Monday, July 31, 2006


I'm not a big believer in judging people by their appearance. But sometimes I have to concede that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

According to headlines, ex-boy bander Lance Bass has shocked the world by coming out of the closet. In actuality, he's probably only shocked a couple of monasteries in Tibet, because... well, honestly. If there's a single woman on this earth over the age of 12 who got one good look at this guy and pegged him as straight, said woman would do well to avoid getting attached to any single male roommates in their lives. Odds are, it won't turn out well.

Of course, the La Femme Lancia look scored him this guy:

So he must be doing something right...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Diana's Adventures in TV Land: House (S1)

I've never had much interest in medical dramas; shows like "E.R." or "Strong Medicine" would often throw out a lot of technical jargon without providing the layman's explanation. I mean, yes, "pulmonary embolism" sounds rather dreadful, but what does it mean? On top of that, your standard medical drama places a lot of weight on the patients, but they're one-shot types: overworked mother gets cancer, closeted gay man gets AIDS, pregnant woman must choose to save herself or her baby, et cetera. They either die or get cured, but once they're out the door, that's usually it. The focus of the series often falls on the doctors and nurses, who - more often than not - aren't very interesting to begin with.

"House" takes an unusual and unconventional approach to the formula. Rather than a straight-up drama, this series is more of a hybrid genre - "medical detective story" probably hits as close as possible. Basically, the disease takes center stage: patients come in with mysterious ailments, and our main characters use differential diagnoses to try and figure out what happened, and why it happened. As a result, most of the diseases and symptoms are actually defined (since the clues are relevant to the solution). It's a nice way to handle the problem.

Of course, it's really all about Dr. House, our gruff and screwed-up and bitingly-sarcastic head of Diagnostics. Hugh Laurie getting his bitch on is truly a glorious thing. Which is fortunate, because that's the main appeal of the series: the plots are tediously repetitive (a patient comes in, the doctors argue, they come to a wrong conclusion, House figures out that something said or done wasn't true, the right treatment is applied, end of episode), and the other characters are only marginally developed (though House's clashes with Cuddy are always entertaining).

Still, it's always fun to watch guest-stars like Scott Foley and Carmen Electra go into cardiac arrest, and then get roasted by the Mighty Snark of House. At the very least, it's an amusing way to spend forty minutes.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Great article!

From "Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed)": Karen Healey offers a feminist manifesto for men writing women in fiction, and I agree with every single point she makes, especially her observations about latter-day Buffy Summers. Hard to believe that particular part of her story was supervised by a woman...

P.S. Also, her reaction to Frank Miller writing and directing "The Spirit"? Priceless.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Earth's Mightiest Zeroes

So apparently, Marvel has decided to publish an "alternative" to "New Avengers". It'll be called "Mighty Avengers", starring classic characters such as Wonder Man and Beast. The mandate seems to be creating an "old-school" book, to counterbalance the more... shall we say, iconoclastic tones in "New Avengers".

And as a special bonus, the creative team is Frank Cho on art and Brian Bendis writing.

To all Avengers fans out there who are two seconds away from throwing themselves into an epileptic fit of Tazmanian Devil proportions, I can only offer these words of comfort:

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Fic Recs

Every so often, I end up stumbling onto stories based in a fandom I either don't know or don't like. I'll read these stories anyway, and get blown away by how good they are and how much I enjoy them despite not being the target audience. 99% of the time it's not enough to completely convert me to said fandom, but these are some examples of fics that transcend the fandom boundary, and are must-reads for that reason.

Harry Potter: Your Every Wish by Maya. I've read many, many, many mind-control stories, in various media and fandoms. This one, though... Maya gets it, in a terrifying and unrelentingly dark way. For a little while, she managed to make me forget about my immense loathing of Harry Potter, and that's no small feat.

Star Wars: Five Senses by Selena K. I like the "Five Things" format because it really lets you hit the reader with a string of short, concentrated bursts, or provide five alternate perspectives on the same theme or plot. Selena uses it well here, with a very interesting view of Darth Vader that makes him somewhat less of a "NOOOOOOO!" joke.

Firefly: Nights of Endless Conversations by Fahye. This one's a bit of a cheat, because it crosses over with a fandom I do love, but I'm including it anyway. Interesting combination, and one that's pulled off quite nicely.

X-Men 3: From The Ashes by kaydeefalls. My dislike of the movie is tempered by the fact that a lot of writers made very good use of the material. Here is one of my favorites.

