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Month: October 2010 Page 2 of 4

A Month of TV Commentary: A Meme in 30 Parts: Day 17

Day 17 – Favorite mini series

While lots of mini-series have been made in recent years, they always seem to be an artifact of the past to me. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, a number of Big Event™ mini-series captured the public imagination. Roots, The Winds of War, Shogun, The Thorn Birds, The Blue and the Grey, the list was endless and unrelenting. Without watching a single frame of these, you knew two things for certain: everyone was going to be talking about them, and sooner or later Richard Chamberlain was likely to show up.

Of course, these epic “TV Events” aren’t the only mini-series. Cable has used the format to great effect to tell stories too large do in a single movie. HBO recently spent over $200 million on The Pacific, a sprawling World War II historical drama, and before that produced the award-winning Band of Brothers to tell the story of that war’s European theatre. Back in 2000, the Sci-Fi channel did what David Lynch wasn’t allowed to do 15 years previously: take six hours to bring Frank Herbert’s Dune to the screen.

But this is a post about favourites, and if I had to choose a favourite mini-series of all time, I’m going to go with the 1994 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. The Stand is my favourite of King’s novels, and it really needed the broad canvas of a mini-series to do it justice. The cast is stellar, including Gary Sinese, one of my favourite actors, along with Molly Ringwald, Ruby Dee, Matt Frewer, Ray Walston, and other notables. Up to this point, most adaptations of King’s work were somewhat regrettable, with a couple of odd exceptions, but The Stand was a truly stunning piece of work, and still holds up as a quality production 15 years later. You can get it on DVD. I recommend it.

Honourable mention: Neverwhere, produced for the BBC from a script by Neil Gaiman. It took forever for this to come out on DVD, but it was worth the wait. A great deal of Gaiman’s vision didn’t make it to the screen (and can be found restored in the subsequent novel), but the potential can be seen, and it still feels like a Gaiman story brought to life. Again, recommended.

The Weekend Review

The weekend was largely quiet, for one reason or another. Which isn’t do say it wasn’t filled with good social time.

Friday night, I learned that City of Heroes was having a free reactivation weekend. Games like CoH do this periodically, where they turn on all the accounts of people who left the game and stopped paying for access, hoping to lure some of them back to look at the cool new things they’ve done in the mean time. The last time I’d logged into CoH was about 3 years ago, so I figured “What the heck”, let’s see what’s new in Paragon City. It took me a while to get used to the controls, mostly because WoW and CoH have the Y axis of the mouse reversed. Once I adjusted for that, I bounced around on my old scrapper, Magic Librarian, and poked around the crafting system that has been added since I left, and ran some missions on the new alignment system, which looks cool. I’m tempted to start up my subscription again, just to have a fun little time-wasting game for days I’m especially bored. CoH is a superb “casual” game that you can dart in and out of, especially with some of the chances they’ve made. I’m particularly interested in exploring the new alignment system the recent expansion added.

Saturday, I had plans farther afield. Dina (onmeadmountain) was visiting her mom and dad for a week, including the weekend, and by the weekend her husband Don and their two oldest kids should also have arrived from their camping trip, making it an ideal time to see them. (Her parents live about 3 hours away, whereas they live between 6 and 7 hours away by car.) I got away from the house at about 10am, which was about an hour later than I’d hoped, but it was a soft clear day, and I had several long podcasts to listen to, so I was looking forward to taking my Prius out on its first proper road trip. (kitanzi elected to stay home and unwind, rather than take the trip.)

It was a reasonably uneventful trip until I got to Chattanooga, where I decided I wanted a beverage. I stopped at a gas station, and started to go inside, when I realized that I didn’t have my wallet. I quickly checked the car, and in the jacket I had tossed in the back seat, but it was in neither. I had obviously left it at home, which meant I had no ID, no credit cards, and $2.50 in quarters to my name. Not an ideal circumstance, but since I was already well over halfway to my destination, I elected to skip the beverage and go on up to the house.

