Tuesday, June 28, 2011

True Blood Back for Season 4

True Blood's back for its 4th season.   Sookie has been in fairy world for just a few minutes, but back in the more or less real world gone for more than a year.   The most interesting developments in her absence -
  • Bill is now King of Louisiana, and the job finally fits his bearing well. 
  • Eric is still sheriff, and still deeply wanting Sookie.   And he has this advantage in that pursuit: he bought Sookie's house while she was away.  This means he does not need her permission to enter.  Sookie, of course, could move away, but we're dealing with Sookie here.
  • Jason is now full-fledged police, and involved with those panther people.
  • Married life isn't all Jessica and Hoyt hoped it would be.
  • Arlene's baby boy may be a little monster, literally.
  • There's a coven of witches on hand - the newest supernatural element.
  • Tara's in New Orleans (hey, HBO has back-to-back Orleans dramas now, with Treme)
These are a pretty good set of new ingredients, and Sookie's year off has also given all the humans a chance to grow a year older, and look so.  This includes Sookie herself, which suggests that she quickly aged a year while she was away.  Bill and Eric look much the same, which makes sense, since vampires don't age.  But Jessica definitely looks older  (and she looks great) - no longer like a teenager - and this does not make much sense, since Jessica is a vampire, too.

My daughter tells me that the fourth novel in the book series on which season 4 is based is one of the best.   It's off to a good start.

See also: True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone ... True Blood 3.2: King and Wolves ... True Blood 3.3: Rolling Eyes and Spinning Heads ... True Blood 3.4: Running Hot, Winning Names ... True Blood 3.5: Square, Love, Crown, Power ... True Blood 3.6: True Life and Death ... True Blood 3.7: Lorena and the Magister ... True Blood 3.8: Break Up to Make Up ... True Blood 3.9: The King and the VRA ... True Blood 3.10: "Medieval on TV" ... True Blood 3.10: Here Comes the Sun ... True Blood Season 3 Finale: Concrete and Bubbles  

See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season



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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





Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Falling Skies 1.3 meets The Puppet Masters

Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters (1951) is one of my favorite novels from the 1950s (not so much the movie adaptation from 1994).   When I first read the novel of gelatinous aliens attached to our lower backs - as a kid, in the late 1950s - I was blown away by its power and implicit sexuality.   Not only could any soldier in uniform be suspect, so could any potential lover, until she or he totally disrobed.

Lots of subsequent science fiction - most notably, Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers (1955), and four subsequent movie adaptations - picked up on aspects of this theme.  And so has Falling Skies.

The twist with Falling Skies is that the insect aliens attach a mechanical-organic device to the backs of human children, which turn them into zombie slaves, and at this point result in the death of the carrier if the device is removed.   One of Tom's sons has been so harnessed, and his burning desire to get back and free his son - which any parent would have - is one of the mainsprings of the plot.

A doc may have a way of removing the alien spine without killing the carrier, but the process is untested, and Tom has no love for the doc, given that the doc earlier left Tom's wife to die so the doc could escape.  In one of the best lines of the episode, the doc says to Tom that the doc's survival at the expense of Tom's wife may be the factor enables Tom to get back and free his son, so Tom's wife may not have died in vain.

But this assumes that the doc's procedure actually works, and, as we see in the last scene, it may work but not in the way that we humans hoped ...

See also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ...


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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





Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

And check out my short history of science fiction, from The History Channel -

Monday, June 27, 2011

US Supreme Court Wisely Strikes Down California Ban on Video Games

Good news for video game enthusiasts and First Amendment advocates: the US Supreme Court today wisely struck down a California ban on sale of video games to minors.   The 7-2 majority found that the ratings system was more than enough to guide parents.

The fact that the decision was 7-2 is itself highly noteworthy.  Conservative justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion.  It was joined by three other conservatives and by progressives Ginsberg,  Sotomayor, and Kagan (conservative Thomas and progressive Breyer dissented).   This is a hopeful development indeed for people who take the First Amendment seriously, and its prohibition of government restriction of communication and media - a new coalition for freedom of expression.  It also shows that I was wrong when I expressed concern about Sotomayor's First Amendment views after her nomination.

A debate I had with anti-videogame crusader Jack Thompson a few years ago follows.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Treme 2.9: Pied Pipers

Well, my favorite sequence in the brutally ending Treme 2.9 features Antoine and trumpet player Kermit Ruffins (playing himself, of course).  Antoine's audience is a little low - in numbers - in the club his band is playing.  He soon learns why: Kermit is knocking 'em dead a few feet down the street.