Batman: Measured Out in Coffee Spoons and Jason and Me by David Hines. It's all about the writing here: I've gone cold on the whole Batman thing these days, but Hines' stories have a certain emotional content that piques my interest.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Robert Kirkman's "Marvel Team-Up" is cancelled with issue 25.

Diana's Adventures in TV Land: Hex

As Whitney Houston said on her wedding night, "That's gonna leave a bad taste in my mouth." Nota bene, I'm going to spoil the one big twist in this series, and it's an instance that actually warrants an advance warning.

"Hex" caught my interest after its recent move to BBC America, where it was touted as the British answer to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they based the comparison on the Marti Noxon years, because this show makes no sense, features a bunch of unsympathetic caricatures, is obsessed with "teh sexxx" and really, really makes no bloody sense.

It starts off well enough, mind you, with a dark and mysterious atmosphere built up at a leisurely pace (befitting the more patient British audience). The characters make a good first impression, particularly protagonist Cassie and her best friend Thelma. And the supernatural elements are introduced nicely, weaving together to create the beginnings of a mythology that's both straightforward and interesting.

But by the second episode, "Hex" begins to indulge its single greatest flaw - the supernatural angle, established by the end of the pilot, is completely forgotten. Supernatural, demonic characters walk around like they're normal people, and everyone else treats them normally as well. The antagonist of the first season, fallen angel Azazeal, is intent on seducing Cassie, but rather than maintain the sinister overtones, the whole thing degenerates into ridiculous dialogues about playing house and fixing their relationship and being a family.

The first season (five episodes) is really quite dull; supernatural subplots are set up and then ignored, never to be referenced again, and a bit too much emphasis is placed upon the teenage melodrama. The characters gradually become typical bores, some of whom are completely expendable and some of whom are very interesting, but disappear after an appearance or two (I'm thinking here of Cassie's mother Lilith and Peggy, both interesting figures who just aren't seen again, with no explanation). The big problem with Cassie as the heroine of the story is that she's frustratingly passive: when faced with evil, she either runs from it or surrenders to it. Now, sure, you could make the argument that it's a realistic depiction - how many people would actually muster up the courage to take on demons from Hell? - but it just doesn't make for good fiction. By the time the season concludes, the only issue relevant to Cassie is whether or not she'll shag Azazeal, and you can probably guess the answer to that one. Thelma is entertaining, but even she wears thin after a while.

Things start improving with the second season, and I give "Hex" credit for going where Joss Whedon never dared. It's always a big gamble to switch out your protagonist; in fact, the only show I've ever seen that successfully wrote out its main character mid-series was "Reboot", and even then, Bob wasn't gone long. The second season premiere introduces Ella Dee, a 500-year-old witch and sworn nemesis to Azazeal; one episode later, Cassie is dead, and Ella takes her place as the primary focus of the series.

The switch actually goes over quite nicely at first: Ella is a much more active character, though she's a bit distanced from the viewer in the sense that Cassie was the everywoman, easy to identify with, and Ella isn't very accessible on that level. Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing - in fact, quality starts dropping again when they try to make Ella a typical teenage girl, weak and drawn to bad boys and hungry for sex, all the usual cliches. By mid-season, after a few strong episodes, we're right back in the whole insipid good/evil love story, where the female characters are victimized to ludicrous extents and the villainous males get away with pretty much everything. It comes off very, very poorly.

I was completely numb towards the end of the second (and final) season: characters were acting in repetitive and incomprehensible ways, the melodrama was overpowering the darker aspects, and it just became a mess of "Charmed" proportions. It's a shame, really, because I do think "Hex" had a lot of potential, it just lost the plot fairly early on and never found it again.

Monday, July 3, 2006

I Wonder...

Rich Johnston ( reports that Allan Heinberg's run on "Wonder Woman" isn't so much a run as it is an introductory arc, making way for novelist Jodi Picoult to take the reins.

My initial reaction:

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I'd never actually heard of a female author writing "Wonder Woman". Odd, that. And while I'm not acquainted with Picoult's work, I do find myself intrigued by the possibilities, as she seems to have at least marginal suitability for the task at hand.

And maybe this means the second season of "Young Avengers" won't be horribly late after all. Though Heinberg's already gone on-record as saying none of his scripts were late (implicating artist Jim Cheung by default), so... well, who knows. I'm curious enough to stick around a bit after Heinberg departs, which is all kinds of Twilight Zone for me considering we're talking about bloody Wonder Woman here.