Sugar and Spice and Everything…Catty?

Today’s EXTREMELY long-winded feminist rant will be brought to you by the letters C, S, and I. You have been warned.

Have you ever seen the first interaction between CSIs Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle? No? Let me share:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOLg3RWL9DU&w=480&h=390]

Not the most welcoming of people, that surly CSI Willows (just look at the video clip description: “Bitchy & Rude Catherine”). In Catherine’s defense, I should point out that Sara Sidle was originally brought onto the Las Vegas team to investigate one of their own for his role in the death of another investigator. She was an interloper, brought in to suss out the possible guilt of one of Catherine’s closest friends on the job. Not exactly the best setup for a warm and fuzzy friendship.

However, this animosity between our two heroines not only lingered, it evolved…or, rather, devolved into a series of biting comments, veiled insults, and out-and-out vitriol. True, some of it stemmed from personality differences. Catherine as originally created had a world-wise brusqueness to her, not necessarily spiteful or cruel, but direct and sharp. Sara, on the other hand, arrived with a quirky, nerdy sensibility and equal doses of naivete and a “black or white, no gray” outlook that often set her apart, not only from Catherine but from others on the team.

They weren’t the only ones on the team who had disparate personalities. Warrick Brown and Nick Stokes as first conceived shared very few commonalities. Our introduction to them also showed them vying against each other for a promotion. Yet right from the start they were still shown to share a comfortable camaraderie, a friendly competitiveness that served to bring them together rather than set them on opposite sides of an ever-widening chasm. Not at all like the steadily increasing animosity shared by our lovely ladies of the pink printing powder. (For the record, I love this scene for the fact that this is one of the rare moments from the show’s early days that showcases the previously mentioned contrasting characteristics of both women in a wonderful albeit short comedic moment.)

It’s not just this loopy lupine who noticed this decidedly disappointing development default in the relationship shared by Catherine and Sara. In this PopGurls Interview, Jorja Fox had the following to say:

You’ve said that the CSI writers and producers are really kind. That if there’s someplace you don’t really want to go with the character, you can talk to them, and generally they’ll change the course or direction. When was a time that you brought up a path w/the producers that you didn’t feel comfortable with for Sara?

There have been a couple of times over the years. The first one that comes to mind—very early in the show, the writers had wanted to create a real solid tension between Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle. They started off right away that we would lock horns and that this would be a theme that would go throughout the show. Marg [Helgenberger, who plays Catherine] and I talked about it and we both felt that, since we were the only women on the show at that time, to have [us] fighting each other and jockeying for position was an area that we were hoping that [we didn’t have] to go. We wanted actually to work well together—we could still disagree on things from time to time. Certainly Sara and Catherine are very different people and they go about things differently but we didn’t want to set a tone that would last throughout the show. We went to the writers and they were kind enough to pull back on that which was great.

I felt more passionately about potential for camaraderie coming from these two women being so different instead of the opposite.

Two sharp women are better than one...

Kudos to Jorja and Marg for putting their feet down to character choices that would have done nothing but continue to substantiate a dismal stereotype of women in the workforce. Sadly, however, as with most stereotypes, this particular one grows from a kernel of truth.

Admittedly, I’m little more than an armchair sociologist, but I have noticed something about the way my generation was conditioned as young girls that is both distressing and highly counterproductive. First, a confession: During my formative years, I probably spent more time interacting with boys than I did with girls. But that’s because the boys were all into fun things like riding bikes or playing football, and they had cool toys like G.I. Joes and Transformers. The girls all wanted to play house and put diapers and frilly dresses on grotesque plastic effigies that to this day haunt my darkest nightmares. I really, really hate babydolls.

That being said, I learned from an early age that interacting with boys is a much different experience from interacting with girls. Boys are rough and brash and to the point. If they say something that another boy doesn’t like, there will be a confrontation. It might get physical. But they get it out of their systems and they move on. They’ve also got your back. If you’re their friend, you’re in their pack, you’re on their team. And boys are taught from a very early age about the dynamics of teamwork.

Teamwork was still a foreign term for a lot of the girls my age. Title IX had already made its initial impact for opening up to the fairer sex the world of high school and college sports, but I believe that the concept of girls viewing other girls as teammates was still a holistically foreign concept for my generation. Why?

