Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Fall is still a big time for the debut of new shows and new lineups ..... but not AS big ..... one reason is the plethora of cable networks that have been trotting-out THEIR new shows at times that people aren't focused on the 'Big 3' (now '4'?) .....
That strategy has affected the entire industry, with the result that now ALL the networks are premiering new shows almost year-round .....
..... such as my new favorite program, which debuted two weeks ago on NBC .....
"Raines" is a new, weekly program on NBC. According to the show's website, "eccentric LAPD Detective Michael Raines (Jeff Goldblum) uses his unique imagination to focus on every murder case in such a way that the murder victims actually begin to take shape in front of him. At first, he thinks he's losing his mind, but he then uses the constantly evolving hallucinations - which are figments of his imagination and not ghosts - to help him discover the victims' killers. Raines struggles to accept this peculiar gift - or burden - and reconcile it with his daily life."
The show is well produced, relying as much - or more - on the fundamentals, on skilled camera placement and editing, as it does any kind of digital wizardry. It is also, I think, beautifully written. Fans of Goldblum should love the show ..... but even those who find him an acquired taste should give the show a try.
Any concerns or reservations? ..... well, yes, a couple .....
One, can the writer/producers/director/actors keep up the pace that's been set in the first two episodes? ..... this candle burns brightly, but will it also burn quickly?
Two, beginning this week, NBC is moving it from Thursday at 9 p.m. (central) to Friday at 8 p.m. ... which doesn't strike me as a particularly good time to reach out to A LOT of television viewers .....
So, anyway, I urge you to give this show a try ..... get it while it's hot ..... get it while you can .....
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The last few years, I've been the station's website editor ...... and in that capacity, I've learned a lot about the virtual business, and the actual community in which I live and work ..... and new, better ways to serve that community.
But now, that job is growing in new directions, with new parameters and new requirements that I am unable - and, admittedly, unwilling - to meet.
I'm still on board, because ... well, after seventeen years, one doesn't just rush out the door ..... there's the matter of hiring someone to take over, and bringing them up to speed ..... doing your best to hand over the reins, the wheel, the helm - pick your own metaphor - smoothly and efficiently ..... I owe them that.
Most of my co-workers were also my friends .... and it would be hard to find a better bunch of friends. Some of my oldest friends are gone, passed away .... many others have moved on to other jobs, at other stations or in other markets ..... makes no difference really ... they are remembered, and remembered well.
More than a few of you out there, in the blogosphere, have had some hand, at one time or another, in shaping and directing our online product ..... I am grateful to you all for your generosity with offering suggestions, and your patience with the time it took to give the good suggestions their due consideration and application.
So, where to from here? I have no idea. If you know of any prospects, e-mail me. On a related note, if you'd like to try your hand as an Internet Content Director ..... now's your chance.
Thanks to Brian at TVNewswer for the heads-up.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Yet, when I walked out of a showing of "300" last week, all I could say was, "Wow!" At the time, I felt as if my brain was still processing all that I had seen and heard over the previous two hours, and it would be a while before I could put my impressions into words .....
The first word that comes to mind is "sensational" ..... meaning the impact the film's stunning audio and visuals had on my senses ..... it is a truly beautiful film to look at, and what you see is complemented by what you hear, a near-perfect mix of words, music and sound effects .....
Another word that comes to mind is "historical" ..... don't be quick to dismiss a film adapted from a comic book! The creator of the comic book, Frank Miller, was inspired by the story of King Leonidas and his 300 at an early age, and has devoted A LOT of time in researching both the history and the legend of that story. While some of the details of his story - battle rhinos, for example, and the deformities of the Spartan traitor - are creative license on his part, the fundamentals of the film are firmly established in the historical record .....
In talking to a friend and co-worker of mine, who attended the afternoon matinee with me, I noted the similarity between one scene - that of a Spartan soldier, in profile, striding and fighting his way through of host of Persian attackers - and the images that have come down to us from ancient Greek pottery ..... not a coincidence, we decided .....
Another word that comes to mind, especially in light of some of the criticism that has been leveled at the filmmakers, is "apolitical" ..... this is a story that has endured and grown for 2,500 years, without the aid of current political affairs and policy-makers ..... no, I don't see it as a struggle to preserve democracy in the face of an onslaught by ancient Iraqis and Iranians, but something more fundamental, more timeless, more universal ..... rather, I see it as a fight for self-determination against an invader - and that's something all free peoples should understand ..... Leonidas and the Spartans would have resisted any invasion, under any banner, whether it was by Xerxes and the Persian Empire, or George Bush and the Coalition of the Willing .....
