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Doom, Despair, Defeat

January 9, 2017 at 4:16 pm
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So far, the new year is off to a terrific start. Not.

Yesterday mostly sucked.

All the playoff games sucked, actually. The four wild card teams all lost, the four home teams all won, and every game ended in a rout. Most of them were over long before the fourth quarter rolled around. Of course, for me personally the worst of them was the last, when the Green Bay Packers routed my Giants. That one was actually a game for the first three quarters. The Giants defense came out loaded for bear, and stuffed the Packers and their bad man for most of the first half… but the Giants offense could not seem to take advantage, which (sadly) has been true most of the season. The running game, which had shown signs of life last week against the Skins, lay down and died again, and the passing game was erratic at best, with both Odell Beckham Junior and Sterling Shepard both dropping sure touchdown passes. OBJ dropped a number of other passes as well. Not his finest hour. In fact, it may well have been the worst game I have ever seen him play. Eli was pretty sharp for the most part, but when the receivers keep dropping balls delivered right into their hands, that does not count for much.

The result was that a quarter and a half of total Giant dominance yielded only two field goals and a paltry 6-0 lead. I knew that would not hold up (you cannot stop a qb as talented as Rodgers forever), and of course it didn’t. The Packers took the lead for good late in the second quarter with a solid drive that made it 7-6, and then tacked on another touchdown with an insane hail mary pass just as time was running out, to take a 14-6 lead into the half.

The Giants defense did have one more great stop left in them, turning back the Packers on a 3rd and 1 and then a 4th and 1 at midfield, then taking the ball and scoring their only TD of the game on a beautiful long pass from Eli to Tavaris King, who actually caught the ball and made it 14-13. That was the high water mark, however. After that, Rodgers could not be stopped. Big Blue’s D was plainly winded by then, and the offense gave them no help at all with a series of 3-and-outs and punts. Bad punts, too. For whatever reason, the Packer punter had a much better day, so much so that the Giants seemed to lose twenty yards of field position with every exchange. In the second half, Eli was repeatedly starting from inside his ten, Rodgers from midfield.

So: season over, Big Blue is done, the Packers go on. Here’s hoping they crush the Cowboys. And yes, it’s true, Aaron Rodgers is a baaaaaaaaaddddd man.

All in all, a pretty good season for the Giants. But I never really believed this was their year. The defense started slow but ended as one of the best in the league, but the offense never came alive. Next year, maybe, Big Blue can make another run, but first we need to (1) improve the offensive line, and (2) get ourselves a running game. A great young tight end would help as well. Will Tye is okay, but Mark Bavaro he’s not. He’s not even Jeremy Shockey.

All the teams I cared about having been eliminated, I am now rooting for Whoever Plays the Cowboys and Whoever Plays the Patriots. And if we wind up with a Cowboy/ Patriot SuperBowl, I will be rooting for A Giant Asteroid Strikes Houston.

Of course, the weekend was not all about football. Last night we also had the Golden Globes. Where Lena Headey lost, and GAME OF THRONES lost, and WESTWORLD and its two amazing actresses lost as well. Pfui. That was disappointing, but not unexpected. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association surprised me this year by nominating three genre shows — GOT, WESTWORLD, and STRANGER THINGS — for Best Drama, but in the end they reverted to form and passed over all of them in favor of the safe choice, the ‘prestige’ historical drama THE CROWN. (Which I did enjoy, mind you, even though I went away thinking that while it may have been good to be the king in the Middle Ages, it really sucked to be the queen in the 1950s). So: no Globes for us.

The highlight of the Globes — and the day — was Meryl Streep’s speech.

GAMES OF THRONES Competes For Golden Globe

December 14, 2016 at 4:29 pm
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The Golden Globe nominations are out for 2016, and HBO’s sixth season of GAME OF THRONES has made the shortlist once again. GOT will be competing for the Globe for best drama with WESTWORLD, STRANGER THINGS, THIS IS US, and THE CROWN.

My congratulations to David Benioff, Dan Weiss, Bryan Cogman, and the rest of our amazing cast and crew… and especially to Lena Headey, who earned a Globe nomination of her own for Best Supporting Actress.

The full list of this year’s nominees can be found here: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/golden-globe-nominations-2017-nominees-full-list-1201938375/

Being an HBO guy, I’m thrilled that to see that both GAME OF THRONES and WESTWORLD have been nominated for the big prize… though WESTWORLD is going to be some tough competition. (In fact, I would figure WW for the favorite). And as an science fiction and fantasy geek, I am also delighted to see that STRANGER THINGS made the list. Three out of five finalists being genre shows… and during this golden age of television… is another sign of just how far we’ve come.

