Monday, March 31, 2008

New Amsterdam 6: The DNA of Art

Tonight's New Amsterdam - Episode 6 - started out great: John is called in on a case, and finds the victim looking just like his son - John's son from 1913, in his late teens.

Now, we know that time travel is not one of the ingredients of this series, so the deceased could not be John's son who literally traveled from then to now.

One possibility might have been that John's son somehow inherited part or all of John's immortality - and lived, not aging a day, from 1913 until now, only to die riddled by bullets. Perhaps John's son had found his true love, the one who would set him free from his immortality.

Instead, the story took a more tame but still intriguing turn: this was a descendant of John's son who just happened to look like John's son. So we get get a nice episode tonight about another one of the many branches of John's family tree.

Along the way, we get some good thoughts about the immortality of art - John's a painter in 1913 - and some fine scenes in which John's art from 1913 shows up today.

I wished, again, that the show was more focused on this aspect of John's story than his police work.

On the other hand, there's more than enough of John and his many relationships and accomplishments through time to still make New Amsterdam an unusual series of lasting appeal.

See also New Amsterdam, 1,2,3 ... 4. Poetry and Parenthesis ... 5. Meets Mad Men ... 7. What Kept John from Dying? ... 8. New Amsterdam Bows: Lessons in Cons and Backsides





winner of the Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction novel of 1999

"delivers on its promises" - The New York Times

Silk Code trailer

Sunday, March 30, 2008

John Adams on HBO: 3 and 4: Jefferson and Space Travel of the Soul

A powerful, beautiful Episode 4 of John Adams on HBO tonight - after last week's somewhat lackluster Episode 3, in which the highpoint of the tension was Adams getting sick of and in Europe.

But let's look at Episode 4, bursting with brilliant scenes:

.John and Abigail reuniting Paris - handled with sensitivity and passion, as Abigail forgives John for his years of absence.

.Adams and Jefferson in Paris (1) - Adams chastising Jefferson for the high opinion he has of human nature, at the same time that Jefferson chastises Adams for his low opinion of same. This difference of opinion is crucial, and will set the stage forever more in American history between those who want strong central authority to show the people the best way (Adams) vs. those who want to protect the people, capable of governing themselves, for the tyrannies of government (Jefferson).

.Adams and Jefferson in Paris (2) - at the launch of the first hot-air dirigible. Adams doubts that it will fly; Jefferson (a Renaissance man and inventor) believes it will. Guess who is right ... Another reason I always liked Jefferson - I bet he'd would have been a great advocate of the space program today and in the 20th century... he was always an advocate of space travel of the soul, of human beings breaking beyond their confines. (Obama is not a big fan of space travel, but his vision of the human spirit reminds me of Jefferson.)

.John and Abigail Adams, and Jefferson: Abigail is somewhat taken by Jefferson's charm...

.Adams meeting King George III ... the King is willing to give Adams a chance, for now, because he heard that Adams was not too fond of the French ... England, however, won't really get over losing American until at least the War of 1812.

.Washington takes office as the first President, and Adams as the first VP. Brilliantly acted and perfectly staged. Once again, I had tear in my eye during this vivid American history.

And there was more. But I'll stop here, and just add that the acting was outstanding.

Stephen Dillane is perfect as Jefferson. Paul Giamatti as John and Laura Linney as Abigail are excellent. David Morse looks like he came right off the dollar bill as George Washington. Tom Hollander even puts in a memorable performance as King George III (I say "even," because the time on the screen was short, the rendition understated, and the effect therefore all the more impressive).

I loved the music, too - kudos to Rob Lane and Joseph Vitarelli.

This is the best American history I've ever seen on television.

See also: John Adams on HBO: Good Founding Father, Bad President ... John Adams 5: Jousting of Ideas ... 6. President and Father ... John Adams Concludes ...

Further reading ...

The Flouting of the First Amendment - my 2005 Keynote Address at Fordham University, in which I talk about the vying opinions of John Adams v. Thomas Jefferson on human nature...

The Soft Edge: A Natural History and the Future of the Information Revolution - my 1998 book, with more details on this time in history, and the roles of Adams and Jefferson

And ...

Open Letter to Obama Supporters from an Obama Supporter: Let the Contentious Campaign Continue

Senator Patrick Leahy called last week for Hillary Clinton to bow out of the Democratic Presidential contest. Not only is that not likely to happen, it's likely counterproductive to call for it. Hillary Clinton will drop out of the race when she's ready, and the only people she's likely to take counsel from about that are Bill and Chelsea. Further, if there is any chance, however slight, of Hillary winning, then why should she withdraw now?

I'm an Obama supporter. But here, from that vantage point, are my takes on various contentious issues in the Democratic race to the White House:

1. Let all the voting continue, in every primary yet to be held. There will be more than enough time, after the last primary in June, for the candidates to reassess their positions before the convention in August.

2. Calls for a reduction in criticism of Obama and Clinton by Clinton and Obama are foolish. Although I by no means support some of the name-calling that has been going on (such as James Carville's attack on Bill Richardson as a "Judas"), spirited criticism and attacks strengthen each candidate - and will make each a better contender against John McCain in the Fall. As an Obama supporter, I've been impressed with the cool and dignity he has shown in response to attacks from the Clinton campaign. This bodes well in a contest with the short-fused McCain.

3. And while we're at it, let's have revotes in Michigan and Florida. Obama has nothing to fear from those. Even if he loses both of those states in fair revotes to Hillary Clinton, he'll almost certainly get almost as many delegates. And, when you're already ahead, as is Obama, this serves to bring you closer to the nomination.

The common ingredient in all of the above is the democratic process. Calling it off, excluding certain states, muting the debate in any way, is not the way to go for the Democratic Party - and for people who see Obama as the best candidate and the next President.

In Treatment Concludes (For Now)

Laura and Alex, for very different reasons, are no longer in treatment In Treatment with Paul. So it was only appropriate that the finale week concluded with Sophie, Jake and Amy ... and Paul as patients.

Let's start with Jake and Amy. As I've been saying throughout my reviews, I think theirs was the weakest, most obvious segment in the series. Nonetheless, it concluded on a pretty good note, if unsuccessful for their marriage. Jake could just not get over Amy's sleeping with her boss. Not even when she was punished by being fired. Not even when she made some affectionate moves to reconcile with Jake. Not even when Paul tried to get them to see that there was still some powerful energy in their relationship. All to no avail. The therapy got them - at least, Jake - to see that their marriage had to fail.

