Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Because Holodecks Don't Exist: Sushi with Tolkien and The Doctor

Well, once again it's Wednesday and I'm just now getting around to this post about last week's reading/watching. Honestly, this time it's mostly not my fault. We woke up Sunday to find our internet completely out. People, this was a harrowing experience for us. Anyway, it was back by Monday but then I started having some really awful sinus/tooth pain. I pretty much just laid on the couch all day and watched the ceiling fan spin. Today I trekked down to LA and visited my lovely dentist who said that my top teeth are probably hurting because of sinus pressure but that my bottom molar probably needs a root canal. Nice, right?

Anyway, here's some of what I watched and read last week:

#1- LOTR: The Return of the King
I finished the LOTR series. Man, what a whirlwind. This series ends about fifteen times and I still felt like that wasn't enough. All I wanted was more. I can see myself re-reading all of these books every couple of years. Just, absolutely beautiful and inspiring storytelling. It's the kind of work that makes me glad it exists and challenges me to raise my own work to another level. I'm so glad I was prevailed upon to read them.
Next, I'm considering starting the Chronicles of Narnia. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was about eight years old but but I feel like I should give these books another shot.

#2- Avatar: The Legend of Korra (finale)
Seriously, this is one of the best scripted shows on TV. It's a perfect show. And, this season? Guys, it's amazing. I could write at least five lectures on lessons learned from Korra/Avatar. This show is basically a clinic in how to write action, how to write a sequel, how to write dynamic female characters, how to write an extensive mythos, how to create a world and how to write the rules of said world...

#3- Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Available on Netflix)
Ok so this is a documentary (it's all in Japanese so prepare yourself for 2 hours of subtitles) about this octogenarian sushi master in a tiny, unassuming sushi restaurant in Japan--and his sixty-year-old son who is still serving as an apprentice under his father. It's a quiet, contemplative look at, not only a complex father/son relationship, but also the dedication and obsession it takes to become a true master of one's craft.

#4- Doctor Who: SSN 8, Premier
Have I gone into my Doctor Who fandom before? I can't remember and my head is full of sinus medicine and I can feel this blog post getting away from me so I'll try to make this quick. Basically, I watched DW with my parents when I was a kid. Mostly Tom Baker. Scott and I started watching the reboot when it was in its second season but went back immediately to get caught up. I loved Nine. I loved Ten. I loved Eleven. I even loved The War Doctor. And, so far, I think I love Peter Capaldi. Actually, I'm pretty sure I do. And, I have zero problems with Jenna Louise Coleman. And, I do love the way Moffat plays with fan expectation while still delivering new and surprising elements of the Doctor's personality. I also love the score and I love how beautiful and cinematic everything is. But... I also kind of feel like it's gone off the rails. When Moffat first came aboard, I worried that full seasons of his work would be like eating cake icing. A spoonful is the best thing you've ever had but once you're halfway into the bowl, you can't take anymore. It's too rich to stomach and your teeth hurt. I loved the first Moffat season and would put it up against anything but, after a while, I think I just got fatigued with everything being epic. Everything probably shouldn't be epic.

At a certain point, when The Doctor, his companion, a lizard woman, her bad ass wife, and their thumb-headed butler are all standing on the bank of the Thames in Victorian London while a T-Rex stomps by and everything is dark and lovely and the score rises and the T-Rex screams and The Doctor is blabbering almost incoherently and everyone's questioning what's going on... All of this stuff, individually or in many combinations, is brilliant and perfect for Doctor Who. All together, it had me rewinding my DVR about five times just so I could attempt to decipher what The Doctor was saying. And, the Doctor just regenerated. Seems like whatever he and Clara say here is probably pretty important. It just seems like too much. Sometimes, you don't need a million things. Maybe most times.

On Monday, while we were waiting on the cable guy, we happened to catch "The End of the World" which was the first, regular season episode of the Nine era. Here we are at the literal end of the world and you'd think, "Oh, this shall be very epic, indeed!" but it's a quiet, intensely personal episode about a girl who's being introduced to her own (and her planet's own) mortality. It's paralleled by a look at The Doctor's remorse at the loss of his own planet and people. Every moment isn't played for epic crazyness. The score is there but it's just enough to help the script and acting shine without overpowering it. The world blows up and no one even sees it. We don't have to see it. That's the
 point. This isn't a show about the world blowing up. It's about people.

Anyway, I still love this show but didn't realize until this week how much I missed the earlier episodes.

Alright, that's it. I watched and read other things but I feel like this post is plenty long (especially with that whole DW rant) already. I'm going to make some hot chocolate and watch Penn & Teller and then go to bed and hope that I wake up tomorrow with clear sinuses and a can-do attitude. 
But how likely is that, really?

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