Variety keeps sending me their magazine. Which is weird since my subscription lapsed in, like, August or something. And, yeah, I let it lapse. I wanted it to lapse. I'm sick of being confronted with Benedict Cumberbatch every other week, and I'm focusing more on my prose now than my screenwriting (please, God, don't let Cumberbatch write a book), and so . . . Yeah. Publishers Weekly it is.

And National Geographic. Because, you know. ::shrug::

So I was thinking about why Variety is still sending me issues. Because it's not an inexpensive magazine to produce; the trim size, the paper stock, the cover stock (I used to work in publishing, I know about the manufacturing specs for these things) . . . And yet it's probably more costly for them to lose a subscriber than it is to keep mailing me one of the thousands of magazines they make each week. Because in order to stay afloat, Variety needs advertisers. And they only get advertisers by showing they have a decent circulation—that is, a fairly large number of subscribers, which one assumes are also readers. So as long as they keep sending me magazines, they can add my number to their totals, thereby tantalizing advertisers with the notion that those adds will reach many, many readers.

Note to advertisers in Variety: I hardly ever even open the damn thing any more. I skim it sometimes, maybe? But really, it often goes directly into the recycling bin. I'm now so far outside the industry there doesn't seem to be much point.

But sure, if you want to keep sending it, be my guest . . . The kids might could use it for an art project or something . . . ???

Nah. NG is better for that kind of thing, I think.

Television: Scorpion, "Single Point of Failure"

Okay, so since we've established that Walter has a photographic memory, I'm not exactly sure why Sylvester had to be the one to go into the pharma company. Surely he could have stayed and read the schematics from the computer, and Walter could have gone in? Except of course it's more fun to send in a germaphobe. Either the writers are doing that thing where they conveniently forget established stuff so they can serve the plot, or Walter has a sick sense of humor in sending Sylvester in there. And since Walter doesn't seem to have any sense of humor . . .

But I still like Scorpion more than pretty much anything else I'm watching right now. It's formulaic, yes, and God the backstory-in-dialogue stuff is so clunky. But the show is entertaining enough that I'm willing to overlook all that. Mostly. I mean, I'll grouse about it, but I'm still gonna watch.

This episode revolved around the governor's sick daughter. A virus had been designed specifically to make her ill, and since it was a singular disease, the CDC didn't know how to cure it. Our team had approximately 24 hours before the girl died. (Rule 1 of Scorpion: Give the crew a tight deadline.)

The rest of the plot fell in like a stack of Pringles: Who sent the e-mail(s), who hated the governor that much and why, and (to my mind, the key ingredient), who has the ability to custom design a virus?

I won't give it away. I'll only say the show does not make the age-old mistake of introducing a character early on that turns out to be the bad guy later. Instead, the audience is unable to "play along" because the perpetrator is not discovered until, well, he's discovered. That is, there are not a bunch of suspects to choose from. Scorpion is not so much a mystery show as a logic puzzle.

But I like logic puzzles.

And I like the characters here, and the actors do a really good job and have some nice chemistry. So far this is my favorite new show of the season. (But Gracepoint starts Thursday, so Scorpion may not wear the laurel for long.)

Television: Gotham, "Selina Kyle"

Actually, Selina—or Cat, as she prefers—was really mostly featured in the second half of the hour. She was one of many street kids being rounded up for international slave trade. Or something. Bad stuff, anyway.

Putting kids in jeopardy is a favorite tactic of crime drama writers because the stakes are so high and pretty much the whole audience is sympathetic to the hero. Plus, it allows the hero (in this case Gordon) to again assert his I'm-a-good-guy side in a way that puts him above the others (in this case corrupt cops).

Meanwhile, the Penguin is out there running around, and there's still a lot of infighting in the mob. ::shrug::

So far I find Gotham to be . . . okay. Not as good as I hoped. It does best when Gordon and Bullock are bantering; McKenzie and Logue have good chemistry. The rest is only so-so, though I do really like Sean Pertwee as Alfred (well, and wasn't he great as Lestrade on Elementary too?). But Alfred's reasoning for not getting Bruce more help—that Mr. Wayne wanted Bruce to "find his own way" should anything happen to his parents—comes across as weak at best. I understand following the guidelines left by Wayne Sr. but . . . It just seems like there should be more to it than that. If it were that Alfred would lose his place as guardian, maybe, and that Bruce would be sent to live with terrible relatives or something . . .

