Monday, May 08, 2006

Phase 1: Collect Story Ideas... Phase 2: ???... Phase 3: Profit!

Yes, I'm reviving my writing career.  I did some thinking on my way back to DC yesterday, and have decided to give it another crack.  Besides, why waste such staggering talent on the blogosphere?  Anyway, here's a list of novels you won't find me writing:
  • Aspiring writer laments being stuck at dead-end job.  Sympathetic to artists, and anti-corporate.  Moral of the story... everybody follow your dreams!  This has never been done before, so I'm a bit hesitant to venture into such unchartered territory.
  • Group of twentysomething friends comes to terms with aging and mortality.  Grunge song lyrics included as blockquotes.  Like The Big Chill, but with less promiscuous sex... after all, it would be based on my friends.
  • A serial killer is knocking off each member of the Yankees' 40-man roster one at a time... and only Detective Moishe Feinberg can stop them!  (Honest to God, four years ago I wrote the story outline for this, and you will never read it.  Ultimately, I decided I'd rather go to Hell as a software developer than be rich and famous because of Soxploitation literature.)
  • A family epic that sweeps across 18 generations of dysfunctional Acadians, reaching all the way back to Sieur de la Verdure, and demonstrates that our sons and daughters are doomed to repeat the failures of their forefathers.  The book would be 20,000 pages long and inspire a rash of suicides.
  • A book series with a title pattern that's better than anything in the books.  "Murder in Wyoming, the latest installment in Jeff Doucette's United States of Murder series, will blow your intestines into your brain... and back!!!"  But seriously, what detective could have CIs in fifty states?  That's not even getting into Puerto Rico, or DC, or island properties like Guam or American Samoa, let alone the tiny uninhabited islands in the South Pacific.  There's nobody there to get murdered, and even if someone had, who would care?  Nobody atoll, that's who.  (You've just been punk'd.)
  • An appealing, boy-and-girl band with a positive message is formed by enormous corporations, signing each band member to a lifetime contract with enormous financial incentives.  The band itself is basically The Breakfast Club.  Lovable at-risk kids who fight the power with music.  The band's feel-good brand of music attracts the youth of America, and they become a huge success.  But once they become popular, we begin to see their intended effect... American teenagers become lulled into satisfaction by the band's positive messages, thereby deflating their teen angst and reducing youth activism and political involvement in general, which removes a thorn from the side of U.S. business interests.  Slowly, the band becomes aware of this and attempt to rebel against their record company.  Somebody or everybody dies, and it sets off a massive Do The Right Thing-type riot climax, except with white kids instead of black adults.  All hell breaks loose, and there's no resolution, just a whole lot of rioting.  (The reason I won't write this novel is that it's actually a screenplay.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

LucasFilm Time Machine: Operational

I know this, because they've apparently rescued those "lost to time" prints from 1977.  There's no other explanation.  After all, Lucas couldn't have been lying the whole time about the original versions being destroyed.  Not possible.  But I prefer to concentrate on the positive on this joyous occasion.  Therefore, I will now elevate the domestic Jeff's Pants Alert Level to its all-time high... Sopping Wet!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Pitchfork Sucks... Or Do They?

Via largeheartedboy comes an analysis of Pitchfork's review history by goodhodgkins.  In two words: not biased!  We kinda knew that, though.  Pitchfork is detestable because of the qualitative aspects of its reviews, not its generally-accurate numerical scores.  But it's also worth mentioning the Save Ferris album review that GH discovered... that thing sticks out like a pair of black plastic-rimmed hipster glasses.  Great post.

Bad News For People Who Like Good News

I've been listening to the upcoming Snow Patrol album, Eyes Open, for the last few days.  The verdict, unfortunately, is that it's not up to par.  I usually give albums some time to grow, but I don't think this album is a "grower."  Ten Silver Drops by Secret Machines is a grower.  Twin Cinema by my beloved New Pornographers is a grower.  Eyes Open, in the parlance of our times, is what it is.

It's hard for me to trash this album.  Writing quality pop is daunting work.  Final Straw is a desert island album, and trying to live up to its quality was a near-impossible task.  Eyes Open isn't awful.  There are some good songs.  But there are just as many forgettable songs, and there are no great songs.  Nothing on this album compares to "Run," or "Wow," or any number of tracks from Final Straw.  Also missing is the weight and sharpness that each of Final Straw's tracks carried.  By comparison, Eyes Open is transparent and dull.

I hesitate to read into the increased emphasis on the vocal track and the easily-digested lyrical content, because the reaction ("they sold out!") is too predictable, and they weren't such hard-core outsiders to begin with.  But they could have made an album with a vision and a purpose, and Eyes Open doesn't have one.  The move from the outside to the inside may lead to any number of changes, but a loss of quality is not necessarily one of them.

Take Death Cab for Cutie's Plans, for example.  You may not like their follow-up to Transatlanticism, but Plans is still a well-conceived, well-executed, purposeful album.  They boiled their sound down to its barest essentials, but it still feels uniquely like Death Cab; I cannot imagine another band recording PlansEyes Open, meanwhile, could have been made by any number of bands.  There's no stamp of identity, no verve, no charm that separates it from the chaff.

Too bad.  Snow Patrol is a great live act.  I imagine they will lend a great deal of energy to their tracks when their stage show arrives.  But that won't help the album itself.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Swat Sucks

Swarthmore College, world-reknowned as a wretched hive of scum and villainy, is changing their mascot (read: adding one).  They are actually considering the manticore, which has the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion.  Was something wrong with "wildcats," you elitist bastards?

I guess the Swarthmore Manticore has a ring to it, but actually picking such an obscure mythological beast as a mascot would make them even bigger dorks than they already are.  I spent 15 minutes this morning translating "PWN3D" into French, and I'm the friggin' Fonz compared to those guys.

Also, think of the womens' teams.  Why should they be called the Manticores?  They would have to be called the Womanticores, and feature a woman's head.  But that's patently silly.

In short, an awful, awful idea.  Which means, of course, that I want it to happen.  Let's go Manticore!