Saturday, February 22, 2014

Wherein I admit procrastination and rant about figure skating

How did I lose a whole week?

Oh, right. Winter Olympics. The only nod towards productivity was my tight-fisted refusal to fork over the extra cash for NBC Sports channel. I always lose more time to the snow games than the summer ones. Figure skating and speed skating, biathalon, skicross, snowcross, half-pipes and giant slaloms--I would watch them every winter, but they aren't on television regularly enough to follow.

I did do some work. I now have a whole glossary of terminology for "super powers," an alternate world history going back as far as WWII, and titles for the bureacracy and military hierarchy that support US citizens afflicted with the fictional Ackermann-Chung Syndrome. I even know how my main characters meet and why.

Now I need an ending. Once I have a start and an end, the rest falls together pretty easily. I am determined to hash out a full plot including an ending before I indulge in scenes and dialogue for once. It isn't fun, it isn't fun at all. I loathe and despise outlining, but it will help me keep the writing tight. It won't prevent the appearance of ideas that demand to be included, it won't prevent the story from careening onto interesting byways of character development...but it will give me a weapon to wave at those temptations. Get thee behind me, subplots!

Too bad I can't wave a plot outline at the bad sports commentary on my TV. I talk at it instead. Figure skating coverage earns my greatest ire. There are 24 competitors. In three hours of TV we might see 5. When the events are live, the tight focus understandable. Skating programs take a long time, compared to say, downhill skiing,  and there are unavoidable delays with judged sports. (I would still argue that commercial breaks and elimination of fluff filler pieces would provide plenty of cushion for showing a few more skaters, but that's another topic.) My point here is that there was no excuse for the obscenity that was NBC's primetime Olympic skating coverage this year.

The production teams for very other judged sport took advantage of this lag to by cutting and intercutting footage to minimize the delays that plague live coverage. Downhill didn't waste the viewers' time with long shots of each skiier loading into the gate or waiting for their scores to post. Half-pipe didn't. Ski jump didn't. Biathalon coverage was brilliant.

 The veteran NBC commentator team of Sandra Bezic and Scott Hamilton got the big bucks and the prime-time exposure. What did they do with it? Bubkes. Their production crew pretended that the event was being shown live and wasted time on kiss & cry "tension"and warmups. B&H gushed breathlessly over artistry and repeated specific remarks so many times that they should be used as a drinking game. Worst of all, they gasped, cooed, and talked over the performances without offering the least amount of useful information about judging or program content.

Give me talented, observant, intelligent Tara Lipinski and fabulous Johnny Weir, please. They explained all the technical aspects of scoring that B&H didn't bother reviewing -- which were critically important to understanding the final results -- and they did it with flair, consideration for each other and insight into the decisions made by skaters, coaches and judges.

Okay, end rant.  Back to writing. Plotting. Researching jargon of the 1940s & 50s. Whatever. The closing ceremonies air tomorrow. Then I will have only House of Cards season 2 and the last 8 episodes of Breaking Bad to distract me from meaningful work.

Writing is meaningful, right? Even when it's only dull stories that don't catch readers fast or hold their interest well enough to keep them reading? (I've heard that critique from three pro's now re: Controlled Descent. Can't argue the point, "slow," and "boring," being in the eye of the beholder, but...*sigh.*) I'm not revising CD or FP again. They're done.  I'll have to hope for the existence of a small readership that appreciates the long-form, immersion approach enough to enjoy sprawling, long-winded tales.

Onward, not backwards.

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