Lost Worlds and A Strange Visitor From Another Planet

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I just re-watched the pilot of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1996).  It is actually pretty good, especially for a late-1990s superhero show.  It’s sly and clever, and does a nice job working around its obviously-inadequate effects budget.  There’s real chemistry between Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, as well.  Hatcher really sells Lois Lane as a modern women, the natural progression of the character’s strong arc since her introduction.

One thing really did stand out to me about this pilot, though, that is both endearing and maybe a little depressing.  The writers went with the “evil businessman” version of Lex Luthor that’s been common since the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The pilot had to have Lex plotting some nefarious scheme for the sake of pure profit.  But what?

The sabotage of the space program.

Really.  The “Congress of Nations” is about to launch the first 100 colonists to a new space station (Prometheus).  Lex wants to blow up the launch, doom Prometheus, and replace it with Space Station Luthor.  (Of course.)  His motive is the billion-dollar patents that will flow from research done in zero-g on new drugs and treatments.  The loss of the first transport is greeted as a national tragedy.  The launch of the replacement (with the colonists) draws a viewing public all over the world, with everyone on the edge of their seats.

That’s what I find both endearing and sad.  When was the last time our (crewed) space program elicited that sort of enthusiasm?  Heck, we can’t even launch people into space anymore.   For the writers of this show, movement forward into space was the obvious, almost inevitable mark of progress, of there being a future.  It might well be the last time popular TV treated it that way.

And to me, that’s a little sad.  We have miracles and wonders today, of course, but somehow everything seems … small.  Musk and Bezos are slogging forward and dragging us, I suppose, but it certainly doesn’t fire the popular imagination any longer.  I hope we’re just in a holding pattern, waiting for the technology to meet its potential, but I don’t know.

(By the way, Superman — of course — foils the sabotage and lifts the transport into orbit himself.  Because, hey, Superman.)

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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{originally written 2013 May 23, then banished to the Drafts folder for no good reason when I never got around to finishing it.}

Spoiler-free review:  A solid sophomore outing for the NuTrek crew, but it’s no Wrath of Khan. ====== Spoilers follow =========== Continue reading “Review: Star Trek Into Darkness”

Marc Cohn @ The City Winery, 2012 Jan 26

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{This has apparently been sitting in my Drafts folder for four years.  Oops.  I never finished it, so it ends abruptly. -=-BLG}

It’s been a while (a real long while) since I’ve gotten to a Marc Cohn show, but this one was worth it.  He played the City Winery, which is an odd hybrid of concert space, fine dining, boutique winery, and microbrewery.  I ordered my ticket early and got a really good seat at the last row of tables on the floor, just before the risers to a second tier.  And I snagged one that faced the stage (as about half of them face away), saving myself a tremendous crick in my neck.

I arrived well early so as to get dinner ordered and done before the show.  The food selection is a bit limited though it seemed like there was lots of good stuff on the menu.  I got a flatbread pizza and finished with an order of house-made pretzels that somehow or another are made from the house wine.  I don’t really get how that works.  The pretzels were fine (crunchy and mostly unsalted, which actually is what I wanted).   Since I don’t drink, I can’t speak to the wines.

Subverting Stereotypes on the Fury Road

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I just finished rewatching Mad Max: Fury Road.  I have to say, I can understand why the film earned the online ire of the so-called men’s rights activists (MRAs). It takes all the high-octane testosterone-drenched tropes of the typical action flick, ramps them up to 11 and, in so doing, exposes the madness that lies at the heart of the culture.

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Review: Agents of SHIELD season finale

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I caught up on the end of the season for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.  (Yes, it’s that time of summer when I get to catch up on the shows I missed.)  The first season ended with the fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when the entire Marvel universe was scrambled.  Could Season Two match it?

Short answer: Surprisingly, yes.  Spoilers ho.

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College Admissions Hunger Games

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Today the NY Times published an Upshot op-ed called “For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems“.  It’s one of those article that seems to say more than it does.  It doesn’t actually support the conclusion it asserts.  Saying that roughly the same percentage of “top students” still get admission to elite schools is almost self-evidently circular, and does nothing to dispute the notion that “college admissions has become a Hunger Games-like tournament”.  In the Hunger Games, the same number of winners happened each year — but the competition wasn’t always the same.  And what constitutes a “top student” could (and does!) vary from year to year without creating more of them.

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Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 9: Flatline

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Oh, heaven above, Steve Moffat is just determined that we all love Clara, and he’s going to keep forcing tripe like this on us until we give and accept she’s the bestest, most wonderful Companion ever, isn;’t he?

Spoilers below.

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