Not a Blog

Words For Our Times

September 21, 2020 at 9:12 am
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Current Mood: determined determined

More Losing

September 20, 2020 at 6:03 pm
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Well, today was my name day, and my birthday gift from the Giants and Jets were two more losses.

Pretty depressing.

In many ways, a replay of last week.   The Jets were terrible, just awful.  Awful offense, awful defense.   The 49ers scored a Td on the first play of the game with an 80 yard run from scrimmage.   That never would happened if Jamal Adams was still in green and white.   Every game, every play, letting Adams go looks worse and worse.   Sure, sure, you can say maybe the Jets will pick up some future Hall of Famers with those draft choices.   Maybe, perhaps, mayhaps.  But it won’t happen.   Adams, however, is a sure bet to go into Canton if he keeps playing at this level the rest of his career.  Sadly, he won’t go in as a Jet.  Oh, and letting Robby Anderson go is looking pretty bad as well.  Darnold has no one to throw to.   If they keep playing at this level, Gang Green will be competing for the #1 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

The Giants lost too, of course.   But just like last week, it was a much better loss… if any loss can be considered good.   Danny Jones committed too many turnovers, and of course the loss of Saquon to injury was devastating.  For the game, the season, and maybe for Big Blue’s future.   He was and is the best player on the team.   That being said, despite the turnover and the injury, the Giants hung tough and were in the game right up to the final play.   One more completion from Jones, on the last play of the game on the Bears goal line, and we’re talking about a come-from-behind victory instead of a second loss.   But… sigh… it did not happen.   So both the New York teams are 0-2.

Oh, and the fake crowd noise continues to be annoying.   Especially when the guy in the booth dialed up a chorus of BOOs from the “home town” crowd in Chicago on a penalty that went New York’s way.   Come on, NFL.   That is so stupid.  What’s next, a laugh track?

Anyway… life is meaningless and full of pain.   At least where football is concerned.

(Yes, that’s a lot of other misery going on outside the stadiums, but I will save that for another post).

((Comments allowed, but only for NFL football.  Off topic comments will be trashed)).

 

Current Mood: grumpy grumpy

Viral Music

September 18, 2020 at 9:43 am
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Jason Powell is back again, with a new and expanded version of his Billy Joel parody, to include references to a few of the latest volumes of Wild Cards.   It’s a lot of fun.   If you’re a fan of either Billy Joel or Wild Cards, you may get a kick out of it.

And remember, signed copies of all the Wild Cards books are available from Beastly Books.   Many with multiple autographs.

And yes, that includes the new trade paperback reissue of DEALER’S CHOICE, which Tor released on September 1.  Just in!

 

Current Mood: amused amused

Lose One, Lose One

September 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm
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The NFL season has begun.   The strangest NFL season of my lifetime, maybe of anyone’s lifetime.  Teams playing in empty stadiums, to the sound of piped-in crowd noise.

The empty stadiums are a necessity in the midst of our pandemic, of course.   That needs to continue to keep everyone safe.

I could live without the fake crowd sounds, however.   The whole cool thing about playing before a crowd is the reactions of the fans… the roars that greet a good play by the home team, the groans and curses that greet a bad play, or a good one by the visiting team, the boos that rain down from time to time.  Trying to replace that with some guy in a booth twisting dials just adds an element phoniness we do not need.   Let them play in the quiet.

The Jets played on Sunday… and lost to the Buffalo Bills, 27-17.

The Giants played on Monday night… and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-16.

But scores can be deceptive.   The Jets game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate.   The Giants game was much closer than the score would indicate.   The Jets were never in their game, not for a second.  The Bills beat them every way a team could be beaten.   Gang Green’s offense was terrible and their defense was worse.   You kind of had to expect the D to stink, since they traded away their best player (Jamal Adams) for some magic beans.  You hoped the O would be better, since this was the third year for Sam Darnold, who was drafted third overall and thought by many to be the best QB coming out of that year’s class.   Clearly he is not.   The Bills Josh Allen outplayed him from start to finish, and down in Baltimore Lamar Jackson is setting the league on fire.   The Jets could have had either, but chose Darnold instead.  More and more, that is looking like a bad decision.   An even worse decision was hiring Adam Gase as coach.  The team was not ready to play.   You can blame the coronovirus and the lack of a pre-season, sure, except the Bills had the same handicaps, and they looked just fine.    The Jets may need to clean house AGAIN.

