theferrett: (Meazel)

So it’s inevitable: in the next ten to fifteen years, there will be another reboot of Star Trek, and there will be someone’s take on Picard.

Our question: who should play Picard?

The criteria are that:

a)  This will be roughly ten years from now, yet somehow they’ll pick a current actor.  Just go with that.

b)  Said actor will have to be in his mid-forties, older, about the same age Picard was when he started.  (They could reboot with a young brash Picard learning his stuff at Starfleet Academy, but that’s too close to the recent reboot and too samey-same.  They’re gonna want to distinguish.)

So.  Which actor should we go with?

I personally would prefer Viggo Mortensen, dragged screaming out of actor’s retirement, because he’s got that reluctant gravitas you need to pull off the Picard.  Yet Gini – a huge Viggo fan, it must be said – says that Viggo’s voice is too nasal to pull off the resonance of a Picard.  Erin says she’d like Daniel Day-Lewis to do it, as would I, if only to see what kind of crazed preparations he’d make to live as a starship captain.

Daniel Craig was suggested, but there’s no way I could buy this guy as a man who negotiates first.

The one really interesting idea was race-swapping it to get Idris Elba to play the role, which I think is pretty good; he’s got the deep voice, he’s got that gravitas, and he’d be about the right age when the time comes.  But I also worry it’d be seen more as a riff on Captain Sisko, who’s also got a rumbly voice and a quasi-Shakespearean delivery (though no patch on Patrick Stewart), so there’d have to be a lot of careful character writing.

But who do you think?  All nerd battles are heartily encouraged.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Over on Twitter, I said that The Dark Knight was a flawed movie, but it had a perfect ending for Batman, in that that film’s ending would have worked for no other superhero.

Which raised the question: is there a flawless movie?

Now, on the one hand, that’s a rather silly question, because of course every movie is flawed: if nothing else, there’s always continuity errors where a glass of water is filled when viewed from one camera angle and then empty when we cut to the next.  But I mean without meaningful flaws.  Which opens up a huge chasm, because somebody somewhere is screaming, “THAT GLASS OF WATER IS DESTROYING MY BELIEF IN THIS FILM’S REALITY,” so “flawless” is obviously a personal call.

In addition, society has this weird belief where “great” == “flawless.”  But some of the best movies in existence are seriously flawed!  Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is a sloppy mess of a dystopia where the romantic leads have zero chemistry, some seriously plot-meaningful lines are stepped on by gags in the background, and some scenes go on for too long.  It is not a flawless movie, but somehow it manages to transcend its flaws.

So when I was thinking of flawless movies, the first one that came to mind is Casablanca.  But it’s not flawless.  Actually, the intro is rather amateurish, complete with 1940s voiceover clunkily info-dumping you about Casablanca, montages of cliched characters, and the inevitable line-drawn-on-a-map.  I’d argue it approaches flawless once Rick comes on-screen, but that’s a surprisingly long time in coming.

My gut reaction says “Galaxy Quest,” because it has everything: comedy, serious adventure, great characterization, a character arc where everybody learns something, and of course Tim Allen.  I’ve watched that movie at least twenty times and there’s always a new laugh squeezed in there somewhere.  And it’s magnificent in how it starts as a Star Trek parody, then ultimately becomes one of the best Star Trek movies ever.

(I’d say “Princess Bride,” but for me there’s a serious flaw in the swamp scene, where the ROUS is attacking.  The first two viewings, I didn’t realize we were supposed to take it seriously, because the rat is such a bad special effect that I thought it was another gag.  To this day, that really bothers me.)

In terms of drama, well, the traditional choices are gloriously flawed.  The Godfather is often slow and takes a long time to get going, so much so that I had to watch it twice before I could get into it.  Gone with the Wind has a lot of good points, but again, with a movie that length there are some seriously draggy bits to go along with the highlights of the burning of Atlanta.  And even I won’t present Star Wars as a perfect film merely because it sings to me.

The flawless drama for me?  “The Royal Tenenbaums.”  For me, the mixture of emotions in it are pitch-perfect, every scene this little ball of interaction between quirky characters that could take place between them and only them, no scene going on for too long.  And there is redemption, but it is not easy, and there’s enough humor to leaven the load.  I just wish someone hadn’t stolen my copy of it.

Then we have the flawless action movie, which I think only has two real choices: Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  And I think Die Hard has a few not-great moments, but Indy?  Hell, I’ve been sucked into Raiders more times than I can count, because someone’s watching it and I go, “Oh, I should go – but the fight next to the plane is coming up!  And then, oh God, I can’t miss the car chase scene where he goes under the car!”  And so on.  As far as getting me to the next scene, it’s incredibly hooky.

