Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

March 30, 2016

Home again

Filed under: family,fitter/happier,news of the day — lexifab @ 8:33 pm

We’re back home after four days’ break in the Hunter Valley. The highlights were probably spending an hour have a leisurely wine tasting while the kids played with Leo the resident winery dog at Pokolbin Estate and taking a camel ride across the dunes in Anna Bay on our way home this morning (was a bit out of our way, but worth the detour).

It was very pleasant to have a solid few days of real break time. We had next to no internet or mobile coverage (thanks Vodafone) so about the most wired thing I managed to do was play a few rounds of Words with Friends. Other than that, it was all about chilling with the kids playing tennis or splashing about in the pool, drinking wine and reading.

I did mean to write. Honestly I did. I took my notebook and everything. But in the end I decided I was better off just trying to get some distance from my creeping anxiety about procrastination and just relax. It seems to have worked (a few choice bottles of plonk may not have hurt either). I’m back in a much more positive frame of mind. There’s still an enormous amount of stuff to do, but it feels less unmanageable than it did last week.

Right. Things to do. Let’s get to it.

March 22, 2016

That did not work

Filed under: administraviata,geekery,news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , — lexifab @ 8:42 pm

Boring technical note. I just tried to export this entire blog across to its own page at davidversace.com. It didn’t work.

Or rather, it did work, perfectly – but it merged with the blog that was already there, creating what we might technically refer to as a bit of a dog’s breakfast. I surmise at this point that my best bet is to create a separate website to host this blog, but that will probably take some concerted effort that won’t happen before I head away north for the Easter weekend.

Had another disappointment today, about which I’ll say nothing here, except to note that it means going back to the drawing board for a New Plan.

I now propose to turn my back on the disappointments and go proofread my story in preparation for its publication in At the Edge (details on the Other Site). And then watch an unhealthy amount of Daredevil.

March 17, 2016

Back to the Island 3.6 – I Do

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — Tags: — lexifab @ 10:06 pm

Quote: “Tell you what. If you can really stay put, really settle down, then I’ll stop chasing you. But you and I both know that’s not going to happen.” – Agent Edward Mars

Summary: After initially telling Ben he’s going to let his spinal tumour kill him, Jack finally agrees to perform the surgery when he discovers that Kate and Sawyer have slept together (and if there was ever any doubt that, at its heart, Lost is a soap opera, then I trust that sentence killed it off).

The Best Bit: The final scene cuts between the surgical ward where Jack and Juliette are operating to remove Ben’s tumour and the polar bear cages where Sawyer and Kate profess their kind-of-mutual love before Danny arrives to kill Sawyer. It’s one of the most effective dramatic scenes in the entire series to date. Everything works – the direction, the editing, the score and the performances all crank the tension up until it’s basically impossible to watch the scene without being 100% convinced that Sawyer is going to get shot in the head and dumped in the mud at Kate’s feet. And *then* Jack pulls his own murderous power-move and turns the whole scene around. Everything feels completely earned and completely convincing. It’s a great piece of television drama.

The Worst Bit: It’s just a shame that the rest of the episode is pretty dull. The flashback scene shows us a snippet of Kate’s life from when she was briefly married to the nicest cop ever portrayed on television (played by effortlessly charming goofball Nathan Fillion, he’s conscientious, doting, and he even does all his paperwork!) Naturally Kate sabotages everything by drugging him and fleeing as soon as he suggests she gets a passport, which to be fair would be quite tricky for a federal fugitive. There’s nothing really wrong with the plot – and it does afford another chance to see the ill-fated Agents Mars, who’s great – but it doesn’t add anything new to what we already knew about Kate, which is that she runs instead of solving problems. The back story exists for no other reason but to lend ironic weight to Jack’s bellowed command in the final scene: “Kate, damn it, run!”

The Literature: The Bible gets a brief look-in, during Eko’s funeral scene. Locke, using a rock to hammer Eko’s walking stick into the grave, pauses significantly at the words carved into it: “Let up your eyes and look north.” It’s a paraphrase of Genesis 13:14 “And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward” (I just picked the King James version by the way. None of the various texts agree on the wording, so I can forgive the fake-preacher Eko for getting the quote a bit wrong). There’s also a reference to John 3.5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (King James again. I have no idea what denomination Eko was supposed to be). Anyway, all very significant, I’m sure.

The Mythology: Angsty teenager Alex reappears, searching for her missing boyfriend, and we learn that she is not only one of the Others but also has some connection to Ben that makes her influential (albeit rather patronised by the older Others like Juliette and Danny). To be fair, Alex appears naive and has poor planning skills, so it’s not really surprising the ultra-serious grownup Others look down on her.

Rather more mysteriously, when Danny’s murderous blood-vengeance is finally let off its leash and he storms off to execute Sawyer, he cryptically remarks that “Shepherd wasn’t even on Jacob’s list.”  This may not quite be the first direct reference to someone called Jacob; it’s certainly the first mention of his list. (Spoiler: it’s going to come up again).

