Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bones 10.5: Two Jokes and Three Times

An excellent Bones 10.5 night, mixing humor and seriousness, as is Bones' wont, with mostly humor, which is ok by me.

Bones is to give a speech at a convention.  She previews the beginning of her talk to Booth - a joke about Schrödinger's cat.  What's that cat about?  Schrödinger sought to highlight a problem in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics - which holds, in effect, that reality can exist in two contrasting forms, and doesn't obtain a single form until we observe it.  Schrödinger said that's like a cat being in a sealed box, alive and dead at the same time, and the cat doesn't become alive or dead until someone opens the box and looks at the cat.   Bones tells a joke which is funny only if someone knows what Schrödinger's original cat hypothesis was all about.

So, of course, Booth finds it not the least bit funny, and counters with a joke about a restaurant on the moon, which has good food but no atmosphere - a joke, that is, that could be found funny by anyone. Bones starts her speech at the convention, but before she has a chance to get more than a few words out, she's interrupted by the murder of the evening.

Bones resumes her speech after the murder is solved, in a plot that implicates Hodgins - for the third time in the series, as he points out (first devoted fan who can tell me the other two times - in a comment to this review - will be awarded a free copy of one of my ebook novels, the commenter's choice).   Bones tells the cat joke, which gets a big laugh from the scientifically astute audience.  But then she tells Booth's joke about the moon - which evokes no laughter from anyone except Booth.

In the show, that is.  But I found Booth's joke funny, as I'd bet did 99% of the television viewing audience.   And that's one of the beauties of the show - the interplay between the scientific sophistication of Bones and the everyman common sense of Booth.

Booth had a good night with Wendell, too,  who's in remission, but understandably gets worried when someone else in his group, last week in remission, takes a turn for the worse.   The talking that Booth gives Wendell, about not giving up, about fighting, was short, effective, and inspiring.   Booth not only tells a good joke but makes a good friend.

And see also Bones 9.1: The Sweet Misery of Love ... Bones 9.2: Bobcat, Identity Theft, and Sweets ... Bones 9.3 and NCIS 11.2: Sweets and Ziva ... Bones 9.4: Metaphysics of Death in a Television Series ... Bones 9.5: Val and Deep Blue ... Bones 9.6: The Wedding ... Bones 9.7: Watch Out, Buenos Aires ...Bones 9.8: The Bug in the Neck ... Bones 9.9: Friday Night Bones in the Courtroom ... Bones 9.10: Horse Pucky ... Bones 9.11: Angels in Equations ... Bones 9.12: Fingernails ... Bones 9.13: Meets Nashville, and Wendell ... Bones 9.14: "You Cannot Drink Your Glass Away" ... Bones 9.15: Hodgins' Brother and the Ripped Off Toe ... Bones 9.16: Lampreys, Professors, and Insurance Companies ... Bones 9.17: Spartacus in the Kitchen ... Bones 9.18: Meets Day of the Triffids ... Bones 9.19: The Cornucopic Urn ... Bones 9.20: Above the Law ... Bones 9.21: Freezing and Thawing ... Bones 9.22: Promotion ... Bones 9.23: The New Intern ... Bones Season 9 Finale: Upping the Ante

And see also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples ... Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet ... Bones 8.20: On Camera ... Bones 8.21: Christine, Hot Sauce, and the Judge ... Bones 8.22: Musical-Chair Parents ... Bones 8.23: The Bluff ... Bones Season 8 Finale: Can't Buy the Last Few Minutes

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution


A different kind of police fiction

The Case Against Halloween

Fist and foremost, Halloween is dangerous.  As a parent, you want to protect your children.   What could be worse than putting them at the mercy of who knows what strangers put in their candy?  Yeah, I know you usually go calling on friends and neighbors for your trick or treating, but even so.   Why risk that someone next door who was a good person yesterday had some kind of psychotic breakdown overnight, leaving your kids holding the perilous bag.

