The New TV Season So Far...

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):

Pretty Inspiring:
The protests led by the monks in the country of Burma. I am captivated and anticipate the actions of this peaceful group against that country’s junta. Hopefully, their non-violent actions will reach the attentions of the rest of the world and be an example for the rest of us.

Cool Stuff I saw this past week:

Lion and Dragon Dancers at the Austin Chinatown Center*
I forget how fun it was to see lion and dragon dancers up close. The last time I saw something like this was at the turn of this century during Chinese New Year in downtown Los Angeles. It was fun, but we only caught the tail end of it. This time, though, we caught it beginning to end complete with that bad ass percussion and the lions/dragons weaving through the crowd demanding your money [in a good way- the performers were mostly kids from Walnut Elementary and the money went back to them].

A fun time, and just reminds me that that we need more dragons and lions in everyday life.

The Fall TV Season: Seen this week:

CHUCK: Saw bits and pieces- it was okay. The funny-lovable-loser bit of the title character can get old very quick (and was already old by the predictable end of the show). Nothing but popcorn, which can be fun (and there were some good action beats in the show) but the pilot was ultimately forgettable. Hopefully the other episodes will be better than the pilot, but I am not expecting more than campy, cheesy stuff from this show.

HEROES: The Hiro Nakamura bits are still the best part of the show (and here I am contradicting myself on the funny-lovable-loser types on genre shows. Well- over here he is not the title character, and Maki Oka plays his role with more genuine charm). David Anders is unexpectedly funny as the baka gaijin masquerading as a Robin Hood type character. The other aspects of the show are just exposition for the rest of the season and were a little underwhelming (but hopefully the pay off will be worth it). And did they just kill off Captain Sulu? YOU SUCK!

BONES: This became one of my favourite shows last season. But everything seemed off for the most part during this season opener. The relationships, the chemistry between the actors, even the usually very interesting science that goes into explaining how the evil deeds were done- it all seemed like they took too long a summer vacation and are having a tough time getting back into the swing of things. Inexplicably, it all came back when the character of Zack came back in the last ten minutes or so- it’s not that the character is the glue of the show, it was like, hey- everyone is back, so let’s get back to work.

Like Heroes, this episode of Bones seems more like a set up for the rest of the season- the ongoing saga of Bones’ father, plus the search for the Fiji Husband and the Secret Society are all this show’s attempts at having a season long story arc that is popular nowadays. The only problem- this is one show that does not really need a season long story arc- the quirkiness of their relationships is fun enough to watch. Plus the introduction of a Secret Society Mystery that they have to solve almost feels like shark jumping.

REAPER: I was not planning on watching this and was not expecting much (despite being a Kevin Smith fan). The results? Very fun and a very Kevin Smith experience complete with a dead beat job where they just hang around wanting more in life and a smart mouth side kick. It proves that Kevin Smith can do humour without having the folks spout profanities and more importantly- without Jay or Silent Bob or overt references to his past works. Now, the real trick is to see if the show can carry on without Fat Bob (who is the original funny-lovable-loser).
BIONIC WOMAN: Did not see it, not sure if I want to watch a show that has an actor who is an admitted homophobe.

SMALLVILLE: Did the chick who does not want to admit she is Asian have to move to Shanghai wearing blonde wig?



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Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):

Really, really, really enjoying the new Birthday Massacre CD. I like at least much as I liked VNV Nation’s new album from earlier this year. Beautiful and haunting, it reminds me of the days gone past when I was inspired to write tons and tons of bad poetry and maybe a decent short story or two from listening to all the Cure albums up to Wish, watching Chasing Amy, discovering the works of Neil Gaiman (especially the Dust Covers compilation), hanging out at Salzers talking to that one girl who would always recommend great new tunes (introducing me to the wider world of Goth/Industrial) and hanging out on Silver Strand just standing on the beach, staring at the sea.

Creative impulses are stirring, I want to draw, sketch, write and just create new universes.

[But, Dammit- why does work have to zap all of my energy?! That is a stoopid excuse, though (smacks forehead with palm of the hand, returns to universe building, now just got to put stuff to paper…)]

On to other stuff, Fat Bob has finally relented and The Cure will finally play Austin! But before they do, the days will grow shorter, the leaves will fall, the animals head south or hibernate, the grounds will freeze, then the animals return and the frost goes away as the days get longer again and they finally play the Austin Music Hall on June 08, 2008.

Yes- not until June of 2008.

Hopefully there will be tickets left when I remember six months from now that they will be in town.

(This as I found out that a guy I work with once opened up for the band)

That said, I hope the new album is decent. I detest the fact that they dumped their keyboards and are opting for an all guitar sound. They sound alright, based on that DVD of performances with the new line up, but there is just something missing.

By the way, how much do you want to bet that the same that they will be playing Austin, it will be the same day that the Birthday Massacre or VNV Nation or Apoptygma Berzerk, will be playing here? That is the kind of luck I have by the way.

“Hey, Buddha/Allah/Gawd/Vishnu here- why don’t you have something nice; don’t mind the tons of crap that obligatorily comes with every single nice thing you will ever get…”
Self pitying rant over, moving right along.

Well, maybe one more- Why are all the cool Fantastic Fest films all on work nights?

Alright, okay and another one: They get a free ride to college, so who do the jocks at UT use their free pass to get STOOPIDER at college?

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Ugly & Dumb=Me + My TBM Review

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):
By the way- I am too dumb for New York and too ugly for Los Angeles.

Hence, I am in Austin.

