Friday, March 30, 2012

Fringe 4.16: Walter Likes Yiddish

We learn in Fringe 4.16 that Walter's no fan of Sumerian - "not my favorite ancient language," he explains, "I prefer Yiddish."  Of course, Yiddish is a medieval language - a combination of ancient Hebrew and high German that arose in the shtetls in Europe, but zayr gut, anyway.  That's part of the charm of Walter.

By the way, maybe it was just my imagination, but did Walter look a little younger to you at the end of tonight's episode?  Just sayin'.   And Astrid looked different, too.

The story was a cool return visit to an episode from Season One, with a souped up DNA turning its carriers into porcupine creatures.  Tonight the bad guy behind this is David Robert Jones, which my wife realized is played by the same actor who plays Lane on Mad Men (Jared Harris).  Fine acting - two wildly different, excellently played characters.

Otherwise, Olivia is in danger of losing her job at the FBI - she's lost 40-percent of this season's (world with Peter erased after Reiden Lake) memories, and which the 10th Floor (FBI brass) finds an insufficient amount of the Olivia they hired.   By the end of the episode, Broyles nobly stands up for her, figuring that Olivia's better than 90% of the agents, so 40% of her is still a good number.  Admirable algebra.


But there's something about this, our world, minus Peter after the lake, to which Peter has now returned, which may still need a little explaining.   How come Peter's absence has changed so many things in the world, including all kinds of events with which he had nothing to do in the original world, such as, for example, Lincoln Lee being such a major character in this world that developed without Peter?


Wait a minute - maybe Peter did have something to do with Lee's prominence - Lee moved into the void that existed in Fringe in Peter's absence.  And the porcupine people - why did they take a different path in the without-Peter-world?  Because without Peter, without Peter and Walter as antagonists, Jones became more powerful. The indirect effects of Peter's absence being so great show how important Peter was in that world, in ways we didn't realize.

And so the shook-up kaleidoscope is gradually reassembling ....


Hey, check out my essay The Return of 1950s Science Fiction in Fringe in this new anthology



See also Fringe Returns for Season 4: Almost with Peter ... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves ... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips ... Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man ... Fringe 4.8: The Ramifications of Transformed Alternate Realities ... Fringe 4.9: Elizabeth ... Fringe 4.10: Deceit and Future Vision ... Fringe 4.11: Alternate Astrid ... Fringe 4.12: Double Westfield / Single Olivia ... Fringe 4.13: Tea and Telepathy ... Fringe 4.14: Palimpsest ... Fringe 4.15: I Knew It!

See also Fringe 3.1: The Other Olivia ... Fringe 3.2: Bad Olivia and Peter ... Fringe 3.3: Our/Their Olivia on the Other Side ... Fringe 3.5: Back from Hiatus, Back from the Amber ... Fringe 3.7: Two Universes Still Nearing Collision ... Fringe 3.8: Long Voyages Home ... Fringe 3.10: The Return of the Eternal Bald Observers ... Flowers for Fringenon in Fringe 3.11 ... Fringe 3.12: The Wrong Coffee  ... Fringe 3.13: Alternate Fringe ... Fringe 3.14: Amber Here ... Fringe 3.15: Young Peter and Olivia ... Fringe 3.16: Walter and Yoko ... Fringe 3.17: Bell, Olivia, Lee, and the Cow ... Fringe 3.18: Clever Walternate ... Fringe 3.19 meets Inception, The Walking Dead, Tron ... Fringe 3.20: Countdown to Season 3 Finale 1 of 3 ... Fringe 3.21:  Ben Frankin, Rimbaldi, and the Future ... Fringe Season 3 Finale: Here's What Happened ... Death Not Death in Fringe 
 
See also reviews of Season 2: Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity ... Fringe the Noir Musical ... Fringe 2.21: Bring on the Alternates ... Fringe 2.22:  Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming ... Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best


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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 ...

Awake 1.5: Stretching A Dream

Another good, thought-provoking Awake last night - 1.5 - which raises the possibility of what might happen if Britten and Hannah in yellow world move from Los Angeles to Oregon.

Here's why that's important:  At this point, yellow and blue worlds are both in the same place.  Although Britten goes to different places in LA in the two worlds, he lives in the same house, and works in the same place.   In fact, his alternation between yellow and blue worlds happens every morning, when he awakes either with Hannah beside him or Rex in the next room.