So.  I ask.  What’s your flawless movie?  And please, I will reiterate, a flawless movie is not “a movie you like so much you’re willing to overlook its flaws,” but rather “a movie that doesn’t misstep in any meaningful way.”

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So I’ll be leaving for the Nebulas today, and as such will be driving for eight hours in what is sure to be a cataclysmally boring car ride.  So I’ll comment-whore and ask y’all some questions to stir discussion:

This first one’s courtesy of fellow nominee Rachel Swirsky, who asked:

What illegal thing would you do if you could get away with it? (No violent crimes, please.  That’s icky.)

I like that one, because it encourages you to both get creative, and the “no violence” means that no idiot is caught making threats on the Internet.  Though I suspect the answers will be a depressing “I KIN SMOKES DRUGS.”  Which, you know, granted, but not exactly with the fun-making discussionwise.

Likewise, this second one’s courtesy of fellow nominee me, who asks:

If you could demand I do any one thing for myself, what would you have me do? 

The reason I say “for myself” is otherwise I’ll be spammed with a zillion “You should totally read my book/plug my CD/dance for my amusement!” comments, which aren’t nearly as interesting as you think.  But I’d be curious to see what, given the knowledge you have of me through my writings, what sorts of things you think I should do to make my life better.  Or worse.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I was listening to Prozzak’s “Sucks To Be You” (Spotify link) the other day, and musing how I thought it had one of the most perfectly fitting guitar solos ever.  Not that I’ll defend that choice; it’s a quirky little song, and the flamenco-style solo is just weird and somehow fitting for me.

But then I thought: what’s the most iconic guitar solo of all time?

“Stairway to Heaven” came to mind instantly, but then I realized that I couldn’t bring the whole solo to mind.  The end weedly bits, yes, but I think for a solo to be iconic, the whole solo has to be something so memorable you can pretty much sing along with it.  So after thinking for a bit, I settled upon “Hotel California.”  You might not like the song, but I think pretty much anyone who grew up in the 70s through the 90s can sing along with that sucker.

But I could be wrong.  Remember, we’re not looking for the best guitar solo here, but the most iconic – as in, the guitar solo that almost everyone knows, the guitar solo that is the most legendary.  I was toying with one other choice here, which to me is incredibly obvious, but I’ll see whether I get swamped with that one in the comments.

(Cue Bart Calendar’s strong opinions.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I had several posts vaguely planned for this week, and then I had to delve into work because I’m leaving for a writing retreat on Friday.  (Yay for Dallas!  I may even get to see the Texas Book Depository!)  But some folks worry when I disappear, so I figured I’d say howdy.

So hey, I’m busy… but why not tell me something good (or eventful) that’s happened in your life lately?  Liven up my day, and the day of everyone who reads the comments.

When I eventually return, I’ll tell you why Mass Effect 3 was vaguely disappointing.  I’m sure you’ll be waiting with baited breath.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I find myself in an odd quandary; I have a couple of blog posts I’d like to write, but they’re large subjects that would take too much time in a work-heavy week.  So you know, time to see if there’s anything you’d like to see my take on, or any followup questions you think I should handle.  (Not that I haven’t followed up on questions before.)

I’m open to all topics.  If anything, you’ll at least get an interesting comment reply.

If that fails to appeal, well, here, have me in the stylish outfit I was sporting yesterday:

Sartorial splendor.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Looky here!  What do we have?  My new henna, as done by my glorious girlfriend Bec!

Henna... Or sympathetic magic(k)?

It’s a little light, as henna tends to be on its first days before it takes root in the skin and darkens… But clever symbolism-interpreters may notice the Hugo rocket taking off towards a nebula.  What sympathetic magick could this be, one asks?  Well, by some strange coincidence, my Nebula-nominated novelette “Sauerkraut Station” is also eligible for the Hugos - so if you’re registered for WorldCon, have read Sauerkraut Station, and would like to nominate it, perhaps you should.

(It’s also really pretty.  I didn’t do it just to shill for the Hugos, I just think Bec does wonderful work and I like wearing her on my skin.  I’m told most people have already voted for the Hugos, even though I certainly haven’t, being lazy that way.)

However, in other news, one of my writers’ groups started tossing around their favorite first lines in fiction.  I love first lines, because there are so many ways to catch a reader’s attention – even if first lines aren’t necessarily the key to a great book.  (A Wrinkle In Time, I was shocked to find, actually begins with that hoary old chestnut “It was a dark and stormy night.”  Fortunately, the rest of the book gets way better.)

My favorite first line for a story is probably from Kij Johnson’s “Spar“:

In the tiny lifeboat, she and the alien fuck endlessly, relentlessly.

That’s a beautiful, brutal opening – it’s got a delightful, almost poetic rhythm to it, but there’s very little poetry – a stark portrayal of desperation.  The story fleshes out the relevant details, in perhaps more description of alien flesh than one might want, but it’s certainly the kind of thing that makes you want to find out what the fuck is happening.

