Sunday, August 28, 2011


Last night I had to decide whether to send back the first disk of "Breaking Bad" Season One or finish watching it, so I went back to Episode 3 and finished it. I had quit in disgust after about six minutes.

Guess what? It was wonderful again. This is the episode in which Walt has a nice little chat with Domingo in the basement and gets to know him. The guy who plays Domingo (a.k.a. Crazy Eight) is a really good actor.

The characters I don't like are Skyler and her sister. They are pains in the butt. I guess they are supposed to be. Of course, so is Hank, but it is more obvious that he is supposed to be.

Some of my friends think I am too quick to get annoyed and give up on movies, books, music and TV shows.

Maybe. Maybe I am too sensitive.

But it seems to me that the job of the writer or filmmaker or musician is to grab your attention and hold it, by hook or by crook.

OK, so I'm hypersensitive. Entertain me, damn it.

Anyway, now I look forward to seeing more of "Breaking Bad." It isn't as good as "The Wire," which was the best drama I've ever seen on any screen, big or small; or as good as "Deadwood," but when it's good, it's great.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle


I was watching Jake Tapper on ABC-TV this morning and I believe he said something about an "angry storm," referring to Hurricane Irene.

What outrageous bullsh*t. And a headline in The Daily Beast said "Hurricane Fury Hits New York."

How ridiculous. Storms are not angry or furious.They have no human feelings. This is the old pathetic fallacy, that you may have heard about in English class, attributing human emotions to nature.

Nature doesn't care abut you or me. Babbling brooks are not kind hearted. The sun doesn't come up in the morning because it loves you. You might love it, because you are in fact capable of love, and anger, and other human emotions.

"Angry" storm? "Furious" hurricane? How stupid. And how inaccurate. I suppose a storm could be violent in its effect, but not in its motive.

You wonder how much you can trust these news organizations when they are so full of bull. They seem to have flunked English 101.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2011, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, August 27, 2011



The opening is disgusting, all that blood and gore. Yuck. And Walt treating it like a science experiment. Then we have his bitchy wife and her annoying sister. Who can stand them? Not me. As Walt said in Ep 2, I want them to climb down out of my ass. So far, I only lasted about six minutes. Maybe I will try again later. Maybe not. My friend John S says I should watch the whole series in order. I can’t promise anything.

I can't watch anything that disgusts or annoys me. I think it's a matter of aesthetic distance. I could not watch "Winter's Bone," although my buddy K loves it, for example. But he liked "Stranger Than Paradise," which I found a form of torture.

-- Roger
Copyright 2011 Roger R. Angle

Friday, August 26, 2011


Do you have a favorite movie that you watch again and again? I do. Do you want to rewrite parts of it? I sure as hell do.

My current fave is "No Country For Old Men," a potboiler set in Texas about drugs, money, and an amazing killer named Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem.

For some reason, I can't seem to get enough of this flick. I watch it once a month or every two months.

Certain scenes make no sense, and I skip over them. The stuff about Carson Wells, for instance. And what the hell happens to the McGuffin (the money)?

But the most frustrating thing, to me, is the ending. Chigurh waits for Carla Jean at her mother's house. She knows he is there. She opens the bedroom door, and there he sits, in a chair in the corner.

Every time I see it, I want her to grab a 12-gauge shotgun from behind the door and say, "Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye."

BOOM! That would be so satisfying. 

Instead, the filmmakers have her sit down and talk to him. Drives me crazy.

Then, after he kills her (we don't see it), he gets into a car wreck that is a total deus ex machina, i.e., a huge dramatic failure. Then he wanders off, apparently without the money.

The ending is crazy making. I can see why they didn't want to give us a big fat Hollywood cliche at the end, but this is totally unsatisfying.

I think they should hire me to rewrite it and then remake it. Don't you agree? Let's all hold our breath.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle


This is amazing. I watched another episode of "Breaking Bad" last night. Here are my notes:

EPISODE 2 (2008)

From one extreme to the other. The first episode was terrible, and the second episode is wonderful. If number one was a minus 10, #2 is a plus 10. It is hilarious. I laughed my butt off. One rule of writing is to make the worst possible thing happen. Boy, does that happen here. 

Too bad the pilot wasn’t this good. I wonder how they got past such a loser. But this is fun. I wonder what their viewer drop-off was after the pilot. It’s hard to imagine anyone sticking around.

My favorite scene is when Walt creeps down the stairs, hoping to find the dangerous drug dealer dead. Instead, the guy is wide awake and alert.

That is brilliant. Hilarious. Because it puts Walt in deeper hot water.

