Jack Bauer Interrogates Santa Claus

December 17, 2009

Jack Bauer Interrogates Santa Claus

Betcha Santa regrets giving Jack that lump of coal last year…

“I have the power to give you a deal signed by the President of the United States that grants you immunity for past and present crimes”

Jericho – Subversion in Prime Time

March 8, 2008

Jericho - TV SeriesScreenwriter John Rogers writes:

“So, there’s this miniseries about how factions within the US government, paired with a major corporation in the military industrial complex, create a massive terrorist attack on US soil.

Then, taking advantage of the chaos and fear-mongering, fascist* elements within the government move to take control while the corporation uses its special no-oversight, no-accountability position to administrate the devastated regions — both for their own profit and so they can control the population without any of the standard protocols of either the occupying military or local law enforcement. It’s a become better plotted espionage thriller than 24 ever was on its best day.

It’s also sharp commentary on the privatization of warfare, the cozy symbiosis of politicians and massive corporations, out of control contractors in Iraq, and the relationship between the US military and populations they’re “administering”. It does all this while still casting the US military in an overwhelmingly positive light. The Army = Good Guys. This series casts the “insurgents” as American revolutionaries rising up against unfair administration by an outside force. There’s even a Stamp Act reference.

And their version of Paul Bremer shoots a teenage girl to death.

And it’s on CBS in prime time.

I’m almost terrified to write about this, in the fear that at some point the buzz will motivate someone at CBS will turn on the channel and realize they’re broadcasting perhaps the most genuinely subversive piece of entertainment in the last 8 years.”

(no, I didn’t want to quote that much, but there’s no good place to cut it — which I suspect is a survival skill for a good screenwriter — go read the whole thing, and then the rest of his blog; it’s damn good)

Rogers has it in one — perhaps the real saving grace of Jericho’s continuing low viewership is that there’s a lot of people out there who would be trying to cancel it right now if they paid attention to what it was saying.

Jericho got a last minute reprieve from a network death sentence last fall, and they’re going at it like they’ve got nothing to lose — and perhaps they don’t — if it wasn’t for how screwed up network TV is in the wake of the Writer’s Strike, there wouldn’t be a prayer that the show would survive, and as it is, if they have a prayer at all, it’s a tiny one.

But in the meantime, the gloves are well off.

I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Jericho last year — between flirting with wanting to be “The Waltons”, killing off main characters and having the main bad guy being the butt-of-jokes cop from “Psyched”, I really didn’t care whether they came back from the dead this year or not.

Until I watched a bit (due to the lack of anything else to watch). Jericho this season has cranked the “Harsh” knob all the way up to 11, and broken it off.


24’s Five Most Subversive Messages

February 6, 2007

24Jack’s back, and as usual, there is a lot of noise about people who want to get publicity by being offended to be offended by the show.

The other day, one of my offspring caught me watching it, and had a little hissy fit about the show helping keep the public in a state of fear by making terrorism seem likely.

Other popular complaints seem to be the promotion of violence, the unlikely invulnerability of the main character, or targeting specific minority groups.

Fair ’nuff.

Of course, it seems that the people who keep the climate of fear stoked mostly work the news desk and capital hill (or Boston city government, these days).

The show is certainly violent, but you’ve got to target your demographic, and frankly, males 18 – “still breathing” like watching stuff getting blown up; if you want to target a different demographic, bring back “Touched by an Angel”.

Is Jack doing a Superman turn? Of course — on the other hand, action shows whose charismatic main characters get permanently “killed to death” don’t go on much further.

Does the show target minorities? Somewhat, particularly as the “small bad”, but the minority in question changes a lot from season to season (Central American, Eastern European, Russian, Turkish, and corrupt US officials, to name a few).

So, the show does all of these (for the sake of argument) crappy things — if there’s an audience for it, someone will do a show that appeals to them.

The more interesting question is once you get past the superficial hook to get an audience sitting in front of it, what messages does the show actually tell?

24’s messages have gotten increasingly “subversive” over its lifespan, and interestingly, often run quite a bit counter to what it’s usually accused of.

  1. Just because I’m from the Government doesn’t mean I’m here to help you — or even have your best interests at heart — The government doesn’t get off easy in 24. We’ve had weasily Presidents who are actually supplying terrorists. We’ve had senior military people trying to keep the public panicked. We’ve had any number of middling to high level officials screwing everybody to line their pockets.
  2. “I’m just following orders” isn’t much of a defense — Blind obedience to authority is almost always the hallmark of “bad guys” in the show; having an innate sense of right and wrong and listening to it almost always turns out to be the right thing to do.
  3. Just because I hate what you stand for doesn’t mean I won’t help you — Early suspects, ideological enemies and “profiled” minority individuals often turn out to be ready to step up and do the right thing once they find someone who’s willing to listen to them.
  4. Just because you love me doesn’t mean you should automatically trust me — Partners, long-time coworkers, and family members aren’t always who (or what) they seem to be. Judge people by their actions, not by who you want them to be.
  5. Sometimes you have to make tough choices — Taking (what appears to be) the easy way out doesn’t always (or often) work out for the best.

