Some of the organ sections were very reminiscent of 2001 and I think that was deliberate, but it was too overpowering.

Sad Truth

I had a feeling last night was going to be depressing so read and watched Arrow and had dinner with a friend rather than watch the electoral returns.  And it was what I expected but more so.  I could understand Iowa and Colorado.  I could even understand Wisconsin, but Paul LePage, a seemingly insane individual was reelected in Maine?  Or this Hice guy who is a fundamentalist preacher who has declared that Islam is not protected under the first amendment — among other equally charming remarks about gays, birth control, etc.

I think the American people just feel bludgeoned and they have been condition since 9/11 to go descend into fear, anger and paranoia.  I think that’s what happened last night, and cynics play on those fears to get people to vote against their own best interests.

This will probably be great for me.  There will most likely be another big tax cut, and other goodies will be bestowed on people like myself who have had the good fortune to do very well financially.  But I don’t think it’s going to be good for the vast majority of people in this country where roads and bridges are in disrepair, the water system in L.A. is one hundred years old and keeps breaking and wasting millions of gallons of water in the midst of the worst drought in five hundred years, our electrical grid collapses every time there is a powerful winter storm.  And the truth is that even in our gated upscale communities people like me still have to drive on the roads and have electricity delivered to our homes.

There is such a thing as the common good.  I think out of fear a lot of people threw that away yesterday.

Thoughts On Arrow

I finally set down with the XBox and Netflix and started streaming the first season of Arrow.  I finished season one last night after a number of nights of joyful binge watching.  I really like this show.  It’s got a great look, quite good scripts, a terrific cast and characters I’ve come to care about.  It also doesn’t hurt that Stephen Amell is gorgeous and he frequently takes his shirt off.  It’s nice to have some eye candy for the ladies.  We are so often forgotten in the mad pursuit of boobs on the tube.

But back on topic — One of the things that’s impressed me about the show is the depth and complexity of the women characters.  In particular the computer genius Felicity, the bratty but fascinating sister Thea, the family obsessed matriarch of the Queen family, the mad sociopath Helena Bertinelli aka The Huntress, Shado – the woman who taught Oliver his fighting skills, McKenna Hall a cop and brief girlfriend of Oliver’s, Laurel Lance — the love of Oliver’s life.  That’s actually the least satisfying of the women for me because she has to be so good and so noble, but she is a woman with goals and agency and not just a prize.

I was pondering why there were so many interesting women in this show, and then I took a hard look at the credits, and there is a huge number of women writers and writer/producers working the show.  It’s not all that common to find a lot of women working on shows that are perceived as “action” oriented.  Usually you see a preponderance of woman on (for me) gag making shows like Touched By an Angel or Little House on the Prairie, Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman.

I think one of the reasons I sparked so strongly to Arrow (pecs and six packs aside) is this varied and interesting cast of complex women.  And the action is just great, thank you, on the show.  Take it from a woman who was once known in the business as “that chick who writes action”, women are perfectly capable of writing a kick ass fight scene, and also be interested in a nuanced character moment.

Scripts Are Easier

On Tuesday evenings I go over to Len Wien and Christina Valada’s house for dinner, and then Len and T and I watch three TV shows back to back — The Flash, Agents of SHIELD and Person of Interest.  Len has dubbed it Action Tuesday which is a great name for it.  Person of Interest continues to be the best show on television (more on that later), but it was a moment in AOS that caught my attention and made me think again how much easier it is to write a script where shorthand and outright hand waving, or no explanation at all is perfectly acceptable.

SPOILERS if you haven’t been watching the show or following the movies ——

SHIELD is not in very good odor around the world.  It’s been branded a terrorist organization, and law enforcement is hunting down SHIELD agents and agent… correction, Director Coulson.  So Coulson needs to go talk to a U.S. Senator, and we simply cut into the scene where the Senator enters his office and finds Coulson waiting for him.  They have a fraught conversation and make a deal.  Okay, pretty standard stuff, but what struck me is that in film the writers feel it’s perfectly acceptable for Coulson to be waiting in the office without any explanation or even a scene showing how this wanted “criminal” managed to enter the Senate Office Building undetected.

