Late-Breaking News from the City that Sleeps

May 15th, 2008

I figured I’d be like the Boston media and report the flaming B train as late as possible. The train jumped the tracks and knocked down some power lines on the last outbound run Tuesday night (technically, very early Wednesday morning).

Service on my lines was unaffected, but rumor has it that the E-line was disrupted, probably because there was no way to get trains from the trainyards around Cleveland Circle onto the B-line, and whatever trains were running from downtown to Washington Street Wednesday morning had to have come from somewhere.

In other late-breaking news, the Giant G3 Cube on Boylston opened tonight. I was thinking of going, but I chose dinner instead.


May 2nd, 2008

I’m not at all convinced that River’s more unusual speech patterns are a likely consequence of her illness. She seems to be channelling Spock as often as she’s spouting nursery rhymes; for example, in her reaction to Simon’s birthday (105 “Out of Gas”):

“Day” is a vestigial mode of time measurement based on solar cycles. It’s not applicable.

I didn’t get you anything.

Nevertheless it works for her, and I was particularly struck by the poetry of her apple bits speech. So here’s the whole scene (109 “War Stories”):


The door slides open and Simon enters, seeing River sitting on a bunk.

Whoa! [Mei-mei… - “little sister”…]

SIMON covers a shivering RIVER with a blanket.

How you doing?

I threw up.

I’m sorry. It’s a side effect. We
just have to find the right treatment
for you. How do you feel now?

Going… Going back like… apple bits,
coming back up. Chaos.

But you felt okay this morning?

Played with Kaylee.
Sun came out, and I walked on my feet
and heard with my ears. I ate the bits,
the bits stayed down, and I work. I
function like I’m a girl.
I hate it because I know it’ll go away.
The sun goes dark and chaos has come
again. Bits. Fluids. What am I?!

(hugs her)
You are my beautiful sister.

I threw up on your bed.

Yep. Definitely my sister.

The Urban Dictionary does not really clarify “fuckity” as a stage direction…

Saved from the Wrath of the Red Line

April 4th, 2008

I spotted this feel-good non-squishing T story at Universal Hub: an MBTA employee saved a man from the all-squishing Red Line by stopping the trains and helping to retrieve him from the tracks. According to a BostonNOW blogger, one of the rescuers barely missed the third rail.

…to her folly

March 23rd, 2008

Sometime last week I added four more episode additions to the Firefly page. (Apparently you can watch Firefly free now on Hulu.)

If you’d like a little more existential angst and ennui than my fic can provide, try garfield minus garfield.

So the ficcer returneth…

February 18th, 2008

There are now four Firefly flash fics to be found on the Firefly page. They’re not quite drabbles this fandom, but still short. Occasionally bitter, but personally, I blame Joss.

Buffy’s Law II

February 17th, 2008

In betaing one of my forthcoming Firefly ficlets, Jade felt that it was too true to the show—the depressing, hopeless show. She didn’t mean that in a weeping-because-it’s-off-the-air way, but in a Buffy’s Law way. Buffy’s Law, if you don’t want to follow the link, was If anything can happen to make Buffy more miserable, it will.

I was going to post a whole entry on your-bitter-is-my-poignant, but then I actually watched “Heart of Gold.” Now I’m somewhat in the Jade camp. Back on Buffy, it was easier to dismiss the self-destructive behavior of the characters as general teen stupidity (or alternately, soulless fiend stupidity). That doesn’t really fly with Firefly, except possibly for Simon and Kaylee.

I find Inara in particular a very difficult character to understand (and therefore to write). She reminds me of Sam, whose feelings were also inscrutable, although from a technical perspective she’s probably closer to T’Pol in her inscrutable superiority. I had indifferent luck fanfixing Sam into a coherent character, and I’m not sure I can do any better with Inara.

On the bright side, the Sci-Fi channel is having an 11-hour Firefly marathon on Sunday. I thought that meant they’d skip the unaired episodes, but they’re skipping some from the middle of the series (such as it was, in the DVD order) instead. So if you, too, want to be depressed, you can see “Heart of Gold” at 5pm Eastern time.

The Cunning Hat Memorial Cunning Hat Page

February 15th, 2008

Well, I’m thinking of calling it that, anyway. You can find the new page of cunning hat caps (pardon the pun) here.

Also the tab navigation has been rearranged to get all the Trek together under one tab (from the cryptically trekky MIS, TOS, and VOY), making room for the exciting Firefly tab.