What would happen to these alternate realities in the same point of origin if Britten changed one of those points by moving someplace else?  Significantly, both yellow and blue shrinks are happy to hear about this possible move - they rarely agree, but on this matter think it could be the beginning of Britten giving up what they say is the dream part of his double existence, and focusing more completely and healthily on the reality part.  Of course, we the viewers know, and Britten knows, that yellow shrink thinks blue world is the dream and blue shrink thinks that's the case for yellow world.

But we the viewers and Britten differ in our perception on one crucial point.  Britten seems sure that both worlds are realities, and we cannot yet be sure.   Although, as I've been saying all along, it would be disappointing if either world turns out to be a dream, or both worlds turn out to be a dream.  I'm with Britten in wanting both to be somehow be real.

In the single most telling series of scenes, at the end, Britten indicates that he might indeed move with Hannah to Oregon, but he insists to blue shrink that he's the one who's making this work now, and he'll find a way to make it (that is, the two worlds) work even if each world is in a different place.

Jason Isaacs is certainly making this complex story work with his strong, sensitive acting.  I have a feeling that the Brittens won't be moving to Oregon after all, but you never.   And Britten also now, in blue world, has a serial killing nemesis on his hands.

See also Awake ... Awake 1.2: "Whole" Family  ... Awake 1.3: Frequency of Yellow and Blue ... Awake 1.4: The Baker and the Hooker



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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

Person of Interest 1.18: Double Ecstasy

A pretty good Person of Interest 1.18 last night, which offered a new twist on the perennial POI question of whether the number belongs to a victim (usually the case) or villain.  This time the number belongs to both - because it relates to an identity (victim) stolen by another (villain).  One number/identify being used by two people.

The double identity requires Reese and Finch to both go out into the field, each looking into one of the identities, with Finch getting the villain, actually the villainess.  Good to see Sarah Wynter in this role - I thought she was best love interest that Jack Bauer ever had after Teri (2nd season of 24 - Kate Warner).   On Person of Interest, Sarah seeks to foil Finch by dosing him with ecstasy.

This leads, in the end, to one of the finer moments between Reese and Finch.  Still under the influence, Finch offers to tell Reese anything he wants to know, about anything.  Reese, in a memorable moment of decency, declines the offer, despite his ever-present curiosity.  As Reese leaves the room, Finch mumbles "Nathan," a drug induced recognition that Reese is now as valued a partner as Nathan once was.

The other nice take-away from this episode is Finch's earlier observation that he invented social media for the government, as a way of getting people to happily make public all the kinds of information which the government has long sought with mixed success to collect.   This has a sharp relevance to the news in our real world today that the GOP in Congress defeated a bill that would have prohibited employers from requiring employees to divulge passwords to their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

What a world - but good we have shows like Person of Interest to remind about what can happen when government intrusion on our privacy goes beyond its already unacceptable levels.

See also Person of Interest of Interest  ... Person of Interest 1.2:  Reese and Finch ... Person of Interest 1.5: Potentials ... Person of Interest 1.7: Meets Flashpoint and The Usual Suspects ... Person of Interest 1.8:  Widmore and Ben, At It Again ... Person of Interest 1.9: Evolution of a Series ... Person of Interest: 1.10: Carter Returns the Favor ... Person of Interest 1.11-1.12: Realignment and Revelation  ... Person of Interest 1.14: Reese as Ronin  ... Person of Interest 1.16: Meets Wall Street ... Person of Interest 1.17: Hearts and Places




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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, March 27, 2012

Alcratraz Season One Finale: Pros and Cons

So, with the two-hour Season One finale of Alcatraz on Fox last night, I'm still not sure if this new series is worth watching.  The fact that the single best part of every episode is Sam Neill's (Hauser's) dead-pan, chilling voice-over intro is probably not the best sign.  Still -

It was a good to see that the warden, as I thought, was the bad guy - he's a suitably creepy villain. The addition of the guy who plays SecNav on NCIS as the warden's superior was a good touch.  So is the silver colloidal blood as elixir, which brings back Lucy, and I suspect will do the same for Rebecca if the series jumps through time and lands in the Fall 2012 line-up.

But it needs to do more than just spin out a series of mostly unrelated stories of 1963 inmates finding themselves in 2012.   The stories on their are own are just not that compelling.  And although Hauser, Doc, and Rebecca as a team are ok, and better now that Lucy is back, the best part of the series still resides in the way that the time shift took place, and for what purpose.

