SMASH Series 1 Promotional Poster, ©2012 NBC

For the past seventeen days, I’ve been watching the Olympics, mostly on time delay because the sports I enjoy most don’t usually hit prime time. The joy of this that I can fast forward through the commercials, including NBC’s promos for its new fall shows. Naturally, you catch bits and pieces, which means I know I want to try “Go On” with Matthew Perry because it looks interesting, and absolutely want to avoid “The New Normal” because, well, it looks neither smart nor clever. Everything else, I’m on the fence about.

But, I was thrilled last night when NBC finally showed a very brief preview for Smash, which won’t be coming back until after the new year according to the rumors. I know this show was roundly trashed on the critics and by recappers, but just as many of us don’t understand why people could enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey, I adore every over the top, trashy, soapy moment, though I’m hardly blind to the show’s many faults. (If you want some entertaining, snarky recaps, I recommend , especially as they adore Anjelica Huston.)

But it’s coming back and looks like things will be just as over the top in Season 2 as Season 1, complete with someone I didn’t recognize yelling, “You stole my songs!” as he’s being dragged off. Possibly to be devoured by Anjelica Huston’s minions. Sounds like fun to me.

Sunday Roundup

100 words/100 days — I’ve managed 46 days. A bunch of it is just noodling, but when I started this on December 1, it was so hard to get those words out. I’d be counting every one, avoid the use of contractions, anything to get to that count. I was so out of practice with writing that it literally hurt to do so. Now, I can spew out 100 words in a few minutes. The next step, obviously, is to turn that spewing into something that’s actually readable for people besides myself.

Knitting — I am finally about to join the sleeves of my jacket to the rest of the body. Woo hoo! I might actually finish and get to wear this thing before spring arrives.

Books — I will admit to not doing as much reading as I had hoped this past week. Do have a book for the TBR Challenge, but need to get moving on some others. Definitely need to finish The Attenbury Emeralds, which is Jill Paton Walsh’s latest continuation of Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.

# # #

Did keep up with the blogs this week, though I didn’t do any responding and found a number of cool links. The one that made me happy today is news ITV is planning a Downton Abbey Christmas Special. If you are not watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theatre, you’re missing a real treat. Austen it ain’t, but it’s marvelously entertaining soap about an Edwardian household shortly before World War I. The series did enormously huge numbers in the UK, so it isn’t really surprising a Christmas special would be in the offing. Christmas specials are big deals in the UK, so much so that ITV and the BBC actually take turns as to where Eastenders and Coronation Street will go on Christmas Day so they don’t conflict — then they play chicken over the slot for Doctor Who and whatever ITV puts up against that. But more Downton! And more Sherlock to come as well, another show you should be watching. (This mention also gives me an excuse to use one of my Sherlock icons.)

# # #

In the arena of “writer beware,” read through this Smart Bitches post on a contest being held by FirstOne, a new digital publisher. Also, scroll through the comments for a number of interesting links. In short FirstOne is holding a contest with a large entry fee (you can buy a Kindle for less) and some rather worrisome fine print down at the bottom of the rules:

All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.

Uh, no. I’m not paying someone money and handing them the rights to my work in perpetuity. And, yes, that is the wording on the website as of January 15, 8:38 PM Pacific Time.

# # #

I’m taking a Time Management Class for Writers at the moment that’s being taught by Kitty Bucholtz, so that’s much on my mind. Since it’s the first of the year, time management and goal setting seem to be on a number of folks’ minds. Shonna Slayton is doing a three part series on business plans for writers, while Kelsey Browning is is starting a series on her experience with a life coach. For Beth Ciotta, it was a week to hit a speed bump and realize we can’t do it all. At least, not all the time.

# # #

Finally, something glorious to close with. Nancy Smith, the community liaison for the Office of Letters and Lights (the folks behind NaNoWriMo spent her holiday break in Argentina, where she visited El Ateno, an old theatre that’s been turned into a bookstore. This is truly a treat and a great re-purposing of a building while retaining the original character.