The plots, though, are kinda dumb. And as for Selina Kyle, well, she's clearly clever. But there's a thin line between clever and outright obnoxious and she's treading that. Like a cat on a fence. I realize that's part of the character, yes, but I want to like her more than I don't, so please, writers, don't make it too difficult.


Television: Doctor Who, "The Caretaker"

Really just an excuse to set up a situation in which Clara is forced to tell Danny the truth about her time travels with the Doctor.

Which isn't to say it's a bad episode or anything. It was fine. Good, even, despite the weak plot involving . . . The Doctor trying to snare a deadly alien hiding near Coal Hill School? Not sure why he needed to masquerade as a caretaker for that, given he can go anywhere and anywhen and shouldn't need to hang around for days at a time, but whatever.

The important bits in this episode were all relative. Clara trying to juggle real life and a boyfriend against going on adventures with the Doctor. And then the Doctor brings the adventure to her doorstep, more or less, and her worlds collide. It's actually a great premise and provides fodder for all the emotional turmoil each character must feel under the circumstances.

In his new incarnation the Doctor has necessarily become more father figure than dashing hero, so the hero mantel is now taken up by Danny Pink whose soldier skills give him the tools to do the job. He's also handsome and has a strong (in a good way) personality. And so "The Caretaker" necessarily shows the Doctor more or less relinquishing Clara to Danny in the way a father might give away his daughter. Oh, no, it's nothing that formal, but that's the underlying theme. Clara is walking down that aisle, away from the Doctor and toward Danny and a new life.


There's always the chance she and/or Danny might die.

The episode even saw the Doctor auditioning a potential new companion in the form of one of the Coal Hill students, but the girl got, er, spacesick? Just as well, since it's impossible to imagine this Doctor enjoying the company of schoolchildren. He needs a companion just as sturdy as he is.

And we see the Promised Land again, too, as a police officer killed by the alien turns up there for an . . . exit interview? Or entrance exam? Just so we're all aware that's still going on.

On the whole, probably one of the more amusing and entertaining episodes of the season thus far. Capaldi has hit his stride here, and he and Clara are starting to have better interaction. And bringing Danny into the mix boosted things quite nicely.


Television: Scorpion, "Pilot"

I have found my tribe.

Honestly, I tend to cringe a little when shows do the "genius" thing because it tends to be one note and often all out of tune besides. Scorpion hit closer to the mark, and more than anything it was utterly entertaining.

The show is about a team of four geniuses, each with his or her particular forté. Largely unable to hold down "real" jobs because functioning in the "real" world is difficult for them, they've taken to stealing electricity and robbing banks through nearly invisible transactions that don't get flagged. Until a federal agent in the form of Robert Patrick shows up to ask for their help.

So, you know, S.H.I.E.L.D. but with all the superheroes being geniuses instead of mutants or whatever.

There's the typical backstory of how Patrick's character (Cabe Gallo is his name) had once duped lead genius Walter (Elyes Gabel), and so now Walter is reluctant to trust or help him. There's also the subplot involving the waitress (Katharine McPhee) who is a single mother to a brilliant son.

Bottom line is, the ensemble cast worked well, and the action kept things moving. The show was entertaining and engaging, even if it was easy to see from the start exactly which direction things were moving and how it would all play out. Banter could use perhaps a fraction more funny, but maybe that will come with time.

Scorpion was the first show this week that didn't have me fiddling with my iPhone after a few minutes. That's gotta be worth something.


Television: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "Shadows"

I was really only partially paying attention.

Coulson is now director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (as Nick Fury lies low), trying to recruit people to help fight Hydra and rebuild the networks necessary to do so. Also, he'd like all their stuff back, please.

Ward is in custody, and Fitz is . . . brain damaged or something. [spoiler alert] He hallucinates that Simmons is there. Turns out she's not. He's just talking to himself. And not even very well; the figment Simmons has to fill in Fitz's brain blanks.

