Current Entertainment Friday, Jan 22 2010 

Currently reading: Yikes, nothing at the moment. I guess I should fix that. Most recently read the absolute worst popular fiction book I’ve ever read. (Not my usual reading fare, but it’s good airplane and travel reading.) There didn’t seem to be any plot development at all until the last couple of chapters. The characters did out-of-the-blue unmotivated things. The guys got together and hung out and talked about their feelings for the girls (what guys really talk about at diners, or what girls like to think they talk about at diners, hm?). Huge cast of characters drawn over from a previous book; more time was spent going over the plot from the first book than having a plot in THIS book. Took place in a small town…small enough that anything anyone did outside of their house was seen by at least one — usually more — other main character; I’m from a small town and it ain’t quite like that. Reading this book was kind of like work, but once you start you feel obligated to finish. I find it remarkable that anyone published this book.

Currently watching on TV: Chuck, loved-loved-loved the episode I just watched online, “Operation Awesome.” This is good fun stuff that leaves you with that “feel-good” thing. The Closer remains at the top of my list, though it isn’t currently showing. Can I marry Fritz? 24 has just started, so far so good. Could be interesting. Gosh, did you see what Renee did to get the security bracelet off that guy’s wrist?! Woah, was that unexpected! (Oh, yeah, “that makes her craaaazy.”) Yeah…I turned away from that one, as one sometimes has to do on 24. I just watched the first episode of Human TargetMostly because of the lead actor, who I like and have vaguely followed over the years. It’ll probably be like for most things these days though, if I’m home and happen to want to watch something on TV, I’d watch it. I still like the Law and Orders, but don’t catch them often. Have gotten into Criminal Minds recently after being turned off earlier by some uber-violent sicko stuff in some episodes, but again I don’t catch it often. I think that’s about it! I can always dig people house-shopping on HGTV.

Most recently watched movie: Airplane! Oh yeah, baby. “And that’s when I developed my drinking problem.” “And don’t call me Shirley.” “–A hospital? What is it? –It’s a big building with sick people in it, but that’s not important right now.” “And they’re perfect for keeping hot dog buns fresh.” “Would you like that smoking or non?” “Jim never has two cups of coffee at home.” “El noa you smoko.” “Everything is perfectly fine. And, by the way, does anyone know how to fly an airplane?”

Most recently watched movie in the theater: Uhhhh…the latest Harry Potter movie, months ago!

Currently listening to: The Moody Blues and New Order, both hits albums. The Moody Blues are mostly a band from before my time, though I loved “Your Wildest Dreams” in the 80’s. It’s so weird that I’ve come to love them so much. I love the harmony, the richness and energy of the music with all the different instruments, oh, the flute in “Nights in White Satin”! I could listen to that CD over and over and over again…and have! I got New Order just recently, man is that a fun album. New wave I’d call them, not sure exactly what it is, synth pop or something. Somehow I never heard of them in the 80’s, though I vaguely knew 3 songs. “Blue Monday” is the best, and the long version of it on Disc 1 is awesome. It was a good buy, I like the songs I didn’t know before too. Good fun stuff, good to clean your house to and dance around a bit.

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I Love Chuck!!! (spoilers) Thursday, Jan 21 2010 

If you have not seen Episode #4, the Operation Awesome episode, of the third season of Chuck, DO NOT READ FURTHER.

Wow, wow, wow. I had so much fun watching this episode it prompted me to write something here after almost a year!

I have actually missed every single episode of Chuck this year so far, and have watched them online, turning the volume off during those annoying repetitive commercials. I was shocked — SHOCKED — to see Episode 3 (the Angel de la Muerte) episode, in which it looked like Awesome had been killed. (Usually you kind of hear about these things in advance, online or in previews or something.)

I love the Awesome character. I am super-impressed with the writers’/actor’s ability to create a character that is so darn perfect and “awesome” in every way…and you actually don’t hate him! In fact, he seems like a genuinely nice guy, somebody you’d like to hang out with as a friend, or to be your older brother.  You’d enjoy hanging out with him even though he’s smarter than you, better-looking than you, more charming than you, more athletic than you, etc. etc. etc.  This ain’t easy to pull off, folks!

