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Spacecrab's Journal
LB in SF
Where am I? 
21st-Mar-2005 10:06 pm
So, I had plans in my head to write about three convention weekends in February and, for once, to give in to an LJ meme ("10 Things I've Done That You Probably Haven't").

The details of life (laboring too long on writing projects for meagre pay + post-convention illness) dampened my resolve. In Livejournal time, all of that is old business, now. Corflu and Potlatch reports may surface in a fanzine editorial. They'd be better placed there (it seems to me) in the naturally slower timestream.

LJ is probably better for this report on how I took Jim Henley's review of a Justice League Unlimited episode To Heart, at Wondercon. I had the opportunity, there, to confront the episode's screenwriter with Jim's cogent analysis. (I know some of you readers/friends follow Unqualified Offerings; but almost no one who gets my fanzines is likely to.)

To boil the encounter down: the author of the JLU episode in question was not impressed by Jim's/my observation that an unrealistic plot spoiled some nice character touches. "Just how realistic do you think a cartoon show about a guy who stops criminals by shooting arrows at them can be, anyway?" is what he said in reply. This made me feel like a total geek for bringing the subject up. A woman (who I later discovered was the author's wife), came up to me when the panel ended, tickled my chest and said "I really liked the question." To give you an idea of how immersed in geekitude I was, my response to her was "The Question would probably have been a better protagonist than Green Arrow for a story about the sadistic overtones of commercial boxing."

Despite this embarrassing moment, I vastly more enjoyed the small panel on "Writing for Animation" (which featured Stan Berkowitz, Paul Dini, Mark Evanier, Alan Burnett, and Robert Goodman) than the crammed auditorium presentations with Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith. The animation panel was an hour-and-a-half of kaffeeklatsching about *writing,* with open dialog between panelists and audience (even as one might experience at Potlatch or Readercon s-f conventions). This, for me, is the *whole point* of daytime convention programming. I knew who those writers were and had enjoyed a number of the things they'd produced in the previous year. (Stan Berkowitz, the author of the "Cat and Canary" JLU episode under criticism, is also the co-author of my all-time favorite Justice League episode: "A Better World." That one, from JLA season 2, is really worth seeing. It's a two-partner that features a philosophical dialectic between two versions of Kevin Conroy's Batman. It also includes Mark Hammill's Joker and Clancy Brown's Lex Luthor.)

In the Big Hall at Wondercon, Joss Whedon managed to convince me that he's a creator who loves the art of what he's paid to do much more than the business of it (whatever my negative reactions may be to some individual Mutant Enemy tv episodes). Whedon was witty and personable in the face of a large wave of unqualified fanboy/fangirl adulation. (LCD adulation of BTVS and unqualified praise for it from fans as "moral fiction" have managed to rub me the wrong way for years -- despite the obviously high quality of the acting, dialog, and production values in most BTVS episodes. I never had that reaction to "Firefly." I experienced it as just a TV entertainment event, not a fan-amplified moral statement.)

A bunch of people at the Wondercon "Serenity" presentation were obviously having the time of their lives -- basking in The Presence like 14-year-olds going crazy at their first Beatles concert. There's nothing really wrong with that, whether Joss Whedon rates higher than the Beatles on the "Force For Truth and Goodness" scale or not. I know that it's just finicky, squeamish me who has the "don't you have *any* critical discrimination?" voice echoing in my head. That voice was triggered, this time, when the team of Serenity movie stars began their ad-lib mugging, vamping, and mass-audience tailored wisecracks. This just isn't my scene. (I was also in the pissed-off minority who didn't cheer the year "Galaxy Quest" beat "Being John Malkovich" for a Hugo -- to give you an idea of the consistency of my visceral, art-snob reactions.) At the Serenity presentation, Adam Baldwin impressed me, along with Whedon, as being genuinely interested in having a conversation about acting and artistic values. My take on Nathan Filion: he was all about playing the crowd, (and Summer Glau was all about projecting the optimally-desirable Summer Glau). This did nothing for me, no matter how much most of the crowd appeared to be enjoying them.

Kevin Smith began his presentation by asking the cameraman in the Big Hall to focus on the ASL interpreter. He then proceeded to pronounce as many of the "7 Words You Can't Say On TV" as he could think of. I guess this is probably consistent with Kevin Smith -- who has written and produced some movies that I really like. But this is the point where I decided to leave the Big Hall and go to the animation panel.

Which is pretty much all of my Wondercon report, aside from a geeky list of comic book titles that I picked up. One dealer had a big run of Alan Moore titles for $2 each, or less: Halo Jones, 1963, 2000 AD, Big Numbers, Negative Burn, Judgment Day -- all the Alan Moore stuff you don't see at ordinary comic shops, anymore. I'd never read Judgment Day, before. It's one of the classics -- fortunately also available, now, as a trade paperback.

I've kind of decided that the "10 Things" meme is the wrong ego-building exercise for my current state of mind. Roughly, it would come out as a mix of "Hey, I used to be a pioneering computer journalist" combined with "Shake the hand that shook the hand -- of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan."

(I did shake hands with Jerry Garcia, back in 1971, on the night Merle Saunders heard me playing harmonica in the ticket line and asked me if I was playing with the band.)
Comments 
22nd-Mar-2005 07:19 pm (UTC)
After 1980, when The Fountains of Paradise beat four much better novels, I gave up being pissed-off about the Hugos. It was a waste of my time to care.

Galaxy Quest wasn't the best film on the ballot of its year, but at least it was good for what it was. That made the win tolerable in my book.

My critical discrimination is so fine that these days I hate almost everything, but I nevertheless consider Firefly the best-executed SF TV show I've ever seen - miles better than Babylon-5, which is sometimes so excrutiatingly bad I can't stand to watch it.
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