Thursday, April 20, 2006


In other news, I just finished watching the last episode of Season Five of "The Shield", and all I have to say is "oh my" (apologies to Joe and Lt. Sulu).

OK, that is not all I have to say, but you probably knew that, since you know me and my propensity to ramble.

"The Shield" is a cop drama, kinda. What it is really about is people, and how they usually get what's coming to them. If ever there was a cautionary tale against corruption, this is it.

I have compared "The Shield" to "The Wire" before, and my final analysis bears repeating: "The Wire" offers a way forward against corruption and evil and misery, while the "The Shield" just shows the consequences. That makes "The Wire" the more worthwhile show in my opinion.

Which is not to say that you should not also watch "The Shield". If you like good acting and good storytelling, and you can handle an explicit look at the damage that dirty cops do to everyone around them, "The Shield" is for you.

I think it is great television, and I hope that rumours that the next season will be the last are correct. "What!?" you may be asking, "You want a show that you have enjoyed to end?"

(Aside: yet another tiny earthquake is currently happening. And don't worry, I am not sitting under anything heavy that can fall on me.)

Indeed. Fictional television shows exist for the same reason as other sorts of fiction: to tell a story. Or tell stories, whatever.

One of the reviews of "The Wire" on IMDb calls it the closest thing to a novel one will find on the silver screen (that is television, right? not the movies?), and I think that is a wonderful bit of insight. "The Wire", in all three seasons thus far, has told a single story. So has "The Shield", with a few more twists and turns. Both shows are successful for their dedication to the story, and they both succeed in holding onto that in the face of the pressure of delivering it in episodic chunks.

The thing is, "The Shield" can only have a sad ending, and the action is certainly coming to a close. The story has almost been told, and I am looking forward to the end. I wish shows would be pitched as a three-season story, or a five-season one, whatever. Without knowing the end of your story, you end up writing yourself into a corner, based on the actions of your characters. This is actually one sign of good writing, since the characters are natural and fleshed out enough to act on their own. The problem occurs when a convenient "happy ending" is forced on the story, leaving the viewer shaking her head in disbelief. Many shows have gone this route.

The trick is to get out before you jump the shark. And the way to do that, in my humble, not-writing-for-television opinion opinion, is to write the story completely before you pitch the show. That does not prevent you from making changes as you go, if those changes improve the story. But you have to know where it is going.

Buffer Underrun

After promising to slice up my backlog into bite-sized bits so as to avoid the oh-so-Josh-Glover long run-on entry, I have delivered. Absolutely nothing, that is, which is another Josh Glover classic.

I guess one of the joys of the blog is that you get to write on your clock; no pressure, no deadlines. And in the beginning, that is liberating and fun. You just slap down some narration about whatever is going on in your life and the world around you. But after awhile, maybe you start to feel like you have gotten your point of view out there, told your stories, and now it is hard to find things to write about. So it starts becoming more like work; you have to write about this, that, and the other, and it has to be up by tomorrow. After all, you have a responsibility to the people that read your blog, right?

Oops, now you are back to deadlines and responsibility.

I am a creative person, and have been able to write some pretty good stuff from time to time. But I'll be the first to tell you, writing is hard work. It is worth it when the muse hits, when your pen or keyboard can barely keep up with the fountain of prose rising from your mind, each drop sparkling majestically in the sunlight before falling perfectly on the page. It is worth it when you have written and re-written, and finally have a piece you are proud of.

But that is by and large not what blogging is about. Blogging is about sharing your work in a rawer state. And it is less rewarding to the reader, since sentences are not polished, the train of thought is not necessarily advanced.

But what blogging lets you do, in theory, is experience most of the joy of writing without the hard work. Professional writers will be the first to tell you that waiting for the muse to strike is not a way forward. You have heard the saying that everyone has one novel in them? Well, in less that one novel is "The Da Vince Code", which has sold just under a bajillion copies, one novel does not a living make. Just ask Stephen King, one of the most commercially successful writers out there. Writing is hard work, and the way to attract the muse to to keep at it. I will be the first to admit that the muse is more likely to strike in the midst of composition than out there in the wide world. It is also said that writers are always writing, and there is some truth in that as well. If you are a creative person and a storyteller, ideas for stories can explode into your brain suddenly, with just a glimpse of something or someone. But that is just the beginning, and it is not writing. Inspiration happens more often than the muse comes to call.

I think that is not just true of writing, but of most things in life. The lucky, the successful, are quite often the ones who are just willing to work harder than the rest of us. Sure, Einstein and Newton and Edison were all geniuses. But they were also men on a mission. Edison famously said that "genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration", and it is widely known that it took Edison many failed tries before achieving a success. But that should be inspiring to all of us! The message is that perserverance, mated with an inquisitive and agile mind, yeilds results.

And I have seen that in my life. I have been able to accomplish some pretty worthwhile things when I kept at it, and did not settle for sloppy solutions that just worked.

