Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dorm Life

So I have a new addiction.

Dorm Life, a web-series that's what I imagine The Office would be like if it were set in a college dorm. It's smart, funny, real...it's got a bit of Undeclared, a hint of Greek, and a whole bunch of crazy.

Watch the first episode:

And speaking of Greek, I should find last night's episode. I'm so excited that it's back!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Volume 6

Windy, approx. 3:00pm

76˚!, approx. 5:30pm

Storm Rolling in on Blue Skies, approx. 5:45pm

Self-Portrait, approx. 8:00pm

Homework, approx. 8:00pm

Evening, approx. 8:00pm

I haven't really got that much to talk about today. At midnight I watched most of the shows I missed this week, but they haven't had much time to percolate, yet (largely because I crammed so much into such a small amount of time), so I haven't had much of a chance to form proper thoughts. I did think that Dollhouse was outstanding, though. I'm glad it sees to have found its footing after getting off to such a weak start. (And "Echoes" is to Dollhouse as "Tabula Rasa" was to Buffy, absolutely, although where "Tabula Rasa" was all about forgetting, "Echoes" was largely about remembering...how odd.)

This afternoon I finished The Writer's Tale. That book will definitely be in my top 5 for the year. The experience of reading it was both entertaining, heartbreaking and informative. I'm struggling to think of the last time I learned so much from a book–even a school book.

Now, I realized yesterday that I've still got $16 left from the amazon gift certificate that I used to buy The Writer's Tale, and the question has become: what do I buy with it? I'm thinking season 1 of E.R. With the season finale this week, I'm interested in seeing where it all started.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Volume 5 and Some Thoughts on "The Writer's Tale"

The Remains of my Lunch, approx. 2:00pm

This is what my desk looks like organized (you should see it messy!), approx. 4:15pm

A (delicious) snack, approx. 4:30pm

Reading The Writer's Tale in my Pajamas, approx. 5:45pm

Picking Up Dinner, approx. 6:30pm

Listening to Doctor Who soundtracks, approx. 10:45pm

I've been reading The Writer's Tale all afternoon, just throwing myself back into the end of series 4 of Doctor Who full force (a feat that would be significantly easier if I could actually watch the end of series 4, but that will have to wait for tomorrow), and I'm finding that, reading these scripts (almost as they happen, as they come in unfinished pieces, interspersed with the e-mails that make up the body of the book) is nearly as intense–possible equally as intense–as watching the episodes.

Not long ago I got to the reunion between Rose and Ten, at the end of the penultimate episode of series 4. Watching it was all giddy joy and pumping blood and bounce-off-your-chair happiness followed immediately by complete terror (as was intended), but I was not expecting the same feeling from the words on the page, not because I don't think that words can carry that kind of intense emotion (they absolutely can), but because I already knew what was going to happen; I've witnessed it several times. I think that says so much about the writing itself, the tiniest phrasings and details:
Far off in the distance, as far away as possible, on a cold and empty ordinary street...

A woman. Walking towards them.


And the Doctor smiles.

CUT to Rose. And she smiles. The best smile.
It's that "the best smile" that gets me. All of the emotion in their reunion is in that smile. Well, the happy emotion...

I'm also adoring this book because it's so much more than just teleplays. Last semester I was reading all of those Buffy and West Wing scripts, and they were wonderful, but there was no sense of the process in them, not like there is with this.

If I hadn't treated myself to this book, I'd never have known that they wanted Kate Winslet to play River Song in "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" (and if they'd gotten her I might have actually liked River Song...maybe) or that they'd hoped to bring Midshipman Frame back for the end of series 4 (and how amazing would that have been?!). It's an insight into the whole machine of television making (at least of British television making...I think a lot of it works differently over this-a-way).