After all that, I didn’t have the energy to put up my Firefly fic. (Yes, I wrote some Firefly fic. It’s all Jade’s fault.) I think that will require a little more CSS. Let me know if something breaks in your browser—it all looks peachy to me.

We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

February 10th, 2008

I’ve come five years late to the party, but no one ever told me about Firefly. Oh, I dimly recall that they said it was good and wept over the untimely cancellation, but many shows die young that way. It was off the air almost before it was on the air, and I was in my first post-fandom phase, after my short post-Voyager affair with Buffy but before Jerie finally got me to watch Stargate.

How could I, then merely a Trekker, imagine that a show could be good in its first season? Obviously 11 episodes is not enough to break in a cast. Just as obviously, the show wasn’t even good enough not to get cancelled, so why bother with Firefly?

I finally bothered with Firefly only because I’d finished Farscape (thanks again to Jerie) and the library didn’t have the next season of Stargate Atlantis, but they did have a set of scratched up Firefly DVDs. Why did I even look for them? I dimly recalled all that weeping over a stillborn show, but that wasn’t nearly enough to commit myself to yet another fandom. The real reason was, Jade was knitting me a cunning hat and I figured I couldn’t wear in with true geek-fu if I’d never even seen the show. So I grabbed the first DVD.

Why did no one tell me about this show? An accidental wedding in one of the first episodes broadcast? The whore with a heart of gold? The brooding captain in the trenchcoat? This stuff is pure fan crack. No wonder there was weeping. It had me at the accidental wedding.

One advantage of watching a show with the stake through it so long it’s petrified is that there is no weeping at the end of the stack of DVDs. But there’s still the question, why is this such fan crack? It had me long before the accidental wedding, and it’s really not very sci-fi for a sci-fi show. There is no sense of wonder to a spaceship that succumbs to a blown carburetor. The crazy girl with the government conspiracy after her is straight out of the X-Files, and the rest of them out of a spaghetti western casting call.

It bothers me that the show (at least, as viewed in order on the DVDs) worked so well from the start. Not because it got cancelled—only the good die young and all that—but because novels very rarely work from the start, or even work so well at the very end. I worry that my medium (writing) can’t compete with the new medium (film); I don’t understand why it’s lasted even this long—and maybe it hasn’t. Maybe film is the one, damning reason why people read so much less than they used to.

Some of the crack is the visuals, the one thing writing can never do. Mal is very, very shiny, and the grunge western sets filmed in grainyvision are also pretty neat. Some unexpected crack comes from the language—unexpected because I claimed in one of my many reviews of RotK that the novel’s subtlety of language couldn’t be filmed—and yet the language of Firefly is one of the most appealing bits for me, both the pulp western patois and the swearing in Chinese. And, of course, the basic snappy, snarky dialogue that somehow survives translation into these two unlikely languages unscathed.

But the real hard stuff, the crack that Firefly shares with so many similarly addictive shows—many of them, in fact, sharing the same premise of a small-to-midsized ship (or phone booth) wandering between the stars—is the band of brothers, or in TV-speak, the ensemble. Friendship is one of the basic values of Western civilization, coming not from Christianity this time but from Ancient Greece, and we tend to forget that it is just a local value. Most cultures value family more than acquaintances.

The ensemble in space is so much more, however, than an ensemble of snarky but basically directionless friends in the city (another very common and popular theme). The ensemble in space, be it a team popping through the stargate or a ship full of lost Starfleets, depend on each other for their very lives. Everything they do together is meaningful, is fraught, is so much more significant than the isolated office work of their audience and therefore so much more appealing.

The trouble with the ensemble-in-the-city is that realism is at odds with significance. You don’t have to have go ultra-naturalistic to be boring; even our more exciting basic cultural assumptions, like the one about falling in love with someone similar to you (or some cute barista at the corner coffee shop) and sleeping with them, is essentially boring to watch, while falling for the whore renting one of your shuttles who has that pesky no-servicing-the-landlord policy is essentially interesting to watch.

Sorry if some of this was boring or obvious. I just had to answer the question of what is fan crack for myself. YMMV.

A New Feedback Form

February 4th, 2008

Here’s a new feedback form from the Bureau of Communication: Unsolicited Feedback. Another one that may prove useful to fans is the Airing of Grievance form.

The Rho Disland comes out…

January 15th, 2008

It’s a shame this thing can’t distinguish between New Jersey and Southeastern New England, but it was still fun:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz