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Define A Point Day

Mr. Flynn had just asked his class of nine and ten year old Low Sixth-graders to define a point.  He was, in fact, reviewing class material recently imparted to us in his personal pilot project of a local 1961 experiment in epistemological optimism.  You see, Leonard Flynn sincerely believed that even little kids could benefit enormously from the careful introduction of advanced course material normally reserved for the vastly more mature intelligence of little kids in high school.  His superiors would require persuasion.

I really wanted to help my teacher prove to his educational hierarchy that our minds were NOT too immature to engage in the wonders he himself had lately found in the expansive mysteries of Euclidean geometry.

Yet, like every other kid in the room, I didn’t raise my hand, knowing with some certainty that he wouldn’t like the  answer I’d spent the past few days carefully considering.  So affably, encouragingly, smilingly, like a young Spencer Tracy with wavy red hair and wrinkly forehead, he simply asked us once again to define a point.  No answer.

The third attempt contained a subtle note of exasperated resignation, as though Leonard Flynn’s confidence in his rosy, private vision of education had been fundamentally shaken, drawing him slightly nearer to the darker view of brick-like students widely held by more senior officials in the educational establishment.

I raised my hand.  He nodded sharply at me with the very-faint implication of exasperated relief.

“A point is an indeterminate location at which no line exists.”

I was absolutely right!  He absolutely hated my answer, specifically because it helped none of the other kids in class remember the answer he’d given us a couple of days earlier. 

Except for the fact that it did.

His next request of the class, “Define a line.”, sent little hands aloft like at Berchtesgaden.  From that moment on through the end of the school year (which culminated in the combined grammar school assembly/Parent Teachers Association meeting in which we presented to excited younger kids and doting parents alike all the keen stuff we’d learned with nifty visual aids and memorized geometric axioms, that) our Sixth grade class amply justified Mr. Flynn’s faith in us kids and validated the glorious future for less-condescending education.  Except that somebody left it to Beaver.

I’ve celebrated Define A Point Day every year since 1961, quietly preferring my own joy to missionary work; a lesson from another, later, more-reluctant teacher.  It was probably  my super first day.

28 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Life

The first season opens on the release of the central character, an LA detective whose been brutalized in a maximum-security prison for twelve years.  Define anticlimax.  The quirky Rumplestiltskin thing that Damian Lewis achieves for all eleven episodes of this initial season works to varying degrees because of the presence of Damian Lewis and a remarkably interesting cast of collaborators surrounding the character he portrays.   Robin Wiegert, Adam Arkin, Michael Cudlitz, Garrett Dillahunt, Christina Hendricks and Titus Welliver (Deadwood, Band of Brothers, Firefly, NYPD Blue, and Adam fucking Arkin!).

The episodic (standalone) felony investigations gradually include fragments of information about the ancient homicide case that kept him locked away in prison until his persistent defense attorney, a very attractive woman, eventually secured and brought forward excuplatory DNA evidence that resulted in

  • his release from prison,
  • his acceptance of an undisclosed and enviable cash award for wrongful imprisonment, and
  • the restoration of his job as a metropolitan detective. 

It didn’t guarantee that his senior partner, Sarah Shahi (as Det. Dani Reese), would be one of the most beautiful women presently working in television.  That’s just a riveting and marketable coincidence.  It’s also a deeply contrived assortment of circumstances that kept my teeth on edge.

And there are peculiar technical stupidities that crop up from time to time, like;  at one point in an early episode the prime suspect and lone survivor of a car wreck is seated in an interrogation room wearing a butterfly bandage over his right eye, except when it’s over his left eye, as though somebody flipped the negative in coverage and nobody respected the audience enough to think it really mattered.  Ultimately, it doesn’t.

The premise and synopsis of this show depend upon the semi-plausible idea that Charlie Crews, the central character, has undergone a radical transformation within the walls of his imprisonment that lead him now to caper with the rigid corners of duly-authorized police procedure in ways that reflect dry humor and perfect knowledge of the wily criminal mentality, making him a kind of supercop with a really-interesting mind. 