The Giants, on the other hand, were right in the thick of the things from opening kickoff to the moment Dan Jones threw that awful interception in the end zone.  Aside from his two INTs, however, Danny Dimes looked very good.   Way way better than Darnold, though he has been in the league only half as long.   Big Blue’s defense impressed as well.   They came hard after Big Ben all night, hit hard, hung tough.  Pittsburgh stacked the line to shut down Sasquan Barclay and New York’s run game, daring Jones to beat them… and he almost did.   That 19-play drive was a thing of beauty till the end, and the bomb to Slayton was lovely to watch as well.   This was the first outing for new head coach Joe Judge… and a definite upgrade over what we saw under Pat Shurmur.   I don’t know how many games the Giants can win this year, but I see hope.

A loss is a loss is a loss, of course… but some losses are better than others.

A few wins down the win, in these bleak and bitter times, would do wonders.

((Comments allowed here, but ONLY about NFL football.   ALL OFF TOPIC COMMENTS WILL BE TRASHED)).

 

Current Mood: gloomy gloomy

Scary Stuff

September 14, 2020 at 11:19 am
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Just watched a Netflix documentary about social media called THE SOCIAL DILEMMA that terrified me more than any horror movie I have seen in the past twenty years.

I have never been a fan of Twitter or Facebook or any of the other social apps out there.  My Not A Blog remains my main (and really my only) method of interfacing with the internet.   The accounts I have elsewhere largely just echo stuff I have already posted here.   I do think the social media is having terrible effects on our society… on political discourse, on journalism, on the fabric of our democracy itself.   But I do not think I ever realized how bad it was until I saw this doc.

I do hope we can find our way out.   But I am pessimistic.

But then, I am pessimistic about a lot of things these days.

 

Current Mood: scared scared

More Death

September 12, 2020 at 2:07 pm
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I am late to post about this, but I was very saddened by the news of a couple recent deaths.

The world of television and film lost a titan with the passing of Dame Diana Rigg.   Such an amazing talent.   It was such an honor to have her on GAME OF THRONES as the Queen of Thorns.  I only had the chance to meet her once, when I visited the set the first year she was on the show.   As brief as that meeting was, I count that a rare privilege.  A lovely lady.   As great as she was as Olenna Tyrell, for me… and for most every other member of my generation… she will always remain Emma Peel.

 

I was also moved by the death of Tom Seaver — Tom Terrific, the Franchise, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Amazin’ Mets who led them to their World Series Championship in 1969.   I never met Seaver at all, but of course I was a fan.   I do not follow Major League Baseball as much as I did when I was younger, but as a kid in Jersey I was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and had my heart ripped out when Da Bums moved to LA.   So of course I became a Mets fan when they began play in 1962 as an expansion team.   I suffered through all the years of losing — as lovable as they were, they were still losers — and the turnaround led by Seaver and Koosman and the rest of the Amazin’s in ’69 was nothing short of miraculous.

It is odd, when you think of it, how caught up a sports fan can get in the fortunes of their team… but the emotions are real.   That World Series victory made me so very very happy, that even now half a century later I still smile when I recall it.

And in these dark days, we need every smile.

Goodbye, Tom.  Goodbye, Diana.  Rest in peace.

Current Mood: sad sad

C-C-Claudius, aka I, CLAVDIVS

September 10, 2020 at 8:16 am
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The BBC made their adaptation of I, CLAUDIUS — based on the classic novels by Robert Graves (I, CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD), which were in turn based on the histories of Suetonius — in 1976, but I did not encounter them until a few years later, when PBS picked them up and ran them (in a somewhat censored form, to shield Americans from seeing nipples) in the USA.  I remember, I was still living in Dubuque, Iowa at the time, teaching college.   I loved the series then, and I love it now.   I have probably watched it a dozen times in the years since.   When it was rerun on TV at first, then later on VHS tape, and most recently on DVD.

I just finished watching it again.  Up in my mountain cabin, I discovered that my assistant had never seen the series, so of course I had to break it out and show it to her.   It is just as brilliant as I recall.   I am pleased to say my assistant, seeing it for the first time, loved it just as I did, seeing it for the… I don’t know, the tenth time?  Twentieth?  I have not kept count.

This despite the fact that the budget for BBC drama in the 70s was… let us say… not large.   There are no special effects here.   No battles.   No exteriors, in fact.   It was all shot on a sound stage, and most of it takes place in one or two rooms, repeatedly redressed.   When these Romans go to the arena for a gladiatorial show, you do not so much as glimpse a gladiator, you just see the actors sitting watching carnage offstage.   This is not HBO’s ROME nor even SPARTACUS (both great shows in their own right).  I, CLAUDIUS is more akin to a filmed stage play.   I think the craft services budget on any HBO series is probably ten times what the BBC spent on the entire thirteen episodes.