Now, it's 40 minutes till midnight and the end of my self-imposed week without TV. I've got some more reading to do before I queue up Monday's How I Met Your Mother (followed by Wednesday's Lost and then last night's Dollhouse and then after that...well the list goes on and on. Some of it I'll have to save for tomorrow).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Volume 4 and Some Musings on Sci-Fi

A Zombie-Movie Fog, approx. 7:00am

I Finally Got a Picture of Erin (sort of), approx. 12:30pm

"Feminine" and "Polysyllabic" (Even Professors Misspell Words Sometimes), approx. 2:30pm

Spring Has Sprung, approx. 5:15pm

The Hill Dorms, approx. 5:45pm

Walking to Rita's at Dusk, approx. 6:30pm

I've had about a week now to muse on the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, and my initial thoughts on it haven't changed much. The episode, "Daybreak," was 2 hours and 11 minutes of crazy/awesome/action/insanity/hilarity/heartbreak/what-the-frak-just-happened! and I pretty much loved it. I've always been a sucker for happily-ever-afters and epilogues, and while I wouldn't necessarily call this ending "happy" (would it even be possible for such a dark show to end with genuine happiness? I doubt it), I would say that it's exactly what I was hoping for.

Of course, not everything about the finale was perfect. The running theme of the show–"all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again"–was kind of forced down our throats a bit at the end, there (though unlike Blane, I was rather thrilled with the epilogue, even if it was the exact opposite of subtle...there's something nice about the idea of Head Six and Head Gaius wandering around Manhattan, unseen...and the Ron D. Moore cameo was a nice nod to the pure brilliance he poured into these past six years, much like Aaron Sorkin's cameo in the West Wing finale, less-so Stephenie Meyer's in Twilight), and, like pretty much everyone, I found Starbuck's exit...unfulfilling. It smacked too strongly of Cordy's farewell on Angel (a final problem to solve/day to save, a fond goodbye to the great love, and then a vanishing act as soon as his back is turned), but not done as gracefully as with Cordy.

The thing about "You're Welcome" is, when you go back and rewatch it, it becomes clear from the beginning of the episode that Cordy's only got so much time left, and she knows it. She may be the corporeal, bubbly, shopaholic Cordelia of old (finally, after the literal monster that replaced her in season four), but there's also the Cordy in the hospital bed–"miss one-foot-in-the- grave"–and what we can later see as her farewell conversation with Wesley...we had none of that with Kara. Only frustration and angst.

This past week I reread Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, which I first read a couple years ago. Back then I had never read anything by either author, and I had no clue what to expect from the apocalypse-centered novel. I don't think I was expecting quite the level of hilarity it contained.

Of course, since then I've read several of Gaiman's books (Stardust, Neverwhere, Smoke & Mirrors and the first hundred or so pages of American Gods), as well as a smattering of Pratchett's Discworld novels. They are both hilarious, inventive and brilliant storytellers, with very distinct styles, and it was interesting to go back to Good Omens and see both of those voices in the novel. Gaiman's darkness tempers Pratchett's silliness, I think, except where such tempering is entirely unnecessary (primarily in the interactions between the Them), and while nearly every page offers up genuine laughter, the book is never trivial. This is a book that is rooted in both the now, with its highways, telemarketers and technology, and the then. This apocalypse hasn't forgotten the Bible.

It questions good and evil and the very dense gray in between.

And, as I've said about five times, it's hilarious:

"To the right collector, the Witchfinder Army's library would have been worth millions. The right collector would have to have been very rich, and not haveminded gravy stains, cigarette burns, marginal notations, or the late Witchfinder Lance Corporal Wotling's passion for drawing mustaches and spectacles on all woodcut illustrations of witches and demons."

Neil Gaiman is coming to C-town a month from today, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival (though why they would have an event in Chestertown is beyond me). (He actually tweeted about the event the other day, and then mentioned it in his blog today, which was pretty thrilling. It's nice to see our tiny college recognized by the rest of the world for once.) I can't wait for the chance to hear him speak–about writing, about reading, about the process. (Nevermind that I get about a bajillion updates from him every day, via Twitter.) There is something so uniquely special about being in a room with a writer. Writers create something from nothing, and no matter how many of them I meet (and it's a lot–I have been surrounded by writers, famous and obscure, published and unpublished, of all different mediums and genres, since infancy), I'm always fascinated.


Today has been the perfect first day of spring (even if it came a week late). Warm–but not too warm, not a sudden thrust into summer, just warm enough, hovering around 60˚–and bright enough for sunglasses after a full week in the miserable 40s. Chestertown is in full bloom at last, and this is my favorite time of year at Washington.