The thing is that relatively few members of the audience are expected to be sufficiently steeped in genuine police procedure to spontaneously recognize Charlie’s deviations from SOP, so one or more of his onscreen compatriots is obliged to raise an eyebrow or otherwise object to the zany antics of a knife-slinging, Bentley-driving, zen-platitude spouting oddball LA homicide detective who lives in an unfurnished stately mansion on several acres of orange groves with hot’n hotter California babes constantly on tap.  Return with us now the the thrilling days yesteryear, as The Lone Ranger, and Magnum, P.I. ride again.  Because who the hell remembers?

Getting to know, really-really like, and root for Charlie Cruz and Dani Ruiz in the course of nine standalone episodes is probably supposed to prepare the viewer for the wealth of juicy revelations about the case that originally imprisoned him, arc-tic revelations that gradually begin to intrude on the graceful pace of his weekly felony solutions.  It doesn’t quite work because the unfolding of this involuted, damaged character takes too long to unfurl with drizzled-in elements of old evidence from twelve years earlier, while the hidden personality of the central character very rarely appears beneath the various layers of pseudo-comic subterfuge:  “I’m a good cop, a master-criminal, a man on a mission to solve an old crime and I’m also quite enlightened, except with regard to technical advancements like cellphones with cameras and the mysteries of Instant Messaging — stuff that happened while I was in stir..”.  Welcome to dis-appointment television, and farewell.

Note to folks who produce DVDs:  Five egos in a tiny viewing room is not a good idea.

21 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Comments Off on Life

Irking Christy Dena

Christy Dena and Jeff Gomez have long been powerful and effective advocates for innovation in the structure of entertainment.  Following her Tweets, I found reference to people like me, here: 

“For all the newcomers to the area who are excitedly exploring #transmedia – a big welcome! Go for it! I hope you create great projects!”   (about 9 hours ago via web)

-and

“It is just the people who have suddenly entered the area or have been quiet all these years and are suddenly public experts that irk me.”   (about 9 hours ago via web)

While I don’t mean to imply that Christy is chastising my latecomer’s remarks disparaging the recent success of transmedia advocates in gaining a measure of recognition from mainstream media , the shoe fits perfectly well.  I might as well wear it proudly. 

I’ve been dropping my goofy opinions around the internet for years, frequenting places like Henry Jenkins’ aca/fan blog, Lessig space, and six years of critiquing photgraphs over at photosig.com.  Most of the stuff I’ve contributed, logical and coherent or otherwise, persistently questions definitions and assumptions that signify the current tide of expert and popular opinion.

I’ve confused and irritated a lot of professional and amateur photographers by asking (for example) why so many of them repeal the law of gravity by cocking their cameras at peculiar angles in order to take “visually dynamic” pictures.  How can fetish photography be deeply personal when most of it dwells on fashion statements about mass-produced materials; latex, piercings, wigs…?  And a thousand other questions bent on connecting authorial intent to uncommunicative execution.  In six years, I spoke with lots of gearheads whose rationale for making photographs had surprisingly little to do with the people they photographed, the people who viewed their pictures, and nothing in particular to do with communication.  It was about costly hardware, advancing technology and gadgety stuff…leaving the heavy lifting of making sense of the image to the viewer because the photographer generally didn’t know or care how a given image was interpreted.  I cared.

A similar set of questions arise for me in cinema.  Early in the course of writing this blog I tried to express my confusion concerning the very long cinematic tradition of photographing and editing human interaction from multiple visual angles.  Robert Montgomery’s 1946 film, The Lady in the Lake is an fascinating, disciplined and failed attempt at bringing Raymond Chandler to the screen through the eyes of Philip Marlowe.  An enormous 1946 movie camera is only one technical part of the problem, the filmmaker chose to completely eliminate the streaming voice of Marlowe’s thought, which is Chandler’s cardinal virtue. 