So I was both shocked and very much saddened. I wondered why they did it, and figured, I guess shows do what they have to do, you know, and killing off Awesome brings some “reality” to what is an absurdly unreal show (I hated it in the first episode and didn’t watch again until I think the second season…when I “got it” — oh, it’s comedy!), and it opens up dating storyline possibilities for Ellie. Then I also thought, well, it’s kind of refreshing how they did it, no violent struggle or anything, just a quick look at a guy’s face and his needle, Awesome’s awesome bedside manner, cut. Cue largely wordless scene of Chuck reacting to the news about Awesome, and watching Ellie, anticipating her reaction. Interesting storytelling, I thought, maybe we won’t see the scene you “have to” see, of the closest person getting the bad news.

I don’t watch much TV these days. So I didn’t see the promos that some people on the official Chuck message boards referred to that clued them in to what would happen in Operation Awesome. Right before I watched the episode (the episode where I expected to see them dealing with Awesome’s death, and, based on the title, going after the guy who killed him), I saw a Season 3 cast photo, which Awesome was in, and I thought…maybe, just maybe…he’s not dead? Oh, I have to watch right now!

Opening scene — Awesome’s very much alive! OK, yeah, I said it out loud — “He’s alive!” And I was absurdly happy. (“Absurdly” b/c we are talking about a TV show here…I had a frustrating day at work, maybe that contributed!)

Oh. My. Gosh. This is a classic Chuck episode. All the things I like about Chuck. Laughter, family/friend/loved one feel-good stuff, ridiculous juxtapositions of all types.

Favorite lines/moments:

Big Mike: “Usually mornings are Big Mike Time. Time for reflection and pastry.

Awesome and the cat…no, wait, the bear…no, wait…the headless bear…oh, my gosh, I loved Awesome more with every word. Oh, and LOL again, Ellie’s little reactions to Casey after Chuck’s version of the evening.

Casey: “Something else you should know about me. I love guns.” (after several couple of characters have told us how much they hate guns)

Morgan…quite unexpectedly!…takes control of the rebelling employees. What a nice bit of character development!

I think it’s still a question whether the show can continue to be the feel-good fun that is with Chuck and Morgan “growing up.” I hope it succeeds, because it’s pretty rare for a show to actually develop its characters rather than leaving them static…really rare in comedy! One odd moment in this episode, I thought, was when Angie Harmon’s Sydney looked at Chuck and just based on looking at him was like, “You can’t be the spy.” Well, in Seasons 1-2, OK, I can go with that. They had Chuck looking pretty nerdy/goofy/geeky, whatever you prefer. But this Season? His hair is very different, and I don’t think he has that nerdy/goofy/geeky look anymore, I don’t know if it’s just the hair, or they’re costuming him differently, or what, even makeup could make a difference, but I just didn’t see anything in his physical look that would make a character with a stereotypical view in mind say that about him — he looks like a very good-looking guy now (not just a “good-looking guy once you get past they nerdy/goofy/geeky factor,” which of course he always was). Maybe she thinks only guys with blond hair are spies, so Chuck is clearly not a spy?

Anyway, this was a rip-roaring good fun episode. I can’t believe I actually believed he was dead! I didn’t doubt it for a second, not until moments before watching this episode. I mean, really, I grew up with soap operas — no one’s ever dead, not even if you saw them die right in front of your eyes. I remember reading about one soap where a character was decapitated…and still came back later. But I never questioned this. I don’t know if it was tiredness on my part, or just a really Awesome job by writers/directors/actors/and all.

In retrospect, of course, the brief “informing Chuck” doesn’t make much sense now — was it Sarah that told him? “It’s Devon.” Then hugs. Yeah, that’s not how it would have played in Chuck-land had Awesome been kidnapped. It was a cheat. But…I forgive them. The surprise in the next episode was…Awesome!

This season’s episodes can be seen online on NBC’s website.

Current Entertainment Monday, Feb 23 2009 

I happened to wind up over at my old blog, and realized I’d forgotten all about the various random things I’d posted there. I came across one that was interesting to look back at, “Current Entertainment.” Since it was interesting to look back at the old one, I decided to write a new one. Friends and family, feel free to share what you’re watching/reading etc. in a comment.

Currently reading: Well, I just finished reading Perspectives on Election. It was OK. Sometimes I can only take so much of the polemical kind of stuff. It’s in the “5 views” series, with 5 contributions plus responses from two Calvinists (one supra- and one I guess infra-, I’ve already forgotten precisely), one Arminian, one open theist, and one Christian universalist. I think I found the Christian universalist chapter most interesting because it was a view I was unfamiliar with (though I can’t say I was convinced by the author’s argument). At least the book was mostly in good spirit — 4 of the 5 authors were considerate and respectful in their responses. The fifth, a fellow named Reymond (the supra-), ended several chapters saying he was praying for the authors to see the error of their ways and basically came off as quite smug, arrogant, and condescending. On the whole, not a bad book if you’re interested in what the various views are out there among the broader Christian community.