Because our greatest influences in character development were our own mothers. And our mothers grew up in a time well before when girls would take to the courts and baseball diamonds the way the boys were always able to do. The only viable competition available for these preceding generations of young women was for the sole prize that they were ever allowed to strive for: the ideal husband. Even my own mother saw a future in which her biggest expectations for me concluded with marriage and motherhood.

Don’t worry. I shuddered a little bit, too, just then.

You don’t get a husband through teamwork. You get it by being the last woman standing…and you stay standing by whatever means are at your disposal.

Is it any surprise, then, that when our predecessors began finally transitioning in larger numbers from housewives to working girls, they carried these same “values” with them into the workforce? We didn’t have the sports-based team ethics that the boys had. Hell, we didn’t even get the Godfather‘s rules of “It’s not personal, it’s business”! Instead, we were taught that the best way to play the boardroom game was to steal our secretary’s ideas in order to retain our sole seniority status AND gain the attention of the alpha male protagonist.

[Loba Tangent: Seriously, what kind of fucked-up message was Working Girl trying to convey? That women can’t work with each other unless they’re on the same low-level rung of the corporate ladder with no aspirations for climbing higher? That women who do make it to higher positions shouldn’t be trusted because they’re not going to try to help other women make it as far as they have? Instead, they’re going to use whatever means are necessary to ensure that they hold their competition as far down as they possibly can? Yeah, Sigourney Weaver met a perfectly Hollywood ending…but the movie still propagated stereotypes about women in the workforce that made me cringe almost as much as Baby Boom. But that’s a completely different tangent…and this post is already too long…]

Am I guilty of offensive generalizations and of propagating the stereotypes that I claim to loathe through this post? Perhaps. I am proud to say that I’ve been lucky to have worked for some amazingly progressive female supervisors. They’ve encouraged me, they’ve depended upon me for the skills I can bring to their team, and they’ve never been duplicitous in their dealings with me. I wish I could say this was the way it was across the board, both for my own experiences and for the experiences of all women in the workforce. However, I can’t. I daresay neither can most women my age.

The sad truth is that too many generations of women have long been conditioned to view the same sex as competitors that must be eliminated, not as teammates. But is it still this way? Are today’s young girls still being taught to view others of the same sex as the enemy, competition to be vanquished whether it be for that amazing job promotion or for the old-school brass ring of marital bliss and motherhood? I should hope not. Then again, it’s my generation that is now in the parental driver seat…and this was how we were raised. Will they pass along harmful lessons to the next generation? Or, like Fox and Helgenberger, are they going to say enough to petty stereotypes that do nothing but divide and weaken us, not only as a gender but as a society?

Everyone Needs an Editor: Sidel

This floors me for several reasons:

  • This is a professionally prepared one-sheet for a high-profile television series.
  • As such, this had to have gone through several rounds of review from several different people. Hell, I’m a design peon in comparison with someone who works for CBS and everything I do goes through at least four levels of review!
  • There are several far more difficult-to-spell names on this one-sheet, and they are all spelled correctly (Helgenberger, Szmanda, Guilfoyle, even Jorja!).
  • The character of Sara Sidle has existed for 12 years now. You’d think that would be enough time for the spelling of the character’s name to soak in, right (especially considering the fact that almost every episode, she can be seen wearing a vest with her surname stitched in white CAPITAL LETTERS)?

This isn’t the first time I’ve dinged CBS and its affiliates for poorly edited CSI materials. And, to be honest, this is nothing in comparison with that book and all its editorial SNAFUs. Still…

I know, I’m just being nitpicky because this happens to be my favorite character, but I’m also nitpicky because, dammit, take some pride in what you do, people! Especially when millions of people are going to be seeing it. My stuff is only seen by a fraction of the people who see stuff related to CSI and I’d be mortified if a mistake this glaring went out on something I’d done. Hell, I even go back and edit posts if I catch a mistake later on. Yes, it’s that bad, denizens. It’s that bad.

And yet another tip of the paw to Jorja Fox: Online for giving me something to howl about on a shiny, happy Monday morning.

Photo Fun Friday: CSI: Underworld

Foregoing Flashback Friday today, denizens. Not in a nostalgic mood at the moment. Besides, I got the seed of a kooky idea the other day that just wouldn’t go away…so I decided to make it happen in the only way I know how—PhotoShop it!

So, did you know that Jorja Fox once played a vampire in a really cheesy-awesome made-for-television movie called House of Frankenstein 1997? It was something done by NBC (who is owned by Universal, house of all the big horror movie monsters back in the day) and includes vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein’s monster. It’s not available on DVD or video…but I’m sure that if you know where to look, you might be able to find it somewhere to watch. Also, since SyFy is owned by Universal, this movie usually tends to appear around Halloween.

