Thursday, November 28, 2013

I like the crazy ones

I like the crazy ones. What can I say? For a long time, I slept with the script of the thing under my pillow, hoping I'd get smarter by osmosis. John inherits the dubious honor by a non-negligible margin. While W. was a chef d'oeuvre of character exploration, JJ manages to not only further the character arc, but the overall plot as well. It also makes significant use of the entire cast. This insane universe is as much about Shirley as it is about John. Chiana is no wallflower either.
Of course, the beauty of it all is that this acknowledgement of audience expectation doesn't close any door. We know that they know that we know. It doesn't change a thing. However, it appeases those who have been wondering why no one is concerned and no one is asking questions. In any case, it appeases me. It's not that John hasn't noticed or isn't worried about the odd behavior of some of his crewmates. He's simply not expressing his concerns out loud, keeping his cards close to his chest.

'There is no longer any distinction in my mind' is, in hindsight, lovely foreshadowing for an episode where John finds himself thrown into a world built from his dead twin's memories. Perhaps we find another example of meta awareness here. I wouldn't go as far as to say that reintegration occurred, although the game made reference to events this John did not know about. Instead, John tagged his own set of memories onto the game. Yet, John told himself 'You really are John Smith.' And in the end, I believe John followed a path not at all different from that of his twin. This one follows in the footsteps of the illustrious hero, albeit shaped by his individual experience and current situation.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Predictability of behavior

Predictability of behavior.

Analyzing a character is basically profiling. Bootstrapping. You start with the behavior, and work back towards personality based on your understanding of psychological mechanisms. The problem with this, and it's a problem I struggle with every day, is that profiling assumes a stability of personality characteristics, or traits. It must, to work at all. If people who behave the same way do not share the same personality traits (the homology assumption) then the whole thing is out the window.

Unfortunately, there is nothing to prove that personality traits are stable. Personality constructs however, like Eisenck's Extraversion or Hare's Primary Psychopathy, seem to hold constant. These are organizing constructs however, not traits. They can help you understand how traits are articulated, and they can be somewhat predictable, they can be stable. But these aren't traits.
I think it's a matter of boundaries. You can narrow down a range of behaviors someone would be likely to engage in, or not engage in for that matter, if you have enough psychological, sociological, economical, ecological and biological data on them, but as for predictability-- Predictability implies consistency. It implies that placed in similar circumstances, a person would behave in similar ways.
I link this to the dichotomy between personality traits and constructs. Traits (actions) are unstable (unpredictable) but constructs (themes) are stable (predictable).

I can only speak from personal experience (and admittedly I deal with criminals) but the consistency hypothesis is in bad shape. Our best test of consistency is the observation of serial offenders. Controlling for fluctuations in environment and victimology, it's not like on TV. Serial rapists don't go after the same type of victim, using the same modus operandi, in the same setting, engaging in the same range of sexual acts. It happens, but it's the exception rather than the rule. If you look at behaviors, it's absolutely not consistent (hence not predictable). However, if you look at themes (like under a microscope, pulling back to see the specimen rather than just a cell) then some amount of predictability can be reached. A serial rapist might always engage in sadistic acts. Different actions, same connotation to each. Or always engage in controlling acts... Like I said above, boundaries. You can't predict the actions, but you can perhaps predict their range.

There's always a difficulty in saying anything was predictable after you saw the outcome. We've been shown how John behaved, and had we not, could we have predicted it beforehand?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Italics and formatting on the blog

I have a thing on italics and formatting blog, and I both agree and disagree.

I like italics. I like the formatting of stories. Given the choice, I'll read html rather than text -- but clean html, just the bare formatting, black on white, no backgrounds that kill my eyes or violent colors that distract me.

Italics. I use them abundantly to denote thoughts, dreams, non-linearity or intonation in dialogues. Some characters have very specific speech patterns and I find italics useful in conveying them. It's my dialogue after all. Why shouldn't I decide where to put the emphasis? Ben does it for me on the screen, doesn't he?

My characters dream in italics the way John dreams in a different light. I can't play with photography, but I can play with other things. I'm attached to the form of the text itself. Length of paragraphs to convey rhythm, short sentences to convey action, a staccato of single words to convey confusion -- visually as well as meaningfully. Italics are just another trick in the bag.

I dislike bold because it's often used when italics would do. Because visually, it's violent and can drag you out of the story. It should be used sparely if at all.

Ultimately, italics are a tool the way punctuation is a tool. The tool exists and I use it. Like any tool, the wrongness, the badness, the evil isn't in the tool itself, it's in its use. If you know what you're doing, if you follow the safety protocols, the rules, you're safe. No harm done. You can enhance the pleasure, like special effects on film. You don't always need the effects to tell the story, but they can serve the tale. Sometimes they can be an integral part of it. The secret is to not be jarring or gratuitous or ignorant. If you do it well, you have served the story.

I do not subscribe to the orthodoxy of words. A word in italics is still a word.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Something I wrote to her

Something I wrote to her who asked about John peacefully dying in his module in TEH and PI when so much was unresolved; also, thinking about the Other at the end.

Because he pushed, because he didn't 'give her time' and forced her not to leave him hanging in-between, John thinks of the other. Both of them have hurt her -- and so the other one will empathize, will understand. And what do you wish for at the end, if not absolution? A little bit of understanding? Harvey can't do that for him, because he doesn't speak the language. The other him can. He's the only one who speaks the language. He'll understand that pushing was an act of self-preservation.

