I dunno that it's the best short video, but it's pretty good. If only because of all the triggered ashflakes it leaves in its wake.
Bosch. I like to watch Bosch on Amazon. There, I said it. It feels a bit like a confession because I’m not a fan of police procedurals. There’ve been a few cop shows over the years that have pulled me in, but usually because they were as much about cultural investigation, as they were about crime. The Wire, of course. And Homicide (Life on the Streets).
But Amazon’s adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best selling cop novels, while deepening the colours of its narrative palate with some consideration of LA’s racial politics, remains at heart a procedural.
Titus Welliver’s Harry Bosch is the sort of detective for whom the word ‘dogged’ seems inadequate.
“Cops, they grind, that’s what they do,” says one villain, a Spec Ops captain gone bad. “It’s kind of admirable in a way.”
“Get off your ass and knock on doors,” says the handwritten note on Harry’s cubicle in the Hollywood Homicide bull pen where he works.
The bullpen, like a lot of cop shows, is where the detectives let their human sides show. We do visit with them in their private lives, especially Bosch whose wife, a disgraced FBI agent turned professional gambler, turned FBI informant, thickens up some of the earlier season plots as well as powering the emotional engine that drive’s Harry personal choices. But the B-Story cops also get their characters built out in subplots and exchanges that rise well above table stakes for this the golden era of premium TV.
Welliver was a surprise to me as Bosch. I’d always imagined Connelly’s detective would be played by a younger Clint Eastwood, perhaps because his name is Harry (as in Callaghan).
But Welliver really owns this role. His performance is what you come back for week after week, or ep after ep, since the whole season drops at once.
I just finished the fifth season and I’m thinking of going back to S1 while I wait for the next one.
Like a chump.
12 Responses to ‘A thing I like to watch’
I half recall a promise made by Edgar Rice Burroughs, probably in the opening pages of Tarzan, that once the reader commenced their journey with him, he would so completely carry them so far away from their workaday concerns that the real world would disappear and they would be in the deepest jungle with the ape man.
It is the promise of all good novels.
And a promise Alicia Wanstall-Burke delivered on in LEGACY OF GHOSTS.
I skim-read about a hundred pages of the draft manuscript late last year, with an eye to giving Alicia a cover quote. It was pretty obvious she had the goods on this story, so I happily endorsed the book.
A few weeks ago I went back to it.
The bushfires were at their destructive height (damn those exploding cow pats) and it felt a bit perverse to be watching Netflix while the country burned. Taking refuge in a novel, however? That seemed less gross.
Insert contented sigh.
We’re all still going to die when civilisation collapses soon, but at least we’ll have books in the rubble. It’s early days yet, but THE LEGACY OF GHOSTS, Alicia’s follow up to her debut novel BLOOD OF HEIRS might just have been what I needed to reboot my reading habit. Like most people I’ve had trouble focussing on long form reading the last few years. We all know the reasons. Digital distraction. Too much Netflix. A hyper accelerated news cycle. That guy who was wrong on the internet. (Havoc. It was Havoc),
Sitting down with a book seemed too much like hard work, especially to the screeching dopamine addicted distraction monkey in my head.
I finally went back to Alicia’s novel when the monkey screeching got so loud I couldn’t sleep. It was one hot night, with smoke choking the southern capitals, an army of bots and trolls on the march, and my teetering Netflix stack o’ shame threatening to fall and crush me underneath its immeasurable vastness.
Fuck this, I thought. I’m unplugging.
I picked up my kindle...
Yes, I am aware of the irony, or dissonance or whatever the hell it is, but stay with me.
... I picked up my Kindle and a stiff drink, and repaired to the library to restart LEGACY OF GHOSTS. I meant to read for thirty minutes, after which I’d let myself have another dispiriting flick through the infinite scroll of unwatched and half-watched streaming options.
An hour and a half later I had missed my bedtime.
I finished LEGACY late last night, after blowing through another bedtime hour and it has left me with possum eyes and an irritable, sleep-deprived disposition – at least until I can snag an afternoon nap.
But it was totally worth it.
Alicia’s debut with BLOOD OF HEIRS was impressive, but LEGACY makes a powerful case for her striking improvement as a writer. I say striking because she has done it on her own. No publishing house stood behind her. What you get on the page is her own hard work. She very obviously invests in good editing, artwork and production on the gorgeous looking hardbacks she insists on putting out - but again, these are all artistic production choices she makes, so she gets credit for them too.
And so to the story.
If BLOOD was an origin story for our two heroes, Ran and Lidan (spoiler, it was) in LEGACY we get to watch them grow into their full power. In Ran’s case this literally means the magic he is able to cast on the world, in Lidan’s we marvel not just at her prowess as a ranger, her riding, fighting and leadership skills, but also at her coming into power as grown-ass woman.
The saga, like football, is a game of two halves (sorry) and in Legacy those halves come together, but for me this is Lidan’s story. With Ran we quest through frozen mountain and dusty plain, fight ensorcelled zombies and bitey ice dragons, throw around a bit of Force Lightning and hang out with a cool ghost.
