Wednesday Warren – Down in the Mall

You buy everything you want and then you want more

There’s a lot more to “Down in the Mall,” the penultimate track on Warren’s 1989 dystopian opus Transverse City, but that line sort of sums it up nicely, don’t you think?

An enterprising YouTuber did a nice job setting the song to some mall video. Check it out:


The Five Best TV Series Finales

I know that the title of this blog post sounds sort of imposingly authoritative, but really — this is just my opinion. And since God knows I’m not a professional TV-watcher, there’s any number of wonderful TV shows I’ve never seen. But these five series finales are the best. Definitely. In my opinion. 🙂

It seems almost axiomatic that a truly kick-ass series finale caps off a truly kick-ass series. And, yeah, I think you’d have to dig up a lot of old TV graves in order to find a pathetic series that somehow managed to wind up a fastball for its last gasp. The opposite, though, isn’t always true: Sometimes truly awesome series limp to the finish line. So judging a finale is, to me, sort of difficult. On the one hand, a finale ideally sums up and puts a capstone on the entire series, so you would think taking the series itself into consideration makes sense. But does that make it possible for the quality and nostalgia of a great series to elevate an otherwise undeserving finale?

Probably.

So my criterion became quite simple: If a finale totally gobsmacked me, it went on the list.

Be warned — there will most likely be spoilers for the shows discussed. If you see a show you haven’t watched in bold letters…avert your eyes!

Here we go:

Honorable Mention: Lost — Believe me, as a Lost-head since I watched the entire first season over an insane three-day marathon, it pains me to say that Lost is not in the Top Five. But the series finale — while wrenching and satisfying on an emotional level — just didn’t live up to its intellectual promise. Lots of heart and very little brain means no Top Five love for Lost.

#5: Quantum Leap — “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home…” When those words came up on the screen, I was flabbergasted, shocked in the best possible way. The final episode of a series that had listed and careened from powerful drama to hokey comedy and everything in between managed to pull off a finale that it’s safe to say no one saw coming. Wondering who was responsible for Sam bouncing through time? Wondering what his “real” mission was? Wondering how he could get home? All of that was revealed and yet, in the end, none of it mattered, as the show pivoted into a meditation on self-sacrifice and heroism and friendship. Simultaneously dark and uplifting, downbeat and hopeful — damn, it was awesome.

(I almost listed the similar Journeyman instead, which lasted a single uneven season, but managed — in its final episode — to transcend its freshman jitters and land a powerhouse blow in its last moments. But I felt likeQuantum Leap deserved it by dint of its longevity. Consider Journeyman a very close #6.)

#4: Homicide: Life on the Streets — The finale to Homicide was so damn good that when the Homicide TV movie was announced (to “tie up loose ends from the series”), I was livid. “There are no loose ends!” I raged. But you know what? The movie was great, too. Still, I consider that separate from the show. Which means thatHomicide is unique in this list as having two phenomenal “final episodes.” That image of Lewis and Sheppard walking an alleyway, looking for clues, as Lewis repeats the first lines from the first episode — “That’s what’s wrong with this job. Ain’t got nothin’ to do with life.” — sticks with you. It’s a perfect circle to end a perfect show.

#3: The Nine — Odds are most of you have never even heard of this show. It was an ABC drama slated to run in the hour after Lost, but it only lasted 13 episodes. The premise was brief and brilliant: Strangers go to the bank, get taken hostage. Jump forward 52 hours later, and the crisis is over…but the drama is just beginning. The nine survivors of the crisis now have to deal with the repercussions of their time as hostages. Each episode revealed a tiny bit of what happened “in there,” but that wasn’t really the point of the show. It was, instead, a tremendously adult drama about the ramifications of one’s actions and the ways in which life pushes us to change. Brilliantly acted, incredibly well-written, there was no way in hell it could last on network television…and it didn’t. The last few episodes were never even shown on TV — they had to be watched online. However, the creators of the show somehow — somehow — managed to pull off the impossible: With the final episode, they pulled together enough plot and character threads that the show felt complete in just 13 hours, as though they had always intended it to run just that long. The Nine was a great show, but the series finale was a work of magic.