Meanwhile, a number of new characters were introduced in this episode, which made me feel the stage is getting a bit too crowded. Some baddie named Creel is able to take on the properties of things he touches (like, say, diamonds). There's also a really old Nazi guy named Whitehall. I mean, he doesn't look old, but he must be, right? Add to these a trio of new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits, plus our regulars (yes, May and Skye were there, too, along with Triplett and Patton Oswalt as whichever Koenig isn't dead).

The story, best as I followed, centered around an 084 "obelisk" that had been S.H.I.E.L.D. property and Hydra wanted. S.H.I.E.L.D. almost got it, but the obelisk is fatal to touch, and Creel ended up taking it in the end. (Does this mean he can turn into whatever the obelisk is made of?)

Skye is put in an awkward position when Coulson sends her to pump Ward for information about Creel. Ward puts on a show of semi-suicidal repentance, but Skye isn't having any of it; she leaves before he can get to the part about her dad.

Honestly, I wasn't much engaged in the show. So many blockbuster movies, and now it's trickling down to the television . . . I mean, of course we need great characters and plots, but I felt . . . malnourished? S.H.I.E.L.D. will almost certainly live up to its movie pedigree, will be built along the same scaffolding so that rainbow bridge causeway can be made to connect the show to the rest of the franchise. That's fine. And the pacing will necessarily be different because of the medium. But it's still a fast food form of entertainment. And sometimes I'm more in the mood for a good steak.

Television: Doctor Who, "Time Heist"

. . . In which the Doctor, Clara, and two new friends rob a bank.

As ever, the story lacks a certain amount of internal logic. For one thing, why keep hiring a clone of yourself to do a job when your clones keep fucking up? At some point don't you have to say, "Geez, I am not suited for this," and find someone else?

That's only the smallest of the issues, but I won't nitpick. I like heist stories. It was pretty obvious from the start that [spoiler alert] the Doctor was the "Architect" (what is this, the Matrix?), but whatever. Clara was agreeably background noise, and the new characters Psi and Saibra were interesting and refreshing. I can't say the story itself was all that good, but if the job was to once again put the Doctor under a microscope—is he a good man?—then this episode fell in line.

For one thing, Saibra calls the Doctor a good man. And, after all, he does rescue the Teller and its mate. But then there was the whole "guilt" factor, which was a heavy theme in this episode. More than just guilt for robbing a bank, mind; the Teller was . . . a sin guilt eater? For whom the Doctor, with his centuries of regrets, might make a tasty morsel.

In short, a middling episode. The banter at the start as Clara gets ready for her date was cute. The characters were solid. The plot itself, however, was somewhat shaky. And after "Into the Dalek," I feel we've done a lot more inside than outside this season. Might be time for some actual space in that space-time thing.

Television: Gotham "Pilot" and Sleepy Hollow "This is War"

I'm finally getting around to what's on my DVR!

I decided to start with FOX's Monday-night pairing of the new series Gotham and the returning Sleepy Hollow.

I'll admit, I had mixed feelings about Gotham. I really like Jim Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie, who seems to be channeling some young version of Russell Crowe). But I'm not a fan of Mafia/mob stories, and this sort of is one. Basically the series sets up a young, rookie Detective Gordon and his more experienced partner Harvey Bullock and shows how Gordon is introduced to the dark underpinnings of the city. Cops + crime bosses are the bedrock of Gotham. And of course Gordon's idealism rails against that.

And of course the pilot also showed the Waynes getting shot and killed in an alley. That was kind of obnoxious. I mean, seriously, the Waynes must not have been too bright. An alley? Were there no cabs whatsoever on the street they were on? Where was Alfred and the limo? And what kind of crap police officers leave a kid sitting by himself after witnessing his parents' murders? Oh, sure, they gave him a blanket, so I guess that's all right . . . Ugh.

But at least this murder gives Gotham its thru line. Gordon promises to find who did it, and young Bruce Wayne now has a purpose (and a penchant for standing on top of buildings).

The sum total of the show has the potential for exploring a lot of gray moral spaces, and for developing complex characters faced with difficult choices and conflicting emotions. But . . . I don't know yet. I'll have to watch a couple more episodes before I'm sure I'm all in for this one.

