Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done #25 – November 21, 2021

The weeks are big and getting bigger!

After two false starts, this week we finally started filming one of the documentary projects that I’m working on. This involved sitting down for an interview with two Aboriginal ladies from Western Australia. One of them is Sister Veronica, an elderly nun who is the focus of this project.

Basically, we are interviewing her over several visits just to hear about her life, including her experiences both as a Benedictine nun and an Aboriginal woman. We’re just getting started but we did indeed start. It’s a privilege to get to spend time with this faithful lady and to hear her story.

I also did a little bit of editing on another documentary I’m helping with, and re-recorded some dialogue that needed to be replaced in Stuck, a short dramatic film that we shot over a year ago, and have now officially taken too long to edit.

The Man in the High Castle

And I continued to watch TV. Notably, my wife (and sometimes my children) and I have now watched up until the sixth episode (of ten) of the first season (of four, it seems). This means I’ve watched four episodes since last time, and also rewatched the first two with my wife. This alternate history dystopia about a world in which the Axis powers won World War II has not been pitch perfect, but has remained incredibly gripping and immersive.

The cast is good. I’m not familiar with most of them but I find the young leads–Alexa Davalos, Luke Kleintank and Rupert Evans–to all be good, and the more seasoned veterans like Rufus Sewell and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa to be well-served. Burn Gorman showed up as a crazy bounty hunter in a couple of episodes that I was confused by the other characters’ unwillingness to kill when he was vulnerable, but I guess with the mixture of some people’s inexperience and other’s hidden motives, it makes sense.

The show is incredibly tense, especially with two peoples like the alternate history Germans and Japanese who are both so civilized in their own way, but both so brutal and heartless. I really can’t wait to get to the rest of the series. Until then, I’m studiously avoiding spoilers.

Andromeda

In a desperate for something not too challenging to put on the TV while I was doing some mindless work (literally, folding several hundred newspapers) I found myself watching Andromeda the science fiction series from 2000-2005. It’s also known as Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda as it’s based on material from the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, although actually developed into a series much. later. Specifically, it was developed into a series by Robert Hewitt Wolfe who was known for working on a bunch of episodes of Deep Space Nine.

Andromeda‘s premise, if you don’t know, reads like a What If…? story set in the Star Trek universe. Specifically, What if the Vulcans attempted to overthrow the rest of the Federation? More specifically, you have the Systems Commonwealth which suddenly falls in a sneak attack by one of their member species, the Nietzscheans, a pragmatic race of warriors who are dissatisfied with the Commonwealth’s “peace at all costs” philosophy. Captain Dylan Hunt of the High Guard (aka Starfleet) starship Andromeda Ascendant evacuates his crew when he is devastated in the sneak attack, but he and his ship are caught in the gravity of a black hole and end up emerging 300 years later when the Commonwealth has fallen and anarchy rules the galaxy. He quickly finds a motley band of misfits and sets off to re-establish Commonwealth ideals.

In a lot of ways, the general plot resembles season 3 of Star Trek Discovery, but four episodes in the series itself is a bit more like Blake’s 7 in that you have an idealistic leader of an advanced ship (technology has generally regressed in the 300 years since the Commonwealth fell) who is served by a ragtag band of ne’er do wells who are not at all convinced that the leader’s idealistic mission has a chance of success. I’ve only seen two episodes beyond the premise-establishing two-parter so far, and though overall the tone of the show is a bit shallow and silly, I’ve been surprised at how dark some of the storylines are.

Dylan Hunt is played by Kevin Sorbo, best known for playing the title role in Hercules for all those years (“He looks like a Greek God!” one of the characters says). He is a likeable enough presence on the show without being especially deep. The only other performer I recognize is Lexa Doig who plays the ship’s AI (known just as “Andromeda”) who is normally a hologram but who unexpectedly got an android body in one of the episodes I watched. I know her mostly from Continuum, but she seems to be part of a stable of actors who you see doing the rounds in a bunch of (largely Canadian) science fiction productions.

Other Real Life Highlights

I never seem to have anything to say about anything I read, have you noticed that?

Well, who’s got time to read when Doctor Who is on the air, and I’ve got weddings to attend!

That’s right, I went to a wedding this week–my first wedding service in person in I don’t-know-how-long, but at least two years. It was really nice. I’ve known the bride’s family for decades. In fact, her parents led my first missions course in Canada in 1996–indeed, it was during that program that she was born! Her family is Samoan by ethnicity, although originally from New Zealand, while the groom’s parents were from Australia and Palau! So quite the international flavor to the whole thing.

My wife helped with the flowers. Nice job, right?

That night I also spent some time at a friend’s place playing games, to celebrate his birthday. My contribution was a game called Fuse, which I also taught some guys to play. It’s a cooperative game in which you are taking turns rolling dice and then quickly distributing the dice to fulfill certain conditions on cards that you have in front of you, which all represent bombs on your spaceship.

You’ve only got ten minutes to “diffuse” enough bombs (by getting all the dice necessary for that card) to avoid being destroyed. I got this game from my nephew some years ago and it’s given my family a lot of enjoyment over the years. It’s quite hard to win, which keeps it challenging. The boys at the get-together played four games that night and only won the last one. Everyone felt pretty satisfied to stop at that point!

I forgot to post about my steps last week! I’m sure were devastated. As you can see I did very well, and even better this week.

I’d hit my 10,000 / day goal of steps before the seventh day got going in earnest, and so by day’s end I’d gotten up to over 11,500 per day average. Pretty cool!

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.

She’s Only Happy in the Sun by the Ben Harper

I only know Ben Harper from one particular song–Blessed to Be a Witness–because of it being used as part of a performance arts piece that some people I knew developed, which moved me to tears because it tied into the death of some other people that we all knew from years earlier. So I got the album at some point–Diamonds on the Inside–and discovered this song as a result. It’s lvoely, but there’s more of a peronsal connection than that.

Every time I hear you laughing, I hear you laughing
It makes me cry
Like the story of life, of your life
Is hello, goodbye

That’s appropriate because of what is happening tomorrow.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, my oldest daughter is going away for some number of months to do a Discipleship Training School–basically the same program that I left home for 25 years ago.

What goes around comes around, as they say. The house will be a bit quieter, Christmas is going to be stranger, I will be a little bit sadder, but I could not be prouder.

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