But let's say the treats are what they're supposed to be:  good, wholesome candy.   The problem is that there is no such thing.   Everyone agrees that refined sugars are bad for you.   Sure, you can tolerate some.   But you and your children are better of eating more complex sugars - such as those found in fruit - and even less of that, if you can.   Instead, Halloween trains your kids in the worst possible eating habit: binging on sweets.

And the fundamental logic of the holiday is off kilter, too.   What does trick or treat teach children?  That, if someone doesn't reward you, your proper recourse is to mess them up?  And in the case of Halloween, the so-called reward - again, candy, which is no good for you - is in no sense justified.  You're not getting it because you did something out of the ordinary, or even just because you performed some task well, or did someone a favor.   Instead, you're in effect demanding the reward - because, again, it's Halloween.

Being a parent - our kids are now in their late twenties - I know it's not easy to say no to Halloween.  Kids, understandably, feel a sense of entitlement to Halloween and its candies, and resent not being allowed to reap what they see as justified bounty.   But life's not a piece a cake, and sometimes you have to stand up and refuse to go along with a tradition that's just stupid and dangerous.   Better not to demand cake and sweets from strangers on this or any other day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Affair 1.3: The Agent and the Sleepers

For some reason, my favorite scene in The Affair 1.3 was the one with Noah and his book agent, who takes shots at fantasy and self-publishing.   The latter I can understand, coming from an agent.  After all, self-publishing would put literary agents out of business.  But why fantasy?

So why did I enjoy this conversation?  Because, it captured the arrogance of agents in general so perfectly.   And the capture of personalities - especially Noah, the somewhat struggling author, and Alison, the waitress but much more - is the great strength of this beautifully photographed and otherwise rendered series.

It's now become a little more clear exactly what we're seeing in the two accounts that make up the hour - Noah's and Alison's - and how this relates to the conversations with the police detective.  First of all, the accounts, or recollections of Noah and Alison, cover much more than the conversations we see with the detective.  I thought, at first, that the full episode was a depiction of what Noah and Alison were each telling the detective.   But there's no reason that Noah would have told the detective about his meeting with his agent, or Alison's feelings about seeing the boy in the hospital.

So Noah's and Alison's renditions are, in effect, God's-eye views of what they are experiencing, or think they are experiencing, in their lives.   But what makes this so interesting is not only when their accounts differ about what happened when the two of them are together, but how their accounts overlap in a syncopated kind of parallelism.   Noah and Alison each sleep with their respective spouses - and, moreover, not only initiate the sex by waking them up, but tell their spouses not to wake up.   Although a part of this seems unrealistic - it's doubtful that Noah and Alison would literally both use the same exact words - the sentiment expressed makes perfect sense in the circumstances.   On the one hand, Noah wants to sleep with Helen, and Alison with Cole, as a way of reaffirming their marriages. But Noah also wants to imagine he's sleeping with Alison, and Alison wants to think she's sleeping with Noah, rather than with their spouses.   Telling their spouses not to wake up enhances the prospect for their illusions.   Yet these are short-lived, because Helen and Cole each do wake up - symbolizing in a compelling way the vulnerability of the affair to reality, and/or that their affair hasn't quite happened as yet.

Also of interest on this point is that Noah goes much further in his account with Alison than she goes with Noah in hers, as if to underscore that, though powerfully attracted to Noah, she's still a little bit more ambivalent about where this is headed.   So did they actually have sex together yet or not?   This puts the relative truth of their two accounts back on center stage, where it always was, and which makes this series so good.