If the holy grail of modern entertainment is “audience engagement”, maybe the traditional practices of multiple-camera/quick-cuts and counterintuitive point of view is an enormous impediment industry leaders need to dispense with.  The most effective means to communicate the difference (that these words don’t really convey) between a camera’s coherent point of view and what Hollywood’s been doing for 90 years is neatly expemplifed in With the Angels,  webseries I found at strike.tv:

http://www.strike.tv/search/with+the%20angels

At Lawrence Lessig’s blog, in mid-2008, I asked why the Highlander ethos (“there can be only one”) applies to the American presidency.  There and at Huffington Post (somewhere) and at Bill Moyers’ blog I asked if anyone know how large a percentage of my contribution to the Obama campaign was instantly consigned to the very deep pocket of the magnates of mainstream media — the same names that turned out empty pockets when the writers’ strike highlighted their conviction that the internet was strictly a promotional medium possessed of indeterminate commercial potential.

About 90%  of the questions I ask go unanswered.  No matter.  Irking Christy Dean is not one of my objectives.  Much higher on my to-do list is the task of simply understanding what the hell she and an easy dozen of highly-qualified experts have to say about transmedia. 

A few hours after Christy mentioned being irked, Nina Paley Tweeted a link to this:

http://www.techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20100305%2F1907278449&edition=entrepreneurs&utm_medium=bt.io-twitter&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_content=backtype-tweetcount&threaded=true&sp=1#comments

Mike Masnick’s article suggests, perhaps only to me, that the marriage of art and commerce, copywrite and professional recognition…is based in our collective (suspect) faith in avarice as the driving social force that fosters culture.  Hellboy 2, I learned from the commentary last night, was budgeted at $85million.  The superhero films with which it was slated to compete for the attention of audiences averaged $175million, each.  Maybe money matters.  Maybe insanely generous compensation packages for executives in failing industries and institutions makes some kind of sense.  And maybe nobody’s questioning nutty perceptions of business-as-usual.  I care…not about health insurance, my reputation as a media analyst (I spitshine other people’s desktop telephones for a living), and not about lots of adult concerns that bother other people.  For some unaccountable reason, I care about transmedia, creative freedom and the apprehension authorial intent, among other things.  And I’ll probably go on questioning authorities (who very rarely respond/participate/interact) anyway.

Christy Dena is certainly not specifically irked at me.  This blog is slightly less influential than a germ in a flea on the tail of a dog that wags for other reasons, but to anybody who happens to be listening, I think it’s time to dissolve the bonds in our thinking that elevate professionalism in art over artists’ more-amateur pursuits; choices not guided by money.  Something’s going to wag this dog differently. 

Let’s go to irk, if necessary.

19 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 15 Comments

Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Barbaric satisfactions!

I’ve just reached the end of Episode 13, Kill Them All.  It isn’t called that coincidentally.  Episode 12 concludes with those fateful words, and the season of WAY over-the-top violence (with more than a little sex in it) and frequent paroxysms of difficult, sidelong, elevated speeches comes to an abrupt stop.  One pants in anticipation of the second season.

On the other hand, Andy Whitfield’s summation oration lights his face oddly from below.  The camera, which is also low, finds Berchtesgaden darknesses on Whitfield’s upper lip.  His rousing Bravheart oratory kinda stinks of Roman corpses that litter the central square of the villa and foul the bold and hopeful words with rivers of elite Roman blood.  St. Crispin’s Day, it ain’t.  Also, I don’t imagine Andy Whitfield was hired for his uncanny resemblance to Laurence Olivier’s acumen with the written word: 

“Dude doesn’t look totally ridiculous in a loincloth, so yeah.  Lex Barker, Jr.  Yeah, that’ll work.”

