The Terror of Titles

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Everything begins with a title, or at least, it does for me; while I certainly can draft something without a title in place, it never feels right, like climbing through the kitchen window when I’ve locked my keys in the house. Sometimes the practice gets away from me. I’ve thought up some hum-dinger titles for Destroy All Monsters over the past year and have discovered (usually about exactly an hour past too-late on the night before the column is due) that there’s no “there” there, when I’ve gone to try and write the thing. (And this, probably, after a week or two of thinking to myself, “don’t worry about the column, I’ve got the column,” thanks to my too-clever title.)

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Blogging the Next Generation returns! ST:TNG:6x01: Time’s Arrow, Part II

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“MISTER PICKERD. I’ll be reminding you that it’s one o’clock.”

[Majel Barrett Computer Voice] Last time, on Blogging the Next Generation… I was working my way through the complete Star Trek: The Next Generation on blu-ray when the braintrust at CBS Home Video gummed up the works completely by delaying the release of the series’ sixth season by about half a year. Now, at last, they’ve got on with it (though no sign, yet, of a release date for Season Seven, so who knows when we’ll finally be given the opportunity to complete this trek through the stars) and our rewatch continues as we rejoin our heroes in mid-cliffhanger, lost in the 19th century…[/Majel Barrett Computer Voice]

So – let’s see if I still remember how to do this. What began as a thrilling and nostalgic trip back into just how sharp Star Trek: The Next Generation actually was in its early years, has long since become a process of caretaking a descent into blandness that overcame not just Next Gen, but all of Star Trek following (approximately) the start of TNG’s fifth season.

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The King of Dreams

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The very first thing I did, ever, was read Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, issues 1-75, in my grandfather’s rocking chair at the cottage, without ever getting up, sometime around about the end of 2002. This isn’t actually true of course; it wasn’t the first thing I did (by a longshot), and I’m fairly sure I’d read at least the first dozen issues before I got to the cottage, and I have no frickin’ idea what year this happened in. But longtime tederick.com readers may recall that, at some point in my funnybook apprenticeship shortly after the turn of the century, Matty Price handed me a stack of Sandman and said: “Yes boy, you’re ready.”

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Watched: Monster’s Ball; Hannah and Her Sisters; The Fall

There are actors for whom one simply has no use, and for me Halle Berry has always been one; these performers can usually be identified because there’s always one performance that I absolutely adore, an exception that proves the rule. With Berry, Cloud Atlas seemed to fulfill that requirement, but having now watched Monster’s Ball I have to re-examine the whole set of assumptions, because there’s no denying that she is bloody phenomenal in that movie, and as is often the case when an actor really impresses me, I sort of want to watch everything they’ve done all of a sudden. If 2014 has been calling upon me to consider the function of empathy in cinema (and television, per last week’s DAM), Monster’s Ball functions almost entirely because of the sophistication of its empathetic interplay between Berry and Billy Bob Thornton, both of whom have complete, independent story arcs which only – as if by pure happenstance – intersect.

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Watched: Game of Thrones Season 4

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Game of Thrones continues to vault upwards, season by season, and its fourth (just completed) has been its best yet. If the season’s ninth episode (traditionally the placeholder slot for the major fireworks) was a bit of a dud thanks to the visual boredom of a nighttime fight at the Wall, the season’s finale – “The Children” – was a clockwork perfection of bloody payoff to all the capital the season, and the series, has accumulated so far.

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Watched: Remember that time I wrote Edge of Tomorrow?

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Well, I didn’t really; but I kind of did. At least, for about the last seven or ten years I’ve been kicking around an idea for a screenplay (the working title was Again, which would have been changed, All You Need Is Kill style, to Edge of Tomorrow) which was also based on a man in a recurring time loop. More importantly, it was based around the basic video game concept of iterative learning - each time through the loop, the man in question would get better at it, evolving towards superhumanity. By the final act he’d basically be at a MatrixInception level of prowess, and the action set piece (not killing a Brain Bug in my case, but shutting down the time loop itself) was really something. At least, in my head.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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Patton Oswalt recently announced that he is taking a short-term twitter vacation, and I have to admit, it’s an attractive idea. Part of this is due to simple exhaustion – I’ve taken on two additional twitter accounts beyond my own in the past six months, both work-related, and the gynecologist problem applies (re: I just don’t find them as interesting any more). In addition, spreading social thinking across this many outlets has watered down my own engagement across the board, a situation not helped by the fact that while I’m having increasing trouble pumping content into my regular streams, my two joke accounts seem to be all I can think of these days. The balance feels off. And as I won’t be walking away from my professional commitments anytime soon, it might be a good time to focus on them exclusively, and leave the personal accounts (and the joke accounts) fallow for the summer months.

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Letterman

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My dad got tickets to Letterman. This is proof that procrastination doesn’t always fuck things up. We’d talked about going down to New York to see the show for a long time; and in the past few years - since Leno announced his (second) retirement, and therefore assuming that Dave’s would shortly follow - we spoke even more often of finally getting to it, before it was too late. Nothing came of it. Nothing till the day Dave announced his retirement, whereupon my dad made it his mission to get down there to see the show; and 2 months later, we got the call.

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Watched: Grab ‘Er By The Tiptoes

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With Daniel Eustace Cockburn and Demetre “Thunderdome” E. in attendance, it was contended that we should watch a movie where a bunch of drunk Irish people try to evade sea monsters (Grabbers), followed by a romantic comedy in which Gary Oldman played a dwarf (Tiptoes). These were not, strictly speaking, Good Ideas, but hey, you only live once.

Prior to the movies I tried to have a conversation with Daniel about why I don’t need movies to be good (using Monsters as collateral) but it was a non-starter. Better to have stuck to the original pre-show entertainment, which was this crazy shit:

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Watched: 1 Fast, 2 Furious, 3 Tokyo Drifts

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I have a lot of thoughts about the Fast and the Furious franchise. The movies have given me so much over the years, doubly valuable in that they never really required me to actually see any of them to get at the goods. My mind is a getaway car. I only started watching Fast movies at #4, and those only once, and only in theatres, and only (if possible) in another country. The Fast and the Furious doesn’t belong to, or in, Canada. And each of those movies, Fasts 4-6, was exactly what it was: something less than halfway appealing, that I didn’t particularly understand. I figured I’d get around to watching Fasts 1-3 someday, or never, and that either way, it wouldn’t matter much. The bling is all on the outside.

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