In contrast, Sophie's final session was an uplifting success. We get to meet her father. Sophie finally lets him know how his leaving her, when he left her mother, was so devastating to Sophie. She may not be 100% whole, but Paul has done a fine job in getting her onto that road. "Goodbye, old fart," she says to Paul. "Goodbye, young fart," he replies. A healthy, productive relationship, in which Sophie is brought well back from the brink of suicide. Well done, Paul, and In Treatment.

And Paul? Well, Laura may be out of treatment but not out of Paul's life and yearnings and therefore not out of the show. Paul goes to see her. He tells her he loves her. She's not quite as seductive as usual, but does wind up sitting on her bed, as she takes off her top, and invites Paul in...

And we cut to black. Not quite a Sopranos' ending, though. Paul arrives at Gina's ... and we learn that Paul had an anxiety attack, and left Laura and their relationship unconsummated.

I found parts of this less than fully believable. I'm not convinced that Paul would have gone to Laura's house in the first place. And, on the other hand, that, once there, in her bedroom, he would have walked out.

But these are quibbles. All in all, In Treatment was a splendid series - the most unique show on television this year. And I very much hope this series of day by day sessions is renewed. You don't find a show like this on television, even on HBO, with Gabriel Byrne and such a superb cast, every day...

See also In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...


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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Reading a Tantalizing Bit More of Unburning Alexandria




You know you want to hear this ... you've regretted missing all of the readings I've done before ... So I'll be back this afternoon, on the Web, in Second Life, reading some new material from my novel in progress, Unburning Alexandria...

It's the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates - but, if you haven't read that novel yet, not to worry, I promise I won't give anything away in my reading...

The reading will take place on the Web in Second Life.

If you're already my friend in Second Life, look for an announcement from me, an hour before the reading, with a landmark you can use to get to the reading.

If you're already on Second Life, but are not yet my Friend, I can be contacted at PaulLevinson Freenote - send me a note in Second Life, and I'll reply with a landmark to the reading.

The reading will be at the Bantam Dell Cafe in Second Life.

If you're not on Second Life, you can join for free any time at http://secondlife.com - after you've joined send me a message here on Facebook, and I'll give you more details.

More details about The Plot to Save Socrates and Unburning Alexandria at http://theplottosavesocrates.com

Time: 4pm Eastern (= 1pm Second Life Time)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tooling Up for the Return of The Tudors - with Peter O'Toole!

I saw the first episode of The Tudors, Season 2, on Showtime On Demand ... Not to worry, this is history, after all, so it's not easy to give much away, and I promise to be mum about anything embellished, in this or any review I may post before the episode's full-bodied airing...

And The Tudors is as delightfully full-bodied this season as last, when I referred to the series as "history so real you can taste it".

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn are as sensual as last year, and, who cares if this Henry's a rail like Abe Lincoln and not hefty like the real Henry. Rhys Meyers' performance still carries the requisite weight.

But the actor who makes everyone else on this show a lightweight - the actor whose gravitas, in fact, has pulled every performance around him like puppets on a string, planets in the solar system, from the first we ever saw him in Lawrence of Arabia - plays Henry's adversary in the Protestant Reformation in this second season of The Tudors.

Peter O'Toole as Pope Paul III had just one scene in the season opener, but his words and delivery balanced all the power and passion we saw in court back in England. The Pope wonders why someone doesn't get rid of the "putant" - the whore - Anne Boleyn. Popes apparently didn't mince words in those days, and when spoken by Peter O'Toole they are all but irresistible daggers.

With Martin Luther's suggestion that people should read the Bible for themselves given life and currency by the bibles that poured from the newly invented printing press, the Church was at a fork in the road.

At this point in the story, all Henry really wants is the Pope's blessing to marry divorce Katherine and marry Anne. He'll settle for even just permission. Henry had earlier expressed sharp disagreement with Luther - had written a tract against Luther, as we saw in Season 1. But people in England, including some of Henry's closest advisers, are seeing merit in breaking away from the Church....

This setting of this momentous stage of history will appear on Showtime this Sunday evening.

See also ...

see also The Tudors: Transformations and Assassins and The Tudors Continues, The First Amendment Abides ... The Tudors and the Printing Press ...The Tudors Concludes and America Begins ...

and my reviews of all of last season's episodes, beginning here ...

and more on the printing press and the Protestant Reformation in my book, The Soft Edge ...

and historical science fiction about another era ...



The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ten Things You May Not Have Known about Sierra Waters

from Sierra Waters' MySpace blog...

=========================================================



Tags, Colors and Flavors and Love
Category: Blogging
post by Sierra Water

Lance Strate tagged me.

I confess to not knowing much about tagging in the first decade of the 21st century. But it’s been explained to me that I’m required to list 10 unknown things about me, and then tag 10 other people ... so here goes. (And I’ve got to admit that this should be fun...)

1. My favorite color is sunset orange and my favorite flavor is peach-mango.

2. I cry every time I hear the Beatles’ singing "Real Love," because it was recorded with John Lennon’s voice, years after he was killed, and the Beatles added their voices and instruments to the record. Someday, after I finish my work in Alexandria, I may try to do something about this.

3. Numbers and poetry and harmonies make my heart beat faster.

4. I’ve recently realized that a cuddle with the right person can be almost as good as making love. Actually, I know I’ve always known that, but I didn’t take the time to admit it.

5. I think of Sea Street in Quivett Neck on the Cape as "the town that time forgot." I sometimes walk there, alone, late in the moonlight. You can say hello to me there, if ever you see me.

6. With one exception, I prefer 21st century men over ancient men in bed. On the other hand, ancient women ... :)

7. Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemais, had a lot more style and substance than is admitted in most histories.

8. Falernian wine tastes so fine it makes my eyes water with joy.

9. So far, I have not been able to travel to any time in the future past the end of the 21st century - I’m not sure why.

10. I discovered that the Millennium Club in New York City was known, in an alternate reality, as the Ce-- no, I better not make this public.

Ok - I hope I haven’t revealed too much above, or transgressed any early 21st line of publicly courteous discourse.

And here are my [Sierra Waters'] ten taggees:


Becca Imako
... SciFi Fanatic ... Big God Network ...

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore ... Sarah Beth Durst ...

Timetravel_0 ... Angelica Waters ... Chris Dickerson (Cisco) ...

Adventures in SciFi Publishing ... Larry: Poet Surfer





more about Sierra Waters...