If Alcatraz returns, I'll certainly start watching it in hope of that deeper, more fascinating tale making the front page.

See also Trying to Like Alcatraz ... Alcatraz 1.11: Lucy, Lucy, Lucy


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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, March 26, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party

A fine Mad Men Season 5 debut tonight on AMC.  Here are some of the highlights -

Don and Megan are married and, actually, all things considered, more or less happy together.  The more - Don is crazy about Megan, or at least her body.  He wants her so much he wants her in the office. Megan loves Don and wants to please him.  That includes making a surprise birthday party for Don, which doesn't please him.  Here's where the less happy comes in.  Main reasons given by Don: it's not really his birthday (Whitman, whom Megan knows about,  had a birth date six months earlier);  and, Don doesn't like the office people in his home.  That includes Harry (whom Don can't stand - or so Peggy tells Megan).  But Harry sure loves looking at Megan and her French dance (which she does for Don and guests at the party).  Don's real displeasure at Megan and the party, alas, stems from his not being able to really love anyone.

Speaking of Harry - he's looking a little less like Isaac Asimov (that is, Rich Sommer playing Harry), but he's getting pushed around more, now losing his office, because Pete, always sure he's being slighted, wants a bigger place to do his business.   So the two switch offices, with Harry ending up in Pete's office, "a shit hole with a support beam," in Harry's words, and one of the best lines of the evening.  Harry's on the defensive, because he's waxing on about how Megan excites him, as Megan walks into the office-kitchen where Harry's talking.   As someone with a brief in the still up-and-coming world of TV ads (it's just after Memorial Day, 1966), Harry should have more sway in the firm.  Will be interesting to see how this develops.

Joan's sway in the firm needs to be reasserted.   She drops by with her baby boy, a few months old.  Roger knows the baby is his.   He still loves Joan.  The baby will likely pull them together, notwithstanding that Joan told Greg last season that the baby was his.  I wouldn't be surprised if Greg doesn't make it back from Vietnam.

Peggy still has the keenest mind in Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce - even though her animated beans commercial doesn't fly with client Heinz (maybe the slogan should have been "beans, beans, the magical fruit").  But she's right on in her interpersonal advice, telling Megan that Don won't like his party (they could have played "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To" in Don's honor at that party).  Actually, Joan is pretty astute, too - though in a different way than Peggy.

In many ways, Lane had the most quintessentially Mad Men episode in tonight's two-hour show.  He finds a wallet in a cab, finds a photo of a hot brunette in the wallet, and falls for her.   Her voice on the phone sounds great - he calls her, on the partial pretext of wanting to return the wallet to its owner (partial because in addition to that reason, he wants to find out more about the woman in the picture).  He doesn't quite manage to convince her to let him come by her place to return the wallet, and instead is obliged to return the wallet to its owner when he comes by the office.   But if major developments arising out of chance encounters in Mad Men of the past is any guide, that photo in the wallet in the cab will be a game changer for Lane.  He's off and running.

And so are we, with a bevvy of attractively dysfunctional characters,  good derriere shots, the Civil Rights movement, and a great Dusty Springfield song at the end.   Good to have Mad Men back.

See also Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through



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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, March 23, 2012

Fringe 4.15: I Knew It!

Well, I've been saying all along - see my reviews of Fringe this season, beginning with 4.14 and back, listed below - that Peter was really back in the original Fringe reality, transformed by his erasure to have no memory of his existence (that is, no memory after he "drowned" in the lake, which was the locus of his erasure),  and what Walter and Olivia were experiencing now were the real memories of Peter, that is, Peter as we saw him in our reality in the first three seasons of Fringe.  And, sure enough, in tonight's episode 4.15, that is exactly what turns out to be the case.  A little sad that Peter needed September to tell him what he in his heart already knew, but at least Olivia came to this conclusion on her own, and I think Walter did too.

Lots of questions still be to be answered.  September did not die after all, and does this mean that the Eterrnal Bald Observers (as I've been calling them) are truly eternal - timeless to the point of being invulnerable to any kind of death?  Thus would put them in a category even more eternal than the Elves of Lord of the Rings, which would be eternal indeed.

And what of September's statement to Olivia that he could not prevent her death?   And what of the alternate reality with Fauxlivia and real Petter's real baby?  And there's still David Robert Jones, who seems at war with everyone (but I'm thinking may be in league with other the Bald Observers, who are now out to get September).