“Magpie Dear, You are the Moonflower of My Middle Age”

Let’s just say I’m really glad it’s Friday. Work has been a monster most of the week; it always is at this time of the year due to everything that’s needed to close one year and prep another. But assuming I survive the day — and I’m working from home, so it will be possible to scream at random intervals if necessary — I’ve planned a treat for myself. The husband will be out with friends, so I’m going to curl up on the couch with a book (I’m going start either Wolf Hall or Rebecca, I haven’t decided which), a bottle of Strongbow Cider, and watch The Man Who Came to Dinner on Turner Classic Movies.

Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) and Maggie Cutler (Bette Davis) in "The Man Who Came To Dinner"If you like comedy and have somehow missed this classic, set the DVR for this one. The Man Who Came to Dinner is a product of the collaboration of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, first produced on Broadway in 1939. The dialogue is snappy and much of it are jokes designed to appeal to a New York theatre-going crowd, with many of the characters thinly-veiled representations of well-known figures of the time. Sheridan Whiteside is Alexander Wollcott, Beverly Carlton is a stand-in for Noel Coward, and Banjo can’t be anyone except Harpo Marx, even if he does talk. All were friends of Kaufman and Hart and all took great delight in being skewered.

In 1942, Hollywood came calling with a film version. Monty Woolley repeated his performance as Whiteside, Bette Davis took on Maggie Cutler, Whiteside’s long-suffering secretary, and Banjo still resembles Harpo Marx, even when played by Jimmie Durante. There’s Mary Wickes, whom you’ll recognize from a hundred films the moment you see her, as Miss Preen, the nurse and Billie Burke with her usual, delightful befuddled portrayal of a well-to-do Ohio matron who thought it’d be so wonderful to have such a great and famous man as her guest and is finding the reality quite different.

It’s not a perfect version of the play (the script is by Julius and Philip Epstein, who wrote the script for Casablanca), but after a long week at work, curling up with the old, familiar characters will be a pleasant way to unwind.

Before Glee, There Was Blackpool

Yesterday, Lucy March wrote about the fact she’s on the verge of breaking up with Glee. I watched the show the first half of the first season, but didn’t pick it up again after the Christmas break. I love the concept, not just that it’s a glee club (I was a performing arts kid in school, so this is my tribe), but the breaking into song at odd moments as part of the plot.

Before Glee, though, there was a BBC series called Blackpool. It aired in the US on BBC America back in 2005, back when the channel was in its infancy. Starring David Morrisey, Sarah Parish, and David Tennant, the main storyline follows a murder investigation in the resort town of Blackpool. The real fascination is watching these not-very-nice characters circle one another and break into song at the oddest moments. Below is the moment when Ripley Holden’s son Danny attempts to sell some “recreational” substances and finds himself in the middle of a drug bust — all the while singing “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.”

One of my favorite moments, though, comes at the end of Episode 1 when DI Peter Carlisle (Tennant) confronts Ripley (Morrisey) in his arcade with some uncomfortable questions about the murder, convinced Ripley is lying — which he is. The confrontation takes a musical turn to the tune of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” There is a tango.

The series won a Peabody award — and sadly isn’t available on DVD in the US. There is YouTube, however, and maybe the BBC will wake up and give the folks in the US a chance to get this without having to buy a region-free DVD player and buying from Amazon.

NaNo Inspiration: November 19

The Doctor, Boom Town

The Ninth Doctor (image courtesy BBC)

“What did I ever do to you?”
“You tried to kill me and destroy this entire planet.”
“Apart from that.”
– The Doctor and Margaret Blaine (Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen) in “Boom Town” by Russell T Davies

I love it when the characters surprise me, whether they're ones I'm reading or ones I'm writing. Those little moments that aren't quite what one expects, surprise little jewels that make you laugh or gasp. You never know when they're going to show up, but when they, it's one of those moments that make the times when you feel like you're going to bang your head against the wall worth it.

BBC America was showing "Boom Town" this morning, and I remembered why it's one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who‘s 2005 series. Aside from trying to kill the Doctor, Rose, and Harriet Jones and destroying the world so her family could sell it for scrap, Blon really couldn’t see that she’d done anything for the Doctor to chase her down for. Her annoyance at him taking exception at this (and discovering she’d been in Cardiff long enough to “go native”) isn’t the usual reaction you expect from a villainous alien. Of course, Blon isn’t completely villainous and her ultimate fate isn’t what you’d expect either. But that’s the joy of a good story, that it will take you where you don’t expect.