OK, about that Dollhouse episode…

I made myself watch it. Which was actually pretty easy to do. Easier than making myself finish it, anyway.

The storyline had Echo programmed to be a backup singer to a Beyonce-style pop singer who was being stalked by a homicidal fan. Eliza got to sing. Fox got to have a hot chick in Red Sonja clothes singing bad songs. And we got an After School Special look into the tormented life of the poor pop diva, who finds herself molded into what other people want her to be…hey! Just like Echo!


Great Toasted Jesus With Gravy, I hope it gets better than this. The entire middle third or more was just pure tedium. The final act picked up somewhat, as Echo went “off task” (because she’s been so reliably on task on every other job we’ve seen her on, right, she just never malfunctions) and got creative in solving the problems with her own take on her mission parameters. There was something genuinely cool in that, in the implication that she’d recognized Sierra, and in the little headshake she did back at the Dollhouse, after her Tabula had allegedly been Rasa-ed again.

The problem so far is that the Dollhouse itself, and its workings, and the effects of the personality implanting process on the Actives, is the most interesting stuff in the show, and the structure of the show shoves all that cool stuff into the background and focuses on stand-alone TV stories that could be from any mediocre TV action-drama. A smart hostage negotiator tries to help a kidnapped girl and faces the demons from her own past. A person finds herself hunted by another human for sport (and we’ll call the predator “Richard Connell” just to let you know this is homage, not just another tired retread of Connell’s story “The Most Dangerous Game.”) A pop diva is stalked by a dangerous fan…

Who the fuck cares?

I want to know all the cool stuff without having to suffer through the stuff that’s basically just a humdrum anthology show. I am genuinely interested in Echo, in what’s going on in her head, in her relationship with the other Actives and her handler, and in what the repercussions of her apparent re-growth as an individual of some sort may be. But damn, I hope the stories she finds herself thrust into are going to be way better than this, or we’ll never see much of that cool stuff because this show will die. And unlike Firefly, which Fox royally screwed, it’s going to deserve what it gets.

Oh. I have a new DOLLHOUSE to watch. How ’bout that.

Yesterday was all lack of sleep and divorce mediation and migraine, then a regenerative evening with my son. So I woke up this morning, saw him off to spend the rest of the weekend with his mom, and groggily looked at the ol’ Comcast DVR (still holding in there by the skin of its rotten teeth because I just haven’t gotten around to canceling service yet) to see what I might catch up on.

Hey. There was a new Battlestar Galactica last night. Cool. And there was a…Dollhouse. The third episode of the new series by Joss Whedon, who I consider a deity of storytelling and stuff. Cool…?

Huh. How about that. I watched last week and enjoyed that episode a lot more than I’d enjoyed the pilot, and even started to relate to some characters, got a kick out of the early signs of Echo’s coming individuation…felt more positively about the series ahead.

But now, here I was with Galactica and Dollhouse awaiting my attention, and I was psyched about only one of them, and it wasn’t the Whedon one. I wanted to watch it, sure, but the way I want to do the dishes that are cluttering up the kitchen counter at the moment. I ought to watch it, it’s Whedon, surely it has many pleasures ahead to offer…

But right now, it feels like a chore.


So I watched Galactica, and it was actually sort of ponderous and slow, though narratively interesting. The Dollhouse ep may prove more engaging when I get to it, and put the lie to my gut’s cynical response this morning. Here’s hoping.

On a brighter note, before he left this morning, my son and I watched the latest episode of Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I’d avoided this show for a while because it looked way too campy for my tastes, I like Batman all dark and tormented and realistic. I finally gave in though, and we’ve been watching it and enjoying it fully. It’s silver age Batman through the filter of contemporary comics writing, which is to say, it is cheesy and over the top, but it’s smart as hell.

So of last night’s recordings, Batman scores an A-, Galactica a B-, and Dollhouse an Incomplete.

I’ll let you know what its final grade is when I get around to it. Because surely I’ll get around to it. Right?

