Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two People Walk Out of a Building

It is not unusual for the same two people to meet more than once in one’s lifetime. Whether they are complete strangers or the most intimate of lovers, people have a way of coming back around.

This is brief tale of how two people walked out of the same building, simultaneously, at three different encounters of their lives. The first time was brief and they were strangers. The second time was a long a drawn out relationship where they had multiple departures and encounters. The third, they were once again strangers and the moment in each other’s vicinity was brief.

They first encountered each other on a street corner. She was crossing it and he was leaving the parking lot of the building where had a class together. He sat in the back and kept quiet. She sat in the front and knew all the answers. They were both leaving after a particularly daunting ethics class. She went to cross the street as he sped around the corner to get to his ever daunting part time job. She sustained no serious injury, but he got out to help her regardless, she was a beautiful woman after all. She refused medical attention and he didn’t push it, insurance rates aren’t kind to negligence. They both went on their own ways never even exchanging names (well he knew hers, she didn’t care enough to ask), not to meet again for another eight years.

The second time he chose her to be his life partner, if you will. This was the strangest encounter of all. This piece of their story starts in a home, one that he financed, but she rarely frequented. Neighbors speculated about why that might be. The most docile of these rumors was that she was a flight attendant, one that worked excessive hours at exotic parts of the world. She was rarely home for more than a day. But for the most part, the most common word used to describe her scarce presence on the block was “suspicious.” She never felt the desire to defend these accusations because she thought her behavior was normal and he never gave them reason to think that he was unhappy. The one thing they didn’t notice was that she always arrived on the same days every month, arriving and departing at the same time, each time.

They recognized his routine as frequent and regular. He went to work every morning and came home at the same time every night. In the winter, he shoveled the snow as necessary. In the summer he mowed the lawn every week. He seemed normal. She did not.

The wealth between them was obvious. He was always there for the delivery of their new furniture, paintings and home gym equipment, which was obviously never used. She was never there for these enjoyable arrivals. It was always questioned by their nosey neighbors whether he bought these things for his own enjoyment or as a way to get her to come back.

They had no children and no pets; it was probably best that way. She wouldn’t remember them shortly after every time she left, even if they had. When they met the second time, he recognized her instantly, but never mentioned it to her. She wouldn’t have remembered anyhow, he knew that. She had a different identity then.

The third time they both walk out of a downtown skyscraper, he had known her once. But they left the building as strangers, of so it would have seemed to on lookers. They did not acknowledge each other. She was moving forward to a previously arranged engagement. While he continues to take one day at a time. She will never remember him after his last engagement with her.

He never did see her again or find out why she had chosen the life of a rental, a doll. All he knew was that she didn’t remember any of the people who chose her on a daily basis. To her, at the end of the day, she was a clean slate, a tabula rasa, he was just another face in the crowd who will never recognize any love in his face. He made that choice for presuming to know what was best.

Friday, November 4, 2011

FEWER SPOILERS THIS TIME AROUND!!!!

FEWER SPOILERS THIS TIME AROUND!!!!

Now that we have covered the basics of Once Upon A Time, how did Grimm fare in this battle of TV fairy tale reimagining?

Grimm is targeted to a slightly different viewer than OUAT. I did not find it as appealing as its primetime counterpart. This can be attributed quite easily to its slightly more PG-13 plot. It is setting itself up as a frightening, jump-out-at-you, fairy tale, crime drama. It is structured and written so it seems more real. I think the plot seems practical and somewhat plausible.

The story focuses on Nick Burkhardt, a homicide detective, a protagonist identity/career that is becoming a bit over used at this point. Already with this it seems that the writers are limiting and challenging themselves to, not only make Nick an appealing and unique character, but to create interesting plot lines that don’t seem like copycats of other stagnant homicide dramas… with a fairy tale twist. This twist in and of itself is unique, it is presented that all of the characters who are doing less than ideal acts of crime are not human, but Hexenbiests and Blutbads…yeah, kinda weird.