Anyway, I learned more about this movie through Jorja Fox: Online (which is quite an impressive fan-run site) and even found some screen caps of Fox’s scene-fanging moments as Felicity the Campy Vampire. And that’s when the idea started to grow. It’s what happens when the chocolate and peanut butter of all the crazy genre ideas in my brain start to swirl together. So CSI started to combine with vampire flicks…one thing led to another…and then it happened…

Sara Sidle as a crime scene investigating vampire? I don’t know about you, but I’d tune in. Every show. Maybe I should pitch this as a new spin-off. Something to inject a little fresh blood (heh) into the CSI franchise. Besides, we need something to take back the night for respectable (read: non-sparkly) vampires.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled geekery. Flashback Friday will return…but Photo Fun Friday might sneak back in every now and again. Hope you all don’t mind.

BookBin2011: Never Suck A Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI

As if the title of Dana Kollman’s memoir, Never Suck A Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI, isn’t awesome enough, right in the introduction, I came across the following:

I don’t recall Gill Grissom [sic] responding to any “burglary” calls where the only evidence of the crime was a stranger’s turd found floating in the toilet, and when was the last time Catherine Willows came home after handling a decomp and found a dead maggot in her bra? Did Warrick Brown ever earn overtime because a junkie died after eating the living room sofa? And I must have missed the episode where Sara Sidle was directed to process a tree house for latent prints.

Okay, references to disgusting evidence and mention of characters from my current favorite show? Oh, CSI Kollmann, you indeed know how to get on my good side.

[Loba Tangent: See, I told you in my last book review, denizens: My CSI obsession isn’t going away any time soon. If anything, it’s getting worse. I’ve already talked about this obsession in more detail in a previous book review so I won’t go on anymore here. Suffice it to say, I do loves me some Vegas CSI. And I still want Sara Sidle on my desk. The action figure. Pervs.]

Seriously, though, if you’re a forensic nerd like I have obviously become, I highly recommend this memoir. Kollmann gives you a multifaceted, personal (and oftentimes extremely graphic) inside look at the real life of a crime scene investigator. Also, she was a CSI for the Baltimore Police Department, which means she gets bonus White Wolf points for being a resident of the Old Line State. True, there are a few chapters that I found myself reading and wondering why they were included, but holistically, this is a strong offering from someone able to give you a front row seat to some of the strangest and worst incidents you can imagine. And some that you would never even consider imagining. Like sucking on a dead man’s hands. More on that later…

I will say this, though: If you are easily offended by flippancy in the face of what most people would consider to be serious and horrific crimes, you might not want to read this book. Kollmann is very honest and upfront about the fact that she developed what many might consider to be an off-putting callousness toward the crimes and people she investigated, pretty much as a defense mechanism for having to deal with some of the worst that humanity has to offer.

It’s not all that surprising, but it is a bit jarring at times to read her rather whimsical takes on people and events that a non-CSI would find highly upsetting. I by no means hold this against her. I can’t imagine how a person could be a CSI without forming some kind of barrier between their humanity and the inhumane acts they investigate on a daily basis. I just thought that I would warn anyone about this fact before continuing.

One of the things that I found most amusing about Kollmann’s take on her former career is how she pointed out right upfront how unreal shows like CSI actually are and telling readers how she was going to show us the truth of what the life of a crime scene investigator is really like. She then went on to tell about cases that, in many ways, almost perfectly paralleled cases and actions depicted on this “very unrealistic” crime show.

I do understand her point, however. Watching CSI gives viewers a false sense that the evidence is always going to be there and that cases are always going to be solved by the science nerds (you know, because all those cops are just sitting around doing nothing). Oh, and those DNA results? They’re going to be ready and to you before that fresh pot of coffee is finished brewing in the break room.

Less-reasonable viewers then go on to be called for jury duty and sit on trials in which they think that everything is going to go down like it does on the TV. Nick Stokes is going to come in and give you the rundown on how ballistics matched the bullet fragments found inside the DB to a gun registered to the aunt of the guy who used to share a dorm room with the suspect on trial. And then Catherine Willows is going to give you the breakdown on the blood spatter evidence and how it speaks to the fact that the crime was obviously committed by a left-handed person with a limp and a slight Mediterranean accent…which perfectly fits the description of the suspect.

