Stuff I’ve Read, Watched, Done #26 – November 28, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! As an American, Thanksgiving has a lot of meaning for me. But as a long-term Australian resident, I’ve often let the day slip by without thinking about it. The last two years though we were invited over for dinner with some family friends.

It was a tasty time! We had a delicious dinner and enjoyed being together. My eldest daughter is away at the moment and so it was nice to be able to bring her into the celebration by Facetime, even briefly.

Of course, a big highlight of Thanksgiving both this year and last are pies, via my wife. Apple-blueberry and Pumpkin, both delicious! Yum!! As new family traditions go, this is a pretty good one.

In the world of TV and viewing, there is one obvious thing that the big news of the week…

Hawkeye

The MCU’s latest TV offering is the six episode Hawkeye series starring Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton. Clint’s archer identity is now formally known as Hawkeye–I can’t remember when that actually happened. If it wasn’t used in the previous movies than it seems like something that might have emerged as part of the Rogers: The Musical phenomenon that is included in the first episode of Hawkeye. It’s a pretty funny idea which I’m glad they showed us basically a whole musical number for–it was terrible, but that’s as it should be.

Two episodes in and I’m not fully convinced yet about Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, but I think she will grow on me. And I’ve always liked Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and think the whole series looks like fun. Amusingly, I think the first two episodes aren’t as innovative or notable as the first two episodes of WandaVision or Loki, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up liking Hawkeye better. Both of those other shows had disappointing segments in the middle and particularly weak episodes at the end–they just couldn’t sustain the quality of their stories all the way through to the end.

Hawkeye is a bit more “slow and steady wins the race” but I have a feeling it’s going to move at that same level of quality all the way through, resulting in something that is not outstanding, but delivers some solid enjoyment over the next month or so.

The Man in the High Castle

Other than Hawkeye we continued to move forward with the Amazon series The Man In the High Castle. We finished the first season and broke into the second, and are still enjoying it even if at times it feels a little contrived–a lot of the story seems to continue because various characters keep sacrificing their own opportunities for freedom in order to help other people of dubious merit. It’s a little hard to imagine how the show is going to sustain itself for another three seasons, but I guess somehow or the other it does.

Andromeda

And when I’m on my own I move forward with Andromeda from time to time. I’m about seven or eight episodes in and it’s still a very silly show, but with some surprisingly interesting plot ideas.

I mentioned before how the show reminds me of Blake’s 7–in more its shape rather than its tone. This time around I’ve noticed how many of the characters can be mapped onto the Blake’s 7 cast–if you squint a little.

Captain Dylan Hunt is like Roj Blake–an idealistic leader who may care more about his noble agenda than any of the people he is working with. Beka Valentine is like Jenna Stannis–a blond pilot who used to be a smuggler. Tyr Anasazi is Kerr Avon–a potential rival for command of ship who openly questions his leader’s wisdom and intentions and is not afraid to get his hand’s dirty.

Some of the connections are a bit more of a stretch but are still there–Trance Gemini is a bit like Cally (a female alien with unusual abilities and a mysterious backstory) and Seamus Harper is similar to Vila (a self-protecting wise guy). Rev Bem being like Gan is the hardest link (they’re both somewhat anti-violence for different reasons, and have a bit of different perspective to the others). But Lexa Doig’s on-board ship’s AI, Andromeda, obviously parallels both Zen and Orac (two AI’s from Blake’s 7 that were voiced by the same actor).

Dogs in Space

I was also introduced to Dogs in Space just lately. My daughter who is a big animation an introduced me to it. It’s basically Star Trek with dogs, with a bit of Wall-E thrown in.

So in the future, humanity is need of a new planet, so they genetically engineer dogs to be able to explore the galaxy to look for a new planet. I’m only a couple of episodes in but the dogs seem to be out on their own, missing their humans and hoping they are still waiting for them. I don’t love it–it’s a bit too “for kids” for me–but there are occasionally some funny dog jokes or funny Star Trek jokes in there.

And there are hints at some complex ideas coming through: the first episode opens with the main characters trying to convince an alien race to allow humans to colonize their world and make them their pets (it doesn’t go well, obviously). The show hasn’t commented yet on how strange an idea that is, but the creators are obviously aware of it, so I’m waiting to see if this becomes a more direct part of the narrative.

Other Stuff

Other activities this week included doing a solid job on my 10,000 / day step goal…and doing two more interviews with Sister Veronica–the Aboriginal nun whose personal story we are attempting to capture.

I also played a game of Pandemic Legacy Season Zero with my friends that I was going to write about here, but it got so long that I decided to make it its own post.

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.

We Beseech Thee from Godspell, by Stephen Schwartz

I’ve never seen Godspell, except briefly when I was a kid and my brothers were watching the movie–an experience I only recollect in the most hazy of terms. But I have listened to the soundtrack many times. I was introduced to it by my friend Missy in college, and I always enjoyed it, even with its 70’s hippie vibe, its rough ‘n’ tumble production quality and its time irreverent tone over a topic that I’m quite reverent about (the Christian Gospel message).

We Beseech Thee is a jaunty little tune with a lot of fun bits and amusing little rhythmic devices. It’s all about a prayer to God, basically for mercy, but sung without any obvious contriteness. I don’t know how the song works in the show or what character is supposed to be singing it, but apparently on the original recording (the version I have) it’s being sung by Jeffrey Mylett.

Grant us all from earth to rise
And to strain with eager eyes
Towards the promised Heavenly prize
We beseech thee, hear us!

I enjoy the lyrics and the tune, but my favorite bit is just air-drumming the break back into the regular lyrics after an extended bridge just made up of the cast making funny noises.

Parting Shot

Sometimes life is just like that–you are so tired that a third of your body hangs off your bed, and you just don’t care.

See you next time!

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