Now the question that I ask myself next is: Did they accomplish what all shows set out to do, in the first episode at least? I’m forced to say that I’m not sure, and perhaps that is the genius of it. Nick is portrayed as a man who has lost something and will do whatever he has to to ensure that it does not happen again. To aid in this, we have already been introduced to multiple allies that he has in his corner. The allies include his Aunt Maire, a woman who reveals herself as a defender of the good, shortly before she reveals to Nick his lineage and his grim life calling; Monroe, a reformed “big bad wolf” if you will; and Hank, Nick’s homicide partner.

Bottom line: Nick is one of, if not THE, last descendant of the Grimm Brothers, who as we all know thanks to Matt Damon and Health Ledger, not only write about the scary and mystical supernatural in our world, but are defenders of the innocent who inhabit it. He is not remarkably accepting of this fact. Even thought he sees the evidence of it in his everyday life…shifting undead and werewolf like faces of the not-following-the-golden-rule folks.

If that doesn’t make things complicated enough for Nick, his aunt is also put in the hospital because she can’t recover from a baddie battle because of a critical illness. The show leaves you with this and the conclusion of the episode’s episodic crime’s conclusion, as well as fairly open ended.

It seems like it will be an ideal show for those occasional viewers. The show is structured more episodically than OUAT, but there are serialized elements that could hook dedicated weekly viewers. Whereas OUAT is strictly episodic, if you miss one episode, you will be asking “What?” the whole time.

Regardless, the show accomplished something…I will be watching it tomorrow when it is on hulu.

But, for those of you who feel like Once Upon A Time is more your tastes…check out the first two episodes here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

BEWARE OF FAIRTY TALE SPOILERS!!

BEWARE OF FAIRTY TALE SPOILERS!!

I know, I know. With the premier of fall network shows, there is one question you have been asking yourself…which fairy tale recreation show am I going to try to make time in my already full TV watching schedule this season?

It has been daunting me too, so no worries friends! I am here to help you!

The two shows premiering this week are Once Upon a Time (OUAT) and Grimm (G) airing on your local ABC and NBC affiliates, respectively. They are both unique in their own rights, after an initial viewing, but seem targeted to similar audiences. They also seem to be targeted to the networks that are showing them…go figure. In my experience, which I have many years of, the way ABC and NBC design and cherry pick their primetime shows, is unique to a demographic they are targeting. On ABC, things are obviously fantastical. Thursday primetimes would be the obvious exception, but has anyone actually seen that many beautiful people working in a hospital? Typically, their shows, including Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Lost, etc., all have an element of their plot or direction that make it apparently fictitious. This is usually portrayed with things as complex as murderous, adulterous, or unbelievable plot twists or things as simple as vibrant colors, dead people monologues and extreme camera angles. Yes, they portray characters that people learn to love (or hate) and stories that people care about. But they become shows where the people of a community would be shocked if these things actually happened.

This is the general idea behind OUAT. The story opens with the introduction of, what becomes, our first female protagonist, Snow White…and her Prince Charming! Given that there is also an Evil Queen/Stepmother/Witch, which ever seems to fit that episode, as soon as their happy ending is in sight things start happening. She casts a spell on the whole community of Fairy tale happy ending seekers and leaves them to their fate…unhappy endings. The second female protagonist is introduced next, Emma, (SPOILER) by the end of the episode, revealed to be the daughter of Snow and her prince (End SPOILER). If that doesn’t complicate things enough, she is also a bail bondswoman, identifies strongly with the fact that she is an orphan and gave up her own son for adoption a mere ten years prior, and it’s her birthday! As I’m sure you can predict by now, all of these things are going to become painfully relevant.

Anyways, she goes on a date (he thinks it’s a date…she’s working). When she arrives home with her heartbreakingly lone cupcake to act as a birthday cake for one, she is greeted at her door by her claim to be long-lost-given-up-for-adoption 10 year old son, Henry. He then tells her that he needs to come with her and that she is one of the characters in his book of fairy tales. At this point I was telling my computer (I watched the show on hulu) that the writers for this show better have something better for her character, because it seems like she just played ALL of her cards. This may become short lived and stagnant, quick.

