The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for February, 2012

How To Stay Enertained Without The Internet… Or Not

Posted by BigWords on February 15, 2012

This has been bugging me for a while, and as I am hardly online at all (and thus watching scary amounts of DVDs) it is probably a good time to make use of the distance which not seeing replies as they are made creates – and yeah, this is another whine about writing, but it is one which goes some way to explaining why I don’t really bother with certain television series. The expanded format of television shows allows a decompression of storytelling elements, which should provide a greater opportunity for scriptwriters to provide characterization and epic tales. Only… Few shows really take the challenge and make anything of the set-ups which they provide early in the process. You don’t have to look far and wide for these lazy methods (there is, I guarantee you, one of these pointless shows on right now.), and it isn’t merely a budgetary issue.

Look to The Wire for the best crime drama series. Story, story, story. It’s all in the writing. Sure, the performances help, but without the writing there would be nothing for the actors to do. Stories unfold over the course of multiple episodes, where characters develop from sketched-in appearances to fully-formed individuals. For a science-fiction counterpart, then Battlestar Galactica (ignore later developments in the series) or Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex should be on your watch list. The level of plot to character balance is, in all of these shows, balanced across not only individual episodes, but across seasons as well. While it may seem that there are filler, everything matters.

And this, regardless of the fact that I can’t get reception here at the moment, is why I don’t watch television. I want themes and ideas to be properly explored, not pushed into forty-seven minute chunks as if the show is merely a sausage factory creating disposable product to air between the all-too-important adverts. I’ve been watching Star Trek: Voyager again (the feeling of being in purgatory in excellently reinforced by watching this series), and I have noticed numerous opportunities throughout the first dozen episodes for season-long stories which would actually make sense of the nonsensical elements. The hurried nature is though all of the first three years worth of episodes (and, I suspect, the remainder of the show, but it has been a while since I sat through it all), which makes it hard to care.

I have no emotional connection to Tuvix. He suddenly appears in a transporter accident, and there is much wangsting, but I found myself glancing at the DVD box, wondering what the point was. I flicked the show into fast forward for a while, picked over an article about pandas in a magazine, and looked through my notes for rewrites. There was no way, given how abruptly the story thread was introduced, built, then resolved, that I could do more than shrug with disinterest. While the problems of numerous currently-running shows may be lesser than the notorious examples, I still have the feeling that not enough prep-work is done for new shows.

With this free time, I still have the box-set of Lost to sit through. I may possibly have to get extremely drunk to do so, but I will approach it bravely (no matter how dumb it is).

Now… How to get out of the Voyager marathon before 7of9 turns up and ruins the show entirely.
*ponders shooting television*

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Three Free Movies You Must Watch

Posted by BigWords on February 13, 2012

And if you love horror, Night Of The Living Dead is here, though you need to be signed into YouTube.

Jibes about me crafting more useful posts than normal when I am largely absent won’t be appreciated…

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Posted by BigWords on February 12, 2012

Two (interconnected) subjects. Both with the passing of time as a massive influence.

You know what makes me feel old? The vanishing white dot. One of the reassuring things about old television sets was that white dot (and kids are probably reading this wondering what the hell the white dot was), and it is generally ignored amongst people who talk about television these days. LCD may provide a better image, and it certainly helps that I can plug various laptops and the desktop into the television so easily with a USB plug – unlike getting the horrid Amstrad to play nicely – but I miss the routine come time to switch off. There was a sense of completion once the television began to switch itself off, and that final act of displaying the display disappearing into infinity was, unlike the abrupt cut-to-black, a moment to digest the contents of the programs.

And hiss. I haven’t listened to music with a noticeable hiss in years, and while some may see that as a step forward, it does have the unintended side-effect of removing humanity from the wider universe. It’s background radiation from the big bang, which is awesome if you think about it – that cassette tape of Joni Mitchell singing Woodstock becomes exponentially more awesome when you canhear the universe around you.

What does this have to do with anything, other than reminding younger peeps that there was life before their arrival on the planet? It goes some way to explaining the frustration I have with current technology. I have been thinking, more and more, about how things used to be, especially in the last couple of years, and there are a plenitude of great ideas which have been completely abandoned in favor of keeping ahead of the technological curve, while simultaneously instantly dating everything currently produced. Is there a single thing I have bought in the last twelve months which is going to have a lasting cultural effect? No. Have any books, or films, or television shows, which appeared in the last six months displayed properties which will give them a lasting touchstone? Probably not.

Now, waitasec – before you start pimping your favorite shows, or plugging a film which needs love and care, spend a few seconds thinking about longevity. The reason that Shakespeare has lasted is down to numerous factors, but constant exposure to new audiences is right up there. Has any film (save for Star Wars, which doesn’t count) so completely excelled in its’ goal as to have a potential audience for the forthcoming half-millennium? No. not yet. No computer games, television series or radio shows seem to have had the exposure to prevent them fading into cultural memory, then disappearing completely as the decades and then centuries pass.

The white spot. The hiss. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears… in rain.