It worked fine!  Unfortunately, most of the BigBads that drove this season probably died.  Chief among these was the almost-credible John Hannah, as Batiatus (formerly Peter Ustinov as Bat Eye At Us), the ambitious, plotting, conscienceless weasle almost-absolutely-positively-certainly died.  Lucy Lawless as Lucretia definitely took Crixus’ blade in the foetus, but she was still twitching when credits rolled…so…?  And there absolutely was no shortage of deeply nasty people this season to get in the way of the run-up to the (to be continued) inevitable slave revolt, next season (and maybe a couple of seasons after that).  See, Spartacus (1960) wound up weaving his army up and down the length of the Italian peninsula as though they were lunch-hour customers at a preChristian Taco Bell.

However it gets where it’s surely going it’s going to be fascinating television. 

I came to the series solely because of Steve DeKnight, the creator, and nobody who spent years writing at Mutant Enemy takes bloodshedding lightly, so WAY over-the-top violence (the cardinal signature of this rendering of the story) won’t go gently into that good DeKnight.  Even utterly-righteous violence leads to dire consequences for heroes, or I’ve been misreading a lot of amazing writers for a long, long time.  (Entirely possible.)

And on yet another hand.  Henry Jenkins, today, called Twitter-attention to an interview here:

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/04/16/reducing-the-worlds.html

The discussion of his evolving perception of the myth of media violence is pretty cool.  I’d just like to add the notion that most media violence is packed with amplified bullshit, and that systemic violence tends to go largely unnoticed.  Systems that fail to meet the needs of the people (who subscribe to and support those systems) exhibit deeply embedded flaws in particularly interesting television shows like Breaking Bad, Deadwood (where we watch those infrastructural systems grow from nothing to institutions in the course of several months) and pretty much every show that David Simon’s ever touched.

It’s bound to be months before I tie into Treme, but the stuff I’ve read suggests that Hurricane Katrina wasn’t the problem that devastated New Orleans.  Criminal systemic failures did kill, displace, and brutalize people.  And the acts of violence visited on the inhabitants of that city will (if I’ve read the intent of the creative force behind the production correctly) show through even to the dimmest of us; acculturated to see criminal behavior as confined to certain strata of our society.  Guns and anonymous decisions made deep in the safety of corrupt institutionalized infrastructures don’t kill people, people do. Actually, bullshit kills people.

Systemic violence and technological innovations that reduce personal options are aspects of the same thing.  It’s not a popular subject, but needs considerable attention.   That’s why I wish Professor Jenkins had elaborated on his description of things that suck (the life out of people/culture) because many of them are directly attributable to systemic, bureaucratic, ideational quagmires; beta slop that needs field testing.  And there’s no better time to be a corrupt politican (or firmware developer) than the moment when the press provides less-credible criticism of our institutional systems than fictional drama.

Interesting that I’ve been watching television for 50 years and yet I’d never seen a castrated man crucified until Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  Sure, that’s an awful thing, but what’s even worse is the institutional repression that blunts the shock of violence people do to people.  In that context, media violence is far from mythic.  It amplifies the bonebreaking sound of a slayer’s punch (that never lands) and refuses to show the stump of a severed dick.  That’s downright bizarre.

“But what about the children?!” 

Just when a kid needs and deserves an honest clue in order to make informed choices about (you name it), some asshole farts that moronic question as a justification for bullshitting.  No wonder people who risk their lives to preserve our ways of life believe we can’t handle the truth.

I really liked John Hannah’s work in Rebus, and yet Ustinov played BatEyeAtUs more interestingly than Hannah’s BattyAtus.  The differences between these two recitations of the Spartacus story are numerous, but I think the essential differences are localized in Batiatus.  John plays him like a grasping, malicious, tolerated, minor Wall Street criminal.  Peter’s portrait (of Judas) bats-his-eyes-at and flatters Real Power.  Both portrayals present a man who goes-along-to-get-along.  John plays a tragic, rigid paranoid, Peter plays a flexible coward.

Given that historians and storytellers lie, each of us is obligated to play the role of Batiatus.  More decently.  What redeming quality resides in your Batiatus that punches through the web of lies and 41st Century agendas fashioned by future historians?  I wrote goofy sentences.  I’m obligated to do better.