The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Graceless James Carville Wants to "Brand" Bill Richardson for Obama Endorsement

I just saw James Carville on MSNBC refuse to apologize for calling Bill Richardson a "Judas" for Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama. Far worse than not apologizing, Carville offered that he wanted to "brand" Richardson for this act of betrayal, so that everyone would know Richardson by that act.

Actually, Richardson's endorsement of Obama was an act of outright courage - an act of standing up for what Richardson thinks is good and right for the country.

What does Carville hope to accomplish by his "branding"? Frighten or caution other super delegates, who may be thinking of moving from support of Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama? Not likely to happen.

Indeed, the only lasting effect of Carville's graceless attack on Bill Richardson is that it will long be remembered as an example of just how low gutter-sniping campaigns, politics by intimidation, can go.

I know I certainly will plan on using Carville's remarks as an example of propaganda at its worst in the graduate course in "Propaganda and Persuasion" I'll be teaching at Fordham University this July.

Obama Girl to Hillary (with Love): Stop the Attacks!

Obama Girl is back with a brand new video - like her others, a mix of sage political advice (Hillary - stop attacking Obama, it only helps McCain), hilarious, incisive lyrics and special effects (my favorite, for some reason, is Obama Girl talking to Hillary in the diner), and a great, catchy tune.

Kudos, plaudits, and accolades to Ben Relles's BarelyPolitical.com team, Amber Lee Ettinger as Obama Girl, and Leah Kauffman for the songs and the singing. "Everyone's got a crush on Obama ... Chris Matthews, Bill Richardson, even George Clooney..." ... Hey, this video even has Bill Clinton playing a mournful saxophone...

Here's a special preview ... as I've been saying since the summer, when the history of this revolutionary campaign for the presidency is written, I guarantee it will have a chapter on the contribution of the Obama Girl videos to the YouTube generation...

(At the very least, I'll be writing about this in my new book - New New Media - watch for an announcement about that here soon.)



Additional links -

Interview I did with Ben Relles this Fall

Obama Girl visits my class at Fordham University

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Amsterdam 5: Meets Mad Men

Interesting, mixed-bag fifth episode of New Amsterdam tonight...

On the one hand ... It was good to see John telling Omar, a young jazzman in the 1960s, John's whole story of immortality. It's not completely clear why Omar would have believed such a fantastic tale, though he is aware that his father doesn't seem to be aging, but that's ok ... we can find out later, in a subsequent episode, how Omar comes to fully accept his father's true nature. In the meantime, the 1960s ambience was fine ... making tonight a sort of New Amsterdam takes a page from Mad Men, black bow-ties, white shirts, and all.

Meanwhile, in 2008, John's new relationship with Sara is already in danger - she, understandably, doesn't believe much of what John tells her of his past. At the end of the episode, John starts telling her the truth, and she walks away. Unlike Omar, she's not John's flesh and blood, has no memory of John never aging.... And a Google search she performs (it's amazing how quickly Google searches have become part of television drama) tells her there's no record of John more than five years ago.

This is a welcome development of John's story. He lives in one identity until his eternal youth makes him stand out, then suddenly moves on and adopts another. People like Omar are the only ones John takes with him. (It will be fun to learn more about John's many other children in future episodes.)

Now, if that's all there had been to tonight's show, I'd say I was thoroughly happy with it. But the other part of the show - John's police work - is beginning to drag. Although his cases connect in some way to his immortality, the actual crimes he and his partner investigate have all been done before, on Law and Order and its myriad versions.

This season of course has already been produced. If the show's renewed - I hope it is - I'd urge an overhaul of the police part to get more riveting, original stories.

In the meantime, more of John's fascinating back story, and its complex, incredible facets, would be welcome.

See also New Amsterdam, 1,2,3 ... 4. Poetry and Parenthesis ... 6. The DNA of Art ... 7. What Kept John from Dying? ... 8. New Amsterdam Bows: Lessons in Cons and Backsides





winner of the Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction novel of 1999

"delivers on its promises" - The New York Times




Silk Code trailer

The L Word Concludes This Season with Powerful Lessons

I really enjoyed this season of Showtime's The L Word, which concluded last night.

My favorite thread comes from the next to last show this season: Kit (always great to see Pam Grier in action) has murder on her mind - she can't abide vicious SheBar owner Dawn buying her Planet out from under her. Kit shows up with a loaded a gun. But before she can fire from behind the curtain, she gets a call from Bette (Jennifer Beals) - who is overwhelmed with crises at work, needs someone to pick up little Angelica, and Tina (Laurel Holloman), also deluged by crises at work, can't do it. The call snaps Kit out of her killing fugue. But she's not out of the woods just yet. She gets Angelica, brings her home, steps out the room and comes back in to see Angelica playing with Kit's loaded gun ...

This was one of those moments in which I really wasn't sure what would happen - what kind of lesson the producers wanted to give us.

I was relieved that it was a powerful lesson - with a happy ending. Kit gets the gun safely away from Angelica, and puts it just where it belongs - buried in the outside trash can. Everyone can breathe now. And, maybe because it all happened so suddenly, these scenes struck me as one among the best I've ever seen about the insanity of having guns around - especially with children nearby.

Shane (Kate Moennig) continues to be my favorite character. Her being with Nikki on the balcony in the finale - interrupted by Jenny (Mia Kirshner), who, as Shane well knows, is deeply in love with Nikki - makes perfect sense for Shane's character. Sex is usually irresistible to Shane, Nikki is irresistibly beautiful, and Shane's long relationship with Jenny is complicated. Shane has also just broken up with Molly, which makes Shane more volatile than usual. But ... one thing I don't quite see is why Shane let Molly's mother talk Shane out of the relationship. Given how long Shane had been yearning for Molly, and happy the two seemed to be together, not to mention Shane's rebellious nature ... (On the other hand, what do I know ... I'm just your average male viewer when it comes to The L Word.)

But I do know that this continues to be a superbly acted and rendered series. Beals, Holloman, Moening, and Kirshner and in fact just about everyone gave outstanding performances this year, and I look forward to more next year.

See also Looking In On The L Word






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lost 4 and 8: A Special, Jumbo Podcast

Enjoy Lost?

How could you not? It's easily one of the best shows ever on television. The first season took the world by magnetic storm. The finale of the third season is still being talked about. And most people, including me, think the fourth season - which just concluded its first part, consisting of eight episodes - is at least as good as the first season, and, in my opinion, in some respects even better.

I've been reviewing every episode on my weekly Levinson news clips podcast.