I hate starting books (love reading them but hate starting them…if that makes any sense), so I haven’t started it yet but I have from the library Peace Like a River, which my friend Amy told me about. That’s next on the list.

Currently watching on TV: Monday nights are a killer! I would need to take a day off work to watch all this in one day. At 8 I watch Chuck and House. House is beginning to annoy me a bit, but I still watch it so far. Chuck I used to think (from the first episode and maybe part of another) was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen. But recently I’ve seen a few more episdoes and found it hilarious. One of my favorite recent TV lines comes from here, “I was having a great time until the terrorists stole my pants and tried to kill me.” It really captures the spirit of the show, too. It’s kind of silly, but fun and with a really good heart. Kind of like Chuck.

At 9 I watch The Closer and 24. The Closer (along with Battlestar Galactica) has really become my only must-see TV. I had gotten to where even though I watched every 24 episode, it was mostly because you had to to get what was going on. But this season is different. The new FBI agent partner brings a human face to what had become almost a joke of “who’s going to get tortured in this episode?”. Seeing it through her eyes, in my view, makes it fresh again.

At 10 I watch one of the two shows I had to miss on my DVD recorder, if I managed to record them. Otherwise I watch them online later.

Normally I actually don’t watch too much TV anymore.

Most recently watched movie: Ummmmm…oh my gosh, I actually can’t think of one. I saw The Village a month ago or so at a friend’s house. That was pretty good. Oh, my most recent in-house movie was Consenting Adults. Rated R but not nearly as sketchy as it might sound from the title. I’d wanted to see it for some time because a young Kimberly McCullough, who grew up on General Hospital in the 80’s-90’s and is still on today, was in it. Not worth it for that, BTW. I don’t think she even had lines. The movie was pretty disappointing on the whole. The plot had promise, I guess, but somehow I never really bought into those characters, except maybe for Kevin Spacey’s character, the bad guy.

Most recent movie watched in the theater? Oh, my, couldn’t say. I’d’ve liked to’ve seen the new James Bond movie, and also the new Liam Neeson movie Taken, but it never worked out. Maybe Mamma Mia was it? Found that one extremely disappointing. It is wrapped up in happy bouncy songs and happy bouncy people, but it is at it’s heart a celebration of hedonism and lack of responsibility. I think a lot of people missed all that amidst the happy bounciness. I did really like the dance scene to “Lay All Your Love on Me” (I song I LOVE from Information Society, didn’t know ABBA did it first) where the guys are out on the dock and they all jump off.

Around the same time I saw the new X-Files movie…extremely disappointing is putting it mildly.

Currently listening to: In the morning when I wake up, the radio. My CD player alarm broke. It’s not even a good wake-up station. There is a good wake-up station, but for some reason I can’t pick it up well in the master bedroom. In the car, I’m seriously missing my free SIRIUS subscription and my favorite channel, 22. I’m listening to the radio or to one of three CDs — Burek by Dino Merlin, Big Thing by Duran Duran, or Who We Are by Lifehouse. That is more or less random, the CDs that happened to be there.

Time to go set up those other Monday night shows to record!

Favorite Childhood Books Friday, Jan 30 2009 

I have again been hit with a period of extreme interest in writing, so I thought it might be a good time to post something else about writing…at least indirectly so.

Below are my favorite children’s books, having in mind around up to 6th grade — or, probably actually younger (not my genre, BTW). I may be forgetting some — I read voraciously as a kid. A couple of these are kind of obscure, so I’d love to hear from anyone else who grew up reading and loving them.

1. The Ghost of Windy Hill, by Clyde Robert Bulla (1968)– my all-time favorite no questions asked, I must have read this book 5 or more times over the childhood years. It is kind of a suspenseful mystery, yet nothing violent or inappropriate. I also was stunned to look it up the other day and find out it takes place in 1851! I think as a kid I really had no grasp of what living in a different time meant. Reading that made me realize why some parts of the book seemed so strange, like something involving a stream and something involving something that seemed like a greenhouse but wasn’t exactly (sorry, it’s been a couple decades, I don’t remember it clearly). They were probably getting their drinking or washing water or something from the stream…which didn’t make a lick of sense to me at age 8 or whatever. But I think that vague sense of strangeness was actually part of what drew me into the novel.

