Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breaking Bad 4.2: Gun and Question

The long and short of Breaking Bad 4.2 is that Walter buys a gun for the purpose of killing Gus, before Gus kills Walter and Jesse, as Walter is sure Gus will, as soon as Gus lines up a reliable replacement for Walter.

Is Walter right about Gus' intentions?  Hell, yes.

Will Walter be able to follow through on his intentions (not yet an actual plan)?  Very likely yes.

So why then did Walt approach Gus's steely enforcer, Mike, with a request to set up a meeting between Gus and Walt?   Surely Walt must have known that Mike would almost instantly see through this, even if Mike hadn't spotted the gun which Walt worked so hard not to reveal.

Elsewhere, Hank's making a small bit of painful progress, but can barely stand the sight of Marie.  This is only slightly the result of her lack of appreciation of Hank's interest in minerals - which she calls rocks - and more much because her presence reminds Hank of the pathetic shape he feels he's in, and what he can't do now.   This is the result of the careful care she has given him - including emptying bed pans - and gets at the very heart of this series.

Breaking Bad continues its mix of following though, rather than skating around, the tough issues, and throwing in a less than comprehensible move which will no doubt lead to some sort of shocking surprise.  Fine, different television.

See also My Prediction about Breaking Bad ... Breaking Bad Season 4 Debuts




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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





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Monday, July 25, 2011

Falling Skies 1.7: The Fate of Traitors

An excellent Falling Skies 1.7 last night, the best so far in the series.  I've said that before, which means the series is getting better and better.  Among the main things we learned last night -

  • Ben is thoroughly with us.  His time harnessed has given him greater than his previously human endurance - in running as well as push-ups - but his loyalties are still with his family and species.  Indeed, he's one of the heroes in last night's story.
  • Not so much Mike's son Rick, who was also liberated from the harness, but, apparently, only physically.  At the end of last night's episode, he reveals his continuing alien loyalties - especially disquieting, in view of his father's death at the hands of the humans in business with the aliens,
  • But Pope is back in action, and he's heroic, too, as he saves Hal from death.  (Fine acting by Drew Roy as Hal, by the way - his intonations are just like Noah Wyle's, who plays his father.)
But back to the humans doing business with the aliens - giving them our children in return for the traitors' own safety - one thing I didn't like at the end of last night's episode was letting them go free.  In reality, I'm against the death penalty (because of the danger of innocent people wrongly convicted).  But in this fiction of an alien invasion, they - the human adults we saw working with the aliens - deserved the firing squad.

Looking forward to the last two episodes of this season.

See also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben ... Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column



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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, July 24, 2011

MSNBC Up to Its Old Tricks: Fires Cenk Uygur

The news broke this past week that Cenk Uygur was going the way of Keith Olbermann, at least insofar as being shown the door at MSNBC.   Al Sharpton is now on in Uygur's 6 pm hour, and is said to be Uygur's likely permanent replacement.

I like Sharpton, but am once again dismayed at the short shrift MSNBC gives to its hard-working, passionate anchors.   Uygur, though sharing a strong progressive perspective with Olbermann (which I generally share as well) actually ran a show which had little in common with Countdown on MSNBC.   Uygur happily interrogated Republicans (Olbermann by and large only had guests who agreed with him) and dished out plainspoken logic in contrast to Olbermann's often florid hyperbole.

But what both also had in common was a stubborn, refreshing insistence on calling events and issues as they see them, including criticizing the President, even though he's obviously part of the party the two usually support.   And this, apparently, was too much too much for the frightened, shallow people who call the shots at MSNBC.

But that's ok.  We now have Olbermann on Current TV, and Uygur will no doubt show up there or somewhere else, and if Current TV would only get itself into a few more cable lineups, there would be even less reason to watch MSNBC than there is now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Closer 7.2: Pope

As The Closer slides smoothly into its 7th - and sadly, final - season, Will Pope is emerging as the most interesting character, to say the least.   First, in the wake of Delk's dropping dead last week, Pope is now the interim police chief.   This disavantages the hapless Taylor, and one might think it would be of great help it to Brenda Leigh, but -

Far from it being a lucky break for our heroine, Pope now being in charge may be a disaster for her, which she doesn't yet know yet quite see.  When Raydor tries to close the investigation into what happened at the end of last season, when Brenda set up a vile perp for his comeuppance, Pope insists that Raydor continue with her investigation, and forbids her from telling Brenda what's going on.

