Four TV Shows That Are Better Than Doctor Who

A few months back, Eric wrote a lengthy piece about why Doctor Who is the best television show ever. I think he's terribly wrong in that Doctor Who more or less encompasses everything I hate about TV.

Don't get me wrong, now, I like Doctor Who. There's a fair amount of it that I find to be hugely enjoyable. And there are certainly much worse shows than Doctor Who. There's a reason that the character has had the staying power he has, and not the least of it is because of exactly what Eric talked about in it being able to be anything it wants to be. There's something to be said for a show that can be a historical melodrama one week and a space opera odyssey the next. But I think one can get too wrapped up in that sort of thinking as well. After all, after 50 years and a limitless expanse of space-time to explore, one would hope for a few more recurring villains than just The Master, The Daleks, and the Cybermen, which the rebooted series keeps going back to the well for rather than trying to ever break new ground. And the few times they have strayed from that formula, such as with the Weeping Angels, they've never really been able to sustain them as anything more than a creepified CGI version of the monster under the bed.

So, no, as charming and fun as it often is, there is much better television to be had than Doctor Who. Here are four examples:

Judges' Cave is here!


My story Judges' Cave is now available at Lakeside Circus!

A little taste:

After the world ended, five people holed up in Judges’ Cave and started a band. Like the punkers of old they rechristened themselves as a new people for a new, post-civilized, age. The Judges played outlandish music, all jangly majors and insistent, thumping rhythms that got under your nails and down your throat until you had to dance and stomp and rave to get it out or risk bursting. People came from miles around, canoeing through the bay that was once downtown New Haven to where the raw cliff face of West Rock jutted out over the water like the ragged brow of some angry sea god, just to watch Vinson, Warren, Burger, Rehnquist and Roberts play.

Go read the rest now!

Links on my Tumblr


Over on my Tumblr I've linked to some interesting articles about why you should never hate a movie (or a book), literary insecurity and the cold war origins of the writer's workshop culture. Enjoy.

You can't download your .mobi files from Amazon anymore, even if they're DRM free

I provide you the following chat conversation I had with an Amazon representative:

You are now connected to Katherine from

Me:I bought a DRM-free Kindle book and I'd like to download it and put it on my Nook. However, the "Actions" button doesn't seem to have a "download" option any longer.

Katherine:Hello, thank you for contacting Kindle Technical Support. My name is Katherine. I understand you would like to download a book to your Nook device.

Well, download to my computer and transfer to my Nook

Katherine:I understand Eric, however you are contacting the Kindle support department, in this case, if you have issues or need to download the book, first you need to contact them for further assistance. First you need to know if the book you have is support it on the Nook and then they can definitely help you to download the book

Me:I'm not sure I understand.
It's a DRM-free Kindle book
I want to download it, change it into an ePub using Calibre and load it onto my Nook
But I can't find a way to get the source .Mobi file
I used to go to "Manage My Kindle" click "Actions..." and click "Download"
But that option no longer seems to exist

Katherine: I am very sorry Eric, once again I can help you downloading books to Kindles, not Nook. If you are having issues now with it, it will be better if you can contact them. You can read content you buy from the Kindle Store (such as books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs) on most Kindle devices or Kindle reading apps registered to your account.

Me:This has nothing to do with Nook. The problem would be the same if I wanted to download all my .mobi files to put on a personal hard drive for back-up.

Katherine:You might find more information in this link full link)
I understand is not related with Nook, I can't just tell you that our books are supported for Kindle. If you were able to download to the Nook in the past, and this time is not working, could be that specific file is not supported, is better for you to ask them if in this case you can convert it or change the file to download it

Fucking Amazon.

Why Doctor Who is Better Than the Wire or Why Doctor Who is the Best Television Show of All Time

In honor of the just past 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and the final episode of 11th Doctor Matt Smith, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about why it's my favorite-ever television show, and specifically why I prefer to watch it than a more serious, feted drama like The Wire. (Though fundamentally, this essay could just as easily be called "Why I Like Doctor Who Better Than Breaking Bad", "Why I Like Doctor Who Better Than The West Wing", "Why I Like Doctor Who Better Than Game of Thrones" or pick your highly regarded dramatic television show.) In fact, I'm going to make an argument that Doctor Who is the best television show that has ever been made.

Henry Fool, Fay Grim and Why You Should Give Money to Ned Rifle


Director Hal Hartley is Kickstarting his new movie, Ned Rifle, which is the third movie in a series that started with 1997's Henry Fool and continued in 2006 with Fay Grim.

Henry Fool is my favorite film of all time. If you want to understand why, you can start by watching this:

In 1997, the foul-mouthed, egomaniacal, ex-con, self-described genius writer Henry Fool was everything I wanted in a literary mentor, and I very much identified with Simon Grim, the quiet garbage man turned poet whom he takes under his wing. The film is archly written, as with everything Hartley does, and characters speak in brilliant monologues and rapid-fire back-and-forth that descends up and down registers from literary erudition to vernacular sexuality in the space of a sentence. As Henry himself puts it, leafing through a pornographic magazine, "I refuse to discriminate between modes of knowing".

It's a movie I come back to once every few years and watch again, and even though I've almost memorized every line at this point, I still see new things of it, new angles on the characters, new layers of meaning in their dialog. There's a scene where Simon is sitting with a pile of rejection letters on his lap, and reads one off where the editor of a magazine says "This tract you've sent us demands a response as violent as the effect your words have had upon us. Drop dead. Keep your day job." To which Henry blithely responds "De gustibus non disputandum est."