So, the curse, that apparently Emma can save these characters from, has trapped them in the town of Storybrooke, Maine. Here, time has stopped and these people who inhabit the town have no idea who they are, or the fact that they have been stuck like this for 28 years. The only person who does is the evil-queen-witch-stepmother-now-Storybrooke-mayor woman. We also meet Snow who is a kind hearted and apathetic elementary school teacher…there is more to her than meets the eye…but maybe that’s next week’s episode. Oh and Prince Charming is in a comma. What a way to start a new show!

Given that the show is produced by the same crazy, lunatic, geniuses of LOST fame. I know it’s redundant, but did you watch that show?? RIDICULOUS! Regardless, the first episode got positive reviews, but the characters have the potential to live or die in the limelight. After this first episode, I’m excited to see how the show, on its own, progresses.

But, what is going to happen when NBC premiers Grimm this week? After watching a brief cut of the first half of the premier, it seems to be on a different track, entirely (as entirely different these two shows can be at least).

More to come about Grimm and which show is right for you!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wedding Photograph

She was to wear lace, and he thin stripes. They dreamed of this day. They loved and lived for each other. Everything was in its place. The flowers were arranged. The final alterations stitched. The courses were being prepared. They thought they were ready to love forever.

She asked him if he loved her; if he was sure of this commitment. He responded with a deeply inhaled breath and a sigh of exhaustion. He paused briefly to compose his thoughts. She detected his fears and gave him no room to respond, a bad habit of hers. Blind reassurances tumble from her mouth; her confidence was also fleeting. She did everything she could to stop him from walking out the door. Her frustration and overreaction to his haste and apathetic response was unbearable.

She tried to convince him that the vows and promises that she made were true. That the claims of the previous days had been out of frustration and weren’t worth losing him over. She could change. She could be happy to see him when he shows his face, and happy to hear his voice when he calls.

She thought she had him assured that she wanted to spend her living days with him. But even on their day of commitment he couldn’t be with her. He understood the true nature of the statements they had written, and he feared her honesty and her love. He realized that his strength wasn’t enough to sustain the life she needed. So he fled and disappeared from the day and joint life they would have shared.

She wore lace. She had always dreamed of wearing lace. He loved her in lace. They had planned an old fashioned way of things. She wore lace to compliment his sharp and dapper suit stripes. But by this time on the day of her wedding, her lace was stained with salty tears and the crimson red of her life that was taken from her by his neglect and his choice not to return to her, the one he loved.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Am I, What Am I, and From What Do I Derive My Existence: Skepticism and Self-Knowledge in a World Where Even You Could Be a Cylon

“So that’s it. After all this time, a switch goes off, just like that.” –Tyrol in “Crossroads: Part 2”

A flip of a switch. Identity shifts are a part of everyone’s life, from a shocking revelation of new family controversy to something as simple as marriage or the birth of a child. Many questions arise when these shifts happen and people begin to discuss self and the knowledge or awareness of self. How do people define self? How much stock do we put into our memories to define our own self-knowledge? Is there an indefinable element of self-knowledge that falls outside the realm of memory and recallable elements of self? The text Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy functioned as the inspiration and the machete to help navigate this philosophical intellectual thicket. The essays that led assistance with this pondering, in particular, are “The Narrative Disruptions of Model Eight” by Daniel Milsky and “Am I a Cylon? Self Knowledge at the Crossroads” by an unknown contributor.

When it comes to identifying self and attempting to understand how we make up our own identities, we reference our memories. Whether they be of the people or situations involved, it becomes a database that is a primary reference when a person attempts to identify self. This is the route that Sharron “Boomer” takes, when she is faced with the idea that she may not be who she thinks she is in season one. In the episode “Water,” not only does Boomer not remember setting off the explosives herself, but when she is piloting a scouting trip for more water, it visibly takes much indefinable internal conflict for her to even say the word “positive” with the discovery of a water source that her own people in the fleet are in such desperate need of. At this point it is easily assumed, by a viewer, Boomer is a cylon (#8 specifically) because she is present in two simultaneously running plot lines. With this there is also an occurrence of dramatic irony and factual disruption. Boomer is classified as a “sleeper” and therefore doesn’t know she is a cylon because she is unaware that the other version of her exists. In the other Sharron plotline, there is a focus on the #8 later dubbed “Athena”. She is a cylon who knows and understands her role as one.