Pope, in other words, is turning out to be an out-and-out traitor, and only Fritz has an unblinded perspective on this.   It's rare to see a character have such a profound change in personality, but, then again, there were some elements of this in Pope vis-a-vis Brenda all along.  He certainly has the age-old motive of unrequited love.

Top this off with a good whodunit story, and The Closer is off and running with a great season - in fact, one that might well be among its best.

See alsoThe Closer 6.1: The New Building ... The Closer 6.2: Fun Bumps ... The Closer 6.11: Andy Flynn

And from Season 5:  The Roots of Testimony on The Closer and Finding Killers vs. Hearts on The Closer and Brenda Leigh's Niece and Libby from Lost on The Closer and Tom Skerritt on The Closer and Det. Richard Tracy on The Closer and Pres. Laura Roslin vs. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson  and The Closer Closes on a Fine Note for 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 ...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column

Fifth columnists - those who live amongst us in wartime, but who are in league with the enemy - are nothing new in war.    They're therefore now a factor in Falling Skies, where our enemy comes from outerspace.

This cadre is not the harnessed kids, who now live with the aliens.  Nor are they those freed from the harnesses, such as Ben.  He apparently still has positive feelings for the aliens, but so far he's likely done nothing on their behalf.

No, the fifth column - at least at this point - consists of just one guy, a military man from another unit, who talks our people into sending the children along with him for safety from an impending alien attack.  Tom's not happy about it, but Ben talks him into it (does this mean that Ben is working with the aliens? maybe) and Tom then in turn sways the others, many of whom are understandably loath to let their children out of their sight or at least site.  (That would have been my position as a parent, for sure.)

The one bright note in this is Tom's oldest son Hal has gone along with the kids, presumably because he is concerned about Ben.  And Ben could turn out to be thoroughly loyal to his human family and species, despite the hints that he may not be.

So the fifth columnist will have his work cut out for him, as he delivers a human girl to a harnessed girl (who can speak, which make her more dangerous), and turns his attention to the children of our heroes and heroines, who don't yet know that their kids are a just a beat away from being turned over to the aliens ....

See also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben



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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, July 18, 2011

Breaking Bad Season 4 Debuts: Jump Cut in Blood

Well, I was mostly wrong in my prediction about what we would find out about the last scene of season 3 of Breaking Bad in the debut of its fourth season last night.   But I was right about one thing - Victor is dead - even though I was wrong about who killed him.

That would be Gus, who we learn last night is not only ruthless and brutal in the orders he gives, but in his personal conduct.   Victor had to die because he failed to protect Gale, ok.   But the way Gus dispatched him was so bloody, literally, that the clean-up took a long few minutes in the story, and AMC felt obliged to post a warning about the "intense" violence.   From a cinematography point of view, mopping up blood on the floor allowed for a nice jump cut to pushing around ketchup on a plate.

So this is what Jesse and Walter will be up against this season.  As Walter explains to Jesse, their days are numbered.   Gus will let them live only until he finds someone as good or better to do the cooking.  But is there anyone who can cook better than 99% pure?   As the very first scene last night made clear, there may always be someone better.

See also My Prediction about Breaking Bad



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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, July 17, 2011

My Prediction about Breaking Bad

As we wait for the beginning of season 4 in just a scant few hours, here's my prediction about what we'll find happened in that last scene at the end of season 3 of Breaking Bad:

We saw Jesse fire his gun, but at an angle that looked to be maybe slightly off target from the geek who was about to become Mr. White's replacement.  I think Jesse was firing not at the geek, but the killer who was rushing to the geek's house to save him and kill Jesse.

I'm thinking Jesse will either kill or badly wound the killer, and then maybe take the geek at gunpoint over to where Mr. White is being held.