Check it out on Amazon and Wikipedia.

2. Betsy-Tacy-Tib, as I thought of it, more properly known as the Betsy-Tacy series, by Maud Hart Lovelace (1940’s) — wow, I loved these books. Interestingly, they also take place in the past, late 1800’s to early 1900’s, in Minnesota (to a Florida girl Minnesota may as well have been China). Again, this explains why some things seemed so strange to me about the book, the calling cards, things like that. The stories basically follow the (mundane but thoroughly engrossing!) adventures of two friends, beginning at age 5, then the new friend Tib that moves to their street, up through (at least) Betsy’s wedding. My memories are so vague on the stories, but I do remember some strange intriguing thing about them visiting these people (they seemed like foreigners of something to me, it was all very strange!) no one else knows and getting their signatures for some kind of petition (this is where I learned about petitions), but then people not believing the signatures were real because they didn’t know the names. But as I’ve read little bits online, I remember them dressing as beggars, leaving calling cards, Tib being from Milwaukee (the first time I heard of Milwaukee, and where I learned about the German cultural aspects of Milwaukee). Apparently there is a small legion of fans of this series out there. I found these books in my church library as a kid — what a joy to see that other people out there loved them too!

To read the opening lines (and find other information), click here.

Check it out on Amazon, Wikipedia (where you can learn that the series was “written at progressively more difficult reading levels as the characters age” — how clever! — I don’t recall noticing that as a child), and the Betsy-Tacy Society.

3.  Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder — I’m not even going to bother with links. Is there anyone unfamiliar with this series? If you grew up in the 80’s you’ve at least seen the TV show. The show was pretty different in a lot of ways; it had to be because of the constraints of the genre. I loved both. Again, I have weird little unconnected memories from the books, the family living in a not-a-real-house thing with dirt and grass on top, maple syrup (we ain’t got trees where you can get stuff out of the trunk in Florida — weird!), Nellie and her pale skin looking down on Laura for her tanned skin (huh!), Laura passing some test at age 15 (!!!!!) to become a teacher, Laura refusing to say she will “obey” Almanzo (Manly!) in their wedding vows, and the last book in the series so clearly written in a different style, so sad with the death of their baby, actually it kind of made marriage look depressing (shortly after reading that one I learned that its stark differences were due to lack of editorial involvement — and the Wikipedia article linked to above says the material is of a much more mature nature). Anyway, good, good stuff, and if you have somehow never read them, you need to remedy that!

4. The Narnia series, by CS Lewis (1940’s-1950’s) — magical, incredible books. Like most people, probably, I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first, and loved it, but was always disappointed aftwerward that the kids were not the focus (or not even in) the subsequent books. I have again only vague memories — I do recall being traumatized when, as it seemed to me at least, two characters were about to go sail in some boat right over the edge of the earth — and they are confounded by many viewings of the 1979 TV movie (first made-for-TV movie, who knew?), plus a coule of viewings of the recent film, and the more recent Prince Caspian film (am I too old to be saying that that Prince Caspian was darn cute?). But these are exciting, engaging, enchanting books, with Christian themes incorporated (though not in a way to put off non-Christians). The Wikipedia article is interesting, but includes the requisite (for Wikipedia) criticisms, like how some people find the books racist (for making fun of some made-up country called Calormene or something) and sexist  (for disparagingly noting that Susan is now only interested in lipstick and nylons — hence proving that Lewis disdained women’s sexuality). Puh-lease. These are the type of people who could look at the dishes in my cabinet and find something racist and sexist about them. As for Susan’s obsession with her lipstick…does that symbolize sexual maturity (womanhood) or frivolousness (misplaced priorities, perhaps vanity)? Hmmmmm….seems obvious to me it’s the latter…unless you’re just looking for any excuse to impugne Lewis. Whatever. These are incredible adventure stories — if you haven’t read them, you really must! Read them for the adventure and the magical delight of the children and the joy of Narnia…not for some psychoanalysis of Lewis (!).

