Archive for category television
Thanks be to God, we have here neither free schools nor printing presses, and I hope we will not have any for a hundred years, for education has sent into the world doubt, heresy and sectarianism, and the printing press has propagated, in addition to all these evils, attacks against governments! -Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677), Governor of Virginia
Technology takes time to get use to. There is a bit of a delay between the implementation of something that has tremendous potential and the realization of that potential. Then, there is another delay between the realization of that potential and the integration of it.
Think of how drastically the moveable type printing press changed the world. The Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment were direct results of the printing press. This change did not happen overnight, and even as the change was happening, there were a lot of people abusing and misusing the new technology.
The same can be said for virtually all technology that changes how we live: the automobile, the jet liner, the telephone, the personal computer, the internet, the mobile device. These technologies are still in their infancy.
When Sir William Berkeley condemned the printing press, it had not yet spurred on the Age of Revolution. It was a century before the American Revolution. Many of the most subversive books of our culture had not yet been written. The printing press had not even begun to open the doors for heresy and sectarianism.
But along with the dangers came the tremendous benefits. The printed book gave millions access to information that had been hidden from them. Knowledge, wisdom, and information flowed freely in a way that we take for granted today, and which is dwarfed by the speed in which we share information now.
People condemned the telephone as dangerous to the family unit. The Internet was immoral and dangerous (parts of it still are!). Translating the Bible into ‘vulgar languages’ was condemned by clergy and monarchs alike. Every invention that has changed the world has been condemned at some point.
Technology itself is not evil. They are tools, and tools are only as good or evil as the hands that wield them. What can be used for evil can also be use for good.
Before dating me, my wife Nichole had never seen the Star Wars movies. After watching them with me, she noted, “Now I know where you got all those lines from.” Han Solo is, to me, the ultimate smooth operator. He has all the great lines in the movie, and although Vader’s declaration of paternity might define the series, Han makes the series worth watching.
While many of my friends were cheering for Luke or Yoda, I was mesmerized by Han. He was quick to talk, intelligent and yet fun. He was suave, but trouble from the first moment we saw him. Ultimately, he saves the day and gets the girl, but all along the way, you can’t help but cheer for him – even though he is, technically, a criminal and a cheat.
Here, in not exactly the order of greatness, are some of Han’s greatest lines.
10. “Then I’ll see you in Hell!”
With Luke still out on the ice sheet of Hoth and night closing, Han jumps on a Tauntaun and rides out to save his friend. A rebel guard says, “Your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!” to which Han replies, “Then I’ll see you in hell!” Although this breaks continuity (is there a hell in the Star Wars universe?), it is still awesome.
9. “You’re going to die here, you know. Convenient.”
Luke comes to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt, and they are immediately scheduled for execution. Luke reminds Han that they met on this planet, so their story has come full circle. This moment between them, right before Luke actually DOES rescue Han, shows us how everything is reversed in Return of the Jedi – the teachers have become the students and the victims have become the saviors.
8. “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!”
Han knew Leia was a handful from the first moment he met her, and their banter back and forth is one of the best parts of Star Wars.
7. “Look, Your Worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me.”
Gotta love a man with self-confidence bordering on insanity.
6. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
Han is the ultimate skeptic, which makes his devotion to Luke all the better. He only believes in what he can see, steal or shoot. He gives us the Wild West in the midst of a space opera.
5. “That’s because droids don’t rip your arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookies are known to do that.”
Our introduction to Chewbacca is primarily as the strong silent type during the Mos Eisley Cantina scene, but this was the moment when Han let everyone know that Wookies are not to be trifled with.
4. “Had a slight weapons malfunction, but everything’s perfectly alright now. We’re fine, we’re all fine, here, now, thank you. How are you?”
After killing the imperial guards in the Death Star detention center, Han blows their cover with his unbelievably bad skills on the radio.
3. “Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, farm boy!”
With this single utterance, Han set the stage for hyperspace travel and the entire Star Wars galaxy. He treats the wonder of faster than light travel as if he is prepping his car for a drag race. It is dangerous, but mundane.
2. ” I know.”
When Leia professes her love to the soon to be frozen in carbonite Han, this is his response. Even facing imminent death, he is just so darn cool.
1. “So are mine. What are you afraid of?”
Leia tries desperately to avoid contact with the bad boy smuggler, but there’s no avoiding how she really things. And who could blame her?
In Empire Strikes Back, they find themselves alone in a service shaft in Millennium Falcon. After Han helps her with a particularly stubborn lever, he takes her hand. She pulls away half-heartedly while she mumbles, “Stop that. My hands are dirty.” The quote above is his response, and it is the reason she marries him (in my opinion). He is just too cool to resist.
I have been posting quite a bit of serious stuff the last month or so. Today, I thought I’d do something for fun.