I'll be reviewing the first episode of Breaking Bad here tonight - and will from now on be reviewing every episode - and will either crow or eat crow about my prediction.


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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, July 11, 2011

True Blood 4.3: Amnesiac Eric

Eric loses his mind at the end of True Blood 4.2, as the witches' coven turns the tables and exerts a surprising resilience to his powers.   In 4.3, we find that he didn't lose all of his mind, just his personal identity.  In other words, he still know he's a vampire, but has no recollection of Sookie, owning her house, what he's been up to since he became a vampire lo those centuries ago.

What Eric will get back of his lost identity, and how this happens, will make for a good continuing story.  But, for now, the crucial question is how this will alter his relationship with Sookie.

He's still deeply attracted to her, without understanding why.  He'd love to bite her, make love to her.  Sookie could have used this as an opportunity to sleep with him, and staying more in control of the relationship than if Eric knew who he was, but of course goodie two-shoes won't do that.  Too bad - that attitude is one of the annoying things about Sookie.

Meanwhile, her brother Jason is in the hands of the panther people who have no such qualms.  It's getting to the point now that every major character is becoming or is already supernatural.  Who's left who's not:  Hoyt and the Bellefleurs?

Well, I guess that's ok by me.   After all, if it's just plain old humans who interest you, you've got just about every other series on television.

See True Blood Back for Season 4

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 1.5: Ben

I like television shows that make real progress, if not from episode to episode, at least over the course of a season.  Falling Skies made such a move last night in episode 1.5

From the beginning of the series, Tom's guiding goal has been to get Ben back with him.  No easy task, because of deadly alien resistance to rescues, and because the harnesses could not be removed without killing the victims.   The second problem received some resolution two episodes back, as the outside doc who had a history with Tom was able to more or less successfully remove a harness - the "less" coming from the control that the alien in the cage still had over the formerly harnessed boy.

Last night we got some satisfying resolution to the first problem, as Matt bravely infiltrates the ranks of the harnessed captives.  In one of the best sequences of the series so far, we get a sickening taste of life with the aliens - as the skitter cuddles up for the night with its (her?) human captives - and then Matt with back-up from Tom and his unit free the captives and bring them back to their sanctuary.

All but one survive the removal of the harnesses.   Ben is among the survivors, and seems to recover more quickly than the previously liberated boy.   Anne understandably feels bad about the boy who didn't make it (as my grandmother used to say, if you hurt a finger, it doesn't lessen the pain to realize that the other four fingers are fine).

I hope Ben is fully back with his species and family.  Falling Skies now has an opportunity to branch out into other areas, and there are lots awaiting.   On the other hand, the captive alien killed the doc, and may yet be able to exert some control over Ben, and/or some of the other rescued kids.

See also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle




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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 ...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Presidential Twitter press conference

Just watched the first Presidential Twitter press conference - mostly on MSNBC, which stopped its live coverage about 10 minutes before the press conference was over.  I saw the rest on the more reliable Twitter site.

Like all firsts - such as the first YouTube Presidential debate, back in the 2008 campaign - the Twitter event was as much show as substance.   But there were some good questions and answers, and I think the event was therefore worthwhile.

Herewith a few helpful, friendly criticisms:
  • The "curation" or screening of questions gets in the way of the democratizing point of this kind of event.  Obviously, no President or any one person could answer or even read the multitude of Tweets.   My suggestion is randomly select the Tweets that the President will see and respond to.
  • Along these same lines, the inclusion of Tweets from House Speaker Boehner and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof only get in the way of a Twitter press conference being a real expression of the people.  Neither Boehner nor Kristof need Twitter to get their ideas in front of President Obama.  Most other Americans do.
  • Obama needs to work on his pronunciation.  The funniest part of the press conference was when he pronounced a Tweeter named "Schnapps" or "Shnapps" as "Shnepps" (apparently Obama has never had a schnapps?  Oy!)
But, all in all, a good first effort the President and the Twitter sector of new new media.  I hope we'll see more.  And this will be the first lesson in my "Politics and New Media" graduate class which I begin teaching at Fordham University tonight.