What’s going to last? Not the CD. Or the DVD. Digital downloading has largely begin replacing those. The television (as a unit in itself) and the personal computer are converging with every passing year, so each of those are probably doomed to obsoletion. Do you remember photographs? Proper photographs? Film strips, and chemical developing, and the giddy sense of accomplishment when people don’t sigh and shake their head when you show them the large sheets with pretty images? Well, seeing as those have already been replaced with digital photography (a horrid “improvement” which I refuse to be impressed by until it is BETTER than film) you might think that there isn’t anywhere for the form to go. Well… No.

We already have digital video picture frames. Say goodbye to stills.

Somehow, miraculously, I am still able to purchase 32mm stock here in Scotland. I haven’t looked very hard, but I am pretty sure I could get other formats if I hunted far enough, so I’m not alone in ignoring the sheep-like flocking towards the-future-which-we-didn’t-ask-for. THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WANT.

There’s a long way to go before companies realize that pumping out product with a relentless stream of advertising is against their best interests. In the past companies used to sell the same product, year in and year out, for decades. There would be (very minor) tweaks every so often, but essentially the catalogs remained static. In reinventing products each year it tells me something about a company. It says, very clearly, “we have no confidence in our product”. It tells me that the company is more interested in screwing people out of money than it is in providing quality goods.

I’m not arguing for a static approach, but one in which new features are included only where the new feature adds value.

The descendents of humanity, who will look back on this moment, this era, will no doubt conclude that the entirety of the species has delved into a collective madness which compels us to cast aside logic in the hunt for shiny and “current generation” gadgets, ignoring the pointlessness of such a pursuit. In a year’s time these too will be outdated. And those will be outdated a year hence. We are in the creation of an ultimately disposable lifestyle, unable to see how completely we are throwing money into a bottomless pit.

And none of it matters. In five hundred years no-one will care. We aren’t leaving anything of lasting, historical, importance. Disposable is disposable. Something is missing, and it is the stability. Media, while largely outside of the main argument of manufacturing things of lasting importance, is as fragile as anything else. There are shows which, merely a few years after initial broadcast, are already from a lifetime ago in real terms. Their focus is so alien as to be incomprehensible, and are all but unwatchable. Books, also, are affected by the march of progress.

Maybe it is time for a deep breath. A moment to reflect on ow we can all leave something (just one thing) that will speak to the future. Something important. I haven’t worked out just how to push any of my projects into the “important” category, but when I do I will be ecstatic. I’m fed up with the disposability of everything, and I want to know that there is a chance (however small) that there is hope for something bigger… something which takes on a life of its’ own.

I may start a religion.*



* Just joking. Possibly. 😀

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I’m Not Dead

Posted by BigWords on February 11, 2012

There has been quite a gap in posting, which was neither intentional nor a complete surprise. My internet has sucked ass for as long as I have been out here in the middle of nowhere, but these last few months have been absolutely ridiculous. I haven’t thought about scheduling posts here (unlike over at the Database) as it seems that this is the place for random thoughts, not highly-structured stuff, and scheduling ‘off the cuff’ posts seems… Well, it seems downright dishonest. Yeah, I know I’m probably alone in thinking this, so don’t all yell at me at once.

Thus, the filler.

I was going to start with some of the reviews and pimping which have been on hold, but I want to properly address the titles in my “pending” list, and I can’t do that if I am not online. So I thought that something along the lines of a “I’m gonna fix the world” semi-series of posts can act as a continuance of normal activity until I can get things sorted out on this end. So, with that in mind, I want to make sure you are aware that this is all my own opinions and in no way is an official line on anything. Indeed, it may be seen as a semi-sequel to the thoughts which formed my “big idea” series of posts intended to fix the world.

But that is to come. Today is the point where I announce the return of this blog to active status.

If you are wondering what I have been up to, then wonder no more…

  • The science fiction saga of increasing weirdness (incorporating all of the stuff I have been told not to use) is now so large that I am thinking of editing some of the stories down to novel length.
  • The Summer Special (a misbegotten mix of the best of bygone ideas and ideals) is hitting various distro issues, and it looks (at the moment) like it is going to be fully-online orders rather than having newsstand presence. Completely negating the original conceit that the audience IS still out there. I will be ranting about this later.
  • There is a second database I am considering uploading in partwork, and I have been editing down some of the entries into digestible chunks. It has an even smaller area of interest than the current ongoing concern, and is even geekier (if such a thing is possible) and inward-looking. Not sure if that counts as writing, but it certainly is fun.
  • With so much time thanks to the lack of internet access, I have finally completed the first couple of issues of my superhero comic. The artwork is markedly different to the way I had it in my head, but it makes a lot more sense than I had thought it would. I’m thinking it may make a nice six-issue mini-series.

And the list doesn’t include my prolonged fights with the morons who are determined to drive me insane. I’ll hold off on that at the moment, as it seems they have now brought heavy machinery onto the back of my land. Cranes really aren’t as quiet as they look. I had it in my head they they silently slung things around, mostly because I never had two of them so close by. It is… strange.

Take time, while you are here, to click on some of the blogs I’m linking to – they are well worth your attention.

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