As for Sleepy Hollow . . . I tuned out pretty early on, actually. It was just an utter morass of a mess—a year skipped, but no not really, Purgatory this and that, Ben Franklin and National Treasure and a key—and I found I didn't much care. Hmm. So I've cut this one from my viewing schedule. One less show to eat up time with.

On tap for the next couple days: Doctor Who, Scorpion, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


Coming Soon

I've got Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, Scorpions, and will have the Agents of Shield preem lined up on my DVR, and I hope to watch them in the next day or so and have something to report. Stay tuned . . .


Television: Persona 4 (2011)

Started watching this on Hulu and (if you'll excuse the pun) got sucked in. I haven't watched anime in a really long time, but hey, this one has Tarot cards! And like so many anime, it has a convoluted plot that still somehow manages to be highly entertaining.

The story, best as I can follow, goes something like this: Narukami Yu (I'm doing this in the Japanese style with surname first) moves out of the big city to live with his uncle and cousin for a year while his parents are abroad. The town he moves to is sometimes covered in fog, and this usually coincides with some kind of death or murder. There's also something called "Midnight TV," where if you watch at midnight on a rainy night, you will supposedly see your soul mate. Narukami tries this one night and nearly gets sucked into the television set, but (luckily?) the set is too small for him to fit through.

When he mentions as much to the two classmates who have more or less adopted him as a new friend, they suggest going to the Junes—basically their version of a Wal-Mart—and trying one of the big-screen TVs on display. And so all three promptly get sucked in. Well, in Fushigi Yuugi it was an ancient book or scroll or whatever, so . . . ::shrug::

Shadow creatures attack. Tarot cards begin turning up to lend their "personas" to our adventurous heroes. And Narukami realizes the girl he saw on the television was the next to die; turns out, the person you see is not your soul mate so much as the next victim.

Has all the markings of a Japanese horror movie, really. But with a fantasy/anime twist.

The anime is based on a video game, but since I don't play video games, I can't really say much about the connection(s) between the two. I only know I find the anime very good, and am grateful Hulu offers it subtitled because I hate dubs.

I'm already sad thinking I'll eventually catch up and won't have any more episodes to watch . . .

Television: Doctor Who, "Listen"

Only a few minutes into this episode it became patently clear that either (a) we were going to have a re-tread of a Silence-like entity, or (b) this hypothesis the Doctor was working from was really all in his head. And so what we were really left with was another episode that pretended to be cleverer than it actually was.

Which isn't to say it was bad. It wasn't, not entirely. The stuff between Clara and Pink was pretty good. In fact, I found myself thinking that of all the people on the screen, Samuel Anderson has decent potential for a big screen career. I can definitely picture him there.

And the Doctor had some good lines, particularly about Clara's mirror and her eyes.

"Listen" was also designed, I suspect, to give hints about Pink's past, Clara's future, and the Doctor's upbringing, if not about the possible end of the Universe. Because it definitely hinted at there being something out there, unseen, the Doctor's childhood influences notwithstanding.

The Doctor also once again displayed a certain lack of empathy in manipulating the situation even at the expense of others' comforts. I'm starting to think Moffatt is poaching Sherlock for this version of the Doctor: more interested in ideas than feelings, except when the feelings are part of the experiment.

Still, never having had a nightmare about someone under my bed grabbing my leg, or even just a nightmare about someone under my bed at all, I found it hard to relate. I have many vivid dreams and remember most of them. But I think I'm more likely to be the thing others dream of having under their beds . . . That's just more my style.

Book Review: Everyone Loves Clowns by Thomas Cranham

This collection of stories (and illustrations by various artists) has potential but could do with some solid editing. Admittedly, I was reading on my computer, so some of the formatting problems might not appear in a hard copy of the book. But there are some punctuation issues, some places where the tenses change . . . Little things that an old hand like me find difficult to overlook. The errors pull me out of the stories.

And a tendency toward a love of too many typefaces, which is often taken as the sign of an amateur. (I know because I did the same thing when I was starting out and have learned enough since to cringe when faced with the flowery fonts of my older works.) Rule of thumb: Choose ONE title typeface and stick with it throughout. I know! There are so many good ones it's difficult to choose! But choose one must.

