My February contribution to Storytellers Unplugged went live yesterday. It’s called Social Media. I also (finally) finished my review of Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth and got it up. A book I wanted to like more, but didn’t.
I finished the first draft of my new work-in-progress yesterday afternoon. The short story came in at about 3100 words. It will be shorter after revision, I have no doubt. It’s not due to the market until the end of the month, so I have a few days to pretty it up.
The first review of The Dark Tower Companion (NAL, April 2, 2013) appeared in my news feed this morning. It’s from Rocky Wood and can be read at This Is Horror. It concludes, “Vincent has a strong commitment to opening Mid-World and its secrets to all readers, and this book proves he knows how to deliver.”
A new season of The Amazing Race last night, with a different twist on the Express Pass. The team that came in first got two of them, but they have to give the second one to another team before the end of the fourth leg. An interesting conundrum. Do you keep your vow to an alliance to give it to the team from that group who came in second? I don’t know that there’s a correct answer, but I think I’d be looking for the weakest team. The pass might give them a leg up, but ultimately they’ll get eliminated. However, I don’t know that there is a clear candidate for a weakest team. Who would have predicted that the firemen would go first? I’m not rooting for anyone yet, but I wouldn’t mind if the YouTube team got sent home early.
I’m sticking with The Walking Dead for the time being. This week’s episode was livelier than many, with much of the action crammed into the last fifteen minutes. Rick’s dotage is getting a little old, so with luck the Governor’s assault will spur him back to sanity. It’s hard to believe, though, that these guys, who have gotten so good at shooting people in the head from a distance, had a hard time picking off the sniper in the tower (or the Governor himself, for that matter). The headshot in the prison yard came as a huge surprise, though. They might as well have dressed that guy in a red shirt when he was introduced. My thought after the attack ended gives rise to the above image: Of course you know, this means war.
The Darryl/Merle stuff was fun and they even managed to cram in a bit of character revelation. I knew Darryl was going to show up at the last minute to help set things right, though. The van-full-of-zombies was a neat attack plan from a conceptual point of view, but in practice, how good was it? Sure, the front gate is smashed wide open, but I’ll bet they have that under control by next week.
We watched the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, this weekend. This is the first of the Daniel Craig entries in that series that I’ve seen, but I’ve seen him in other movies. I now see, though, why some people suggest him as a candidate for Roland the Gunslinger in a Dark Tower movie. I think he’d be excellent. Anyhow, Skyfall was terrific. It opened with the usual set piece, this one in Istanbul, that involved driving motor scooters over red tile rooftops and ends with a fight atop a train. No high tech gadgetry or whiz-bang edits. This is classic Bond rediscovered. There are more exotic locations (Shanghai and Macau), but the film really does feel like a retro re-envisioning of a classic series. There’s a subtext about age and youth. The new Q is a hip young dude (played by the guy who was Freddy Lyons on The Hour) who expresses disdain for such things as exploding pens and, presumably, tricked-out Astin Martins. All Bond gets for his mission is a plane ticket and a gun that’s coded to respond only to his hand. Oh, and a radio transceiver. On the other end of the spectrum there’s M (Judi Densch), who is at risk of being put out to pasture because her last year or so hasn’t exactly been a stellar one for MI6.
To underscore the idea that the old ways are passing, the villain sees 007 as a kindred spirit, the last two old rats who have to decide whether to duel to the death or join sides against an agency that has little more use for them. More explosions (a crashing London tube train is especially effective), but the movie becomes much more intimate toward the end, with a return to a place from Bond’s past (and a fantastic appearance by Albert Finney). Putting M in the Astin Martin was a nice touch, as was the preparations for the final battle. Ralph Fiennes had a nice role as the whippersnapper who seems intent on pushing M (and 007) out, but who proves his mettle when the going gets tough. This was an exciting and introspective movie, perhaps one of the best Bond films ever. It took itself dead seriously (only a couple of quips, including a throw-away line from a couple in the tube after Bond chases down a subway train) and, in the end, was touching and poignant. In a sense, we seem to be back at the beginning. Highly recommended.