Exactly What I’ve Been Wondering

Because while Ben sits there metaphorically scratching his head, I absolutely love the batshit crazy of it…

From Gizmodo:

Why Are So Few People Talking About the Preacher TV Series?

Everywhere you go on the internet Monday mornings, people are talking about Sunday night’s television. Mainly HBO’s Game of Thrones. Lest we forget another major geek adaptation also airs Sunday nights, and has been for the past month: AMC’s Preacher. So why are so few people talking about it?

Sure there are a few recaps here and there, but where’s the water cooler talk? Where are the think-pieces (besides this one)? The long, detailed discussions of similarities and differences with the source material? It almost feels like the show is airing in a vacuum, and that’s a disconcerting thought for a series with such a great pedigree, based on some immensely beloved source material.

The problems are hard to pin down, although premiering against arguably the best season of a mega-popular show like Thrones is certainly a factor. More importantly, though, this first season of Preacher has been struggling to find its voice. For comics fans, it’s strange that the show’s first season isn’t chronicling the comic as much as serving as a prequel to it. And if you haven’t read the comics, like most people, do you even really understand what’s going on? Or is it just a vampire, a criminal, and a preacher in a very strange town, all prone to fits of graphic violence?

Before Preacher started, showrunner Sam Catlin said the following:

“We want to [escalate things] step by step,” Catlin said. “Because I think if we just showed in the first episode, [angels] Deblanc and Fiore and Heaven and their floating space station with a hole in it… you sort of have to ratchet these things up. The idea of the show is like ‘Oh, you’re okay with vampires now? Oh what about this? What about this? What about this? So it’s sort of like putting a frog in bowl of boiling water or something. So by the time you look upon Satan, you’re like, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”

That slow escalation has certainly been the case as we approach the halfway point of the first season. There have been teases to the major characters of the comic book (the Saint of Killers, Genesis, Arseface, etc) but, for the most part, it’s simply been about Jesse’s struggles to be a good guy—to be the Preacher of the title.

“You never see him being a preacher in the comics,” said executive producer Seth Rogen. “We were like, ‘It’s called Preacher, he’s dressed as a preacher the whole time, maybe you should see him being a preacher.’ When the comic starts he’s kind of done with it, basically. So we thought it would be good to show that that part of his life was like as well.”

In theory, that’s a great idea. But the good people aren’t particularly interesting on Preacher. The best characters so far are the lovable assassin Tulip, the crazy vampire Cassidy, and the cold Odin Quincannon, who ended the most recent episode with a jaw-dropping act of villainy. Jesse, in the meantime, spends his time and his new powers trying to save a town that is already abundantly not deserving of it. Mostly cause so few of the characters are standouts. His repeated attempts to do good feel repetitive at best, and meaningless at worst.

We know that the show will, eventually, see Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy hit the road to find God, because that’s where the comics start. But these first five episodes almost feel like they’re specifically delaying that inevitability. In reality they’re trying to give more context for what’s to come. Digging deeper with the characters so we’ll be more attached. But when the comic is essentially a road trip story, having the show stuck in this single town has brought Preacher, both literally and figuratively, to a standstill.

It also doesn’t help that whenever there’s a hint of something weird, the show treats it like a mistake. In the last episode alone there was the phone ringing from Heaven and the angels explaining Jesse’s power to him. Each scene was cut short just before it was about to get good. Other episodes have started, and ended, in the same ways with only ripples in the middle. That strategy will keep some viewers coming back for answers, but others will surely find it far more frustrating than intriguing.

There have been hints of the show we, the audience, think we want from Preacher. The plane flight in the pilot. The church fight in episode two. We know Preacher is possible but, the glacial pacing, the odd tone, the bizarre premise—it all adds up to a high-end, geek comic TV adaptation that almost no one is talking about. And despite the fact that Preacher was one of 2016’s most anticipated new shows, as of right now, AMC has not renewed it for season two.

