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a few things

Tv wise- 'Torchwood: Children of Earth' aka the five part mini-series that is Season III is superb. Delivering far more than promised and certainly proving a point myself and some friends have made repeatedly, that Russell T Davies is far better a writer and story-teller when someone reigns him in and actually forces him to write as opposed to rely on a bag of inane cliched and unrealistic devices.

The show itself was perfectly pitched and played great to the strengths of Barrowman and co. with just a few cringy bits but more importantly using the ideas behind the series and indeed the very idea of the Doctor intervening in Earth affairs to make some very interesting and original points. Not only are the regulars all given lots to do but a whole slate of new characters are introduced and a fascinating side story with Civil Servant John Frobisher is given breathing room to play itself out to a chilling denouement.

One can only hope that the new Era of who that will be dawning post-Christmas 2009 will continue on and make it's own inroads in excellence and take the best parts of RTD's who revival and infuse it with the genius of Stephen Moffatt and replace the annoying chintzy elements with tight structured plotting and great characterisation.

HBO's 'In Treatment' is a fascinating series, based on an Israeli tv show, shot in 30 minute chunks and boasting a stellar cast, led by the inimitable Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Weist. Low-key, intelligent and brooding, the show is the perfect antidote to vapid unsufferable noisy trash that far too often thrives in a moronic soup of ratings and low expectations. Thank God for HBO and this show joining previous triumphs such as Entourage and The Sopranos.

Comics-wise, Bob Kirkman is just unstoppable. Such a pure streamlined talent like his is so rare. Kirkman puts himself up there with the best of them with his new Marvel series 'The Destroyer' which shouldn't be anywhere near as good as it is- a beautiful full-throttle piece that focuses as much on the family dynamics as it does on super-spy action shenanigans. Add to this the unparalleled excellence of Kirkman's Image ongoing 'Invincible' and the always reliable 'The Walking Dead' and it's hard to put many other regular writers above him.

Marvel's 'Dark Reign' continues on it's trundly path. It hasn't quite reached annoying overload part yet but it's definitely showing signs of age and over-exposure of certain characters (The Hood, omg, just go away, you half-baked crappy character already) and Marvel would be wise to not extend it much past another six months at the most. Osborn's days have to be numbered. There's only so many stories about virtually every super-hero in the MU wanting to kill old Brillo Pad head one can take before one of them will succeed.

And 'Dark X-Men' ? Yeah, not so sure. It's a bit too much of a retread of 'Dark Avengers' which is fine but now are just spreading themselves a bit too thin with Daken serving on the new Dark X-men and to be honest, Daken was never that interesting to begin with.

DC comics expolode with the re-organisation of the Bat books following Dick Grayson's ascension to the position of Batman, Tim Drake assuming Red Robin's cowl and the remarkably annoying Damian becoming the new Robin. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's 'Batman and Robin' is an obvious high point with it's stunning art and typically brilliant writing. Greg Rucka's Batwoman in 'Detective Comics' is also one to watch, with the most high profile lesbian in comics getting to kick some ass AND be dumped by a boring lady lawyer as well as bond with her Marine Corps colonel father who helps her with her Bat related crime-fighting shenanigans.

'Batman' itself also contributes nicely to the new order with Judd WInnick capturing Grayson's batman perfectly and helping the new era establish itself with a lot of fun.

Green Lantern's superb run continues with the creepy and deadly serious 'Blackest night' series launching.

All things X-Men

So, it's been announced that Chris Claremont is to return to the X-books and write an alt-universe X-book that will pick up from where he left off in 1991 with X-men # 3. Cute.

And I'm looking at forums, the same places I usually despair at morons not giving anything new a chance and all I'm seeing are people who think this is a good idea. Are you all insane?

So many reasons why this is a bad idea. Let's go through a few really obvious ones first of all.

1) There was a REALLY good reason why Chris was kicked off the X-books in the first place.

2) The x-books were not in particularly good shape in 1991.

3) We've done the alternate universe schtick in the x-books already and much better- Age of Apocalypse and the much under-rated Factor X.

4) Claremont has already returned to the X-books at least twice and both times he was at best mediocre.

5) At best it will be a confusing albeit slightly charming and amusing gimmick- at worst it will be a confusing and crap series that will lose more readers than it brings on board.

6) George Lucas. That's right. Yeah, see, now you're seeing my point(s).

Chris Claremont wrote some tremendous stuff back in the 1970's and 1980's. And then he wrote some really awful stuff. I mean really horrible. Dreadful. Also, Chris is a bit of an arrogant jackass who doesn't like other writers messing with 'his' characters and who reacts badly to change.

Another huge reason is that Chris simply can't hack it anymore in the current marketplace. Compared to the new level of talent in the industry such as Robert Kirkman, Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, just to mention a handful, Claremont is just apallingly out of touch and not interested in varying his tired old windy dialogue routine.

