Thursday, January 04, 2007

Entertainment Year in Review

I have nearly 20 people who have posted or e-mailed writing goals to me. I'm trying to get back to everyone so you'll know for sure I have you on my list, but it may be this weekend before I catch up (I have to finish proofing galleys this week). A couple of you (and you probably know who you are) need to get a little more concrete with your goals. It needs to be something measurable so we can make sure you're eligible to win prizes. Just "working on" something is a little vague. It could be as little as looking at something, which is hardly fair compared to someone trying to write 50,000 words! I'll be taking goals until end of day January 6.

And to think, last year I only got three people willing to write a single paragraph to have a chance at an advance copy of Once Upon Stilettos, and now I've got almost 20 people committing to write about 50,000 words so they can get a chance at an advance copy of the next book. I feel like I'm moving up in the world. :-)

As longtime readers here may know, Damsel Under Stress was the book from hell when I was writing it (the title soooo fits), but now that I'm reading it in typeset form, I'm loving it. I keep forgetting that I'm supposed to be proofreading. There was one part that totally cracked me up. I just had to sit and laugh for a few minutes before I could get back to reading, and I seldom do that with things I wrote. I don't know if it will strike anyone else as funny, but there's just something about that part that totally tickles me. It involves some new characters, and they're more of these strange people who just pop out of my head fully formed, with their own look, voices and mannerisms. I have no idea where these people come from. It's kind of scary. There's another one in the possible book 5. She sprang out of my head and into the book and it was like, "Oh, so that's who you are. Okay."

Speaking of books and related stuff, I realized that I never did any kind of year in review list. I guess my consumption of entertainment last year was about as middle-of-the-road as everything about that year was. There wasn't much that really got me excited. I don't even think I saw ten movies, so there's no point in doing a top-ten list there. My big book discovery of the year was Terry Pratchett, though I'm way behind the rest of the world on that. Still, it's nice to know I have tons more books to get through before I've read everything he's written. I read something like 100 books, at least, last year (I started counting in June, and I had more than 50 in the last half of the year), so it's hard for any one book to really stand out in my memory. I'm actually planning to call a moratorium on my library and book-buying habit for a while and attempt to start working through my to-be-read pile before it topples and kills me. I've told myself I don't have to finish every book, but I have to at least attempt to read it before putting it in the donation box.

I didn't even get too excited about TV this year. I still adore The Office, and I'm really liking the way they're taking the whole Jim and Pam relationship gradually. It feels very realistic. My Name is Earl isn't quite as consistently brilliant, but it has its moments that really stand out. I got a lot more into House this year, but a lot of that had to do with working on that essay, and the more I delved into the characterizations, the more I got involved in the show itself. That's become my favorite for discussion and analysis. While Battlestar Galactica is still brilliantly written and acted, it got so very bleak this year that I didn't like to dwell on it too much. Yeah, the last remnant of mankind on the run from killer robots isn't exactly happy material, but what I've liked about the previous seasons was that these desperate circumstances often brought out the best in these people. This season, I've started to dislike the characters I liked before, and I haven't found myself liking many of the others any better. My big surprise love was Friday Night Lights, which never ceases to amaze me. Last night's episode had me alternately laughing out loud and weeping. I finally got to watch it live instead of on tape, and now I'm wishing I'd taped it because the balance of humor to emotion was perfect. My other big surprise love is Standoff, which is probably doomed. It's just a fun show. I don't tape it, rewatch it, or even think about it much. I often forget to mention it in lists of things I watch. But boy, do I enjoy it when it's on. Again, a fun mix of humor and drama, some good action, pretty people, and snappy dialogue. If I'd lost a VCR and had to choose a show to tape and a show to watch back when Friday Night Lights was in that same time slot, I'd have chosen to watch Standoff, tape Friday Night Lights, and then skip The Gilmore Girls, which is saying something.

I may give up on Desperate Housewives now that Sci Fi is programming on Sunday nights (starting later this month). I don't care enough to tape it, especially if there's something decent on Masterpiece Theater. I tried and gave up on Ugly Betty. I have issues with humor built on humiliation or the main character doing foolish things out of good intentions. When I was a kid, I often had to leave the room when watching Gilligan's Island reruns. So, I found Betty's plight more painful than amusing. I know, I'm out of step with America, but this isn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. I'm so-so about Heroes. I love some of the characters, but there are others that bore me, and if they don't start having something actually happen to really move the plot forward so that it takes fewer than three episodes to cover one big plot event, that one may go the way of Lost for me. Or I'll tape it and only watch the parts I care about.

Let's hope I find something that really knocks my socks off this year. I've already read a couple of upcoming books that are going to be great, but I'd love to stumble on some pleasant surprises. Now back to the galleys ...

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