My thanks to the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The winners will be announced in LA on Sunday, January 8.

Odds, Ends, Fun Stuff

November 10, 2016 at 4:49 pm
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Lots of gloom and doom around, but today I just want to burble about good stuff, the little things that make life worth living. Books, movies, TV shows, friends, fun.

Let me start with television. How many of you have been watching HBO’s big new drama WESTWORLD? If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s intriguing. The old Yul Brynner / Michael Crichton movie was just the seed, this one goes way way way beyond that. It’s gorgeous to look at, and the writing and acting and directing are all first rate. And hey, how many of you spotted Yul in last week’s episode?

I am also watching the two new time travel shows, TIMELESS and FREQUENCY, mainly because I am an SF geek who loves time travel yarns. FREQUENCY is based on the film of the same title, one of the very best treatments of time paradoxes and the butterfly effect I’ve ever seen. The show started out strong as well, though lately, I don’t know, I worry that it’s spinning its wheels. I don’t mind that they changed the present day character from a man to a woman, I only mind a little that they changed the past character from a fireman to a cop… but I hate that they lost the Amazin’ Mets, one of the great parts of the movie.

On other fronts, we hope to have a brand new official Wild Cards website up soon. Watch this space for further details. My crack staff of minions and ogres are revamping and updating the Jean Cocteau website as well.

We had a great event with Emily St. John Mandel at the JCC on Monday night, before Black Tuesday. What a delightful person, and what an amazing writer. If you haven’t read her STATION ELEVEN yet, grab yourself a signed copy from the JCC Bookshop, it’s a brilliant book. We also have autographed copies of her first three novels, which I mean to check out myself.

This weekend the JCC will host the magic of George Tovar. Tickets available from our website. We could all use more magic in our lives about now.

I won’t be able to see the show myself, alas, since I will be in Tucson for Tuscon, where I am Guest of Honor. If you have a ticket, I will see you there. If you don’t, alas, I can’t tell you where to get one; they have been sold out for months. (This whole idea of SF cons selling out is strange to an old phan like me). I have been cutting way back on my travel lately but Tuscon has been on my schedule for several years. It’s my last convention for 2016… though next month I will be flying to Mexico for the Guadalajara Book Fair, which has been booked even longer. Tuscon should be fun; I am looking forward to spending some quality time with old friends, and to making some new ones. And yes, I’ll be signing books there. Lots and lots of books.

Latest fun read: the new Melinda Snodgrass novel THE HIGH GROUND, first volume of her space opera series. Space cadets! This is her best work yet, I think. Looking forward to the next. Next up is the new Lisa Tuttle, THE SOMNAMBULIST AND THE PSYCHIC THIEF, a Victorian supernatural mystery featuring the two characters she originally introduced in stories for a couple of my anthologies.

I’m Number Four

September 29, 2016 at 1:43 pm
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The fourth most powerful writer in Hollywood, that is.

Or so says The Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/hollywoods-25-powerful-authors-2016-931979

I seem to recall dimly that I was number seven a few years ago, so I guess I am getting more powerful by the day. Soon I will rule the world.

Actually, though… I am delighted to see so many of my friends and colleagues on the list this year. They’ve got Diana Gabaldon at #14, Ernie Cline at #12, Gillian Flynn at #11, Dennis Lehane at #10, Neil Gaiman at #9, and Stephen King at #2. All writers I’ve published, worked with, hosted at the Jean Cocteau, and just been friends with, for varying lengths of time. All amazing talents, too. As are the other authors on the list, the ones I don’t know.

As to how much “power” any writer actually has, however… well, that’s another question.

Come Visit Westworld…

September 26, 2016 at 5:18 pm
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… at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

HBO’s big new drama series WESTWORLD debuts on Sunday, October 2… but we’ll be showing it a day early at the Jean Cocteau.

That’s right. We have a special Santa Fe PREMIERE scheduled for Saturday, October 1, with three showings of the first episode. A morning showing in Spanish, an afternoon screening in English, both open to the general public on a first come, first seated basis, and a special invitation-only (sorry) VIP screening in the evening.

All showings will be completely FREE.

WESTWORLD is based on the classic 1973 film of the same name, written and directed by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin. It’s a science fiction thriller in Western clothes, about a futuristic theme park where patrons can live out their six-gun fantasies, gunning down robot outlaws and frolicking with robot dance hall girls… until something goes wrong.