Same deal with writing. I can occasionally turn out a first draft that works with minimal effort, just riding some inspiration. But to turn that into something that I can be proud of, that requires some real dedication, and the willingness to fail 99 times before I get it right.

Unfortunately for my love of writing, I love programming even more, and that is where any creative talent that I have must be spent. So my blog is a way of getting what I like out of writing without having to put in the effort required to get what I love out of writing. And it can be fun to read, both for my family and friends, and for myself. And maybe sometimes for Netizens that don't know me at all, when I have a wacky Japan story to tell.

I guess the point of this entry is to admit that I don't have the motivation it takes to deliver stellar writing. And I do not enjoy blogging when I place pressure on myself to do it. So I have to accept that I will write when I have something to say, and I won't worry about it when I don't. Sounds fair to me.

So no more promises of entries to come that I cannot keep without sacrificing quality or my free time. Blogging is supposed to be a release, not just another way to make yourself feel guilty about your laziness.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Backlog Begins

I have not written much as of late, and what I have written felt a bit forced to me. The downside of this is that my darling readers (may I call you darling?) have not had much to read. The upside is that my mind has not been entirely idle during the period that my blog has been, and I have somewhat of a backlog.

Rather than spew forth all of my thoughts, in true Josh Glover style, in one massive blentry, I have decided to split them up for easier digestion. So read on, if you dare.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

War, What is it Good For?

Absolutely nothing! (Good God, y'all.)

Thanks to Ryan for sending me a link to Seymour M. Hersh's excellent piece on the current situation with Iran vis-a-vis enrichment of uranium.

I really think it is vital that the US gives the diplomats time, and is willing to sit down with Iran and discuss this issue. We certainly don't need another war in the Middle East.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Name for a Girl

Lyani and I went out to supper with some friends last Friday night, to Denny's, of all places (no, Denny's in Japan has nothing in common with the US Denny's other than the name and the fact that it is open 24 hours a day). The reason that we chose Denny's is because they have parking, and our friends have a car. Which is pretty amazing to me, since most people who live in the Tokyo area do not have a car, and me being one of the car-less, I never consider things like parking anymore. Which is a good thing, since I remember how much finding parking in a city sucks.

But anyway.

These friends are a co-worker of mine and his wife (I have decided that I am not going to use the names of my friends in the blog unless they specifically say it is OK, just to protect everyone's privacy and so on). Which is important to the story for two reasons, the first of which I shall now reveal: since Lyani and I live in Yokohama, and these friends live out in Chiba, close to work, we decided to eat in Shinbashi, which is roughly halfway between our respective abodes. So my co-worker and I drove (and by this I mean, he drove his car and I sat in the passenger seat, admiring the scenery) from work to Shinbashi Station, where we met our wives.

So we found a Denny's, using my co-worker's fancy GPS navigation system (I want one so badly! And yes, I know that they have GPS software on mobile phones these days, but that would require me to purchase a new phone, and I cannot bring myself to do that), ordered some tasty food, and started chatting.

So the second reason that it is important to know that these friends are married to each other is that she is pregnant with their first child. So they have been thinking of baby names--both girl and boy names, since they do not know which it will be yet. So, as it turns out, have Lyani and I. Not because she is pregnant or planning to be anytime soon, but because that is the sort of thing that married people who do want to have children some day tend to discuss occasionally.

So Lyani and I mentioned that we have a good name for a girl, but have not decided on one for a boy yet. And our friends were in the same boat; they had a name they really liked for a girl, but had not hit on a great boy's name yet.

So the four of us are all excited (because having kids is a pretty exciting thing for young couples), and Lyani shares our name with them. At which point jaws drop and incredulous expressions are assumed on the other side of the table.

"No way!" exclaims my co-worker, "I must have told you that, right? And you are just joking?"

"No, why?" I reply.

And of course they had picked the same girl's name. Which is pretty incredible, since the four of us are all from completely different cultural backgrounds and native languages (America, Bulgaria, Japan, Argentina; English, Bulgarian, Japanese, Spanish). And this name is not wildly popular, either. It is not like we all settled on Maria, or something.

"So what is the name?" you might ask. To which I might reply, "Fat chance! You will not steal our perfect name for yourself!"

So now we have a dilemna. Luckily, our friends favour a slightly different spelling of the name, so it might be OK for both of us to use it. Or they might have a boy, in which case my co-worker and I will not have to resolve this dispute by fighting to the death, which is quite fortunate for me, since I would not be winning that fight, and then Lyani would have to mourn me for an acceptable period before finding someone else to father her children, which I would not like at all, no sir, even though I would be dead. I would have to re-enact the movie "Ghost", which might prove difficult, since I have never seen it. But I am pretty sure it involves a scenario not unlike the one which I have gone to great lengths to describe. Namely me being killed but still not liking the idea of my wife moving on.

Can you keep a secret?