I was thinking that the worst thing would be for the drug dealer to get loose. But that is not the worst thing. They did the worst thing, because now Walt feels responsible for him. He starts feeding him!

Oh, God, I laughed till I thought I'd bust a gut.

So now I love the show that I hated before.

So far.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I read 'ON A DAY LIKE THIS,' by Peter Stamm, because a long article in The New York Review of Books made his writing sound good. He is a good writer, line by line, and I enjoyed most of the book, until the end, when it becomes less satisfying.

Andreas, the main character, is too passive for the story to work. My old writing teacher, Oakley Hall, used to say that you have to make the hero (or heroine) active. He or she has to want something badly enough to risk something important. Andreas doesn't want anything, and that is what the book is about, his passivity and his lack of connection to other people. (SPOILER ALERT)

When you get to the end, it all doesn't amount to much. Andreas resolves his longing for his adolescent crush, Fabienne, and he once again finds his new girlfriend, Delphine, but who cares? I don't know why he bothers to drive clear across France to find Delphine. He has dumped her twice. I don't know why she is glad to see him. She must have very low self-esteem.

Andreas may or may not be dying of lung cancer, but we don't find out. Neither does he. He keeps saying it doesn't matter, but of course it does matter.

I don't have any desire to read another Peter Stamm book. It's ultimately disappointing to read about a person who doesn't care about anything or anyone. Caring is what makes us human, I think.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle


I don't know if anyone will find these interesting, but here are some mini-reviews of a novel and two TV shows:

8/25/2011 -- Baker, Nicholson -- VOX

I only got 23 pages in, and found it too boring to read. Snore. It’s not about anything, just this aimless and apparently meaningless conversation on the phone. It’s supposed to be about phone sex, but no relationship is developing, and no theme, so who cares?

I got it because it was supposed to be Monica Lewinsky’s favorite novel. And I have liked some of Baker’s non-fiction pieces in The New Yorker, especially on video games and on libraries. But this one is a big fat snore.

8/24/2011 -- FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, TV series, SEASON 1, DISK 1

PILOT -- Didn't work for me. I read a long article in the New York Review of Books that made it sound good, and a friend of mine likes it, and I saw the end of one recent episode on TV that was very powerful, so I thought I'd go back and watch the whole series.

But I couldn't get through the pilot. Something is wrong with the sensibility, at least for me. I didn't find it fun or engaging or entertaining. I'm not quite sure why. The whole social scene seemed so dysfunctional, and to no good purpose.

I guess it comes down to this: I didn't want to live in that world or spend any time there. So I took the rest of the series out of my queue. There are too many other shows that I do like to watch.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just didn't interest me. Druggies in the desert don't interest me. An ugly guy with his pants off. An old ratty RV full of drugs. The RV in the ditch. Dead bodies. All this is tedious and boring. Why should we care? I don’t get it. Not my cup of borscht. Breaking what? B.S. Breaking wind. I didn't get past the teaser opening.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 

PILOT -- Watched the pilot again. Have seen parts of some recent episodes, in the new season, and thought they were really great. The guy who plays Walt is a hell of an actor. So am going back to watch the whole series from the beginning. 

In the pilot, the theme of the worm who turns is not appealing to me. Walt is not very believable or very interesting. I do like it when he kicks the guy down to the ground who made fun of his crippled son. And when he gets the best of the two drug dealers.

I don't know. Maybe I will stick with this one.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle

Friday, August 19, 2011


My favorite movie for many years was "Blade Runner," a 1982 sci-fi classic starring Harrison Ford, about a cop in a corrupt and decadent Los Angeles of the future. 

The cop, Deckard, is a blade runner, i.e., he hunts down and "airs out" rogue replicants, humanoid robots that were programmed as warriors, workers, entertainers and "pleasure models" to meet the needs of humans.

Four or five replicants have escaped together and are on the loose in L.A. and up to no good. Deckard is assigned to terminate them. You can't really "kill" them because, technically, they aren't alive.

But they sure seem like it. Deckard falls in love with a hot babe (Sean Young) whom he thinks may be a replicant. Turns out, she is.

What I love about the movie is its use of 40s film noir transported into a vision of a future, in which androids are "more human than human," which is the motto of the corporation that makes the replicants.

I think it is deliciously ironic that humans have ruined the Earth, and the only good people are not people at all.

Seven different versions of "Blade Runner" exist, and there has been a lot of controversy over the years about which is the best.

My own favorite is the originally released theatrical version, which is not the one preferred by the director, Ridley Scott.