Simon: "You can't argue with taste?"

Henry: "About taste. You can't argue about taste. God, Simon."

Henry, condescending to Simon even as he wants to build him up and talk him out of the funk of extreme rejection. And is he right to do that? To tell him that he's written "a work of great lyrical beauty and ethical depth"? Is it true and is there such a thing as truth in art? Is he setting him up for disaster? Is he just a fool? Is he using Simon for his own egotistical ends? You're never quite sure.

For me, this is just about a perfect film about art, ambition and its relationship to our everyday lives.

The sequel, Fay Grim, is a radically different movie, taking the same characters and actors and throwing them into a spy thriller (with special guests Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows). I'll only say that Henry here is a different man, and was a different man all along, and the first movie becomes a different film because of it.

I admit I'm less enamored of the second film because it strips out the meditations on art, though the Harem Fool sequence is as good as anything Hartley has ever written. But it's fascinating in how it plays with our preconceptions of genre, in what a sequel is supposed to be, and how our presumptions about character can be pulled under the rug at any moment by some new stray bit of information.

Which is all why you must give money to the Ned Rifle project. Because if it's anything like the first two movies, it will have the power to change everything we think we know. Which is, I think, what the best art does.

Also, if you've never seen Henry Fool and Fay Grim, find and watch them immediately.

Go now. Give.

Open Letter to Sufjan Stevens About His Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

Dear Sufjan,
People been passing around that letter your wrote to Miley Cyrus in an attempt to insert yourself into a conversation that dosen't involve you between a bunch of people who don't care what you think. I imagine you're pretty proud of yourself. After all, it got you a mention in USA today. So I'm sorry to break it to you, then, but actually the whole thing makes you look like a total douchebag. And not for the reasons VICE magazine says you're a douchebag. As if VICE magazine had any room to talk. No, the problem isn't that you got shit wrong and made typos. Everybody gets shit wrong and makes typos. The problem is more esoteric than that.

First, it's kinda weirdly racist. As you know, the whole kerfuffle surrounding Ms. Cyrus lately got started by criticisms that she went on MTV and somehow appropriated black culture in a way that is illegitimate and racist. On MTV. Now, I don't want to delve into the ins and outs of all that here, because frankly I think there's very little in pop culture that doesn't hark back to minstrelsy and mass culture was born from assholes ripping off black artists. At the same time, I think it's pretty dubious to say that anything anybody does on MTV can ever be truly authentic since the first time it played The Replacements "Bastards of Young" video in 1985. So the shock and outrage seems a bit overplayed to me.

Please tell me what I'm missing about Midnight's Children

So, I tried reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, and I have to say I think it's quite badly written. I feel a little self-conscious saying that because it's such a highly lauded book, I worry I'm making myself look like an idiot. This is, after all, the book that won the "Booker of Bookers".

But here's an example sentence: "A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country."

I think Bulwer-Lytton or any number of purple pulp writers would be right at home in that nest of adjectives and adverbs. I mean, I get that it's a magical realist book about India in the 20th century and that's interesting and not something we've seen a lot of (especially when this book was written), but the Booker? And then the Booker of Bookers? Somebody please tell me what am I missing.

Miami's Homegrown Mythology

The Miami NewTimes published a fascinating article about a mythology that has sprung up among homeless children in Miami, in which the problems of the malnourished and often abused children has been transformed into a cosmic battle between good and evil. The children describe "Bloody Mary", a demonic woman who cries blood; if you see her, you are sure to die soon. She is fought by an angelic woman called the Blue Lady, who watches out for children and tries to protect them.

The article was published 16 years ago, and a follow up on the NewTimes explores how a link on Reddit turned the article into a phenomenon long after its publish date. Before the Internet, interesting articles came and went all the time, disappearing into landfills to be forgotten. The Internet, however, shows that any bit of text can live forever.

Even when the SF Ghetto tries to get it right, it totally gets it wrong

So there's a new old thing going on in the SF Ghetto now. And this time it's stumbled into mainstream public discourse via the usual organs of the incoherent left, primarily the previously linked Guardian, and then this story from the equally histrionic Nation.

For those of you unfamiliar with the trope, every time this particular conversation comes up it goes something like this:

1. Some Idiot who cares about the SF Ghetto notices that a subculture largely created by and maintained by socially inept straight white men seems to overly cater to the fantasies and wishes of socially inept straight white men.

2. Said Idiot sets out to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and stages some sort of event or crisis or program designed to probe the question of why an insular group of people with low levels of empathy and a general lack of ability to self reflect seem to primarily create and read stories about characters that look and act a lot like they do.

3. Other Idiots, looking at what said Idiot is doing, and being members of an insular group that's generally pretty poor at self-reflection, rush to jump on board with said Idiot's program because hey, this is NEW, nobody has EVER pointed this out before.

4. Genre critics who are invested in the academic language of identity politics then flock to the program and there is a great deal of sturm und drang, inevitably Tor gets involved and the whole thing is a huge deal.

5. Everybody forgets about it and goes back to talking about how the Lord of the Rings was the "BEST THING EVAR! w000t!" because they don't really give a shit about any of this stuff, they just go through the motions because they know they're supposed to.

6. Wash, rinse, repeat.