But I am still too dumb and ugly for this place, so I actually live in the outskirts of this burg where no one notices or bothers me.

On that note, some words of creative encouragement from our old friend Mr. Jam (taken from: http://mrjam.typepad.com/diary/2007/09/how-to-make-it-.html#more):

“How to make it in the creative industries

THANKS FOR THE great feedback you sent me from yesterday’s piece. Clearly there are lots of creative, talented people in this community, and there’s an element of frustration at the fact that so much rubbish from obviously untalented people gets produced.

Well, I’m here with a message.

YOU CAN WRITE A TV SHOW OR NOVEL THAT MAKES THE CUT.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live.
Yes, the world centers of publishing are the UK and the US.
Yes, the world center of screenwriting is the US.
Yes, the world centers of music are the UK and the US.
And yes, it’s true that who you know and who you are connected with does count.

But you can achieve amazing things from a distance.

The questions that arose from yesterday’s piece about High School Musical were put very clearly by Catterpillerboy [hey- that’s me!], who said yesterday: “How does a writer get chosen for a project? …For struggling wannabe writers it sometimes feel insulting to see something so brain dead (and know that the writers got paid for that product) while we are here churning stuff out that will never see the light of day. Not to say that the stuff I am churning out is any good but if I am going to be writing crap, maybe I can get paid for it too?”

Meanwhile, my correspondent Poppy sounded depressed. “There’s so much bad stuff on television. It seems so unfair that the financing goes to the crap, while good, creative ideas are born on kitchen tables and stay there.”

These are good points.

Not all of us can live in Hollywood and have aunts and uncles who run film studios -- and that’s one of the reasons why so much bad stuff gets made. There’s a great deal of nepotism in the creative industries. Have you noticed how the credits at the end of films always include people who happen to have the same surname as the director and / or producer?!

But I think I can best illustrate how to make the grade with the big guys by referring to a real anecdote involving real people.

A friend of mine living in Hong Kong had an idea for a children’s TV series.

She got a group of people together and they wrote scripts, wrote a story bible, commissioned artists to mock up the characters, and even got some 3D animation done. Some of this work they paid for. Other people did it for nothing, because she asked them so nicely.

She racked up large debts by flying twice to LA. The first time, she hammered on doors of professional TV people, showed them her material, and got their feedback.

Then she came back to Hong Kong and revised everything based on what she had been told. At that point, I came in as a co-writer and worked on the characters and storyline and dialogue.

A couple of weeks ago, she flew back to LA with the revised material.

I saw her two days ago. She gave me the good news: she’s sold the whole project to a major US television corporation.

And you know what they liked about it? They liked its Asianness -- the fact that it wasn’t like the normal stuff they get.

The moral of this story: all you have to do to make it is to be serious about it.

To be a success, you have to want success. How much do you want it

-Nury Vitacchi”

On that note:

RAGE, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT

Just wanted to yell that out.

This past week had the first day of the year that felt like autumn, despite the season still being a few weeks away and we are probably going to suffer through 90 to 100 degree weather till the middle of November.

But it was a nice preview with comfortable weather, a chill that does not feel forced and the beautiful dreary, grim skies that I love so much. It makes me crave pumpkin pie and Halloween, apple cider and short days.

Currently walking with strangers:

I finally got the new Birthday Massacre CD, Walking With Strangers. It is currently on rotation at home and at work My first listen the other night noticed a more guitar focused sound which is not surprising as did the not add more guitarists to their line up?

Anyway- the synths become more the front of the sound towards the end of the album and the songs go from a harder rock sound to more a luscious, atmospheric feel that really harkens to the moodier songs found in Kiss me, Kiss me Kiss me, Disintegration and Wish era Cure. In fact, the ending song, Movie, really reminds me of Plainsong. The band retains that darker eighties band sound, they were just born twenty years later. They are categorized as Goth, industrial even- I just call them New Wave.

But, of course, it is all anchored by the always beautiful vocals of Chibi. A vocal as well as a visual dark angel- it is awesome how they exploit her abilities on a song like Red Stars, where the smashing guitars threaten to rip your ears with their metal stylings yet her voice guides you through it and you find yourself enjoying this song even though at first glance, it sounds like another, shudder, Korn wannabe.

I additionally love the two remakes of some of their older songs, especially Remember Me. That bass hook is especially haunting.

If there is anything I find amiss with the album, it is that the band seems too comfortable with their material. The songs are as good as the ones on Violet (an album that I plan on taking with me to the afterlife) but these sound like B-sides from that album, there is no progression in them like Cure trilogy mentioned above or like how VNV Nation progressed from the lovely harshness of Praise the Fallen to the lyrical perfection of Empires and finally to the zenith with Future Perfect.

Some songs also end abruptly, but I can get over that.

But, the Birthday Massacre is still a relatively young band, and I know they developed a decent following from their first album. They are probably using this as their ‘safe’ sound to build on what came before. This album still has that spark and energy that made me enjoy them in the first place.

Walking With Strangers bashes in and leaves you wanting more.*

Rating: A- (but then again I am biased)

*In comparison, another female fronted band that I like, Switchblade Symphony also had a terrific first album, Serpentine Gallery, which I will also be taking with me to the grave. However their follow up albums did not live up to their promise and the band just fell into being another cliché Goth band (Witches, anyone? That remix album was decent though).

And also, maybe with more material now, maybe the next time I see the Birthday Massacre they will not have played their entire library of songs during their main set and not have any left for an encore.
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