The anthology itself is squarely set in the horror genre and each tale takes place in the town of Matlock (England). And the stories themselves are often good ideas that need a bit more work. Tightening here and there, for example. I really enjoyed "The Ghost of Bone Mill Road and the Infinite Man"—which included some lovely photographs—but felt there wasn't enough distinction between the voices of the two letter writers, and also found the letters to be too story-like and not, well, like real letters.

The idea behind "Oh, to Be Alive," is again a cute one—a zombie trying to make a case for his kind and their rights.

Sort of a hit-and-miss mixture here.  Reading Everyone Loves Clowns (and even the title feels a bit generic) gave me the sense I was seeing the dawning of a potentially strong writing talent. But it's still clearly in the early stages. I hope Cranham keeps at it and continues to develop his craft.


Television: Intruders, "She Was Provisional"

The X-Files pedigree is easy to detect in this somewhat haphazardly blended show whose pilot episode jumped around leaving only very thin threads of webbing to tie things together. Most of what I got from it was: (a) James Frain is a creep, and (b) that little girl is turning into a creep, too. Oh, and that other guy can't find his wife. I think that's supposed to matter.

Best I can tell there are bad things that possess people. Also, James Frain is going around killing people. Much of what occurred—and it was so all over the place, it's difficult to say exactly what did occur—seemed played largely for shock value. I mean, I don't mind sex and violence, but when played solely for a reaction, I do mind it. Don't waste my time with that shit. Tell me a goddamn story.

But these days "telling a story" on television seems to be equal to chopping up a lot of information in order to string the viewers along. Sigh. At least Orphan Black started with a central character that was interesting, surrounded her with other interesting characters, and then branched out from there.

While there's a hint of an interesting story in Intruders, I found it difficult to care about anyone enough to want to pursue it. I will probably try at least one more episode to see if anything congeals in an appetizing enough way . . . Hmm. "Congeals" probably isn't the best match for "appetizing." But you get my meaning.

My 9/11 Story

It's the same story I tell every year and probably will continue to tell every year. Because these things are worth remembering.

I awoke the morning of 11 September 2001 in a somewhat foul mood due to a bad dream I'd had. I lived in Boston at the time, a city which would play such a pivotal role in the events of that day. Our apartment was near the Common, and I worked at Houghton Mifflin on Berkeley Street, and it was my habit to walk to work when the weather was fine, which that morning it was. Sunny, gorgeous day. That day in particular, I thought the walk might help clear my head of the bad dream.

The dream—nightmare, really—had been of being a passenger in a truck. I didn't want to be there and had no control over where we were headed. I couldn't see who was driving, but I remember thinking it was someone "ethnic" (with darkish skin). We were on a smoothly paved road sailing through rolling green hills. But in the distance I could see the skyline of a city, and over that city dark clouds had gathered. And the signs over the highway all read—green, with those reflective white letters—Death and Destruction Ahead.

I wanted to get out of the truck. I didn't want to go to the city, which seemed to be where we were headed. But even as I contemplated throwing open the door and taking my chances in jumping from the moving vehicle, I woke up.

So I pulled myself together, our cat following me through the apartment and being quite vocal as I recall, and walked to work. I tended to get to the office early; I liked giving myself the extra time to settle in and get a head start. But there seemed to be a lot of people in that morning. And when I tried to check my usual Web sites, I couldn't get anything to load. From the other side of my cubicle partition, I could hear the department admin and a few other people chattering away about something that sounded intense.

Then my phone rang. It was my husband calling from his Financial District office. "A plane hit the World Trade Center," he told me.

"That's stupid," I said.

It sounds like a weird response in retrospect, but I was picturing some little Cessna with a pilot-in-training who'd made a really big mistake.

"An American Airlines jet," my husband clarified. I'm not sure if we talked more or not before he said, "Another one."

In the cubicle beside me, my co-worker was freaking out a bit. (I felt strangely calm, which is what usually happens to me in stressful situations.) The managers were all in the corner office for a meeting. Meanwhile, those who could get CNN to load were telling us America was "under attack," whatever that meant. Rumors were flying about the Sears Tower, the Space Needle in Seattle, even our own John Hancock building.

My husband called again and said they were being evacuated. He told me to come home, but not to use public transportation just in case.