The Episode: Despite my very great fondness for performances by Nathan Fillion, “I Do” is an episode that I rewatched expecting to be mostly bored. For about the first thirty-eight minutes, that’s not an unfair expectation- the scenes between Ben, Jack and Juliette are more of the same tense posturing from previous episodes, the culmination of Kate and Sawyer’s caged-heat tension is perfectly watchable but not all that thrilling, and the flashback is a collection of nice moments with no surprises.

But that last scene elevates the episode in every way, and finishes on as solid a dramatic moment as any cliffhanger in the series to date. Not enough to win me over completely, but enough to rate seven charming goofball guest stars.

March 15, 2016

Sunday Monday Tuesday Reset

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 9:30 pm

I originally thought that I would run a weekly “keep myself honest” column over at PretentiousAuthor.com. In retrospect I think it would clutter the site up for no particular value for the readers.

It has some value for me, though, so I’m going to do it here instead. I’ll try to keep it short.

What I worked on: I revised the ending of ‘Silver the Moon in Ascension’ (aka ‘Magic robots vs Werewolves: Dawn of Justice’), I hand-wrote a few pages of my story about a monster hunting magistrate, I began researching my story idea for an ecopunk anthology, I wrote a drabble and I sent out my first pretentious-author newsletter to a whopping four subscribers!

I’ve been experimenting in the last few months with doing longhand first drafts. I used to do it, once upon a very long time ago, but I lost the habit somewhere. Early results seem to indicate that I write fast with longhand (not as fast as I type, but also with far fewer pauses for thought), that my writing sprints tend to last no more than about forty minutes at the most, and that I can generally crank out about 300 words (or two-ish pages of my notebook) in ten minutes or so. The prose tends to be a bit overwritten, but not much more than my regular prose. I expect the process of transcription will help me cut the text back to a lean flow. We’ll see.

What I’ve added to my work plan: More longhand drafting on the magistrate story, a knuckle-down redraft of Silver the Moon, writing a short-short submission for a CSFG horror flash fiction contest, more research for the ecopunk story, and outlining my serial fiction project that I plan to start soon.

For reference, the anthology I am aiming at is Ticonderoga’s Ecopunk – speculative tales of radical futures.  I’m inspired to have a go for a few reasons – one, because getting a story accepted into a Ticonderoga anthology has evolved from mere writing goal to authorial white whale; two, because I don’t write enough science fiction and I consider it a real gap in my repertoire; and three, because as I admitted on Leife Shallcross’ blog a few weeks ago, I am a lazy-arsed researcher, which borders on the disgraceful.

(So far the hard part has not been developing a workable SF concept. It’s finding the right story to attach to it).

Taking my shot at a scientifically-plausible short fiction piece is a real personal challenge. Honestly, it’s not a target I expect to hit, knowing the standard that the editors are expecting. But I won’t shore up my weaknesses by avoiding them.

 

 

March 8, 2016

Back to the Island 3.5 – The Cost of Living

Filed under: back to the island,reviewage — Tags: — lexifab @ 10:45 pm

Quote – “What about Eko?” – Charlie Pace
“We’ll catch up. We’re all going to the same place.” – John Locke

Summary: A feverish Eko wanders into the jungle to confess his sins to the ghost of his brother, pursued by Locke and company. Ben and Juliet appeal to Jack to help them but to very different ends.

The Best Bit: The flashbacks to Eko’s Nigerian childhood and his brief, blood-soaked term as Brother Yemi’s successor is riddled with African clichés of murderous gangsters, pious villagers and poorly-managed Red Cross medical shipments, but it is beautifully crafted, acted and shot.

The Worst Bit: It seems mean to pick on Nikki and Paulo again, but for the most part there are no weak scenes here, so I’m going with the inexplicably weak gag of Paulo using a toilet when everyone else is being deadly serious.

Books: Nobody is reading, but Juliet name checks To Kill a Mockingbird in a scene where she pitches to jack that he murder Ben with surgery while ostensibly singing his praises. It’s a pretty tight scene, but it doesn’t have too much in common with Mockingbird. Neither does the rest of the plot – unlike Boo Radley, Mr Eko is neither innocent of his many crimes nor does he regret committing them.

The mythology: The Smoke Monster straight-up murders Eko here, immediately after his declaration that he does not repent his many sins. This is the first time we get a clear sense that there’s a link between the Island’s ghosts and the Smoke Monster, though the nature of their connection is not yet apparent. The killing also hints that the Smoke Monster is operating according to a moral framework – despite several opportunities, it does not kill Eko until he after asserts that he is proud of his decisions. Even the machete murder decisions. Or rather, especially those ones.

The episode: Another one bites the dust. Literally, this time, with Eko face-planted to death by the Smoke Monster. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje decided he didn’t like living in Hawaii, which is a way better reason to get killed off from a TV show than being busted for DUI like some actors we could mention.

The A plot of “The Cost of Living” is thin, with Eko wandering about until he meets his brother, and the flashbacks to his violent past are arresting. But it’s Ben and Juliet’s silent war to control the Others through Jack that is the episode’s best material in retrospect, showing both Others to their best effect. Ben manipulates by telling the truth, while Juliet plots bloody treachery with fierce declarations of loyalty. It’s kind of beautiful, in a pre-Game of Thrones kind of way.

I give it eight daggers in Caesar’s back.

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