I've compiled them all into a special 68-minute jumbo episode of my Light On Light Through podcast. Plus, I've added a little special commentary at the end.

If you like Lost - or just want to know what all the sensation is about - sit back, kick back, and enjoy the podcast below...

And, hey, if you have a car that's Bluetooth enabled - like my Prius - just call the following number, and you can hear this entire podcast on your car radio ... 415-223-4122 ... Enjoy...








special 60-minute jumbo podcast reviewing first 8 episodes of Season 4

In Treatment 8: A Princely Performance

Week 8 of In Treatment on HBO was it most powerful so far. (I may have said that before - but it's true.)

Although Alex's death was no real surprise - I saw it coming last week - I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes. And the funeral scenes were just what the series needed. Paul and we get to see people for the names he and Alex had been discussing ... we meet Alex's wife, children, gay friends, and, of course, Alex's father. Laura's presence was also just right, and I thought she and Paul looked more comfortable together than any time before. Paul also seemed more human and real - a therapist grappling with his own feelings about his patient's death, but, in the end, just a human being, grieving like any of us for the loss of someone he cared about.

But, of course, Paul's feelings as Alex's therapist are what drives the story, and these come into full play in Tuesday's episode, when Paul gets a visit from Alex's father, played brilliantly by Glynn Turman (Mayor Royce on The Wire). This episode, propelled by Turman's performance, was the best single episode in the series so far, as father and therapist both contend with their intersecting guilt over the likely suicide of a son and patient. Turman's performance as Alex Prince, Sr. is so good he actually looks like Alex - I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Turman is actually Blair Underwood's father, or the two are otherwise related. That's a testament to magnitude of Turman's rendition.

Skipping ahead to Paul's session on Friday with Gina, we find that Paul indeed thinks that Alex took his life. Paul is in this session without Kate. He engages in his customary needling of Gina ... and Gina responds with a hurricane of revelation about what makes her tick. She wants to help Paul, but won't tolerate his painting her into a corner that doesn't jibe with who really is, or thinks she is. When it's over, it's clear that Gina may be more the powerful, intelligent, and better therapist than Paul. This was easily the best episode with Gina (and also a sterling, powerhouse performance by Dianne Wiest), and also one of the best in the series. And the permission that Gina gives Paul to explore and decide upon his relationship with Laura was appropriate - Paul can't rely on Gina to tell him what not to do - and promises a good finale episode with Laura this coming week.

Meanwhile, back on Thursday, Jake shows up without Amy - a part of me thinks that's a plus - and also gave us his best session so far. We finally get to see the combination of talent and insecurity that moves Jake, and Paul does a good job of bringing that out.

And, saving the best for last, it was great to see the progress Paul is making with Sophie. At the end of Wednesday's episode, Sophie seems to finally be allowing herself to have a relationship with her mother. Paul's work with Sophie is always a pleasure to see. As I've mentioned here before, he is at his best with her, because he is not conflicted by sexual attraction and possible love (Laura), competition (Alex), and a marriage in trouble (Jake and Amy) and all too reminiscent of his own.

This coming week's finales should be excellent. HBO has made a real contribution to the English-language television by re-doing this wonderful Israeli show here.

See also In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... In Treatment Concludes: For Now






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...


Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Further Thoughts on Obama's Speech on Racism: Its Lasting Significance, and the Need to Keep Politics and Religion Separate

I offered my first impressions on Tuesday of Obama's speech on racism - I said it struck me as an extraordinarily frank and important step forward in America's struggle to understand and overcome racism, and may in the long run make the damage done to Obama's campaign by his relationship with Rev. Wright insignificant.

I've tried to let this settle in. Here's what I think about all of this now:

1. I'm more convinced that ever that Obama's speech was a major, unprecedented, and ultimately enormously helpful breakthrough on racism in America. I think we'll be seeing the good consequences of Obama's probe of racism - of whites to blacks, and blacks to whites - for years to come. It's nothing but helpful to get these issues - the resentments, the ways of talking and thinking - out into the open, on the table. Obama's speech has been compared to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," but, in some ways, Obama's may be even more important in our current day and age. King's was a magnificent plea for justice and hope and courage. Obama's was the beginning of an astute analysis, a dialog, for just why that's so difficult to accomplish. Both are surely needed. But what Obama has contributed was pretty much missing until now.

2. What of Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright? It occurs to me that our wise Founding Fathers were at their wisest when they insisted on separation of Church and State. Politics and religion do not mix well, because the first is completely public, and the second, in its deepest and more important elements, is private. All I need to understand is Obama's - or any candidate's - political positions. Not their religious beliefs and actions. This is because I don't think I really can understand anyone's deepest religious beliefs, or lack of, except my own and those of close members of my family. In my case, for example, I'm culturally Jewish - my family and I enjoy celebrating the holidays. I don't put much faith into the religious teachings. I wouldn't put any rabbi's advice above any other person I deemed to be intelligent. My deepest religious beliefs are transcendentalist - similar to Ralph Waldo Emerson's - that is, I think that if there is a divine force in the cosmos, it expresses itself through every human being. I recognize that there is much that I and no human is likely to ever understand - such as what existed before the beginning of the universe - but I don't know if that recognition is something I should pray to.

So - what does this have to with my political views and actions? Not much, as far as I can tell. And I think Obama's similarly have little to do with kind of President he would be. True, Obama's pastor Wright did make outrageous political statements - such as America getting what it deserved on September 11 - but there is nothing in Obama's record that suggests that he agrees with such a view even in the slightest.

So I am comfortable with leaving Obama's religious beliefs and actions to Obama, and judging what he does, and says he will do, politically.

And, on that score, Obama's speech about racism leads me to believe he will be a great President. I hope the people who are voting in the remaining primaries, and then the super delegates, see that. And I expect America as a whole will see that in November.

More About Lost Season 4: (ii) Michael and Ben, Good and Evil, Alias Echo

I've been thinking Michael's unswerving drive to kill himself in Episode 8 - whether by car, gun, or bomb - and I think it's based on more than just Walt's rejection of Michael, after Michael tells Walt about Michael's murder of Ana Lucia and Libby.

I think Michael's commitment to end his life shows us that he is a fundamentally good person. Even if Walt had accepted him, Michael would have found it difficult to live with himself. He is not a killer. He shot Ana Lucia because he didn't want any witness to his freeing Ben - a witness that could have interfered with Michael's reunion with Walt. That murder was certainly not admirable, but it was based on love (for his son), not hate or greed. And Michael's shooting of Libby was an unthinking reflex - ignited when Libby surprised him.