As I reflect on these books, one thing I note that they all have in common is a certain fantasitic quality, some kind of other-worldiness. Quite literally with Narnia, but with the others more of a removal from time and geography. In a sense they were just as different as Narnia from rural Florida, for a girl who knew nothing more than Florida and our northern neighbors GA and AL. Of course, later there were family vacations around the country, and much later, even world travel. But as a child I traveled through time and space (and wardrobes!) quite regularly through the books above and many, many others. I suspect that I owe a great deal of who I am today to that childhood literary travel. And I am grateful that while I might have begged for toys and such as a child that I didn’t get (and didn’t need), I never had to beg for books. My elementary school teacher mother bought any book I wanted, and my church library (unfortunately no longer in existence — the library, not the church!) was available to me twice a week.

Least favorite childhood book? Black Beauty. I must have started that book three or four times but always found myself completely bored and unable to continue. How much can I read about a dumb horse, anyway? (Maybe if I’d grown up with horses I’d have enjoyed it…?) Actually, I think the same is true of Little Women — I just couldn’t get into it. And the title annoyed me I seem to recall.

What were your favorite childhood books? What drew you into them? Any least favorite ones come to mind?

Georgian Reporter Shot in Arm Doing Live Report Thursday, Aug 14 2008 

Watch the video here.

Ratings info: There is no gore. You do see blood on her arm, but nothing that will make anyone squeamish unless you really can’t take the sight of any blood. The viewer comments below have R-rated language, though. This gal could probably get some marriage proposals out of this whole thing, it sounds like.

I am making light, but of course this is really terrible, and the reporter did keep remarkably cool.

Fun Stuff for Anna Devane Fans Tuesday, Aug 5 2008 

By popular demand (okay, no one has really demanded it, but to my never-ending surprise the post on my blog that’s gotten the most hits, ever since I wrote it, is Anna Devane Delirium — who knew there were so many Anna Devane fans out there?) — here is a collection of websites fans of Anna Devane might enjoy exploring.

Your comments and additions are welcome! (I of course reserve the right to delete anything inappropriate.) Also this is more links than I usually have in one post so I’m not going to test them all as I usually do — please let me know if a link is broken.

Fan fiction:

The Gift — Anna is regaining her memory and rediscovering her family…but a bad guy is also in the mix! (This one’s incomplete as of this writing.)

Once a Thief — Anna breaks the law just a tad and winds up in Robert’s stomping ground, about 10 years (I think) after the explosion that supposedly killed them and Faison. He still has amnesia and doesn’t know her. “The Gift” and “Once a Thief” are both top-notch fan fic. There are some typos, but the story is lots of fun and true to the characters. You’ll be able to picture Finola, Tristan, and the gang saying the dialog. The story is complete.

General Hospital fan fiction, including the above two. You may find other stories you like there — depends what you’re looking for.

Youtube:

A lot of people have put up 80’s, 90’s, and more recent GH clips. You can pretty quickly tell whether they’re Robert-Holly, Robert-Anna, or Duke-Anna fans. I never watched Holly so that’s not my fave, but I can tell from the clips the actors were great together. Loved Duke and Anna, loved Robert and Anna both as friends and as a reunited couple in the 90s. Haven’t much cared for GH in general since — not a big fan of the mob-as-good-guys-with-hearts-of-gold thing. Glorification and romanticization of violent criminals bothers me, I dunno, maybe I’m strange.

Anyway, here are some of the Youtube user pages where you’ll find clips you might enjoy (check out the playlist feature if they have that — you can watch clips in order!).

Carali1984

ChenJade3 (who has stopped by here before)

MmeHazel

lovegymnasts

LoriJo22

GMRC2

There are others but I think these are the ones with the most videos.

Other video clip sites:

Imageevent — This site has some early videos I’ve seen only here. The quality is often not good (I’m sure the source tapes suffer from age and repeated viewings)…but you can pair it with a transcript (exact or good summary) from one of the sites below!

Transcripts/Plot Summaries:

Anna & Robert Transcripts — Fun stuff! Exact dialog transcripts.

Curlyqgrl — Also fun stuff. Extensive plot summaries.

Official Sites:

Tristan Rogers’s official site — unfortunately Tristan doesn’t seem to hang out there too much ;), and it often devolves into people sniping about whether Robert’s true love is Holly or Anna. (Feel free to join the debate if that’s terribly important to you!) Still there’s some fun stuff there, and his fans stay on top of what Tristan’s up to.

If Finola Hughes has an official site and you know about it…do tell!

Other sites:

ScorpioFiles — Lot of stuff, I haven’t explored it all yet. Has transcripts too.

