Wednesday, October 03, 2007

As You Were





"Many will be damned on Judgment Day because they killed innocent people, but nobody will be damned because they killed nobody." -- Sebastian Castellio

"I am innocent. I am very innocent." -- Isiah Lord Thomas III

Sucked to see The Clash's Pressure Drop used in a commercial over the weekend. Pressure Drop was/is one of my all time favorite songs, whether in the original Toots & The Maytals reggae version or the amazing punkified Clash version. In fact, The Clash's version is what got me into punk in the first place -- the 3-minute epiphany coming via a 45 played in Jack Mello's dorm room, Hofstra University, Tower E, 6th floor, circa late '78... to hear one of the songs that literally changed my life being used in another hideous SUV commercial is not what you want to see. Thanks for nothing, Mick Jones!

I have really been into this World War II documentary on PBS, more than I thought I would, almost to the point of obsession. Before seeing Ken Burns' The War -- not all of it, but a good chunk of it -- I thought that The Good War had been done to death documentary-wise over the years. So do some critics apparently, because there were quite a few negative reviews of his new one, including charges that Burns gave short shrift to the Mexican American role in WWII.

Sure, Burns' Beatle bangs look a little silly on a 54-year-old man, but all he does is make one brilliant documentary after another. Yet there has been a Ken Burns backlash in recent years, with critics nitpicking about this or that grievance or slight or injustice done to this or that historical figure. This time Burns & Co. choose to get a handle on the enormity of the war by focusing on the fates and fortunes of participating soldiers and their families from 4 small American towns, using their reminiscences as the documentary's fulcrum. The reviewer from slate.com seemed to have a major problem with this bottom-up method of storytelling:
"This tendency to view the home front through the gauzy lens of nostalgia is one of the film's weakest points. Burns addresses racial segregation and Japanese internment at some length, condemning both as great contradictions in a war for democracy. Even here, though, the sins of the past are filtered and softened for the present. Everyone interviewed laments such practices as moral errors—an admirable consensus suited to 2007. More dubiously, they almost all remember feeling that way in the 1940s. This is where a few more expert voices might have come in handy. Burns often mocks historians as dry, unimaginative hacks, people who would prefer to hand you a phone book filled with raw data than to compose an engaging narrative. Leaving aside the general merits of this criticism, in the case of The War, a touch of big-picture expertise might have made the narrative more interesting, rather than less."
At first I wasn't all that down with Burns' format either, even found it a little gimmicky or unnecessarily restrictive, but the people they found are so articulate and their comments so heartfelt that the small-town approach began to grow on me. And I don't think it's too treacly to call these old-timers national treasures. Here's an unabashedly positive review of The War courtesy of salon.com.

Speaking of negative reviews, the Cavemen show on ABC Tuesday night was just as dreadful as anticipated. The buzz was that the network wouldn't let critics see it beforehand, which is always a bad sign. Reportedly, the show had to be reworked several times because it was so tasteless and, well, unfunny. In any case, it took them less than a minute into the show to crack the first Lesbians Having Sex joke -- although "crack" is way too strong a verb for jokes as flat as these. I bailed after the first commercial break, and only checked back once more. Has a show ever been canceled after one episode?

Tom Glavine just gave up another run.

I'm gonna jump around here a lot on this here post, so get used to it.

Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner should have been playing somewhere all along -- starting somewhere that is. The guy has one of the best touches of any passer in history: hitting a guy right in stride for the maximum yards after the catch. Joe Montana had it. Steve Young. And Kurt Warner.

Warner's been coming off the bench for the Cards the last few games because of Matt Leinert's struggles -- which by the way I relish, because I sorta hate all USC players. Leinert is already sulking big time, but who can blame the coach for going with Warner's hot hand for a while: 70% completion rate with his 29-41 passing, good for 390 yards, 3 TDs and no picks -- a gaudy 125.1 QB rating. Meanwhile the former Heisman winner has struggled. Leinert is 53-99 for decent yardage (547), but only 2 TDs against 3 picks, good enough for only a lowly 63.8 rating. With weapons at WR like Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, that's just not getting it done.

Winston Justice just gave up another sack to Osi Uminyiora.

I'm pretty sure those Cavemen and the actors who played them would not have been remotely humorous during any epoch -- from prehistory all the way up through the Paleozoic Era and our own Homosapien era. Bushy beards and hairy arms are not enough to cover up lame premises by hack writers.

I'm also really starting to hate that little kid in the Verizon FiOS commercials more and more. Is that wrong?

Watching The War, I learned that Dresden did have strategic military value as a city, had a lot of armaments factories... but the 35,000 people who died in the Allied firebombing were mostly civilians. In all 593,000 Germans died in Allied bombing campaigns in various cities toward the close of the war, including 100,000 children. So it goes...

Another Allied strategy was dropping napalm bombs on Tokyo and other big cities in 1944 and '45. 100,000-200,000 died in Tokyo alone. 1 million homeless. In cities like Osaka and Kobe, over 50,000 more napalmed ... and still no surrender. As a U.S. military pamphlet put it "For us there are no civilians."

In the Pacific Theater the Japanese used kamikaze pilots to attack the U.S. Navy, damaging 17 warships in one night... Floating Chrysanthemums the Japanese sardonically called them. At one point there were 168,000 Allied POWs in Japanese prison camps...

By the way, Glavine's ERA for the Marlins game, after giving up 7 runs in 1/3 of an inning? 189.00. That's not getting it done.

Thought the first new episode of The Office last week was okay, but not a home run by any means... Is it me or is the show already reaching a little, getting unnecessarily cruel in its attempt to be surrealistic? The dead cat theme was forced. It kinda reminded me of late period Seinfeld in that way -- speaking of another sitcom that started slowly, had its brilliant middle period, then faded badly down the stretch... Just one man's considerably informed opinion.

To be continued...

2 comments:

Serge A. Storms said...

I like the randomness.

That Caveman show should have been shot down before it even made it to set. Whatever marketing genius thought that making a sitcom based on the effeminate(sp) cavemen from the Geiko commercials was a moron and I hope that the network executives have him publicly humiliated.

I'd meant to watch that documentary, but time just is not on my side, and my DVR is preoccupied with Heroes, House, CSI, The Bionic Woman, and Life.

The Bionic Woman is surprisingly well done. Life is very interesting. The character comes in a close third behind House and Gil Grissom as my favorites on television.

Wardens World said...

As far as Cavemen, the commercials themselves were much funnier. What's next -- the Brit-speaking Geico Lizard gets a reality show where he dates other species of reptile? (Hey, that doesn't sound so bad!)

I tried Heroes the other day -- the episode with the samurai dude -- but I was lost, didn't really know what was going on. I have a hard time watching shows where you have to tune in every single week to know what's going on. Too much work, too much commitment.