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Posts Tagged ‘The Big Bang Theory’

It occurs to me that except for blaming the lost weekend for my lapse in productivity (yeah, like that’s the only reason), I have said very little about Comic-con. This seems odd, since the very scope of Comic-con would presumptively lend itself to having a great deal to say. This is true, and yet not.

Let me emphasize here that I like the idea of Comic-con. I grew up with comics. I own a lot of them (and the ones I’ve lost that would be worth a fortune today?–don’t ask). I love that they’ve finally hit the mainstream.

But.

My personal experience inside Comic-con was largely limited to one room (Hall 20), which in and of itself does speak volumes about the event. We were only there one day, and we were there to see a particular panel (Outlander), which did not premiere until late. Under the rules by which Comic-con operates, however, this meant we had to sit in the room all day. And that is where the concept of blame, of which Comic-con bears much, comes in.

You see, Comic-con’s large halls (H and 20) feature panel discussions all day. Hall H is where the infamous “movie reveal” panels happen, where you can see the entire cast of “The Avengers,” for example, on stage. Hall H holds 6000 people. It caters to movies and some very popular TV shows (like The Big Bang Theory). Hall 20 is the smaller venue for TV shows of somewhat lesser, but still significant, popularity. It holds, if memory serves, 4800 people.

The problem with these rooms (and thereby hangs the blame), is that they are not cleared after each panel. Once you get in, you stay. You can try to maneuver your way to a seat closer to the stage once people vacate on their own after seeing the panel that they came to see, but given the high standard of events in Hall H, I doubt that happens much. (It did in Hall 20.) This is why people camp out all night to get into Hall H. (Kind of a waste of a hotel reservation, wasn’t it?) In our case, it meant sitting through several hour-long panels we cared nothing about.

Now I understand that clearing a 6000-seat (or even 4800-seat) auditorium and re-filling it every hour would be a mammoth task. Notwithstanding, this policy is garbage. If you don’t want to empty the hall six times a day, do it once. People can come in for the morning sessions, or the afternoon sessions. Force them to choose what they want to see, and give twice as many people the chance to see something. At least allow people to pre-register for Hall H the way they pre-register for the convention so that they don’t have to camp out all night.

Comic-con is big. Really big. It shows no signs of slowing (to my knowledge), but a lot of events now happen outside the convention center. I saw Star Trek,¬†Bladerunner, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones events, among others. This trend will grow. Exhibitors are already complaining that the traffic in the dealers’ room is declining. Part of that is the outside events, and part is because anybody who wants to see a panel in the latter part of the day cannot do anything else that day. You want to see a 4:00 panel in H or 20? You’re stuck from 9 to 5. (And for Hall H, that’s 9 PM.)

Like any monster, Comic-con moves slowly. And like the dinosaurs, even if it lasts millions of years, it carries the seeds of its own destruction. “Really big” is only a short step from “too big.”

And who would be to blame for that?

#SFWApro

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The Republican convention is over, and it was a mess. The Democratic convention has just started, and it’s a mess, too. We are going to have a choice between the first billionaire and the first woman President, and not only does neither side trust the other, half of them don’t trust their own side. And I can’t even go outside away from the TV, because there’s a massive brush fire 20 miles away and the air tastes like a barbecue. Not “barbecue,” a barbecue. (Oh, and it was 107 degrees today.)*

I’m working on a novel, last in a trilogy, and I really want to get it done so that I can move onto something else. It’s been fun, but now I’m looking forward to something new. Except I suddenly realized that one of the branching plot lines I was working on is going nowhere, and it has to be dumped, and there goes 5000 words. (Into a side file, of course; I may use them later.) Meanwhile, the other branch of the plot doesn’t have to be dumped–because it doesn’t exist. I haven’t made it up yet, and right now its prospects aren’t looking so good. When it’s 107 degrees and you can’t breathe the air and the country is split between the uptight righties, the dizzy lefties, and the “please just leave me the hell alone until December” crowd stuck in the middle, who can muster up the energy to write?

That’s correct: a writer. Because when the chips are down and the temperature is up, who else is going to talk about it? If it all goes into a handbasket, the last person on Earth will write it all down, hoping that someone, someday, will find it and learn how badly we screwed up. You think he won’t?

So if that theoretical man or woman can spend his or her last days scribbling on whatever flat surface is left, telling whoever comes next the Story of Man, what excuse do the rest of us have? It’s too hot? It’s too cold?¬†Hillary Trump is threatening to ban Dodgers fans from leaving Los Angeles? That’s when we need to write. Writers are the ones who put everything down so everyone else can read it. Writers are the ones who tell others that we’re not alone, that we all have the same fears, and loves, and frailties. Writers are the ones who tell the stories that let us know it’s all going to be okay.

