Archives for category: TV

I can’t let the 50 year anniversary of Star Trek pass without marking it as special to me. I stumbled into The Original Series long after its original run. I’d seen the movies and some franchise episodes. I liked them, but it was reading the novels that made me love them so much that I wanted to write my own Trek fiction. This avalanche of inspiration led me to watch… everything Trek. All that amazing Star Trek goodness inspired me to not only play in Gene Roddenberry’s sandbox, but also to continue what I learned from that into creating original fiction.

The end result to date of falling in love with Kirk, Spock, and Bones is that I won publication in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies VII, VIII, and Ten. The thrill of seeing my byline on those pro sale stories will forever be a landmark of my life, as a reader, a writer, and a human. That experience instilled in me a great love of writing and a work ethic that has led me this year to another longheld dream come true, being published in Analog.

Today, on the date when Star Trek first aired 50 years ago, I salute The Great Bird of the Galaxy. He enhanced my life in ways he never knew, but that I will treasure forever.

You know the question some people have to think long and hard about and others snap out an instant answer? The one that goes: If you could go back in time and have a conversation with anybody from the past, who would it be? I’m one of the snap it out people. Rainer Maria Rilke (though I will admit Nikola Tesla is a close second).

I first discovered Rilke’s poetry through the beautiful TV series Beauty and the Beast. The Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton one, not the CW one. That show made me fall in love with poetry. I’m not quite sure how Rilke’s distinctive, gorgeous, and not as accessible as many others poems struck such a cord with me that they rose above all others, but I’m grateful for the introduction to what has become a lifelong love for all things Rilke.

Yes, all things. In addition to his poetry that paints word pictures with its rhythm and lyrical descriptiveness, he also wrote equally lyrical prose. His book Letters to a Young Poet, in which he instructs and encourages a young friend, serves to do the same for me. There’s a particular line about creativity and the ability to write on command being different for different people and the way it must rise as sap in a tree (paraphrased, but the way I remember it many years after reading it), that resonated with me at a time when I struggled to fit into the molds of others with rigid ideas about how one must write. I felt that I had been “given permission” by my mentor from long ago to write the way my brain insisted was my way. That that made it THE way for me. Even still, when I rue the way I work, taking however much time my way needs to plot, and name characters, and order stories, the words “as sap in a tree” creep into my being, I relax, and go about my thing, my way. Even in a passing comment in correspondence, Rilke enhanced my own life, so, so many years after his death.

His death…. I read a story that he pricked his finger on a rose thorn, contracted blood poisoning, and died. What a tragic, yet romantic story. How fitting, though terrible, for a tragic, romantic poet.

This Brain Pickings article gives a taste of Letters to a Young Poet, and a flavor of Rilke himself, a man with such talent, such wordsmithery that he made me love the line “my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes”.

Some visits with my mom in the nursing home are better than others. There are times when she’s a bit snarky, times when she feels bad, and times when she’s sound asleep and I don’t even get to talk to her. Then there are times like tonight.

As I walked in I saw that she was watching The MTV Movie Awards. She was doing well and we chatted about all kinds of things. I noticed that her gaze kept turning to the TV, even as my head swiveled periodically to see who was onscreen. So of course our conversation was interspersed with exclamations about celebrities, hairstyles, and ceremonywear. Even that most dire of antagonists named Alzheimer’s cannot make her forget her love of Hollywood.

She always loved to read about
movie stars. Back in her day the royalty of Old Hollywood reigned on the pages of myriad movie magazines and the ever evolving technology of television. I distinctly remember the moment when I pulled open the doors of a large cabinet under our dining room buffet as a child, and discovered the aging paper of her old magazines that were a record of her love for those old movies. Her sister, my Aunt Pearl from previous posts, had an old photo album with crumbly cutouts cannibalized from her own collection pasted in for posterity. The apparent genetic pull goes even further back and all the way to Hollywood itself. My grandfather’s niece moved “out there” and became an obscure part of Hollywood history as a stand in during Old Hollywood’s hey day. So my childhood was filled with references to movie stars, movies, and even family lore from The Golden Age of Hollywood.