But I'll take this 3/4 season happy ending anyway - they're few and far between on television, and they make whatever threat Olivia still faces all the more trenchant.

Hey, check out my essay The Return of 1950s Science Fiction in Fringe in this new anthology



See also Fringe Returns for Season 4: Almost with Peter ... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves ... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips ... Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man ... Fringe 4.8: The Ramifications of Transformed Alternate Realities ... Fringe 4.9: Elizabeth ... Fringe 4.10: Deceit and Future Vision ... Fringe 4.11: Alternate Astrid ... Fringe 4.12: Double Westfield / Single Olivia ... Fringe 4.13: Tea and Telepathy ... Fringe 4.14: Palimpsest

See also Fringe 3.1: The Other Olivia ... Fringe 3.2: Bad Olivia and Peter ... Fringe 3.3: Our/Their Olivia on the Other Side ... Fringe 3.5: Back from Hiatus, Back from the Amber ... Fringe 3.7: Two Universes Still Nearing Collision ... Fringe 3.8: Long Voyages Home ... Fringe 3.10: The Return of the Eternal Bald Observers ... Flowers for Fringenon in Fringe 3.11 ... Fringe 3.12: The Wrong Coffee  ... Fringe 3.13: Alternate Fringe ... Fringe 3.14: Amber Here ... Fringe 3.15: Young Peter and Olivia ... Fringe 3.16: Walter and Yoko ... Fringe 3.17: Bell, Olivia, Lee, and the Cow ... Fringe 3.18: Clever Walternate ... Fringe 3.19 meets Inception, The Walking Dead, Tron ... Fringe 3.20: Countdown to Season 3 Finale 1 of 3 ... Fringe 3.21:  Ben Frankin, Rimbaldi, and the Future ... Fringe Season 3 Finale: Here's What Happened ... Death Not Death in Fringe 
 
See also reviews of Season 2: Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ...  New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity ... Fringe the Noir Musical ... Fringe 2.21: Bring on the Alternates ... Fringe 2.22:  Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming ... Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best


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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 ...
 



Awake 1.4: The Banker and the Hooker

Given the rapacious performance of some bankers in our reality, one might say they're the same as hookers.  In Awake 1.4, that becomes literally true, as Kate, former babysitter for Rex, turns up as an investment banker in yellow world, and druggie/kept woman in grittier blue world.

This was a good episode and fine story in any case.  But what got me thinking about this set up of the same character leading two different lives in the two realities was this:

Up until now, it seemed to me that the two realities began with the crash, and, before then, there was only one stream of characters.  As example, Bird was Britten's partner before the crash, and after the crash he continue as Britten's partner in blue world but not in yellow world.

But let's look at Kate.   She was long ago Rex's babysitter - one world, one character.  Now, she leads a different life in yellow and blue worlds, just like Bird.   But unlike Bird, when did Kate's split of lives begin?  Not with the crash, but long before that, as she reacted to the death of her sister.   In yellow world, she got her life together after that loss; in blue world, she  did not.

But how, if the crash is the source of the bifurcations of worlds, did Kate's bifurcation start before that?

Yeah, I  know this could all be explained if any part of this is Britten's dream, but I'm still holding out that it isn't - and, if not, Kate's double life which began before the crash could somehow be an important clue.

See also Awake ... Awake 1.2: "Whole" Family  ... Awake 1.3: Frequency of Yellow and Blue



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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, March 22, 2012

The Borgias Season 2 Sneak Preview Review

I had the pleasure of seeing the first 4 episodes of The Borgias second season - thanks to a Showtime screener - and can reveal the following -
  • two important deaths, one male, one female, neither of their own hand
  • two new appealing (in different ways) female characters
  • in general, and especially regarding the 3rd and 4th episodes, I think season 2 is considerably better than season 1 (and this is saying a lot, since I much enjoyed the first season)
Great political maneuvering, nice nudity, and top-notch military confrontation (even better than the first season) continue to light up The Borgias.   The family is at the height of its game, always close to being rent apart by its internecine battles, but pulling together when needed.  As a successor, in a sense, to Rome and The Tudors, I'd say this new season of The Borgias is now about as good as the excellent Tudors.  As with those earlier series, sex continues to be one of the stars of The Borgias, with a menage-a-trois making an appearance in the first four new episodes.

And I'll be back when the second season begins on April  8 with proper reviews of each episode.

