Monday, April 27, 2009

2010: The Meaning of Caprica

58 Years Before the Fall.

These are the first words you see when Caprica begins, and from the opening frame there is a clock ticking. Instantly we are plunged into a raging dancehall, where a myriad of decadent behaviors are openly displayed, from rapine to murder and culminating in human sacrifice. Before long we see that all of it is illusion, unfolding behind the eyes of a young girl, a virtual reality that she can access electronically. And why not? All the Caprica kids are doing it.

Zoe Graystone is the daughter of Caprica's leading industrialist and a devout follower of the One True God. This is tantamount to heresy on Caprica, where the pantheon of Kobol Lords are integrated into all aspects of life; to deviate from belief in them is to invite sanction and societal rejection. How this dovetails with her virtual existence at the V-Club is the jumping off point for a story that grows to impact all levels of civil society on the planet.

Her father, Daniel Graystone, is a tech genius in the class of Wozniak and Jobs. He is developing a CYbernetic LifefOrm Node -an acronym that will be revealed in all its clunkiness as CYLONs. Things are not going well in honing these robots for the military, and to make matters worse, Graystone is competing with a Caprican version of the mafia for a vital processor. His ambition will intersect with his daughter's spirituality in startling ways and lay the groundwork for what could be a fantastic new television series.

This is a small part of what is presented in the pilot for Caprica. Rather than risk saying more, I'll leave you with the preview and say that here is something worthy of the Battlestar Galactica legacy.

What is the fall? Beyond the reference to the Christian fall of humanity, the implications are that it is total and profound. Watchers of Battlestar Galactica will have an idea of what the fall represents, but Caprica is not relying on knowledge of the show to appreciate the questions it raises. Viewers new and old will find something to fascinate them in 2010, when the series is scheduled to air.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two Hundredth

To mark this, our two hundredth year at zeitheist, with proper panache and pomp, there is going to be a subtle shift in tone. While I'll continue posting about entertainments that catch my eye -I'm excited to see Moon and my next post will be a review of the BSG-spinoff Caprica- there will be a greater focus on work I'm doing to get my novel published. Thus far I've limited references to it, playing the protective papa to a still-burgeoning child. Now that it is further along and ready to be shopped to agents, I want to share the experience and maybe learn something along the way about how to do it better next time -in the eternal words of HoJo, "Things can only get better!"

Speaking of entertainment, I've been honored to have correspondences with the creator of what was one of my favorite comic strips at The Stranger, a Seattle weekly paper. As "Smell of Steve Inc.", Brian Sendelbach amused and inspired me on a regular basis back in the early part of this decade. He has put up his quill and entered the publishing game, doing his damnedest to crack that toughest of nuts: children's book publishing! Since this is the kind of trouble I am seeking to bring into my own life, albeit in non-children's books, I thought it only appropriate to share a column he wrote about his (thus far) frustrated attempts at getting published. Read about it here... and then come back and gaze some more at Bougle Gluce (pictured).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Green Lantern film update

Soundtrack provided by Men at Work. Read about it here.

Will GL exhibit a newfound love of vegemite? It's what all the space cops with power rings are eating these days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sleep Dealer

Intriguing science fiction film from Mexico:

Monday, April 13, 2009

2009: The Meaning of Greatness (Part Two)

Cylons were created by humanity. They evolved and developed a plan. What was this plan? Even now with the series finished, this question has not been answered completely. A sexy cylon in Baltar's head seduces him with hints at what the plan entails, implying that humans have strayed from belief in the One True God. Through apocalyptic measures, created wishes to put creator back on the path of righteousness... if any are left by the time they are done.

President Roslin is on a mystic journey when we first meet her, concluding that pragmatism wins over spiritual promise. She retains awe and wonder in the face of an inscrutable cosmos, but without the visionary aspect. Arguably she passes from one pagan philosophy to another. There is a clear connection between her and the cylons, the nature of which is undefined -have the cylons failed? A strong woman of conviction is no less convicted when we last see her. What exactly it is that commands her spirit is left open to interpretation, never definitely rooted in the One True God cylons espouse; in this respect, she is a failed experiment and human, all too human.