But Antoine has an idea.  He walks over to Kermit's club.  Kermit sees him and invites him on the stage, where Antoine beguiles the crowd with his music.  He leaves and tells everyone where they can hear more of it.  The crowd follows him back to his club.

But wily Kermit is not be outdone.  He soon shows at Antoine's club, and plays the best trumpet you and I ever heard - had I been able to go through the screen, I'd have have joined the crowd that followed Kermit back to his club.  Even without me, the crowd was bigger than the one Antoine wooed away.

A great sequence.

But this is New Orleans more than a year after Katrina, and crime is viciously on the rise, as we've seen all season.   And before the night is over, Harley Watt - played by Steve Earle - will be shot dead in front of Annie's horrified eyes.  His mistake?  He gave a little advice to a mugger, after giving him his money.  Muggers don't like being lectured in New Orleans.

The pace has now picked up.  With Colson now on the murder squad, he'll be directly involved in Watt's murder case.  Just two more episodes left to see how this all plays out.

And here, in honor of Harley Watt, is a taste of Steve Earle's great song This City, from the first season of Treme ...

See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music ... Treme 2.4: Angry Albert ... Treme 2.5: "Today I'm Gonna Write a Song" ... Treme 2.6: "Phil Ochs Said" ... Treme 2.7: "One-Murder Mardis Gras" ... Treme 2.8: Antoine's Music

And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Falling Skies

Caught the first two episodes of TNT's Falling Skies.  Quite good.

More like The Walking Dead and The Terminator than V - much closer to the ground - Falling Skies is probably most like H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds.  Steven Spielberg had a hand in both the 2005 movie version of War of the Worlds and the new Falling Skies, which so far looks considerably better than the movie.

It's good to see Noah Wyle back on television, best known for his great work in ER.  Moon Bloodgood, in such shortlived science fiction gems as Daybreak and Journeyman - seriously - and on the cover of Maxim, too, plays a pediatrician with the freedom fighters.  The rest of the cast is also good and believable.

The most-of-humanity-wiped-out motif is not an easy one to bring to a television series, despite the success of The Walking Dead, at least so far.  Come to think of it, Battlestar Galactica succeeded with this, too - except out in space not with alien invaders down on Earth - though its success, unfortunately, was more with critics than big numbers of viewers.   If television's prime advantage is to provide a little relief and release from the hard day, you can see why apocalyptic stories have such a tough time of it.  On the other hand, it's not as if Criminal Minds is such a joy ride, and it's generally a winner in the ratings.

Well, I'll be watching Falling Skies even its ratings fall, which, with any luck, will move in the opposite direction.


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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





Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Keith Olbermann back on Countdown - Now on Current TV

Great to see Keith Olbermann back on Countdown - on Current TV.  Agree or not with his views and stylings, his return proves that a spineless, often brainless network - in this case, MSNBC - does not necessarily get the last word, when it tires for whatever reasons of its vibrant, provocative talent.

To the content of tonight's Countdown -
  • Excellent discussion of the unconstitutionality of our war in Libya, with Michael Moore. I agree completely that the pursuit of this military action - or war - without  Congressional approval (not to mention Declaration of War) is one of the most disheartening, dangerous activities of the Obama administration.
  • John Dean talking about the Supreme Court decision - 5-4 - upholding Walmart.  I agree that this was a bad decision.  But, unlike Olbermann and Dean, I don't think everything this court has done regarding corporations is bad.  For example, I agree with the Court that corporations are entitled to all the protections of the First Amendment - speech is speech, and government should steer clear of regulating it.
  • "Time Marches On" - replacement segment for "Oddball" on the original Countdown, the title of which was a take-off on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" on MSNBC.   The new version with the new title is as funny as the original - meaning, evoking smiles to occasional chuckles and sometimes more.
  • Good expose with Politico's Ken Vogel about conservative radio talkshow hosts promoting political positions for advertising revenue on their shows.  (But Keith, this compares to payola in 1950s radio in no significant way - payola was a classic victimless "crime," and its prosecution by the Feds was motivated by a discomfort with rock 'n' roll.)
  • Good "Worst Persons in the World" - my favorite was the runner-up, in which Fox edited out Jon Stewart's mention of Fox exec Bill Sammon giving ideological "marching orders" to news commentators (from Chris Wallace's Sunday show).
  • Bombshell closer with Markos Moulitsas - founder and publisher of the Daily Kos - in which he explains his absence from MSNBC for more than a year: he antagonized morning anchor Joe Scarborough, who pressured MSNBC to keep Moulitsas off Olbermann's and every other evening show on MSNBC.  If true, MSNBC is even lamer than I thought, and owes its viewers and Moulitsas an apology.
Hey, I rarely if ever review cable news shows as such, so don't expect many more posts like this, for the new Countdown or any other news shows.  But I expect to keep watching it - as well as, yes, MSNBC - and I'm certainly glad that the progressive voice has a new, additional home.  Our democracy is best served by as many progressive, conservative, and in-between voices on the air as possible.

Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

From the beginning of Game of Thrones, we've had two sources of supernatural - the strange creatures of the far north, who will be coming on strong when Winter comes again, and the dragons that Daenerys is so obsesses with, in that horseman land across the sea.   Until last night, the monsters of the north were much more real.  But Game of Thrones ended its first season with a pride of real dragon hatchlings around Daenerys.

Based on just the television series so far, we don't have much information on what the dragons can do.  Certainly more massive damage than direwolves, which means that even without a horde of horsemen, Daenerys is in good shape to retake to her kingdoms and the Iron Throne.   And the horsemen will be tempted to rejoin her when they learn of the dragons.

As to the Iron Throne even without Daenerys, it does look, at this point, that Ned is dead - certainly a head that looks like his is on the pole - but it wouldn't shock me if, via some power of the north, he either returns in the future or was not truly killed in the first place.   At any rate, in his likely permanent absence, Joffrey continues as the vicious king, with Tyrion to join him as the new Hand.

As I indicated when I reviewed the George R.R. Martin's first novel in the mid-1990s, I'm not delighted with the dragons suddenly reborn at the end of this story.   That one development changes the whole story - far more profoundly than even Ned's death - and injects much more fantasy into the narrative, giving it a distant kinship with True Blood, which resumes on HBO next week.  But I'll be looking forward to where the dragons lead in Game of Thrones the next season.

See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead?



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

The Killing 1.13: Stretching Television

So The Killing concluded its excellent first season on AMC last night not with a revelation of the killer and a resolution of the killing but with an unexpected smack of a twist, a cliffhanger, and (of course) Linden yet again being torn from the plane with her son.

You just knew that whatever the ending, it couldn't be conducive to Linden's plans from the beginning of the series to get out of Seattle.   So when you see her on the plane, and get that call, and look at the expression on her face, you just knew that this pain on the plane was bound to happen.  Linden is stuck to Seattle worse than a fly to flypaper.

But the content of that call - the reason for her pain - was totally unexpected.   She thought she had wrapped up the case, with Holder's help.   Except the photo he had supplied of Richmond at the crucial tollbooth was bogus.   And that raises at least a few episodes and likely more of new questions:

1. Why did Holder fake the photograph?   Because he's Rosie's killer?  Nah.   Because he was sure Richmond was the killer, and wanted to nail him, by whatever means?  More likely.   Because he was paid by Richmond's enemies to do this?   That's sorta likely, too.

2. Who was in the car that Holder gets into at the end?   The call girl he had interviewed last week?  Not likely - what was her motive?   Jamie and I think Gwen were at the Richmond rally (see below), but I'm still suspecting Gwen for something no good in all of this mess.   How about Mitch - all we know about her at this moment is Stan stays she's gone.    And there are Richmond's political enemies, as I indicated above, or their operatives.  First on this list would be the mayor.

3. The cliffhanger is that Richmond may not survive Belko's assassination attempt at the rally.  In fact, we all but see Belko pull the trigger at point-blank range.  But in television land, almost anything is possible, including a hand at the last minute pushing Belko aside.


The Killing has certainly stretched what we can expect of television, including, now, not ending a season about a killing with the unmasking of the killer.  Pulling Holder out of the hat as a bad guy in some way was a brilliant move, especially because we (and Linden) had really grown to like him in the past few episodes.  This is all to the good - too many correct expectations has always been the enemy of good narrative.

I'll see you back here with my reviews of Season 2.

See also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again ... The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again ... The Killing 1.10: Running Out of Suspects ... The Killing 1.11: Rosie's Missing - from the Story ... The Killing 1.12: Is Orpheus the Killer?



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WikiLeaks and Democracy vs. the U.S. Government

Excellent, instructive segment on Dylan Ratigan's show on MSNBC last hour, with computer scientist David House describing his experience when summoned before the WikiLeaks grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia yesterday.