Nice idea, Joe but I wouldn't bet your kid's scholarship fund on the longevity. I give it about 12 issues, possibly as far as 25 issues but don't see it going any further than that.
Yeah, once I saw that name in the credits of the latest episode of FRINGE, I knew what the sneaky bastards were up to. And it all clicked into place too, after the Clint Howard-tastic guest spot in the previous episode where Clint, who had been a child actor, just like brother Ron, and had actually been in an episode of the original 1960's tv show STAR TREK, plays a lunatic conspiracy theorist who explains to FBI agents that he knows a fugitive Romulan from the future is going to attack and mess up the timeline (the plot of JJ Abrams new STAR TREK movie reboot. Terribly amusing and very clever squared, indeed, but the kicker was in Howard's parting shot where he claims to be the son of Sarek, which Joshua Jackson, clearly relishing the delicious in-jokery of the line says , 'But...that would make you Spock!' to which Howard solemnly agrees.

Of course this brings us back to the name in the credits of episode 20 where we finally get to see the legendary William Bell, founder of Massive Dynamics and old buddy of Dr. Walter Bishop. And, yes, who else could it be but the one and only Leonard Nimoy himself! Not content with some wonderful cameo screen-time in the aforementioned STAR TREK movie, Nimoy now gets to return to tv in a role tailor made for a veteran actor of his status and allure. The scene at the end of this episode is pure Abrams and suits Nimoy down to the ground with his William Bell emerging out of shadow and into a reality, even if it's not our own reality, which the reverse zoom end shot beautifully shows.

Damn the cliff-hangers anyway!!

Spider-Man

Just finished reading the surprisingly excellent 'Unscheduled Stop' ASM two-parter by Mark Waid and incredible art talent Marcos Martin. As a stand-alone story it is terrific, with drama, pathos, Spidey at his most noble, a slimy super-villain and excellent characterisation of special guest-star.

You need to get hold of this- guaranteed to enjoy.

And for the ladies..

RIP, Chris: You made us believe a man could fly.




Better part of love continues

I'm almost there and, sure enough, I feel like a woman must feel at the end of a pregnancy: wanting to have the damn baby already and enough with the waddling around and the sore back. Not that I can truly compare my creative deliberations and impatience with having my stomach stretched out and a parasitic organism attaching an umbilical cord to my internal organs and sucking nutrition and other goodness out of me, but I needed a comparison so I took one.

For some odd reason, I decided that one of the 12 stories in the new collection I'm currently finishing up, should be divided into ten separate pieces, each based on a different song by a fictional American singer-songwriter along the lines of Jackson Browne or Warren Zevon.

Which is all great, and is thoroughly fun, something which I need writing to be if I'm to get through it in one mental piece, but the actual logistics of doing the story this way means that I end up doing almost as much work as if I was doing another nine stories. Also, on top of that is the fake research info I have to 'bible' out for the fictional singer's back catalogue and his quotes and so on and so forth about everyone from John Lennon, Michael Jackson, R Kelly and through to Trent Reznor.

It is fun, and I'm not complaining- just needing to share some of the processes I'm currently dealing with as it's such an experience.

Also, the fact that at least half of the pieces in this story are done in different formats such as blog, email, instant message conv. doesn't help cut down on the intensive work approach.

But, I think it'll pay off in the end, and it'll hopefully be like a treat in the middle of the book, a single story that opens out into all these little fun directions and morsels.

Only time and the readers of my book, when it comes out, can tell.

How not to disappear up one's own arse

It's easy to feel clever and thrilled with one's own cleverness. And then you remember that Mozart was composing symphonies when he was in the womb. Sigh.

But for us lesser mortals, it's still tempting to be delighted with some new innovation or solution to a creative problem that we've come up with. For me, right now, it's all about my second book, a collection of short stories called 'The better part of love.'

Since my first book was probably too many different flavors, some of which undoubtedly clashed (but not in a bad way, just not similar styles)- a fact I knew going into it, but I wanted to put out a wide range of what I had done and could do so it was a conscious decision- I wanted the next book to have a very definite shape and cohesive form.

This will lead to both the great advantage of a common theme and also the trap of having everything come off as possibly too similar or lacking in variety. But I think it'll work.

Right now I have seven out of twelve stories done. Done and shifted into the 'completed' sub-folder. Of the stories left to finish up, I've completely changed one, merged two with other stories and added a new one. And there are still three I'm not sure about. Only one of those three will make the final cut, that much I do know.

It is a fascinating and very intuitive/experience driven process. Probably the person closest to me in terms of creative thinking and some common bkgrd experiences is my friend Rick. Both of us started out doing small press writing and design and I think, both of us learned a lot from those days of xeroxing and giant floor lay-outs.

With so much completely new material and topics in the new book, I'm learning in leaps and bounds with everything I do. It's very much a solution driven process and is very similar to acting in the techniques and again 'processes' that I'm using, devising and throwing around.

