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July 21st, 2003

Terminator Three.

i saw Terminator Three.

i suppose you might have missed the plot hook for it, so here it is, as simple as i can say: everything they thought they did right, turned out to be pointless. judgment day is inevitable. in fact, it's happening right now. the proliferation of this mindless, overblown tv specials are an indication of it, because surely no one but a bunch of computer programs could have come up with such a simplified, run by numbers, big explosion type of script. in fact, this occurred to me during the film, when, i dunno, a truck or a car or a helicopter, or possibly a combination of the three, exploded and a chunk of metal tore out of the screen and hit me in the head.

dazed, i found the cinema shimmering, and turning into a field of skulls, where robotic actors walked, holding wads of cash that they used to beat men and women with. the air was thick, rancid, and i found it hard to breathe until i felt a cool, dainty hand on mine. turning away from the mindless destruction in front of me, i turned to gaze into claire danes eyes.

'ben,' she said.

'yes,' i replied groggily.

'it's the machines. they're into he heart of hollywood, buried under the ground, in a bunker. it was walt disney's fault. he wanted to create these bland films featuring men and women that were groomed to a nazi like physical perfection. it's just that we didn't know. the films came out slowly, you see. a snow white here, a beautiful world there. we just didn't realise until it was too late, until the machines were getting scripts and rewriting them, feeding the bland, by the numbers dribble into our heads.'

'but claire,' i said, gripping her hand tightly, 'if we know, if you know, you can fight this, you can tell everyone about it!'

'i can't!'

and it was then, looking into claire's eyes, that i saw the drugs she was fighting against. the drugs that kept her docile, that made her accept everything that was put before us, from inoffensive pop princesses to the novels of matthew reilly. the drugs could not be defeated. it was in the hypnotic signals sent out through the film, laced into the coke we drank, and the majority of the actual substance in our candy. and, as i realised this, one of the actor robots stepped in front of me.

'no!' i cried, releasing claire's hand, 'no! go away!'

but it would not. defiantly, it jammed a wad of cash down my throat, and i coughed, and choked--

i came to on the cinema floor. a piece of gum was stuck to my face. it was pink, or at least had once been pink. i climbed back to my seat, peeling it off. on the screen, arnie was shooting at some people, and the psychiatrist from the second film was milking a few gags from the scene.

perhaps, i thought, i was viewing this all wrong. maybe what i needed to do was look at Terminator Three in a different light. a situation comedy, for example: there's the time travelling terminator, and he has come back to swap a few jokes with the older john conner. 'talk to the hand,' he said, and i laughed. i settled down into the seat, thinking, yep, situation comedy...

but it's not really that funny.

after about an hour, it hit me: tv pilot. yeah. i was watching a tv pilot. next week, the series will begin. join us for the adventures of john conner. it was all there, really: the simple one not plot like, the continual chase scene with absolutely no moments of characterisation beyond a voice over. the promise of romance. will they, won't they. hmm. yeah, yeah, i see it. i mean, a film wouldn't offer me this huge leaps of logic faith, such as the two leads knowing each other ten years previous and the bad guy just happening to show up when they're together. it's a tv thing. has to be. and the lack of a final show down between the two robots? yeah. yeah, i see it.

this film is shit. it really is. it's a tv pilot jammed into your cinema, with no cinematic redemption whatsoever.. i will make bets with people that within six months, a year, whatever, that there will be a terminator tv series upon your small screen. i am making this statement, and i stand by it.

but this is not the real problem of the film. the real problem is arnold's terminator. now, understand, i don't think it's arnold himself--he is as good in this version as he was in the past two, and is let down by the script and directing. arnold is cool. but the terminator doesn't have a place in the film. he doesn't fit. it's wrong. plot, story, everything about it: the original terminator is an obsolete model that has no place in the film, especially next to the sleek, impossible to defeat female terminator. (whose method of death is pretty easy to pick.) you see, the problem with this film, with the franchise, i guess, is that it is no built upon an obsolete machine, which continues to grow more and more obsolete as the films go on, making it totally, one hundred percent, unnecessary to the plot.

of course, you shouldn't forget the script, the directing, and yes, some of the acting. the new terminator girl was particularly bad and unmenacing, if you ask me, and her sudden chest expansion in one early scene struck me as particularly degrading, and moment under which the viewer could judge the film as a whole, in that it goes for the cheap visuals, giving only the most shallow sense of satisfaction, without bothering to justify one moment of it.