In a book we could never get away with that.  We would have to show either the planning or the execution and make it believable or we would be faced with a reader’s inevitable  ah come on moment.  But not in film.  It bumped me briefly, but I just went with it, and filed away this little nugget to write about here on the blog.  Is it because when we’re watching rather than reading we’re willing to accept more shortcuts to keep the action moving?  God knows planning scenes/committee meetings are death in a book, and triple death on screen, but a hint at how this was accomplished would have helped me over that one rough place.  And maybe nobody else noticed it and was bothered, and this is the price I pay for knowing how the sausage gets made.  I would love to hear from people if they are more tolerant of logic lapses in film than they are in books.

Then there was Person of Interest.  (I don’t shorthand that title because it’s disrespectful to a great show.  :) )  Anyway the week before the episode had been dark and hell and very depressing.  This week was almost comedic, and then came the kicker at the very end like the lash of a scorpion’s tail.  I just can’t say enough in praise of the writer/producers on this show.  I bought the first three seasons of the show and I’m looking forward to starting the series all over again, and sharing it with Carl when we’re home at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Setting the Record Straight

So the gamergate spat has finally gone mainstream, and a good thing too since there are now two women in the gaming industry who have been driven from their homes over virulent on-line threats, and the posting of their personal information including their addresses.  And Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel her talk in Utah.

What is infuriating me is how gamers keep making excuses for this inexcusable behavior, and how many of those excuses are just flat out lies.  Let’s start with Zoe Quinn who got slut shamed by her ex-boyfriend who claimed she was giving sexual favors in exchange for positive reviews at Kotaku for her game.  This was supposedly the reason this on-line outrage began — to protect journalistic integrity.   Now it turns out that Kotaku never even reviewed the game.  Here is the statement from Kotaku — (Kotaku & Zoe Quinn).  Did Ms Quinn cheat on her boyfriend?  I have no idea, and whether she did or not has nothing to do with her right to work in the gaming industry or her right not to be forced from her home by death threats.

Next up is Anita Sarkeesian.  Her sin is apparently starting a kick-starter that ended up over funded.  Lots of kick starters get over funded, and she has provided content.  That’s all she promised.  Basic contract law.  She made an offer — fund me and I’ll make some videos about the role of women characters in gaming.  People funded her.  She made some videos.  Contract met.  Screaming that she didn’t make enough videos is irrelevant.  I think her real sin was pointing out some depressingly sexist tendencies in video games.  She hasn’t had to flee her home yet, but threats of a massacre at Utah State University.  She has been accused of “making it up”, and that this is all just a “false flag”.  One big problem, apologists — the threats were sent to the University not to Ms. Sarkeesian.  She learned about them when she got off the plane in Utah, and then discovered that because of Utah’s “open carry” policy guns could be brought into the auditorium.  In an abundance of caution and because the emails had threatened a massacre — meaning others were also at risk — Sarkeesian chose to cancel her talk.  Here is a link to the Washington Post article. Utah & Sarkeesian.

Next up is Brianna Wu who had the temerity to mock gamergate, and for this she has been threatened with rape and murder and has fled her home.  Like Anita Sarkeesian Wu has been accused of “making it up.”  As she pointed out in an interview with CNN —

“At this point the FBI is involved. My local police department is involved, the Massachusetts cybercrime division is involved. If I made this up, I’ll be going to jail. I can think of no quicker way to destroy my career than doing something stupid like that.

“I think it shows a really disturbing mindset from people on the other side of this. They want to attack the person that’s the victim of a crime. It’s a terrible, destructive impulse.”

I love video games.  I think it’s a fantastic new form of entertainment, very creative, and a new art form, but this shit gotta stop.  To all the little boys out there who are threatening women in this industry — you profess to love games and want to protect the integrity of the industry.  Here’s a tip — then don’t make violent threats against women in gaming with whom you disagree.

I’m going to go ahead and post this.  So cue the threats.

Or maybe people are starting to wake up, and realize that if we don’t police ourselves we’re going to prove to the world that we are loser nerds who can’t get dates on Saturday night.

What Constitutes a “Spoiler”?

As I’ve mentioned here and on Facebook — I don’t mind spoilers.  In fact they add to my enjoyment of a movie or book because it enables to examine the structure and pacing as the writer moves toward the climax.  In fact there was a study that indicated spoilers actually added to people’s enjoyment.  You can read about the research here in an article in Wired magazine — Spoilers Don’t Spoil Anything.

I also think there is a point where accusing a person of spoilers is absurd and unfair.  The Harry Potter books have been out for years and there have been movies.  If someone doesn’t know that Dumbledore dies they have been living in a closet or under a rock.  In the case of GONE GIRL the novel was published in the summer of 2012.  It was a New York Times best seller.  The details of the book have been available for two years  and millions of people have read the book.

