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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

Firefly 2004.08.02.06:13

I have hooked my Mom and her husband on Firefly. Who have you converted, today?

# [/entertainment/tv]

Get on the Global Frequency 2003.10.21.23:38

I haven't yet talked about Warren Ellis' excellent Global Frequency series under my comics category, because it is still in issue format and I wanted to wait for the graphic novel. It's easier for the non-comic-fiend types to get a GN than to hunt down back issues.

But this recent bit from CNN (not sure how long this link will be in their archive) means speaking up a bit early:

"Under that deal, Burnett has also teamed with writer-producer John Rogers for a drama based on the DC spy comic 'Global Frequency,' which has received a script commitment from the WB.

"'Global Frequency' revolves around an independent defense intelligence organization connected by a worldwide telecommunications web that uses ordinary individuals as agents around the world to fight black ops projects, unexplained phenomena and other problems the government agencies have."

So while the "full review" is still forthcoming, let me say that this could be potentially excellent news. WB has done some stinkers, but they also gave Joss Whedon the elbow room he needed to develop Buffy and Angel. And GF is something else; it is in fact very spy vs. spy in nature, but the writing is extremely crisp and tight, and the pacing is just fantastic. What really struck me about it, though, is that it's already episodic. Each issue is a single, stand-alone story, with recurring characters but otherwise not leading up to a single grand-finale sort of conclusion. I've even mentioned to the friend who turned me on to it, that it would lend itself well to TV, since it's already written for it: each issue's final page runs the credits over the last few panels as the story is wrapped up and last lines are spoken.

I just hope that the WB has the minerals to use the existing stories, rather than just using the concept and writing new stories. The ones they have are brutal, harsh, and very realistic (save for the near-future sci-fi tech that they use). It would be a shame to not have characters like Grishko come to life on the screen.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Being a Fan-Boy at the Con 2003.07.10.21:28

Wil Wheaton was here at the show signing copies of his book, Dancing Barefoot: five short but true stories about life in the so-called space age (yes, it's a lengthy sub-title, but I wanted to include it all, and the capitalization is exactly as they've titled it for publication).

Me 'n Wil So what can I say? I'm a fan-boy for celebrity in general, but WW is actually a pretty sharp cookie. He does his own weblog, and he's in the process of teaching himself Perl by means of some of the O'Reilly books. And as the saying goes, he just looked so normal in person! Seriously, we chatted for a few minutes as I took a copy of the book for him to sign, and I went away pretty jazzed for having met him. Pretty decent guy. I could definately see going through a few pints over talk of technology.

I promised that I'd send him a copy of my book if/when he wanted to give web services programming a spin.

# amazon (and on) [/entertainment/tv]

More new TV: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0348913">Dead Like Me</a> 2003.06.28.10:18

I'm kind of a sucker for anything with a dark or death-related theme. And with a cast that includes Mandy Patinkin and Rebecca Gayheart, I couldn't let myself miss it.

The premiere episode sets up the main character, George (short for Georgia, played by Ellen Muth), a listless 18-year-old who has no idea what she wants to do with her life. After pissing off a placement worker at a temp agency, she gets a crappy filing-clerk job. Returning from lunch on her first day, she's struck and killed by a falling piece of the Mir space-station (I won't say what type of piece, it's better to see it yourself). Much to her surprise (and dismay), she isn't headed for Heaven. Nor Hell, it would seem. Instead, she's chosen to join a group of "grim reapers" under the management of Patinkin. Once she's filled her quota of retrieved souls, she'll be allowed to move on. They're responsible for grabbing the souls of people about to die violent deaths (preferably moments before the fact, to lessen the shock to the soul), and none of them know what their quota is, only that when they reach it they can finally move on.

The first episode was not as strong as the starter for Out of Order, but it is funny. Jasmine Guy adds a little sullenness (but a humorous sullennous) in a supporting role, as do several others. Some of the developments are pretty easy to see coming, but some parts are still fresh. And it has the obligatory return-to-the-family bits, that were handled a lot better than many directors would have. Definately worth watching the next few episodes to see how it goes. The previews for the second episode look much more promising.

This is another Showtime original series, so look for it there.

# [/entertainment/tv]

OoO: Fourth Episode Perspective 2003.06.24.09:09

They haven't introduced any characters that look more like you and me. The show is still populated by the pretty, as I noted in my initial take. But they took on the whole show-about-a-show shtick that I wasn't too keen on, and made it work. The characters have all become very likable, and you feel a kind of sympathy to see them making mistakes simply because they don't have the perspective of the whole scene that you do. Eric Stoltz just seems to be better and better with each episode, and Felicty Huffman's character has developed a lot more than I would have thought.