That being the case, I'm thinking Michael may be on a course to some kind of redemption.

Ben is another story. He reminds me of Sloan in Alias - J. J. Abrams' other great production. Sloan was a genius - not only in intelligence, but in walking a razor thin line between good and evil, to the point that the audience couldn't tell, and wouldn't find out until the very last episodes, that Sloan was evil.

I'm guessing this is precisely the trajectory we'll be treated to with Ben. He keeps saying he is one of the good guys, and we do see him seem to do some good ... as Tom did in "helping" Michael. But there always seems to be a deeper motive with Ben, which is not so good.

In the end, it may be Widmore who is the better man.


See also...

Further Questions about Lost 4.4: Jack and Aaron, Kate and Sawyer
... and More About Lost 4: (i) Baby Aaron and the Oceanic Six

1. Lost's Back Full Paradoxical Blast 4.1 ... 4.2: Five Flashbacks and Three Rational Explanations ... 4.3: Thirty Minutes and Big Ben ... 4.4: Kate and ... ... 4.5 Desmond 1 and Desmond 2 ... 4.6 The True Nature of Ben ... 4.7 Flash Both Ways ... 4.8 Michael and Alex

and

2. More Thoughts On Lost 4.1: Those Who Went with Hurley and Those Who Stayed with Jack and Two More Points about Lost 4.1







special 60-minute jumbo podcast reviewing first 8 episodes of Season 4







The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates and its time travel ...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Memo to Networks: Show a Little Decency in Your Reporting of Hillary's Days as First Lady

Amidst all the political excitement in the past few days - further reaction to Obama's important speech about racism in America, McCain's gaffe's about al-Qaeda in Iran, people in the State Department illegally looking at the passports of leading Presidential candidates - I wanted to briefly note, and decry, the shabby way the three 24/7 cable news operations reported Hillary Clinton's release of details of her daily activity as First Lady.

CNN, MSNBC, and Fox all couldn't help mentioning what Hillary reported she was doing when Bill was with Monica in the White House.

What interest, other than cheap and prurient, does reporting on that serve?

Telling Americans that Hillary did more or less about this and that in her years as First Lady makes perfect sense. Reporting that many of her notes of meetings were vague or general is fine and fair game.

But reporting on what a wife was doing when her husband's philandering is not - even if the wife happens to be a First Lady who is now running for President.

Memo to news networks: grow up.

I'm an Obama supporter, but I don't like to see any reporting that distracts from the important issues in this campaign, and seeks to embarrass a candidate for no good reason.

More About Lost Season 4: (i) Baby Aaron and the Oceanic Six

I've been debating about whether to write about what the coming attractions at the end of Episode 8 of Lost revealed last night - mainly because I don't like coming attractions settling debates that are going on among fans. Such debates are, after all, one of the joys of watching and loving a television show these days, when you can discuss your interpretations with other fans. Lost, from its very beginning, was always intertwined with the Web.

But the coming attractions were so unmistakable on one crucial point that they cannot be ignored. The voice-over says the Oceanic Six have been revealed, and we see pictures of Jack, Sayid, Sun, Hurley, Aaron, and Kate. I was hoping that maybe there was a quick shot of Michael, or Sawyer, just before or after - but that just isn't there. The only conclusion we can come to, unless the coming attractions were deliberately lying to us, is that Aaron is one of the Oceanic Six.

I've always loved babies - being a beaming father, as well as uncle - but I've got to say that I don't like Aaron being among the Oceanic Six. Yes, we've learned that the whole Oceanic Six story is a lie - this was clear at Kate's trial - but weaving Aaron into it just doesn't add up. Is part of the lie that Claire gave birth to him on the plane? I guess that could work, since Aaron would at that point have become a passenger - not on the manifest, but still a passenger - but if Aaron is said to have been born on the island, then he was in no legal sense a passenger on the plane. True, Aaron would have survived the crash, and I guess that would give some logic to his inclusion in the Oceanic Six.

We do know that Aaron is the reason that Jack can't get together with Kate. And we've yet to see under what circumstances the Oceanic Six leave the island. Depending upon how those issues are resolved, Aaron's inclusion in the Oceanic Six would make a bit more sense than it does now.

Until then, count me as skeptical and not happy about Aaron being the sixth - and coming attraction producers on ABC - next time keep your traps shut ... :)

See also...

Further Questions about Lost 4.4: Jack and Aaron, Kate and Sawyer
... and More About Lost 4: (ii) Michael and Ben, Good and Evil, Alias Echo

1. Lost's Back Full Paradoxical Blast 4.1 ... 4.2: Five Flashbacks and Three Rational Explanations ... 4.3: Thirty Minutes and Big Ben ... 4.4: Kate and ... ... 4.5 Desmond 1 and Desmond 2 ... 4.6 The True Nature of Ben ... 4.7 Flash Both Ways ... 4.8 Michael and Alex

and

2. More Thoughts On Lost 4.1: Those Who Went with Hurley and Those Who Stayed with Jack and Two More Points about Lost 4.1







special 60-minute jumbo podcast reviewing first 8 episodes of Season 4






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates and its time travel ...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Lost 4.8: Michael and Alex

Episode 8 of this Season of Lost - the final episode of this first part of the 4th Season - was mostly about Michael. But I think the most important part may have been about Alex.

First, Michael - his story was told superbly in this episode, in a flashback that goes back not to before the crash of 815, but to the time after Ben sets Michael and Walt free from the island. When we first see this flashback, it's not entirely clear that it isn't a flashforward, to the time after the Oceanic Six have left the island. Michael - like Jack - is despondent, and tries to take his own life. Like Jack, he doesn't succeed.

Tom appears and explains to Michael just why he couldn't commit suicide. But, first, Tom's very appearance tells us this is a flashback to after Michael first left the island, not an Oceanic Six flashforward. Because, as we saw at the end of Season 3, Tom will return to the island and be killed by Sawyer when Hurley prevents the execution of Sawyer, Sayid, and Bernard by The Others who are exceeding Ben's command ... (one of my all-time favorite scenes in Lost).

But, back in Michael's flashback, Tom, not yet killed by Sawyer, tells Michael that the island won't let Michael die. Michael already tried to kill himself by crashing his car into a barrier. He survived that, and after his meeting with Tom, Michael finds he can't kill himself with a bullet to the head, either. By why not? What's the island's "game" in this?

