Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snowy Randutiae for a Sunday

Yesterday was one of those perfect winter days wherein the snow begins early in the day, but lightly – the five-flakes-per-minute variety – then slowly builds, and your own schedule brings you out into it while it's beautiful but not yet gusty and difficult. I had a magical snow walk, then got home to a cozy evening of watching it get wild out there.

I love this time of year, even though it brings its challenges. Actually, the challenges are partly what I love… the darkness, in particular, brings a kind of raw feeling that I can't access as easily the rest of the year. It can be uncomfortable, but it's also a richly contemplative time for me. And I LOVE the New Year.

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I've been wanting to say a few things about books and TV. I'm only giving myself a few minutes to write this post, so forgive me for the lack of linkage and description; I'm trusting in your ability to google. Warning: it's a bit scattered.

I read a YA mystery called The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher, out in the USA in January. Loved it! Now I'm reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which is Kate Atkinson's debut – loving that, too, and I'm excited about two more on my shelf: The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, and Among Others, by Jo Walton.

In the world of TV, while I wait for Orphan Black and Call the Midwife to come back (oh, and by the way, Downton Abbey, WE ARE SO OVER), I'm giving Almost Human a chance. This is the SF/crime drama that stars Karl Urban as John Kennex, a human police officer, and Michael Ealy as Dorian, an android police officer, in a futuristic society. The growing bromance between these partners – the crusty human who's having some problems with his humanity, and the sensitive android who's too human for his own good – is what's keeping me watching. Because they're funny. Funniest when they're talking about their boy parts, but entertaining no matter the topic.
JOHN [moodily contemplating the photo of a dead comrade]: Cooper was the only person in my class who could outrun me, outshoot me.
DORIAN: So, there were only two people in your class.
Of course there's always interesting food for thought when humans are paired with androids. We'll see where this show takes that theme. So far, I'm just relieved that we're four episodes in and the writers are still managing to avoid the Most Annoying Way of Creating Tension Ever, namely, having otherwise likable characters withhold really important information from each other and/or lie, for no good reason. (Have you ever found yourself watching a TV show and thinking to yourself, "Why doesn't he just tell them? The entire problem would be solved if he would just tell them! THERE IS NO REASON NOT TO TELL THEM!!!") I hate when TV writers do this! At best, it makes the plot structure shaky and transparent, and at worst, it makes me dislike the characters intensely. Deception can be a powerful event in any plot. But deception with insufficient motivation, committed by characters we're supposed to find sympathetic, then, once discovered by the other characters, dealt with casually in the plotline as if deception is a small thing, is weak writing. It's poor character development all around. Anyway. We'll see where this show goes, but in the meantime, I see potential to believe in these characters, and I appreciate that the writers aren't leaning on Pointless Misinformation as a tension-builder. I'm enjoying it. Though it does strike me as kind of violent for an 8 o'clock time slot.

 John fixes a short-circuit in Dorian's head
using nail clippers and bubblegum.

Moving on... In my quest to be delighted by the acting of David Tennant as often as possible, I just watched the Royal Shakespeare Company's recent production of Hamlet and really, really liked it. Beautifully acted. Tennant as a wonderful moody Dane, Patrick Stewart as Dear Uncle Claudius, Penny Downie as Mom, Mariah Gale as Ophelia, Peter de Jersey as Horatio, and Oliver Ford Davies as my favorite Polonius ever. Seriously, I was (um... spoiler?) quite sorry when, um, Polonius had that accident behind the tapestry, because I wanted him to keep amusing me forever.

I've also, on occasion, been enjoying the French police drama Engrenages (the English title is Spiral).

And finally, if you've given up on reality TV singing competitions because they make your skin crawl but your abandonment makes you sad, you might want to try The Sing-Off on NBC. While I do still rely on the ability to fast-forward, I truly enjoy this competition, which pits diverse (in race, age, sex, and music style) a cappella groups against each other and which is judged by three people who actually have intelligent and interesting things to say (Shawn Stockman, Ben Folds, and Jewel). And the music is just fun. If nothing else, try to catch the opening number one day – a great introduction to the contenders. Here's a video of one of those opening numbers. Remember to appreciate that it's voices only! (As always, if you can't see this video, go to my Blog Actual.)

  
 

Happy December, everyone!