Tuesday, May 24, 2011

People used to say movies weren't an art form. Now some people say that about TV. Why? The best TV shows of the last decade are as well-made as movies, so why no respect? My guess is that most people who "don't watch TV" are basing their idea of what TV is on mediocre shows, rather than really paying attention to the good ones. The best shows, like the ones I mentioned here, affect me just as much and sometimes more than movies and books. And if you watch the commentary tracks for shows like Mad Men, you can see how passionate the people who work on the shows are. They take it just as seriously as authors take their books. All art forms are created equal. They each do things that can't be done in any other form. TV, for example, allows you to follow the lives of characters over years, and to get to a level of depth and detail that a two-hour movie just can't allow for. Music, poetry, TV, scrimshaw, it's all equal.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Your book sucks

is something I wish I could say about a couple of much-hyped small press poetry books that have come out in recent months. But how do you give a book a 1 or 2-star rating without hurting someone's feelings?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Allow me to recommend: Battlestar Galactica

So pretty much every night for the last six weeks I've been watching Battlestar Galactica, and I finally finished it on Saturday. I never saw it when it was on TV because I didn't have cable. I was never really that interested in it anyway, but then one night I was probably bored and looking for things to watch on Netflix Instant. So I thought I would give it a shot. I was hooked right away. This is a show where you just want to hit the "play next episode" button every time. It takes discipline to watch only two or three episodes a day. I can't imagine what it would be like having to wait an entire week between each one. Anyway, along with Mad Men, this is one of the two best TV shows I've seen since Deadwood, Carnivale, and Six Feet Under. (Lost ended too disappointingly to recommend, though I enjoyed most of it.) Oh and I've been catching up on Big Love and Friday Night Lights, which are also great. Anyway, from 2007-09, when BSG and Mad Men were both on TV, I think it's safe to say they were the best two shows on TV at the time.

BSG is really one big epic movie. It was only on for four seasons, but the show wasn't "cancelled". Four seasons were what they needed to tell the story. And the quality stays consistent all the way through. It never goes off track or jumps the shark, unlike some shows (*cough* Lost *cough*).

I don't want to say anything about the plot, other than the basic premise, which is a pretty cool one. Of course it's based on the original show from the '70s, but I hadn't known anything about that either. Basically the premise is that humans originated on a planet called Kobol, which they then abandoned, founding colonies on twelve different planets (each with names like Caprica, Sagittaron, Tauron, Gemenon ... you get the idea). They create intelligent robots called Cylons, who eventually rebel and launch a war against the humans, managing to wipe out nearly all of them, except for the Battlestar Galactica and a fleet of civilian ships, about 50,000 people in all. Fleeing the Cylons, their only hope is to find the "mythical" thirteenth colony called ... Earth.

But like any great show, a main reason for watching is the cast. I always love it when an actor whose face or name we've always known but whom we've maybe never given their due as an actor is finally given a stand-out leading role that allows us to see him or her in a new way. On Lost it was Terry O'Quinn. On BSG it's Edward James Olmos, who is really amazing. I also love Mary McDonnell, who plays the President of the Twelve Colonies. Apparently the creator of the show wrote the part with her in mind, based on her performance in Donnie Darko (she was Donnie Darko's mom, you'll remember), then cast her afterwards.

And then there's my, and a lot of people's, favorite character, Starbuck, played by Katee Sackhoff. Starbuck was a man on the original show, but on the new one she isn't. I'm almost tempted to say she's the "soul" of the show, but I could say the same thing about Adama or Roslin or probably several other characters as well. All you need to know is that this is a large and strong cast all around. A "deep bench", you could say.

Anyway, I'm sure you had fun reading this informative blog post, but what you should do now is just go to Netflix (sign up if you have to) and watch the whole thing right now. Yes, it takes place in outer space, but if that kind of thing puts you off, please don't let it this time. There are no aliens on the show, if that makes you feel better. The show is all about great characters and all kinds of contemporary political and ethical issues, but in the end it's about nothing less than life, death, and the meaning of human existence. The final episodes make for one of the most satisfying and bittersweet conclusions to a story I've ever seen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Raise your hand if you still need to be informed that the first sentence of that Martin Luther King "quote" is fake. Anybody?

Monday, May 2, 2011

"I know we've had our disagreements..."

"Must be this space is getting to me too..."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

When I was little I thought that the reason The Wizard of Oz switches to color partway into the movie was because color cinematography was invented midway through the production of the film.