The situation is obviously different if the book has just been published or a movie that has an original screenplay has just been released.  In those cases you stay silent for some period of time so that others can get caught up.  The question is what is an appropriate time period that has to pass before you can discuss a book or a film?  A month?  Six months?  I think by the time a year has elapsed it’s open season on discussing a literary or cinematic work.

It’s also very difficult in this age of instant communication to avoid hearing about a piece of popular culture, and the more popular the event the more conversation it will generate.  Bottom line, I think everybody ought to take a deep breath, read the article and stop Spoiler Shaming their friends and relatives.

The Problem With Contentment

I ran up against an interesting problem today while I was working on the space opera.  Given the trouble we ran into on Star Trek: The Next Generation I should have seen it coming, but it really hit home today.  Contented characters aren’t very interesting and the problems that afflict them are usually of the emotional variety and that’s hard to dramatize.

I’ve got two view point characters in this book (I touched on the problems that may cause in my last post) but today a new issue raised its ugly head.  My hero is lower class, put down.  He has “the-I-wants” really badly.  She’s The Infanta of the Solar League.  Yes, she has the pressure placed on her by her father and the looming knowledge she’s going to have to rule this messy empire, but that’s a problem for the future.  She’s not poor, she’s not disparaged she doesn’t have anything obvious against which to strive.

On Trek this manifested one day during a story meeting where we were trying to “break” a story that revolved around Troi.  Our boss, Ira, was fulminating, cheerleading, trying to get the rest of us engaged, and he tapped a colored pen against the white board and asked, “So, what does Troi want?”  We stared at him, and he suddenly got this funny expression, threw the pen across the room, and declared.  “Fuck, I don’t know what she wants.  She doesn’t want anything because she doesn’t need anything.”

And that’s my current dilemma.  So I’ve got to find something that can test my heroine and place pressure on her that isn’t just an arbitrary problem that I’ve throw in to address this problem.  What ever I come up with needs to be integral to the plot.  It has to have real meat, and real stakes associated with it, and as I sit at my computer at 10:30 at night I have no fucking clue what that’s going to be.

 

Points Of View

You may not know it but a lot of writers like to set challenges for themselves.  Can I write a novel or short story strictly following the fairy tale format?  Let me see if I can write an unreliable narrator.  I’m going to tackle first person (much harder then you think).  So the writing challenge I set for myself with the space opera was having only two view point characters — my hero and heroine, and alternating scenes between them.

So I’m closing in on 60,000 words and it’s been working.  Where I’m seeing the problem coming is in the later books where they are going to be separated by vast distances.  I’m beginning to think that at that point I will need two more view point characters to interact with hero and heroine in their disparate locations.

I’ve also found that I know a lot more about my male character and what motivates him then I do about the woman.  As I write her and dig deeper into her really screwed up family situation she’s coming more and more into focus, but it’s sometimes harder to write about a person who has great privilege.  They have challenges to overcome, but they are less obvious than the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks.  Basically they are “first world problems”, and those are harder to make dramatic and interesting.

This Shit Needs to Stop

So a third prominent woman in the gaming industry has been threatened with rape and death.  Now Brianna Wu has been forced to flee her home.  You can find one of the many articles here Polygon.

This is starting to send me into a headache inducing rage.  Yeah, boys, we are entitled in to come into the treehouse.  I love video games, but this is starting to make me embarrassed to admit the passion.

And what really amazes me is the inability of these boys (I won’t dignify them by calling them men) to grasp that threatening a woman like this is morally, legally and ethically indefensible.  So I’m going to put it in the most basic and selfish form I can think of.  Maybe that will penetrate to these mouth breathers.

You profess to love gaming so much, and then you do this.  You are giving your beloved gaming a really, really bad name.  Will that work?  Can you get that?

Cultural Relativism

I’ve been watching the fight that has erupted between Sam Harris and Bill Maher and various pundits who consider their remarks on Islam to be bigotry.  I can see points on both sides.  To arbitrarily damn all members of a faith for what is written in their particular holy book is unfair.  On the other hand there is an awful lot of very ugly stuff that’s written in virtually every holy book whether it be The Bible or The Koran.  The question is whether the people who subscribe to a particular faith follow all of these vicious recommendations laid down by our ancient ancestors or whether they wink and ignore the problematic verses.