17 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off on Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Time, Money and Attention

Each of us gathers and spends these three things differently.  Possibly uniquely.  And the weight/importance we percieve in our jobs, our fascinations, our stuff — varies from decade to decade just as it varies from person to person, creating recognizable patterns of similarity that make some of us nostalgic about StarWars, summer camp or band practice.  The measure is personal…satisfaction.

“The hours I spend with a cue in my hand are Golden.  Help you cultivate horse sense and a cool head and a keen eye…”  Attention, time and money…invested, squandered, earned, stolen…

The Producers Guild of America, this week, was the first professional entertainment organization yet to create an official designation recognizing the Transmedia Producer as a legitmate occupation.  You can look up the definition of the job, but by the time you get to it they’ll have changed it to more accurately reflect the objections of concerned industry workers who took exception the moment the announcement was made to fictional narrative stretched across at least three discrete media platforms, and yadada yadada, yawn.

  • Transmedia Producer – A Transmedia Narrative project or franchise must consist of three (or more) narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any of the following platforms:  Film, Television, Short Film, Broadband, Publishing, Comics, Animation, Mobile, Special Venues, DVD/Blu-ray/CD-ROM, Narrative Commercial and Marketing rollouts, and other technologies that may or may not currently exist. These narrative extensions are NOT the same as repurposing material from one platform to be cut or repurposed to different platforms.

Money, time and attention are spent and gathered by each of us uniquely.  Controversy over the definition of “transmedia” will persist until a lot of money is made by people who weren’t much involved in the semantic squabble, people who managed to make something profoundly (valued and) lucrative —  which will garner the attention of the squabblers, who will spend lots of time, money and attention attempting to replicate the success of those who demonstrated something that worked while the squabbling continued ad nauseum.

The problem I see with this historic announcement is that it has focused attention on product, return-on-investment, and technique, while distracting people from thinking about who they’d love to work with, what they’d love to do together and how to love budgeting personal time, money and attention to design coherent experience that magnetizes their collective attention (and has the identical kind of effect on a global audience).  I can’t think of anything that motivates people more than the invitation to collaborate.  I’d rather spend time collaborating in the writers’ room than sit through the eventual movie that’s created.

Transmedia entertainment is mostly about people who invest time, money and attention pursuing what they want to do…on both sides of the camera, screen or creative/receptive process.  It isn’t concerned with the prioritized agendas of media executives, nor box office receipts, nor fads.  It’s the further adventures of culture; coherent, self-aware, aspiring initiative to make stuff happen within the limitations of the money, time and attention you have to do so.  Transmedia entertainment is all about you.

Thanks for your time and attention.  We validate, but don’t forget to tip.

This post was inspired by this one:

http://creativity-online.com/news/for-the-love-of-money/143113

10 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Lie to Me

I spent the past two evenings streaming the first season of this series via NetFlix, and valuing the experience.

The pilot episode introduces principle characters and simultaneously begs a little  for the suspension of audience skepticism as Tim Roth divines truth from the universe of facial expressions, mannerisms and body language of all things human, deducing implications and preventing ruinous consequences at superhuman speeds.

The first eleven episodes held my attention, although unexplained flaws in the superior inferential skills of the protagonist(s) tended toward redundancy in standalone episodes that linked together on the slender threads of recurrent behaviors exhibited by regular characters.  Episodes twelve and thirteen amply justified the tedium of slogging through familiar situations in episodes two through ten.  The promise of longform storytelling started paying off in Blinded and Sacrifice.  And my appetite for season two was expertly whetted by neatly set up callbacks to earlier episodes by the end of season one.

There is one bizarre inconsistency that centers on Agent Dupree. He’s a short, black FBI agent who swiftly becomes the boyfriend of Ms Tores, a regular high-secondary character.  Dupree makes recurrent appearances throughout the season, as another short, black FBI agent becomes a regular character.   I think the second guy wears mottonchops with moustache and goatee, but he’s practically indistinguishable from Dupree, who ends the season, hospitalized in a coma.