See? It’s a little ridiculous after all, that wonderful Vegas show.

Oh, and I know what you’ve been wondering ever since you started reading this review, and the answer is yes. Kollmann indeed explains the title of this memoir. And it is so very disturbing. And hilarious. Just like the rest of this book.

Final Verdict: This is one of the most enjoyable books that I have read in a long time (yes, I really am that morbid). And, really? The title alone makes me want to keep it, if only for the puerile joy of hearing people’s reactions when they see the title on the spine.

BookBin2011: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion

Are you getting the impression that I’m not really taking this year’s BookBin all that seriously, denizens? I do apologize for that. I have been reading a “real” book from my collection—an anthology that I bought at a charity book sale more than 10 years ago. The problem is that…well, the problem is that I hate the anthology. Whoops. Guess I’ve given away the fate of this one before I’ve even written about it. I do intend to finish it (it’s the principle, dammit!), but I needed to step away. It was too miserable an effort to keep reading it. Thus why I stopped for my last posted read and now this bit of silly fluff.

That’s a bit of a harsh summary of this book, though. True, the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion isn’t going to be placed on any college-level reading lists, but that’s not why I wanted this book. I wanted it because, apparently, CSI has become my new Trek.

[Loba Warning: This post is probably definitely going to be me geeking out about my obsession with CSI that in many ways rivals my obsession with Trek. So, really, if you don’t dig either, you might want to just skip this entry. Of course, if you don’t love Trek or geeking out in general, why on earth are you hanging out here in the first place?]

Makes sense if you think about it: Both are easily accessible franchises with multiple levels of tasty geekery, including numerous television iterations, video games, comic books, novels and other nerdy books, trinkets, baubles, fanfiction, fan videos, fan sites…the only thing that could possibly make me even happier about the CSI marketing saturation is if they released character action figures. Because honestly? My desk needs a Sara Sidle action figure.

True, in terms of deeper meanings and social commentary, CSI doesn’t scratch a patch on Trek storylines. However, there is something mesmerizing about all that puzzle solving. I still believe that I have a personality well-suited to being a CSI. Too bad there’s all that math and chemistry. I was lucky I made it through high school chemistry with my eyebrows intact. Damned Bunsen burners…

More than just television shows, though, these are my escape for when reality wears me down and I need respite. The stories are almost always engaging and the characters are comforting. Why? Because I can relate to them. For all their attempts at being cool, Trek and CSI characters are HUGE nerds. Like me. And that makes me think that I’d really enjoy hanging out with them if they were real people…okay, maybe not Deanna. Counselors make me uncomfortable anyway, but one who could read my emotional state? Not cool. And Catherine Willows would probably make me nervous as well. She used to be a stripper…and in a previous life, she was a prostitute who hung out with Dana Delany.

Anyway, I think the CSI characters win the cage match for the title of “nerds” though, what with all their antisocial tendencies or awkward attempts at social interaction…not to mention the universally-true-for-all-the-characters science skillz , obsessive puzzle-solving, and anal-retentive behavior regarding their kits and whatnot. Although, really, the characters from both shows could intermingle so well with each other. The Dancing Doctor and the ex-stripper could work blood splatter analysis together before hitting the clubs after shift…and Wesley and Greg might actually get along swimmingly in the lab…ooh, and Riker and Grissom could compare beard trimmers and Laren and Sara could see who had the worst childhood…

Okay, now I want CSI/TNG crossover fanfic. STAT.

What the hell is the point of this post? Oh, yeah. The book I just read. Like my Trek compendiums (which you can see in this photo of one of my geeky bookshelves), this is an episode guide fleshed out with fun facts, trivia, and general behind-the-scenes awesomeness from the set of the original Vegas CSI (the only version of CSI that I watch regularly). This guide only covers seasons 1–3, but those are some of the best episodes that this series has done.

[Loba Secret: Vegas CSI started to slip into a downward spiral around season 7 and hasn’t really found its way back to its former greatness. Does that stop me from tuning in every week? Hells no. Optimism or masochism—call it what you will, but I’m probably going to watch this damn show until it goes off the air. Even when it’s bad, it’s a bad I know and love. Besides, what am I supposed to watch? Reality television?]

