Posts tagged ‘media’


More bingewatching

I went and fixed the spelling of “Numb3rs”, which I had written as (the more properly-133t) “Numb3rz”, and added Dollhouse to the list of ones that I want to pay attention while I watch.

Also just watched another Numb3rs, and it was so awful that I want to rant. :) It was actually light on the “ridiculous modeling” aspects, because the Fancy Math(tm) was mostly used only to do things you wouldn’t actually need much fancy math for.


First, the whole premise of why things were Very Serious was that a body was found of a person who had had Avian Flu, and although Avian Flu isn’t really contagious between people, the flu in this particular person might have mutated into a very contagious form, even though it has never done that before in the entire world, and we have no actual evidence that it has in this case, so we might be in danger of a rapidly spreading endemic flu outbreak! Uh oh!

Second, and even more infuriating, the especially-nerdy-professor character, who dresses badly and is familiar with all world literature and science and doesn’t use contractions and always speaks as though he were writing a journal paper, misuses “begs the question” to mean “raises the question”, just like a semi-literate Web comment-writer. Arrrrgghh!

Further update:

House: Not watching this very much anymore since I realized that every episode has exactly the same plot.

Leverage: a fun little show about this good-guy insurance investigator who loses his job because the insurance company is evil, and gathers a bunch of quirky criminals to help him pull a con to get revenge and set things right, and then decides that that was so much fun that he’ll set up a company to do that to other bad guys who are otherwise untouchable. I actually forget why I haven’t been watching those recently; I’ll have to add it back to the rotation! (See also our alternate-universe review of this back in Passive Gaming.)



Old TVIt turns out that having some random TV episode or movie streaming on my Cellular Telephone off to one side of my desk at work helps me focus, and/or keeps me from wandering off to get yet more food that I don’t need. So I have been watching lots of things in a “not really paying attention” sort of way, on the Net Flix. A few movies, but mostly many consecutive episodes of various old TV series.

Let us write things about some of them!

Warehouse 13: This was fun, and I’ve watched every episode that NetFlix streams. Which includes only Seasons 1-3, darn them. I could like pay Amazon money to see some more, but that would be silly.

Numb3rs: This felt kind of fun at first, but eventually the horrible scientific / mathematical gaffes got to be too much to take. Now I just watch a single episode now and then, when I’ve OD’d on everything else obvious. Pretty much every episode involves Our Hero making a mathematical model of some very complex real-world phenomenon (generally a crime), and using that model to figure out Who Done It, or How Many Shooters There Are, or Where The Killer Will Strike Next. And in every case it’s utterly implausible if you actually understand anything about how modeling works, how rough and approximate it is at best, and how many unknown input parameters are always floating around.

Bones: This is superficially better, because not being a forensic anthropologist I don’t realize that all the cool-looking science is crap (I have heard third or fourth hand that in fact it is, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised). But over time the soap-opera stuff starts to pall, and the basic moral-majority premise, that the rational atheist polyamorous Bones will not be truly happy until she is an irrational religious believer in the Magic of Love and monogamy like Booth, palls even more.

Lie To Me: Fun premise here, where the protagonists have the scientific ability to tell whether people are lying, what they are feeling, and so on, from the microexpressions on their faces, and their body language. I’ve watched a bunch of these (and when watching something else afterward I’m always wondering why the characters are so clueless about what the bad guys are thinking and all). But recently they’ve been mostly about how angry the main good guy is about everything, and how much trouble their company is in for various reasons, and so on, which seems unnecessary.

Sliders: Premise sounded good, but is apparently targeted pretty narrowly at High School Kids or something.

CSI / Law & Order : NY / SVU / LA / Criminal Intent: So far these all sort of mush together as decent Police Procedurals with high production values, but everyone is always frowning glumly and darkly alluding to grim back-stories from off-camera or last season or something and being generally depressing. So I don’t watch these alot.

Star Trek: TNG: Eh. I should be all fannish about these I guess, but the science and general plotlines are so often so bogus, just clumsy artificial set-pieces for some particular character interaction or whatever. Will have to try various Star Trek things again sometime, there must be something there?

The X-Files: So classic, how could this not be great!? But somehow it feels incredibly dated. “There is a vague hint that there might be an alien spaceship around, CUE SCARY MUSIC!!!” Really, guyz; a vague suggestion of alien spaceships, even ones that maybe sometimes steal people, maybe, just isn’t all by itself all that scary.

Witches of East End: Completely silly-looking premise: there is this group of magical people (“witches”) who came to the mortal world from the magical realm of Asgard (seriously?); the mother is immortal, and she is cursed so that she keeps having these same two daughters over and over, who keep dying young, and then some time later she bears them again (kind of novel!). Her sister can change into a cat and has nine lives, and has also been here for a very long time. This time around, the mother tried to keep the truth about their history and powers from the daughters, hoping this would keep them from dying, but now they know. They have all made lots of enemies over the centuries, who keep bothering them. One of the daughters is engaged to this guy, but keeps having dreams about hot sex with his mysterious ne’er-do-well brother. That sort of thing. And lots of knives for some reason. It’s great because it doesn’t even nod in the direction of reality or sense, so I can watch it without wincing.

Buffy, Dollhouse, and Firefly: Nope! These, I want to pay attention to when I watch. :)

Suggestions for other things that might be good to have playing in the background while writing C++ are more than welcome…


Much Ado About Whedon

Yeah, obvious title. :)

So I went out for/on Father’s Day here and saw Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Burns.

It was good. A pretty straight-up modern-dress treatment, using the Bard’s original words; the funny parts were funny (it’s a comedy after all), the suspenseful parts were suspenseful, and the lovey-dovey parts were lovey-dovey.

