This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Jury Duty -- Ominous

I get to go on Jury Duty tomorrow. My first time ever, and I'm 33 years old. Is that normal? My wife is totally jealous, since she does nothing with her free time except watch Court TV (at least if "I Detective", the worst show ever, isn't on). I am the opposite of excited, because if I have to take a day off work I want to spend that day doing nothing, or at least getting caught up on all the crap I avoid doing on a daily basis. And I have to leave my house at like 7am to get there, too. It sucks. And there's going to be a lot of waiting in lines, I can just feel it.

My hope is to be off by noon, and spending the afternoon doing all that aforementioned crap or going into work for a half day.

In other news, I saw that movie that people love, Finding Neverland, against my will last week. People love this movie, and I have a hard time figuring out exactly why. Part of the problem is my lack of interest in ever seeing Peter Pan, a film that seemed to (from afar -- I've never seen it) celebrate the joy of the child's imagination and malign the adult's sensibility. As an sensible man-child with an overactive imagination, I never knew what to do with that. I still don't.

The film is kinda interesting, and I always appreciate weird stuff, but it was so heavy-handed and contrived with the woman dying thing (I had a hard time getting into that because she was being so obviously pigheaded about the whole thing -- I mean super-stupid), and anytime more than 2 British children are in the mix the potential for overly precocious and annoying behavior is there. For me, it was a nothing movie, neither good nor bad, with no real resonating message. But that's obviously just me, judging by its 83% Rotten Tomatos rating and glowing comments therein.

One of my favorite directors, David Lynch, has done what we all thought he would do and gone completely insane. Here is the group that he is heavily involved in. At first it looked like something out of "The Onion". I can't believe this exists. This belongs in a "Bad Idea Jeans" ad, as in, "I decided to follow the Mahareeshi Yogi plan of thinking Terrorism away. I joined with a bunch of other followers and did Trancendental Meditation. We hope to unite the whole world in this way, by getting rid of government, religion, or anything resembling an idea or firm stance about anything." (Flash to screen that says: Bad Idea). Just when you thought Yogi and TM was dead, they reinvent themselves as a "Peace Government". I especially like the term "Scientifically proven principles to create peace." I'd like to see those lab results, please. I'm skeptical. If you look through the stuff, it's Hinduism dressed up in modern scientific terms. They use, for example, Quantum Physics to prove that we are all one. This crap gives me tired head.

"Peace and Safety" Hmm...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Alias -- A Better Show Than You Think

Novel-writing observation number 3:

Writing dialogue, while possibly the best way to develop character, sucks. I don't mind writing just regular dialogue -- It's the punctuation and quotes I hate. They make no sense to me. They need to be more logically defined and laid out. "Who's the man?" said the other man. Should there be a comma there? Should "Said" be capitalized? Nobody knows. Well, some people know, but I don't. I should have paid better attention in school.

The thing is, I could just do whatever I want and have it be ok, but then some English freak would come along and say, "This is improper." Well, I'll tell you what's improper: comma rules. I sound like David Brent from "The Office" right now. I hate comma rules. They hurt me so. But then again, we need those rules to help things flow better. All I'm concerned about is the flow. Flow control.

This is just fruitless complaining, and I'm sorry about that.

In other news, we rented from Netflix the first DVD from Alias and watched the Pilot and the first two episodes. I remember the original ad campaign and thought it would be a show I could watch, even if it was made by the same dude who was responsible for Felicity. The thing is, it does have boring Felicity-esque parts, but those just serve to break up the manic action and kickboxing setpieces so far. For those who don't know, the story of the show is this:

Thin, ample-lipped, and cute Jennifer Garner plays Sidney Bristow, a grad student by day who goes all "Avenging Angel" (or more accurately "La Femme Nikita") at night as the member of a supposed offshoot of the CIA generically named SD-6. Seriously, she tells her friends that she's going to San Diego for her job at some Bank and then she goes to Singapore and wears stylistic and inappropriate clothing and goes on missions and goes home. And her friends (even her hot fiance', a doctor with an accent of some sort named Daniel) never figure this out. It allows the show to be two (two) shows in one, as Sidney is two (two) babes in one.

So Sidney tells her fiance' about her double life and SD-6 kills him dead, and Sidney goes crazy and then SD-6 tries to kill her too, and then her dad shows up and tells her the SD-6 is evil, not good, and that her spy career has actually been helping the very people she thought she was fighting against, and she still hates her dad, and eventually SD-6 gives up trying to kill her when she puts on a Ronald Mcdonald-Red wig and goes to Singapore and steals some artifact and gets tortured and gets away and brings the artifact back to her boss, a bearded scum named Sloane. That pretty much covers the pilot.

Of course, she still pissed at them and she contacts the CIA for real and they set her up as a double agent (like her dad is) inside SD-6. So, the show is going to be about her going on SD-6 missions and then giving the info to the CIA. This is the good part, the spy part. Also good is the insistence of the producers to try to put Jennifer Garner in the most ridiculously titilating get-ups since Baywatch. Seriously, they have the Felicity parts for the women and the rubber dress and action parts for the men. It's amazing. My wife and I are so sucked in at this point. The funny thing is, at the end of the 2nd episode Sidney and this enemy agent named Anna (they have a catfight earlier -- I'm kinda surprised it wasn't in some sort of jello factory or something, the way this show thinks) are opening up this briefcase together to see what's inside, and they open the briefcase and their eyes get wide, and then the show ends. Wait unit the next disk, says the DVD player. Aaaah! So yeah, we're sucked in.

Maybe later I'll do a compare/contrast with the various incarnations of La Femme Nikita. I guess the most important difference is the double agent thing, as well as the fact that Sidney is an innocent Grad student and not a theiving skank. That makes it better, IMO. And Jennifer Garner is really good, in probably the meatiest and craziest female role on network TV right now. For the show to work, she has to pull off both "sweet, innocent, studious" and "hard, ruthless, resourceful, karate, cool". It works, amazingly. It kind of inspirational, since neither she nor the director had ever done anything like this before. And then they had Thirtysomething megahack Ken Olin direct episode one, and he commented on how he had never done anything like this either. It's weird, man -- all these spares coming together to create something that is not so spare. I'm excited to see where the show goes from here. I hear it changes in season two just as it's getting monotonous. For my enjoyment, I don't really want to know much more than that.

Maybe I'll rate the Alias episodes based on how fun the plot is, action time vs. felicity time, quality of outfits, and continuity errors. That might be fun.