GH Who’s Who — Probably not much you won’t find on the other sites, but a nice reference nonetheless. Someone has put in a fairly lengthy lookback at Anna’s early days on GH, which really introduced the character.

Who is Anna Devane? — Again not much different here, but worth a look.

Anna and Duke — You can guess the subject of this one! I have to say, while soaps put on many gorgeous weddings, and among my favorites are Bo & Hope’s and Cruz & Eden’s, no soap couple ever looked as gorgeous as in Duke & Anna’s wedding. Loved her dress. Loved his kilt. Beautiful.

And one of the most emotionally impactful scenes I’ve ever seen on a soap, perhaps just shy of Felicia finding out who Maxie’s heart donor is and Tony bending over to hear his daughter’s heart beating, is this one, where Duke first sees Anna after she has miscarried. Beautifully played.

Enjoy!

Anna Devane Delirium Tuesday, Jun 17 2008 

I write fiction. I loved General Hospital in the 80’s — I only started watching around the late 80’s maybe, but read about it (and every other soap — ok, I was and still am a bit of an obsessive freak sometimes) regularly in Soap Opera Digest. (Yeah, I had a subscription — it was kind of like a serialized novel where your imagination got to fill in the details.) I love strong-though-sometimes-vulnerable characters, male and female, who’ve done something pretty horrible in their past and seeking redemption while continuing to live with the consequences of their actions — some examples would be Xena (Lucy Lawless) from Xena: Warrior Princess and Angel (David Boreanaz) from Buffy. There are others, but those are the first that come to mind.

I say all this to set the stage, because for the past three days (Saturday to Monday) I have been absolutely consumed with another such character — Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) from General Hospital. If you don’t write, I’m not sure I could explain this to you. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced any mini-character/writing obsession quite this strongly. It’s like electricity wanting desperately to escape from your body (and preferably into a keyboard). It’s insatiable obsession that makes you unable to go to bed (I was up all night Saturday and until after 4 Sunday, catching some late morning/early afternoon zz’s Sunday) or stop to eat or basically do anything but immerse yourself in the character, the storyline, the missing pieces, the analytical process of examining exactly what it is about the character that appeals to you so much — the aspects of the character & types of events that drew out or formed those aspects, not really the literal things that “happened” to that specific character. And then come the alternate versions you could write, and the parallel situations, and the transformation of one set of events into a different set that produce basically the same effect, the ways you would want to adapt your story to tell it the way you’d want to, and so forth.

You really can’t take too seriously the actual events going on in these stories, at least not in the examples I gave above. Xena lived in ancient Greece (ancient to be defined in verrrrry loose terms as the writers pretty much ignored distinctions in pulling things from a few thousand years of history) and was some kind of sword-fighting warrior who just might be half-god (Ares was possibly her father). Angel was from like 18th century Ireland or something, got turned into a vampire, then had a curse put on him after killing a young Gypsy girl that restored his soul so they he had a conscience again and felt the guilt of all the happy-go-lucky torture and killing he’d done for a hundred years or so [darn, quite a weight to carry around with you!]. And Anna was a “super-spy” for the WSB (World Security Bureau I think…) agency who fell in love with and quickly married her new partner Robert, also with the WSB and full of honor and integrity, and just a few weeks later when they’re on a mission Robert discovers she’s actually a double agent for the DVX (I don’t think they ever spelled that one out, it just sounds like “devious,” you know, the bad guys — besides, for Pete’s sake, what could “X” stand for — x-ray?). It was to be her last mission because Robert had changed her — she’d sought action, adventure, the thrill of danger, but she wanted to leave the DVX. Robert was disgusted, disappointed, etc., but didn’t turn her in, and she was devastated. (You can watch most of that scene here, originally created as a flashback on GH.)