I found myself loving and loathing this episode companion. First, the loathe. I expected something a little more high quality from Pocket Books. Not to say that the layout isn’t gorgeous. It is. Lots of shiny pages filled with colorful photos and groovy graphic layouts. The problem is in the editing…or the infuriating lack thereof. Lots of grammatical and spelling errors, including one that is a particular pet peeve of mine. One is not a real trooper about something. One is a real trouper. This drives me about as bat-shit crazy as people who write “tow the line.” Unfortunately, it’s all through this book and it stuck out each and every time I read it, like a sliver of glass in my retina.

Petty quibble? Of course. Then again, I’m a editer. I’m suppose to knowtice these things.

Also, a little fact checking and “on the same page” checking between the guide’s writers and the show’s writers might have been a great thing. I understand that this book came out early in the life of this show. I also understand (and actually quite liked) that this show was not originally a character-driven piece. It was heavily plot-driven, with character exposition coming in small, natural doses like how it actually happens in real-world work environments. If something was relevant to an episode plot regarding one of the characters, we learned that bit of personal information. Otherwise, we (and they) were all about solving the cases at hand. Therefore, character development was probably not something that they gave a whole lot of thought. Plot first, then characters.

All that being said, I kind of assumed that the creators and writers would have figured out certain things about their characters, in preparation for where cases might lead them and what we might learn next. Apparently, though, that hadn’t happened by the 2004 release of this book. Every single one of the character profiles had something startlingly and hilariously incorrect. Best one though? Sara Sidle apparently was meant to have loving parents, including a hippy feminist mother, who were concerned that their bookish daughter might be missing out on the fun of childhood by being so studious.

o_O

I laughed for about 10 minutes after I read that. Yeah, I’m that nerdy.

Beyond the absence of research and the massive editorial issues, there just seems to be a general lack of care all throughout…a lot of little mistakes, like Dr. Robbins being listed in his profile as “Albert Robbins,” but all of the accompanying identification badge graphics showing his first initial as “P,” that compounded to become quite distracting after a while.

Distracting enough to get rid of this book? Nope. I admit I’d probably feel a lot surlier if I had paid full price for this guide (thank the prophets I’m cheap and love Amazon Marketplace as much as I do). However, $5 for a 300-page guide filled with nerdy minutia, hilariously flawed “facts,” and oodles of pretty pictures from the only television show that I still watch? I think I can deal with all the errors and enjoy the fun stuff.

Final Verdict: It’s going to be a bit of a tight fit, but soon this guide will be nestled on my geeky bookshelf, right next to those sexy Trek companion guides. Now where are my CSI action figures? And my CSI/TNG crossover fanfic?

The Remedy for What Ails You

Can I have some remedy?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZgJrHxWaIg&w=560&h=349]

That’s much better. I do have a soft spot in my heart for the Black Crowes. Why? There are some things that Loba needs to keep to herself. Let’s just say that their cover of “Hard to Handle” can make me smile like a fool every time I hear it. Ah, high school.

But this weekend has been all about remedies. Seems Loba is not as invincible as she would like others to think she is (although other Internet PersonalitiesTM still retain the rights to this particular claim). Seems someone decided to share germs with me. I have the usual suspects in the line-up for this crime, although I’m almost positive I know the prime suspect…even without Helen Mirren’s help.

The cold kicked into effect Tuesday evening, but being the stubborn wolf that I am, I refused to take any time off from responsibilities, either of the work or fun varieties. I detest being sick. I detest the impudence of germs thinking that they can best me, take me down, make me relinquish my duties. Plus, I hate how being sick turns me into a mouth-breathing medicine-addled moron and leaves me waking up with a grungy, phlegmy tongue that feels like I spent the previous evening licking sidewalks in Times Square.

My, that was vivid, wasn’t it, denizens?

So I dragged myself to work the rest of last week, forcing myself to wade through the growing internal maelstrom of germs and cold medicine as they did their war dance through my veins. I pulled it off relatively convincingly by popping pills, drinking copious amounts of hot tea to flush out my system, blowing my nose as discreetly but as often as I could, and going through an entire bottle of Purell. Some people didn’t even realize I was sick, which left me feeling a sense of victory that only someone who once boasted having gone 9 years in a row at school with perfect attendance could possibly appreciate.

The down side of this? Saturday morning, the germs realized that I was no longer bound by workday obligations. I was released from that routine…and they were released from my persistent resistance.

Yes, Seven, resistance is futile.