This show also tends to open segments with painfully blinding flashes of light that remind me of the interstitial transitions Angel (presumably) used to replicate  for the audience the experience of Cordelia’s agonizing visions.  It’s that class of unscrupulous manipulations that put me completely off LOST, initially: 

  • Auditory and visual f-bombs,
  • multiple-camera-angles that obfuscate,
  • didactic scores that signal viewer=puppet…

damned familiar devices need serious rethinking, just like the empty claims of aspiring to the “complete immersion” of the audience in the mise-en-scene.  That stuff is counterintuitive nonsense that degrades the bond of trust that must unite the storyteller with the audience in order to share the journey to the far end of the episode, season or run. 

Showrunners who depend on flash and boom to get a physiological start from an audience are like MBAs and CEOs who confuse short-term gains into honest profit.  It’s one of the surest earmarks of employees, surgery with cattleprod. 

A storyteller with a boss tends to become a meddle-manager of cattle.

08 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off on Lie to Me

Breaking Bad

A middle-aged, middle-class man is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  The terrifyingly inconvenient prospect of his imminent death forces him to evaluate the utility of his resources in order to provide adequate wealth for the family that will survive him.  The over-qualified high school chemistry teacher knows that his health and life insurance aren’t up to the task of compensating for his inevitable loss as a bread winner, so he decides to break with his own personal tradition of law-abiding, civilized behavior by becomming a manufacturer of an illegal chemical, crystal meth.  The product he creates is uncommonly pure, distinctive and sought-after by the market, the market’s regulators, television critics and by fascinated audiences.  (I’m a member of that last group.)

The process of his evolution from loser to entrepreneur beautifully illustrates the story of capitalism, a contraband/unfashionable class of tale Grant McCracken laments here:

http://cultureby.com/2010/03/the-mystery-of-capitalism.html

The protagonist of Breaking Bad, Walter White, builds a superior mousetrap.  People want it.  The rapid introduction of Walter White into the complicated workings of fundamental capitalism make for fascinating television as he learns enough to survive the challenges of distribution, competition, personnel management, regulatory agencies…and loses his grip on his personal life while navigating through an increasingly complex tempest of lies, deceits and questionable/abominable ethical choices.  Not the least agonizing of these lessons is that Walter White’s wonderful product creates avid customers (partners, competition and colleagues) he can never ever trust.  That implication is the hallmark of insanely-intelligent storytelling; Vince Gilligan’s values demand a 300hour cruise, along with Milch, Whedon, Simon, Burns, Chase, Sorkin — oh, how I long to add Noxon to this archipelago of creative sphincters.

Maybe it’s possible to tell a fascinating story about an abstract economic idea like capitalism.  I don’t think stories work that way.  It seems to me that stories are always about people.  Even when the tale centers on an animal (The Call of the Wild, White Fang, The Black Stallion…), the lure of the yarn is the (human) intelligence that guides the actions of characters (and resonates with human audiences).  Does the world population of literate white whales explain the fact that Moby Dick still sells?

While Breaking Bad illustrates many fundamental principles of capitalism, the story is utterly rooted in the forces that move people to action.  Stories exist at the heart of social media because people create and recite them.  People pay attention to them.  And people are the active/attractive elements in stories of/by/for and about people.

I think of stories as the nuclear bond at the crux of social media that grow by being taken and spread regardless of compensation.

I think of money as the practical (not philosophical or theoretical) opposite of stories.  Money’s power (for good or ill) increases as it is accumulated/concentrated.

I think of stories about money as fascinatingly oxymoronic, and the current expectation that money should be exchanged when stories are told is just cosmically ironic.

