Like every teen, I went through a phase where I wrote [really, really bad] poetry. And today, as I was cleaning my office, I found this tidbit. Please don't judge.

By the way, this isn't the entire poem. So you're starting kind of in the middle here. The first part of the poem is about the Archangel Gabriel growing impatient for Judgement Day. In the bit below, Gabriel has just blown his horn and God comes bursting out of His throne room and...

One fanfare bringing lightning,
One blare forcing tears,
And Heaven's gate was trembling;
The Rapture Day was here.

Then everything grew quiet.
Everything got still.
And Earth was left with nothing
But one tiny, grassy hill.
Gabriel frowned down on it;
Something had gone wrong,
And God folded his arms, saying,
"Well, what a lovely song—

But, Gabriel, that's not your trumpet."

The angel peered down at the
Instrument in his hand,
Saw Lucifer engraved on it
And began to understand.
"My Lord, can you forgive me?"
"Yes, of course I can.
But my world is now left empty,
And I'll have to start again.

"You've done me quite a favor,"
The Lord added with a wink.
"The men I create this time
Will be much improved, I think."

"Sure," said Gabriel, rising
To help Peter with the gate,
"But it's all the more million years
I'm going to have to wait."

😂 I still thought you had to capitalize every line! And that poems had to rhyme!

It's so weird to stumble across old work. I haven't written poetry since 2004, and this is a fair example of why.


Movies: BlacKkKlansman

Time for me to make an embarrassing confession: the only other Spike Lee "joint" I've ever seen is The 25th Hour. But I did really like that movie. And I really liked this one, too.

For those not in the know, BlacKkKlansman is an adaptation of the true story of Colorado Springs' first black police officer Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington). In the early 70s, Stallworth infiltrated the KKK with the help of a white narcotics officer named "Flip" Zimmerman (portrayed here by Adam Driver). There is, as one might expect, a fair amount of tension in the situation. But it's been well tempered by lighter moments. In all, it's just a really good and engaging movie: well acted and thoughtfully composed.

Lee is a weensy bit heavy handed in the parallels to today's political climate, but the comparisons are justified. Unfortunately, a movie is unlikely to make a difference in people's ways of thinking or behaviors. The kinds of people Lee is preaching against are the kinds that won't be watching BlacKkKlansman anyway.

Then again, the movie also touches on the militancy of the other side, at least at that time. Stallworth attempts to reason with his activist girlfriend who insists all cops are racist pigs (without knowing that her boyfriend is a cop). She rejects his diplomacy with a very "for or against, no middle ground" kind of attitude. So maybe the message here is that neither side is correct, and that the truth and the good in the world lies in the middle, in the gray areas.

Still, the sides are not equivalent. There is a difference between sexual assault, shooting, and bombing and peaceful (if loud) marching and protests.

In all, the movie made me want to read Stallworth's book. And it was a really entertaining film in its own right.


Theatre: Miss Saigon

I finally saw this . . . I went in only knowing, er, Saigon, I guess? And that there was a helicopter. So I didn't really have any preconceived notions or expectations. And . . .

I didn't enjoy it at all.

It was bombastic and melodramatic. I could tell it had been written by the guys who did Les Mis (which I've only ever seen the film of). There was just . . . so much wrong with it, I can't even.

Okay, okay, I get that this play is nearly 30 years old. So sensibilities have changed. Even so, gah. The songs weren't catchy, and they repeated the same handful of information over and over again. The Engineer would sing about girls/whores and wanting to go to America. Kim would sing about being in love with Chris, and then about missing Chris and still being in love with Chris. Chris got to sing about being in love with Kim a few times, but then he was relegated to wallpaper status. We were told he tried to find Kim, but we don't see it. We never see his struggles except, like, one nightmare maybe? I couldn't tell if he was supposed to be a sympathetic character or not. I suspect not given that two French guys wrote this about America taking over Vietnam after they had it.