See also The Borgias Sneak Preview Review ... The Borgias 1.5: Machiavellian Politics and Marriage ... The Borgias 1.6: Beds, Leg, Cannon ... Borgias  Season One Concludes



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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, March 20, 2012

New York Times Tightens Digital Paywall

So, as I've been saying ever since The New York Times announced its digital paywall more than a year ago, the newspaper of record today announced that it was raising the wall even higher, cutting the number of articles than can be read on its site for free from 20 to 10.

This was no doubt done to increase its number of paying customers online, which is now about half a million, or half of its offline, paper subscribers.  And that's certainly a good start.  But where will it lead?

Today's announcement suggests that a time will soon come when nothing of The New York Times will be available for free online.   This newspaper, in other words, will have thoroughly rejected the model of broadcast media, which made radio and then television the media with the biggest audiences and impact in the 20th century.  Free content has already propelled The Huffington Post to an Alexa rank of 84 (based on number of hits and incoming links), surpassing The New York Times at 98, as free online media continue to surge in impact in the 21st century.

If The New York Times  continues on this path of requiring payment for its content, rather than devising ways of earning revenue through its advertising, it will continue to move from being the newspaper of record to the newspaper of the past. 

Which is not the worst thing in the world.  Legitimate theater continues in an age of movies and television, but the stage has long since lost the audiences it commanded in 1900.

Alcratraz 1.11: Lucy, Lucy, Lucy

Alcatraz 1.11 moved up to the two-hour season finale next week, with an episode that brought us more information about Lucy, and had her come out of her coma in 2012 at the end.

As Dr. Diego and Rebecca note, Lucy is one of the keys to what's really going on with the time shift of prisoners and a couple of "good" people from 1963 to the 2012.  As far as we know, Lucy and Dr. Beauregard are the only high-level officials in the prison who shifted (we don't know about the warden, and that's significant).  Both are thus of keen interest to Hauser.

But Lucy, as we see more evidence of in 1.11, is important to Hauser in another way.  As a prison guard in 1963, he was falling in love with her.   Bringing her out of her coma in 2012 is thus his single most important goal.

Why, in 2012, did Cobb shoot her?   Presumably, if there was a deeper reason beyond his murderous ways, to keep her quiet.  But on whose orders?

The obvious bad guy at the root of all of this, it seems to me, is the warden.  He has shown himself a first-rate sadist in episode after episode.  And, he, too, back in 1963, was attracted to Lucy.   Did he get Cobb to shoot her in 2012 so she couldn't be with Hauser, in addition to preventing her from helping Hauser get to the bottom of the shift?

The obscuring mists in this dark drama may be clearing just a little next week.

See also Trying to Like Alcatraz


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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, March 19, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2 Finale

Well, fans have been longing all season for some all-out walker attack, and we got our wish in the Season 2 finale of The Walking Dead tonight, with all hell breaking out of Atlanta, proceeding right up and onto the farm.   Kudos to the shufflers, who put out some of the best subtle diversity in zombie shuffling I've seen in the entire two seasons.  And the Emmy for the best walker shuffling spasmodic walk goes to ...

What precipitated the march out of Atlanta?  We see a helicopter in the sky - the same one we saw in the coming attractions for this season in the first episode.  Humans on the move. Some sort of good news for the future.

But bad news for our group, now joined by Hershel's, now forced to leave the farm.  All of our people survive, some of Hershel's don't, but Hershel, Maggie, and Beth make it.  Great scene of Hershel making like Davy Crockett at the Alamo, but Hershel survives, and I'm glad.   He's one of my favorite characters.

Andrea, separated from the group, nearly doesn't make it, but she's rescued by a hooded figure with two walkers in tow.  Presumably their smell keeps other walkers away.   But who is the person behind the hood?  Male, female?   Like the helicopter, we'll no doubt find out more about this next season.

Which brings us to rest of the group.  Rick eventually tells everyone everything - he killed Shane. and Carl killed zombie Shane.  And everyone is a carrier, as I hypothesized last week (there was really no other explanation).  Everyone's a little put off that Rick didn't tell them - he learned this from the CDC doc last year (as I also figured out last week).

I get why the group is unhappy about Rick - but I didn't get Lori.  What is she so angry about?   That Carl had to kill zombie Shane?   She was the one who set Shane in motion last week, by telling him that she didn't know if he or Rick was really the father of the baby she is carrying.  And didn't she tell Rick a few weeks ago that Shane was a danger to everyone, especially Rick?  So what is she so angry about now?  She should be angry at herself.