Also apolitical - politically-incorrect? - is the decision by Leonidas' wife to, quite literally, 'sleep with the enemy' in order to gain that enemy's support for sending the entire Spartan army north in support of her husband and his 300 men ..... has she indeed, as Eric has suggested, sacrificed her honor for political gain? Or has she thrown life and limb into the fray - as her husband has done, but in the only way a woman can - in defense of Sparta's freedom ...... think about the role of women in ancient Spartan society before you answer. Personally, I think that political opponent's fate would, ultimately, have been the same, regardless of the stand he took on the council floor, or the outcome of the Battle of Thermopylae .....
I will close with one last word that comes to mind as I consider this film ..... "recommended"
Saturday, March 24, 2007
It's a tie that binds us all together, and encourages discussion among us ..... we may not know art, but we know what we like ..... and we're all happy to share our likes and our dislikes, our picks and our pans, our thumbs-up and our thumbs-down with whoever passes our desk, the water cooler, or our little corner of the blogosphere .....
Most critique of the arts can serve a useful purpose ..... I am, I think, a better film-viewer thanks to the Cinematic Eye series (thirty years ago) on PBS. This series originally included thirteen international classics - Shoeshine, La Strada, L'Avrentura, Hobson's Choice, Man of Aran, Rules of the Game, Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, Jules et Jim, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, M, Torment, Smiles of a Summer Night, and The Battleship Potemkin. Benjamin Dunlap provided a lecture before and after each selection, that covered background information on the historical context, production data, significance, and techniques of the individual films.
That doesn't necessarily limit the scope of critique, though ..... some may believe they are nothing less than "the central arbiter of taste and culture" in their community ..... case in point, the New York Times, which found itself in the news recently for adopting that very mantle ..... a 'discussion' of said mantle is well-covered here by their ink-stained Gotham brethren, the New York Post.
Thanks to Frank at BOOKS, INQ. for the heads-up.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I recommend it.
Thanks to Brian at TVNewswer for the heads-up.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
On April 26th, he'll be going to jail (the Texas Roadhouse Annex) as part of the annual 'Lockup' fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
In conjunction with this effort, the folks at MDA have created a Free Bubba webpage to raise the funds Wallace will need to be sprung from the hoosegow.
No word, yet, on whether there's a separate fund to KEEP him behind bars! :-)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
And I stilled remained well out of the loop ..... I thought it was a trailer for an upcoming film ..... sort of an irreverant take-off of Knight-Rider-Meets-Starsky-and-Hutch-and-Stroker-and-Hoop ..... and, at first, I thought it starred Jason Lee .....
Now, thanks to a visit to the official Hammer and Coop website, I have a clue ..... and a neat new moniker from the site's Action Name Generator .....
More on the campaign and its webisodes from ADVERBLOG and iMediaConnection .....
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
Not reaching the audiences enjoyed by either of those publications, I was writing for a pair of Albuquerque, New Mexico-based periodicals - Albuquerque Music Scene, and Record Review - when Boston made the leap from regional favorite to national sensation. Record Review paid its writers with the thrill of seeing their byline in print, and you got to keep the record you reviewed. I still have that copy of "Boston," their breakthrough album, and I still listen to it from time to time.
Biographers of the 70s note that Delp's interest in music started with the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, and contributed to a spike in guitar sales following that landmark television broadcast. He was working in a New England factory when he met Todd Scholtz, and auditioned for the band that would become Boston. Fame and fortune would come - and go - in the years following that meeting.
I'll close with lyrics from "More Than a Feeling," composed by Scholtz, and given life by the voice - now-stilled - of Brad Delp.
"I looked out this morning and the sun was gone,
Turned on some music to start my day,
I lost myself in a familiar song,
I closed my eyes and I slipped away ..."
Sunday, March 18, 2007
"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Micah 6: 8
"I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."
Amos 5: 21-25
Saturday, March 17, 2007
When we can, we step back from the kidnappings and the auto accidents, from the food drives and the fundraisers, from the sports and the weather, and devote some time to having a little fun .....
Which brings us to this timely report, produced by an Alabama television station last year, but worth enjoying again this year (courtesy of YouTube's botmib) .....
Or you can push back from the keyboard, get out of the chair and dance to this rap from that report (courtesy of YouTube's markslidesquad) .....
