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Posts Tagged ‘imaginative fiction’

Diary #583

Since Lorelei knew I was coming into town last week, she invited me over for a Who night on Friday, and when I arrived this was what she had waiting for me because she knows I’m very fond of charcuterie with all the trimmings, especially for a TV-watching date.  Look at how gorgeous this is; I told her at the time it was almost too pretty to eat.  Emphasis on the “almost” there, because eat it we did, nearly every morsel.  The drinks, by the by, are our signature Who cocktails; mine (left) is a Sonic Scewdriver (a screwdriver made with our favorite cinnamon-sugar flavored vodka) and hers is an Ass-kicking Amy Pond (like a Moscow Mule but made with our favorite vodka and blood orange-flavored ginger beer).  We don’t get to do our Who nights as often as we used to, but we still do them as often as possible.  And occasions like that are made extra-nice when the person one is sharing them with does something like this to say, “I love you and you are important to me.”

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It’s probably difficult for people under 40 to imagine the frustration of being unable to complete a multi-part story due to the conclusion being unavailable.  But in the days before home video, there was no way to see missed episodes of a TV show except by finding it in syndication and waiting until the missing stories were shown again.  And in the days before Amazon and other online stores, it could often be extraordinarily difficult to find the missing issues of a comic book or serialized magazine story, especially if one lived in a small town or minor city with only one library and few if any places that sold used books.  Add OCD to that mixture, and I think you can probably grasp how frustrating it was for me as a child and teenager when months would go by without a given title appearing on any comic book racks I visited, and when the comic at last reappeared it was a new story because for some reason the distributors had apparently skipped, one, two, or even three issues.  Or I’d anxiously look forward to the next in a series of novels, only to discover that our library didn’t have a copy and the only accessible bookstore told me it was out of print.  Because of this I developed an aversion to multi-part comic book stories and multi-volume novels, and by the time I had grown into an independent adult, I was strongly averse to beginning any story I was unsure I’d be able to finish.  It became my habit to buy entire series of books I wanted to read all at once whenever possible, and when it wasn’t possible I’d diligently search every possible source until I found whatever I needed to complete a set, even if it meant driving around for hours.  And due to more than one instance of a network cancelling a show I was enjoying with a complex story left incomplete (American Gothic and Farscape leap immediately to mind), I generally won’t start a new TV series until it’s concluded and I know I can get the entire set; I imagine a special circle of Hell for corporations which release the first few seasons of a show I want and then suddenly stop before finishing the job (Disney is notorious for this, but Warner can be nearly as bad).  So when TV series started using long, interconnected arcs in the late ’80s, I was not at all happy about it; though many of my friends enjoyed The X-Files, I never watched it because the first two episodes I tried to watch were both part of longer arcs and therefore made little sense to me, and in VHS days buying an entire TV series was prohibitively expensive.  Now that I can in most cases easily buy an entire series on DVD, my view of long story arcs has changed; upon rewatching the last three seasons of classic Doctor Who (the first of the series to employ such an arc) I found I enjoyed them much more than in the days when there was no way to ensure I could see them all, and in the correct order.  But I still won’t invest the time and emotional energy into new shows until and unless I’m dead sure I won’t be left in the lurch.

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Who Thoughts

If you follow me on Twitter, you have undoubtedly noticed that every day since March, I’ve been tweeting my thoughts about Doctor Who as Grace and I watch the entire series from 1963 to the present.  On Saturday we finished the classic series and have now started New Who, so I think it’s time to unveil something I’ve been working on behind the scenes:  everything I’ve posted to that Twitter thread, collected in one big page.  Practically since I started, my Whovian readers have been asking for this compilation; I’ve been doing it all along, but I wanted to get to what seemed like a natural point to unveil it.  I’m also working on some supplemental materials, including an attempt at a unified chronology of The Doctor’s adventures, but those will have to wait a bit longer until I feel they’re ready to be seen by eyes other than my own.  Then next year, I hope to get it all compiled into a book in time for release the following year, the program’s 60th anniversary.  If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll even make a little money from it, and maybe it will introduce more readers to my other work.  But in the meantime, I’m just enjoying writing something light, fun, and even a bit academic for a change.

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I can’t breathe!  –  Nekia Trigg

This one’s been going through my head since I selected the illustration for my July 4th column, so here it is.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Clarissa, Cop Crisis, Radley Balko, The Onion, Stephen Lemons, and Popehat, in that order.

