Cranky Old Romans

My goodness, so many things happened last month while my poor laptop was out of commission!

For instance, we finally finished the construction on our new house (and by “we” I actually mean “qualified folks who aren’t me”) and moved back downstairs. HOORAY! This means we can unpack! And hang pictures! And not have to sleep on an air mattress! Our kitchen and bathroom are shiny and clean, our eardrums are happy again, and all is right with the world.

Also, perhaps even more excitingly (especially to people who aren’t me), there were oodles of HUGELY exciting TV finales.

The Tragic: Don’t die, Matt Parkman! We love you! Oh, and you too, Peter and Nathan. But Matt! With the awesome and frequently hilarious telepathy! Ack! Please don’t die!
The Predictable: Nathan has a change of heart and saves the day. Also, “Jessica” turning out to be the shapeshifter in the scene with Niki.
The Weird: Where does Peter get his trippy vision dreams from? The old man he was taking care of? His mom? She must have a power, right? So he must have gotten whatever she has…is that it? But then the dying man probably had a power, too…and if it’s genetic, does that mean Simone had one? As long as it’s not “coming back from the dead,” I’m OK with it.
clip_image001Sorry, not a huge Simone fan.
The Awesome: Claire jumped out of a window to escape her grandmother! Kick-ass! She’s so cool. Have I ever mentioned that I love that they gave the power of invulnerability to a teenager? How perfect is that? And then she was reunited with her adopted dad at the end, who is so much better for her than her real dad. Awwwww.
The Future: I predict that the trail of blood leading to the sewer does NOT mean that Sylar lives. My guess is that the new Big Bad Super-Bad that Molly mentioned dragged Sylar’s body away for his own nefarious purposes. Also, I think Super-Bad’s power has something to do with cockroaches, which we have been seeing all over the place since the first episode of this show…mark my words, it’ll mean something eventually! At least, if the writers are as forward-thinking and brilliant as I think they are.

The Annoying: Jack, Jack, and everything about Jack. My goodness, who made him the Boss of Everything, and why does he get to be so patronizing ALL THE TIME? Seriously, do the writers of this show know that they’re painting him so misogynistic, and that every time a woman offers to do something, Jack says: “No, you are not doing that,” for no apparent reason other than that they’re female? BAH humbug.
The Awesome: I guessed it halfway through, but the big flash-forward reveal at the end was still an amazing twist and a great idea, well-executed. If it hadn’t been all about Jack, I probably would have absolutely loved this episode.
The Also-Awesome: Hurley saving the day with the van. I figured he’d have to do something heroic after everyone was so mean to him, and YAY! He did! YAY!
The Not-At-All-Awesome: Charlie dying. BOO! Why didn’t he put on the diving gear BEFORE entering the code? Or run out through the door instead of shutting it on Desmond? Or swim out through the window? And are we supposed to get the message that you can’t fight fate; that there’s no such thing as free will, and your destiny is inevitable? Hrrmph. And Grrr.
The Questions: Who was in the coffin? Who is really on Naomi’s boat, and why was she lying about it being Penny? Who is the “he” Kate mentions at the end of the episode? Is there any way to kill one-eyed Mikhail? And WHEN are they going to explain THE GIANT FOUR-TOED FOOT STATUE?
The Future: Here’s what I’m hoping — that the flash-forward was only one possible future which could happen if they leave the island now. And over the next three (16-episode) seasons, we’ll see other possible futures, but we’ll also still be on the island part of the time, and they may or may not actually leave with Naomi’s people, but we’ll see what might happen if they do or if they don’t. I didn’t explain that very well, but I’m hoping for an “alternate timelines” sort of story, and I’m curious to see what they decide to do. In freaking 2008! MAN! I hope some of the new fall shows will fill the void until this and BSG return, especially with Veronica also gone (SAD).

Veronica Mars:
The Awesome: Lilly Kane’s giant portrait in the secret society’s gathering mansion. WHAAAT? Also, Logan smacking down the jackass in the cafeteria. Awww, he loves Veronica so much. Also, Veronica’s revenge on the people who sent along the email, and the fact that everyone is justifiably terrified of her. Also, EVERYTHING.
The Tragic: That’s it? That’s how this perfect show is going to end…forever? Woefulness and rain? Rooooooooooooo. I’ll miss you, Veronica Mars.
The Future: I will literally watch anything that Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, or Rob Thomas is involved in for the rest of eternity. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the Veronica Mars movie that Rob has hinted at. Please, universe, please!

Dancing with the Stars:
Apolo and Julianne won! Apolo and Julianne won! YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think that about sums it up. clip_image002

Adam and I are trying to learn to dance for our wedding, and my favorite thing to do is try doing the steps we’ve learned along with the dancers’ music on DwtS. MAN, Apolo and Julianne move fast! Once you start doing that, you notice how ridonkulously quick their tempo usually is. Yowch. I loved Laila, and Joey is hilarious, but I couldn’t be happier about Apolo winning. I just hope Julianne gets partners nearly that great in the future.

But enough about TV (for now!) — I promised to tell you about Bath, which we visited en route to Stonehenge. We only had a couple of hours there, but we wandered through the old Roman baths, which were used all the way up through Jane Austen’s time (you’ll notice she mentions Bath pretty frequently in her books).