Friday, March 02, 2007
I think it was nearly ten years ago when, as editor of the Fort Stockton Pioneer, I was handed a letter from one of our readers, for publication in the next issue ..... a letter admonishing our paper for not devoting adequate space to Texas Independence Day. She may have been DRT (I honestly don't remember for certain), but she was certainly something of a Lone Star zealot ..... a perception of mine that was reinforced by her comment as she handed me the letter .....
"You probably won't realize the importance of this, not being from around here."
Well, actually, I do, and so do a lot of dang Yankees from back east, such as myself. True, I am someone who - to borrow the old saying - wasn't born in Texas, but got here as fast as I could. And the same could be said for Stephen Austin, William Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Mirabeau Lamar and Sam Houston.
DON'T GET ME WRONG ..... I do NOT equate myself with them. But it doesn't hurt to remember that, with the exception of Juan Seguin and his company of Tejanos, there wasn't a 'native Texan' to be found on the Texas side of the revolution.
The Keystone Stater in me would like to point out that there were an estimated 13 Pennsylvanians defending the walls of the Alamo, and offering up their lives for the revolution and the ideals it represented. And well they should. Because it was something that had been important to them their parents and their grandparents for more than half-a-century.
Maybe that's what bugged me about the woman's remark ..... the fact that, 'not being from around here,' I would be unable to understand what was being decided in the Texas revolution ..... it was something that all free-thinking people know ..... or should know. You see, it wasn't just men that came to Texas ..... the ideals adopted at Washington on the Brazos had been conceived many years before, in Philadelphia ..... and the determination to defend those ideals in Goliad and Gonzales, San Antonio and San Jacinto, had been inspired - again, many years before - by what took place at Bunker Hill and Valley Forge, Lexington and Concord ..... and the material needed to pursue that defense came from all over the United States, from the decision by Alabama to strip its state arsenal of muskets and send them west, to the Twin Sisters - a pair of canons donated by the 'People of Cincinnati, Ohio' and arriving just in time to blast a hole in the Mexicans' makeshift breastworks at San Jacinto.
And so, I lift my glass, today, and I will join the toast being heard statewide ..... but mine will be a private affair ..... and while I may follow closely the words printed at the top of this post, I will deviate on one point, and replace the word 'Texas' with 'America' ..... God Bless It!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Only twenty-or-so people turned out at the Friday screening I attended here, In Midland ..... and nearly half of them got up and left before the film was half-over. They may have been the rule, rather than the exception ... one could barely hear the faint clicking of box office receipts being generated nationwide.
Critics' response ranged from the laudatory to the lambasting ..... though quite a few found themselves torn, somewhere in the middle, between one extreme and another ..... "In telling a tale of love across time, Aronofsky is sometimes guilty of creating arty, pretentious psychobabble," wrote Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. "But in visual terms, he's trying to expose his own raw, romantic heart. Folly? Maybe. But a risk worth taking." ..... Lisa Schwartzbaum, of Entertainment Weekly, wrote, "I'm as touched and charmed by its failures as I am transfixed, at times, by its successful inventiveness and audacity."
At the Venice Film Festival, several critics booed the film at the press screening, but the next day, it received a 10-minute standing ovation at the public screening.
Me, I enjoyed the film ..... but, I can see that some would be challenged, even put-off by the structure of its narrative. Imagine three men who are one man, sharing one quest, one desire, one end, then reaching that end by different means, following different paths in reaching their shared goal. Then imagine the film moving back-and-forth between the three, then back-and-forth again, and again.
Tomas, a 16th-century Spanish conquistador, beloved of Queen Isabella of Spain, searching the jungles of MesoAmerica for the Biblical Tree of Life and its promise of immortality. Tommy Creo is a modern-day oncologist, whose research - and his hope of saving his terminally-ill wife - takes an unexpected turn when he discovers the rejuvenative powers of a compound derived from a Guatemalan tree. Tom is a 26th-century traveler, crossing the depths of space in an ecosphere, accompanying an ancient tree on a journey to a nebula that - the Mayans believed - offered the promise of immortality.
Interpretations of the film are legion and diverse. Me? I see in it an affirmation of Christian teachings ..... there is the promise of eternal life, and that promise is delivered, but NOT in this world. It is a foundation that underlies everything else in the film, and provides for pivotal points on which all three tales - and the grand narrative that binds together all three, spanning centuries of time and light-years of space - are at last resolved.
I'd like to know what YOU think, when you've had a chance to see this film.