All in all, not a terrible set of messages to be sending, and at least a little more comprehensive than American Idol’s “life lesson” (don’t humiliate yourself just to get on TV).

Of course, 24 could lose the violence, terrorism, superhero main characters and just preach the “good stuff”, but who would they preach it to?

Voodoo Epic HTPC m:112i Review

May 13, 2005

Looking for a quiet, fanless HTPC system that delivers good (if not great) gaming performance, dual tuner (standard definition) PVR and MCE 2005. Is $3500 burning a hole in your pocket? If so, the new Epic HTPC m:112i from Voodoo might be just up your alley.

PC Magazine has a brief review here.

The Epic HTPC m:112i comes with an nVidia GeForce 6800GT graphics card, and this helps the system achieve very good 3D gaming scores on the 1,024-by-768 Doom 3 test and on our Halo test at both this resolution and at 1,600-by-1,200. Like all high-end, single-card graphics solutions we’ve seen, the Epic HTPC m:112i stutters a little on the Doom 3 test at the higher resolution. So far, only dual-card SLI systems can break 60 frames per second at 1,600-by-1,200. That said, the Epic HTPC m:112i will be able to handle strenuous gaming duties silently. The system’s Pentium M 725 provides plenty of power for day-to-day activities like Web surfing and checking e-mail.

The system comes with a built-in stereo amp, so you can power your speakers without yet another device.

Offhand, it sounds like a box that does a lot well, but nothing exceptional, for a pretty substantial fee. On the other hand, if you’re looking to buy off-the-rack and this is in your budget range, it may be worth a look.

(Via Engadget)

The Coffee FAQ

March 3, 2005

Looking for the last word on the hows, whys, and techniques of coffee? You need look no further than The Coffee FAQ, kept up-to-date by the bug-eyed denizens of
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Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (1937 – 2005)

February 21, 2005

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, dead at 67.

Hunter’s writing has been a constant source of personal inspiration and madness for 30+ years.

Gonzo PosterHunter S. Thompson

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Reach new audiences with Podcasting

February 9, 2005

Podcasting has yet to hit the mainstream, but the process has started — in the past two days, USA Today has covered the phenomenon in two different articles.  If you have (or can produce) audio content, there is still time to reach a major new audience as it grows.

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You’re Foxed Now

February 2, 2005

This would be even funnier if it wasn’t so frustratingly accurate:

New on DVD: Whatever show you didn’t watch last year

“I’m not worried because I’ve finally figured out Fox’s cunning plan: obviously they want people to stop watching television altogether. It’s a radical method of beating the other networks once and for all, in a we’ll-all-go-down-together sort of way, but it’s the only possible answer.

Why else would they keep moving shows around faster than the eye can see? “Family Guy,” “Wanda at Large,” “The O.C.” and “Tru Calling” are recent ping-pongees but nothing matches “Greg the Bunny,” which debuted on a Wednesday, moved to Sunday, then back to Wednesday for a while, then to Friday, then finally back to Sunday. It was cancelled after exhausted viewers collapsed, TV Guides still in hand.

Why continue to consign promising shows to the dreaded Friday Night Death Slot, the pit of programming despair that’s been sucking down and grinding up shows ever since the original “Star Trek”? “Wanda at Large,” “Boston Public,” “John Doe,” “Millennium,” “Playing it Straight,” “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” and “Wonderfalls” all fell under the Friday Night Sentence of Summary Execution.”

The rest of it is also hysterical and too near the mark.  I’d quote it all, but why don’t you go read it instead?

Business Blogging Article Roundup

January 15, 2005

There are a lot of people busily writing away this week on how to successfully build and promote business blogs.  Here are a handful of good tips regarding finding your voice as a business blogger, and some anecdotes regarding search engine success.

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New Toshiba e830 Pocket PC?

August 1, 2004

Apparently if Toshiba is leaving the Pocket PC market (or the market in the US, depending on which story you’re listening to), they’re taking the overland route… This link to the FCC’s web site appears to show the FCC approval label for a Bluetooth & Wi-Fi equipped Toshiba e830.

Current rumours have it using a 520 MHz processor, 128 meg of memory, with a 4” VGA screen, and both CF and SD slots.

As usual, the full twenty-five cent grinching on the topic is available at Brighthand and Pocket PC Thoughts.

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