But Lidan has to deal with her parents, and that’s a helluva thing. Dad is the sort of Barbarian chieftain you build to kick serious arse in the Diablo franchise. Mum is... difficult. And there’s the usual trouble with boyfriends, siblings, the walking dead, witches, marauding enemy tribes, a douchebag manchild, knife vs sword, teen drinking, dark curses...
You get the idea. This girl is busy. And she has feelings. Lots and lots of feelings about all this accursed busyness.
The writing, especially of Ran’s passage through the icy towers, and Lidan’s many, many knife fights, is exemplary. It transports in the way Edgar Rice Burroughs promised, carrying you away from your shitty day and into another realm.
I don’t do spoilers, so I won’t discuss plot, but the narrative arcs are precisely engineered and deftly executed. The timing is especially on point, with the disparate subplots coming together in a hugely satisfying way. I found the more I read the more I wanted to read (and the less interested I became in other distractions). Eventually, I found dipping into LEGACY for just a scene or two was an effective break from my own deadlines. That’s something I haven’t done in many years.
Of course now I’m stuck waiting for the next one. Like a chump.
Go buy copy to keep her at the keyboard. I need this.
6 Responses to ‘Legacy of Ghosts. Review’
I'm deep into the deadine for the next book in this series. To keep myself honest (and motivated) I might drop the occasional paragraph in here. This is a from an early chapter.
At this distance, the star was a far away point of light, slightly larger, slightly brighter than the thousands of its kin scattered through the local cluster. Solar winds streamed out from the G2 main sequence burner, ionised particles and magnetic fields whipping through the heliosphere, inflating a protective bubble around the local volume, safeguarding the planets within from the harsh radioactive bath of interstellar space. In one sense the volume was small. Just one rocky planet and two gas giants, a modest little neighbourhood that had nonetheless occasioned a savage conflict between two human tribes over their contending claims to that remote and lonely world. In another sense, of course, the measure of three dimensional space both tribes thought of as the local volume was immense; so impossibly vast that the human mind was actually incapable of truly understanding it, having evolved over millions of years to comprehend distance as something measured in the number of steps needed to find food or water in a small patch of forest or savannah. At the very edge of this unimaginably huge, somewhat fluid area of space, in the electromagnetic turbulence of the constantly moving boundary between the bubble of the star’s heliosphere and the radioactive plasma of the interstaller medium, something profound was about to happen. The structure of spacetime itself suddenly flexed and warped before utterly collapsing to vomit up first one, then two human spacecraft.
A tribe had returned to its hunting grounds.
4 Responses to ‘The Shattered Skies. (Teaser)’
I bought myself a very cheap Qi charger from the Beast of Bezos over Christmas, one of a bunch of drunken purchases that have started to turn up at my PO box.
This thing was about $11 and I had my doubts it would even work.
It works, and surprisingly well. I have a chunky OtterBox case on my iPwn 11. It's thick and ungainly but it provides good drop protection - already tested and verified in the field.
It's so thick and difficult to remove, however, that I'd already decided I wouldn't be trying to crowbar it off everytime I wanted to used a Qi charger. Not a problem, as it turns out. My Chinese Panda friend is powerful enough to send plenty of life giving e-vibes through the case. I guess if its powerful enough for the Ministry of State Security to harvest the keyclicks from all of my bank logins, it can trickle charge a phone thru 5mm of plastic.
I've got it sitting on my desk next to the iMac, plugged into a USB slot around the back. It's not actually wireless charging as some claim. The USB cable puts the lie to that. But it is an oddly compelling use case to have a tiny panda face to drop my phone or airpods onto where they will quietly fill their batteries.
I dont know why it's so much more satisfying than the lightning plug I have on the other side of the desk. But it is.
7 Responses to ‘Panda charger’
It’s a bit hard to keep smiling isn’t it? I know I promised to keep it light around here, and I intend to stick to that promise, but everything is so dark at the moment it’s not easy. Ash and smoke has literally blotted out the sun in so many places. In others it has turned the world deep, blood red - the sort of thing Cormac McCarthy might have imagined for one of his post 911 apocalypse metaphors.
It is easy to despair. Easier still to anger.
My patience with climate change denial is at an end. It now simply enrages me. Even sitting in my pleasant cafe as I do on a Monday morning, I feel my brain heating with fury as I typed the words ‘climate change denial.’
And yet I have friends who are skeptics at best, if not actual deniers at worst. I’d Iike to maintain those friendships. I don’t know if it will be possible in the long term, but I suspect the only way might be through changing myself first.
Everything I’ve learned about human psychology tells me people will not change beliefs that are critical to their self image until their actual existence is threatened AND EVEN THEN they will fight to hold onto as much as they can.
Eventually, I suppose, I’ll have to decide whether I can have people like that in my life, but if I expect them to change I should first look at myself.
What could I be doing differently?
One thing, surprising to me when I realised it, was this. I am almost as ignorant of the science of climate change as any casual, lazy denier. I haven’t read the reports I’ve cited in columns. I don’t keep up to date with the latest findings. I scan the headlines, get angry, send a tweet.
So as a start I can at least educate myself. I can read the reports, or more likely the executive summaries because, lets face it, there have been millions of pages of reports and papers and findings published now.
That would be a start and it would make it easier to talk with people who—in good faith—can't bring themselves to accept the science of climate change for whatever reason. I would at least have something other than my anger to offer them.