Some of you know that I am a movie nut. I love to watch them. One of the lost genres of film is the western. There hasn’t been a really good western in quite awhile. Here are my top five westerns that I’ve seen (there’s a lot of older ones I haven’t seen like “Once Upon a Time in the West” and “High Noon” that I am sure would make my list):
5. True Grit (1969)
Who doesn’t love John Wayne? (It is un-American not to!) He got an Oscar nod for portraying the surly, hard-drinking Marshal Rooster Cogburn. This movie just works. The villains are great. Wayne’s supporting cast is fantastic.
(This movie was remade in 2010 with Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn. I might watch it one day, but no one touches the Duke.)
4. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Sergio Leone made a lot of westerns, and he made three featuring Clint Eastwood as The Man with No Name, but none are as great as “A Fistful of Dollars.” There is just something about Eastwood’s unflappable character, his iron jaw and his unwavering aim. Anytime this movie is on, I have to watch it.
(Bruce Willis started in a loose remake of this film called “Last Man Standing”. In some ways, it is a better film, but it also isn’t a western.)
3.The Magnificent Seven (1960)
An adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai masterpiece Shichinin no samurai (“Seven Samurai” in English), this movie set the bar for ensemble westerns. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn – all the tough guys of 1960 were in this film. Every drop of blood shed in the film is thick with testosterone. The themes of nobility and redemption put this movie high in my rankings even though it has some cheezy moments.
(This was remade in 1998 starring Michael Biehn in Yul Brynner’s role. For me, Biehn will always be Johnny Ringo from “Tombstone”, so I haven’t watched the remake.)
2. Tombstone (1993)
Val Kilmer steals the show with his sarcastic, borderline psychotic Doc Holiday. While Kurt Russell is the star, there is a solid performance from everyone. Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton play Virgil and Morgan Earp with just the right level of grit and naivety, respectively. Jason Priestly gives a great performance as the foppish Billy Breckenridge. Dana Delaney, Michael Biehn, Jon Tenney – everyone puts in the performance of a lifetime. But Val Kilmer rises above them all.
(In the same year, Kevin Costner directed an ode to himself in a trenchcoat called “Wyatt Earp”. Do NOT confuse these two films.)
1. Unforgiven (1992)
I had a tough time deciding between “Unforgiven” and “Tombstone” but I had to give the number one slot to Clint Eastwood’s magnum opus. Everything about this film works. The mood is so dark and so hard, and the climax of Eastwood’s icy rage has no parallel in westerns. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Director (Eastwood) and Best Picture. It is the golden standard of westerns.
So, there you have it.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
This is the most ridiculous “green” commercial I have ever seen. Okay, you want to save the environment so you drive an electric car (which is charged with electricity produced by burning fossil fuels or nuclear reactions, but I digress). But if you think a) the polar bears care one iota about the environment and b) a polar bear is a cute, cuddly creature who just wants to give you a hug, then I suggest you now watch this video:
Yeah, they’re cute and cuddly. They wanna hug you.
Those of you who know me also know that I do not watch live television if I can help it. I make an exception for football, and if I can do it, I often do that with an hour of lead time.
Lately, I have discovered two great shows from the BBC that have shown me just how shallow and superficial American television is.
When Doctor Who was resurrected (literally) in 2005, I did not care for Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor. The show did not catch my attention but David Tenant is amazing as the 10th. He is quirky, funny and intelligent.
His original companion was Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper), but when she went and did her thing, he found Martha Jones (played by the awesome Freemya Agyeman) who is to date my favorite companion of all times. I am watching the episodes with Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate), and the writing is just light years ahead of anything they’re writing in American right now.
A “reformed” vampire named John Mitchell is working in a hospital as a porter when he meets a struggling, slightly nerdy werewolf named George Sands. The two of them decide to “be human” and adapt, so they rent a house to establish themselves as normal people. As it turns out, the house is haunted by the ghost of a girl named Annie (played by the stunning Lenora Crichlow who, ironically appeared in one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, “Gridlock”).
The three all have a dark side, amplified by their undead states. The show is primarily about their human relationships with one another, set against the supernatural nature of their existences. Mitchell faces the guilt of his past; Annie discovers that the man she loved had killed her; George embraces his bestial nature.
I am not a fan of vampire or werewolf stories (and no, I have not read Twilight, nor do I particularly care to) but this show is awesome because it is not about being undead. That is just the setting in which these young people (permanently young as it turns out) live their lives – or afterlives.
Other British Stuff
It should not be surprising that I like these shows. I still think "The Vicar of Dibley” is one of the funniest shows ever made, and I used to be able to quote Monty Python for hours.
But what I really like about British shows is that they are inhabited by real people. Tennant’s Doctor is a scrawny guy in Keds. Martha Jones and Donna Noble are often confused and frustrated. Donna looks more like a housewife (not the desperate kind) than a television star. Russell Tovey’s George Sands is brilliantly executed as a total nerd with a squeaky voice and odd hand gestures.
These are not movie stars. They’re normal looking people. This is very different from American television where even the ugly are just pretty people made to look ugly. I find it makes their shows look as good as they are written.