Sunday, March 13, 2011

Squeeze into them goretex pants, Satan, it's This Week in Nelson, vol. 5, no. 11

Greetings, all.

It’s been quite some time since we’ve gathered here, together, all of us, to peer collectively at my thoughts. We’ve all grown.

“Grown more beautiful,” you say, demure yet devilishly confident.

“Please,” I say, quieting your lips with the gentle placement of my pointer finger. “Let me finish.”

Many of you have pondered at the whereabouts of these thoughts of mine, have longingly eyed your inboxes hoping for a prodigal return, have screamed my name to the heavens as if TWiN had dazzled you with European handsomeness and vengefully marooned you on an interstellar research station with your estranged ladyfriend and son. Your fond remembrances and concerns have been duly noted and thankfully received.

And why wouldn’t you decry a lack of TWiN? In its absence, our world has been rocked by economic turmoil, civil unrest, natural disasters, Tea Partiers and Charlie Sheen.

Naturally, I feel somewhat responsible.

Is it possible that TWiN has been the finger in the faltering dike which holds all worldly evil at bay?

Some might watch the news and reply, “of course.” And the effect on Bill O’Reilly has undoubtedly been hardest of all. The poor man has been forced to become the level-headed moral compass of Fox News without my rhetorical and mildly homoerotic nagging.

The very idea!

I would like to say that I put our time apart to good use. Traveling the Orient in search of ancient blogwriting techniques, penning a Bill O’Reilly one-woman show, finishing my thesis.

Alas, no.

I’d also like to say that I’ve merely been Salingering it up, TWiNning daily and then locking those TWiNs away in a filing cabinet because of my disillusionment with public expectation and critique. Or that I’d been shipwrecked on a lonely island, still writing out my thoughts, but instead of a laptop I’d been forced to commit them to cavewall in an ink I’d developed with crushed berries and my own feces, and that the entirety of these lost TWiNs would soon be released in book form with a pending pilot being developed by JJ Abrams.

Once again, no. Except for my development of a revolutionary new ink substitute, which is all too real and has drawn a surprising amount of interest from Mr. Abrams.

In all honesty, there were three real reasons for TWiN’s lengthy hiatus.

1) Far fewer idle hours on the back porch of the Pig.
2) A feeling like TWiN had grown somewhat beyond my control. That it had come to encompass so many parts and requirements which I was either half-assing, struggling to complete or continually ignoring. In short, it had actually become more like work than something fun, or at least an exercise which left me considering the merits of, “if I don’t really have anything to say, should I say anything at all?”
3) Stu. I don’t know why, exactly, but those of us who know Stu realize that he is perennially, on some level, to blame.

So, much like Superman II, I tried to set aside my duties only to realize the dire need our world has for TWiN, and Charlie Sheen was my less bearded, less stylish General Zod. And as I replace the metaphorical White House roof above your collective heads, I make my promise that this won’t happen again.

TWiN has risen from the ashes, and will once again patrol the skies above, ferreting out evil and tying its weapons into knots.

Will I miss a week here and there?


Will I sometimes have little to say?

Quite possibly.

Will many of your favorite or barely tolerated segments be absent?

Yes, often.

Your new TWiN will be a leaner animal. Swifter. Sleeker. Sharper. Probably still the same percentage of robot parts, but robot parts that more resemble a newly minted Skywalker hand than the cohorts of aliens who plagued our forefathers in America’s supposed golden age. You may see some old TWiN mainstays make appearances here and there, but the new TWiN will be more free-flowing and less bullet-pointed.

If this disappoints you, I apologize. I hope you won’t take to scrawling intricate federalist formulae on a chalkboard while openly weeping and murmuring about how you want your country back.

Would that I could give it to you. Would that it had ever existed at all. If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me.

I will, however, try to give you one thing.


Or, at the very least, some half-formed thought or opinion which you may take, and eat, and think of me. Because words are the tacos of the soul.

It says that in the Bible.

So, what do I have for you today, you ask, those of you for whom two pages of a partially explained absence is not enough.

Two things:

First, because I think they might have been one of my favorite parts of the TWiN gone by (The TWiN is dead, long live the TWiN), the part which is most likely to remain (at least periodically), and because I had a bunch of them still lying around, unused (I believe), I give you:

Random out-of-context quotes of the week:
--AOf course, the criminal can=t run for long. He=s wearing three pairs of pants.@
--AWhat do you do if you=re a mall cop? Do you kill yourself? Is that the next step? I wouldn=t know how to proceed.@
--AI need to flip the cushion and change my pants.@
--AYour baby has a mohawk and boobs.@
AYour baby=s like a chick from The L Word.@
--“Cooking seafood smells like getting your period on a camping trip.”
--“I knew it! I knew that rebellious guy did something weird to you!”
--“Bread is like us. It wants to live.”
--“It didn’t work. It was like trying to cure gonorrhea by pouring alcohol on your penis. The problem was internal!”
--“You can’t know a man until you know his taste in cartoon women.”