#2: Angel
 — I think what I liked most about this was that in the days before it aired, producer/co-creator/co-writer Joss Whedon gave an interview to debunk Internet rumors that the show would end on a cliffhanger. “Would I do that to you?” he asked. And then, of course, the show ended on a big, brilliant, beautiful cliffhanger, one so huge and audacious that you just had to slow-clap Whedon for giving us not what we wanted, but rather something we would never, ever forget.

#1: Twin Peaks — When I watched the last episode of Angel, I thought that maybe I’d finally found the show that could dethrone Twin Peaks from its top spot on my personal list of best finales ever. But I recently watched both of them in close temporal proximity and the David Lynch/Mark Frost surreality-fest still wins out. I can’t even find the words to describe how it first felt, back in 1990, to witness Coop babbling, “How’s Annie?” as the show closed, leaving me stunned and absolutely sure that I had just seen a most confident –and earned — display of genius. Yes, the show stumbled (badly) after the revelation Laura Palmer’s murderer, but in its last couple of episodes, it showed its original brilliance once more, building to a truly astonishing finale. More than twenty years later, it’s still haunting and mind-blowing, in a way I know the Angel finale — as terrific as it is — won’t be.

So, tell me: What’s your favorite series finale?

(To see the comment thread from the old barrylyga.com, click here. If you want to add to the conversation, use the comment form below.)

Memory Monday – The Sound of the Hammers

I loved this Swamp Thing story for so many reasons. I think it just tickled all of my writerly pleasure zones — the juxtaposition and transposition of hammers and guns, with the resonant “Bang. Bang. Bang.”; the repetition of imagery; the Winchester House itself (which I didn’t know was real when I read the story, but have since visited); the nice moments of unreality strewn throughout; and of the course the very EC Comics horror ending, wrapped up in a poetically just nutshell.

Good stuff, as Swampy drives the ghosts out of the Winchester House…

 

Swamp Thing

 

 

(From Swamp Thing #45, February 1986. Story by Alan Moore. Art by Stan Woch and Alfredo Alcala.)

Time to Preorder Mangaman!

There are still a few months until Mangaman hits store shelves, but you can preorder it now. And if you want to guarantee that you’ll get a copy at your local comic book store, you’ll need to preorder now, as stores will be submitting their orders soon.Mangaman cover

Of course, you can also get Mangaman from all the usual sources — your local independent bookstore, etc. — but if you’re reading this blog and you’re interested in Mangaman, odds are you’re already frequenting a comic book store. So why not put in a preorder and help out the folks behind the counter?

It’s easy: Just tell them you want Previews code JUL111128.

You can check out Mangaman in the July 2011 Previews at the store. And hey, they even did a cool “Indie Edge” feature on yours truly and Colleen!

Not sure where your local comic book store is, but still want to order the book there? Easy! Just visit the Comic Shop Locator Service!

This Week in Rejection!: Playboy

Yeah, I submitted stories to Playboy. I did this mostly in college — Playboy had an annual (I believe) college fiction contest, and somehow I thought that this meant I had a better shot there. Plus, at the time Playboy was one of the biggest and best markets for short fiction in the country. They paid incredibly well, had terrific exposure (no pun intended), and had a certain level of prestige.

(For those of you have never cracked the spine of a copy of Mr. Hefner’s publication: No, the fiction in Playboy is not porn or sexual in nature. Or, rather, it doesn’t have to be.)

Every time I submitted, though, the result was the same:

I think we can all agree that Hustler magazine — while indubitably sleazier — had a much better rejection letter!

(And, yes — this is the second rejection from Playboy I’m showing in “This Week in Rejection!” I compared the notes and they’re the same…except for the address. Playboy had moved on; clearly I had not!)