As people around me got increasingly worked up, I took it upon myself to go into the managers' meeting and tell the bosses we were all going home. As I explained why, the meeting broke up. I didn't wait for permission. I told my co-worker to call her boyfriend to come get her, then walked downstairs to wait with her. Once I'd seen her safely into her boyfriend's truck, I began the walk home.

The Common was bizarrely peaceful. Students lounged all over the grass doing homework and reading and chatting. They don't know, I remember thinking. They have no idea.

I stopped at the corner convenience store on the way to stock up. I wasn't sure what we might need in terms of provisions, how long we might be home, when or if things would close up.

Then I went home and we spent the day, like so many others, parked in front of our television. At some point I was able to get a call in to my parents—September 11 is my dad's birthday.

A little while ago, my 5-year-old son asked me, "Do you remember when the planes went into the buildings?" Clearly they'd mentioned it at school.

"Yes," I said. "Would you like me to tell you about it?"

I am, after all, a primary source.


Tarot: AM'Star Tarot

Just a teensy plug. I'm taking my hobby semi-pro by setting up a site where you can order a Tarot (or, if you prefer, Lenormand) reading from me. Here. (Still more to do on the site, but at least it's running.) I may later expand my offerings, but for now I'm just dipping my toes in.


Movies: Twenty Feet from Stardom

I used to want to be a backup singer. Is that silly? I didn't dream of the spotlight, only of harmonizing. I'm sure there are psychological reasons for that; my independent streak is one thing, but I also have that deep-seated desire to belong, to meld with others . . . In particular, I wanted to sing backup for Jimmy Buffett. But whatever.

Meanwhile, in college I had a roommate who was getting an Advertising degree, but her passion was always music. So I wasn't entirely surprised to learn some years later that she had moved to L.A. and was writing her own music as well as booking studio sessions as a backup singer. (Here's her site; she's been doing work with Keb' Mo'.)

This is all just meant to illustrate that I came into Twenty Feet from Stardom with a certain amount of personal interest. And I enjoyed the film, though . . . I think I was expecting something different. I guess a documentary can't cover a subject too broadly; they had to pick some very definite people to talk to and follow, backup singers whose careers they charted from then to now. But as things went on, I asked myself, What's the point they're trying to make? And I couldn't quite get an answer.

That's probably more on me than on the film. I'll admit my attention began to wander. There's a chance the film made many points.

One thing I liked was when Sting mentioned how winning something like American Idol might rocket you to stardom, but it means you haven't worked as hard, haven't mined the depths of yourself, and so whatever you produce is less likely to last. I think he's really right in that. We've seen stars rise and fall in ever more rapid cycles, and it's because they have nothing to make them stick. They are all gloss, so they slide right by.

The film also touched on how trying to be a superstar is very different from having a real love of your art. People who love what they do and put themselves into it . . . They may or may not get famous for it, but one can detect the difference between someone like that and someone who is just in it for money or attention. (I, of course, must always go back and relate these things to writing, which is my chosen art. People who labor over a book because they can't not write are very different from those who churn out whatever the lowest common denominator of pop culture is. Those LCD people will sell, but . . . Same for screenplays/movies. We're a culture of mental candy. And so the people who deserve to do well—those who go the extra mile, those literary spinaches and broccolis—often don't.)

Sting also pointed out that talent alone won't get you there. Luck is involved. Serendipity. Destiny.

These are the things I took away from Twenty Feet from Stardom. Well, and that Merry Clayton (and she was such a hoot; I loved her) recorded her part of "Gimme Shelter" while in pajamas and curlers.

Really, the film was in part a historical look at the role of backup singers, and at how that has changed. What these singers bring to a song or a show. Why their names deserve to be known.


Television: Doctor Who, "Robot of Sherwood"

This one didn't hold my attention, honestly. It just gave me flashbacks to that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. "Tonight the role of Worf will be played by the Doctor (who is not a merry man)."

Really, the story (such as it was) was that Clara could pick anywhere and anywhen to go, and she wanted to meet Robin Hood. The Doctor told her Robin Hood was just a legend. But they ended up in Sherwood Forest, facing Robert, Earl of Locksley anyway. A large portion of the episode then revolved around Clara squeeing and the Doctor loudly protesting that Robin could not be real, that there had to be some other explanation.

