Announcing The Full Lid

See, this is what happens when I open my mouth.

A couple of weeks ago I made a gag on Twitter about how if I had a newsletter it’d be called AND ANOTHER FUCKING THING?! and just be rants about narrative architecture.

Fifty ‘I’d subscribe to that!’ replies later…

So, I have a newsletter now. You probably saw the subscribe pop-up on your way in.

I’m going to try for weekly, and content is going to change around a fair bit as I figure out what works.  Sometimes? Narrative architecture stuff. Sometimes? The things that are bothering me. Always? Something I love, or am enjoying, or am doing, or all of the above.

Welcome to the Full Lid. Let’s get started.

Working
I work for a lot of people, usually at the same time. For example my TO BE DONE BY THE END OF THE YEAR list includes:

  • Rolling TV reviews of The Orville, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story: Cult for MYM Buzz and SciFi Bulletin.
  • (Hopefully) reviews of the theatrical versions of The Exorcist and The Twilight Zone.
  • Doing news coverage for MYM
  • A couple of essays a month for Tor.com
  • A backlog of stuff to get to Barnes&Noble
  • Project PARKER, which Mur Lafferty and I are co-writing
  • An N.E.W. module called Heart of Ice.
  • A Star Trek Adventures campaign focusing on SolGuard, the Starfleet sub division who function as the Coast Guard.
  • Copy edits on PseudoPod Tapes Volume 2 which are rapidly becoming over due.
  • Project ALDRIN, which needs 12,000 words and a steering document re-write
  • Two months of PseudoPod endcaps

IT’S FINE.

IT’S FINE

Reading
I just finished Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon. It’s the first one of hers I read and I almost didn’t make it past the first 50 pages. Which isn’t the slam you might expect. Her style’s great but the precise, measured nature of it runs against how I’d expect a story that opens with ‘SHUTTLE CRASH!’ to go and it took a long time for me to get past that. Plus, Admiral Ky Vatta, the lead, is the star of an entire series prior to this I haven’t read.

Despite that, once the book kicks off it’s really good fun. Called home to deal with family business, Ky’s shuttle is shot down and the survivors are marooned on a continent previously written off as a terraforming failure. As they struggle to survive, it becomes clear that someone still wants her dead and the continent is not anywhere near as deserted as they thought.

(Dramatic music etc)

The measured pace really works in the second half, so much so that Moon gets way with setting up an immensely intriguing puzzle that doesn’t get solved this book. If you’re a Hornblower or space marine/space badass fan in general then this is worth your time for sure. I’m certainly planning on coming back for book 2.

Podcasting
I am gleefully obsessed with The Polybius Conspiracy from Showcase Presents right now. It’s a seven part ‘documentary’ about the Polybius arcade game, a blank cabinet that appeared in some arcades. It’s urban myth forteana for my ears, and, even better, it has an ending. Super worth your time.

Listening
I’m currently bouncing between three albums:

Gemini by Macklemore
This is the ‘difficult third album’ for Macklemore, apparently. Which is weird as he hasn’t sounded as happy as he does here in a good few years. About a third of it’s extremely predictable but the rest is shot through with the ‘I’M STILL ALIVE?!’ joy that I loved about his first two. Plus ‘Firebreather’ and ‘Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight’ are the best entrance themes no wrestler on Earth will ever use.

Dunkirk by Hans Zimmer
Zimmer’s always good value and his work on the world’s first Vulcan action movie (all of the spectacle! none of the emotion!) is some of his best. It’s a bit atonal and clicky but it’s Zimmer, he’s good at that.

Blade Runner 2049 by Hans Zimmer
And he’s surprisingly good at pretending to be Vangelis too. Blade Runner 2049 is a deeply strange movie that’s often great (Gosling, Ford) and just as often unforgivably bad (Sexbot ahoy!). The soundtrack is brilliant, wall of sound stuff though that plays with the themes from the original with way more wit than a good chunk of the movie does.

Playing
I am having massive fun playing Wipeout: Omega Collection. Here is everything you need to know about Wipeout: Omega Collection.

FrrrrrrreeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
(Posh English voice)-QUAKE

It’s Formula 1 racing. In space. in hover cars. Which can kill each other. You can play five races in half an hour, the designs are lovely, there’s no plot AT ALL and the soundtrack is everything I loved about ’90s dance music. Thanks to Jeremy and Katherine for the birthday present!