I next had one of those lovely “I rely on technology too much” moments that are always interesting. When I approached Spring City, my GPS cheerfully informs me: “You are entering an uncharted area. Turn-by-turn directions will no longer be available.” Um, okay. No worries, right? I have a mobile phone, i’ll just call t hem and get the directions from here to the house. So I picked up my phone, and saw the words ‘No Service’. Well, isn’t that grand?

I figured that in the worst case scenario, I could stop and borrow a phone from the fast food place on Main Street, but I drove back and forth a couple of times first, looking for a clue. “Hrm, that street looks familiar”, I said, spotting a school about a block down from the main strip. So I turned down that side street and past the school, I found a road with a similar name to the road my destination was on, so I turned down it, and found the road I was looking for. I feel pretty impressed with myself for this bit of geographical memory; the last time I’d been to Dina’s parents house was for her baby shower for Kailyn. Kailyn is now 12 years old. 🙂

Having located my destination, I went inside to visit. I got to see the sailing ship Conner made out of tinkertoys, and Briana practice her rushing tackle. She packs quite a wallop for a not-yet-two year old. Kailyn was in the high energy whirlwind of someone who is just getting over being sick, which left her a bit wiped out and cranky by days end, and I’m afraid I may have spent some of the Good Uncle points I have accumulated when I brightly suggested she could practice her flute, a task I knew she was procrastinating on, when she complained of being bored. But she did in fact go and do that thing, and I heard her from up the stairs. She’s getting pretty good on that thing. I hope she sticks with it.

Most of the visit was just hanging out in quiet conversation, though. I geeked about sound reenforcement with Dina’s father, looked at all the gemstones that Don and the kids had collected during their camping trip to North Carolina, and we talked a bit about the house in Kentucky that I have yet to go and see. Eventually came a delightful spaghetti dinner with homemade banana bread for dessert.

Of course, no visit with Don & Dina and the children would be complete without some out of context quotes from the day:

  • “She hurt her face on my ear.”
  • “I’m so perky! No wonder I’m sick!”
  • “There you go! I’m like the Prius of Christianity!”

    The only down moment of the visit came when it was time to go. Walking down the stairs to say goodbye to Conner, who was watching TV in the basement, I felt something twinge in my calf and my leg buckled slightly. It was very painful to walk on, but I figured it was just a cramp and didn’t think much of it. I put ice on it briefly, tried to walk it off a bit, and figured it would work itself out. Since it wasn’t terribly painful unless I put weight on it, I collected hugs and drove home, using the cruise control to make sure I didn’t go too fast and attract any official attention, since I still didn’t have any ID on me. I got home a little after 11 and fell into bed.

    Sunday, my leg still hurt, so I spent a very quiet day split between more City of Heroes and a four hour block of Leverage. Monday, I called my doctor and was lucky enough to get an immediate appointment, so I hobbled in to get it checked out.

    After being poked and prodded (and scolded for not following up on something I was instructed to follow up on last time I was in), I was sent to the facility next door to undergo a procedure that would determine if there was a blood clot causing the pain. This was the one possibility that could have serious consequences, so they wanted to make sure and rule it out. Fortunately, that came up clear, so I was sent on my way with a prescription for diclofenac and orders to rest my leg as much as possible.

    So that’s all the news from Jefferson Creek. How was your weekend?

  • I am he as you are he as you are me….

    I certainly wouldn’t vote for me. I’d be a terrible senator. That’s why I’m not running for the Senate.

    Smell Like A Monster

    Adding Action to your Activism

    I find a certain irony in the notion that my immediate reaction to this was to signal-boost it. But, you know, he’s right. (And he identifies succinctly the reason I almost never join the “if you agree with this put it in your journal/status/etc” memes, even when I do, in fact, agree wholeheartedly with them.)

    i bloviate – Adding Action to your Activism

    Here is an acid test—before you post that insipid status update or press send on that annoying email, ask yourself one simple question: “What is the purpose of my message? What do I want recipients to do?” If your answer involves “spreading awareness” and “pass it on” and solely that, delete the message, sign out of Facebook or your email, get up out of your chair, and go do something for that cause you care so much about.