Rick has ample reason to be no more Mr. Nice Guy, and it will be great to how this starts playing out come September.


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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, March 17, 2012

Touch: Fractals, Heroes, and 24

Touch joins Awake as one of the most intelligent shows on television - with heart and soul as well as intellect - refreshing, very complex, provocative, and altogether welcome.

Two great forces of popular culture come to bear in Touch - Kiefer Sutherland, who looks and sounds almost exactly the same as 24's Jack Bauer on Touch, and creator Tim Kring, who brought us Heroes.

Kiefer plays Martin Bohm, father of 10-year old Jake, who's mute and diagnosed as autistic, but is much much more.   Jake does have an incredible memory - like the classic idiot savant - but he also can see, intuit, understand the fractal nature of the universe, or the interconnected patterns of everything around us.  This part of the story - fractals - is science not science fiction.  Why, for example, do leafs and bird wings have the same patterns, when they have no evolutionary connection?   The universe, it seems, offers up a given series of templates - which harken, in a sense, to Plato's ideal forms.

But Jake sees much more than this, and here is where the wonder and amazement of science fiction come in.  Not only is Jake sympatico with fractals, but with quantum mechanics, and the part of it that compresses past, present, and future into an omnipresent now.   In plain English, Jake not only sees the interconnections, but where they can lead.   His chosen job is to get silent word out about bad futures to his father, so Martin can do something to avert them.

The pilot has two distinct stories, both connected via Martin, otherwise distinct from each other.  One concerns a smart phone that someone loses at the airport, which Martin gets his hands on, but before he can return to the owner,  gets called away to help get Jake down from a steep construction site on which he has climbed.  Good thing, too, because that phone set loose in the world eventually leads to stopping a suicide bomber, and making a singer famous.   The other plot concerns a firefighter who almost saved Jake's mother's (Martin's wife's) life on 9/11, and has felt guilty about that ever since.  Jake's interventions lead to a school bus of kids saved and the firefighter reclaiming his sense of self-worth.  Both of these happy endings follow a long series of apparently unrelated events, and the fun  is in seeing how these events all tie into one another - see, that is, what Jake already knows.

Meanwhile, Martin learns more of what's happening in Jake's head from Arthur Teller (Danny Glover), a sage old guy in the Bronx.   With Martin now realizing at least part of what Jake is up to do, the stage is set for some wild, complicated stories in which Martin tries to pick up on Jake's leads to shape the future.

Heroes meets 24?   That's just the past, Touch is the future, and I'm looking forward to more (including that 24 movie which is somewhere still to be made).


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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, March 16, 2012

Awake 1.3: Frequency of Yelllow and Blue

No great shakes or revelations in Awake 1.3 last night - and I did get guess the villain as the old partner almost as soon as his mug was on the screen - but the episode did deepen our understanding of Britten's family nonetheless, with excellent exposition of Britten and his son Rex.

Especially memorable was Rex's explanation of why he resents Britten (in blue world).   Rex understandably is still deeply grieving for his mother, and, every time he sees Britten, which (I think) is every day, Rex is angry and conflicted about his father rather than his mother surviving.  Up until this episode, we've mostly seen the internal conflicts of Britten.  It was good to see Rex's now as well.

I said "I think" about Rex seeing Bitten, and our seeing blue (and yellow) world every day, because I'm not sure.  Britten takes sleeping pills to go to sleep after the harrowing blue day in which Rex is kidnapped, because he thinks (correctly) that he'll find some clues in yellow world.  And he wakes up the next morning - or seconds later in screen time - with Hannah beside him.  But, in other interludes in the first three episodes, we've seen Britten just shift between blue and yellow worlds in the middle of the day.  Are we really also seeing a shift from the middle of one day in blue or yellow world to the middle of the next in the alternate world?

Meanwhile, speaking of Hannah, exactly how much does she know about Britten's blue world in which Rex lives (and she does not).  We've seen the couple talk a little about this previously.  Last night, Britten tells her he can't join her at a Rex memorial because he has a kidnap case - involving a boy.  Later, Hannah asks him if the boy was ok - was this shorthand for her asking if Rex was ok, and did Hannah realize on some level that the kidnap of Rex in Britten's "dream" was what he was working on, what was keeping him from being with her at Rex's memorial?

