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Saturday, March 24, 2007

If Saturday Were a Sandwich
* Slate profiles the gone-much-too-soon Show (with Ze Frank), with links to some classics. I'm still very sad to see it go; whatever it is, I hope his next project is as visible (and as awesome) as The Show was.

* The Guardian's done a rather poor impersonation of Wired's incredible Hemingway-inspired six-word-story thing. Will Self's did make me laugh: "Pain, unutterable pain, stertorous exhalation. Death."

* America's prisons are broken.

* A brief history of virginity.

* Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella’s parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.

* Via MeFi, pre-suicide video from the Heaven's Gate cultists. Lucky for me these popped up when they did; they've given me a great topic for one of my final papers.

* Salon talks to Ron Moore about the upcoming season finale of Battlestar Galactica.
What's an example where that process really worked well for you?

In this season's finale, I decided on the fly to give Laura her cancer back. It's been bubbling in the back of my mind for a while. When we cured her cancer in the second season, I knew I didn't want that to be a permanent thing. I knew at some point I wanted to bring it back, because we'd changed her character in a way I wasn't happy with. But it wasn't until I was sitting down doing a rewrite of the finale that I decided this is the moment, let's do it. Tigh losing his eye was done in the same way. I was writing the teaser for the season opener and I decided on the fly that Tigh's lost an eye. That became a huge thing for the character and shifted a lot of things in the show. It just worked.

And when did this method not work so well?

We'd developed a whole story line this season about a colony called the Sagitarions, and they were going to be an issue in the trial of [former president] Gaius Baltar. During the missing year on New Caprica, when Baltar was president, a massacre had taken place among the people from this one colony that had isolated themselves from the rest of the people. It was this long intricate back story built into a lot of the previous episodes of the show and it just didn't work. And I basically decided to throw it out while I was writing the finale, on the spur of the moment. We then had to go back into previous episodes and take that out, reshooting and re-editing. Some of those episodes suffered from that decision. It was important because it saved the finale and made it much stronger, but certain episodes in the second half of the third season are weaker as a result of that.
I don't know how much the Sagitarion thing really mattered, but he's right overall: the second half of this season has been quite disappointing. For whatever reason the switch from mini-season to regular-sized season seems not to have agreed with them—and I think not having the whole thing planned out from the beginning is finally starting to catch up with the creators. But I still have some cautious hope for the future; if the spoilers I've seen for tomorrow's episode are true, the creators are still not afraid to completely overturn everything we thought we knew.

* Also in Salon: talkin' copyright with Jonathan Lethem.

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