Second, TV.

I like TV. I watch quite a bit. Admittedly, I “watch” a lot of that TV, that is, it’s on and my attention to it is half-hearted and distracted. To Freud it out, in my youth, my parents were often busy and my sister was considerably older than I was, so I spent a lot of time on my own. And while I watched a lot of TV, it was often more of a background, white noise to drown out the quiet of an empty house as I played, or drew, or wrote or just fucked about with whatever little project I was onto at the time. This is a mechanism which I still employ today, and there are a lot of shows I’ll watch while I do other things. Shows which I “watch,” as I’ve already said. But, there’re also shows that I WATCH, that I devote my attention to wholly. Some of them because I just enjoy them, some of them because they’re legitimately excellent, and some for both reasons.

I would like to take a moment to speak about one of these shows which I WATCH watch for both reasons. That show is Fringe.

I just read a little article in Entertainment Weekly which was begging people to watch this show, because it’s excellent, because its ratings have grown sparse (after a big first season, now in its third it was moved to Friday nights, where I Love Lucy would have had trouble putting asses in seats), not enough people are singing its praises, and it’s on Fox (who will a cancel a show because they ate one piece of toast that morning instead of two).

I honestly believe it’s the best thing on TV right now.

It started as a solid, scifi-infused procedural and has grown into something truly exceptional. Looking at its progression, it has the pace of a novel. It consistently builds, both in plot and in emotional, character-driven substance. It will utilize a “monster-of-the-week” convention, but as it moves along you start to see how every one of those monsters fits into the overarching plot and mythology by which the show operates. A mythology which, while it took about a season and a half to completely establish the framework for, ultimately answers as many questions as it poses, and makes sense within the world it creates, not just so far as plot and science are concerned, but with character as well. It continually raises the stakes. It also strikes an excellent balance. It’ll flow from dark and moody to humorous and ridiculous, from bleak to hopeful. These characters are each exceptional, but damaged. They’re confident, but fearful. They find themselves facing increasingly more daunting odds (interdimensional war, the unraveling of existence itself, and familial and romantic love hampered by guilt and regret), and they find themselves questioning morality, and ends and means, and facing Sophie’s Cohoices on both personal and universal (literally) scales. But at their heart they seem to be operating upon an ideal that something better exists in the world, and even if it doesn’t, that they must find a way to make it exist, otherwise, what’s the point?
It also makes continual nods and allusions, both very likely intentionally, and other times I would guess not. Watching it I see facets of The X-Files, and Lost, and Philip K Dick, and Warren Ellis, and Grant Morrison, and Alan Moore, and The Wire, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Shakespeare, and Tolkien, and Battlestar Galactica, and Vonnegut. I see the question of humanity in the modern age, and realizing both the best and worst of what we’re capable of on a myriad of levels, and questioning what limit do we place on that capability? What is justice if it’s tempered by vengeance? What is security if it means the innocent must suffer? Must die? How much is a life worth? How do we determine whether we do something out of love for someone else or out of selfishness? If our actions create unforeseen tragedy, how damning is that to us? How much control do we have over the course of our own lives, and how much do our conscious actions actually affect that course? How far can we bend the natural world before it breaks? Is love all you need?

This show’s like if Oppenheimer and John Lennon had a baby.

And that baby solved mysteries with the help of superscience.

And John Noble is fucking great in it. I love John Noble. And not just because he wore the pimpin-est clothes in all of Middle Earth. And I’ve always loved that Joshua Jackson kid. I was unapologetically Team Pacey. And this thing feels like it’s perfect for him. Everyone’s really good in this show. Anna Torv is great, I just don’t have a previous frame of reference for her. It’s got Lt. Daniels from The Wire!

Seriously, if you don’t watch this show, you need to start. Either jump on some Netflix or itunes or whatever the hell and start catching up, or just jump into it and if you’re confused I’ll Cliff Notes it for you. I would have said more about what happens while I rambled here, but I don’t want to spoil anything for them what don’t want spoiling. There’s ultimately not a lot of characters, and while there’s definitely been stuff going on, there’s not a lot you really need to know to follow what’s happening.

Seriously, if not the best thing on TV right now (for over a year now, I’d say), it’s at least the thing I like the most. It’s the thing I most look forward to WATCHing, and which I most want to see the next episode to, as soon as the episode I just watched has ended.

That’s all I’ve got for now. (4 and a half pages! Damn!)

Tired of having TWiN back already? Hopefully not. Cause I’ll see you back here next week. And many weeks after. Maybe not every one, but possibly even multiple times in the same week?

Who can say? Just as it gives you answers, the TWiN, she asks more questions.

--> N.

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