(mis)Communication

Do everything I tell ya, don't ask stupid questions ... and don't wander off.
"Do everything I tell ya,
don't ask stupid questions ...
and don't wander off."

At a very low price, I got a valuable writer's lesson today. To wit: Think about your potential audience and how they will interpret your words.

You see, I cross-posted my reaction to the latest Doctor Who episode to a Livejournal community, where a goodly-percentage of the folks responding too my opening line, "The girlfriend fell asleep" as all manner of sexist and/or at-least-gender-clueless commentary suggesting that Doctor Who is a boys' thing, as if I didn't know or didn't care, that women like it too.

As a Doctor Who fan community, which had by and large reacted to The Eleventh Hour pretty positively, I had expected people to take issue with my critique of the writing. That I would, instead, have been taken to task for besmirching the geekiness of female fans or worse, of denying their very existence, never once occurred to me.

So far as the writer was concerned, I was talking about my particular girlfriend's individual reaction to a television show about which I am a little abnormally enamoured. That anyone would take what I thought was just a cute hook (though one based in reality — she really did fall asleep) as a general commentary on women and science fiction, or anything remotely like that, never even occurred to me.

But that's mostly what happened.

And I'm reminded of a piece of writerly advice I've come across quite a few times, I think first from Judith Merril: Your favourite line — the one you really love? Take it out! It's almost certainly self-indulgent twaddle!

I don't think I actually apologized to anyone for my words, but I sure as hell spent more time than I wanted to explaining what I meant instead of arguing about what I thought of the episode.

Obviously, only the blandest and most pedestrian of writers will never be misinterpreted, but when a whole raft of people miss your point, you're probably doing something wrong.

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Doctor Who: Moffat's inaugural outing fails the girlfriend test

Considering Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour

Steven Moffat's debut shows promise
but fails the girlfriend test

The girlfriend fell asleep.

Steven Moffat's maiden voyage as the 'show-runner' behind the venerable franchise was a long way from a disaster, but by no means was it a triumphant success, either.

Amy Pond (Karen Gillian) and the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), exploring the new, steam-punkish TARDIS.
Amy Pond (Karen Gillian) and the eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), exploring the new, steam-punkish TARDIS.

Granted that, following on the heels of Russell T Davies', bloated and self-indulgent finale, my expectations were running pretty high. After all, Moffat was responsible for both "The Doctor Dances" and "Blink" (the latter of which even the girlfriend enjoyed; and she is not much interested in SF or even science fantasy when you get right down to it) and so it was that I'd more and more often taken to shouting "Doctor Who!" or mumbling bars of the theme song at random moments with an ever increasing frequency as "Easter Saturday" approached.

Now, with Easter past, the Moffat era is officially upon us.

And the girlfriend fell asleep. In that unintended critique lies a most accurate appraisal of Moffat's opening salvo.

At nearly 70 minutes long, "The Eleventh Hour" was either 20 minutes too long or 30 minutes too short.

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Editor's Notes, 26 March 2010 (from True North Perspective)

Journalism is a tricky business. For every private citizen suddenly thrust, unwilling, into the media spotlight, there are an easy dozen promoters of one cause or another forever working to get their names, their faces and (sometimes) even their ideas a few moments in the sun. And there are some whose cause is, quite simply, to sow hatred and fear, to gnaw away at the shredding pillars of democracy and compromise — all those small — and not so small — steps which have weakened the power of money in favour of the power of ideas and votes.

This past week, the notorious liar and so-called political pundit Ann Coulter cancelled an appearance at the University of Ottawa, scheduled for this past Tuesday night. A spokesman for the group which had invited Coulter to speak said "there were fears for Coulter's well-being" because 2,000 people had gathered outside to protest her appearance.

Typically, those "fears" were almost certainly lies. The following first appeared as the editorial in last week's edition of True North Perspective. Click below for more.

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Wonder where the women are?

Katherine Bigelow's The Hurt Locker made Oscar history,
but real women's film and television still struggles to find an audience

Now that Katherine Bigelow has made history as the first woman to an Oscar for best picture, you might conclude that women have finally taken their rightful place at Hollywood's creative centre stage.

Or maybe not. Bigelow is, apparently (full-disclosure: I've seen only one of her films — the execrable Blue Steel, a distaff action-movie with less to say about women or feminism than her ex-husband's Aliens), a director known for action and horror and war movies, not romances or romantic comedies, and certainly not for pointed examination of the state of women in American society. Nevertheless, it is of some import that she has broken that glass ceiling, even if she has done so by "making movies like a man".

Pragmatically, she is probably on the right track, even if The Hurt Locker was lowest-grossing best-picture winner of all time, taking in only $16 million dollars worldwide on initial release, a number that has already changed significantly I typed the first draft of this article. A best-picture Oscar never hurt anybody's bottom-line.

Meanwhile, I'd like to talk about a couple of productions that haven't won any Oscars, one a recent Hollywood movie that did even worse box-office than did The Hurt Locker despite being released with a major publicity campaign, the other a mini-series released in Britain a few years ago which dropped a million fewers over the course of its six-episode run.

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Some late-night thoughts on the fine art of auto-didactism or,

Young Geoffrey's lament

Young Geoffrey's Breakfast

By Geoffrey (A.A. Milne) Dow

Young Geoffrey asked
Da Google
And Da Google
Asked the Coder:
"Could we have some documen(tation)
For Young Geoffrey new website?"

Da Google asked the Coder,
The Coder

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