Not clear. Except, ironically, it didn't work for Tom back on the island at the end of Season 3. And, in that same finale, it apparently did prevent Jack from jumping off the bridge in his flashforward.

Fascinating, and important - because it may also tie into the recuperative powers of the island on Locke, maybe Rose, etc. It was one of the two most important parts of Michael's story, tonight (which had some great acoustic markers, with sounds on the ship reminiscent of sounds in the hatch, and Mama Cass singing another great song).



The other part of Michael's story ties into the second branch of Episode 8 - Michael's relationship with Ben, who has a crucial conversation with Michael in which Ben reminds Michael that Michael killed Ana Lucia and Libby on his own, not under Ben's orders...

This is important, because it gets, again, to Ben's true nature - how truly evil is Ben?

Seemingly good, back on the island in the present, when Ben pleads with Alex to flee to the Temple, so she is nowhere near him when Widmore's people come after him. Alex reluctantly goes, along with her boyfriend, Karl, and her mother, Rousseau.

As the three get close to the Temple, an unseen sniper kills Alex's boyfriend. Rousseau soon dies...

Only Alex survives. (Presumably, because we of course can never be sure with this island.)

Were the bullets fired by Ben's enemies? That's the obvious conclusion.

But I'm wondering if Ben wasn't behind this, wanting to get Karl and Rousseau totally out of the way, so he can be Alex's father again with no interference, which is the way things were before the end of Season 3.

That would make Ben a pretty evil person. Yeah, I'm thinking that's just what Ben is.

And I'll be back here, with egg on my face for any wrong predictions, and smirks for what if anything I get right, at the end of April, for Part II of the spectacular season of Lost.

See also...

Further Questions about Lost 4.4: Jack and Aaron, Kate and Sawyer
and More about Season Four: Baby Aaron and the Oceanic Six and More About Lost 4: (ii) Michael and Ben, Good and Evil, Alias Echo

1. Lost's Back Full Paradoxical Blast 4.1 ... 4.2: Five Flashbacks and Three Rational Explanations ... 4.3: Thirty Minutes and Big Ben ... 4.4: Kate and ... ... 4.5 Desmond 1 and Desmond 2 ... 4.6 The True Nature of Ben ... 4.7 Flash Both Ways ... 4.9 Daughters, Rules, and Some Truth about Ben ... 4.10: Almost a Dream Come True ... 4.11 Unlocking Locke

and

2. More Thoughts On Lost 4.1: Those Who Went with Hurley and Those Who Stayed with Jack and Two More Points about Lost 4.1







special 10-minute podcast of this Lost review and analysis






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates and its time travel ...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

David Gregory's Race To The White House Off to Good Start on MSNBC

So, I finally got a chance in this hectic week to see David Gregory's new Race to the White House, which replaced Tucker Carlson's show at 6pm.

I thought Race to the White House was excellent. And I enjoyed it a lot more than Carlson's show.

It's interesting to analyze why.

After all, Carlson and Gregory both talk a lot about politics, and if Gregory has more experience as a reporter, Carlson certainly is at least as articulate, and a lot more humorous.

But Tucker Carlson's show always seemed somewhat listless, in contrast to Gregory's show which was bursting with energy.

Here are some of the reasons:

.Gregory's Race to the White House has sharp, colorful graphics and scenics ... the red-orange background is hot and welcoming. (In contrast, and in McLuhanesque terms*, Tucker Carlson's whole approach may have been too laid back and cool.)

.Mike Murphy, one of the panelists, has one of the sharpest wits going. He had me and most of the panelists laughing a dozen or more times tonight. Given that Murphy worked with Romney and McCain, that's saying a lot, at least for me.

.Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson were fine panelists, too. There may be a danger of over-exposing these two - they're on just about every hour on MSNBC - but, so far, they have something wise to say, and say it engagingly, on just about every show.

.Joe Scarborough was pretty good on the panel, too. Interesting thing about Joe - his Scarborough Country in the evening was often excruciating (I was a guest on the show several times, and even I couldn't save it). But Joe's been fine in the morning, and, fortunately for Race to White House, it looked like the Morning not the Evening Joe tonight...

I'm been thinking for a while (can't recall if wrote it) that MSNBC, not CNN, seems most likely to overtake Fox News in the next few years. The new lineup in general, and Race to the White House in particular, is a good first step.

========================
*More about McLuhan, and his distinction between hot and cool media, in my Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium

See also McLuhan as Micro-Blogger

one of my appearances on Scarborough Country

See also transcripts of this and my other appearances on Scarborough Country.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, Last of Titans, Is Gone

Back in the 1950s, three science fiction writers accounted for the lion's share and more of my great reading - Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. Asimov and Heinlein have, sadly, been long gone. Arthur C. Clarke died today at age 90.

His Childhood's End, and its haunting, mystical story of aliens - the Overlords - coming to Earth, captured me when I was younger than ten. I still count it as among the best novels I've ever read.

Clarke was not as prolific as Asimov or Heinlein, but that didn't matter. His connection to the cosmos had a probity, a clarity, and even a sweetness, all its own. Clarke continued this kind of writing in movies as well as books and stories - he is of course best known as the writer of Kubrick's 2001.

2001 was the year, as fate would have it, that I was finishing my second term as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. On more than one occasion, I called upon Arthur C. Clarke for his sage advice.

But Clarke contributed more than eternally haunting science fiction. He was also a futurist, and in 1945 he published a famous article which predicted the role of artificial satellites in telecommunication - 1945, way back then, that's what I call perceptive.

When I published my book about the impact of cell phones in 2004 - Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium, and How It Has Transformed Everything - I knew that there was only one person I wanted to write a blurb for the book. Arthur C. Clarke, already in tenuous health, obliged me. His is the only blurb on the book.

I was privileged to read his writing, see his movies, and know him, at least a little, in the past ten years. We'll never see another like him.

Barack Obama's Speech about Racism in America: First Impressions

I just finished seeing Barack Obama's speech about racism in America, delivered in Philadelphia. It was the most extraordinary speech I've heard about racism - about its roots and realities in black and white America, about the legitimate grievances and fears of both communities - delivered by anyone, let alone someone running for President.

Obama also talked about Rev. Wright. I don't know if Obama can ever give a satisfactory explanation for why he kept this man as his pastor for so many years. Obama cannot now go back in time and undo that. However much he now condemns what Wright said, however much Obama wants to stand by him as a friend and a human being - none of that can change what Wright said, and Obama's relationship with him for so many years.

Bur Obama's speech this morning was so important, so courageous and perceptive in what it addressed, that Obama's relationship with Wright may no longer matter.