Other than walking outside to get the mail this afternoon, I haven’t left the lair since I came home Friday afternoon. More to the point, I haven’t really left the couch since I woke up Saturday morning to a renewed raspiness in my throat, a throbbing headache, and a constant pressure on my sinuses that felt like several pachyderms had packed into the space right between my eyes. Yesterday was spent medicating myself,literally and geekily. Big Trouble in Little China is a must for the healing process. That’s what ole Jack Burton says anyway. So, too, are the special features from my Scream trilogy box set. And fan fiction. Lots and lots of fan fiction. All things designed to delight my inner geek while not really requiring any real mental effort of any kind…or requiring that I remain conscious the entire time. Just what I needed.

This morning I woke up feeling a little better…and a little weirded out as well. Seems that all the cold meds decided to wreak royal havoc with my dreams last night. Or at least with the one dream that I can remember. Seems that on the rare occasion when I remember a dream, it’s only one and that’s the one that I’m having right when I wake up. This is, of course, a huge improvement over all the years I spent not being able to remember any dreams. Except for that extremely vivid one I had in high school in which I was Dr. Crusher.

Yeah. Maybe it’s better if I don’t remember my dreams.

So this dream from last night…or rather this morning involved me stuck inside a lighthouse that didn’t work, a remnant, I’m assuming, from the fanfic I read last night that was loosely based on the horror movie El Orfanato. It was storming outside, the intermittent lightning providing the only light within the structure. I was there because I was looking for someone (another remnant from the same fanfic; yeah, I know…that’s some severe stream-crossing going on there, Dr. Spengler), but the rain had forced me to take shelter.

However, the lighthouse was next to a river instead of an ocean, nestled down low enough that the waters flowed right past one side of the structure, and the bottom level was composed of glass, allowing me to see what was floating past.

Suddenly, this enormous fish swam into view. I’m talking enormous, large enough that it was longer than the river was wide. As it came up parallel to the lighthouse, it began to swim in slow circles, looking almost like an ichthyian ouroboros. It was mesmerizing and I remember being drawn into the river, which was now suddenly inside the lighthouse. There was a calming, somewhat anthropomorphic quality to the fish that entranced me for many moments before I had this stunning epiphany that I needed to photograph the fish.

I began to slowly ease away from the fish, back to the river’s edge. A voice from behind and slightly above me caused me finally look away. It was Sara Sidle, descending the spiral staircase of the lighthouse. She was wearing her CSI vest with the stitched name tag and the reflective tape on each side, and a pair of black leather gloves. All she said was, “If you leave now, you won’t see her again.”

I stopped for a moment, looking back at the fish, still circling. But I am apparently as stubborn in lucidity as I am in reality. I climbed back onto the shore and ran as quickly as I could to get my camera.

I returned to the shore and the fish was gone. So, too, was the elusive CSI. The river was no longer flowing, instead turning to solid ice as I watched. I looked around, trying to find someone…anyone who could help me. But I was alone. I turned back to the freezing waters, and the last thing I remember before waking up was this intense need to dive beneath the ice and find the fish.

I’ve revisited this dream several times throughout the day, examining and analyzing all that I can remember. I’ve come to certain opinions about what it all means, and I’ve decided that sometimes the way my brain works scares even me.

Needless to say, today has been another one for relaxing on the couch, reading an actual book this time and watching movies that don’t involve Kurt Russell shaking the pillars of Heaven. And this evening has kicked off with watching an Encore special called Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible. I learned a few things that I didn’t already know (since it is the law that one must know the history of ILM as part of the bargain of keeping their geek cred in tact). Most interesting tidbit? Everyone keeps making a big deal about how Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern costume is all CGI. Well guess what? It’s not the first time this has occurred. Robert Downey, Jr. detested the physical Ironman costume they built for him to wear so much that the ILM crew finally told him to take it off and not worry about it…they’d take care of it. So take that, Reynolds. Take it all the way back to Canada. I also received proof that my initial opinion of J.J. Abrams as a massive douchewanger is even truer than I originally thought. Oh, and he definitely doesn’t deserve the right to have anything to do with Star Trek.

And now it’s time for dinner. Homemade pizza. Yes, my prime suspect may have shared these accursed germs with me in the first place, but said suspect has also made sure I have been well fed throughout my convalescence. Prophets know I’m awful when it comes to knowing what to make myself when I’m well. Had I been left to my own devices, I probably would have survived on tea, toast, and Twizzlers.