Though my friend Lara Herndon suggested a great novel opening, from Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451:

It was a pleasure to burn.

In six words, Bradbury’s inverted the usual terror that comes with fire, converting destruction into glory.  What makes that sentence tick is the word “pleasure,” with all of its implications of lazy Sundays and slowly-savored Scotches, a luxury you can stretch out into – the word “delight” or “fun” or “enjoyment” wouldn’t have carried it.  This is an opening sentence that is carried on the back of one perfectly-chosen word – as Bradbury is wont to do.

So, I ask you, writers and readers alike: what’s your favorite opening sentence, and why? If you’re a writer, breaking down the appeal of this first line is kind of a neat exercise.  Speak in the comments!  I’m on a ten-hour cross-country drive today, and I need all of the distraction I can get!

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

A question on Twitter has led me to ask a question here:

What’s the most dangerous drug: alcohol, cigarettes, or pot?

Now, cigarettes kill a lot of people, can’t be denied.  But I’ve read enough to believe the dangers of second-hand smoke are vastly overrated by the anti-smoking factions.  (Though every time I bring this up there’s an escalating link-war between the two sides, and if you feel like doing that go at it in the comments – I won’t partake.)  So what we have here is a drug that kills a lot of people on its own.

On the other hand, alcohol also kills a lot of people – not so much by itself, but by drunk driving and various acts of murder.  Alcohol has more stories per fluid ounce than any other substance, and I think if you take into account alcohol-related crimes and stupidity, alcohol starts skyrocketing.

Pot, on the other hand, has some real cancer risk, and probably causes some accidents from driving (it’s hard to test whether you’re currently high), but I don’t think is all that dangerous.

Then again, it’s hard to say.  Cigarettes can’t be advertised on TV or radio, so the rate of smoking has been decreasing, whereas Superbowl-friendly alcohol gets teens drinking at an early age.  And pot usage is suppressed because, well, it’s illegal.  So you can’t just look at the current rates, you have to look at a complex series of factors that includes related crimes, advertising, and popularity.

Which seems the perfect spot for a fact-free debate in my comments.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

“You’re a squeezer,” Bec said.

“A what?”

“A squeezer when you hold hands.  Some people just put their hands in yours and leave them there limply.  Others constantly play with your fingers.  You?  You squeeze my hand periodically to let me know you’re there – you’re a squeezer.”

I hadn’t really thought about it.  I’d guessed everybody was a squeezer.

“And you always interlace your fingers, too,” she added.

Another strangeness.  Why would you hold hands and not interlace fingers?  That’s the intimate part.  Then again, for me, holding hands is always a very intimate thing – there’s that little squirmy first-date thrill of sliding your hand into someone else’s and feeling them hold back.

It’s not just me, either.  At one con, Gini didn’t have a problem with me vanishing up to my room for a hot makeout session with a girl I’d met.  But when I held that girl’s hand in public, Gini asked me to stop.

I dunno.  There’s something to me about hand-holding that’s a little romantic, a public connection that’s viewed as endearing and not PDA.  I love holding hands in movies, over dinner, in all the spaces one can.

But I’d never thought of people as having preferences before, though I suppose they must.  I assumed that the folks who’d just shoved their hands into mine and left them there were getting my squeezes and knew what they meant.  But now, I guess, there must be styles of it, and thus preferences, and so I ask:

How do you like to have your hand held?  If at all?

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So my friend Eric Meyer noted the other day that the phrase “three-minute wonder” may in fact be overlooking the idea that some women like partners who get off quickly.  Which is true.  I’ve known more than one woman who complained about some bohunk pounding her cervix for hours at a time, overstaying their welcome.

This leads to an interesting question: What’s your ideal sex time?

I know, I know, it all depends on the mood and the partner… but I think most of us have a rough time we settle into.  As my wife is so fond of noting, I’m extremely girly when it comes to bedtime activities; I like lots of snuggling and foreplay, so in an ideal situation it winds up being about twenty to thirty minutes of hot making out and other activities, and then about ten to fifteen of the whole PIV stuff.

(Is it just me, or is “PIV” perhaps the least-erotic acronym ever?  “Penis in vagina” just sounds like Animal is describing sex to Miss Piggy.  “PENIS IN VAGINA!  PENIS IN VAGINA!  EAT DRUMS!  EAT DRUMS!”)

So for me, satisfying sex winds up being about forty minutes long from start to finish.  Interestingly, you’d think my blossoming Dom tendencies would make this shorter, since I’d be more selfish when I’m just flinging my partners onto the bed, but then the actual PIV bits take longer because I’m abusing them when I’m doing so, and that’s distracting to my actual finish.  So either way: about forty minutes to an hour.