Just to be clear:  What's not at stake is the life of any American military personnel - VP Biden, Secretary of Defense Gates and others in the administration have repeatedly made that clear.   What is at stake is to what extent our government can conduct our foreign affairs in secret - that is, in a way that makes its action not accountable to our citizenry.

And this, in turn, puts our very democracy itself at risk.  For how we can elect our Representatives, Senators, and Presidents with any intelligence, if we are kept from knowing crucial things that they are doing in our name?

House made clear the way he was badgered during his testimony.   The Obama administration would do well to end this persecution as soon as possible - do well, that is, if it wants to live up to its 2008 campaign promise to bring a different kind of government to Washington.

In a world in which the new new media of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogging are bringing new life into democratic movements from North Africa to Spain, it is unacceptable that our democratic government continue the tradition of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the Nixon administration, China, Syria, and Iran of opposing the free flow of information.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Treme 2.8: Antoine's Music

The most poignant segment of Treme 2.8 featured Antoine, and his regretful musing that none of his sons are carrying on the music tradition - playing an instrument - that he and his father and his grandfather had done.   Antoine at least can be a surrogate father to the students in his music class, where he's beginning to have an impact on at least one talented young man with a horn in the class.

Antoine also gave a good rendition of "Can I Change My Mind?" - the title of the episode, and the sweet soul song by the late Tyrone Davis.   Kudos again to Wendell Pierce.

Music continues to figure, of course, not only in Delmond's life, but in his father Albert's.  Delmond sees a part for Albert in the new/old jazz fusion he's beginning the create, and Albert, as always, is resistant but not completely closing the door.   Albert remains the most unclear and therefore in some ways most interesting character on the show - does he want elements of his New Orleans Indian culture brought out to a larger world via his son's music, or does he prefer it to stay more personal, even secretive?

Nothing secretive about the way Sophia has been living her life - driven around stoned by boys she doesn't know, getting picked up by police - to Toni's increasing dismay.  This story has so far been going along a completely predictable path.

Indeed, none of the story lines in this year's Treme are as yet as riveting as the best of last year's.   But it's alright, because the music is so fine.

And here's a taste of Tyrone Davis's Can I Change My Mind ...

See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music ... Treme 2.4: Angry Albert ... Treme 2.5: "Today I'm Gonna Write a Song" ... Treme 2.6: "Phil Ochs Said" ... Treme 2.7: "One-Murder Mardis Gras"

And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)




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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Killing 1.12: Is Orpheus the Killer?

And now, with just one episode left of The Killing, the finger is finally pointing at least in the specific direction of Rosie's killer.

We get there by dispensing with one last incorrect suspect - whom I never thought was really suspect, in any case.   Rosie's aunt is a call-girl, and she did get Rosie involved in the trade, but she apparently did not kill Rosie.

Who did?   A john, a melancholy man, who talked to his next-to-last girl about what it felt like to drown?  This made her nervous, and she warned the other girls, but not Rosie - or, if Rosie was warned, she didn't take it seriously.   He's known to the girls as "Orpheus".

Who is he really?   In a great parallel sequence, Holder finds his picture in a phone booth, as Linden first sends emails to his account, and then finds the computer on which he has received those emails in the apartment of the man she has come over to talk to ....

Richmond!

Well, I've been saying from the beginning that the most important clue to Rosie's murder was the car in which she was found - a car from the Richmond campaign.   But he is really Rosie's killer?

I'm still betting on Gwen, as I have from the outset.  She knew about Richmond and Rosie - she said to him in the first episode, "I know where you were last night" - and she killed Rosie to punish Richmond (her motive: jealousy), implicate him, and ruin his campaign and his life.  In other words, I'm thinking that Richmond-Orpheus is not the killer.

This logic could also apply to Jamie, with something other than jealousy being the motive.   But, for some reason, I'm still thinking Gwen.

We'll see for sure next week ...

See also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again ... The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again ... The Killing 1.10: Running Out of Suspects ... The Killing 1.11: Rosie's Missing - from the Story



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead?

Well, we got the apparent shock of the series on Game of Thrones 1.9 last night - after following the advice of the eunuch and others to confess to save his daughters' and his own life, Ned Stark gets the axe, literally, anyway, as young King Joffrey declares he cannot be weak and follow the advice of women (which would be his betrothed and his mother).

But is Ned really dead?