The next episode up is supposed to be the season finale. I guess that they've made six hours' worth of programming for the first testing of the market for it; the first episode was two hours long, so while the one I just saw was the fourth airing, I guess next week will mean six hours overall. I wish they'd have shown more faith in the show and given us a bigger bite to start out with, but I'll be just as happy if they bring us a second season relatively soon-ish.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Monk is Back 2003.06.24.08:40

I really like USA's Monk. Unfortunately, because of the time it usually airs, I keep forgetting to either watch it or at least tape it (insert your favorite pro-TiVo argument here– I don't watch enough TV weekly or monthly to justify the cost). What I did see of the first season I really enjoyed, and apparently I'm not alone. The series has been a big hit with viewers, and (for a while at least, maybe still?) in an unprecedented move it was picked up for re-airing by ABC (the first time a "major" network has asked to re-syndicate a basic-cable show).

So anyway, it's back for its second season. Same cast, same set-up. New theme by Randy Newman (very catchy, and the lyrics are hilarious if you pay close attention). It also has a little better budget, so they get things like name-stars (Andrew McCarthy in the season-opener, though I suppose there are arguments as to whether he qualifies anymore). The writing is still sharp, and the jokes are still (mostly) subtle. I nearly did a spit-take when, during a chess game, Monk's assistant licked her queen before making a risky move (knowing that he couldn't bear to touch the queen in order to take it). And it goes without saying that when he stands in as a substitute teacher, the students have a field day with him.

So, if you haven't watched it yet, give it a look. This is some funny stuff.

# [/entertainment/tv]

New TV: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0329476">Out of Order</a> 2003.06.09.07:26

With the passing of 4 of my regular TV shows, I've been wondering if there would be anything new to threaten my productivity. A few contenders on the horizon, and this is one of the first new ones I've seen.

It stars Eric Stoltz, Felicity Huffman and Kim Dickens. Also appearing regularly are William H. Macy and Justine Bateman. Stoltz and Huffman are a husband and wife screenwriting duo, starting to show strain after 16 years of marriage. It's completely and totally soap opera, but I admit I really like it so far, after just the pilot episode.

Everyone is flawed. None are malicious. Huffman's character suffers from depression, but is choosing to self-medicate, and it isn't working. She sees it, but can't quite stop herself. Stoltz tries hard to be supportive even through the worst trials. The other characters drift in and out of this orbit with their own shortcomings and problems. Aside from the usually Hollywood fare where everyone is pretty, the characters all seem very much the sort you would expect to have living next door to you, or passing by in the aisles at the local grocery. Some of the dialog is a little silly, and the narration perspective (Stoltz narrating as though we're the audience for his latest film... get it?) seems fairly overdone. And the very end of the pilot episode is quite hokey.

This all said, I do plan on watching the next few episodes. I think this one could develop into something really interesting.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Bill Maher's New Show 2003.03.15.08:22

I'm catching most of an episode of Maher's new show on HBO. It seems about on par with any other political commentary show— there's certainly a variety of opinions represented. But aside from allowing the guests to curse, and having an audience that actively boos the panel when they disagree, it doesn't really seem that different from any other show of it's genre.

There's now a stand-up comic who is possibly the least-funny I've ever heard. Maher is so completely under-used here.

# [/entertainment/tv]

These Tricks Never Work 2002.12.12.09:41

But if you're so inclined to add your name to on-line petitions, I offer up this link to the Save Firefly petition. Fox TV is putting the show "on hiatus", due to low ratings. I myself would like to see the show given the chance to succeed that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" have had.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Time-Wasters I Don't Complain About 2002.11.05.09:25

I've recently added a new TV show to my weekly allotment. That show is the Fox real-time drama, 24.

I avoided it all of last season, because the time-slot was kind of inconvenient, and because I wasn't sure about the hype. But I watched the season premiere last week, then watched it again tonight. It's some pretty damned impressive TV. Because of this new-found fascination, I went and rented the first of the three pairs of DVDs for last season (it comes as a set of six discs, two per case). 8 hours of the first season (6 to be honest, since there aren't any commercials), a ration that should have lasted me until tomorrow, at least I rented these on Saturday, and I finished them on Saturday. And if I weren't heading off to England this Thursday, I'd have already gone in search of the second pair.

I'm pretty picky about my TV-watching, I don't channel-flip anymore (on rare occassion, at least). But this is definately worth tuning in to again.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

Category quick-links:


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Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec

Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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