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Showing posts from June, 2010

Where's the Fun? Doctor Who Thoughts

For the last couple of weeks I've been trying to put into words just why I've found the most recent and just-concluded season of Doctor Who so underwhelming.  What's standing in my way is the fact that somewhere around the second season I lost the ability to think or write critically about the show.  Oh, I've produced theoccasionalpiece, but what they've all had in common was an emphasis on a single character or plot arc that I could get a handle on, while the show as a whole seemed to elude my grasp.  From the moment it exploded onto our screens in 2005, New Who's defining characteristic seemed to be its cheerful and relentless determination to ignore all the rules of good writing in favor of spectacle and, as Jackson Lake so accurately put it in "The Next Doctor," wonderful nonsense.  Russell T. Davies came out and said that he wasn't interested in coherent plots or nuanced characterization or subtle moments, that what he wanted was to elicit wo…

The Pilots of Summer

Once upon a time, the summer months were a long, arid stretch bereft of new TV episodes, with only the occasional bit of counter-programming to break the monotony.  Then the whole concept of an October to May TV season proved unsuitable to the new, serialized paradigm, and cable channels discovered they could make a profit on a fraction of the networks' target ratings and could do even better if there was nothing else on, and before you knew it there wasn't one TV season but four, and no sooner does one batch of television series wrap up its season but another one starts up.  Which is distracting if, like me, you were planning to use the summer downtime to catch up on some older shows and maybe, you know, read.  Happily, hardly any of the pilots that have aired in the last six weeks have been any good, so my viewing schedule hasn't gotten much heavier (except, of course, for Futurama's welcome return, though I have to say that the first two episodes were only nice, and…

Recent Movie Roundup 11

After a promising start to the year, it's been a dispiriting spring and summer at the movie theaters, and there's not much coming up that I'm looking forward to (well, Inception, of course, and probably Scott Pilgrim too though I doubt it'll have an Israeli release), but here are some of the films I've watched recently.
Julie & Julia (2009) - I can't be the only person who would have liked this film a lot better as a straight-up biopic of Julia Child starring Meryl Streep as Child and Stanley Tucci as her loving and supportive husband Paul.  The juxtaposition of Child's early career as a chef and cookbook author--her introduction to French cuisine when Paul, a diplomat, is assigned to the American embassy in Paris, her studies at a Parisian culinary institute, her meeting with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, with whom she would write Mastering the Art of French Cooking--with the ballooning success of Julie Powell's blog and her struggles to meet…

All Hat: Thoughts on Justified

Of all the many pleasures that television offers me, the one itch it rarely scratches is eloquence.  I love a beautifully written piece of prose, but there's something so much more satisfying about beautiful speech.  We live in a society in which eloquence is a vanishing commodity, and public speech and conversation have become homogenized and diluted.  It's rare for any of us to have even a small fraction of our vocabulary at our immediate, unconsidered disposal, or for unrehearsed speech to have a cadence or poetry that reflect the speaker's personality and the full breadth of their intelligence.  This is, of course, because true eloquence is rare even when it's prized and nurtured, but that's exactly where the scripted media, which offer a marriage of the performance of spontaneity and pre-written and -edited words, should come in.  Alas, most television characters just talk the way most of us would if we didn't have to pause for thought or backtrack over ou…

A Real New Coat of Paint

No sooner do I wish for more variety in Blogger's available templates than they create a new tool to do just that and stock it with quite a few fancy-looking options.  The result of my tinkering is before you, which for me is a feeling not unlike the experience of leaving the hairdresser's five minutes after getting a shorter-than-you-expected cut.  Good?  Bad?  Somewhere in between?

With Both Feet in the Clouds: Fantasy in Hebrew Literature, edited by Hagar Yanai and Danielle Gurevitch

This isn't something that I think about very often, but I live half my life in a foreign language.  It's the language I'm writing in right now.  My actual, physical life, is lived in Hebrew.  It's the language I work in, the one I shop and bank and commute in, the one I use with friends and acquaintances and people on the street.  But it's not the language I write in, because it's not the language I read in.  I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but somewhere around the point that I transitioned from children's books to adult fiction, I stopped reading Israeli writers, for reasons that I suspect will be familiar to many Israeli genre fans--because the books that caught my fancy, the Asimovs and Tolkiens and Pratchetts, were foreign.  Unlike many of my fellow fans, I had the command of English that allowed me, eventually, to read free of the mediation of Israeli translators and publishers.  So from a very early age I learned to gravitate to the English…

The 2010 Hugo Awards: The Novelette Shortlist

Yet another reason that this year's Hugo shortlist reviews are going to be on the brief side: my thoughts about this year's novelette shortlist are almost exactly what they were last year.  To wit, that one of the worst consequences of taking one's Hugo nominating duties seriously enough to read through a substantial portion of the year's genre short fiction output is that it becomes a lot harder to enjoy the novelette ballot, which is usually the highlight of my award-reading season.  Though this year's ballot is, as usual, much stronger than the one for short story and in fact contains two of my favorite stories of the year, it's hard not to be upset at the presence of stories I liked well enough, or didn't like at all, instead of the ones I loved.  In previous years, I always looked forward to reading the novelette ballot, certain that the stories on it would surprise and delight me.  This year and last, the good stories on the ballot had already surpris…