Important continuing questions, which make this show worth watching even when there is no further development of the apparently nefarious captain.

See also Awake ... Awake 1.2: "Whole" Family


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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, March 15, 2012

Barack Obama, Rutherford Hayes, and William Orton

I heard Barack Obama call out Rutherford B. Hayes (19th President of the United States) a few hours ago, pointing out that "one of my predecessors, President Rutherford B. Hayes, reportedly said about the telephone: 'It’s a great invention but who would ever want to use one?' That's why he's not on Mt. Rushmore."

At least one historian, Nan Card, has come to Hayes' defense - saying there's no real evidence of Hayes' comment - and, you know what, even though I'm an Obama supporter, my allegiance to accurate history bids me to say Card is right.   There is no evidence that Hayes ever said that.

The timing is certainly right.   The telephone was invented in 1876, the year Hayes lost the popular vote to Democrat Samuel Tilden.  Hayes became President anyway in 1877, due to the "Compromise of 1877," and served one term, until 1881.  But few people had much conception of what the telephone could do, so soon after its invention.   And the truth is that with so few telephones in anyone's hands, there was indeed not much that anyone could do then with a phone.

Certainly William Orton, President of Western Union Telegraph, was no fan.  As I detailed in my book, The Soft Edge, Orton was in 1881 asked for advice by his friend, another Republican, Chauncey Depew, who had been offered the opportunity to buy one sixth of all Bell Telephone stock into perpetuity for the sum of $10,000.  Now, ten thousand dollars was a lot more in 1881 than it is today, but it was still a pretty sweet deal.  Orton's advice, however: don't make the investment, the telephone will never be more than a "scientific toy".  Depew declined the offer.   Perhaps the Orton incident was the source of the Hayes anecdote.

And this was not the only poor moment for the hapless Depew.  He was thinking of going for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1888, which he likely would have been given (in an era before primaries), but was advised that incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland was unbeatable.  Republican Benjamin Harrison went on to become the next President, losing the popular vote to Cleveland in the election of 1888 but prevailing in the electoral college.

The truths of history are often more fascinating than fiction.  Obama's speech writers would do well to consult it a little more carefully.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Walking Dead 2.12: Walkers Without Bites

Episode 2.12 of The Walking Dead could have begun, with a nod to Rod Serling, "Submitted for your approval ..."
  • Randall, who as far as we know has not been bitten by walkers, turns up staggering in the woods as a walker, after Shane has killed him by breaking his neck.
  • Shane, who as far as we know has not been bitten by walkers, goes staggering as a walker towards Rick, after Rick has killed Shane (with a knife, as Shane was trying to kill Rick).
But how, as Glenn says about Randall, can that be?   As we saw last year, a bite by walker takes time to turn its victim into a walker.

Best hypothesis - maybe the only viable hypothesis - is that is all the humans are now carrying around the walker virus, which they picked up without being bitten.   Presumably there are no overt symptoms of this virus not introduced by a bite.  (Though maybe that's what was afflicting Beth.)  Unclear whether the virus introduced in this way can be beaten back by the human immune system, and, if not, how long would it take for a human infected in this way to turn into a walker?

What is clear, if this hypothesis is correct, is that if a human so infected is killed, he or she rises very shortly after as a walker.   That would explain what happened tonight to Randall and Shane.

I generally am not thrilled about rabbits pulled out of hats, but this opens up some interesting possibilities, to say the least.  Maybe Hirschel is right, after all, that a cure van be found, based on studying the antibodies of humans carrying the walker virus.   Maybe that's what the scientist at the CDC told Rick at the end of the last season.   More practically, is every human in our group now infected in this unbitten way?

I can't say I'm sorry to see Shane go, and, with what Lori told him about her not really knowing if he or Rick was the father of her baby - an uncertainty we already knew - it's not surprising that he pushed the envelope tonight.  It was also good to see Carl save Rick's life by killing walker-Shane.

I have no idea what the sum total of fans are thinking about this year versus last year, but I'm liking this year of The Walking Dead just fine.


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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, March 11, 2012

Game Change

HBO's series are so superb, it's sometimes easy to forget that Home Box Office was first a movie channel, and has brought us some great original movies over the years.  Game Change, which premiered tonight, is surely one of the very best.

