Vanity Fair recently put out a long form article on True Detective writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto. If you are interested in the show the article deals with his writing process and the background of how the show to be. I found it interesting that unlike a lot of TV series there is no writers room, that he doesn’t seem to like writing by consensus, and that he wrote the entire first season by himself. I was also happy to see that he is influenced by David Milch, whose series Deadwood, in my opinion, is the greatest TV series ever.
I’ve been watching Mad Men again in advance of the final run of episodes. Other than the mighty Deadwood, which I believe is the Shakespeare of our time, I think Mad Men is as good as any TV show ever. I think no show captures the existentialism and anxiety of modern times better. For every scene that seems like a setup to explain what was happening in the 60’s, there are 20 that take us into the inner lives of the characters, that ring true to everyday life. I’ve always found Don Draper to be an incredibly written character. He is a character that sees through the facade of everyday society and tries to operate within it at the same time. Although many of his faults come from his childhood, Matthew Weiner is too smart of a writer to make a character’s emotional life just a matter of cause and effect. Draper sees the world as it really is and as it wants to be, he sees behind the mask, and that unbridgeable gap creates a great deal of the tension on the show.
Interviews with the creator of the show, Matthew Weiner, are always interesting reads. Here is one that I just read today from Time Magazine:
I wanted to remind anyone in the Austin area that I’ll be playing a solo show along side Kacy Crowley at Strange Brew this Wednesday.
Jefferson Brown and Kacy Crowley
Wednesday November 5th at 6pm
More info at:
Strange Brew Website
My partner in crime Alex Moralez will be joining me on percussion. Both of us will also be backing up Kacy. Strange Brew is one of the best sounding rooms in Austin. Tickets are only $6.
The Shinyribs band will also be up in McKinney and Huffman this weekend. You can get more info at:
In the future when all’s well…
They’re lining up in numbers
They’re driving there in droves
Cars veering off the highway
Some take a lethal dose
Me, I’m slowly fading
With every line on my face
I’m slouching towards heaven
At my own pace
Feels like the dream is over
The fall that comes after the pride
No more keeping up with the Joneses
When you are trying just to survive
I’m gonna drink mint juleps
While the empire fades
I’m slouching towards heaven
At my own pace
If the decline comes fast
Then salvation comes slow
Down at the Legion Bar
Will you hold me tight?
As the band plays America the Beautiful
We can pretend everything is all right
The Home of the Bloated
Was once The Home of the Brave
We’re slouching towards heaven
At our own pace
If the decline comes fast
Salvation comes slow
These are the lyrics to a new song No Show Ponies will be playing tonight at Strange Brew in Austin, Texas. Show starts at 10pm. Please come out and join us.
I’ve been watching the excellent Netflix series House of Cards. It’s the bleakest possible portrait of Washington. It’s like watching Roman Polanki’s Macbeth, except that it doesn’t end after two and half hours.
The show is fantastic dramatic entertainment. I think it also provides insight into the way deals are done in Washington. I recently read Tim Weiner’s Enemies: The History of the FBI. While I was reading that book I was struck by how many political decisions were made because of interpersonal relationships. People in power make decisions for the same reason that everyday people do: because of jealousy, fear, envy, out of wanting to be loved, etc. Their decisions just happen to reverberate on a much larger scale.
Most of the characters in House of Cards are driven by their own personal lust for power. Conventional morality rarely plays a hand in the proceedings. It shows how people are corrupted by that power. Someone will vote against their own constituents on one bill, so that they can get something else, possibly another bill that will either help their constituents or their own personal power.
There is no doubt that this show heightens the drama and sets out from the start to create a foreboding mood. One can’t help but feel this show is as informed by the tradition of dramatic tragedy as by the real world. However, the real world is in there and probably isn’t as far away from what goes on in the show as we hope. In the end though, we must hope and believe that there are leaders out there whose intentions line up with our best interests as citizens. We, as citizens, are the watchdogs of democracy, and must make sure that we do our best to elect those leaders that will do the business we sent them there to do once they are elected.
I like the Joss Whedon show Dollhouse. I’ve been watching the first season again and have never seen the second, but I plan on it. It’s a really entertaining show if you can get past the first couple episodes. It’s not until the larger arc of the story is introduced that the show becomes interesting.
I tried to show my brother an episode. My brother, like me, is a big fan of Whedon’s show Firefly. I picked one of the better episodes that I thought would stand alone as I felt the first episode did not do the show justice. He couldn’t get into it. Afterwards I was trying to think why, as it seems like something he would like, given to the fact that he has liked Firefly and other things by Whedon.
I started thinking how important to Whedon’s writing, and really TV in general, is the fact that you need to become invested in the characters to really get enjoyment out of something. In the episode I showed him the characters get high on an experimental drug and starting acting out of character. What is funny if you know the characters probably isn’t if you don’t know them. You don’t have any kind of template to base your reactions to.
I think one of the reasons that TV has been so well done in recent years is that shows have gotten better at creating well rounded characters that have long story arcs. Mad Men, maybe my favorite show that is airing right now, is great at this. By the time you get to later seasons even a glance between two characters can be infused with deep meaning. A show like Mad Men has depth to it that really only great literature can beat.
My favorite show of all time is the show Deadwood. I think it is as close to Shakespeare as we will get in our lifetime, with an amazing amount of swearing thrown in. Aside from being a well written entertaining show it shows how societies organize themselves and also highlights the bloodier aspects of capitalism in our history. However, I know plenty of people that have tuned in somewhere in the middle and had trouble telling what is going on. The language and the politics of the show are too dense. I completely understand this as I think you have to go on a journey with the characters in the show from the beginning. There are lots of subtle things that are being done that make sense if you see it slowly build. If you are thrown in the middle of it is like reading chapters out of order in a book.
I guess if there is a show that your friends like that you want to like, but don’t get, start at the beginning. There is still a chance that you might not like it of course, but it is worth a shot. There is a lot of great writing in TV right now, just try to find a way to watch it without the commercials. Whatever entertainment or ideas you get from a show will be sucked out by those things.
I’ll be in Tomball, Texas tonight at Mainstreet Crossing with Shinyribs. Show begins at 8pm. On Friday we are at Threadgill’s in Austin, Texas at 9pm. This sunday I’ll be playing my first ever Austin City Limits Festival with Shinyribs at 5:30pm on the BMI stage. Next Sunday my band No Show Ponies makes our first ever trip to Dallas, Texas. We are playing at Lee Harvey’s at 9pm. I told you this site would never be about me, unless it was a jumping off point to a larger topic, or just shameless self promotion!