It feels like I’ve been throwing a lot of myself into the last couple of weeks of posts. But today, Monday rolled around, and no dominant theme had risen to the surface for today’s offering. So, what does one do when the creative well dries up, but one still wants to keep people rolling up for more?
Director’s cut? Prequel? … Bonus materials…? Ah-hah!
In light of the recent post regarding Roger Ebert and creativity, what the hell happened to Star Wars? Well, arguably, it was never that great, with the exception of Empire.
Why Don’t You…? posited that getting good at something is all about practice. The original article about Roger Ebert getting the hang of New Yorker cartoon caption contests was itself influenced by Malcolm Gladwell’s theory in Outliers that a person needs to do 10,000 hours of work to be an expert in a field. But, “[t]he problem is, they’re repeating a misquote from someone else who has never read the book.” Well, I read the article at that link instead of reading the book, and I’m going to cite it instead in claiming that, apparently you don’t need 10,000 hours to be an expert. You need 10,000 hours to be a phenom, a world class expert.
Lucas has spent innumerable hours, I’m sure, thinking about the Stars Wars saga, so what happened there? Why was The Phantom Menace so terrible that I didn’t even have the slightest curiosity about the subsequent installments? Well, another theory about creativity is that works of genius tend to emerge in short bursts. Thereafter, recapturing that brilliance is a harder task. Van Gogh produced the works that make us think of him as Van Gogh in a two-year period towards the end of his life, when he was still relatively young. Albert Einstein’s four early papers that laid the foundation for modern physics and changed views on the nature of space, time and matter were published in a single calendar year, when he was 26.
So, what happened to the guy who made THX 1138, American Graffiti, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark? He’s had plenty of practice, out there on Skywalker Ranch.
Maybe there’s a less high concept answer. THX 1138 is the early work with all the pent-up ideas thrown in. American Graffiti is the personally-invested, early period bildungsroman. What the geeks and nerds love about Star Wars is the universe that the viewer can step into. And, arguably, that was built by Alan Dean Foster.
Anyway, the question remains the same. What are you getting up to this week?
Moving on from such nerdy concerns, I watched Neil Gaiman’s Nightmare in Silver this weekend. After thoroughly enjoying The Doctor’s Wife, being a huge fan of the idea of the Cybermen, liking what I’d seen of the redesign, and hearing that Gaiman had a brief to make the Mondasians/Telosians/Earth-2-lings scary again, I was quite… excited. I haven’t had a chance to listen to Will and John’s thoughts yet, which will no doubt be more insightful, but, as with so much of Series 7.2, I had great difficulty finding something to grab onto.
The cybermen originated when Kit Pedler, a medical scientist and scientific adviser to the show in the ‘sixties, and his wife, another medical doctor, were discussing what would happen if a person had so many prostheses that they could no longer distinguish themselves between man and machine. The original Cybermen of The Tenth Planet still have human hands, and their facial structures are visible beneath the masks they wear. And those eerie voices…. I’ve visited before how intriguing this idea is. And, as a quick update to my recent medical issues, I’ve been spending some more time at Methodist. Partly to get my meds adjusted after the recent asthma attacks. And partly to look further into The Clonus Horror. My physiatrist wants to reassure himself that this isn’t some sort of potential seizure issue. So, I’m going into Methodist as an outpatient at the end of the month to get fitted up with a portable EEG, so we get some info as to what’s going on in my head when the shakes hit.
I’m looking forward to telling you all about it. In the meantime, if you fancy being scared by a Cyberman, give the new series take a wide berth, and check out Big Finish’s audio story, Spare Parts. Creepy and surprising.
3. To The End
To The End was meant to be soundtracked by this, of course:
I only mention it so I can encourage the music fans to check out Laetitia Sadier’s own band, Stereolab, and particularly their first album, Peng! John Peel-approved!
Oh, and the single of Blur’s To The End had The Pet Shop Boys’ remixes of Girls and Boys as the B-sides. Not a radical re-imagining, but just as much fun as it sounds. (And that’s a lot.)
4. Punk. Rock. Stroke. Repeat.
I should have included a clip from the documentary that turned me on to punk in the first place. (It’s everywhere now, but lovingly observed. h/t to Paul for the original lead.)
And that’s enough FREE!!! bonus materials for now.