See also The Affair Premiere: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 1.2: Time Travel! ... The Affair 1.4: Come Together ... The Affair 1.5: Alison's Episode ... The Affair 1.6: Drugs and Vision  ... The Affair 1.7: True Confessions ...  The Affair 1.8: "I Love You / I Love You, Too" ... The Affair 1.9: Who Else on the Train? ... The Affair Season One Finale: The Arrest and the Rest

podcast review of every 1st season episode

Monday, October 27, 2014

Photography Flips into Snapchat

One of the joys of understanding McLuhan is how his insights can leap forth at unexpected times to supply us with a connection or a new insight about a matter - or medium - at hand.  About six months ago, I came to realize that the photograph has flipped into the selfie in our own day and age.  Just yesterday, I did a little podcast on this subject - in which I also pointed out that radio has flipped into the podcast. And today, just a few hours ago, I realized that photograph has also flipped into Snapchat.

One of the best things about McLuhan's tetrad or four laws of media is that a given medium can enhance, obsolesce, retrieve, and flip into multiple media.  In case you'd like a quick refresher on the tetrad, it is an exploratory tool that McLuhan developed to help us make sense out of the emergence of media.   Take radio, for example:  It (1) enhances or amplifies sound (speech, music, etc) sent instantly across great distances simultaneously to lots of people; (2) obsolesces the written word as in newspapers as a mode of news delivery; (3) retrieves the spoken word that of course never really went away but was eclipsed to some extent by the products of the printing press; and radio, when it is pushed to its limits, (4) flips into television, which broadcasts like radio but re-inserts the visual into the mix.   And, radio, the professional mass medium, also flips into podcasting that anyone with a microphone and a connection to the Internet can do.    More on the tetrad in my book, Digital McLuhan, pictured below.

But back to photography: its flip into Snapchat is profound indeed, because permanency has always been one of photography's hallmarks.  As Andre Bazin so aptly noted, a photograph rescues an image from "its proper corruption in time".  In contrast, the Snapchat photo is deliberately intended to corrupt over time - and very quickly.  Because the essence of Snapchat is that you send someone a photograph that you want him or her to see only when they receive it, and not any time after.  If only former Congressman Anthony Weiner had known about Snapchat!

So we can now add Snapchat to the selfie as one of the media that photography has flipped into.   Like a reflection in a pool of water, which can also be a selfie and also can disappear as soon as the person staring into the pool walks away, Snapchat epitomizes the ever percolating evolution of media to forms that are at once both new and well established in our past.

See also Marshall McLuhan and the Kindle and Tetrad on Eyeglasses Flipping into Google Glass 

                               the spoken word
     McLuhan and the Kindle          |     McLuhan and the Selfie

The Walking Dead 5.3: Meets Alfred Hitchcock and the Twilight Zone

Cannibalism is a tough theme to get right on television - probably in any medium - and The Walking Dead has done a pretty good job of it this season.   Not quite as good, though, as Alfred Hitchcock, in his masterful television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, on around the same time as The Twilight Zone, in the late 50s through the 60s.

One episode, in particular, provides a template for how to do cannibalism just right on television.  In "Specialty of the House" (1959), a man yearns to join an exclusive dining club, whose specialty of the house is a dish reputed to be unbelievably tasty.  You have to be vetted to be admitted to the Club.   Our man eventually is, keeps pestering the maitre-d' about when the special dish will be served, and is eventually called with the good news that he should come over to the Club.  In the very last scene, as the man tucks in his napkin at the table, we see an axe wielded over his head: he is the specialty of the house to be served this month.

A few years later, in 1962, The Twilight Zone took a crack at cannibalism with its excellent "To Serve Man," based on Damon Knight's 1950 story by the same name.   Actually, the eaters were aliens, so it wasn't quite cannibalism, but the story had the same flavor.  The aliens have a book, "To Serve Man," which foolish humans at first assume is a manifesto about helping and improving the human condition.  They find out too late that it's a cook book.

The best of Walking Dead 5.3 had elements of both of these classics.   In particular, the ring leader's disquisition to Bob about what people taste like - "pretty people taste better" - was a chillingly brilliant advancement of the cannibalism theme, reminiscent of the Morlocks eating the Eloi in The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.   In both cases, cannibalism is brought on by apocalypse.