Doc Wilde Gets His First Actual Review In The Wild


For anyone who’s missed me the past week or more, it’s because I’m firmly embedded in the legalistic tar pit pooped out by the court system for those of us who get divorced. But I’m still breathing. Mostly.

On happier fronts, it seems the review copies of my first novel, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, have started to land out there in the Land of Critique. And Ron Fortier, himself an active pulp wordsmith and scholar, is first out of the gate with a review at his site Pulp Fiction Reviews:

The Wildes are old fashioned heroes in the best sense of the word and their adventure is sure to thrill pulp fans, both old and new…

Click here to read the full review. In the midst of this other business, it really made my day.

The Sand Castle

Waaaayyyy back in years of yore, when I was about fifteen or so, I used to catch a ride with a man named Larry Something to meetings of the Atlanta Science Fiction Club. Those being the years before widespread availability of videotapes and DVDs and such, Larry would sometimes set up an actual film projector and show rented wonders to us, the assembled nerds. I recall really enjoying these, though I only remember two of them specifically. One was the great Star Wars spoof Hardware Wars (with Ham Salad, Augie Ben Doggie, and Chewchilla the Wookiee Monster, and findable on YouTube).

The other was a marvelous short called The Sand Castle, an evocative piece of stop-motion animation depicting an engaging group of sand-formed creatures cooperating to build the titular castle. I thought it wonderful, and looked for it here and there over the years, particularly once I became a dad, but without luck.

Well, I found it. Turns out it was a product of the National Film Board of Canada, which has now made tons of their stuff available online. And The Sand Castle seems to have been quite a collector of awards, including a Short Film Oscar.

It’s just as cool as I remembered. Check it out:

Click to go watch

Click to go watch

My Thoughts on Dollhouse

I didn’t love it. I hope to. Maybe I will in time.

I have always loved Joss Whedon’s work. I’ll watch, or read, or listen to, anything he does. He’s a smart man, a funny man, and a master storyteller man.

I also really like Eliza Dushku. Not only is she a hotty, she’s brainy, and she’s a very talented actress who’s been underused over the years.

But Dollhouse. To be bluntly honest about it, if last night’s episode were exactly the same but not a Joss Whedon creation, I can’t say for sure I’d watch again next week.

The setup — Dusku and others are “Actives,” agents for a secret organization whose personalities have been wiped and are replaced in full by other people’s personalities when sent out on various missions-for-hire — is intriguing. On the meta level, it’s an interesting metaphor for the life of an actor, who (if they’re actually a good actor) goes from personality to personality for different jobs. I can see where Joss thinks he can use the structure to explore issues of identity, what it means, how we interact, how we use each other…thematically, it has a lot of potential.

To me, its great weakness (aside from the fact that it’s on Fox, and their meddling in the show is already as obtrusively obvious as a bumper sticker stuck in the middle of the screen) is that the setup might lend itself overmuch to Dollhouse being an anthology show of a sort, each episode a different kind of story that’s disconnected from the greater story arc, and Echo and the other Actives carrying the series on the weight of ever-shifting personalities. How much, week to week, can Joss make us care about the Actives, who are rarely consistently anyone, and when they are, they’re pliable dullards wandering around a pretty room?

So far, I’m moderately interested in the characters, but I don’t care about them at all.

The first half hour was burdened with exposition, which is to be expected in a pilot, but it also reeked of Fox’s network style. The motorcycle chase was ludicrous and boring, the sexy dancing was obvious (if not, truthfully, unwelcome), and the storytelling was patchy. I suspect the original pilot Joss wrote was superior, and the Fox execs wanted him to “cut to the chase” and “add the sexy,” and forced him to build a Jenga tower with some pieces made of pudding. Unfortunately, the Fox execs aren’t going anywhere, they’ll still be making demands as the show develops, and most of the demands will likely be stupid.

