One of the great characters in contemporary fiction is Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, owner of the cargo ship Serenity in Joss Whedon’s brilliant television show Firefly and the film named after the ship. At a pivotal moment in Serenity, Reynolds meets his main adversary, a nameless assassin we know simply as The Operative, and during their conversation comes an electrifying exchange that sums up Reynolds’ character in 11 words.
Operative: I have to hope you understand you can’t beat us.
Reynolds: I got no need to beat you; I just want to go my way.
Consider how powerful a message those words convey. I don’t need to convince you that my way is right and yours is wrong; I simply desire to live my life on my terms and let you live your life on your terms, as long as we do no harm to each other. There is plenty of room on this vast world for both of us. Continue reading →
Harlan Ellison died the other day, and the world grew more dull. I, of course, never met the man, but when I encountered his words I never failed to learn something, to be entertained, and/or to gain some insight into the human condition.
Oh, enough of that – the man was a hero to anyone who loves to see bullshit called out, grabbed by the throat and humiliated.
And he was, as the blurb on the cover to his collection Strange Wine, asserted, someone who “just could be the best short story writer alive today.” At least until Thursday. Continue reading →
I kind of hit the wall toward the end of Season 2, Episode 1 of Marvel’s Luke Cage, the latest entry in the gritty Netflix adaptations of the comic books.
The new bad guy in town was asserting himself as the baddest, and when the old bad guy wouldn’t back down, the new bad guy took a big knife and ended the old bad guy.
It wasn’t any worse, more or less, than any other violent death depicted on TV or movies in recent years. It was just one gratuitous depiction too many for me. Continue reading →
“What next?” – Ask that question every day.
Stop looking back – This is today.
But: An appreciation of past work is what I do. I’m happiest finding an unexplored or underexplored bit or literature or pop culture and sharing what I’ve found – like Firefly.
“I don’t care what you believe – just believe!”
Shepherd Book’s last words are imprecise. “Not caring what you believe” can lead you into the darkness of Clinton vs. Trump.
Belief in something bigger, a higher purpose, the betterment of our species, adding to the beauty – One would like to believe that’s what Whedon/Shepherd Book meant.
People believe they are so powerless nowadays, even though they have possessed the power all along, like Dorothy discovering she could have reached her goal anytime she wanted because she already had all she needed to do so.
We are born free and with the power to choose our life’s path, but people/governments/bosses/well-meaning fools beat down spirit and steal freedom and power, obscuring the truth that empowerment is of nature, of God – we are endowed by our Creator with certain, unalienable rights.
Children need to be taught that they are not free to infringe on others’ freedoms and rights, of course, but so much teaching these days is more about being a proper slave than about exercising responsible freedom.
“Look! Look over here! I have something to say!”
“Here! Over here! You should buy this!!”
“OMG! Did you hear what happened?!”
The voices barked from the glowing box on the wall.
“Why are they yelling at us?” he asked rhetorically, and she knew it was a rhetorical question but she answered anyway, because it amused her.
“They know it bothers you,” she said.
“They don’t know me from some other shmuck,” he grumbled.
“You don’t know that,” she said, arching a suspicious brow.
“They’re just trying to scare us, you know,” he said. “They always try to say something scary and then try to sell something.” He straightened. “Hey!”
“What is this lightbulb that just flashed over your head?”
“Maybe I should go out on the street, yell something scary at people and try to sell them something.”
“What could go wrong?” she said, her eyes rolling.
“I may have thrown a bottle at his head.” “Cool!”
A hard-boiled, hard-drinking detective who happens to have super powers. Great concept, incredible execution.
I love Marvel’s Netflix series because they explore what it’s like for everyday people in a world where super-powered folks are otherwise off-planet fighting infinity wars or something. And each story is 13 hours or about 11 more hours of development than the big stories have.
Krysten Ritter was unforgettable as Jesse Pinkman’s doomed girlfriend in “Breaking Bad,” and she is a force of nature as Jessica Jones.
Oh, and with little to no fanfare, every episode of Season 2 in this superhero saga is written and directed by a woman. Remember what a big deal they made out of Wonder Woman’s director (deservedly so, of course)? Marvel quietly assembled a creative army of empowered women and let the product speak for itself.
Come to think of it, Jessica Jones kind of looks like Wonder Woman, if Diana Prince was a hard-boiled, hard-drinking detective who happened to have super powers.
I have been keeping track of the books I’ve read for more than 20 years. It’s interesting to review what has tripped my trigger over the years. This year, with a 45-50 minute commute three days a week, the audiobook has taken greater prominence in my “reading.”
This is the first year that I’ve averaged more than one book a week. I’ve already absorbed 61 books this year, which is more than I read the previous two years combined.
And book series that have made the transition to the small screen have had a lot to do with that burst. Almost one-third of the books have been by Michael Connelly, creator of detective Harry Bosch and his half-brother, the Lincoln Lawyer Mickey Schaller. I was drawn to the books by the brilliant Amazon TV series “Bosch” with Titus Welliver.
Recently I’ve been entertained by the Longmire books by Craig Johnson, as read by the wonderful George Guidall. I thought Robert Taylor did a marvelous job of bringing Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire to life, but Guidall is a great reader, and I may see Taylor’s face when I envision the sheriff, but it’s Guidall’s voice I will hear from now on.
“Longmire” recently completed its six-year run on Netflix, and its series finale was one of the most satisfying I can recall. In a different way, the series finale of “Inspector George Gently,” available in the U.S. (so far) only on Acorn TV, is an absolute gem and honest to the great story it has told for eight seasons.
Once upon a time when you missed a TV show, you missed it. In today’s world of on-demand viewing and streaming and all that, we can make TV series recommendations with the same casual air that we recommend books or good music. And so I recommend “Bosch” and “Longmire” and “Inspector George Gently” to anyone who enjoys mystery stories and police procedurals, a little wistfully because two of those shows have run their course now. But there’s still season 4 of “Bosch” to look forward to …
One of the seven major sins that reporters were once told to avoid is burying the lede.
(Tangent: It is a mystery to me when journalists started spelling it “lede” to differentiate a news lede from, say, the lead paragraph of a news story or the leader of the free world. But there it is.)
To bury the lede means to tell the most important part of a story deep inside the story. For example: The Megacorporation has announced a major advance in its manufacturing process that will take the company to the next level of wonderfulness. The process allows the corporation to fulfill its mission of making the world a better place while pleasing its shareholders and investors bigtime. “This is a fantabulous moment in human history as Megacorporation moves into the brightest future imaginable,” said Todd Bogguss, president and CEO. The company is laying off 30 percent of its workforce as part of the major restructuring.
What’s the lede? What’s the most important fact? What should have gone first? Continue reading →