In the movie Scott wanted to make, Deckard himself turns out to be a replicant. An ironic twist. Here is a "man" who risks his life to destroy his own kind.

But to me, that is the wrong theme. What is more interesting, I think, is that Deckard finds the replicants preferable to humans and ends up in love with one, and he takes her away to protect her from other blade runners. 

To me, Scott's version is a terrible letdown. So Deckard has been killing his own kind. No honor among androids. But I think that is a less interesting twist.

In 1982, "Blade Runner" was a flop at the box office and with most critics, according to the NY Times. It could not compete with "E.T." and it disappointed moviegoers, who expected something like "Raiders of the Lost Ark," both more mainstream but without as much depth, I thought.

If you haven't seen "Blade Runner," I recommend it highly. It is still great, after all these years. No matter which version you prefer.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Lately, I've been working on several writing projects at once: a novel, a short story, a screenplay, a stage play, a memoir, and a humorous self-help book for men.

Does that seem like too much? Or not enough?

I have found, in my lifelong pursuit of the writing muse, that I have to find the energy in whatever I am doing.

For me, I like to go back and forth between two writing projects on any given day. Or among three. Usually two is enough. One gets too boring. I find more energy, more excitement with two.

I don't know why that is. Maybe it's my early reporter training, when you'd often have six or seven stories working at once and as many as 17 on your active list. You'd have one source on the phone, and another would call you back.

I found that fast pace exciting.

Anyway, it doesn't matter why. What matters is the energy. The drive, the oomph, the quickening of the heart, that marvelous intensity you get where you're on the edge of something new. When you are about to get the big story.

It must be like chasing a jaguar through the jungle with a spear. Metaphorically, of course.

I think it's the same impulse that drives climbers to go after the highest peak or the most difficult rock face. We are attracted to the toughest competition, not the easiest.

As I read somewhere, the human mind is hard-wired to seek novelty and challenge. Something new and something difficult.

If it was easy, anyone could do it, right?

Where's the fun in that?

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle

Monday, August 15, 2011


Today I am working on my first political story, started when I was more active with

It is about one of those self-appointed, supposedly patriotic Minuteman who is "guarding" the U.S. border, when he finds a lovely Latina who is lost and being stalked by a mountain lion.

He follows her, and soon the mountain lion is stalking him.

You can probably guess what happens next. Or maybe not.

When I finish it, I plan to send it to a magazine.

Wish me luck.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, August 6, 2011


This past week, I watched, or tried to watch, two TV shows recommended by friends of mine, both of whom I respect equally. One show worked for me and the other did not.

One friend is a widely published writer, the other an engineer.

The first show was "Slings & Arrows," a Canadian series about a troupe of actors doing various Shakespeare plays. Sounds OK so far, doesn't it?

Trouble is, these characters are unbearably obnoxious. I don't know about you, but I do not find obnoxious people funny or entertaining or interesting or intriguing or admirable or even despicable.

I find them just plain obnoxious and annoying.

My friend who liked the show also likes "Curb Your Enthusiasm," about an obnoxious jerk. I hate that show, too. I don't know why anyone would like obnoxious people. Maybe he finds them funny. I don't.

The second show was "The Good Wife," which I found intriguing, interesting, serious, moving and altogether pretty good. Not the best TV I have seen but worth watching.

It is about a woman lawyer whose husband cheats on her and resigns his job as state's attorney and goes to prison.

She is forced to move from a ritzy house to a cheap apartment, move her kids from a high-priced private school to a public school, and go back to work. 

It is about her travails. It ranges from good to great. I watched four episodes last night.

In contrast, I turned off "Slings & Arrows" after five minutes and had to force myself to watch that long.

What does all this mean? I think it means that we all have different sets of tastes and symbols and referents in our unconscious minds. We don't know what is in there until we are tested, either in real life, or by watching some kind of art, like a TV show.

Then we find out something about ourselves. In my case, I don't have any aesthetic distance on obnoxious people. I don't like them. Period. Simple enough.

As my old acting coach, Alex Bruhansky, said, "You can do anything on stage, but you cannot be boring." I would add to that, you can't be obnoxious. At least not with me.

Funny thing is, the show I liked was recommended by the engineer.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Today is my birthday, and I got text messages from both my granddaughters, who are 18 and 20 years old.

Amazing. These kids still seem to like their old gramps. I love it.

I didn't expect that. It is such a treat, to still hear from and spend time with these kids. I thought, when they got to be teenagers, they would not want to hang out with an old fart like me.

What a nice surprise.

-- Roger

© Copyright 2011, Roger R. Angle