Thursday, May 30, 2013

Defiance on SyFy a Must See

SyFy channel has a new and interesting show called Defiance. In typical science fiction form it is a post-apocalyptic tale of Earth after an alien invasion. What makes this story line better than the average evil alien invaders versus the noble Terran defenders is the hopeful nature of the program.

The story begins a decade after the end of the requisite scifi interspecies war. Here in a small town called Defiance disparate groups of aliens, and humans are trying to eke out a future for themselves and their children. It is a conglomeration of cultures, moraies and ideals that need to come together to form a more perfect reality. And yes there is the constant clash of civilizations and expectations involved in the ever on-going drama.

One interesting observation is that this little town of Defiance reminds me of Tombstone, Arizona and the issues faced in settling the American west. There are laws and rules that govern a people prone to pulling out weapons to settle disputes. We are witness to the temerity of the legal system, the politicking and Machiavellian notions of the central government along with racism, misogyny and financial despotism.

Since, the town is based upon the mythos of the idealism associated with the "westward ho" American expansionism, Defiance even has its own Wyatt Earp. But instead of brothers to support him, our hero has a rescued alien orphan he raised as his own daughter, to help defend and promote our lawmaker-hero's particular form of justice. Interestingly the orphan-daughter, while working through her own psychological issues, acts as a conscience to her adopted father's view of reality. Her world is black and white, good versus evil and she brokers no area of gray. (My kind of girl.)

The mayor, meanwhile, is a young woman trying to bring together the disparate forces of Defiance while keeping the more powerful governments at bay. She works between the lines to keep everything running and everyone happy. And of course, as a survivor of the War, she has a worldview colored by horror, abandonment and protection of a much younger sibling. Her and her sibling share a great bond, which also makes for some very interesting situations as this sibling is also the town madam. Meanwhile, both sisters have a bit of a thing for the lawmaker. What's a good drama without a love-triangle?

Underlying everything of course, is some sinister goings-on; the death of a prominent citizen's son, an interspecies marriage, unusual and interesting characters with all too familiar issues, a conspiracy to undermine Defiance and a search for hidden treasure, think The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

You can catch up on Defiance at SyFy Rewind. It is a fun romp and a different look at a very human future.


By the way this is not to be confused with the movie Defiance, which starred Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber, about hero Jewish partisans during WW2. This movie by Edward Zwick, was panned by the critics, but I found it very informative and very uplifting in many ways. The problem I think for the theater going crowd is that this movie went against the Spielberg inspired, typical Hollywood grain that all Jews during the Holocaust allowed themselves to be victims. Hollywood tends not to like Jews that fight back, either during the 1940s or today.


Friday, May 24, 2013

MEMORIAL DAY 2013: Freedom is not Free

This weekend we honor those who gave their lives for this nation. It is fitting that we remember that Freedom is not free.

We sleep well at night because rough men (and women) stand ready to do violence in our name...George Orwell

Perhaps nothing speaks more eloquently to the sacrifice of the soldier than President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Our sons and daughters are still operating in fields of battle and could use some "loving" from home.

Go HERE to order any number of care packages from Soldier's Angels and remind these wonderful young people that they serve a grateful nation.

Or help those that have returned from fields of battle and need our support at Wounded Warrior Project.

Meanwhile the new Star Trek movie is dedicated to an organization that helps place veterans in positions where their skills will be happily utilized The Mission Continues.



May God bless them and keep them,
May he shine his countenance upon them,
May God grant us all PEACE.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

The new novel by Dan Brown brings together Florence, Dante's Inferno (hence the novel's name), overpopulation issues and biological warfare. It is a breakneck ride through some of Florence's, Venice's and Istanbul's most glamorous museums,  churches, historical art and architecture. Of course since the novel is written by Dan Brown, secret hiding places are de rigueur.

If you are interested in learning about the history of Florence, particularly under the Medicis this is a good book. If you are interested in the history of the doge empires of Venice this is a good book. If you are interested in the byzantine era of Istanbul, then this is a good book. If you are interested in learning something about the renaissance with its painters, architects, politics, and worldwide repercussions, this is a good book. If you are interested in reading about much discussed exotic locals as they exist today and their surprising, yet at the same time unsurprising, underground, this is a good book. If you want to think about some perplexing issues facing humankind that our political leaders ignore, this is a good book. But be forewarned,  Brown does tend to sledgehammer you with a little self-righteous indignation at the end.