Watching
So we’re four episodes into Mindhunter and I love it. I’m a mark for these shows at the best of times and I’ve seen more than my share of Bones, Criminal Minds and all the rest. But the more I think about it, the more I realize what makes me like Mindhunter so much is how resolutely unlike any of those shows it is.

There’s no glamour here. Neither of the performative cruelty sort that CM in particular was massively fond of in its early days or in the background of the characters. Jason Gideon was an elegantly broken profiler who couldn’t turn his abilities off. Spencer Reid is a genius who is terrified of how thin the wall between that and psychopathy is. Emily Prentiss is amazing. Also, a former Interpol agent and counter-terrorism officer who faked her own death.

Holden Ford looks like a perpetually startled puppy trying to work out whether the trouble he’ll get in for eating a corpse is too much to bother.

Bill Tench is a flat top haircut, a crumpled suit and an overwhelming sense of amused, unsurprised, perpetual disappointment.

Wendy Carr is endlessly, ruthlessly intelligent and clearly barely able to contain her MASSIVE annoyance at how long it’s taking everyone else to catch up.

The BAU fly around the country in a jet. Bill and Holden drive mustard and bile coloured sedans around the back roads of a thoroughly pissed off 1970s America.

There’s no romance here. No comfort. Those roads become the blank theoretical spaces that Holden, Bill and Wendy are mapping as they try and work out why people break a certain way. They screw up, a lot. They get in their own way even more. My favorite moments so far have been the almost good-natured shit Bill gives Holden and the wide eyed, stunned look Holden gets when he realizes something’s going right.

It’s a series about people becoming, whether it’s a killer or a hunter of killers. It’s complicated and slow and very, very funny. It plays a lot like a really crumpled, down at heel West Wing and the nightmares it describes have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s not gory, aside from an early episode but it is immensely disturbing. On Netflix now, with a second season already locked in and definitely worth your time.

And ANOTHER THING!

I saw the My Little Pony movie a couple of weeks ago. It’s really good fun. Sweet, funny, kind and has the most sensible depiction of disability I’ve ever seen in a mainstream movie. Oh and better female characters than Blade Runner 2049. But my Lego collection has better female characters than Blade Runner 2049.

And earlier this week I got contacted by a friend of mine who asked to see my review, because their son wasn’t sure how to articulate his feelings for the movie. I sent it along and got a really cool note saying it had helped him realize he really liked it.

And it reminded me just how fucking angry I get about that sort of thing. Not at the parent, not the kid (they’re awesome people) but the bullshit macho performative hyper nonsense that boys of all ages are continually caught up in.

If I could shoot a phrase into the heart of the sun, it would probably be ‘someone’s chopping onions’. NO THEY’RE NOT. YOU’RE CRYING. YOU’RE CRYING BECAUSE SOMETHING AFFECTED YOU EMOTIONALLY.

YOU’RE CRYING BECAUSE AN ARTIST DID THEIR JOB RIGHT.

Happy tears, sad tears, doesn’t matter. What does is that boys like my friend, and like me when I was a kid, feel trapped in the perceptions of what we’re expected to be, not what we are. Brits especially are told not to show any emotion and it’s bullshit and it’s toxic and it HURTS.ALL.OF.US.

And this is one of those areas where people in my field are uniquely equipped to help and so very, very often manage to do the exact opposite. I saw a lot of film critics, the week MLP came out, loudly bemoan their lot for having to go and see it.

That just mystifies me, on two levels. Firstly  ‘Being paid to see a film and have an opinion about it’ is a job so many people want and most will never get. Yes the films won’t always be to your taste but every new movie, every new piece of culture is an opportunity to learn something, to experience something new. And I say that as a critic who’s seen Julia Stiles romantic comedies I’m moderately certain she herself has never watched.

The second is less annoying and infinitely more damaging. Acting like that perpetuates the worst myths; Boys don’t cry. Boys don’t like girl things. Boys don’t have emotions. Boys only like sport and beer and tits and fighting.

And that leads us to little boys who want to go see a movie they’ve already been told they shouldn’t want to see. And that’s awful.

So, if you’re a parent, or a carer, or a kid, or someone who just wants to go see the My Little Pony movie or something similar but don’t think you can?

Go. You can. You should. You deserve to.

 

And that’s a Full Lid, folks. See you next week.

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