Anna arrived in Port Charles in 1985. I wonder what the writers originally had in mind, because she initially came off a bit malevolent. Robert was married to Holly, and Anna insinuated herself in their lives, looking kind of like the typical soap fly-in-the-ointment bad girl for the otherwise happy lead couple. But Finola Hughes is (in my opinion) a phenomenal actress, and I wonder if that’s what changed the writer’s minds, because before long she is portrayed in a much more sympathetic light, and I think it’s perhaps 1986 when we find out she was pregnant when she and Robert divorced, and they have a daughter aged about 7 that Robert doesn’t know about. Anna’s love for her daughter was fierce, and it’s definitely one of the things that softened her character. Additionally, not far into her time in Port Charles, we see vulnerability in her despite her bravado and projection of total confidence, we see the guilt and shame she still feels over her past as a traitor to her country (errr, what country would that be? looking back, seems this was never explained — there are references to Canada and the US, and Anna’s a Brit and Robert’s an Aussie…so who knows, point is she was playing ball with the bad guys and at least one person lost his life because of it). Some of her shame is expressed by a fake scar she wears on her face where she was injured in an explosion on her last mission — initially this is written as more of a ploy to make some kind of point (garner sympathy, remind others of her suffering, who knows), but seems like it quite quickly changed to be written as a genuine expression of remorse, her self-imposed “scarlet letter” as she refers to it. (You can see the scar for the first time here — she wore her hair covering that half of her face [why wear a fake scar that no one can actually see…?], and then Holly’s discovery that it’s fake here. You can read the scene where she confesses it’s fake to Robert here.)

I have to say a word on Finola Hughes’s acting style, which stood out to me even in the early 90’s when I wasn’t paying much attention to such things (not that I pay that much attention now). Finola makes her characters feel real. She does things in scene I’ve never noticed other actors do. She licks her lips, scratches her nose, rubs her cheek, makes faces — not over-the-top stuff, but the normal stuff we all do that, ahem, doesn’t normally look so pretty on camera. She does it anyway, and I think it’s great. You don’t see too much of that here in the very early Anna days — though in one of the scenes above watch for her sticking her tongue waaaay out to touch her upper lip, and later pulling at her lip.

She makes Anna real despite a lot of ridiculously improbable typical soap storyline stuff. In ’85 Anna is a jewelry fence (and former double agent/traitor to her country). I think it’s in ’86 she become Port Charles police chief. Say whaaaaaaat? Yes, well, soap characters have to stay interesting, so there are no school teachers or gardeners or mailmen or office supply workers — there are nurses and brain surgeons and night club owners and mobsters and detectives. So, Anna the traitorous jewelry fence becomes police chief, hey, why not? The spy stuff and the later WSB/DVX etc. stories are pretty unrealistic of course, but darn were they fun! GH in the 80’s was nothing if not fun. (These days it should be called General Mob Wars or something, it’s apparently all about the mob and the mobsters are the good guys while the police are the stick-in-the-mud bad guys. Don’t get me started.) In the 80’s the good guys were the cops and good-guy spies, the bad guys were big-time crooks and bad-guy spies trying to do things like freeze the entire planet, and there were explosions and shoot-outs and location shots and fights on cable cars and bombs on trains — excitement, romance, and rip-roaring good fun.

It was so interesting to watch the really early Anna stuff (’85), or really any early stuff of characters/actors who stick around for a long time. You can tell they don’t know the character like they do later (either the actor or the writers — geez louise, check out the pilot episode of Stargate SG-1, or of Star Trek: The Next Generation, two long-running shows), and watching these with Anna I feel pretty confident saying that if Finola and the writers could go back and redo these scenes, they’d be done a bit different. The scene with Holly about the scar especially, that just doesn’t seem like Anna to me.

And, despite the occasional “romantic tension” between Robert and Anna (recall that they didn’t divorce over “regular” betrayal, not a betrayal of her wedding vows, but of his trust in who she was and who she served), I really liked the fact that they didn’t actually get together again until the early 90’s, when they began to see each other in a new light, and eventually re-married. And it really wasn’t played as though they would be getting together. Robert still loved Holly (she was presumed dead or something, you know, the actress wanted to leave), and I guess was later involved with some other women, and Anna met Duke (who was dead — or so Anna thought, yes, it’s a soap) by the time I started watching, but she really loved him and I don’t think really loved anyone else until she and Robert finally reunited. They were true friends, with some incredibly well-played comedic banter (some interviews I read said that the set in those days was “famous” for its improvisation with scripts) — see an excellent example here (the guy Anna’s daydreaming about and who’s on the phone later is Duke — I think they were separated at the time or something. Their fights were spectacular fun to watch, too, because they both had so much dirt to pull up on each other (hard to beat dragging the ol’ “yeah well you were a traitor” accusation) — see a particularly harsh example here, shortly before they got back together.

So, anyway, I discovered that a lot of these old clips were on YouTube, what a discovery! I watched hours and hours of YouTube clips. I found a site with fan fiction, including one particularly good, well-developed story that kept me up all night Saturday. I found a site I linked to above with transcripts of some of Anna’s earliest scenes, which was great because not all of those were available on YouTube. How I long for the day — which I’m sure will come — when I can purchase all that early stuff.

