Friday, May 9, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Talking to the Cheap Seats

It’s strictly low-brow this week.  Almost entirely television.  You have been warned.

1.  #CloneClub
My new favorite television show is Orphan Black.

So yeah.  They’re all clones.  Which means that one actress, the incomparable Tatiana Maslany, is playing pretty much every part in the entire series, and that’s amazing.  As viewers, we can tell instantly which clone in on screen at any moment, even when Maslany is playing one clone impersonating another.  Accents, mannerisms, what-have-you; it’s a complete, repeated transformation, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing.

Google claims that the show’s Canadian, but it plays on BBC America.  Regardless, it’s left me wondering again why American TV always sucks so badly.
2.  Robots
Earlier this week, my buddy asked what would happen if we made robots that are so smart that they no longer needed people?  Which is to say, if robots are doing all the work, how’re most Americans gonna earn money?
My buddy says we’d just tax the robots, but I don’t know.  Because I for one am not ready to let robots vote, but everybody knows that taxation without representation isn’t fair.  Maybe that’s how the Robot Revolution starts?
Eh.  We’re all just living in the Matrix anyway, so what does it matter?
3.  Nekkid Baristas?
I love social media.  I don’t think this is a secret.
My favorite social network by far is Instagram, but even as I say that, I also have to say that Instagram must be sleaziest corner of the Internet ever.  What I've learned from surfing Instagram is that 90% of America’s 20-something women work as waitresses at booby-bars (i.e. Hooters, etc.), that they all think of themselves as professional lingerie models, and that a professional lingerie model is pretty much the same thing as a hooker depending on how you phrase the appropriate inquiries, up to the point when they finally get their “big break”, which they all invariably think is coming sometime very soon.  
Look, I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy it, but seriously, showing your boobs on every corner of the Internet is not the same thing as establishing a personal online brand.  I get it; I like it; I’m not telling you to stop.  But you’re being exploited, and I find it strange that you all want to participate so enthusiastically.
For real, it’s weird.  I mean, bikinikoffee?  This is a thing now?
I just… I don’t understand how any of this is making these girls money.  You wanna buy your coffee from a naked barista, that’s fine.  I don’t care; I really don’t.  But why do the girls put their pictures online for free?  I would've thought that the naked barrista thing was all about tips, so why all the selfies?  What's in it for them?
4.  The NFL Draft
Well, Round One is in the books, and I’m feeling a little underwhelmed.  The Titans took a Tackle, the Giants took a receiver, and Johnny Football went to the Cleveland Browns.  I like the Giants’ move, but I didn’t think Tackle was a position of particular need for the Titans, and I’m sad that Mr. Manziel is about to disappear off of our TV screens forever.
Well, what are you gonna do?
Rounds 2 and 3 start tonight, so I guess we’ve got that going for us.
Also, I have to thank the United States Military Academy for dispatching their best singer to the draft last night.  My daughter Hannah was absolutely enthralled by his performance of the National Anthem, and when I said, “See Hannah, that could be you up there,” it finally struck a nerve with her.  
Now, I don’t know that she would actually go through four years at the Academy solely for the opportunity to sing the National Anthem in uniform on national TV, but I wouldn’t say that it’s an impossibility.  Her fevered ten-year-old brain is as stubborn as anyone’s, and she doesn’t mind extended preparation for a big performance.  Granted, this particular level of preparation borders on the insane, but I could see teenaged Hannah deciding that it’s a kind of performance art.  She’s got a very unique combination of stubborn toughness and artistic determination.  I’d still rate it 99% more likely that she’ll wind up at some northeastern liberal arts school’s drama and music program, but seeing her actually show an interest in the Academy on her own terms was a gratifying experience for me.  In the end, she’ll make her own choices, and I will support them, but I at least want her to understand where I come from.
5.  Gotham
In case you missed it, Fox ordered a full season of Gotham this week, a new TV series based on the young adult life of Bruce Wayne and soon-to-be police commissioner Jim Gordon.  Think Smallville, but for Batman.

The show might be great, and personally, I hope that it is.  With that said, however, I have two issues after watching the trailer:

First, I can’t help but think that they’re focusing on the least interesting parts of the Batman mythos, that they’re taking all these great characters—Batman, Catwoman, the RiddlerPenguin, and Poison Ivy—and they’re removing what’s awesome about them so that they can use them as furniture in a police procedural.   That’s fine; I don’t mind police procedurals, but they’re not my favorites, and it feels like that’s 75% of what’s on television anymore.  Which is to say that if you’re going to have these characters, I’d prefer that you use them, but how do you use them in a way that’s not basically Batman all over again?  And more to the point, WHY would you do that?  Batman sells like nothing else.

But then, my second point is the same, only inverted.  Why do Batman again?  There’s a whole universe of DC Comics superheroes, and Arrow is kicking ass over on the CW—and oh, by the way, Arrow is also basically just Batman, reimagined as an archer—so what’s the rush to put even more Batman into the marketplace?  I mean, yeah, Batman sells, and it’s cool that there’s comic-related stuff on TV, and I suppose that you could make the argument that doing it this way and calling it Gotham isn’t exactly the same thing as just putting out another Batman-style franchise.  But.  I’m telling you right now that I don’t think that’s what it’s gonna be.  I think it’s gonna be exactly what it looks like, Batman-lite, with exactly enough almost-Batman to drive comics fans crazy while simultaneously making non-comics fans think that the show is nerd-fest for anti-social fat guys living in their parents’ basements.  Meanwhile, there is never enough good sci fi on TV, and yet no one’s even talking about putting the Blue Beetle out there.  That would be a complete mind-trip if done correctly.
Eh.  I suppose that’s not exactly fair.  There are supposedly a half-dozen or more DC Comics-related shows in development for Syfy, and if that’s not exactly my preferred venue for comics shows, it’s also not the kind of network that’s gonna shy away from the full-bore comics awesomeness that I personally love.  Yes, this is the network that brought us Sharknado and Warehouse 13, but they also did the new Battlestar Galactica, and I’m enjoying Continuum and Defiance as well.  At least one of their DC Comics shows is liable to be good, and that’s fine.  It’s just not the kind of big-budget network treatment that Gotham promises to be, and if Gotham takes this opportunity and squanders it, I’ll find the whole experience frustrating in the extreme.
And then, too, there’s something to be said for new, original content.  We haven’t seen much of that lately at all, and it doesn’t look like more is coming any time soon.  Except on BBC America.
I'm supposed to run a little at Tri Practice tomorrow and then go for a long ride with one of the guys who's training for a couple of Half-Iron races later this season.  I myself am training for nothing--hooray!--but I'm still looking forward to the ride.  Cycling is therapy as far as I'm concerned.  I think we might ride up to Indian Well State Park and then see what's what.

Mother's Day is Sunday, and if we don't have anything particularly special planned, I at least know the kind of day that Sally prefers when she gets the chance to choose, and I also know a good florist in town.  I'm also more than capable of making a decent breakfast/brunch, so hopefully that'll be enough.

Have a good weekend!  

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