HBO’s version has been completely reimagined and redeveloped by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, however (hey, it’s not 1973 any more), and stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, and Evan Rachel Wood. Everything I’ve heard about it sounds terrific; I can’t wait to see it.

Here’s a taste.

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We’re planning to have some gunslingers and dance hall girls of our own on site to help with the festivities. Whether they will be robots ot not… well, you’ll need to puzzle that one out on your own. Come join the fun!

Awards Season

December 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm
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Awards season is upon us.

The Golden Globe nominations have just been announced. And once again GAME OF THRONES is a finalist in Best Television Series – Drama. Congrats to David Benioff, Dan Weiss, HBO, and our amazing cast and crew. This year we are up against OUTLANDER, MR. ROBOT, NARCOS, and EMPIRE.

Will we win? Maybe. We’ve been nominated before, but never won — but that was true of the Emmy Awards as well, until this year, so maybe this time will prove to be the charm in the Globes as well. Actually, none of the nominees in this category have ever won, so someone is going to be taking home a Globe for the first time. I’m glad to see OUTLANDER getting some recognition, after being snubbed by the Emmys; it’s a superb show. Never watched the other three, so it’s hard to say how they stack up.

Sad to say, none of our actors were nominated. Boo, hiss. Lena Headey deserved a nod for sure, and some of our other regulars as well.

For a full list of those who were, go to:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/golden-globe-nominations-complete-list-847494

OUTLANDER did very well with noms for Tobias Menzies in Supporting Actor and Catrionia Balfe in Lead Actress, both well deserved… but the Hollywood Foreign Press should really have made it three by nominating Sam Heughan too. He was amazing as Jamie Frazier.

The film nominations were a mixed bag, in my opinion. Very pleased to see MAD MAX:FURY ROAD up for Best Drama, and Bryan Cranston nominated for his performance as Dalton Trumbo in TRUMBO… a superb film that deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting.

Also pleased to see the nominations for THE MARTIAN… but wait… THE MARTIAN is up for Best Comedy or Musical?????? Was that for Mark Watney’s toe-tapping rendition of “Get Me Home Before I Starve To Death?” Or maybe that ever popular musical number, “Growing Potatoes in Poop, Heigh Ho?” I mean, c’mon guys, a nomination is a nomination, but…

Meanwhile, on other fronts, the Writers Guild of America also announced their screenwriting nominations. GAME OF THRONES is up twice. David Benioff and Dan Weiss and Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill are up collectively as a writing staff, up against the writing staffs of MR. ROBOT, MAD MEN, BETTER CALL SAUL, and THE AMERICANS.

David and Dan are also nominated for best single episode for “Mother’s Mercy,” competing with episodes of NARCOS, THE LEFTOVERS, THE GOOD WIFE, MAD MEN, and BETTER CALL SAUL. For a complete list of finalists, go to:

http://awards.wga.org/wga-awards/nominees-winners

Finally, we also have acting nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, which can be found here:

http://variety.com/2015/film/awards/sag-award-nominations-2016-nominees-full-list-1201657169/

SAG gave GOT three nods: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama, Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble… and Peter Dinklage for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama.

My congratulations to everyone who was nominated. You deserved it! And my condolences to all those who were not. You were robbed!

Out in the Belt

December 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm
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We had a great time at the Jean Cocteau yesterday. Our world premiere of THE EXPANSE was terrific fun for all concerned, I think. We screened the first two episodes of the series (joined seamlessly into one long two-hour film), once for the cast, crew, and VIPs, and once for the general public… and my, but the show looked great on our big medium-sized screen. We also had a signing and Q&A with Jimmy Corey, aka Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, followed by a kickass party.

Everyone seemed to have a swell time… especially those, like me, who had not seen the show before (though of course I have read all the books). Terrific performances and fine writing. This is the show that fandom has been waiting for since FIREFLY and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA left the air… a real kickass spaceship show, done right.

Admittedly, a December debut is a little late in the year for awards buzz, but if the word gets around fast enough, I think you can add THE EXPANSE to the list of shows that could (and in this case, should) compete for a Hugo nomination in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

My thanks to Ty and Daniel and the good folks at Alcon Television for making this happen, and to David Sidebottom, Jenni Higginbotham, Jon Bowman, and the rest of my amazing JCC staff for making the event such a smashing success.

For all of you who could not make it… be sure to catch THE EXPANSE when it debuts on December 14.

Hugo Thoughts

November 2, 2015 at 3:08 pm
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Talking about sports this morning is immeasurably depressing… so I am going to talk about science fiction and the Hugo awards instead.