At the very end, the acceptance -- that's John being tired of running.

For John, running is anything that isn't home, however you define it. He's been running since the wormhole -- even before that -- and I'm not talking about running from her. John is always running, because he always wants to be somewhere he isn't. That's the tragedy of John, I think. He wants to settle, he wants the quiet life, and at the same time he can't stand in place. That's how I took the 'I'm so tired of running' in the context of an episode about home and the ways in which home is more an idea than a place -- and that's why John can never go home. Home is just an idea now.

So I wrote it peaceful, rather than angry -- despite the senselessness of his death. I like the idea of that almost-weakness. Falling slowly asleep, not struggling, because suddenly he doesn't have to worry about how things will turn out with Mary or with the child, he doesn't have to worry about the next evil, or living up to Craig's sacrifice, or anything at all.

He's literally forced to stop running, and he doesn't even have to confess that weakness to himself, that almost-cowardice, that gratefulness that maybe, just maybe, he is so much better dead. That it doesn't hurt.

He just has to fall asleep.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What is Farscape?

What is Farscape? "Farscape'' which ran for 88 episodes on the Sci Fi Channel from 1999 to 2003, is blasting off into rerun syndication for the first time.

Debmar Studios, headed by Mort Marcus and his partner Ira Bernstein, has bought the domestic rights to ``Farscape'' and is offering the series to TV stations for weekend play in fall 2005. Stations won't pay cash but will set aside seven minutes within each hour for Debmar to sell to national advertisers.

``Farscape'' was one of the most expensive cable-original series ever mounted, filmed in New Zealand by Jim Henson Prods. and Hallmark Entertainment at a cost about $2 million an episode.

Debmar calculated the release date of September 2005 carefully, counting on lots of openings in stations' weekend schedules because Tribune Entertainment, the most active producer of syndicated sci-fi series (``Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda,'' ``Mutant X''), has no new ones on the drawing board, and three Twentieth TV off-network shows - ``Buffy the Vampire Slayer,'' ``Angel'' and ``The X-Files'' - are slated to disappear from weekend syndication following the 2004-05 season.

"Farscape'' generated a strong following on the Sci Fi Channel,'' said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz TV, the rep firm. "That usually translates into lots of male viewers when the show goes into syndication.''

Debmar was energized by the average of 1.9 million viewers who tuned in to the four-hour concluding ``Farscape'' movie on the Sci Fi Channel over two nights last month (Oct. 17 and 18). But Debmar's contract with Henson and Hallmark covers only the 88 episodes, not the four-hour finale.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Excel starts slow

Truthfully, Excel starts off a little slow, with lots of exposition and
Ben wrapping his tongue around foreign words like Apears and
Chartu, to name just a few. But it doesn’t take long before you are
wrapping your brain around them too. The story begins with our hero, Carol
Westeps, in Peru on an archeological dig. Returning to the United
States he makes a discovery that terrifies him. The world as he knows it
has changed and he finds that the Interlopers are everywhere. Carol is the
only one who can see them and they don’t like it. Along with some very
colorful friends, he’s in for the fight of his life to save his wife
and rest of humanity from an evil older than time.

I have to say that Ben is good with the descriptions and main body of
the text, with a great speaking voice and clear diction, but it’s the
dialogue where he really shines. He literally becomes the person and
infuses each character with their own personality. You can see his real
talent come to the fore when he breathes life into the voices of the
people on the page. And he’s a marvel with accents from countries all over
the world. Once you start listening it’s almost impossible to stop.

There's one thing I wanted to cover still yest, but it is well prezented here. In case you need to know how to stop the macro recorder. This is our statement of intent. It gives our purpose and goals, and shows to what use funds donated to us would be put.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hasta la vista, baby Jesus

No computer still, but I managed to appropriate one, and downloaded The Lost City Part I & II. Plot aside (S7 is easier to watch "plot aside") I quite enjoyed both episodes. The "teamness" of the temple scene was a breath of fresh air, a most welcome, most nostalgic throw-back to seasons one-four. I felt the love and that was good. I've dearly missed what Tripoli dubs the "OT4".

The winning 'ship this time around, for those who care about such things, must be Jack/Teal'c. The great loser is Jack/Sam, because their characterizations relative to each other get more obscure and convoluted by the minute. "Where's the boyfriend who got told all the secrets of the Stargate?" is the only mystery I've cared about since Chimera. That, and where the hell's Sarah? You'd think when Anubis comes a-calling, she'd be number one tactical expert on site.

Moving on.

Daniel and Jack felt like friends again; more than colleagues who shared a past, or former lovers held together by a common space long after the fire's burned out. I never thought those two disliked each other, were personally antagonistic (as opposed to professionally antagonistic, which is a rather appealing feature of their relationship), but I haven't felt the friendship, the intimacy, the 'chumminess' in a long while; until TLC (what an appropriate acronym), where the positive awareness of--and empathy for--each other was back. The fact that Jack was so much more present factors prominently in this relief from the distance and overall disengagement perceived thus far.

"What is good characterization? In the context of Stargate. Of particular interest is Salieri's answer. Have a look. I ended up talking myself into another question: Must any complex, realistic, psychologically sound fic characterization of a character extracted from a canon which is neither complex, realistic nor psychologically sound be, by necessity, AU?

Hasta la vista, baby Jesus.