Spoilers in the below, skip to the last couple paragraphs, for anyone who hasn’t seen it and might!

The main twists I noticed were making Conrade female (and the beginning of Act 1 Scene 3 an almost-sex scene), and the cute touch of having a black woman wedding guest at backstage center when Claudio says that he will marry a particular woman even “were she an Ethiope”. There’s no reaction or anything, just a quick cut away, but it was definitely a wink at the audience.

Significant Whedon fanservice. The Beatrice-Benedick romance is (going by the actors) Fred and Wesley from Angel (at which there is much rejoicing in certain circles). That’s Captain Mal from Firefly as the funny bumbling Constable Dogberry (the Watch locking themselves out of their car is another cute, what, synachronism, as is the production of an iPod when Don Pedro says “Come, shall we hear this music?”). And that’s the good-guy doctor Tam, also from Firefly, as the evil Don John.
Fred as Beatrice
(And another synachronism is the live smartphone video accompanying “My lord, your brother John is ta’en in flight, And brought with armed men back to Messina”, wahaha.)

Amy Acker is a great Beatrice. I could not for the life of me remember where I’d seen her before for the first part of the film, because she (unlike Fred) is confident and even haughty; only at some point in there where she softens did I think “Oh, it’s Fred!”.

Jillian Morgese is a pretty and convincing Hero, the wronged ingenue. From the website, she was being an extra in ummmm The Avengers when Whedon himself suggested she try out for Hero, which is extremely cool and fairy-tale-like.

(And what the heck is a female character doing being named “Hero”? Shakespeare’s fault, and extremely confusing. Someone must explain this to me!)

So in general, it was fun. The Burns is a comfy intimate theater (three screens, of which I think they were using only two today, seating about the size of the front third of your typical cineplex theater). And there’s a locally-owned candy and chocolate store right nearby! Hee hee.

So far the fact that Whedon is a flippin’ genius (for which I offer as evidence Once more, with feeling in particular, of which I now have the Original Cast Album, among other notable notables) has not reached out and struck me from this film; maybe I will gradually realize amazing things about it, but also maybe not. In any case, it was well crafted, and a Good Time, and I am glad I went.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So I was down at the Drug Store getting more of the pills to inhibit my neurotransmitter reuptake, and there on the bottom shelf of the cabinet near where you drop off prescriptions there were some Home Pregnancy Tests, and some Home Cholesterol Tests, and next to those there were some Home Drug Tests (Marijuana).

And while I realize there are all sorts of Important Social and Cultural and Moral Things to say about these, what I’m really thinking is what a great routine George Carlin could have done on these.

Just imagine, someone sees one of these in the store when he’s a little wasted, and he’s like “whoa, cool, I’ll take some o’ those, man”, and he takes them home and opens one up and figures out how to use it, and then he yells “SHIT!” and his roommate says “what’s wrong, man?”, and he says “Man, I’ve got WEED!!”.

Something like that, anyway.

I was going to write down other things, too, but I can’t remember what…

Oh yeah! So we forgive Jen Rhee for whatever role she is playing in the mystery infographic spam thing, because one of the things that she links to on her Digg page is 5 Questions We Desperately Need a Buckaroo Banzai Sequel to Answer, and Buckaroo Banzai references are worth alot.

(Although we also dimly suspect that the things on her Digg page are carefully selected to contain at least one thing that is worth alot to each of seventeen carefully-selected Internet Demographic Groups, about which she also has infographics. But probably we are just paranoid.)

Passive media invades the Internet!

In the sense that I heard something on NPR or somewhere about how all various people with lots of money, like Google and I guess Yahoo and all various other people are apparently spending lots of money to put together “channels” which would carry “programs” that people would then be expected to “watch” like they do (or used to do) with “television programs”.

Which strikes me as bizarre!

I personally have very little patience with non-interactive media these days, and the only things I really consume that you can’t click on, so to speak, are (a) background music, (b) WNYC while doing other things, and (c) occasional old Buffy episodes on Netflix. My impression of YouTube “channels” is that they are, like, places where you can go to find some mildly amusing “JibJab” thing with animated talking pictures of politicians or something, except now they have advertisements which if you have to watch more than like six seconds of invariably causes me to go do something else instead.

But apparently I may not be entirely typical (shocking thought), or at least some people with lots of money are willing to bet that I’m not. So there are whole “channels” on YouTube and YahooTube or whatever and maybe like Hulu and things, where people make “episodes” of “programs” with High Production Values, and advertisers, and all like that there, so you can have the whole stultifyingly dull and ad-saturated television experience right there on your computer, oh joy oh rapture.

Here is one they talked about on whatever NPR story or whatever it was that I heard: Barely Political. If you click on that you will go to a YouTube page where some video will probably play even without you asking it to. The one it showed me was incredibly stupid, but maybe you will be luckier.

(It occurs to me that when I watched several in a row “episodes” of (what was that? oh, yeah) Dragon Age: Redemption, I was probably consuming one of these very “web program” things, but it was just to moon over Felicia Day, and obviously that doesn’t count, right?)

This interests me somewhat, in that I like to think of the Internet as extremely liberating and empowering and tending to inspire and facilitate creativity and collaboration and participation and all, which is pretty much the opposite of the “sitting on the couch staring at ads interspersed with brief stretches of plot” paradigm that TV and this stuff represent.

Passive consumption has, I tell myself at some level, been so successful on TV just because the technology doesn’t offer the superior alternatives, and now that the ‘net so definitely does offer those alternatives, we’re basically done with that whole TV thing.

But maybe not!

Time will tell…

oh P.S.: This is probably the NPR story that I heard.