A name out of a Steve McQueen movie

I’ve got to learn to say “no” more. Heck, it’s not even that. I’ve got to stop offering to do things! I’m well booked up for the next month with four or five mini-projects. Two of them are due at the end of the month (yes, a week from today), another is due a week after that and the other shortly thereafter. And they’re all really cool. One of these days, though, I’m going to stick my neck out a tad too far.

I love the Public Lending Rights Commission. Every year I get a check from them in the mail. Just because I’m a Canadian and copies of my books appear in libraries across Canada. Hopefully these libraries will all pick up copies of The Dark Tower Companion, because then it will be even better next year.

Is anyone else watching the new series Banshee? My buddy Jay Clarke (aka Michael Slade) has been going on and on about it, so I checked out the first episode. Within the first five minutes, the main character gets out of prison, has stockroom sex with a female bartender, becomes involved in a Manhattan car chase and a subsequent shootout in which  one of those red double-decker tour buses falls over and skids across the streets like the milk truck in The Dead Zone. It only slows down a tad after that. By the end of the hour, this guy who served fifteen years for his part in a $10 million jewel heist is the sheriff of Banshee, PA. There are at least two other shootouts and at least that many fistfights. And more sex. And some Amish people. Alan Ball (Six Feet Under) is an executive producer on the series. There are some fascinating characters, but I don’t recognize most of the actors except for Frankie Faison who played Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell on The Wire.

I finished the second season of Borgen, the Danish series about political intrigue. The show has a few through-line plot elements, but each episode is also a capsule look at some interesting social or political notion. Can women with families be effective politicians? The tenuous relationship between Denmark and Greenland. The war in Iraq. Juvenile crime and punish­ment. Dealing with controversial foreign dignitaries and making deals that sometimes contain mildly poisonous pills. All of the personalities involved make these stories compelling, because there’s often an element that reaches out and touches their lives. The female prime minister has had to sacrifice a lot personally over the course of three years in power, and one has to wonder if she would have set off down this path if she’d known the cost. Her mentor told her at the outset that she could not afford to have any friends in the parliament building. She had to be prepared to sacrifice anyone.

Her spin doctor also has some heavy baggage from his past that cause him to be somewhat self destructive, especially in his relationships. We see the media side of things, from the inflammatory former politician who is making it his mission in life to criticize the prime minister about everything to the more moderate TV1, where sometimes good television has to triumph over good reportage. It’s a very strong series that has become a hit in the UK. Now the long wait for the third series, which is only now airing in Denmark. (One thing I found fascinating was the way some of the characters would speak English in certain situations…and it was perfect, usually with an upper class British accent. The prime minister also speaks flawless French.)

Apparently this was the week when the networks decided to have main characters in crime shows suspected of committing crimes. Last night it was Sara Sidle on CSI and Detective Rollins on SVU. The storylines were quite different and both of them were effective. In the latter, the audience knew that she had acted properly but it wasn’t a sure thing that she wouldn’t be prosecuted. In the former, the evidence was stacked up against Sara to the extent that a viewer would be forgiven for thinking that maybe she had snapped.

You know things are interesting on Survivor when Philip isn’t the most annoying player at the moment. Probably not even the second-most annoying. (I got a kick out of his “middle-management” line.) We have Brandon, who keeps threatening to get crazy and break stuff but never manages to summon the gumption to do so, and then there’s Shamar, one of those guys who likes to intimidate people by talking loudly over them. I was glad the fans lost the immunity challenge because it gave us a chance to see more of them in the aftermath, though I thought for a minute that Reynold, the guy with the amazing superpower, was going to catch up with the fans at the ring-toss the way he did with the beanbag throw last week. Dude needs to find a better way to carry his (not so well) hidden immunity idol around, though. I don’t think it would have been any more conspicuous if he’d worn it around his neck.

I was a little disappointed with the trip to the swinger’s party on Justified this week. Sure, there was a little tawdry stuff going on in the background but it turns out the focus was on the old cigar-smoking bourbon-drinking gentry who are in charge of everything in Harlan County, at least in their minds. I don’t know how that gibes with the Dixie Mafia and the way Quarles stuck his nose in things last season, but they certainly put down a gauntlet that Boyd is going to have to consider. His daddy may have gotten the message from the Clover Hills Mafia, but Boyd’s different. We’re still no closer to finding out who Drew Thompson is, but by now we must certainly have seen him at least once.

The brunt of the episode was derived from a section of the Elmore Leonard novel Raylan. This includes all the material featuring the fetching and beguiling (or charming, as Raylan put it) sorority sister/poker player Jackie Nevada (daughter of Reno, apparently) and another Dumb and Dumber duo. I thought for a while that Jody was going to loot Raylan’s stash again after he overheard where he lived, but instead all Jody did was reset Raylan’s clock on the last time he shot a man. Poor Raylan’s not sure what to make of Jackie. He knows he should be wary of her, but he’s not trusting his judgment much these days.

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