Both of these versions of the cylon #8 have been given different tasks. Boomer’s is given two, one by Admiral Adama and the other by her cylon programming. While Athena’s mission is a cylon ordered one. Both of these cylon focused missions function as a way to bring down the humans. But, the problem arises when the Sharrons start to have conflicting ideas about themselves based on this new information. Athena begins to identify herself as one of the humans because of how her life has changed. She has developed feelings for and been impregnated by one of the humans Carl “Helo” Agathon (which was part of her original mission along with killing Helo afterward, not unlike a praying mantis) and has now become someone who cares for not only the hybrid child that she carries, but also the father of the child and his happiness. It is complicated be the fact that she has the memories of Helo from Boomer; because that is the identity she was originally masquerading as. Whereas Boomer’s self-knowledge changes drastically when she discovers she is a cylon. As Milsky states, “The plot development was based on inaccurate facts about the world…This factual disruption is a possibility for all sleeper Cylons, but obviously doesn’t affect their narratives until they discover the error.” This “error” becomes a traumatic and jarring experience. She tries to kill herself because she can’t imagine that she is a copy of one of the things that she has despised her whole life. In one instance her self-identity changes and she can’t bare it.

What would happen in a person’s life when they learn that they are the one thing they hate the most? This happens in the lives of other characters in the show as well. The primary group of people, besides Boomer, that struggles severely with how they understand self is the remaining (living) four cylons of the Final Five. These characters, some of whom are B-Team characters (Samuel Anders and Tory Foster), while the writers threw a curveball with the revelation of A-Teamers, Saul Tigh and Galen Tyrol, are rocked by the discovery of their own cylon origins. The element of this that is so jarring is that they actually start to think back on how they have behaved. They rely on their memories to give them insight into how they could have suspected this before. Even Tigh responds with the idea that regardless of what he has just discovered about himself, he is still the man that he was and will remain to be, “My name is Saul Tigh, I am an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else it means, that is the man I want to be. And if I die today, that’s the man I’ll be,” ("Crossroads: Part 2") Tigh finds a way to work with what he is given and how he feels about his own self-awareness. There is an internal conflict with all three of these characters being changed forever by this knowledge and they all react differently, but the common element is trying to remember their lives when they knew they were cylons and what evidence there might have been prior to this revelation. It is a pop of a balloon or a flip of a switch that changes these people’s lives forever.

The issue with using memories as a reference for self-knowledge is the sudden jarring change of the previously believed true knowledge around seemingly true memories. All of these characters have memories that lead them to believe who and what kind of being they are, but in the end those memories are proven to be false. Boomer must convince herself that she is who she always thought she was in spite of the increasing evidence of the contrary. Finally when she is faced, literally, with multiple versions of other #8s she is forced to accept that she is, in fact, not the person she always thought she was; she’s not actually a person at all. This is a traumatic experience for Boomer, and would be for anyone. These characters have to face the facts that their parents aren’t who they though they were and all of the memories she has from being raised on their respective planets aren’t their real past at all. These memories were programmed into their beings. They had no way of knowing that they weren’t what they thought they were.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Revision

Hello all!!
This is my attempt at a blog revision. I have resources and books, in my collection, that are perfect tools to reexamine media that I have obsessively consumed in my short 24 years. You may giggle, I would expect nothing less, but that collection of media is Star Trek, The Original Series (TOS) and Next Generation (NG), Battlestar Galactica, The Beatles, and Pixar films (full length and short).
Now with these in mind, I am attempting to delve into my college eduaction and do media analysis with the assistance of Netflix instant watch and my ever growing Popular Culture and Philosophy book collection.
The motivation behind this comes from a drastic, and so far somewhat boring, change in job. I have been rewarded with an 8-5 schedule and hours sitting at a desk with little to do. So in turn I am going to attempt to utilize this time to...think, go figure.
The first content filled blog post that I am in the process of writing pertains to the chapters entitled "The Narrative Disruptions of Model Eight," "Am I a Cylon? Self-Knowledge at the Crossroads" and peppered references from "Frak-tured Postmodern Lives, Or, How I Found Out I Was a Cylon" from the text Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy.
Coming Soon: We Could All be Cylons!: The Construction of Self-knowledge...