And you know what?  IT DOES NOT MATTER.   If you have great writing and great acting, that is really all you need.   And I, CLAUDIUS had that in spades.  A single writer, Jack Pulman, scripted all thirteen episodes.   Pulman is long deceased, I fear, which I regret.  I would have considered it an honor to meet him and shake his hand.   His dialogue sparkles from beginning to end, with so many unforgettable lines… and throughout he remains true to the genius of Robert Graves and his great novels.

And the acting here is equal to the brilliance of the writing.   This was the series that made Derek Jacobi a star, and rightly so, but the supporting cast around him was sensational as well.   Sian Phillips as Livia, Brian Blessed as Augustus, John Hurt as Caligula, the criminally underappreciated George Baker as Tiberius, Patrick Stewart (with hair!) as Sejanus, and more, and more, and more…. there’s not a false note here.   They were all great.

And yes, from time to time a marble pillar ripples when someone passes, revealing itself to be painted canvas, but so what?   If you are like me, you are too deeply involved with the characters to notice or care.

If you have never seen I, CLAUDIUS, you owe it to yourself to have a look (though be warned, this a dark show, and there is lots of violence and sex, especially by the standards of 1976).  You should read the novels too, they are terrific.  And then give thanks you do not live in ancient Rome.

Even now, deep in the Second Golden Age of television, I would rank I, CLAUDIUS as one of the greatest television series ever made.   Certainly in the top ten.  Probably in the top five.

Current Mood: satisfied satisfied

Emerging From Hyperspace

September 7, 2020 at 11:00 am
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Those electronic tonalities you hear are the United Planets cruise c-57-D emerging from hyperspace at  to investigate the fate of the Bellerophon expedition.  The Bellerophon was supposed to be exploring the fourth planet of the great main sequence star Altair, but we have it on good authority that they actually ended up at Beastly Books on Montezuma Street in Santa Fe, NM, Land of Enchantment.

We are sure that Dr. Morbius , his lovely daughter Altaira, and Robby the Robot will make them welcome.

Come on by Beastly Books, have a coffee, buy a book or three, and say hi to Commander Adams, Doc, and Altaira.   But please don’t feed the Monsters from the Id.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

The Martians Are Here

September 7, 2020 at 10:30 am
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The world is in trouble.

As if all our other woes were not enough, a huge smoking meteor came crashing down from space a few days ago and landed in the midst of Santa Fe’s historic Railyard District, between the Jean Cocteau Cinema and the Santa Fe Southern Railroad.   When some of my staff went to investigate the crater it left, waving a white flag and chanting “Welcome to the Land of Enchantment,” a heat ray on a long neck emerged and vaporized them.

And then THIS emerged from the crater, making ominous noses and glowing.

The Martians are here, the Martians are here..

You can see their war machine yourself at Beastly Books.

Quick, someone, sneeze on them!  It’s our only hope!

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Stuff to Watch

September 4, 2020 at 10:00 am
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I write most days, sometimes into the evenings.

At night, after supper, I read, watch television, or screen movies (I used to love going to the movies, since the best place to see a film is in a theatre with an audience around you, but the pandemic has put an end to that for the nonce).

A couple of things I have really enjoyed lately…

Parris and I binged on HBO’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS when I was back in Santa Fe, and loved it.   Gorgeous production, great cast (loved Lin-Manuel as the aeronaut), and SO much better than the feature film.   Plus armored bears.   Can’t go wrong with armored bears.  The world needs more armored bears.    All the daemons are cool too.   (Hate that damn monkey).   If you’re a Pullman fan, give this a look.  And if you’re not, watch it anyway, it may make you a Pullman fan.

And for something completely different, there’s BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, a lovely little feel-good film (based on a true story) about a Pakistani kid in Luton, England who becomes the world’s biggest Bruce Springsteen fan.   I think I’ve seen this one four times already.  Every time the shift changes and a new minion arrives at my fortress of solitude, I watch it again so they can see it.   When I am feeling down, this one brings me back up.   The Boss knows all the secrets of life… but, hey, he’s from Jersey!   The music canNOT be beat, and I like some of the choices the filmmakers made, like the lyrics coming up on screen.   With rare exceptions, I am not usually a big fan of musicals… but this one rocks.  (If it even counts as a musical).

 

Current Mood: geeky geeky