Here are some points, all pretty weak, but points nonetheless, against Ned being really beheaded:
  • We didn't see a head roll - at least, not last night.   And in television land, unless you see a head literally chopped or blown off, or to bits, the head (and character it's attached to) could still be alive.   Consider, as just one of many examples, what happened with Tony on 24.
  • There are direwolves in this story.  It's easy to imagine one of them leaping onto the executioner's arm, and diverting his axe at the crucial moment.
  • There was all kinds of time to plot some kind of elaborate faked death, between the moment the eunuch left Ned's cell, and the moment the axe fell.
However, none of these are decisive or overwhelming, and we might well see apparently conclusive evidence that Ned is dead next week.   Which, however and of course, could be overturned any time in the future ...

Meanwhile, Ned is not the only leader near or put to death last night.  The Khal is gravely infected by the wound he received last week, and only the witchy woman can save him with a horse blood spell.  But Daenerys has gone into labor, which requires the witch's ministrations, too - how much can one witch do, in the juggling of deaths and lives?

This is probably the single greatest strength  of Game of Thrones - the unexpectedness of death to major characters, which keeps us ever on our seat for game of thrones changers.

See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms



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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



Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Looking Forward to Olbermann's Return to Countdown on Al Gore's Current TV

Great interview with Keith Olbermann posted in Rolling Stone a few days ago.

As I've written here often over the years, I was no constant fan of Olbermann on MSNBC.  I often found him abrasive, over the top, even trivial (for example, in his critique of 24 as Bush-driven, and in his incessant lampooning of Bill O'Reilly).  But I also found him refreshing, surprising, original, and, at his best, a most needed passionate voice for the progressive point of view.   As he says in the Rolling Stone interview, Olbermann was responsible for putting MSNBC on the map as the progressive counterpoint to Fox's conservativism.

I was therefore not happy when Olbermann was suddenly shown the door at MSNBC earlier this year, by the same or equivalent tone-deaf corporate execs he had dragged kicking and screaming into relevance and eloquence.   And I'm therefore eagerly awaiting Olbermann's return to Countdown on Al Gore's Current TV on June 20.

As Olbermann makes clear in the interview, he does not see Countdown on Current as a graceful swan song - even though Current TV now has at best no more than 10% of any cable all-news audience - but rather as a no holds-barred challenge to Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.   Olbermann's new Countdown will be on at the same time as the old one - 8pm Eastern - which means he'll not only be competing against Bill O'Reilly on Fox, and but against his incisive, keenly rational replacement on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell.

In many ways, I like O'Donnell more than Olbermann, in particular O'Donnell's targeted logic and real political experience, in place of Olbermann's passionate showmanship.   But if only to punish slow-witted MSNBC for its treatment of Olbermann, and, more, because I think the progressive view can be well served by another powerful voice on another station (Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly still outnumber the progressives on the air), I will be watching and rooting for Olbermann to shake up television, once again, as hold forth from the station run by the man who at very least won the popular vote for President in 2000, and has himself carved out a unique place for himself in our history.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Killing 1.11: Rosie Missing - from the Story

Leave it to The Killing, with only three episodes left, to devote episode 1.11 almost entirely not to Rosie's murder.   Instead, we get an almost standalone episode about another missing member of a family - Sarah Linden's son Jack.  Against all odds and expectations - I remain eager to learn more about what happened to Rosie - I liked this episode a lot.

The toll that Rosie's murder has taken on her family, and the toll of that the investigation of Rosie's murder has taken on Sarah, has already been well established.  Sarah's wedding seems shot, as does her relationship with her almost husband.   Jack has been acting out, and his going missing at this point is well motivated.

My really favorite part of this episode was getting to see Linden and Holder work together - on another case - and Holder's loyal commitment to helping Linden find her son.   We also learn a little more about Holder's private life, which has been mostly kept in the dark until now.

But the best part of this episode is that it has a very happy ending.   Jack is found, alive and well.   Rosie, as we know, had no such saving grace, and the contrast between Jack and Rosie's fates sets the debut season of The Killing up nicely for some kind of resolution of Rosie's murder in the last two episodes.

See also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again ... The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again ... The Killing 1.10: Running Out of Suspects



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Treme 2.7: "One-Murder Mardis Gras"

Lt. Colson's tireless efforts to reduce the surging crime in New Orleans are at least bearing some fruit on Mardi Gras day in Treme 2.7, which bore just one murder - off-camera, at that - and led Colson to characterize the happy day as a "one-murder mardis gras".