Update for the Dead Orbit.

i have once again changed the look of dead orbit, but not the name. i'm rather fond of the name, myself.

part of me thinks i should get a paid account, so i can do more with this journal, but economics and my limited (read: none) web related skills, stop me from doing so. perhaps in a year and a bit, when i'm done with this thesis/novel and i find myself unemployed, but signing things with a 'dr' in front of my names. well, at least for a week or two, before the amusement ends.

but, i was thinking about my novel today, and figured i might start talking about it here, for no real reason other than giving my thoughts a place to churn around. the novel doesn't have a title yet, even though i'm close to have about thirty five thousand bad words of it written down. which means that i have drafts of parts that alter as more of it gets written. it's done purposely in this way, because i view the evolution process to be the most important part of the working process to arrive at the point where i want to be, which, at this point, is now only finding proper definition. this might sound like a strange way to write a novel, or any kind of fiction, and maybe it is, but it's the way i've worked. very little has arrived full blown in my head, though a few of the shorter short stories i've published spring to mind.

this novel is, for those who don't know, a mosaic. each chapter is a new character, a new style, a new view of sydney. once joined together, it should meld into a one strange view of sydney. the idea to do a mosaic came from gunter grass, so if it doesn't work, i'll blame him, and his fine novel My Century. another book that has been a vague influence is italo calvino's Invisible Cities, but i've been cautious about this book. it was possible, in the early stages of my planning, that i could have come under too much of a calvino influence, given my natural desire to leave reality and truth out of things, and ended up with nothing but a pale copy set in sydney. i'm confident that i've avoided this, however, and can even acknowledge that the fractured nature of calvino's book has had a tiny influence.

the problem with writing a mosaic, is that there is generally, not a moment where things click in, and the characters leap up, and shout, 'this is where we're going.' it happens, but not to the degree that a character arc controls the rise and fall of a narrative. the reason for this, in my case, is that each chapter presents the reader with a totally new cast for two to three thousand words. a short story, basically. now, within that arc, the characters often dictate how it will end, but they are also in the aid of setting out a piece of sydney, so they're not wholly free to do so. if they ay, 'hey, talk about my time as a pilot,' and that doesn't serve the section of sydney i am writing about, then, even though i've got the whole thing worked out in the flash/inspirational moment, i have to say no, can't do. this is not what we're doing. i've found that the research, and the suburb itself will often act as a counter to this, offering its own inspiration flash, but the end result is still the same in that chunks of the novel, such as ten or fifteen thousand word narrative bridge, simply doesn't fall into place, and present me with a detailed plan to follow for a week or two.

(that said, i expect that something similar will happen when serious rewriting begins towards the end of the year.)

instead, i constantly moving around, changing narrative tools, genre, and cast. everything i can get my hands on. while i do miss that large flash of 'ohmygod, this is what has to happen now, it's so obvious', the change is a fine swap. i've learnt more about character voices and writing in the last year than i thought possible, and it has forced me to embrace the diversity that a mosaic novel offers, if you're brave enough to pick it up. which, brave or foolish, i did.

today/tonight, i am rewriting the unreadable draft of the parramatta chapter, and before i sat down to begin writing this, i felt a bit sluggish about going to it. but you know, having just rambled on about it (and in the process, boring all of you out there, i am sure), i am ready to get down to it.

which is just what i wanted.