Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt 1927-2008

Like many of you, my first time seeing Eartha Kitt was as Catwoman on the cornball 60's Batman tv show; what placed her permanently in my heart was listening years later to her rendition of "I Want to be Evil":

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yuletide Wish List

Inspired by my good friend over at Rollerblog, here is my wish list for the season: an archery kit and laptop (because I haven't gotten around to buying them for myself), Star Trek: The Motion Picture dvd (so I can stop listening to the soundtrack and driving my housemates batty), and a nice 1964 paperback edition of I am Legend by Richard Matheson (because Will Smith does not belong on the cover of this excellent novella).

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

This is one of those films we like to call a "hum dinger"...

As you can tell from the above image, Donald Sutherland is not pleased with you. Or to be more precise, the alien pod thing that has taken over Mr Sutherland's existence is not happy, really, with any human being remaining in the city of San Francisco. When he sees a human, he points, he squints, he screams. Not a happy moment for anyone involved, especially if you're human.

Wonderful film. Check it out if you happen to be in the mood for pod people (and when are you not?).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why I Enjoy Fringe

My one hour of television viewing each week is on Tuesday to watch Fringe. Last night sidling up to the tube, my housemate was watching the end of her show and when I sat down she said, "Are you watching 'Cringe' or whatever?" That's the love in our house. Against the grain go I. Esoteric science mixed with conspiratorial derring-do, smart dialogue and enough mystery to generate a thousand harebrained theories -what's not to enjoy?

Yesterday's was the last episode for a few weeks and quite eventful it was. One of the "fringe" elements in the show is memory overlap, specifically between the main character, Olivia Dunham, and the man who betrayed her, John Scott. In the show pilot (sadly the worst episode of the season thus far) Olivia entered his memory to retrieve information crucial to that week's plot. This was tricky: John was dead at the time.
Subsequently she has seen him pop up in random places. It turns out that parts of his memory overlapped with hers and now reside in her brain, and as a result she sometimes experiences his memory as her own.

Sound confusing? Over the stretch of several episodes, the show has worked admirably to explain this phenomenon to the audience, culminating in a great moment last night when Olivia mistook one of John's memories for her own. In a previous episode she actually went into one of his memories to search for clues, very Charlie Kaufman-esque with creepy overtones of lost love gone terribly wrong.

One of the show's core strengths is the relationship between Dr Walter Bishop and his son, Peter. They are wonderful. Joshua Jackson plays Peter with a lot of soul -which I suppose fans of Dawson's Creek will recognize. John Noble, last seen as Denethor in the Lord of the Rings, treads a thin line with his character, teetering between cute nonsense and scientific brilliance, finding at the intersection a fascinating study in obsessive behavior.

The show has it's problems. One of the villains is a Hannibal Lecter knockoff, while others are under-cooked. The actress who plays Olivia could use some coaching on how to act outside of the one-note range. Nevertheless, there's nothing else so weird and fun like Fringe on tv these days, and to judge from the season so far, it's just going to get better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Farewell Old Friend

13 years ago on the eve of moving to San Francisco, I purchased a double-deck Sony cassette player. Last night the last of its belts gave out. After blasting Al Green in the late evening, I flipped the tape and after pressing PLAY was met with the telltale squeals of a tapehead belt that no longer rolls at the correct speed. This was the right-hand deck. The left-hand deck wore out a few months ago in the midst of a dubbing session. It was only a matter of time...
Thirteen years. Not bad. Nobody expects a cellphone to function that long, let alone the medium of a defunct technology. (Oddly enough, the CD player was the first component to fail, lasting less than a year.) I will miss my friend and companion.