What makes this even more frustrating is that Rogen and Catlin, the people making the show, clearly get Preacher. If they can make it to season two, where Jesse’s journey and the comic begin in earnest, then it’s entirely possible the show will become the Game of Thrones, Walking Dead hit that everyone expected (and hoped for). Even now, as the show takes its sweet time, there are signs of the craziness, the grossness, and the wonderfulness that may be in store. Here’s hoping Preacher gets that chance to show us.

UPDATE: Preacher has been renewed for Season 2, which means we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time I was going to write a novel. Once upon a time I was going to do a lot of things, but for the purpose of this post, let me try to stay focused on the Great American Novel.

Like many young adults of the time, I was enthralled by a little movie called Star Wars that came out in 1977. It fired my imagination in ways precious few other films had done, sending me off on a spiritual quest as well as igniting a love of writing that—while perhaps not as all-consuming as it was to begin with—survives to this day.

The genesis of the idea for my book came about as a direct offshoot from the double sunset scene in the movie. It was something I had seen before; obviously not with these eyes or in this lifetime, but it was something that so resonated in the fiber of my being that it sparked a desire to learn as much as I could about belief in past lives and reincarnation.

“It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new strange disguise.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Souls may incarnate on Earth, and souls may incarnate on worlds other than Earth.” ~ Edgar Cayce

And there was the quote that I was hoping to find somewhere—anywhere—to back up my own budding beliefs.

And thus Reunion was born.

It was to be a monumental undertaking; a story spanning two separate lifetimes on two (later three) different worlds. The past life chapters would be based in the Star Wars universe, but not be a part of that story. There would be a desert world with a double sun, landspeeders, and ‘droids. But ultimately it would be a love story—a gay love story—of epic proportions that was going to set the world on fire.

Okay, I was 19 years old. Cut me some slack.

At that point in time the only real gay novel to make it anywhere near mainstream acceptance was Patricia Nell Warren’s The Front Runnerand one of my best friends warned that if I ever hoped to get my book published I might have to change the sexuality of the main characters and the sex of one. I told him that if that were the case the book would never be published.

The original plan was to almost write two different stories, presenting them in alternating chapters, switching back and forth between present and past lives, ultimately reuniting the main character with his long-lost love.

When I finally gave up on this endeavor some six years later and tossed it all in the dumpster, I’d gotten most of the past life part written (including the death of the two main characters), but it was floundering. The biggest criticism I’d received from everyone I’d shared my early drafts with was that while my descriptions of the environments in which the story was taking place were beautiful and they felt like they were physically present there, the story lacked conflict. “It reads like a travelogue.”

I tried to come up with some sort of conflict, but it felt forced and it wasn’t my truth of the story. It wasn’t until many years later, long after my initial draft was at the bottom of some Phoenix landfill, that I hit upon an idea for resurrecting the book—and would also provide the vehicle to neatly tie the reincarnation theme together and provide a organic source of conflict.

Fortunately, I’d written and rewritten the first few chapters of the book so many times that it was indelibly etched in my memory and recreating it on the newfangled computer thingie that had entered my life was easier than I thought it would be. But again, as I progressed, I got bogged down. With a few additional years of life now behind me, some things just didn’t feel right any longer; there were new themes and a couple new characters I wanted to introduce. Before long it seemed as if I had lost sight of the original thrust of the story.

That being said, I did make a lot of progress on Reunion 2. I introduced the new characters I’d wanted, changed the writing style from third person to first person, and even got the foundation laid for the much-needed conflict (and a reason the main characters died the way they did) that the original story was lacking.

I had the bones of the story laid out—if not on paper at least in my head. The problem was adding flesh to those bones. As the years continued to drag on, I tried returning to the story several times, but I never seemed to make much progress. It didn’t help that I was slowly developing the attention span of a gnat, completely precluding the kind of dedication writing a novel requires.