Gaius Baltar undergoes a very different transformation. He is convinced of God's perfection and beauty, proclaiming it to all and sundry. Knowing what we do about his character, the depth of his conversion remains unanswered. Without question he comes to his prophetic hysteria having endured experiences devastating to lesser folk, and provides the series' dynamic of how we come to recognize what it is we truly believe.

Is Baltar a cylon success story? He is like Paul of Tarsus, born a persecutor and reborn in fire, blindness and long wandering to become God's man.

All of this to say, Battlestar Galactica undertakes a great storytelling challenge: to tell of spiritual renewal without lapsing into cliche and preordained outcomes. As the series progresses, it is never certain where Roslin or Baltar will end up. When we see them at the end, it is a marvel. How amazing, too, that it unfolds within the trappings of a science fiction television show.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moon Trailer

Watch this and tell me you aren't jazzed to see Moon:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Because Screaming Lady Says So

Film lovers, there are fresh posts at 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009: The Meaning of Greatness (Part One)

It was a surprise to learn that cylons believe in God. Not the gods humans worship, but the One True God. At the time period during which Battlestar Galactica is set, humans thrive on the planet Caprica and devotedly worship a pantheon, the Lords of Kobol. After the planet is razed by nuclear attack and survivors flee in a rag-tag fleet, everything they believe is thrown into disarray, just as the cylons planned it...

On Caprica Laura Roslin was Secretary of Education. In the aftermath, she is ranking survivor and named President. A woman of deep conviction and faith, she accepts the position hesitantly and soon proves to have the necessary fiber to lead. Her faith is in the Lords of Kobol, which puts her at odds with the cylon mission. Her nemesis? Gaius Baltar.

Baltar is the great traitor of his race. He gave up the planetary defense codes that let cylon bombs fall. In his head is a sexy cylon who preaches the gospel of the One True God. Wittingly or not, this puts him in direct conflict with the President. She works toward a better day for all, while Baltar, flawed savant and slicker than slick, craves one more night with his cylon lover.

As Roslin becomes increasingly obsessed with prophecy that will lead humanity to a new homeworld, she begins to exhibit mystic behavior that is not far removed from madness. It doesn't help that she is battling breast cancer; her meds are warping her mind. Could the Lords of Kobol be false? As the first season progresses, the question persists and the cylon's siren song in Baltar's head starts to sound more alluring...

Next: God's plan is never complete, but sure makes for great science fiction

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sacred Vectorfunk

In this week leading up to Easter, I've been on the peep for sacred expression. Matt W Moore's "Sacred Vectorfunk" puts me in the right kind of reflective mood, brilliantly espousing mystery and essence.

Check out more of his work here.

Daily Glitter

I think of Twitter as litter. The strobing updates are like flotsam cluttering up the web and one day soon I won't be surprised if we see adverts floating across our screens in like fashion. It's already happened on tv. During the Super Bowl, that bellwether of advanced promotion, we saw a split-second beer ad:
Could this be advertising's next big thing? I liken it to Twitter, which as far as next big things go has arrived and overstayed its welcome.

Litter. Pieces of forgotten things drifting in and out of view. Almost as soon as an update hits the screen, it is as quickly forgotten.

The closest I come to participating is on my gmail chat box, which I have come to think as "glitter", a cachinateun that follows the example of latching the letter "g" to the front of a noun -see the Uncyclopedia for numerous frivolous examples.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Hot off the griddle: a new SF film starring one of my favorite actors, Sam Rockwell! I know next to nothing about Moon, other than that its director is David Bowie's son and the premise is man (Rockwell) stranded on moon. My friend Jeffrey Overstreet, who's seen a preview screening, says it is the next milestone in SF cinema.

Check out the lovely poster and read tidbits here.