So, the totally fascinating thing we learned is that in Roman times, people used to write curses on bits of pewter and throw them into the springs for the goddess Minerva to read (and hopefully act on). Often they ask for revenge on folks who stole things from them, possibly in the changing rooms while they were bathing (!!) — I guess some things never change.

Here’s one example:


Hee! Overreaction much? Docimedis here is all, hey, someone stole my gloves! That rat bastard! Minerva, please make him blind AND crazy! I mean, justice must be served! It’s only fair!

Here’s another:


I don’t know how well you can read that, but it basically says he’s giving the goddess the guy who stole his cloak, and “he is not to buy back this gift except with his own blood.” Dude! Harsh!

Doesn’t it make you happy that your knee-jerk angry vengeful thoughts haven’t been recorded for posterity? Although, on the other hand, I bet it could be really cathartic.

Hey Minerva, What’s up? Listen, you know that old guy with the small crazy dog who Sunshine and I passed the other day, who when I said: “Can my dog say hi?” just said “No” like totally rudely with no explanation so that Sunshine and I ended up feeling like totally rejected, like, whatEVER, I bet your dog is lame anyhow? Yeah, that guy. Could you turn him into a hippopotamus for me? LOL! Thanx!

Hmmm. Perhaps we should make a website. But it should include chipper Messages for the Goddess, too, like:

Minerva, U rule, and so does that pharmacist who sold me cough drops our first day in England. So nice! And funny! Someone who can muster friendly customer service! Please bless him with a vacation in France and extra episodes of whatever his favorite TV show is.

Minerva, I totally [heart] people who send me author mail, and now that my house is no longer in shambles, I totally plan to write back to them, I promise. Please send them straight A’s, awesome friends, visits from movie stars, and many books for them to love.

Speaking of books to love, I recently finished Conrad’s Fate, by Diana Wynne Jones, who, if I haven’t mentioned this before, is one of the greatest fantasy writers EVER. Sometimes I think she’s writing down her dreams, because her stories are so surreal, but they always come together into clever, comprehensive, and best of all, surprising endings. I highly recommend her whole Chrestomanci series, Dark Lord of Derkholm, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Castle in the Air, although really everything by her is worth reading.

I think unpredictability and originality are two of the most important qualities and also some of the hardest to come by in the storytelling world, which is why I love writers like Diana Wynne Jones and Brian K. Vaughan, movies like Memento and The Prestige, and TV shows like Buffy, Heroes (that episode in the future? completely shocked me!), and Doctor Who (the new version — I haven’t gone back and watched the old seasons). When I was an editor, that’s what I looked for and got most excited about in submissions, probably because so many of the manuscripts we got were so similar.

One of the authors I loved, who I sadly didn’t get to publish, was SO original and inspired that I’m sure he’ll be famous one day, so, I’m telling you now: Kevin Emerson. Watch for him — I mean, if you like creativity, freshness, and fantastic new ideas, anyway.

If you don’t, you could always read Crime and Punishment instead. Man, I’m SO sorry I misled you all into thinking this is a book where Stuff Happens. Sure, Stuff does Happen in the first 50 pages (like I said…murrrrrder! Yay!) (I mean, you know, not “yay murder” but…yay at least we’re not talking about the weather?), but THEN the murderer spends the rest of the book WHINING internally about how STRESSFUL it is to have murdered somebody and he keeps practically TELLING everyone he did it, including random COPS, and being a JERK to everyone who tries to help him, and generally acting so suspicious and obnoxious it’s amazing he’s not arrested sooner. DUDE. Turns out the “punishment” of the title is the GUILT and SUFFERING the criminal goes through after committing his heinous crime. Or possibly the “punishment” is having to read the rest of the book after picking it up because you’re like “murrrrder! cool!” Perhaps Dostoevsky wanted you (or, OK, me) to feel really bad about that.

So by the time we get to the actual punishment in the legal sense of it, the book is over. But (spoiler alert), the criminal learns a lesson! And falls in love! With a sixteen-year-old prostitute! Who follows him to Siberia to take care of him! Whereupon he realizes that life is worth living after all and it’s all going to be okay just as soon as he’s finished serving his little three-year sentence. WHAT? Are you SERIOUS? I’ve seen America’s Next Top Model episodes with darker endings than that. (Side note: boy, I am really not helping my “I don’t watch reality TV” claims with this blog, am I?)

Well, I’ll admit that ending was…unpredictable. And I’m sure I could have learned a lot about the frailty and darkness of the human spirit, if I weren’t, you know, bored out of my skull. Oh, OK, now I’m just being mean. Which I can do in this case, because the author is dead, but for any Russian-lit lovers out there: I’m sorry, he’s not my cup of tea, but I know lots of people have plenty of reasons to love him, and I respect that.

Everyone else — seriously, check out Diana Wynne Jones. clip_image005

That wench keeps saying terrible things about my hero Fyodor D. and his Classic Classic Timeless Literature! Please smite her this summer with an addiction to
So You Think You Can Dance
and let’s see her try to restrain herself from talking about it endlessly on her blog. Ha! That’ll teach her!
Kisses and Tortured Soulful Looks,
Dostoevsky’s Biggest Fan

Quote of the Day:
Bad Guy (pointing a gun at Matt’s head): What am I thinking now, Parkman?
Noah Bennett (coming up behind him with another gun): Your last thought.