Based on the John Heilemann and Mark Halperin book of the same name, starring Woody Harrelson (Steve Schmidt), Julianne Moore (Sarah Palin), and Ed Harris (John McCain) in tour-de-force leading roles, Game Change the movie gives us a breathtaking, heartbreaking, frightening, but ultimately more or less inspiring view of the election of 2008 which all us remember, and most of us knew much of what the movie tells us.  We knew, for example, that Palin gave a great convention speech, bungled the Couric interview, went rouge in the campaign by not completely following McCain's positions, pretty much held her own in the debate with Biden, wanted to give a concession speech after the loss but was refused that precedent-setting privilege by some combination of Schmidt (campaign manager) and McCain.

We also knew that YouTube magnified Palin's interview blunders by keeping them in permanent play - I discussed this back in 2009 in New New Media, and Schmidt in the movie shows an astute understanding of this media revolution.

What we didn't know were some even more extraordinary pockets of Palin ignorance, including thinking the Queen of England is head of the British state, and Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11.   That someone with such astonishing lack of knowledge was almost a heartbeat from the Presidency was enough to give Schmidt and Nicole Wallace (responsible for tutoring Palin in history) more than pause, and I hope most people a kick in the stomach right through the television screen tonight.   One can only assume that the single-minded focus on winning the election was enough to keep Schmidt from even allowing himself to consider the option of trying somehow to get Palin off the ticket.

Not that any attempt to convince her to resign would have worked.  And in that toughness, the great enigma of Sarah Palin comes across indelibly in the movie.  She's devastated by the media's response to her interview fumbles - the depth of her depression and fury being something else that we didn't quite know - yet she manages to pick herself up, and give a good debate performance against Biden, speaking from her heart.

Nicole Wallace, unfairly blamed by Palin for the interview fiascos, reveals to Schmidt in the end that she couldn't bring herself to vote for McCain-Palin, another revelation in the movie.  It didn't matter, because of course Obama won by far more than one vote.  In that sense - Obama winning and Wallace not voting - the system worked.

But are we less vulnerable to someone like Palin getting the nomination for Vice President today?   Until the crazy way our Vice Presidential candidates are selected is changed, our democracy will ever be on the precipice.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Person of Interest 1.17: Hearts and Places

Person of Interest 1.17 brings out Reese and Finch's humanity when they're set to protect a six-month-old baby girl.  And Reese's, even more so, when he's faced with a decision.

Reese and Finch are also trying to protect Elias' father - just released from prison - from Elias who wants to kill him.   Carter wants to protect Elias, too.   When the baby is kidnapped, Reese, desperate to find her, seeks Elias' aid.   The evil mastermind gives it - bringing Reese to the baby - but exacts a price.  He locks Reese and the baby into a refrigerated truck, and tells Reese that, unless he reveals the location of Elias' father, the baby and eventually Reese will die of the cold.  The baby, of course, is especially vulnerable.

Reese, as hard as nails as he usually is, does the right thing for the baby.  Realizing he can no longer give her enough warmth by holding her, he tells Elias where his father is being held.  Dramatic, powerful television, with especially good acting by Jim Caviezel as someone whose heart is in the right place and is determined not to let this baby die.

But his decision has consequences.  One of the detectives protecting Elias' father is shot and badly wounded by Elias' people as they descend upon the scene.  It's not clear whether the detective will survive, and when Reese joins Carter on the scene she tells him that she "can't do this anymore" - the "this" being her cooperation with Reese and Finch.   This development could have profound consequences for the series.

Meanwhile, Person of Interest continues not only to tell a good story but put in some nice touches of humor, as when Reese and Finch get a look at the police sketch of Finch, being sought by police for kidnapping the baby from the hospital, which he did to protect her.  The sketch looks like a drawing of Finch done by someone on LSD, and prompts Finch to remark that it's no wonder that these sketches are never really much help in nabbing suspects.

But Person of Interest definitely nabbed some viewers, including me.

See also Person of Interest of Interest  ... Person of Interest 1.2:  Reese and Finch ... Person of Interest 1.5: Potentials ... Person of Interest 1.7: Meets Flashpoint and The Usual Suspects ... Person of Interest 1.8:  Widmore and Ben, At It Again ... Person of Interest 1.9: Evolution of a Series ... Person of Interest: 1.10: Carter Returns the Favor ... Person of Interest 1.11-1.12: Realignment and Revelation  ... Person of Interest 1.14: Reese as Ronin  ... Person of Interest 1.16: Meets Wall Street



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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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