It isn’t easy to think of something to say. Writing is hard. I maintain that almost anyone can write, but others disagree. (Then again, there are those who think engineers can write user manuals. They are quite wrong.) But the harder it is, the more worthwhile it is. The only reason we know anything about anything is because somebody wrote it down.

So here I am, gearing myself up to write, because now I can’t not write. Right? Wrong. I’ve done my bit. I’ve lead my cheer. Now it’s up to you, because I have earned a rest.

Yeah, write.

*I am fully aware that compared to the firefighters on the line, the people who have lost their homes, and those who have been evacuated, I have nothing to complain about. I wish I could write a story where things were different.

#SFWApro

 

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So I’m what other writers would call “a little weird.” Or maybe “a throwback.” Or even, as a certain someone says, “a Luddite.” Why? Because I like to write longhand. You know, with a pen and paper. I’ll wait while you go look up those terms.

The thing is, writing is scary. You are creating a whole world, an entire universe, out of whole cloth. And it doesn’t matter if it’s SF, or fantasy, or romance, or “literature.” (When you read that term, please make little “air quotes” with your fingers. It’s deserved.) What you write has never happened, at least in that way to those people. You’re making it up. And you’re making up their world. The scope of the made-up part varies by genre, from one person and his small circle of acquaintances to one person and his not-so-small galactic empire, but the concept remains. Whatever will, or has, ever happened in this universe is what, and only what, you make up.

Which means that facing a blank screen can be intimidating. That blinking cursor reminds you each and every second that it’s alone up there that you haven’t drawn in one stroke of your universe. It’s the Monday of your six days, and while we know God finally started with, “Let there be light!” we have no idea how long He stood there staring at the empty canvas that was the Void trying to decide what color that light should be. So it is with your own universe (a smaller project, I admit, than His).

I find that a (lined) piece of paper is less intimidating than a computer screen. When I’m stuck, unable to start a new story for the life of me, I invariably will turn, at long last, to my friend the notebook (college-ruled, not Mac) and start scribbling away almost as fast as my thoughts can run. Except when I don’t, but even when I stare at that page for an hour, eventually something comes bubbling to the forefront of my mind, and I write it down. Be it a book blurb, or a conversation, or a piece of flash fiction, it almost never fails–but if I were to try the same thing on my laptop, I’d give up in ten minutes and watch The Big Bang Theory.

Truth is, if I could find a good script-to-type program, I’d get a (computer) tablet I could write on and compose everything longhand. (Yes, I know they are out there, but I’ve not seen what I want yet.) I guess I feel a closer connection to the work that way, and maybe I feel more like the writers of old, Shakespeare, and Poe, and Neil Gaiman.

You know, the weirdos.

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First things first: I love The Big Bang Theory. I was not an early adopter (ironically), partly because I was trying to limit my TV viewing in favor of writing, and partly because I believed it would be a mainstream mugging of my peeps, the people who go to cons, read comic books, and basically practice the types of rituals that were guaranteed to get you beaten up in junior high school if anyone saw you with evidence of your passion. (My passion was known, but since my closest co-conspirator was on the football team–yes, the football team–I was safe from reprisal.)

On the enthusiastic recommendation of my beloved Significant Other,* however, I watched an episode. It is now the only show of which I will watch reruns in the same season as when they first aired. I also avidly watch it in syndication.

Okay, so having established my bona fides, I am now allowed to criticize the thing I love: Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, and Howard are routinely shown watching SF TV shows, attending movies, and their lives revolve around the local comic book shop(s). And yet, I do not recall ever seeing one of them reading a book. Not even a magazine. What’s up with that?

I understand that this kind of comedy relies on interpersonal relationships, and reading is not a shared experience (except when they’re passing the comics around), so it might not play well on TV. But are there no books (other than textbooks) in any of their apartments? Are you going to tell me that Howard doesn’t subscribe to Analog? (Sheldon would sneer; there’s your interpersonal byplay.)

It’s kind of unfair, really, that Babylon 5, Star Trek, Batman, the Flash, et al. get such play and SF magazine and novel writers get no credit. If none of these guys (or Amy) has read Asimov, I’ll eat my hat. Or Heinlein? Really?

C’mon, fellas, get with it. I love it when the things I love, love the things I love. Even if it’s only part of the background.

*See The Only Job Harder than Mine.

ETA 10/13/14: On tonight’s episode, Sheldon mentioned reading Arthur C. Clarke. It’s a start.

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