Just to see if I could jump start the original story, I even briefly flirted with writing another novel, tied to the same storyline, but providing the past-life backstory of the soulmate of Reunion’s protagonist. I soon realized that would be an even bigger endeavor, since the character was part of a galactic survey force, conscripted into service for a period of four years. (Think something vaguely resembling Star Trek in scope.) Needless to say, that never got anywhere beyond the first dozen pages or so before—squirrel!

I still fantasize that someday Reunion may come to fruition, but the original vision is drifting further away with each passing day. I can no longer write about love, relationships, or indeed the world—as the 20-something college student who dreams of that man from another lifetime, feeling the impossible ache of longing that goes along with knowing a part of himself is missing. I have learned that love—true love—is far more complicated, messy, and ultimately fulfilling and wonderful than anything imagined in one’s young adulthood.

And why did I write this? Jean-Michel Jarre’s Chronologie. While I wrote the majority of the first draft of Reunion listening to his Oxygene and Equinoxe, I ran across Chronologie a few days ago, and as I put in my headphones, closed my eyes and started the music playing, I was immediately back in that landspeeder, skimming over a sea of golden dunes…

Staring Us In The Face?

Okay, bear with me on this one.

The other day I had a whole lot of down time at work, so I fired up Google Earth and started looking around. I will admit that prior to this I had been on some NASA or JPL site looking at Pluto or Mars and the obviously catastrophic geological history of both those planets, noting in particular how it seems that something large collided with Pluto at some point in its history.

As the globe in Google Earth was rotating into view, there it was; something I’d looked at a hundred times but never really saw: what looked a humungous, heavily eroded impact crater encompassing northeast Arizona, southeast Utah, northwest New Mexico, and the southeast corner of Colorado.

Okay, so I’m sure that geologists will tell me it’s nothing and that if something that big ever hit the earth it would not just be an extinction level event, but a planet-r/ending one as well, but look at how the mountain ranges seem to form a ring around the valley. That area was also extremely active volcanically at one time (not surprising if something big hit—or skimmed off the planet), so my community-college level of understanding of geology kicked in and made a connection that undoubtedly isn’t there.

The basin—if it is a basin—is not perfectly circular, so if it’s the result of an object coming in in, it came in at an angle, and that’s why I’m suggesting it wasn’t so much as an impact but a mere grazing.

Yeah, I’m know instinctively that it’s nothing beyond fodder for my imagination, and I come off sounding like one of those guys who see broken pottery, machinery and tiny humans on the photos beamed back from the Mars rovers, but I have no plans to make any 30 minute videos to back up my proposition. That being said, it’s still fun to contemplate, since there is still so much we don’t know about the history of our planet and our universe…

Plus it gets my mind off politics for a while, and today I can really use some “intellectual” escapism.

I Dreamt About The Doctor Last Night

I don’t remember which Doctor and I don’t remember whether I was a participant or merely an observer, but the gist of the dream was that The Doctor had done something impossible (as usual) to save someone/something/some planet, and in so doing placed the entire Universe in jeopardy. In the process, he ended up with two identical Tardises (Tardii?) and the only way he could make things right again was to learn whether space and time or space or time were indeed infinite.

To do this, he set each Tardis to explode if they discovered either one (or both) was finite and sent them on their way.

It turned out that time was infinite, but not space.

10 Ways To Not Piss Off Your I.T. Staff

And believe me, next to pissing off Payroll, pissing off I.T. is the dumbest thing you can do at work. Trust me. We can make your life a living hell.

1. Be Prepared.
One of the things that i was always taught as a kid was to be prepared. This includes being prepared when you call support. There is always a couple of routine questions that are asked,

What workstation are you using?
What printer is having issues?

Nothing pisses of support quicker than waiting around while you try to find information that you knew you would need.

2. Don’t be belligerent.
We don’t try to be rude, but 9 times out of 10 we have a dozen other things going, at least 6 of which are more important than your icons moving around. If we get short, it’s because you are wasting our time, or we have something better to do.