For each of the stories, I'm using whatever it takes to make the story credible, real or able to fulfill it's purpose. When I started, I had vague ideas for a lot of the titles. It's mostly been a case of title first and then story to fill in but in some cases, I knew the whole flow right from the start. With other stories, I've taken two weak ideas and put them together to come up with one strong one.

I'm also seeking to flex my structural muscles somewhat and experiment with story set-up, boundaries and so on. In some stories this takes the form of lists in the middle of the narrative. In other stories, it's putting in a score-card that's updated as it goes and in another story it's using quotes, clips and fragments of fictional narrative to convey the complex nature of the issues at hand.

And then there's the story I decided to make into ten tiny stories, all connected via ten songs by a fictional recording artist and all using different narrative forms. Why? It just felt right when I thought of it.

I've learned to trust my instincts at this point and I know that if something feels right, then it will work and if something just isn't giving me that creative rush of excitement or enthusiasm, then it most likely won't thrill anyone reading it either.

The Better Part of Love

Hello all, here's a piece from my upcoming new book, 'The Better Part of Love', which is a short story collection with all the stories looking at different aspects of love and relationships. I've tried to get a nice broad spectrum of types of stories, approaches, techniques and moods. With everything from old friendships, war-time camaraderie through to what to do if someone cheats, what they should do and whether or not all guys are indeed ass-holes, I'm confident there's something in there for everyone.

This piece below is to do with how we view love after love goes sour. It's looking at a relationship that could have so easily gone one way but didn't and asking questions such as what do the good times mean to us when we hit the bad times and how much of a false picture do we build up of someone else.

Enjoy.

(oh, and if you haven't bought my first book yet, then go to http://tinyurl.com/notionscolinfox)


The better part of Love


It was the better part of hillbilly love. If you can laugh when the zipper on a mock crock boot gets stuck and won’t come off whilst trying to hurriedly remove each other’s clothes in the best movie fashion, then that’s love. Or at least fun.

If you can laugh hysterically after having love-making interrupted by a neighbor’s Dukes of Hazzard car-horn as he passes the house, then that’s the better part of a love that’s a friendship as well.

The last thing you want to think about when being intimate with your partner is a neighbour who we suspected of being border-line retarded, thought the height of sophistication was tucking his jeans inside his shoes and not picking his nose too obviously, in Public.

‘Dale.’ We both said at the same time as the brief Confederate cacophony came from the road.

The bed shook with our laughter.

Hope

You know something? Fuck them. Fuck all of them.

Every single person who's given in to cynicism, apathy and boredom. Fuck each and every one of these nay-saying bastards who sit back and criticize anyone who actually thinks they can make a difference or who cares enough to get involved.

It's easy to point fingers and moan about celebrities whilst at the same time flicking onto E-News for the latest Britney crotch flash or extra ounce of fat update.

Oh there's Angelina adopting another baby, ha ha. Fuck off. You'd rather the child die in some shit-hole in Aids infested Africa so you'd be deprived of a cheap comment to make at her expense?

Well, there's proof all around us that making an effort isn't something to be scoffed at but rather can produce some startling results. Look at last week's election, for one example. More people than ever turned out, lined up and made their voice heard. Every single one of those votes counted for something. Not a single one of the lazy arrogant apathetic bastards who didn't vote mattered. Not one. They achieved nothing. All they managed to do was guarantee themselves a seat on the side-lines far away from one of the most historic elections in modern history.

And for every voice that groans at celebrities getting involved, you know what? Shut the fuck up. When John Lennon was asked what he hoped to achieve by staying in bed for weeks in a hotel room in Toronto back in the late 1960's in his 'Bed-In' protest, he replied that he would be in the news anyway, so it might as well be for something worthwhile, like talking about peace or making more people have to discuss the issue rather than what he or Yoko was wearing and where they were drinking. And he was right.

You don't like Bono talking about Africa? Too bad. If even one child is helped or one debt wiped out, then it was worth it. And he knows that. As a former hardcore Christian in word AND deed, Paul 'Bono' Hewson has always tried to live his life with a conscience.

Look at Brad Pitt and his 'Make it Right Foundation'. NOLA is no longer the juicy issue that it once was but it still remains devastated, abandoned and a disaster zone. Brad, through his charity organisation has worked hard to change that and continues to do so. As I'm typing this, the 84th home has just been completed in the rebuilding of the ninth ward in new flood efficient structures, designed by some of today's finest architects and supported by a wide ranging base of contributions and donations of both time and money. This will be the 84th home out of 500 homes which will be given to the people who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina.

We can m ake a difference. We can change injustice, annoyances and grievances. We all can, but it starts with us making a decision to get involved, begins with our realisation that the 'cool' cynicism of mass-produced bunny t-shirts or sarcastic slogans on coffee mugs doesn't change the fact that there is a whole world out there that we can make a difference in.

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