It was certainly one of the happiest episodes we've seen so far.  The colorfully adorned various bands of revelers reminded me of "We Sing in Sillyville, which I used to watch with my kids years ago, and, come to think of it, may be derived from the Mardi Gras celebrations.   Nelson gets a good kiss and a phone number.   Albert's dancing - a little more subdued than last year, I thought - with his New Orleans Indians.   And Sonny gets a second chance in Antoine's band.

But, as is always the case in Treme and in all of David Simon's productions, all's never as well as it seems to be.   LaDonna can't bring herself to Mardis Gras at all.  And Sofia passes out drunk - fortunately with Davis already taking her home to safety.   So far, this season has been quieter but no less riveting than last season, and it may (or may not) be heading for an all-the-more explosive ending.

The music was customarily diverse and excellent, but my favorite was seen not heard - that is, the name of the performer was seen, but he didn't perform, because he died in July 2001.  Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law" was a #1 hit in the 1961, and has always been much beloved by me.   He held forth in his lounge in later years, and after his death, his wife Antoinette kept the place going, replete with a life-sized replica of Mr. K-Doe.   She herself would die on Mardi Gras day in 2009, or a few years after we see her in the Mother-In-Law Lounge in this episode.

And here are a few bars of Ernie K-Doe's' Mother-In-Law ...

See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music ... Treme 2.4: Angry Albert ... Treme 2.5: "Today I'm Gonna Write a Song" ... Treme 2.6: "Phil Ochs Said"

And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms

The creatures of the north - or, at least, one creature - are stirring more menacingly in Game of Thrones 1.8, but the best action is still in King's Landing to the south.  In a fine scene which for some reason made me think of Star Wars, Ayra's sword instructor moves Jedi-like and fells almost all of the armed men who come to seize her, and stands ready to sacrifice his life to save her from the leader of this dark Lannister guard.

They're there, of course, on the Queen's orders.  She's bent on ridding the realm of the Starks, so her son Joffrey can rule with no interference, safely under her manipulation.   Little Finger and the Eunuch still hold the balance of power, though, so no one's power is really safe and secure in this realm.

Meanwhile, Robb Stark's marshaling his father's old allies to fight the Lannisters, in another move reminiscent of Star Wars and the rebels' fight against the overwhelming forces of the Empire.  In many ways, Game of Thrones can be considered a science fiction of the past, or fantasy playing by the rules of science fiction, with realms instead of planets.

And though the center-stage is now occupied by the Starks and the Lannisters, who have at last moved from intrigue into open conflict and looming battle, the greatest dangers to our heroes still reside in the awakening north and the horsemen beyond the sea.   Good games within games within larger games.

See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Treme 2.6: "Phil Ochs Said"

The depth of the musical acumen in Treme - in history as well as performance - continues to amaze and delight.  Davis is saying why he wants Lil Calliope (Altonio Jackson) as front man in his political music band.  "Phil Ochs said 'If there’s any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara,'" Davis explains.  "Who's Phil Ochs?" Annie asks - a question that most people, including musicians, might well have, if they were anywhere near Annie's age.

But the people who make Treme know who Phil Ochs was - maybe were reminded by the superb There But Fortune documentary released early this year - and get big points for bringing Ochs and his keen analysis into this part of the Treme story.

As I've been saying about every episode of Treme I review, the music is sheer tour-de-force.  In addition to the Davis band, Treme 2.6 has a high-school band playing the Four Tops' "Reach Out, I'll Be There," The Soul Apostles doing "C. C.  Rider," John Hiatt performing "Feels Like Rain," Annie with Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher playing Scott Joplin, and much more.  Just about every scene blares forth with fine sound.  Treme has become required viewing and listening for any American music appreciation course.

Other good elements in last Sunday's story include Janette back in New Orleans to help her jailed sous-chef (I really like that guy), John Goodman making a brief return appearance as Creighton Bernette in Toni's dream, and Toni and Colson together in the Second Line (with Colson groovin'), and the colorful Original Pigeon Town Steppers struttin' their fabulous feathery stuff.

If there ever was a television show that feeds the soul, it would be Treme.

Here's a taste of one of my favorite Phil Ochs' songs ...   Love Me, I'm a Liberal

Review of There But for Fortune movie ...

See also Treme Is Back! ... Treme 2.2: Bounce and Jazz ... Treme 2.3: Crime and Music ... Treme 2.4: Angry Albert ... Treme 2.5: "Today I'm Gonna Write a Song"

And also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton ... Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)



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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




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...
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