Friday, May 08, 2009

Roger Ebert neatly sums up why I have no particular interest in seeing the new Star Trek movie

“Star Trek” as a concept has voyaged far beyond science fiction and into the safe waters of space opera, but that doesn’t amaze me. The Gene Roddenberry years, when stories might play with questions of science, ideals or philosophy, have been replaced by stories reduced to loud and colorful action. Like so many franchises, it’s more concerned with repeating a successful formula than going boldly where no “Star Trek” has gone before.

I understand the Star Trek science has never been intended as plausible. I understand this is not science fiction but an Ark movie using a starship. I understand that the character types are as familiar as your favorite slippers. But the franchise has become much of a muchness. The new movie essentially intends to reboot the franchise with younger characters and carry on as before. The movie deals with narrative housekeeping. Perhaps the next one will engage these characters in a more challenging and devious story, one more about testing their personalities than re-establishing them. In the meantime, you want space opera, you got it.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mr. President: It's time to do the right thing.

Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic and who returned recently from Iraq, received notice today that the military is about to fire him. Why? Because he came out of the closet as a gay man on national television.

Obama has been praised for delaying efforts to get rid of "don't ask, don't tell," and some major gay rights groups are actively lobbying to delay consideration of the issue. They seem to believe that Obama should focus on other gay-rights issues first, and that he shouldn't spend his precious political capital trying to ram a repeal bill through Congress.

This misses the point. Obama could sign an executive order today. With roughly three-quarters of the public, including a majority of republicans, in favor of open gay service, a meaningful public backlash is unlikely. A slight majority of service members prefer that the policy be left in place, but polls also show that only a tiny minority of them care strongly about the issue, and that the vast majority of service members are comfortable interacting with gays.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


The veteran character actor David Ogden Stiers has come out as gay. Good on 'im. He's best known as Major Charles Emerson Winchester on M*A*S*H, of course, he's also in a neat little favorite movie of mine, Creator.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hey, PJ, if you're out there, score one for your side (o'the pond!)

Britain for the first time has published a list of people barred from entering the country for what the government says is fostering extremism or hatred.

The list includes popular American talk-radio host Michael Savage, who has called the Muslim holy book, the Quran, a "book of hate." Savage also has enraged parents of children with autism by saying in most cases it's "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."

The list Tuesday also includes Americans Stephen Donald Black, a white supremacist, and anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps.

Cops in Lincoln Park, Michigan* have lost their minds

Ok, follow me on this. Teenager calls 911 when her father suffers a seizure. Officer who picks up the call...instead of, oh I don't know, responding to this emergency, picks that point in time to harass her (calling her "a buffoon") for her use of curse words.

He actually hangs up on her. Repeatedly. Then when she runs to a nearby Police station to get help for her stricken father, who does she meet but, yes you guessed it, the same joke of a cop. Who promptly arrests her. Not that he had any law to, you know, charge her with breaking. But I guess all that cussin' isn't very ladylike.

Now: The aftermath is that the girl's father...finally...did get help and is OK now. In his honor, and that of his daughter, but especially in honor of Officer Dickerson, here, I quote George Carlin:


*Yeah, I know. I was hoping it was gonna be Knoxville, Tennessee, too...

Somebody made a movie named after (and shot in) my hometown

Sad to say, it doesn't seem to reflect the experience of growing up there as I remember it...

Great headlines in criticism

NBC takes the 'Life' out of the network

Monday, May 04, 2009

It was never actually on the air, just more likely to be on the air than to not be on the air

As expected, NBC has cancelled Life officially. As you know, I'm sorry to see it go. It was a good show.

At times like these I try not to rend my garment and curse the names of the television executives (especially when they have the same name as me, like NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman) too much. First because I also try not to expect television executives not to act like television executives (second, because if I did that, I couldn't mock the Whedon-zombies. I like doing that). Life needed a couple of million more viewers a week, and that's all there is to it.

However, where I do feel I have an area of complaint is that from what I saw NBC did almost nothing to promote the series. And Life was a quirky show much more about characters than about procedure which needed a certain amount of, if I may, tending and gardening in the media and press.

In a way the title was a problem--it doesn't exactly tell you what you're going to get, in the way that, say, Dancing With The Stars does--although I suppose you could debate the use of the word "Stars" on that one (and come to think of it, "Dancing").

But at the same time, I can't think of a better one.
And that's what the show was about. Life and how to deal.

The show was "Zen-ish," and part of being "Zen-ish" is to not be attached to things. So how can I be attached to this show?
At least the show existed, and exists, the first season already on DVD (and on my shelf--thank you, Jen) and the second scheduled for release.

It introduced me to Damian Lewis, an actor I'll be looking out for in the future. Lewis's Charlie Crews combined a willful, almost childlike innocence with a Terminator-like search for vengance.

The series showed me that Sarah Shahi, besides being just smokin' hot, could do some really rich acting work as Crews skeptical partner Dani Reese, wracked with troubles of her own.

It missed a few steps this season, but by the end it had found its feet again and landed gracefully. I'm sad to see it go, but at least I have an abiding image to go with it, or that it left me with. It's the two partners looking at each other, as we hear the words on a Zen tape:
'We even have a word when you plus another equals one.
That word is love.'

So if I'm not attached to it, I hope I'm not attached to it, why do I think it's going to stay with me?

A little over four years ago, in a "public service announcement" on my old blog, I said this about CBS’s 1985 revival of Twilight Zone:
I believe you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of television series that were actually important to you. Important, meaning they strongly affected you, changed your conciousness one way or another, even, god help us, taught you lessons.

I've been thinking in recent days about how Life is likely to be another one of those series for me. It's the show that planted the seeds for what I now refer to as "my Buddhism-influenced spiritual inner life." It had an impact on me.

Just how deep that impact goes remains to be seen (check back in 20 years), but it's already deeper than most.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

All right!

I am Marianne Dashwood!

You are Marianne Dashwood of Sense & Sensibility! You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply, and love passionately!

They should be back

Barring a "miracle" (if that isn't too hoity-polloi a word to use when discussing the success or not of TV shows), tomorrow I expect the news that Life has officially been cancelled. And damn if that isn't a Gilliam-esque thing to have to type.

I'll have more to say about that when and if it happens.

Weeks to come will also probably bring similar news about The Unusuals and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

So, I just wanted to point out here that all three shows made TV Guide's "endangered series we hope will survive" list, and Terminator won E!'s "Save One Show" poll (Life came in fourth). I'd like to stay positive, but...

I like to think it was the cost of the tickets for me and my nephew that put it back

This almost never happens that I can remember, but after having previously dropped out of the box office top five...
Monsters vs Aliens continues to hang around with $5.8 million good enough for a bump up to #5 in its sixth weekend of release.

Blasphemy! I won't have it!

They're remaking Clash of the Titans.

My inner 10-year-old just died.

Everything I've heard about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made him sick, but this killed him.

I really like this picture

Via BAGnews:


I think because, even though I don't always get all warm-and-fuzzy at the "PCness" of it all...something feels very right and good about looking at a picture of the President of the U.S. and his Secretary of State, and having it be a black man and a woman.

2009, muthas. It's about time.

For Jason, who's been over there in Saudi Arabia just a little bit too long

Click here (and scroll down) Jase...