The weather couldn't have come at a better time. Today the campus is crowded with prospective English/Creative Writing students for our annual Sophie Kerr weekend. In a few minutes I'll head over to Norman James theater for a reading by Ted Kooser. I'm excited.

I remember my Sophie Kerr weekend (four years ago!) in snippets: the way the light filtered into Norman James before the reading by Christine Lincoln, everything starting to bloom, sitting around the Literary House with a crowd of current students–each entrusted with one of us, the prospectives–as they discussed changes to the creative writing minor and drank beer, a loud St. Patrick's Day party in the basement of Middle Hall. It felt like everything I expected college to be.

Of course, little of that connected with my own experiences here, but on days like today, after a one-on-one conference with a professor and a poetry workshop, it feels a little bit closer to what college is like.

(I'll post pictures later, as well as some thoughts on Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Volume 3 (a rainy day), and some thoughts on spoilers.

A Gray Sorta Day, approx. 2:15pm

Tattoo, approx. 2:45pm

Blane Before Dinner, approx. 6:30pm

I Accidentally Took a Nap on my Book, approx. 8:00pm

Mary Asked for a Picture of her Blueberries, approx. 9:00pm

Mango Tea in my Doctor Who Mug, approx. 9:00pm

I was reminded today by one of my roommates (the one that won't allow me to take any new pictures of her. Boo. But she does appear in this entry) that we read "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio" in our contemporary poetry class last year. Somehow, I completely blanked on this (though I did remember that I had read another of the poems we read in Forms of Poetry yesterday, "Traveling Through the Dark" by William Stafford, in my Freshman Creative Writing class...odd how that works), but apparently at the time I reached over, crossed out "Martins Ferry, Ohio" and wrote "Dillon, Texas" in it's place. It's nice to see that I'm consistent, at least.

Tonight I did not watch The Office. This is the first time since I got back from London last summer that I missed an episode as it aired. Generally, I have very strict rules about what I will and will not miss The Office for. Study Abroad? Sure. Meeting John Krasinski in person? Sure. But beyond that...

The thing about not watching a show when you know that, within a few hours, LiveJournal will be flush with posts about what happened in the latest episode (and I'm thinking possibly something big happened tonight, especially after the way last week's ep ended), is that it makes it a lot more difficult to keep myself from clicking on spoilers.

I used to be a spoiler addict. I've never been a particularly patient person, whether it comes to Christmas, baking or television shows, and, what with the internet, spoilers are generally pretty available.

But these days, I kind of prefer to wait things out. I generally have some sense of what's coming up on my favorite shows–especially since Entertainment Weekly gave Ausiello his own page–but I try and avoid the big things and the minute details. I want the surprise, the moment of visual and aural squee-worthy glee.

For example, last summer I knew that something big would be happening with Jim and Pam early on in the season, and that whatever it was (and we all pretty much knew), it would take place during a rainstorm.

But I didn't know that we'd be getting that rainstorm (or the gloriously well-played proposal it offered us) in the premiere. And it was so much better that way!

Or better yet, I knew that Billie Piper was returning for series 4 of Doctor Who last spring–as soon as she was spotted filming in November of '07 the entire fandom (and most of Britain) knew–but we didn't know that she would be popping up in the final moments of the premiere, "Partners in Crime," and I'm struggling to think of another cameo that has been so thoroughly thrilling.

In The Writer's Tale (yes, I did end up buying it, and it is just as brilliant as I'd hoped, but I haven't finished reading it, yet–it's over 500 pages of e-mails and script drafts, essentially, and after reading the first 250 pages in what was practically a single sitting, I needed to take a break to allow my excitement to subside a bit), Russel T. Davies actually talked about that moment a bit:
If a lot of Series Four is building up to Rose's return, I'm thinking, do we film a scene for 4.1, right at the end, a glimpse of Rose? End of 4.1, story over, danger past, the Doctor standing by the TARDIS, about to give Donna one of those classic 'come aboard' speeches, but Donna interrupts, 'Hang on a minute,' and runs off, leaving the Doctor stranded. That's quite funny. She runs over to the crowd--police, army, ambulances--looking for her mum, just so that she can give her the car keys. In a rush, a panic, Donna shoves the keys at a woman in the crowd--'Her name's Sylvia Noble. Give her these. It's that red Toyota over there'--and runs off to her new life. Reveal the woman that she gave the keys to: it's Rose! Just standing, watching, waiting. That could be nice. Or too inward-looking? But thrilling! There's an undoubted 'ooooh!' in that moment.
(I just spent about 5 minutes looking for that quote only to realize that I'd already typed it up in my LiveJournal, back when I first read it in January. *sigh*)