What will I do with all this? Well, I’m thinking I’d like to start with some fan fiction, just to explore the character, the voice. But fan fiction (my own and other people’s, with the exception of the one noted above) just make me giggle because it seems kind of silly. It can be confining, too. Fan fiction that changes “facts” about a character’s life, motivations, etc. is pointless, in my opinion. I think it will be a fun exercise though, and will help me really pin down those things about the character that so draw me to her. And then — and I’ve already been mentally meandering down this path — I will spend some time exploring how I can import those essential traits, the “spirit” of the character and the essence of the events that shaped her, into a completely different story (without explosions and double agents and WSBs and DVXs). Fun times!

Computers are Taking Over the World! Saturday, Jun 14 2008 

They have a plan!

This is a spoof of this.

(If you aren’t familiar with Battlestar Galactica, you might want to watch the second link first — both are very short, about one minute put together.)

Galactica Reaches Earth Saturday, Jun 14 2008 

I have to begin again with the fact that I don’t find BG half as interesting as I used to. What anti-climaxes there were this week — they’ve put us through a whole season of “half the fleet are actually Cylons” (so I’m exaggerating, sue me) and then we don’t get to see any reactions (except Admiral Adama’s, and a very VERY brief initial one from Starbuck — she was married to one for Pete’s sake!). No questions about Callie, about the baby. And since when did D’anna become the Cylon leader? Ohhh, right, since she was played by the actor with the biggest name, Lucy Lawless. (Don’t get me wrong, I really like Lucy Lawless, I think she’s a great actress, and to “overcome” such an iconic role as Xena, I think she’s a fabulous actress. But that has nothing to do with storytelling.)

Starbuck went nuts almost and now it’s as if none of that ever happened. I was glad to see Gaeta back, and see at least a little of what he’s going through and at least a little reaction from the crew. (That guy’s a good actor too.) And did you see the little touch of the one Six to the back of Tygh’s arm? Still find that a little (a LOT) bizarre, but at least they’re acknowledging these things that’ve happened instead of entirely dropping them.

And one more anti-climactic thing. Reaching earth…with the Cylons. Why exactly are they even looking for Earth now? Wasn’t it a safe haven from the Cylons? What’s the point now? Couldn’t they just find any ol’ planet? (OK, apparently they aren’t a dime a dozen.) So apparently they just pressed a button and boom there they are over Earth. With the Cylons. Why don’t they just go back to their own planet (a lot of them were doing just fine there despite the radiation — the only real problem seemed to be the Cylons) and work on cleaning up the radiation or finding some portion of all those planets that isn’t radiated (after all there’s less than 40,000 of them left, and there are probably still stragglers back there).

Please understand I would never spend this much time criticizing if this show didn’t mean so much to me.

So, the only part of the episode that really intrigued me was the last few seconds. Woah! I thought maybe reaching Earth would be the series finale, but instead it’s the mid-season finale of the final season. Adama gets his fist-full of earth…and we see something that looks like a post-apocalyptic Earth. I’m intrigued! But is it our Earth (the real Earth)? Are there any humans on it? What’s the year?

So help me if this turns into some kind of preachy thing about global warming or something…! As long as it doesn’t go preachy on us…this could be a fun ride! Boy do I miss the early days though. Gonna have to back and watch the miniseries again soon. Boy do I wish at least one of my friends watched this show!

A Night of TV Monday, May 19 2008 

I’m tired today (after not feeling well and taking my poor Mel to a specialist vet over 30 minutes’ drive away and eating a really yucky hamburger from a gas station chain out of desperaton [“just eat, don’t look”]). And although there’s a lot I need to be doing, I’ve barely moved from the chair in front of the computer all night.

I watched Bones (sort of — I was also trying to figure my way through Facebook). Zack, the young one, is some kind of apprentice to a serial killer? Huh?

I just watched House. Wow! I only half-watched the first half, but by the second half it had my full attention. I cried pretty bad. That was super-sad. And I felt sorry for House.

And now I’m watching CSI Miami. The guy who plays Horatio (who came up with that name anyway?) drives me nuts, as does the character who talks to the dead people and caresses them and calls them “sugar” and stuff. Yuck. She just left the show, and the gal who apparently took her place just got shot. Maybe I’ll get up the energy to get something done during this show, because I hardly ever watch and frankly don’t care too much. But the first two hours were pretty interesting actually!

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