The creation of stories is a necessary function of culture:   The cultural organism excretes an unlimited stream of narratives (through assholes we call writers and story-architects).  That certain segments of our population claim the right to exact payment for particular streams of cultural excrement seems, to me, shockingly presumptuous, especially when the protestors are armies of lawyers representing men at the tippy-top of a handful of pyramids  that comprise horizontally-and-vertically-integrated transnational media cartel(s); two entirely different sets of assholes, lawyers and moguls, from which socially-interesting excrement almost never spews.  I suspect that social media (story) and commerce (money) are practically antithetical, pulling in opposite directions (and sometimes spinning in parallel), and too-rarely do they collide as expected.  And Hollywood is obssessed with the art of bottled lightning.

The next day:

I’m picking up Season 3 via an iTunes “season pass”, and watched the newly-released third episode I.F.T. last night.  I’d probably have missed the significance of the title were it not for the accompanying Inside Breaking Bad download that highlights the meaningfulness of the episode’s title, which is probably an abbreviation of Skyler’s powerful, pivotal confessional statement, “I fucked Ted”.

I say probably, because  Anna Gunn’s actual pronouncement was probably censored to hush the naughty word in her sentence to a whisper.  So I’m not entirely certain whether Skyler mirrored Walter’s confession, “I make meth” with her own reference to a permanent and ongoing, parallel secret life that isn’t safely locked away in the past tense.

“I make meth” and “I fuck Ted” are significantly different statements from “I made meth” and “I fucked Ted” in context of the disastrous implosion of their marriage.  But the (probable) influence of lawyers and moguls leads me to surmise that my uncertainty over “fuck/fucked” will have to sort itself out in the course of the continuing story, so these three paragraphs amount to nothing more than a footnote of protest.

Eight days out (from I.F.T):

It mattered a lot whether Skyler confessed to a lone indiscretion or an ongoing romantic catastrophe for their marriage.  She confessed to iniquity to fix an inequity with Walter, whose resolve to go straight is perfectly illustrated (and perfectly thwarted) in the last few frames of the very next episode, Green Light.  One or the other of them might make an exception and forgive the other’s past and pardonable error in judgment, but all hope of change is negated as these married antagonists are drawn inexorablycloser together by the power of that which they each hold sacred, and against the dictates of common sense, self preservation and conscience while Jesse and Hank are doing exactly that very same thing.  (Hanks is The Bomb in Albuquerque and a tiny fish out of water in the bigger pond of El Paso.)

Whoever muted one naughty word in Skyler’s fateful confession will doubtless remain anonymous, and while that important decision does a disservice (that matters) to every member of the audience, it really doesn’t matter at all.  It just calls attention to the hypocritical stupidity that makes this show so powerful; systemic failures on showcased display, highlighting warts and all.

18 July 2012.  Last night I saw the first episode of season five, in which we learn that:

1.   Ted ain’t dead!

2.  Jesse’s contribution to planning the ultimate Heisenburglary is uncharacteristically brilliant, adopted, implemented, executed, and BEHOLD!  It leads to a whole new dimension of uncertainty represented by a fabled mountain of Fring wealth.

3.  Mike will graciously accept on-faith The Infallible Wisdom of Walter when pigs fly, Ted keeps his word, Skyler forgives Walter, and less is more.

4.  If Breaking Bad isn’t the best show on television (and it doesn’t have to be), it’s nonetheless, absolutely riveting,

Now that I’ve marathoned 7 seasons of Star Trek:  Voyager, and 6.5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I can say without equivocation that the advantages provided by appointment television (to audiences and culture) are relatively negligible.  They exacerbate the negative effects of uncertainty in cliffhangers, hiatuses, syndications, cancellations, pregnancies, firings, beard growth…while convening phase-locked watchers for the benefit of sponsors hawking crap in carts the industry puts in front of the engines-of-creation that actually draw attention.  Once upon a time, my goddaughter defended her beloved TNG when I told her that I loved the show, except for the irritating frequency of all the goddamned commercials.  Twenty years ago, we couldn’t have content without commercial interruption.  Since then, it has become more difficult to recognize the box canyon into which we’ve been hearded-up, headed in, rolled up, driven in…Rawhide!  Rawhide!  Rawhide!

Wipe that foam off your mouth!

05 Apr 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 6 Comments