Al the same, it is a Joss Whedon show, so I’m here for the duration, unless it turns really bad. I do think it’ll improve, and I hope that Joss’s intentions play out effectively. There’s potential for all sorts of action and emotion and exploration of human existence and relationships, and I’m sure Joss has lots of twisty ideas to surprise us with. Here’s hoping it all gets really good.


What’s the term?

Oh yeah.


The reports are popping up from Sony’s exhibition for journalists of God of War 3, coming sometime for the Playstation 3, and it sounds incredible. Michael McWhertor at Kotaku says it’s “like a threesome for your eyes.”

For the uninitiated, the God of War series follows the adventures of a belligerent Spartan antihero named Kratos as he cleaves his way through ancient Greek mythology. Kratos is one of the best fantasy characters in any medium to appear in many years, the reworking of and visual design for the places and creatures of myth in the games is amazing, and the stories are truly epic both in scope and scale. Though the games are all about savage action, there is even true pathos in Kratos’s tale…particularly when you finally discover what happened to his family, and where his skin attained the ash-white color that led to his being called the “Ghost of Sparta.” Kratos doesn’t have a bad attitude, he is bad attitude incarnate, but he has reason.


I love God of War. The first two games were on the Playstation 2, and they were gorgeous, pushing that console’s tech to its limits. The actual third game, God of War: Chains of Olympus, was made for the PSP handheld, and captured the GOW experience perfectly even on a totable screen. God of War 3, on the Playstation 3, promises to be exponentially more impressive; the character model for Kratos alone this time around (with actual muscle flexing and skin that has pores) takes up four times the amount of memory that the PS2 had in full.  Apparently much of the game actually has Kratos traveling across levels that are literally the bodies of the mythical Titans, moving around while he’s battling on them like animate mountains; Sony says that the Medusa level from GOW 2 (the largest level in the existing games) would fit in the palm of the Titan Gaia’s hand in GOW 3.

I’m really excited about this game, and I’m ready, because we have a PS3. We already had an Xbox 360, but I finally bit the wallet and got the Playstation a few months back, once the Blu-Ray/HD DVD war ended in Blu-Ray’s favor. But I’d decided months prior that I’d be getting a PS3, the day I saw the announcement that God of War 3 was in development.

Here’s the new trailer. Note that it’s not just a CGI cinematic, it’s fully rendered in the game engine, so you’re seeing the game itself (and not even in its final, fully developed form)…

The Google Name Game

Facebook is full of list memes, swarms of friendly spam that ricochet through communities of acquaintance, asking for folks to share their favorite whatevers, tell facts about themselves, or just goof off in some weird or creative way. Earlier, I posted my response to the “25 Random Facts About Me” meme (Two Baker’s Dozens of Things About Me, Minus One), which, once I actually applied myself, I found to be an enjoyable endeavor, and I’ve had nice feedback from my friends.

I also partook of a few others, like the one listing my favorite musical performers and the one listing authors who’ve influenced me. Trivial stuff, maybe…but like status messages and many other minor features of Facebook, it’s a sort of virtual small talk that informs friends about each other’s tastes and notions and general headspace. It encourages dialogue, and that’s not a bad thing.

Most of it’s not really blog-worthy, but I found the 25 Things meme cool enough to share here, and here’s another one that I found really entertaining. It’s one of several called a “Name Game,” but maybe ought to be called “The Google Name Game.” It asks that you insert your first name into various phrases and search for them on Google, then choose the best result off the first page of hits and put that in as your answer. I added comments to each because I’m always looking for new places to be a smartass (and I think doing so personalizes what would otherwise just be a bit of random fun).

Here’s the exercise, with my altered version of the directions. Maybe I’ll see yours on Facebook.

The Google Name Game

Google the following, then select the best result from the first page of hits and add a {personal comment} for each answer.

1: Type in “[your name] needs” in the Google search:

Tim needs haircut.

{which is true}

2: Type in “[your name] looks like” in Google search:

Tim looks like Eminem–Hawt!


