The difficulty of overcoming inertia

October 21, 2009

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One thing that's been abundantly clear to me about "maintaining" (*) my review site and blog this year: Inertia is a bitch.

* I feel the word "maintaining" requires quotes at this moment, seeing as Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox have been running from an explosion on my home page for more than three months now — never my intention when I posted that image. (**)

Back last December I was faced with a panic situation. I still hadn't written most of the BSG season 4.0 reviews, and season 4.5 was breathing down my neck. I had precious few weeks to write more than half a dozen reviews that I knew would be long and detailed and exhausting (because I was dealing with the exciting and much-to-discuss final season of BSG). And as I had that weekly deadline of 4.5 episodes always threatening me, it forced me to turn out my reviews on a breakneck (for me) schedule so I could keep up. Then the final episode aired and I was off the hook and could sigh in relief. No wonder it took me six weeks to finally post the finale review.

The inertia of the weekly grind kept me going. And once it was gone, the opposite happened. The lack of deadlines has placed me in a rut of silence, and now it has gone on for so long that I feel like I can't even write (or think) anymore. When I go back and read reviews — mine or others' — I wonder how I will again become capable of enough critical thought as to write reviews up to that standard. It's very strange.

It also hasn't helped watching (while not reviewing) the very dense and always introspective (and almost never visceral) Mad Men, which is like the ultimate TV show for critics. I like it a lot, but also have found the critical establishment's praise of the show to go occasionally over the top. But of course I find it that way, because I'm watching more passively, and not writing about it. I can't imagine writing about it right now; it would be too exhausting.

It's amazing what I miss in that show and discover only while reading the reviews of others. It makes me wonder how much I'd discover if I were writing about it myself. I've long experienced how writing about a show makes you think more about it; it demands you to be an active viewer rather than a passive one, and remember names and facts and backstories that you might otherwise allow to fall out of your brain. A show like Mad Men only underlines that fact because it is so very subtle and dense.

But I've strayed from my point here, which is that inertia has gotten me down, and I'm trying to overcome it.

Now, I want to make clear that it isn't simply a matter of me being lazy. (Only partially.) Life has kept me busy in the past few months. Kathy and I got engaged in August, and that means there's a certain amount of wedding planning going on in the background as both she and I deal with our daily lives and jobs.

And there's of course the job: I recently changed roles in my job, and it has been occupying a lot more of my time and mind lately. When one works 10- and 11-hour days at a job that has one tied to a computer all day maintaining web sites, one simply doesn't feel like maintaining a blog/review site in the evenings and on weekends.

I also just got back from a week on a Caribbean cruise, which was a much-needed escape from Illinois weather just as it had quickly and unexpectedly turned dreary and cold in early October. (We left and arrived at just the right times; the weather suddenly turned crappy, was crappy while we were gone, and has become more pleasantly fall-like now that we've returned.)

What will get me writing again? The realization of another approaching deadline, of course: BSG's "The Plan" debuts on DVD and Blu-ray next week, which means I'll need to get a review in the works soon.

And then there's TNG. No, the project has not been abandoned, as much as it may seem that way. I look back at the calendar and realize that the last TNG review I wrote was before I moved in April 2008, a full year and a half ago. (Some might remember that moving is how I got completely derailed in keeping up with BSG 4.0.) I've got to get myself going again on the TNG front before this year is over.

Bottom line: I'm not gone, and I will be coming back. I just have to shake off the dust and emerge from the doldrums. Hopefully this post will provide me with a jump-start.

** The "Transformers 2" image has been removed. I just can't take it anymore. (***)

*** I've been reading a lot of the great Alan Sepinwall lately, and I find that his post-paragraph footnote convention can be useful to mitigate awkward parenthetical stray thoughts. It's handy, but I won't make too much of a habit out of it.

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16 comments on this post

    Can you just write one TNG (Redemption II) review just to change images. Having a TNG image on your site is a lot better than coming back and seeing Shia and Megan every day for the last 3 months.

    Seriously get rid of that image. A picture of the test card would be better.
    Look forward to the review of The Plan though, it seems to getting interesting early reviews.

    I would be ticked off at your absence here Jammer, except that last time I checked, I haven't updated my own site (no I won't post the URL) in a year or two myself. Life has a funny way of taking over sometimes, that's just the way it is.

    Thank you Jammer

    Now I can come to this site and not feel all that bad about it. Nice photo.

    Heh. The mention of a test card (the term in my era was "test pattern") makes me feel old. When was the last time you actually SAW a test pattern? Probably a long time ago. Just for the sake of nostalgia:

    And come to think of it, that's a funny idea. The next extended downtime I have here should come with a test pattern as the image on the home page.

    I remember being a kid and waiting for the TV to start in the morning. In the UK we had some bizzare picture of a clown and some freakish girl and a blackboard.
    I am certainly showing my age now as well. Can't remember when I last saw one, outside of Wiki.
    Congrats on the marriage. It's a wonderful institution.

    Who wants to spend their life in an institution though? ;o)

    One way you could make use of inertia is to follow up the TNG reviews with reviews of those shows you have never watched and where reviews are not forthcoming. ;) Or Mad Men, of course.

    Woot. I keep checking the site even after all this time because you're a great writer. I'll patiently wait as long as it takes or until I die. Possibly after, but it remains to be seen what internet access is like in the afterlife.

    I must be getting old since I don't even think I've heard the term "test card", I still refer to it as a test-pattern. It's funny to think how that's now become an obsolete term, I can remember as a kid staying up late and watching all the channels sign-off one by one (the announcer talking technical info about the broadcasting power and transmitters, the wishing you a goodnight, the national anthem, and of course the test pattern, with that never ending high-pitched tone!).

    Talk about feeling old, I still remember I used to access Jammer's reviews from an Apple IIGS, which was accessing a VAX/VMS shell account through an ASCII-text based terminal program back in 1995! Anyone remember the URL? Voyager just came out and I was looking for reviews about it and came across the site. Then I religiously started reading the DS9 reviews, Enterprise, it's almost scary to think it's been 15 years! I gotta say it's definitely my oldest surviving bookmarked page! :)

    Apple IIGS? Surely those were gone by 1995. Not even some sort of Mac?

    Wow. I feel old.

    And, incidentally, I think "test card" is an older term than "test pattern." I think "test cards" were literally cameras pointed at cards, before the days of electronic patterns that became their substitute. So don't feel too old. :)

    Take your time: weddings are more important.

    We'll still be here when you come back...

    Alan Sepinwall is one of the best, along with Tim Lynch.

    I'm not in any rush either, given my own priorities at the moment

    But if there's a review worth reading eventually down the road, it would be for the episode The First Duty. The entire scene between Wesley and Picard in the ready room ranks up on my all-time favorite Trek moments. One of the most tense scenes I've ever watched.

    I understand your plight. I'm a composer, and after graduating i got a day job and didn't write much music. I wasn't lazy either, i was just in a rut. I suggest you just keep writing privately until you feel comfortable to write publicly.

    Congrats on your promotion and getting engaged, btw. And since there are lots of star trek nerds, i have created an arrangement of the UFP anthem(DS9:"Take me Out to the Holosuite") without the applause:

    Hope that cheers you up!

    Hi Jammer,

    I've been a subscriber to your reviews from almost the very beginning and have enjoyed them all, although I've never posted a review before.

    Just wanted to comment about your great photo of the cruise ships at St. Thomas harbor. I was born and have lived here all my life. Hope you had a nice time during your stopover here. How'd you like the incredible traffic? That's one of the bad points about life on the island.

    Thanks for all the effort you've put into your reviews over the years.

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