I cringed my way through most of the show. The actors we saw were amazing and had great voices. The dancers were terrific. But the show is just . . . It's not good. I kept wondering what my uncle who served in 'Nam would have made of it. While I understand they do (kind of?) show the horrors of war, the writers also romanticize it quite a bit. If most of the songs had not been about love and longing, and if they'd shown more of Chris' PTSD or his frantic attempts to go back to Vietnam/Kim only to be told he couldn't, maybe it would have been better? Who can say? I don't think those changes would have made it any worse anyway.

Ugh. I'm sure a lot of people love this musical. But let's face it, "You're sunlight and I'm moonlight" is super cliché. Like, were the writers even trying? Or did they look at each other after the success of Les Mis and say, "Let's expand on the prostitute character and just pick a different setting"? That's what it felt like to me. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes through a lot of it.

Oh! And the thing where she kills her betrothed? That really went a whole lotta nowhere. There's a plot thread that someone dropped for sure. I guess they felt we needed more songs about her loving Chris and loving her son and stuff.

Sigh. Just . . . not a fan. Maybe I'm missing something, or maybe I'm cold hearted. I dunno. But this show did nothing but irritate me.


Television: Doctor Who, "The Woman Who Fell to Earth"

I really agonized over whether to suck it up and watch the remaining Capaldi episodes or just pick up with this one. In the end, I wasn't interested enough to finish out Capaldi's season. I couldn't muster the enthusiasm, or even the basic sluggish energy, to pull it up on my DVR (where it has been sitting... and sitting... and sitting...) But people kept asking me what I thought of Whittaker as the Doctor, so I decided to fire this one up and dive in fresh.

Long story short, I don't have the Capaldi backstory, though based on this it hardly seems necessary?

In the interest of playing fairly, let me acknowledge that I'm one of the people who find Moffat to be a terrible show runner. And I really like Chris Chibnall's work. Well, I adored Broadchurch anyway.  And Torchwood. So I was primed to really like this, too, because (a) sweet release from the Moffat era, and (b) Chibnall has shown to be competent and compelling in his work.

So, yeah, as expected, I really liked it.

Spoilers Ahead, Sweeties

Not just Whittaker's Doctor, but the entire supporting cast. And even though we'd only just met Grace, I felt the impact of losing her because she'd already left such an impression. This is what Chibnall does so well—characterization. And really good, tight stories.

What was this story about? Well, Ryan Sinclair is... I don't know how old he's supposed to be, actually, but seems like 20s? And he lives with his nan Grace and her second husband Graham. When Ryan discovers something strange, he phones in to the police, and they send Yasmin, who just happens to be someone Ryan went to school with way back when. Meanwhile, an alien attacks the train Grace and Graham are on, and the Doctor shows up, and things pretty much go from there at a fair clip.

Whittaker's Doctor is a tad manic, but many of them have been to some extent. And sometimes they start off that way after regeneration and then calm down a bit. We'll see what happens, but I don't mind this take on the character. It's fun. And she has a depth of compassion that we haven't seen in recent Doctors.

Mostly I'm just glad to be excited about Doctor Who again. To be enjoying it again because I honestly haven't liked it in years. It became more of a chore than something to look forward to, which is why I eventually quit watching at all.

Now I'm back, fresh, and it seems like I needn't worry too much about what I missed, which is good. It will allow new viewers to catch on, too, so that's a smart move. Looking forward to seeing more.


Books: Faebourne

Well, the ebook is finally here! (Paperback forthcoming.) You can pick it up on Amazon Kindle for just 99 cents for a limited time. Kindle Unlimited patrons can read it for free.

Those who enjoyed Brynnde will, I hope, enjoy this book as well. However, this one is less typical of the Regency romance genre. I call it a "Regency fairy tale" because there are fantasy elements to the story. Also, more conservative readers should know there is a homosexual relationship in this book. If that makes you uncomfortable, you might want to skip this one.


Duncan Oliver was in every respect an unremarkable gentleman. 

