February 7 to October 17 – according to Google, that’s 252 days. That’s how many days since I wrote #19 in this series. So, let’s get started catching up…here are 252 things I’ve read, watched or done lately!
Just kidding. We’re not going to attempt to catch up, just cutting our losses and moving on, and looking back at the week that was.
Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season Two
Mike McMahon’s comedic animated series shows the versatility of the Star Trek format–which of course is something we already knew. We’ve been watching Star Trek mix human drama, science fiction thrills and comedic nonsense ever since Kirk went to the planet of 1920’s gangsters or contended with Tribbles back in the 1960’s. Lower Decks simply ups the humorous side of things, while also saturating its episodes with Easter eggs which keep a long-term fan like me constantly pointing things out to my kids–even really surprising things like the fact that Sonya Gomez has become a starship captain.
Though there are elements of the humor that are too “adult” (aka, juvenile) for me to enjoy (definitely don’t need to see any more Mugato-mating for the rest of my life), for the most part I think the show hits the balance of tones quite well. It’s been a lot of fun watching it and if I was ranking all the Star Trek series I’d put this easily above Picard and potentially above Discovery as well.
The show is wisely set earlier than Picard in the time frame that fans like myself actually wished we’d been able to see–shortly after Voyager concluded, allowing us to get things like Riker as the Captain of the Titan or Tom Paris still basking in the glory of helping his ship return from the Delta Quadrant.
My kids and I were particularly fans of the ninth episode, wej Duj, where we visit the lower decks of both a Klingon and a Vulcan ship. We especially liked T’Lyn, the Vulcan ensign, and there are high hopes that she’ll be assigned to the Cerritos in following seasons.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
It’s interesting to see how much the Guy Ritchie / Robert Downey jr.’s approach as Sherlock Holmes anticipates what we saw on TV with Sherlock the following year, maybe an example of that cultural zeitgeist that we see from time to time where parallel ideas develop in separate creative soils. You see things like Holmes’ extremely unpleasant personality, Watson’s aggression, the general bromance between the two and the innovative cinematic ways of visualizing Holmes’ deductive process– none of those things were common in Holmes depictions of the past (to my knowledge).
The movie is not a favorite of mine but I do enjoy it. I think Robert Downey jr. is comes across particularly well here. We’re all so familiar with him as Iron Man now, but there is very little of Tony Stark’s mannerisms in his Sherlock, even though there might have been some obvious crossovers–it’s a testament to the actor’s skill.
My one daughter pointed out after the movie was over how she didn’t think there was a single non-white person in the cast. It’s not the sort of thing I’d notice, but it’s interesting that she did.
That same daughter has identified Klaus as her favorite Christmas movie. This was the first time I watched it, and while it doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights for me I still enjoyed it. The story shows the origins of the Santa Claus legend, but without any magic or fantasy elements aside from the usual nonsense physics that you get from animated movies. It’s a sweet story which is was only diminished for me by the way the main character (Jesper Johannson, played by Jason Schwatrzman) is a bit annoying for much of the runtime. He is a typical snarky fast-talker who is trying to con his way through life, but gets caught up in the legitimate depth of the situation he is in. Just when he’s coming around to the real implications of what is going on, he’s exposed and thus must prove his sincerity to his friends by a big act of sacrifice. The character seems to be going for the same sort of vibe that David Spade brought to The Emperor’s New Groove, but he’s not as funny during the bit where he’s unlikable, so it hurts the film a bit. Still, I can see why some people like Klaus as much as they do.
Young Justice: Outsiders
We’re still making our way through this long-delayed third season to the fan-favorite animated show about a group of young DC superheroes. Actually, while Young Justice started with characters like Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Miss Martian to tell its story, it quickly grew into an overview of the whole DC Universe–or at least one version of it anyway. In this third season, there are a lot of central characters who are doing a lot of things. It all ties into one giant plot, but at times it’s not clear how that is. Te pacing is fascinating to see, and if this is anything like Seasons 1 and 2, it will be exciting to see it all it hit its climax. We’re about two thirds the way through ourselves (there are 26 episodes all together), and we’ve only lately gotten to the explanation of where the name Outsiders comes from.
