Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Television to Traverse Hallways To

Last night's Big Love was toted by HBO as the most dramatic episode ever in the history of everything (!!!!), but it really wasn't.

Not to say it wasn't a great episode, it was. Every episode in this second season has been amazing, supremely interesting and full of exciting things: Barb had en existential crisis early in the season, Nicki has been excommunicated from her family, Margene had a brush of shocking truth with her mom and fell briefly in love with another woman. Bill's oldests, Ben and Sarah, have been going through their own relationship dramas; Ben reveling in sin and Sarah counting the days until she turns 18 and flees to college.

Bill, meanwhile, has been doing his reckless thing (again). Early in the season, he set out to discover who outed his family as polygamists (in last season's dramatic finale) and, failing that, decided to take out his frustration on Roman Grant and his Juniper Creek ruling council, the UEB. Bill pulled all kinds of hijanks to get a Hendrickson seat on the council, first for his brother and then for himself. All that amounted to getting tipped out that Roman was planning to buy a video-poker company called Weeber Gaming. Bill decided he wanted that company for himself.

Meanwhile, back in Juniper Creek, Bill's brother, Joey, spent some time in prison for a crime his wife committed (which set out Roman Grant's son, Albi, on a revenge pilgrimage that continues to threaten Bill and his family). Bill's mother and uncle have schemed to launder over a million dollars from a dying woman.

And then more bad guys showed up. The Greens. Apparently, a fearsome family of polygamists who had previously been at war with Roman and the UEB, then banished to Mexico, now returned to stake a claim, specifically on - you guessed it - Weeber Gaming. Hijinks have since ensued.

(Spoiler warning for last night's episode follows.)

So that brings us to the big episode, "Kingdom Come," which seeks to bring a lot of the disparate storylines of the season to a closing point so the writers can focus in a little more on individual character stories to finish off the season (sadly, only four episodes remain).

Does the episode succeed? Yes. Does the episode surprise? Not really.

Anytime shows - these days anyway - prophesies something "big" and "huge," it usually means a character getting shot. (Thanks Lost). Well, that's exactly what happened.

After a full hour of drama dealing with Ben's soul and in-fighting between the wives and Bill and an off-camera war between Roman Grant and the Greens, Roman is accosted on a streetcorner in front of his favorite diner and shot twice in the chest by two of Hollis Green's wives. It's pretty dramatic, sure, but it was also inevitable. As the season has progressed, Roman has become less and less the "big bad" and more a friendly character so without unteething the beast, he had to die. But the repercussions, especially in regards to Nicki's mental health, will be fascinating to watch.

As for the other storylines, the sex "thing" between Bill and Margene and Nicki was interesting and brought the show back to the first episodes (remember the Viagra?). But the most interesting storyline for me was Ben's. I had trouble buying all that "I'm not ruined!" type talk, I know they're religious and Mormon's, but any teenager growing up in today's world should not be that squeamish when it comes to sex. Don't they watch MTV? Seriously.

What was very interesting was seeing Ben prepare to live "The Principal" at sixteen, proposing marriage and pre-planning for a second wife. It drove home (to Bill and Barb especially) how absurd his life is and the wrongheadedness of some of his decisions.

Anyway, I think I prattled on enough. For anybody who doesn't watch this show, you can see from my rampant discussion of character motivations and subtleties that is a high quality show, extremely well-written, and well worth everyone's time.

Monday, July 30, 2007

With Thanks to Pitchfork...

And the entire music blogging community:

Kevin Drew - "Backed Out On The..."

(Obvious reference to Broken Social Scene classic, "Time=Cause." The song is called "Backed Out On the Cause" but that would have been a little too close, so he shortened the title a little.)

Little more about Spirit If: it seems to take a lot of ammunition from the great BSS lyric, "My favorite band/is a witch." The album is amorphous and dynamic. It starts with a punch as loud as BSS is capable of. But then chills out until the rocking high of the song above. The casual swagger of the songs on this album reference a lot of what BSS is doing with their albums: exploring new sonic territories, messing with multiple vocal tracks, throwing traditional song structure out the nearest airlock, and the lyrics are all about rebellion and youthful bliss.

I once called Broken Social Scene the best teenage band ever and that idea seems to leak into all their extra-credit work. Kevin Drew is interested in the modern pressures on the young generation, but is quick to paint them all as "Fucked Up Kids," which, of course, they are. Just like all the rest of us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ah, Music

So I've been seriously neglecting my Austin blog due to unanticipated musical brilliance in other regards, notably non-Austin bands that have come out with new albums in the last few weeks that have been kicking my ass.