3: Type in “[your name] hates” in Google search:

Tim hates sick orphans.

{damn their hides}

4: Type in “[your name] goes” or “..has gone” in Google:

Tim goes nutsball wacko.

{it is the full moon}

5: Type in “[your name] loves” in Google search:

Tim loves dolls.

{please, they’re action figures}

6: Type in “[your name] eats” in Google search:

Tim eats the first electric pickle.

{at least I’m a pioneer}

7: Type in “[your name] has” in Google search:

Tim has the experience and insights to make your home’s electrical installations, maintenance, and repair projects easy, safe, and fun!

{because I ate the electric pickle}

8: Type in “[your name] works” in Google:

Tim works at a bakery and can prepare a birthday cake in 4 hours.

{made from sick orphans}

9: Type in”[your name] lives” in Google search:

Tim lives in F-land.

{or I used to, anyway, before I got married}

10: Type in “[your name] died” in Google search:

Tim died while doing what he enjoyed with the woman he loved.

{if this is an advance peek at my obit, maybe I’m headed back to F-land!}

11: Type in “[your name] will” in Google:

Tim will work with Joss Whedon again, this time on DOLLHOUSE.

{dammit, now the universe is just mocking me}

Wilde Flair for Facebook

flairAll you Flair fanatics on Facebook can now share official Doc Wilde™ Flair with your friends.

The pic above is just one of several available. Just do a search for “Doc Wilde” to find the others.

And don’t forget, you can also find the Wildes adventuring with many other heroes on the “A Pulp Hero to the Rescue” app!

Better Red Dead? Here’s Hopin’.

rdrI’ve seen some reports that Rockstar Games (the maker of the Grand Theft Auto series) is bringing out a sequel to their Western shooter Red Dead Revolver. Unlike the original game, which was very arcadish in structure and limited in the scope of its gamespace, Red Dead Redemption will be an open world sandbox-style game, like Gun (which I loved, and was in most ways far better than RDRevolver), but hopefully with far more to do.

On the off-chance that the developers ever stumble across this entry, I’ll post the Amazon review I wrote of the original game, and maybe it’ll help steer them away from some of its weaknesses in the new game: Continue reading

Two Baker’s Dozens of Things About Me, Minus One

Yes, I’m on Facebook. Yes, I’ve been tagged.

I started one of these “25 Random Things About Me” lists last week and in trying to think of things to share, ran about twenty-five things short.

Then I decided to be a witty prick about it, and make a list of things like this:

1. I am a biped.
2. I can count on my fingers and toes, but only so high.
3. I’m carbon-based, biologically speaking.
4. I absorb sustenance from food I take in at the mouth…

Then, for those who’d suffered through, I’d throw in a zinger:

25. I’m hung like a horse.

But sometimes the effort to be a witty prick is more than it’s worth. And I found myself enjoying some of my friends’ lists, those who made an effort and actually shared some interesting things.

Then, in re-connecting with someone I’d lost long ago, I discovered I remembered far more of what we’d gone through together, and meant to each other, than she did. And she, with the logical precision of one who has spent most of her adult life in the financial sector, actually tallied up the things she “felt she really knew” about me, a list of three things, and decided that we were acquaintances, not friends.

It was all very silly, and I realized immediately I don’t really need friends in my life who track relationships on a spreadsheet. But I did have the witty prick thought that, “Maybe if I’d done one of those lists, and you knew twenty-five things about me, then I could be your friend.”

But sometimes the effort to befriend someone is more than it’s worth. All the same, I decided to make another sincere attempt at my list of 25 things, because I do have friends out there I know will appreciate the effort. So here goes: Continue reading


Tim Byrd

Tim Byrd

There are several ways to get all the Timformation you need. This site, www.tim-byrd.com, home of my blog Under An Outlaw Moon, is of course one of them.