It was all a bit silly and not entirely engaging. Shame, since it's the kind of thing I would normally enjoy. You know, when done well. But here it felt alternately over the top and pointless.

The sum total of the plot was that alien robots (not-quite-Cybermen) had crash landed while on their way to The Promised Land and were in need of all the gold in the realm to repair their engines. Nottingham was aiding them because they promised land him the kingdom. No Missy this time around, but the nod to "Heaven" or whatever was plenty. One can guess either Nottingham or a few of these robots (or both) might turn up there in the end. Are we building toward some kind of "Judgement Day" in which the Doctor will be put on trial for his "sins"? Since we seem to be asking whether he's a "good man" and all that? (Hmm. Saw something like that on ST:TNG too . . .)

They also seem to like to make much of this new incarnation being old and crotchety. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet.

Fall Television

So the season is nearly upon us . . . Remember when shows started at the beginning of September? Now it's more like late September, even October.

There are shows I already watch and am waiting for: Elementary, and we'll see if I can be bothered with Sleepy Hollow. Curious to see how Community does on Yahoo! as well. And stuff like Game of Thrones and Fargo won't be back until winter/spring.

But what about the newbies? Here are some of the shows I'm considering trying out:

  • Gotham (premiering September 22)
  • Scorpion (premiering September 22)
  • Selfie (premiering September 30) — I'm not really sold on this one, but I'll try it; My Fair Lady is an all-time favorite of mine
  • Gracepoint (premiering October 2) — can't imagine it'll be as good as Broadchurch though
  • Constantine (premiering October 24)

Possibly also Fresh Off the Boat, which I feel is an awful title, but the clips I saw were funny, and I need a few more laughs in my television diet. No idea when that one premiers.

There may be others. Can't clutter my schedule too much, but I like to try a lot of things and then winnow. Sort of like piling a plate at a buffet and then deciding what to go back for.


Movies: Draft Day

Kevin Costner has a history of emotionally intense and gratifying sports movies. Field of Dreams, of course, but also Bull Durham, and For Love of the Game, and even the lighter Tin Cup. All good stuff, and Draft Day is a solid entry into this list.

I'll be honest here: I'm not a very sporty person. I grew up in Texas, where football is a state-mandated religion, and I still managed to only ever attend one football game (a Homecoming game in high school). In fact, to date that is the only football game I've ever been to. I've watched some on television since then, but I still can't tell you all the rules or positions or whatever. I know they want to get the ball to the opposite end of the field, and then they want to kick it through the yellow thing. That's about it.

(I'm better with baseball, but had to have a nice stranger explain how the game was played when I went to my first Red Sox game.)

Anyway, despite a lack of working knowledge of these sports, I have enjoyed the Costner films, which have a way of being accessible to all audiences regardless of sportiness (if that's the word). Still, I had my reservations about a whole movie devoted to the NFL draft? I mean, really?

And yet . . . Even though it was clear where things would land by the end of it all . . . I was still very engaged with this movie. I did not have my iPhone out, I didn't wander around—I was focused. Which is something I can say of fewer and fewer films these days.

They say a journey isn't about the destination, it's about how you get there and what you see and do along the way. And that's how Draft Day felt. I knew, deep down, there was only one "right" way to end the film. But the twists and turns along that road were highly entertaining. There were intense moments. It was good stuff.

Costner does a great job (his usual), and Jennifer Garner was a good foil for him. I liked Denis Leary, too, doing his typically gruff thing. And I didn't even recognize Tom Welling. (Remember when he was Superman? He probably hates being reminded all the time. But it was nice to see him doing other things.)

If you're wondering about specifics, well, Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns. And it's (you guessed it!) NFL draft day. So the film counts down the hours as Sonny wheels and deals and tries to decide who to pick. There is some emotional drama, of course: Sonny is secretly seeing someone in the office (though everyone knows), and he's grieving his father who died just a week before—Coach Weaver being a legacy for whom the practice field was named. No pressure there or anything.

Ultimately it's a story of going with your gut when you've got a million voices shouting at you. It's a story of inner confidence and outer strength. That kind of thing.

Maybe I liked it because I had no real expectations for it. But in any case, I heartily enjoyed Draft Day.