Most recently:

Broken Social Scene Presents... Kevin Drew's Spirit If; the BSS founder's debut (Kevin Drew being one of the only BSS members without a full-time separate band) is essentially a new Broken Social Scene record, complete with horns, explosions of sound, hushed vocals, and borderline manic time changes. Follow this link to download a preview of single-worthy track, TBTF ("Too Beautiful To Fuck") and catch Mr. Drew in his favorite morning-time position.

Interpol - Our Love to Admire

A slightly maligned but worth-the-effort followup to their previous followup, Antics, deserves attention for the first track alone, but also for stretching Interpol's creativity and ability. It doesn't always hit and the album itself seems to fly by without a major emotional impact, but that vapidity is an admirable quality in itself. It has the flow and attention-disorder of a chilly autumn Saturday. The occasional high is worth the price of admission, definitely.

Earlimart - Mentor Tormentor

I absolutely adore this band and their brand of wispy California indie pop. They tend to play it soft with quieter tracks replete with swells and lows, but they also employ a staticky electric guitar that rocks out on cue. Never shy of double-digit album tracks, much like their previous album, this one has almost fifteen tracks to keep us happy and nodding our heads to the beat.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Just cause!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

John From Cincinnati

After watching six episodes of HBO's newest drama - most at least twice - I can safely, and finally, recommend this show as worthy of your precious time and attention. It struck me today, especially, reading about the show on HBO.com, in writer Steve Hawk's Inside the Episode, where he quotes creator David Milch, "The important point that I'm trying to make is that storytelling has nothing, whatsoever, to do with logic."

Well, obviously. JFC makes very little sense in a conventional way. A stranger wanders into the lives of a dysfunctional family of surfers in Imperial Beach, California and strange things start to happen. Sure, it's not the exquisite and complicated quilt of characters like Deadwood or even the gritty sad reality of NYC cops like NYPD Blue, but as the episodes pass in their slow and deliberate and often bewildering way, I have become as fascinated by the show as it seems the writers of it are. A few of the many great moments will linger in my memory for a long time, I'm sure, so passionate and powerful they are.

And the dialogue! Just like Deadwood, the dialogue is what drives this show. Even though Steve Hawk recommends we watch what the characters do and not what they say, it's what they say that is so weird and strange and interesting. The way the characters interact - in all their verbal violence - is what separates this show from anything else on TV.

For Deadwood fans, there's a particular joy from seeing characters we love from that show on this new Milch show. Particularly one of my favorite Deadwoodians, Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie), playing the heroin-dealin' Hawaiian Freddy. Also great to see Ellsworth, Jim Beaver, playing the pot-growin', spliff-rollin', Vietnam Joe. And, great (in a weird sort of uncomfortable way) to see Deadwood's Frances Wolcott (and first Deadwood role, Wild Bill-murdering Jack McCall) returned playing a nice guy (wow!), Dr. Smith. Also, the latest episode had an all-too-brief cameo from Deadwood's Trixie, Paula McCalomson.

To sum up, John From Cincinnati is not an easy show to like. I didn't recommend it to anyone for the first few weeks it was on, but now I feel confident that anyone who watches it and has the patience to deal with some confusion and some really weird characters, will be in for a very rewarding experience.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Excuse me while I geek out

About Battlestar Galactica, of course! This week, SciFi Channel aired a commercial-length preview of the upcoming BSG TV-movie, "Razor," and it looks amazingly awesome. Exactly what they should be doing at this moment, referencing the rich past and adding layers to future episodes. In case you haven't seen it yet, behold!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hear! Hear!

Okay, so what's more exciting? A new post on this poor derelict blog, or a new story of mine in a new magazine??!

The latest issue of Say..., titled What's the Combination? containing my story, "Do What You Desire" is finally seeing daylight! (and inevitably, nightlight) The other contributors are some of the finest young science fiction and fantasy writers working today. This is definitely going to be a treat. You can order it here via Gwenda Bond's blog for a very small sum (6 bucks!). I hope you do.

I haven't seen the cover yet so I can't wait to get a hold of the issue or at least someone else to post a scan (hint, hint.)

This will be the first time a story of mine has appeared in print and not in the dubious 72 point of a computer screen. So, yeah, I'm excited.

(PS, I changed the blog's title. Yes, again. And the template. Finally!)