Here are some others, and more will likely follow:

Tim on Facebook

Tim on MySpace

Tim on Twitter

Tim on Goodreads

Tim on Amazon

Feel free to contact me through any of these sites, or through a comment on the blog. I’m friendly and rarely bite, though I am very busy being a dad and a writer and may not always be as prompt in replying as I’d like.

Also, no, I won’t read your story, novel, idea, diary, outline, fortune, pie chart, autobiography, recipe, or the bumps on your head. I’m bogged down in research, way behind on personal reading, generally even more behind in my daily life, and have been strongly advised not to look at other’s unpublished work for several solid legal reasons.

I am going to try to share any and all wisdom I may gain as a professional writer through this site, though that wisdom is rather slim so far. The main advice I can give is this:

“Write it. Then send it out till someone buys it. Till they do, write something else and send it out. Repeat.”

It’s as easy as that. And as difficult.

[NOTE: This info is replicated for permament reference on its own page, accessible through the menu bar down the right side of this page.]

North East West & South 2/5/2009

N.E.W.S. of the day…with smartassery.

Obama Needs To Listen To The GOP’s New Leader

The Republican National Committee has a new dude up top, named Michael Steele. As Sarah Palin was a “get on that bandwagon” choice to show that Republicans can do a Hilary too (which showed, instead, not so much), the choice of Steele (who is one of, what, one black guys in the party?) is their attempt to show they can have black folks too.

But I have to admit, so far he has shown a grasp of certain matters that I think President Obama needs to heed. Steele says that bipartisanship is overrated, and I think he is absolutely correct. Bipartisanship to Democrats is “Let’s give the other side input and try to reason things out.” Bipartisanship to Republicans is “If we’re in power, fuck you guys; if you’re in power, you need to do what we want you to do.” It’s time Democrats learned that expecting any actual attempt at cooperation from the GOP is akin to teaching table manners to a hagfish. It never works.

It’s not like they have anything to bring to the table for reasonable discussion. Look at our country, and our planet, after eight years of their rule. The further we get from letting them have their way, about anything, the better. They do not want bipartisanship, they want to stand in the way till they can claw their way back to power. Obama, so far, is taking the high road too much, and may find it runs off a cliff. He wouldn’t be the first Democrat to find that out.

The stimulus plan passed in the House with how many Republican votes? None. There’s their reply to your attempts at bipartisanship, Barack. There’s their answer to your attempts at including them, honoring them, showing them respect.

Additionally, after Rush Limbaugh made comments about how he’s hoping for Obama to fail (at this time where so much is going wrong, and we’re still at war on two fronts), a large amount of Republicans have re-embraced him as the near-official mouth of their party. Partisanship is the Republican creed, and we need to put patriotism, to our country, our species, and our planet, first.

The GOP, as it stands, is in well-earned decline, and until it is replaced by something that at least makes an attempt at serving our county’s best interests, needs to be ignored as much as possible. It’s a rabid mutt in the yard, and needs to be chased off, not fed with the family dog.

Christian Fucking Bale

I haven’t watched the video of Christian Bale going apeshit on Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut, but references to it are all over the place. It’s painful to see, because I admire Bale a great deal as an actor, and you do want to believe in the folks you admire, but he did lose it in front of a camera, so that’s the chance you take. And while people think they know famous people, they really don’t, and for all I know, Bale is a monster of a man.

Or he may be a saint who was having a rotten day. I don’t know. I don’t actually care, as long as he’s not actually victimizing anyone and is doing a good job in the movies.

I am sympathetic to Bale in this matter, however, based on having read the backstory of the video. Bale is a very intense method actor, who puts himself deeply into character, and Hurlbut apparently kept doing things like tweaking light setups during the actual filming of scenes, which is a no-no. When a scene is being filmed, it’s crucial that no one is moving around in the actors’ sight-lines, much less doing something as distracting as moving the damned lights around. And Bale had politely asked him several times to stop doing this, and it hadn’t worked. Finally, he blew a scene for Bale, who was no doubt worked up within his character, and the actor lost it.