After several months of relative quiet, the Puppygate mess seems to be stirring again.

It is my hope — maybe a naive hope — that this time around, we can actually talk about the WORK instead of engaging in endless recrimination and name-calling. I am, I confess, not optimistic on that front, but I am going to try to do my bit, by… well, by talking about the work.

In the past, I have usually made my own Hugo recommendations only after nominations have opened. But in light of what happened last year, it seems useful to begin much sooner. To get talking about the things we like, the things we don’t like. This is especially useful in the case of the lesser known and obscure work. Drawing attention to such earlier in the process is the best way to get more fans looking at them… and unless you are aware of a work, you’re not likely to nominate it, are you? (Well, unless you’re voting a slate, and just ticking off boxes).

Let me start with the Dramatic Presentation category. Long form.

Big Hollywood movies traditionally dominate this category. I suspect it will be the same this year. The new STAR WARS comes out at year’s end, and has to be the favorite here. I have not seen it, you have not seen it, no one really knows if it will be another EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or another PHANTOM MENACE… but it’s still STAR WARS, and I suspect it will be nominated.

THE MARTIAN should also be nominated. A great adaptation of a terrific book, I actually think it has a fair chance of upsetting STAR WARS. Fans of hard SF — and there are a LOT of those — love this one, and for good reason. I loved it too. (And wish we’d been allowed to screen it at my theatre). There seems to be some confusion about whether Andy Weir is still eligible for the Campbell Award, by the way… but if he is eligible, he should certainly be nominated.

Also, there’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I loved the old Mad Max movies (especially THE ROAD WARRIOR), and this one was a worthy successor. Deserves a space on the ballot for sure.

Those are the big obvious choices. But let me draw your attention to a few more obscure possibilities.

PREDESTINATION is an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic short “All You Zombies.” It actually came out last year (we showed it at the JCC), but had little distribution. For that reason, the Sasquan business meeting voted to give it a second year of eligibility, so it is eligible again this year. It is an excellent little film, with a wonderful performance by Sarah Snook. Very faithful to RAH. If you liked the story, you should like the movie. Seek it out and give it a look.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a comedy out of New Zealand, about four vampires living together in Wellington, NZ. I saw it first in Switzerland at a film festival. It’s hilarious. Won the festival’s audience award, deservedly. Comedy is often overlooked at awards time, if there are no special categories for it. This one deserves a better fate. Not a chance in hell it will ever win a Hugo… but wouldn’t it be cool if a small, funny film like this could make the ballot?

Finally… the Long Form category is not actually limited to movies, though those do tend to dominate. So do also consider JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL, the seven-part BBC television miniseries adaptation of the Hugo-winning novel by Susannah Clarke. A lovely piece of work, I thought, and — again — faithful to the source material (a big thing with me). It should not be forgotten at nominations time.

I am not urging anyone to nominate any of these… but I am suggesting that you might want to check them out. They’re all works I enjoyed a lot. I suspect that THE MARTIAN and FURY ROAD and the yet-unseen STAR WARS are all pretty much locks for Hugo nominations regardless, but the other three, the more obscure three, are worthy efforts that might be missed, unless people seek them out. So…

Awards, Awards

December 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm
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Award season is at hand in Hollywood, and GAME OF THRONES is racking up the nominations.

The show scored three nods from SAG, the Screen Actors Guild.  Peter Dinklage was nominated as Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, along with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey of TRUE DETECTIVE, Steve Buschemi from BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and Kevin Spacey for HOUSE OF CARDS.   The cast as a whole was nominated for Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama, and our stunt team was nominated for Best Action Performance by an Ensemble.

Variety has the full list at http://variety.com/2014/film/news/sag-awards-nominations-birdman-boyhood-1201375775/

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This year's Golden Globe have also just been announced.  The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated GAME OF THRONES in Best Drama.  The competition is THE GOOD WIFE, DOWNTON ABBEY, THE AFFAIR, and HOUSE OF CARDS.  (Very surprised not to see BOARDWALK EMPIRE on that list; their final season was astounding.  MANHATTAN also deserved a nod, I think.  This is truly the Golden Age of television drama).

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As ever, it is an honor to be nominated, to be part of the conversation.

(I remain skeptical about our chances of actually winning, the bias against fantasy being what it is).

Red Wedding Rules

December 10, 2013 at 1:11 am
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ROLLING STONE has published a list of the Most Shocking Television Moments of 2013:

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/lists/20-best-tv-moments-of-2013-20131203

Hey, hey!