3. Understand that we are busy.
Unless you sign the paycheck, we will not drop whatever we are doing to make your Pandora radio play. We will get to it as soon as possible.

4. Don’t submit a ticket, email to make sure we got it, and then call to make sure we saw your email.
The system works, trust us. If it doesn’t we will let you know.

5. Don’t try to tell us how to answer your own question.
If you know better than we do then why did you bother asking?
If we don’t know the answer we will tell you.

6. If you have a problem tell us.
It is really tough, borderline impossible, to fix issues that we don’t know about.

Don’t bitch about it behind our backs. W don’t like hearing about things through the grapevine.

7. Answer any questions that are asked.
When we respond to your ticket with a question, it’s because we need to know more to help you, not because we like playing 20 questions. It’s also likely that you missed #1 above. And, if you ignore us, we can’t help you

Responding with “I just want it to work” * cough* CEOs * cough* is not going to help.

8. Don’t ambush us.
Just because we are walking by doesn’t mean we’re twiddling our thumbs, looking for something to do—more often than not, we’re on our way to do something. In fact, we usually will forget what you tell us fixing whatever we’re on our way to work on…

9. Don’t lie to us.
We’ll find out that you dumped your entire cup of coffee in your keyboard one way or another. Just tell us everything up front. It will save both of us a lot of time.

10. For managers: Don’t micro-manage.
Chances are we know what we are doing better than you do. It will be documented next time we have a second, and though it may not make sense you, it will make sense to another technical individual.

 

The First Time

Nearly half a century later I remember it as if it happened yesterday. Fourth grade, alone in my room as was often the case. Where was my mom? Probably in the kitchen. Where was my sister? Outside the in the back yard or watching television in the family room; details elusive and unimportant.

It had stood up on its own unbidden before; many times in fact. The first time I recall it happening I was only three or four years old, and scrambled to explain to my father why I was naked and sprawled out of the floor, rubbing my body against the rough carpet. “I was looking for something under the bed,” was the remembered excuse. But this time it was different; it demanded attention and could not be ignored.

I slipped my pants off, climbed onto the bed and on all fours, straddling the fuzzy faux leopard-skin pillow that had adorned it for many years, started rubbing against it. I thought of the how the new P.E. coach’s nipples prominently showed through his too-tight T-shirts and his chest hair poked out at the neckline. I thought about the man’s bushy mustache and his fresh-out-of-the-Marines high-n-tight buzzcut. As I rhythmically rubbed against the pillow and thought of these things, it felt good. Too good. Suddenly my body was wracked with convulsions; I felt like I was going to piss. The pleasure centers in my brain exploded and I scrambled for my shorts, hoping to stem the flow long enough to get them back on and down the hall into the bathroom before everything was wet. But then it was over. No stream of urine; in fact, nothing at all.

Of course, that would soon change as the days progressed and that urge returned again and again. Quickly I realized that while the initial rush was similar to the feeling of emptying my bladder it was only because I’d had nothing else prior to compare it to; in actuality it very different. And when I realized I wasn’t going to wet everything, I was actually able to enjoy the feeling.  The first time the milky fluid came spraying out—as I stood naked in front of the hall mirror rubbing the pillow against my crotch (where was my mother?)—I thought I’d broken something, yet it did nothing to prevent me from doing it again.

“Why did you take that pillow into the bathroom with you?” my mother eventually asked. “It smells. I want to throw it in the washer but I had to pee first,” I’d respond.

Soon I discovered I could wrap my hand around it and achieve the same result, giving that poor pillow a much-needed respite from the washing machine.

One day I captured some of the milky fluid onto a glass slide and put it under the microscope I’d gotten for Christmas the year before. Slowly the little squiggling things came into focus, confirming what I’d been surreptitiously researching. Nothing was broken.

And so it began—and the Sears catalog was never looked at the same way again.