Of course, in The Walking Dead, the zombies have been eating humans from the very beginning.   What's made this season different was humans eating humans.   Interestingly, since Bob had been bitten, the consumption of him was almost a case of humans eating a zombie, or at least a proto-zombie.    If only they'd cut off his infected shoulder, he might have survived, as Hershel did before the Governor did him in.

See also: The Walking Dead 5.1: The Redemption of Carole

And see also The Walking Dead 4.1: The New Plague ... The Walking Dead 4.2: The Baby and the Flu ... The Walking Dead 4.3: Death in Every Corner ...The Walking Dead 4.4: Hershel, Carl, and Maggie ... The Walking Dead 4.6: The Good Governor ... The Walking Dead 4.7: The Governor's Other Foot ... The Walking Dead 4.8: Vintage Fall Finale ... The Walking Dead 4.9: A Nightmare on Walking Dead Street ... The Walking Dead 4:14: Too Far ... The Walking Dead Season 4 Finale: From the Gunfire into the Frying Pan


no cannibalism but at least a plague in The Consciousness Plague

Homeland 4.5: Righteous Seduction

Homeland continued percolating on all fronts tonight, with especially good action for Carrie and Saul, in two separate but, of course, related stories, because all stories are intertwined in this series.

Carrie's seduction of Aayan progresses and expands.   She wisely pulls back the day after their first bedding, when he tells her that sleeping with her goes against his faith and makes him ashamed.  But she knows he wants her, and wants more of her, not only because he slept with her in the first place, but because she catches him looking at her body, under the cover, when she's waking up in the morning.  So she confides in him about her baby to win his confidence, draws on her own real pain to make her presentation believable, all with the goal of getting Aayan to take her in his arms and then back to bed, which he in fact does.   He wants to pleasure Carrie - it's unclear if he does, but she's again able to draw on real emotion to make the moment convincing.

As I've been saying in my reviews this year, I like this new Carrie, much more in control of herself and therefore able to play a better game of spying, much better than the wounded bird of the previous seasons.   I've seen reviews of the show that find her seduction of Aayan disturbing - taking advantage of a boy - but she's always done what's necessary, and correctly views saving of American lives as more important than other kinds of ethics.    That's why she was able to sleep with Brody in the first place.

Quinn, for obvious reasons, is the voice of prudish concern on the show.   Clearly, he loves Carrie, and that's what's moving him.  Meanwhile, Saul, who loves Carrie in a different way - as a fatherly figure - got into the thick of spying himself tonight.  Except, it turns out that everything he did at the airport, in one of the best sequences of action scenes for Saul, was all a plan from the ISI brunette agent to kidnap him.

As always, Homeland is nearly unpredictable, and I've got to say I'm enjoying this season a lot more than last year's.

And see also  Homeland on Showtime ... Homeland 1.8: Surprises ... Homeland Concludes First Season: Exceptional

#SFWApro  #SHO_Homeland

  different kind of espionage

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The End of Boardwalk Empire

I was sorry to see Boardwalk Empire end tonight, not only because I generally really enjoyed the series, but because the ending was so obvious and, sad to say, shabby.

The series has always been fast and loose with history.  But the finale did that with a vengeance, in little and major ways.  Joe Kennedy, one of the best historical characters in the series, just introduced this season, knows that the polls that show Hoover beating Roosevelt are wrong, because only the very rich were polled.  Actually, the polls which were notoriously wrong would be conducted four years later, when FDR was shown losing to his Republican challenger big time.   It was realized only years later, in astute historical analysis, that the Literary Digest poll made the mistake of conducting itself via telephone, which of course only the very rich had in their homes at that time.  (I have a 1931 New York City phone book which is thinner than today's New York Times.) No way Joe Kennedy could have realized this four years earlier, as smart as he was.