But what RTD says is so true. There is an "ooooh" in that moment. Or rather an "OMGSQUEE!" Before I could even form proper thoughts on the episode itself (a very good episode on its own, the first fifteen minutes of which are one long, brilliant gag), I had to run to my LJ and flip out at cyberspace. The post I made was all in enormous capital letters that ran together. It looked like the inside of my brain at that particular moment.

I don't know that that feeling would have been quite so intense if I had known ahead of time that it was going to happen. "Turn Left," the first of Billie's full episodes (and it's up for a Hugo Award, by the way, against four other brilliant nominees), was exciting, but it was also subdued a little. We knew that episode was coming, and we were ready for it.

I guess I have a lot to say about TV this week, now that I'm not actually watching it.

Small Towns

Today in my Forms of Poetry class we read "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio," by James Wright, and while I try to keep the TV references to a minimum in my actual classes (it's difficult to shake the feeling that it detracts from my brainiac English major image–nevermind that the professor herself once brought up Battlestar Galactica), I wanted to tell someone what it was that the poem made me think of/feel/je ne sais quoi, which is...

It's like every episode of Friday Night Lights has been compressed into 12 lines. Or the feeling that Friday Night Lights emits, anyway, of big dreams and desperation and the way the dust gets caught in the football lights. FNL is definitely a show that lends itself to poetry.

Here's the poem:

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
by James Wright

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace of Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginnings of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Volume 2

Starting to Look Like a Building, approx. 2:30pm

Mammojam, approx. 2:30pm

What I Do at Work, approx. 3:30pm

I Carried This Bowl Around All Afternoon, approx. 3:45pm

Popcorn Shrimp and Fries, approx. 6:15pm

Suitemate Art Project (Work in Progress), approx. 10:00pm

Tonight I finally got to see I Love You, Man. I am trying to think of a movie with a better cast and I honestly can't come up with anything. Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones, JK Simmons, Andy Samberg, plus hoards of easily recognizable character actors whose names I don't know. Anyway, it wasn't quite the movie I was expecting, but it was laugh out loud funny, and entirely quotable.

And I'll watch pretty much anything with Jason Segel.

Actually, the same goes for Paul Rudd. I've loved him since Clueless, but his guest-starring role on Veronica Mars a few years ago was one of the few genuinely worth-while things about the third season (along with the Logan Logan episode and anything involving Piz).

I'm also currently trying to forget that, somewhere out there, there is an episode of LOST that I have not seen. And to think that, only about a month ago, I wouldn't have even thought of myself as a fan!

This has nothing to do with TV or books or movies or or or...

I'm taking a week off of TV. It's for an article I'm writing for The Collegian, one of our campus publications, and I'm finding it rather trying (no clue what I will do when I have to voluntarily skip LOST tomorrow. Have to skip? Something about this doesn't make sense), but I'm trying to occupy my time with other things.

For example, a "Week in the Life" meme, the goal being 6 photographs a day, with titles and times, but no descriptions (unless you can be sneaky, like me, and slip those descriptions into said titles). I figured I might as well post the results here as well.

Here is Volume 1:

Snooze, approx. 10:45am

Mary is Wildly Inappropriate in Toll, approx. 2:15pm

(George) Washington (College) is Under Construction, approx. 3:00pm

This Doesn't Even Include All of My Milo Posters, approx. 4:30pm

Last Light, approx. 6:30pm

What I Should Be Reading, approx. 10:00pm

And now it's time for me to go to bed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I cannot wait to see this movie!

I was already excited about this movie (the combination of John Krasinski and Dave Eggers alone!) but it's also got Allison Janney in it, and Allison Janney is one of the best things a movie can have.

I still refuse to call it anything but Farlanders, though. It was a much better title than Away We Go.