As Obama stressed many times, America can never move forward unless those issues are publicly addressed - reverse discrimination, which whites are, and feel they are, subjected to; and discrimination, which blacks are, and feel they are, subjected to. Both of these realities need to be considered and discussed in our political campaigns. Otherwise, we will indeed never move forward.

Barack Obama has been presenting himself as a new kind of candidate. He demonstrated that eloquently, magnificently, today, and certainly showed why any American who truly wants to move into the 21st century should vote for him.

See also: Further Thoughts on Obama's Speech on Racism, and the Need to Keep Politics and Religion Separate

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Amsterdam 4: Poetry and Parenthesis

One of the things I really like about New Amsterdam is the way that poetry weaves through almost every episode ... Omar Khayyam, Walt Whitman, and, tonight, John quotes the famous parenthesis line from e. e. cummings, "life's not a paragraph. And death I think is no parenthesis." Hey, when was the last time you heard cummings quoted (he spelled his name in small letters) in a prime time show on Fox...

John quotes this line as he and Sara walk in the New York evening, and draw ever closer. The line, of course, has an especially profound meaning for John, which Sara doesn't know. John's life, going on four centuries, is surely not a paragraph. It's an epic. And close calls with death have not only been no parenthesis, but barely a dot on John's page.

John's been struck by swords, accidents, and gunshot dots, of which we saw one tonight. Back in the Bronx in 1813, John challenges his arrogant aristocratic boss to a duel. The boss takes what he pleases with women, including impregnating someone John loves. John takes a non-fatal shot in the duel - all shots presumably would be - then gets up and calmly puts the boss down for good.

Honor plays a role in the 2008 story as well, and there are some good parallels between the mistreatment of women, then and now. But the strength of this series, so far, is in its historical interludes, and their meshing into John's present.

So far, the most interesting element in that present is not the police work, but John's apparently finding his truest love, in Sara.

Except ... I think it's proceeding a little too smoothly ... I'm guessing sooner or later there'll be something more than a parenthesis which gets in its way.

See also New Amsterdam, 1,2,3 ... 5. Meets Mad Men ... 6. The DNA of Art ... 7. What Kept John from Dying? ... 8. New Amsterdam Bows: Lessons in Cons and Backsides





winner of the Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction novel of 1999

"delivers on its promises" - The New York Times

Silk Code trailer

Sunday, March 16, 2008

John Adams: Good Founding Father, Bad President Makes Great Television on HBO

The Adams Chronicles mini-series on PBS in 1976 has long been one of my all-time television favorites. And, seeing as how I don't at all like the real John Adams, the second President of the United States, that's saying a lot.

I just saw the first two episodes on HBO's new mini-series, John Adams, and I think I like it better than the Chronicles.

Of course, the first two episodes did not get close to the part of the real life of John Adams that makes him a villain in my book. And that book is: respect for the First Amendment to our Constitution. Adams signed the Sedition Act into law shortly after he became President in 1796 - an Act that so trampled the First Amendment, that Thomas Jefferson was close to urging the South to leave the USA back then.

I'll tell you more about that era when the HBO mini-series gets there.

In the meantime, what I saw is superb, breathtakingly accurate history. David McCullough, author of the book upon which the mini-series is based, is a top-notch historian and a riveting writer. Tonight's two episodes captured perfectly the unique blend of radical and authoritarian that made John Adams what he was - a great Founding Father, and (in my opinion) a poor President. He is a passionate believer in American independence and the primacy of our laws over England's - so much so that he defends British soldiers wrongly accused in the Boston Massacre. He is powerful and convincing to some of our more cautionary Founding Fathers. He is an early appreciator of Washington as a military man, has a great alliance with Ben Franklin, and encourages Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.

Adams and Jefferson will later fall out over the Sedition Act, but for now, John Adams (the character in the mini-series of the same name) is nothing but a pleasure to see. Paul Giamatti plays him well. Stephen Dillane has a quiet power as Jefferson, David Morse is excellent as George Washington, and Tom Wilkinson is marvelous as the sage Ben Franklin. The 20 or so minutes leading up to the ratification of the Declaration of Independence were pure gold.

I'll be back next week with another report on this history brought to vivid life on television.

See also: John Adams 3 and 4: Jefferson and Space Travel of the Soul ... John Adams 5: Jousting of Ideas ... 6. President and Father ... John Adams Concludes ...

Further reading ...

The Flouting of the First Amendment - my 2005 Keynote Address at Fordham University, in which I talk about John Adams and the Sedition Act...

The Soft Edge: A Natural History and the Future of the Information Revolution - my 1998 book, with more details on this time in history, and the roles of Adams and Jefferson

And ...

New Amstersdam, 1, 2, 3...

You know how devoted I am to time travel - Journeyman, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the time travel in Lost, and my most recent novel, The Plot to Save Socrates. New Amsterdam on Fox isn't quite time travel, but its story of an immortal in New York City has a lot of classic time travel elements in a hero who's been in town, since before it was a town, and continuously since 1642. In the first three episodes, we've already seen some erudite scenes in the Civil War and 1940s - as well as in the present.

I'm also partial to detective fiction - I just finished reviewing The Wire here on Sunday, and, yeah, I've written science fiction detective novels, too, including The Silk Code, The Consciousness Plague, and The Pixel Eye. So much the better, then, that John Amsterdam - the immortal in New Amsterdam - is a smart-talking detective in New York, New York. He's not only sharp, but has, of course, a great and pinpoint accurate historical knowledge. In his centuries he's a been a surgeon in the Civil War, a lawyer and then a soldier in the 1940s, and he also said something about being a history prof at Columbia University.

It's nice touches like this that make New Amsterdam a delight for the intellect. The series also isn't afraid to shock us with details like his old friend, in his 60s, is really John's son, from a woman he loved deeply in the 1940s...

John became immortal when he saved an Native American woman in New York in 1642, was run through with a sword, and she saved his life and blew some substance of immortality into him. John will live forever at age 35, or until he meets his true love, at which point he will start to age normally with the love of his long life.

If this sounds corny, it isn't at all in New Amsterdam. The series has a wisdom as well as a slight bit of CSI slickness, and the mix so far in the first three episodes looks to be just right.

The show also has a poetry - Walt Whitman and the verses of Omar Khayyam have already played roles in the series.

And Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is just right for John Amsterdam, with an off-English accent which is just what you'd expect of someone who has been around three and a half centuries. Zuleikha Robinson (who played Gaia opposite Ray Stevenson's Pullo in Rome!) as his attractive partner Eva, Stephen Henderson as his 65-year-old son Omar, and Alexie Gilmore as ER-doc Sara, who may be the love of his life, are fine, too.

I'm expecting to stay with New Amsterdam a long time...

See also
4. Poetry and Parenthesis ... 5. Meets Mad Men ... 6. The DNA of Art ... 7. What Kept John from Dying? ... 8. New Amsterdam Bows: Lessons in Cons and Backsides





winner of the Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction novel of 1999

"delivers on its promises" - The New York Times

Silk Code trailer

Saturday, March 15, 2008

In Treatment 7: Alex in the Sky with Diamonds

The most powerful session in Week 7 of HBO's In Treatment was with Alex.

I actually think of this as Part II of Alex's session in Week 6, in which he began to come to terms with his gay feelings, as well as fully realizing he needed help to sort out his life. In Week 7, Alex's session goes in the opposite direction - macho, in charge, knowing just what he wants to do - which is to get back in the sky and fly again. When his superiors contact Alex, and tell him they have a new assignment, he's all set to go.

Paul has already indicated that he thinks Alex may not yet be ready to return to the sky. Alex pleads with Paul - well, with Alex, it's a always as a much of a demand as a request - that Paul tell the military shrink that Alex is in good shape now. Paul clearly doesn't feel good about doing this - but it looks as if he will.

Blair Underwood once again gives a tour-de-force performance. And when the session ended, I had the feeling that we may not see Alex again - that he may die in the skies. I hope I'm wrong.

Sophie's session was also excellent, as always. She and we learn a lot more about her relationship with her father, and what went wrong back then. Paul continues to be at the top of his game with Sophie.

Monday was a holiday - Paul's kids were home from school, and Laura was nowhere to be seen. Paul's daughter Rosie confronts him about what's going on with Kate, and Paul confides in son Ian about his feelings for Laura. It was good seeing Paul with his kids - the different tableau was refreshing. But I found Paul's confession to Ian ... I don't know, implausible, not completely motivated.

Jake and Amy were, again, the weakest of the sessions. Their main value to the series, as I mentioned last week, is the contrast they provide to Paul and Kate's sessions with Gina.

Both marriages are clearly in trouble. With not that many weeks left in the series, I'm wondering which will survive - or maybe both, or neither....

The predictable answer would Jake and Amy's won't survive, and Paul and Kate's will - but I'm thinking the endings may be a little different...

See also In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes: For Now







The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...


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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Obama and the Demented "Uncle"

Barack Obama said on MSNBC's Countdown tonight that the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. - pastor of Obama's Church, and a longtime religious mentor - was akin to an "uncle," a member of the family, who says something that "you really disagree with"...

Here's some of what this "uncle" has said ... September 11 was "chickens coming home to roost" for America ... "God damn America" ... and, about the Clintons, "Bill did us, just like he did Monica Lewinsky. He was riding dirty." (You can see it all on YouTube videos.)

Obama has said he deplores those statements. He says he was not present at the sermons in which they were made. Wright, as of this evening, no longer has any connection to Obama's campaign.

Where does that leave us?

1. Obama and Wright are not the same person. Nor did Obama ever endorse any of Wright's statements. And Wright's statements never went out under Obama's name (as racist statements did under Ron Paul's).

2. But the fact that this raving hater was Obama's mentor for so long remains a concern. Obama's denunciation of Wright's statements is welcome, but it does not explain or excuse their long spiritual relationship.

Human beings are flawed - including those who run for President. No President or candidate for President has ever been perfect. Obama's gifts are no less inspirational today than they were last week.

But Barack Obama has taken a hit from the vicious, intolerant statements of his pastor. He will have to work that much harder to prove he is the best person for President.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lost 4.7: Flash Both Ways

A beautiful, bittersweet episode of Lost tonight, featuring Sun in a flashforward, about seven months into the future, giving birth to her baby. She is definitely one of the Oceanic Six.

Jin is rushing to the hospital with a big stuffed panda bear baby present. Sun calls out for him in the delivery room...

But Jin is not among the Oceanic Six. What we're seeing here is not Sun and Jin in the same flashforward. Not Jin in a flashforward at all. Jin's in a flashback, from before he and Sun wound up on the island, and the stuffed panda he is bringing is a present from his boss to the ambassador, whose wife is having a baby.

This flashback mimicking a flashforward is deftly done - Jin pays a lot of money for the stuffed panda he brings to the hospital, and we think Jin has this money because he's one of the Oceanic Six. But it's his boss's money he's waving around...

Jin never got off the island. Sun, accompanied by Hurley, takes her newborn baby to Jin's gravesite. The date of the death on the tombstone is 22 September 2004. But this isn't true either. Jin of course is alive later than that - we know this is true, and of course that's when Jin fathered Sun's baby. So the date of death is a lie - likely Jin is one of the people that Kate couldn't save, in the lie Jack told about their time on the island at Kate's trial.

But Jin's death is likely not a lie. Though, perhaps, just perhaps, Jin lives on the island, if the island's recuperative powers work their magic on whatever the injury that killed him.

The island, as we know, is not only a powerful restorative for some people, but is a powerful adhesive that keeps its inhabitants close at hand. It certainly kept Michael nearby - or, any rate, Ben did, for we find out tonight that Ben's agent on the boat is Michael - which was the obvious choice (especially since Harold Perrineau's name has been in the credits from the beginning of this season).

And the big question now is: who is the last of the Oceanic Six? Not Jin, not Claire (since Kate is now Aaron's mother) ... not likely Locke, who of all the original Losties is the most attached to the island...

I'll say it's Sawyer...

See also...

Further Questions about Lost 4.4: Jack and Aaron, Kate and Sawyer


1. Lost's Back Full Paradoxical Blast 4.1 ... 4.2: Five Flashbacks and Three Rational Explanations ... 4.3: Thirty Minutes and Big Ben ... 4.4: Kate and ... ... 4.5 Desmond 1 and Desmond 2 ... 4.6 The True Nature of Ben ... 4.8 Michael and Alex ... 4.9 Daughters, Rules, and Some Truth about Ben ... 4.10: Almost a Dream Come True ... 4.11 Unlocking Locke


and

2. More Thoughts On Lost 4.1: Those Who Went with Hurley and Those Who Stayed with Jack and Two More Points about Lost 4.1







special 5-minute podcast of this Lost review and analysis






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates and its time travel ...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!
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