Honestly my only real complaint is that as the novel progresses I have no real feel for the places Brown uses as his story's catalysts. You really need to have a layout of the cities in front of you. You need to have pictures of the art and architecture discussed. I became confused and a little overwhelmed at times trying to visualize all the places. It would help if you used Google Earth (of course). I honestly think you loose something in the reading of the book without knowing the places mentioned firsthand. These places, as usual to all his books, are essential to the story. (And yes as the Devinci Code did wonders for tourism, so too should this book help the travel industry.)

But all in all, I think this is a good and entertaining read. It is not intellectual highbrow, but a beach blanket gambit for those sunny lazy days. A fast paced thrill ride. But be warned this is not about secrets in Dante's poem, but how Dante's poem is used as a metaphor for the machinations of some real world bad guys. Honestly makes more sense than albino monks and banned priestly orders trying to take over the world or some ridiculous secret about holy offspring.

I was a little taken aback however, when Brown begins with a note that the secret organization he uses as a catalyst in the book, actually does exist. Now I know that there are corporations and groups that fly under the radar and work in a dark and seamy world. I just thought that in a fiction book the characters and ideas would be a twist on reality not be reality itself. This does make the story just a little bit creepy. OK, honestly there are some others reasons this story is a little bit too real and too disturbing, but you will have to read it to find out. No spoilers here.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

STAR TREK Into Darkness...LLAP...YAHOO

No not going to review STAR TREK,  especially not going to give spoilers, except this --> TERRIFIC MOVIE... Lets just say that for the average person its a fun film. For Trekkies, its a great ride, see if you can get all the old series references.

You can bet I'm going to see this movie again and again and again. OK so I'm a nerd...I'm proud of it. Listen, I loved Star Trek as a child back in the 1960s, some things never change.

Meanwhile the movie is dedicated to the group The Mission Continues...from the Star Trek website:

"Mission Continues is a community service organization that helps post-9/11 veterans transition from the military to leadership roles at home. The Mission Continues benefits veterans and communities in equal measure. The organization sponsors veterans’ enrollment in a 6-month service and leadership program. These veterans dedicate themselves to serving in their community, volunteering for at least 20 hours a week in community organizations to address issues like homelessness, illiteracy and unemployment. The Mission Continues provides the tools, the direction, and a living stipend to these veterans, while the veterans deploy their experience, their skills, and their desire against our communities' most pressing problems. Since its inception, The Mission Continues has awarded more than 600 fellowships and engaged thousands of volunteers at more than 350 community organizations. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @missioncontinue"

Not bad to remember, and help, those who served in every generation.


P.S. And yes I am looking forward to seeing what J.J. Abrams can do for Star Wars.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shake Shake Shake Senora

Here's the version of "Shake Senora" I grew up with. Harry Belafonte's version in the movie Beetlejuice.

Now this is what the kids hear today care of Pitbull, T-Pain and Sean Paul.....

Every generation gives music their own spin. Yes, I can do without some of the words in the new version, but the beat does get your "booty" moving.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

To All Graduates this Season CONGRATULATIONS!

I know its too early for high school graduation, but next week my oldest graduates from college, which has put me in a Pomp and Circumstances kind of mood.

Well done....well done.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Put On Your Sunday Clothes

Watched Hello Dolly over the weekend. Yeah, it brings back many childhood memories. But it also reminds you that there used to be simply joy and innocence in movies and theater. Never figured out why that had to go the way of the dinosaur.

Meanwhile, if you are a Barbara Streisand fan this is a great way to spend a few hours.


Friday, May 3, 2013

May the Fourth Be With You...Celebrate Star Wars Day

OK corny but fun. In honor of Star Wars Day here is the TIMELINE of all the Star Wars books published. See which ones you still need to read....and no, I'm not telling how many books I have in my Star Wars library collection ....

Star Wars Page from Barnes and Noble