When mild-mannered Duncan Oliver is abducted by the Milne brothers and taken to their legendary home of Faebourne, his unexciting life becomes much more interesting. Adelia Milne has been cursed, and Duncan is her chosen champion to break the spell. Duncan may not be a hero, but he is a gentleman, and he refuses to leave a lady in distress. He becomes determined to take on the quest on Miss Milne's behalf.

Meanwhile, an unlikely rescue team forms in the pairing of Duncan's best friend George and valet Davies. As they set out for Faebourne—and also perchance to learn more about Davies' obscured family history—what begins as an unequal partnership quickly blooms into friendship... and possibly something more.


The Dream Cages: Update

I haven't forgotten you! (The, like, 11 of you who might even care.) I'm on a deadline with my current novel and will come back to TDC when it's done. Should be another week maybe? Thanks for your patience!

Television: FBI & The Good Cop

Tried the first episodes of both these new procedurals. Here are my thoughts:

FBI was incredibly generic. The characters were all so monotone, with no personalities whatsoever. I mean, maybe the show is written and directed by A.I. robots? I also had the sense that the episode I was watching was not the first one—like maybe they'd aired them out of order. (Too lazy to go look it up and see if that might be true.) Because there was no real introduction to the characters or anything. When done well, that can be fine. When you slowly show the characters' personalities, when the characters bloom open as it were. But that didn't happen here. Or if they're trying to do that, it's too slow for anyone to find it interesting. The difference between watching an actual flower grow in real time vs. time lapse. (Hint: people watch time lapse videos; they don't sit and watch flowers actually open.)

The storyline itself was fine. ::shrug:: Nothing very different from any other procedural, really.

Verdict: I took the series recording off my DVR. But the show got a full season pick-up, I think, so there must be some people who like it.

The Good Cop was . . . not as funny as I thought it would be? This show seems to be very self-aware of the fact that it's dragging up some old tropes. But it also doesn't seem to know what it wants to be when it grows up. Like, the title sequence is riffing on old 80s shows (and when you have Tony Danza, what else are you going to do, really?), and the music cues are over-the-top sitcom stuff. In fact, a lot of the show is over the top. The characters are all extreme versions of their types: the straight-laced, by-the-book cop; the ex-con cop; the buffoon sidekick; the dorky science guy, etc. They all seemed to be overacting a bit, and I couldn't tell whether that was intentional and, if so, why. Like, what effect the show was going for. A lot of it looks and feels very tongue in cheek, but it wasn't actually funny, so I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be or???

The plot was very basic, too. The titular good cop is framed for a murder that his ex-con cop dad may have committed. But there's an absolutely throwaway plot spur in which said dad confesses and goes back to prison. Something like that should add weight or tension, and here it didn't seem to have any impact on the story or the characters whatsoever.

Verdict: I'm still a little intrigued to see if this show finds its feet. So I'll probably try another one or two episodes.


Movies: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Oh, man. It's difficult to make me cry (unless there are animals involved), but I bawled through a lot of this documentary about Fred Rogers' efforts to reach children with his message of how they all have value. Like many kids growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, I spent my fair share of time in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I'm very sorry my kids were born just a wee bit too late to learn from him, too. Mr. Rogers was soothing, comforting, understanding. I believe his methods inform the way I speak to my children even today. Why, just yesterday I spoke to my youngest about how it's okay to be angry—normal, in fact—but the important thing is what we do with that anger. Mr. Rogers taught us that it's okay to make mistakes, something I think our society forgets far too easily.

WYBMN? focuses specifically on Rogers' mission, his television work. It's very well done and interviews a number of family members, cast and crew, and friends. It also makes extensive use of archival footage so that Rogers speaks for himself via old interviews as well.

That said, I'm not sure I learned anything about Rogers that I didn't already know or suspect. That he was more or less exactly how he came across on television, a good and caring person—that's nice to know, I think, because it allows me to maintain my faith in him and every lesson he instilled in me as a child. Still, I might've liked to hear about his childhood or family life, but that was beyond the purvey of this documentary.

The world could use a few more Fred Rogers, but alas, he was sui generis. He knew we had it in us to be better, but I fear we've let him down.