 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle

An ok Falling Skies 1.4 on Sunday - not much was happening or falling, which is why I think of this episode as just a drizzle.

We did learn a little more about the aliens - they have human-like emotions, and this will make it easier for us to combat them.   But their control over the harnessed kids seems to be even deeper than first thought - it continues even when the harness is removed and the victim survives - and this will make the task of humanity, in particular the parents of harnessed kids, even harder.

But otherwise, no big surprises or wrenching developments.  To some extent, we're all junkies for the jolt of the unexpected in our television shows.   But that's a tough row to hoe for a series - in the case of V, for example, the surprises happened so often that we got used to them.

Maybe Falling Skies will be a different kind of alien invasion series, with a pace that defies expectations, because it throws in a quiet, more contemplative show once in a while.   I'll be keeping my eyes to the skies and the screens.

See also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters



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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 ...

my Readercon schedule - July 15-16, 2011

My Readercon 22 schedule (Burlington Marriott, Burlington, Massachusetts) - including my first public reading from "Ian's Ions and Eons" (Analog, April 2011) - follows ....

Friday July 15

6:00 PM    F    The Dissonant Power of Alternative Voicing. Glenn Grant, Paul Levinson, Kate Nepveu, Kenneth Schneyer (leader), Howard Waldrop. At Readercon 21, there was a panel discussion on the use of documentary text in fiction to lend "authority" to the voice. It can be argued, however, that alternative voicing strategies, particularly the use of documents, framing narratives, etc., are powerful precisely because they are not authoritative. Readers know that they are reading an incomplete version of the document, and consequently are led to imagine what is not being said. What lurks in the interstices between texts? What is this particular document-writer failing to say, or deliberately omitting? This panel will explore the use of dissonance occasioned by indirect voicing to make the reader a fuller, more active participant in the process of creating the fiction.

Saturday July 16

10:00 AM    VT    Reading. Paul Levinson. Levinson reads from Ian's Ions and Eons.
12:00 PM    Vin.    Kaffeeklatsch. Paul Levinson, Barry B. Longyear.
3:00 PM    E    Autographs. Paul Levinson, Rick Wilber, D. Harlan Wilson. 


Further details - including complete conference schedule and directions to the Marriott in Burlington, MA - over here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Treme Season 2 Concludes

Treme Season 2 wrapped up business last night with a mostly happy ending -
  • Albert is finally happy!  Yes, he is - he likes the money he made with his and Delmond's and the all-star recording, and he's up for more.
  • Janette's not only back in New Orleans - to open her own restaurant, this time with some strong money backing - but she's in bed with her sous-chef Jacques.   Glad to see it - good for both of them.
  • Davis is back on the air - at least, as a substitute host for a night.  Otherwise, he's come to terms with his not be being a big star.  He's still together with Annie - but I bet that she gets back with Sonny next year, and Janette has a least one roll with Davis.
  • Sophia has come to terms with her father's suicide.
  • LaDonna is finally back to her feisty self - getting to righteously beat on one of her vicious attackers.  After meting out this justified piece of personal justice, she feels better about the bar and her patient husband.
That's the good news.  On the other side of the ledger -
  • Toni and Terry seem pretty close to finished - at least, for now - after Terry rudely badgers Toni for some evidence in a murder.  It's all for a good cause, but Toni doesn't know that.
  • Nelson has to take a break from N.O. - his backer cuts him loose, because of his association with Oliver Thomas.
  • Speaking of which, the Councilman is out of the race for Mayor, and arrested for bribery, just as happened in real life.
Kudos again to Thomas for playing himself - he did a good job - and to Treme's producers for giving him this role.

It was a good season - not as exciting as the first season, but weaving together an engrossing set of stories.   And the music was always great.   In fact, for this last episode, I have no favorite, because I loved them all - every swinging performance - especially the dazzling work at the Jazz Fest.

I'll see you here next year.  (By the way, I didn't get a chance to review last week's episode, but I liked it just fine.)

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 ... Treme 2.9: Pied Pipers

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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