    From Twitter 10-07-2010

    • 08:39:31: @seananmcguire It’s your world. I’m just happy I get to live in it.
    • 14:44:34: @catvalente The domain name “” is available for your ironic utilisation. 🙂
    • 14:55:55: @alydenisof My favourite odd crisps flavour is prawn. 🙂
    • 15:08:01: @fleetfootmike Its odd only in the sense that we don’t have it here, and an American was asking for examples of UK weird crisps flavours.
    • 15:08:26: @fleetfootmike Frankly, I wish we *could* get it here. It’s a long trip just for a pack of crisps!
    • 15:50:48: @vixy The Revolution Will Be Live-Streamed!

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    Neil Gaiman speaks about Doctor Who and Coraline

    Right here, you will find the quintessential essence of a good thriller:

    “I was terrified, but I wanted to know what happened next.”

    Neil Gaiman divulges ‘Doctor Who’ clues |

    The girls proved Gaiman right, listening with faces more eager than petrified, and the book went on to claim the loyalty of children around the world, winning two awards (a Hugo and Nebula) and a movie contract, before becoming a musical. At the off-Broadway premiere of the show, Gaiman learned what Morgan DeFoire, seated beside him, had really thought of Coraline.

    “I told her, ‘You know, we kind of have you to thank for all this, because you weren’t scared by it. And she said, ‘Actually, I was terrified. But I wanted to know what happened next. I knew if I let anybody know I was scared, I wouldn’t find out.’”

    What ‘Batman’ Taught Me About Being a Good Dad – Adam Rogers – Culture – The Atlantic

    Thanks to copperbadge for the hat tip.

    What ‘Batman’ Taught Me About Being a Good Dad – Adam Rogers – Culture – The Atlantic

    I started to cry, too—for freaking Bwana Beast, a character about whom, frankly, I could not possibly care less. I ran through my options. I could tell the boy that, hey, in comic books, dead people always come back. It’s a thing. Or I could remind him that it was just a story, that it wasn’t real.

    But that cynicism would undercut my secret plan. I am trying to build a good human being here, someone who will make the world better for his presence. Because I don’t know any other way to do it, that means I’m building a little geek. So he can’t know, yet, that death doesn’t really mean anything in comics. I want him to think that these stories have weight, that they mean something; they are our myths. I give my son comics and cartoons and episodes of Thunderbirds because I want him to understand right and wrong, and why it’s important to fight the dark side of the Force. The mantras spoken in this corner of pop culture are immature, but they have power: With great power comes great responsibility. Truth, justice, and the American Way. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. No evil shall escape my sight.

    10 Live Recordings That Trump Their Studio Counterparts :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste

    Not a bad place to start. What are some of your favourite live recordings?

    10 Live Recordings That Trump Their Studio Counterparts :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste

    Recording a single song in the studio is usually a full day’s work. Hours can be spent tweaking drum sounds, getting a dozen guitar takes and overdubbing vocals. It takes a perfectionist to sit in the producer’s chair, making sure every note is in its place. So when a band can press “record,” step out on stage, and capture something more spectacular in a single take, it’s an accomplishment. These 10 songs are just a handful of the many times that the magic of an audience triumphs over the most advanced recording techniques. I could have continued the list with The Avett Brothers, Frightened Rabbit, Phish, The Hold Steady, R.E.M., The Dave Matthews Band, Wilco and countless others, but these 10 stood above the pack.

    From Twitter 10-06-2010

    • 10:23:35: @khaosworks One review pointed out only *really* memorable things from original 5-0 were the theme, the catchphrase, and Jack Lord’s hair.

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