What Bale might have done was just pull rank and have the asshole fired, but he didn’t. He just vented loudly, since simply asking the guy to not do these things hadn’t worked, then let it go and said let’s get back to work, likely hoping the message would stick this time.

The bad guy here is director McG, who should never have let this become an issue on his set. But one gets the impression McG’s not exactly Scorsese anyway.

Another Buggy Release From Bill Gates

As reported on Yahoo:

Microsoft founder turned disease-battling philanthropist Bill Gates loosed mosquitoes at an elite Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria. “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” Gates said while opening a jar onstage at a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars. “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” Gates waited a minute or so before assuring the audience the liberated insects were malaria-free.

Kudos to Bill Gates, who left Microsoft and started a charitable foundation with his wife that has been far more than just a philanthropic mask like those worn by many other wealthy people. Gates is actually trying to do something positive with his money, like helping millions of people worldwide in the fight against malaria.

“There is more money put into baldness drugs than into malaria,” Gates joked. “Now, baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted. That is why that priority has been set.”

Yeah, Gates is also known for many questionable business tactics over the years, but that doesn’t seem to be where his head’s at anymore. At a time we’re seeing the results of our nation’s coddling of greedy people, it’s awesome to see him out there giving back to the world that gave to him.

Trust me, I’m a psychopath!


I’m phasing out Comcast Cable (crappy HD, shitty DVR that’s years behind Tivo in reliability and functionality, and execrable customer service), which is unfortunately the only TV option provided by my apartment management, and one of the services that is replacing it is a renewed subscription to Netflix, because of its new streaming features. For $10 a month I can have one disk out at a time (and that disk will be Blu-Ray if the flick is available in that format) and unlimited real-time streaming of the movies they have available, of which there’s a surprising abundance (I have over three hundred listings in my personal “Watch Instantly” queue).

It’s really great, as I can choose something on the spot to give a try, without worrying about it tying up my physical rental for a few days of mailing back and forth, and if that choice sucks, I just stop watching and move on to something else. It also has allowed me to find some really great stuff I hadn’t been aware of, the latest being the BBC miniseries Jekyll.

Jekyll is FUN. Continue reading

Coyote’s Been Messin’ With My Cookies

The universe is trying to fuck with my head.

About a week and a half ago, my son and I ordered Chinese food from a local establishment and it was divinely tasty (Pyng Ho, for you curious Decaturites). Afterward, we broke out the fortune cookies to see what Destiny had to say. Nathaniel cracked his first, and I don’t remember what his fortune was. Then I cracked mine open, to find…nothing. No fortune at all.

We joked around about my lack of destiny, my looming doom, that sort of thing.

Well, last night was the weekly family night, in which he and I and my soon-to-be-ex get together so Nathaniel can still have some of the family dynamic he craves (a nice side effect is, it also allows me and the soon2bx to be around each other in a friendly way, regularly, which I think helps alleviate a good deal of the acid that can build up between people getting divorced). We alternate hosting, and it was her turn and she’d decided we were going to go to Doc Chey’s for whatever remained of their Chinese New Year festivities. Doc Chey’s however was closed for that sacred of sacreds, the Superbowl. A quick discussion of possible alternates led to an eager vote for Pyng Ho from Nathaniel, who was salivating over the memory of their sesame chicken.

So, to Pyng Ho we go.

A mussels appetizer that was just tasty goodness. Shrimp fried rice, sesame chicken, and teriyaki chicken, all split three ways. Mango lemonade for me, a honey-peach smoothie for Nathaniel, hot green tea (that never actually arrived for some reason, and I have to say our server, who wasn’t busy, was brusque almost to the point of rudeness) for the soon2bx. A wonderful meal.

Then, the fortune cookies. Nathaniel went first, read his. Soon2bx was next, read hers. My turn. We made some cracks about my lingering lack of fortune from the last time, then I broke it open.

Inside, there were two fortunes.