Originally Posted to Blogger – Thursday, September 28, 2006
Here’s a few random-ish observations – a bloggin’ catch-all.
. Heroes – I was super excited to see the premiere of Heroes on NBC this past Monday. Advance word was really positive, and the premise sounded like a cousin to J. Michael Straczynski’s turbulent but often brilliant comic maxi-series Rising Stars. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very thrilled with the pilot. There’s some intriguing ideas happening in it, but it struck me as NBC’s attempt at a Lost styled fanta-drama (that’s a new word, folks, feel free to use it, but credit me).
The show kicked off with a cheeseball text scroll giving an outline for the series, and proceeded along a bumpy path of neat moments and heavy-handed attempts at faux-enigmatic cliff hangers.
Points for ballsy displays of temporary disfigurement with the angsty-teen-cum-Wolverine girl, and dork banter in Japanese. Deductions for the poorly executed flying sequence and soap opera-like melodramatic scenes between the girlfriend and her future-painting, drug-addicted, emotionally-distraught artist guy. It’s a pilot, though, and it takes most shows a bit to get their rhythm, so I’ll give it some time yet.
. Vellum – Started reading Hal Duncan’s Vellum: The Book of All Hours and gave up after about 100 pages. I rarely cast a book aside, but I just couldn’t give this one more of my time. An ambitious, genre-blending-and-breaking novel about sort-of-angels, folding time and space, twisting mythologies, the first twenty pages really got me interested. But from there on out, I hated almost every word of it.
Vellum is high on concept, and crap on characters with any real depth. Duncan is too busy illustrating the fact that each person has been born and reborn a myriad of times, living as gods and angels and mortals in every possible mythology and civilization, that he never gives you more than a few scraps of who they are in the real space of the story. The book is a nightmare of unnecessary paragraph breaks and spacing, often in the middle of conversations, many with entirely superfulous subheadings. Passages taking place in other times and sub-realities intercut scenes with abandon, indicated by changes in font, color (shades of gray/black), and sometimes in italics – it’s a terrible eyesore. Rambling descriptions of fantastic realms and abstract objects share space with repetitive, generic imagery for contemporary settings, both sprawling across pages, while true character moments and clear plot points are fragmented and sprinkled distainfully over the mix.
Worst of all, the narrative voice is so inconsistant that I often wondered if I was reading the same author, or even the same book. One sub-chapter insisted on the use of the “f-bomb” in every line of description, the narrator’s voice inflected with the nuances of the last referenced character. Many other authors have used this technique, but Hal Duncan knows no restraint with it. Narration in a later section is voiced in the Irish-accented expletives of a would-not-be-angel, oh so cleverly using “fookin'” to give us that lilting flavor of dialect. So clever that it almost made me throw the book in the trash after reading it.
I first thought this would be a challenging novel that would be worth fighting to the end, kin to M. John Harrison’s Light, a hard sci-fi affair that I struggled through but which proved very rewarding. If there is a gem to be found by the end of Vellum, I doubt the ends justifies the means. In 100 pages, I did run across a few stunning lines and brilliant thoughts, but the dreadful entirety of it has swept those bright moments from my memory. It has a pretty cover, I’ll give it that. I’d refer people to the excellent American Gods as a proper alternative to this mangled mess.
. Lost – Just finished watching the second season of Lost on dvd. I am so tangled in its convolutions, I may have to follow the third season as it actually airs (I hardly ever watch shows as they broadcast, these days – I’m much more fond of tv on dvd). If you picked this season up, you must watch the blooper reel on the bonus disk. Trust me.
. Josh – My friend Josh Hagler was selected as one of 10 artists whose work will be shown in a prestigious gallery in London in late October. I sent a MySpace bulletin soliciting help in the voting process. Thanks so much for anyone who helped out. It’s a big thing for him, I think. He’s been working hard for his art since we knew eachother in middle school, and it’s really been paying off the last couple of years. I’m not always the biggest fan of his style, but I’m proud of his growth as a person and artist and try to support him as I can.
. Hoodie – I got a new hoodie from Old Navy, with this awesome, deep, Jedi-esque hood. It’s mighty comfortable and warm, and has been my constant companion the last few days, like Mister Rogers’ sweater. Scored fresh new kicks, too, replacing last year’s Skechers that failed me. Yup, I’m big pimpin’.