The question is, I guess, what sorts of sexual time work best for you, as a default?  If your ideal partner came and went at your command, what’s the range you’d be looking at assuming you had sex often enough to form a sort of baseline?  Is, perhaps, the three-minute wonder the better lover?

 

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I have three topics to write as essays, including:

  • How to Date a Ferrett
  • Why The Fact That I’m Right On Gay Marriage Doesn’t Necessarily Mean I’m Right On Gay Marriage
  • A WorldCon Report, Or: How I Attend Conventions

But I have no time or energy for this today, thanks to a busy workload, a visiting daughter, and a fantabulous coffee-date with Clarion 2011 grad Gillian Daniels later today.  All of which I am excited about.

But I want interaction, and so I shall do what authors do when they are bored:

Ask me a question in the comments and I will answer.  You can ask anything, and I’ll answer as truly as possible.  No questions barred.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

About a week ago, I bought the soundtrack to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.  iTunes informs me that I have listened to it thirty times since then.

My wife’s getting weary of the emo re-envisioning of our seventh President, but every time I play it, I think: it’s getting cheaper.  I paid ten bucks for it on iTunes, and with thirty repetitions my cost-per-listen is down to thirty-three cents a song.  Heck, if you count the individual songs, I’m down to two cents per playing.

Compare this to my media waste of $9.99 for Cat Stevens’ latest album, which I think I listened to twice.  At best.  Or, worse, the DVD for Charlie Wilson’s War, which I paid $5 for and haven’t even taken it out of the packaging.

Judged on a cost-per-listening basis, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a great bargain! In time, I’ll get the cost of that whole thing down to a thin dime per playing. That’s so much better than videogames I’ve paid $60 for and barely played.  I paid little, I maximized my experience.

So I wonder: on a cost-per-listening basis, what is my best media bargain?  What have I paid the least for, and listened/watched/played the most?

My first instinct was to say “Rock Band!” because I have probably spent literally a month solid playing that over the years – but then you consider all the plastic instruments and bonus tracks I’ve purchased, and suddenly Rock Band is a hobby that probably costs me $1 every time I step up to play it – worthwhile, certainly, but no bargain.  Likewise, I’ve seen Star Wars at least a hundred times, but fifty of those were in the theater, and the rest of the showings were split between three separate DVD/VHS releases – again, satisfying, but pricey.

Queuing iTunes, I see my most-played track (70 times) is Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacey’s Mom,” and I know for a fact my “most listened-to album” on iTunes oscillates between their “Welcome Interstate Managers” (a pure pop gem) and the soundtrack to Avenue Q (foul and surprisingly clever).  So is that my best media bargain?

Well, in modern terms, yes.  But back in the day, I paid $3.99 for a cassette tape of Def Leppard’s “Pyromania,” which as a teenager I listened to constantly, constantly, to the point where that music is engraved in my marrow.  That was the first album I identified with as me, and cassette tapes lasted a long damn time, so I think that price is probably somewhere in the range of half-a-cent per playing.  That’s my best media bargain.  (That, or George Carlin’s “Class Clown” on cassette.  Or, possibly, “Red Dwarf,” which I used to play every night in lonely houses to give myself some noise to drift off to sleep to.)

So.  With this in mind, I ask: What is your greatest media bargain?  What did you pay low and utilize the most? 

(And if the answer is “I Bittorrented it,” well, good for your cheapness, bad for actually recompensing the people who helped make the thing you love.  So we’ll leave out the illegal merchandise for now.  Though technically, things like Radioheads’ maybe-free albums do muddy the mix…)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

I was flipping through the Rock Band song list yesterday for something I was in the mood to play, when I got to The Police.

“RAWKZ-ANNE,” Gini warbled behind me in a purposely off-key yowl.  “YOO DOAN HAVE DO PUT ON DA RED LIGHT.  RAAAAAAWKZ-ANNE – Good Lord, that song’s terrible.”

“No, no, it’s good,” I protested.  “Or was.  That’s, like, one of those songs that’s awesome the first ninety-nine times you hear it.  Then you hear it that hundredth time and it curdles like a broken cream sauce.  I remember really loving that song once.  Sure, it’s like eating a big slice of tin foil pie now, but that’s just because of repetition taking all the beauty out of it.”

Later on, I selected Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which is really how I think of Gini, but she dislikes it.  “I’m so sad you don’t like this song,” I told her.  “It really is beautiful.”

“It’s another hundred-song,” she explained.  “Remember, I grew up in the 70s.  I spent a whole summer listening to that over and over again.”

So here’s my question for you all: What song was once good for you, but has now been obliterated by a zillion repetitions?  Feel free to describe the exact flavor of your hatred.  I’m curious.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

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