I fell under the spell of Old Hollywood as well, from watching a TV channel that showed the old black and white gems late at night and on weekends. Such classics as It Happened One Night, Arsenic and Old Lace, Mrs. Minever, The Thin Man Series, Being Up Baby,  Manhattan Melodrama…and more than I can record or recall. They all went into the giant mental vat that became the origin of my urge to write screenplays, though it was a long time before I realized it. Little did I know as the kid who loves old movies that one day I’d write screenplays that do well in some cool screenwriting competitions.

I didn’t really put it all together until tonight, as my mom and I found a moment when we could both be together in the same time and place, through that fantasy world called Hollywood. It had never really occurred to me how deeply my life has always been connected to movie magic and people who love it, even lived it. It makes me feel as if every screenplay I write is part of my heritage. A heritage and history I’ve become a real part of, in ways so unexpected that tonight, suddenly, I feel awed by just how deeply my love of Hollywood runs through my veins.

A young boy with mother problems goes to live with his two crazy old uncles, and ends up with an elderly secondhand lion. Sound too weird for you? Hold on. Turns out the uncles aren’t crazy after all (pretty much), and the lion contentedly roams the cornfield she thinks is her natural habitat. Oh, and she becomes a hero, when she gives her life saving her cub…in the form of the young boy. The mother problems only get worse, though. Turns out the lion is a better mother to the boy than his human mother is.

It’s still weird, but in a wonderful way.

Secondhand Lions could be pictured beside the definition of quirky in the dictionary. Uncles Hub and Garth McCann are as eccentric as it gets. They disappeared for forty years, then live as cranky, frankly scary hermits in a strange old house. Rumored to harbor a huge fortune they never spend, they make great sport of scaring away hopeful
salesmen, until Walter asks them why they don’t at least find out what’s for sale. It might be something they didn’t know they wanted. That’s how they discover the joys of skeet shooting.

Walter is a greatnephew dumped on them by his aforementioned problematic mother. Selfish, flighty, and greedy Mae leaves him there with instructions to find that money. He eventually does, but what he finds first is the supersized hearts of his uncles. A much greater treasure.

This movie has mystery, grand adventure, love and laughter. It is only as it nears its end that it becomes quite apparent that Uncle Garth’s outlandish stories of his life on the wild side with Hub and Jasmine, the woman in a picture that Walter names his secondhand lion after, are all true. Unbelievably, preposterously true.

It’s possible that this movie’s charm and appeal lies largely in the hands of the actors portraying Garth and Hub. Michael Caine and Robert Duval are perfection, as two extreme curmudgeons living life to the fullest, their way. That they take in a boy in need in no way diminishes their larger than life zest for life. What it does is make them loveable. Everybody could do with an Uncle Garth and Uncle Hub, to make life interesting…and lived with zest.

I’d seen Secondhand Lions years ago on TV and loved its chopped up for commercials everything. I finally got it on DVD and love the whole glorious, hilarious, serious, poignant, thought provoking whole of it even more. It’s one of those movies that sticks with you and makes you want to watch it again, as soon as the credits roll.

Secondhand Lions Official Trailer

If you’re a fan of The X-Files, the series’ best show runners, or both, you saw the headline of this New York Times article and the episode “Home” popped into your head. In a series full of stories ranging from creepy to scary to outright terrifying, Ma Peacock and her boys stand out as unforgettably horrifying. In a good way, as well as the stuff of nightmares residue watching it leaves on the back of your brain. The good way part is the storytelling that lies behind the masterful creepout.

Glen Morgan and James Wong intentionally wrote a scary story and unintentionally created a TV episode that became so notorious that it was banned. In this insightful, fascinating article/interview they tell their story behind that story. Filled with behind the scenes recollections and information, it’s a must read for X-Files fans.

This article is the most comprehensive I’ve seen about one of my favorite actors, Ben Whishaw. His place in global pop culture is firmly set with another turn as Q in the upcoming Bond outing, Spectre, but here people who only know him as Q can learn about the many roles he’s seemingly effortlessly made his own. There are bits about the private person Whishaw prefers to be as well. Every new piece of the intriguing puzzle that is perhaps the finest actor of his generation makes him more accessible, and ever more admirable.

This Variety article has some interesting insight from creator Julian Fellows on his feelings about the series and the possible future incarnations of Downton Abbey, as well as a really lovely one minute Season 6 teaser trailer that includes just about all the main cast.