Saturday, August 06, 2005

Catching Up on Things

On this pleasant Saturday afternoon, with some fresh coffee and a fresh haircut, it's a perfect opportunity to catch up on some blogstuff.

Via A&LD, more on how the blogosphere fits into a larger historical context. Isn't it nice to feel legitimized?

The recently instalanched (Cap the "i" or not? -- I'm going with not) Sister Toldjah on the mainstream media dissing bloggers. In case you haven't noticed, I like to link to and read liberals, conservatives, greens, libertarians, uncategorizables, inconsistents, or whomever, as long as they hold my interest. That's why I like C-Span so much. (Okay, maybe I've never linked to a green, but I suppose in theory I would if the right one came along. "It's not easy reading greens...") Glancing through the Sister Toldjah pages, it looks like she gets a place on the NOTM blogroll; Actually, the cleverness of her name alone would earn her a spot.

I see that enough bloggers linked to murdered journalist Stephen Vincent's blog to push him from Marauding Marsupial to Large Mammal in TTLB. (That link may change category as the number of linkers grows or decreases.) I realize that this is somewhat macabre and I apologize to any readers whom this offends, but it is very interesting to me to see how many people visited his blog (the chart on the left) and linked to it (the chart on the right) when his murder was reported.

Visitors (L) and linkers (R) to the late Steven Vincent's In the Red Zone as of 5PM 8/6/05.
In lighter news, here is a Blowhard article on the Blaxploitation genre, a genre for which I have much fondness. One of my goals is to rewrite "Scream Blacula Scream" as a musical. The title piece will be lyrically based on "Food, Glorious Food." That's about as far as I've gotten. Note that Michael Conrad, the roll call sergeant from "Hill Street Blues" appears in this film.

After finishing MITJ the other day (enjoyable; comments still to come), I started in on a collection of William Safire columns titled No Uncertain Terms. It's nice because you can read a quick page or two when you have a couple of minutes without having the flow interrupted. I might start David Herbert Donald's biography of Lincoln and read the two concurrently (though I'll almost certainly finish Safire first.)

A couple of movies I watched this past week:

Gunner Palace. I recommend this very highly. It looks at day-to-day life from the perspective of U.S. enlisted men in Iraq. I like to think that this is the sort of documentary Ernie Pyle would have made had he been around today. My guess is that in years and decades to come, G.I. rap music, like that presented by some of the soldiers in Gunner Palace and the previously blogged-about 4th25, will become iconic of the Iraq War. There's something about "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Take the A-Train" that connects with WWII, and there is plenty of Woodstock-era (obviously heavy on protest) music heavily associated with Vietnam ("Fortunate Son," etc.). I wouldn't be surprised if the opening credits for a documentary or drama made in 2018 about the occupation of Baghdad features some of the (probably a capella) rapping of soldiers like these because I suspect they will come to evoke a set of memories and emotions associated with the U.S.-occupied Iraq of today.

I love the new Battlestar Galactica series. It's a couple of years old already, but sometimes it takes me a while to get to things. I watched the initial mini-series (and the extras and commentary) this week; I will go looking for the first season on DVD this evening. I like the post-9/11 feel of the whole thing; It's clearly there, but it doesn't hit you over the head. And, I like the fact that it payed homage to the original, but was not a carbon copy and was clearly able to stand alone.

Two movies that I think did that well (among the hundreds of remakes that did not) are the 1987 Dragnet remake (with Dan Aykroyd as Joe Friday's namesake and nephew) and the 2000 Shaft remake (with Sam Jackson as Shaft's namesake and nephew). Both built on the premise of their respective originals (including roles in Shaft for Richard Roundtree, Gordon Parks, and Isaac Hayes) and were really more sequels than they were remakes.

Back to Galactica, one thing stood out that I realize may be addressed in the next DVD set: There was no mention of or reference to (as far as I could discern) the short-lived follow-up series Galactica 1980 which ABC devised to keep the show going after a budget-driven hiatus. G1980 had the drifting survivors finally find late-20th Century Earth, and was thus able to save $$$ on a ton of futuristic special effects and sets. I'll assume that such homages might appear as I watch the rest of the series. I don't remember it being a particularly bad show, but some fans didn't care for it at all. Another Galactica 1980 link here and a timeline here.

Virginia Postrel says the new BG "may very well be the best show on TV and is certainly the most philosophical." JMPP invites readers to watch new episodes and chat about them as they watch.

One of the things I enjoy tremendously about the DVD revolution is that so many of the classic shows (and new shows, too) can be watched in their entirety (assuming PCism or other nonsense does not seep into current editing) on DVDs. During the 1990s I must have accumulated 50 VHS tapes with almost-complete runs of Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Monty Python, and others. I still have those for reference and nostalgia, but the DVD collections are far superior. Assuming nobody has messed around with surreptitiously cutting stuff out, that is. I've watched Oz, The 4400, 24, and plenty of others on DVD collections, and I still want to get to Alias, The Shield, Deadwood, and lots more in that same way. I have pretty much gotten to the point of reading reviews and postings and articles and stuff about cool new series, filing that info for six months or a year or whatever, and then plowing through a marathon weekend of (whichever) show after the DVD collection is released.

Comments on The Yes Men and Henry Darger a little bit later. I'm hungry and might have to make a quick trip to one of my favorite burger joints.


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