So there you have it, denizens. Loba has been taken down, but not out. Like the Phoenix, I shall rise (hopefully, though, someone will stop me before I turn all Dark Phoenix and try to take over the world). And thankfully, I have tomorrow off. And Spike is running an all-day CSI marathon. Bonus!

Oh, and bonus for you, too. Here’s another Black Crowes video. Hope it makes you smile even half as much as it does me…

Christmas Scene Investigation

We heard you wanted to report a 459…burglary. What’s missing? Milk and cookies, you say? Oh, that’s all right. That was just ole St. Nick, making his annual rounds. Other than the milk and cookies, I bet he didn’t take anything, right? Bet he even left something behind…that’s his MO, you know. We’ve been processing his scenes for years.

We’ll go ahead and send over our best CSI (Christmas Scene Investigator, of course), Santa Sidle. She can be a little rough around the edges sometimes, but she gets the job done…

Yeah, this year I decided to give the sci-fi scions of my life a little break and go with another of my loves for my holiday card…CSI. I considered using Nick Stokes, since his name was the most appropriate for this particular holiday (St. Nicky)…but I had to go with my favorite: the dark, damaged, dentally diastemic one. Besides, if anyone needs a little holiday cheer in their lives, I think Sara Sidle comes at the top of that list. Plus, she wears that Santa hat well, no?

And, of course, I wish you all the merriest of holidays, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the Blessed Solstice. And I thank you. This has been a year of slippery slopes for me, but I have found solace and unexpected smiles from so many of you. I know I kid about having “ImagiFriendsTM,” but the truth is…you are my friends. I just haven’t met some of you IRL…yet. You have made my days brighter, my laughter stronger, and my mind filthier (you know which ones of you I’m talking about…).

Enough sentimentality. Break out the rum and let’s get this investigation under way! I’ll be over here, helping to print the reindeer…

CS…Why?

Yes, I have categorized this one as both happy and surly. It’s happy because I used to love CSI. I started watching reruns on SpikeTV almost 6 years ago. I’ve seen all the episodes since then, purchased several seasons on DVD, and continue to watch new episodes today.

The surliness comes from the noticeable deterioration of the show. What made me love it was the plot focus. It reminded me in so many ways of the “Freak of the Week” formula used with such success by early seasons of The X-Files. Each week we got to watch the team solve a different case, learning a little about them along the way as the opportunities arose to reveal such information.

Now, it’s all about the characters…or, more precisely, character drama, which I find so very boring. Yet I continue to watch the show. It’s kind of like how I continue to read post-Nemesis TNG novels, even though they only serve to irritate and disappoint me. I’m too much a creature of habit in this regard. But I did like CSI once, and I guess I’m holding out hope that I’ll like it again.

So far, it’s not happening that way with Season 10. I find this truth even more disappointing based on the absolutely awesome way the 10th season started. The pre-credits teaser for this episode was one of the most spectacular I think they have ever done for this show. Check it out:

Pretty spiffy for regular television, eh? I liked it so much that I watched it twice that night…and several times since. I laughed when I saw Laurence Fishburne doing his Matrix shtick with the Agent Smith-looking character, complete with Matrix bullet effects around him. I also dug how the sequence ends with two characters in frame, one of whom is the surprise guest return of Sara Sidle. So, cool opening and pleasant surprise ending. Left me feeling quite hopeful about what was to come.

Too bad the rest of the show in no way lived up to that opening. Petty bickering, bruised egos, the disappearance of a regular character from the previous season explained away by the revelation of even more discord. Plus, the story was meh. The stories from early CSI were never meh.

Same thing for last night’s new episode. Sara Sidle is still with the team, which makes me happy…but what didn’t make me happy was the dredging up of a storyline they started way back in the very first episode as one of the stupidest red herrings I think they’ve ever pulled. Also, it seems that they might be launching another serial killer story arc. Because the Miniature Killer was SO awesome.

Disappointed.

So, should I just stop watching? Give up and abandon ship before it sinks beneath the weight of its increasing mediocrity? Or should I continue to hold out hope that they’ll find that miracle fix that will get the show back on track to awesomeness? Is that even possible?

I’ll probably keep checking in, especially since our cable company makes it so easy to catch up on missed episodes through their On Demand feature. What can I say? I really am a hopeless optimist. How else can I explain the fact that I still watch a show that stopped being great at least three seasons ago…or why I recently ordered the follow-up to a TNG book that I rated only 1.5 out of 5?

Hopeless.