But the big historical discrepancy was the killing of Nucky at the end.  In our history, the real Nucky Johnson (that was his name, not Thompson) died decades later, in 1968.   Yeah, I know this story from the very beginning was fictionalized - including the change in last name - but to differ so drastically on such a major point undermines the story.  Maybe it's just me, but I always like my historical dramas to stick to the major facts.   Show Marc Antony with as many women on the side as you like, but don't leave out that he was with Cleopatra, or that he lost the Battle of Actium.   Rome, still one of the best historical dramas ever on television - also on HBO - walked that line beautifully. Boardwalk Empire looked like it was doing that for much of the series, but fell out of step in the end.

Still, if the ending of Boardwalk Empire was disappointing and even trite, that was only because so much of the show previously was so good.  The series gave us riveting story lines,  brilliant acting, and brought a somewhat unexplored part of history to life.   I've seen dramas about Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky lots of times.  Boardwalk Empire was one of the very best.  R. I. P.

See also Boardwalk Empire 5.1: Lucky Rising ... Boardwalk Empire 5.2: Joe Kennedy ... Boardwalk Empire 5.3: Veal Parmagian and Family ...Boardwalk Empire 5.4: Margaret and Nucky ... Boardwalk Empire 5.6: The Skipping Record ... Boardwalk Empire Penultimate: Taking Care of Business

And see also Boardwalk Empire 4.1: Sneak Preview Review ... Boardwalk Empire 4.2: Sneak Preview Review ... Boardwalk Empire 4.2: J. Edgar ...Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview Review 4.3: Honey, Sunny ...Boardwalk Empire 4.3: Nucky, Sunshine, and Heroin ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview Review 4.4: Downfalls ... Boardwalk Empire 4.4: Bullies and Betrayals ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.5: The Gift of Rage ... Boardwalk 4.5: Two Deaths ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.6: Good Lovin' ... Boardwalk Empire 4.6: Sally and Margaret ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.7: Beds, Promotions, Surprises ... Boardwalk Empire 4.7: Family and History ... Boardwalk Empire Sneak Preview 4.8: The Blues ... Boardwalk Empire 4.8: Knives in the Back ... Boardwalk Empire 4.9: The Imbecile ...Boardwalk Empire 4.10 Sneak Preview Review: Unholy Alliances ...Boardwalk Empire 4.10: Family Treachery ... Boardwalk Empire 4.11: Nucky on the Beach

And see also Boardwalk Empire 3.1: Happy News Year 1923  ... Boardwalk Empire 3.2: Gasoline and the White Rock Girl ... Boardwalk Empire 3.3: The Showgirl and The Psycho ... Boardwalk Empire 3.5: "10 L'Chaim" ... Boardwalk Empire 3.7: Deadly Gillian ... Boardwalk Empire 3.8: Andrew Mellon ... Boardwalk Empire 3.9: Impaired Nucky

And see also Boardwalk Empire 2.1: Politics in an Age Before YouTube  ... Boardwalk Empire 2.2: The Woman Behind the Throne ... Boardwalk Empire 2.3: Frankenstein and Victrola ... Boardwalk Empire 2.4: Nearly Flagrante Delicto ... Boardwalk Empire 2.5: Richard's Story ... Boardwalk Empire 2.6: Owen and Other Bad News for Nucky ... Boardwalk Empire 2.7: Shot in the Hand  ...Boardwalk Empire 2.8: Pups with Fangs ... Boardwalk Empire 2.9: Ireland, Radio, Polio ...Boardwalk Empire 2.10: Double Shot ... Boardwalk Empire 2.11: Gillian and Jimmy  ... Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Finale: Stunner!

And see also Boardwalk Emipre on HBO ... Boardwalk Empire 1.2: Lines and Centers Power ...Boardwalk Empire 1.10: Arnold Rothstein, Media Theorist  ... Season One Finale of Boardwalk Empire