From the Archives

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A lot gets said these days about “representation” in popular media, by which people mean that it’s a good thing for children or adolescents to see people like themselves among their heroes in TV or movies.  Usually, this is used to mean obvious characteristics like gender, skin color, or disability, and sometimes less-obvious traits like queerness.  But for me, none of those traits meant anything if the characters displaying them were law-obeying, apartment-dwelling, boring-job-having authoritarian squares of the type television has always been infested with, and whose lives mine was never, ever going to resemble even if the character could’ve been my doppelganger in every superficial “representative” way.  By 1980 I couldn’t find a single network TV program which interested me in any way, and even before that the characters who interested me most were always outsiders, weirdos, and outlaws such as vigilantes, monster-hunters, and fugitives, or else characters who had figured out how to fit in while still doing things in their own idiosyncratic fashion.  Anyone more perceptive than I was at the time could probably have figured out that I was going to end up living outside of the law and at odds with the Establishment, so it’s no surprise that one of my favorite shows since my mid-teens has followed the adventures of an eccentric, anti-authoritarian outlaw who stole a spacetime ship from his people and proceeded to wander about the universe, following his conscience rather than some set of arbitrary rules, and teaming up with a long succession of other misfits to ruin the schemes of tyrants, bureaucrats, psychopaths and other violent busybodies while freely associating with weirdos and freethinkers who rarely get along with their local “authorities”.  Yes, representation is important, and never more so than when the type being represented is those who refuse to allow themselves to be sorted into herds and driven to build up power for those who would rule others.

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I’m going to fuck you up.  –  unidentified terrorist

I’m not really fond of westerns, but I am fond of Henry Mancini; I discovered this one on a 1970s tape marketing a quadrophonic sound system, and it popped into my head again recently.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Jesse Walker, Scott Greenfield, Walter Olson, and Cop Crisis (x3), in that order.

From the Archives

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You’re about to die, my friend.  –  Tyler Longman

Here’s another Doctor Who novelty song, recorded as a publicity tie-in for the 1965 Doctor Who and the Daleks movie starring Peter Cushing; the singer, Roberta Tovey, played Susan in the film.  The links above it were provided by Mike Siegel, Cop Crisis (x3), Walter Olson, and Mistress Matisse, in that order.

From the Archives

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I cross the void beyond the mind
The empty space that circles time
I see where others stumble blind
To seek a truth they never find
Eternal wisdom is my guide
I am the Doctor.
  –  Jon Pertwee

Here’s another specimen of the subgenre of novelty songs recorded by the stars of hit TV shows, this one about one of my all-time favorites.  The links above it were provided by Jesse Walker, Franklin Harris, Jesse Walker again, Desiree Alliance, Wendy Lyon, Lucy Steigerwald, and Cop Crisis, in that order.

From the Archives

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Now you can easily make the landing on the Moon.

This week’s video is one of Grace’s favorite songs, which may tell you something about her.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Jesse Walker, Mike Riggs, Franklin Harris again, Cop Crisis, Dan Savage, and Rick Horowitz, in that order.

From the Archives

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Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.  –  Frank Herbert, Dune

On Saturday, my Twitter account was locked for twelve hours because a mindless censorship algorithm could not tell the difference between mocking an idea and professing that idea; said algorithm was given power to judge human thought for “acceptability” because Twitter (at the insistence of legions of nitwits) has decided that it’s a good idea to silence wrongthink in the first place.  I’ve already pointed out the deep foolishness and simian stupidity of censorship in many other essays, and I’ll be doing so again this year on the last Monday in September, as usual; today I’d like you to think about just how incredibly dumb it is to give machines that kind of power without human supervision or functional appeals process.  Now, I’m not a Luddite; I certainly recognize that there are certain circumstances in which computers can be trusted with limited power (such as controlling an aircraft in flight) provided there is a human around to supervise.  Computers are, as Isaac Asimov once expressed it, high-speed morons; they do whatever they’re told to do, exactly as they’re told to do it and for as long as they’re told to do it, very very quickly.  The problem, of course, is that they are completely incapable of anything even approximating actual thought, which means that they will follow the most mind-bogglingly stupid (or even self-destructive) orders with the same degree of speed and efficiency as they would obey more sensible directives.  Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to have their computer infected with a virus should know this, yet people keep happily entrusting more and more of their lives to hopped-up pocket calculators they insist on pretending are “smart”; many of them even think it’s a good idea to let these overcomplicated abaci drive their cars at highway speed or tell them how to write.  Computers are useful tools and (usually) dependable servants, but apparently generations of science-fiction writers have failed to pound into the heads of the intellectually lazy what a colossally bad idea it is to accept them in positions of authority.

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