The show likes to push the envelope a bit with violence and sexual implications, but on the whole it’s pretty solid and enjoyable. Dick Grayson has been my favorite character all along, but I’ve also become a fan of Beast Boy and his efforts to leverage the perceived transparency and authenticity of social media to combat the story’s threats in a way that the show’s other super-teams are unable to do.
I sometimes get lost with all the characters and plotlines that the show offers, but still I wish these guys would produce a show about the Legion of Super-Heroes…the same style would be perfect.
Death in Paradise
When my wife and I are in the mood for some more frivolous and light-hearted storytelling, we often tune into Death in Paradise, the popular mystery show about a British detective stationed on the fictional Caribbean nation of Saint Marie. The show has featured multiple change-overs in its cast which goes to show the concept has been more enduring than any single character.
Currently, we are in Season 8 of the show (Season 10 just aired), which stars Ardal O’Hanlon as DI Jack Mooney. He’s a likable character, though I do miss the “glory days” of when Kris Marshall was the detective, along with Sara Martins as his assistant and Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules as the more comical junior police officer. The mysteries on the show are always intriguing, although often seem to be solved with very little actual evidence. I think one of the most fun things is just watching how everyone responds to the continual changes to the cast.
In real life news, my wife was away this past week doing relief teaching (substitute teaching) at a Christian Aboriginal boarding school a half day’s drive from home. She does this from time to time when they have need, which gives her a cool opportunity to connect with the students and staff of this school. On a practical level, it means I’m pulling double duty on the parenting front, with my three teenaged daughters who all need a fair bit of driving around.
That means I haven’t gotten as much done at my missions work this week, although I did do a little bit of editing on a documentary my team is working on, and I set up some meetings for this coming week for another documentary I may be working on. More on that as it develops.
My wife is away for this next weeks as well (after dropping in over the weekend) so we’ll see how much I get done.
Oral squamous papilloma
In other news, I had an “oral squamous papilloma” removed from my tongue this past week. In layman’s terms, that’s basically a wart on my tongue. Bleah. It was a simple procedure which involved getting anesthesia injected into my tongue, which is as unpleasant as you can imagine. But it all got dealt with pretty quickly, and most likely, it’s not cancerous, although we’re getting it checked out to be sure.
I don’t get a lot of exercise but I make an effort to get 10,000 steps a day. Or at least, an average of 10,000 per day over a week. Those weeks run from Sunday to Saturday because that’s how the app on my phone deals with it. Some weeks it’s easier than others–sometimes I do a bunch of walking at night in order to try to catch up.
Today is Sunday, so how did I go last week?
Song of the Week
I have a playlist on my phone called “Ben’s Mix”, which is made up of 100-200 songs that I like which I shuffle between when I’m driving, etc. I was thinking about how with each of these songs there is a bit of a story about it, about what it makes me think of or why I like it. So I’m going to let my phone pick one randomly and then try to write up some comments on it while it plays.
Don’t Talk by by 10,000 Maniacs
Written by Dennis Drew and Natalie Merchant.
There isn’t much of a story with this one, actually. I became aware of 10,000 Maniacs when my friend Michelle made a mix tape for me years ago (back when we were all doing that sort of thing for each other). It was called, Michelle’s Madly Mellow Music Mix and it included a couple of 10,000 Maniacs songs (but not this one), along with a bunch of other mellow folk-rock pieces.
Then much later I had access to some free music through my internet plan (a bit of a weird promotions I guess), and because of my mild familiarity with the band I was looking to use my monthly allotment of free music, and bought this album: “In My Tribe”. This is only one of those songs (aside from the original ones that Michelle gave me) which made it onto my regular rotation.
Talk talk talk about it, you talk as if you care
But when your talk is over you tilt that bottle in the air
Tossing back more than your share
Kind of dark lyrics, actually.