The problem in this spat is that it has devolved down to just religion.  As if it is religion alone that is causing these horrific behaviors.  But there are culture pressures at work as well.  As a liberal I have this knee jerk reaction to not judge other cultures because we’re all supposed to display cultural sensitivity.  We’re never supposed to say one culture is superior to another, and I agree with that in the broad outline, but I do think it’s important for us to comment and criticize individual practices whether those practices are dictated by religion or not.

I remember one night a number of years ago listening to a couple of friends of mine engage in an argument over female circumcision.  Ironically the man was saying it was a hideous and barbaric practice and the woman (who had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa) state that his position was cultural imperialism, and an implicit argument that Western attitudes toward the practice were being posited as superior to the culture and customs of societies that engaged in genital mutilation.  I found myself in the camp saying, “Yeah, a culture that doesn’t mutilate young girls is superior — at least in this one area.  There are other practices that should also be condemned.  Honor killing, not allowing girls to attend school, child brides (I’m seeing a rather sad pattern here that so many of these practices are visited on women and girls).  Not that men don’t come in for brutal treatment as well.

Let’s consider the actions of General Sir Charles James Napier, the Commander-in-Chief in India (1859-1861).  In 1829 the British Raj banned the practice of suttee in India which was certainly interfering with a cultural practice.  When he was petitioned to allow suttee to begin anew he responded  “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation also has a custom. When men burn women alive, we hang them and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

The statement is undoubtably condescending, and made by a person who had unmatched power over this particular nation by virtue of conquest, but isn’t it a good thing that widows are no longer burned?  The problem is how these judgments are delivered.  As our experiences over the past twelve years has indicated the power provided by the barrel of a gun probably isn’t the best approach.  Education, conversation, and economic pressures may offer a solution though these methods aren’t quick.   As I indicated in an another post it took the west 800 years to develop representative democracy.  Let us hope on this day when a very brave young woman, Malala Yousafzai, just won the Nobel Peace Prize that it doesn’t take centuries before girls can attend school without being shot in the head, or have acid thrown in their faces.

Bottom line, I think the point Maher was trying in-artfully to make was that if we support liberal values we have to be willing to speak out against illiberal practices and not give such practices as pass in an effort to show sensitivity. The trick is doing that in a way that doesn’t tar an entire people, culture, religion, etc., and always to be careful to be aware of the mote in our own eye, and be willing to remove said mote.

So Many Shows — So Little Time

My friend Len Wein has started a new Tuesday night tradition.  After I finish at the barn I drive over to his and Christine’s house, I have a long soak in one of their amazing big, deep bathtubs.  I read and relax.  Then we fix dinner and after dinner it’s time for Agents of Shield and Person of Interest and now we have added The Flash to that line up.  Basically we watch shows from 8:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

First, it’s a lot more fun to watch television with other people.  It’s the same reason I still like to go out to the movies.  Hearing another person’s reactions to what is happening on the screen increases my enjoyment.

Person of Interest just continues to delight (but folks who follow me know I love that show).  AOS had a very rocky first season and I only hung in there because I love Coulson and because I found Ward intriguing.  I just kept thinking there was more to him that mere “pretty boy”.

The Flash had a great pilot and part of that was due to the expert direction by David Nutter.  Wish I could have a show directed by David.  He’s terrific.

I had a couple of “ah come on” moments with Agents however.

———————————————————————HERE BE SPOILERS!!!!!!!—————————————————————————–

Jemma has gone undercover at a Hydra lab which is fun and cool, but as we know from Winter Soldier Hydra has been exposed and forced to flee back into the deep shadows.  But here they are with a giant facility with Hydra logos stenciled on practically every wall.  And nobody has noticed?  Really?  There there was the very nice scene where Coulson shows up at Jemma’s apartment with groceries and fixes dinner for her and gets a briefing.  Okay, I’m Hydra.  I’ve been revealed.  Authorities around the world are searching for my followers.  I have taken on staff a scientist who used to work for Shield and I don’t have her under surveillance?  That seems a trifle silly, no make that stupid.

I was glad to see a confrontation between Fitz and Ward, but it was a bit too truncated for my taste.

Despite these quibbles I still really like the show.  Probably because Marvel has got me totally invested in their universe because of the movies so I’m very tolerant of Agents for that reason.

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I suspect that religion was some random by-product of mammalian reproduction… a necessary evil in the childhood of our species… but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? — Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008)

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