ABC's INVASION: THAT'S ONE DAMN FAMILIAR SHERIFF...
, another hour-long drama which I've been watching lately is Invasion
, a decent show so far whose key strength is being on ABC directly after Lost
(though, here in Canada, I can also watch Invasion
on CTV before Lost
). Like Lost
, it's taking the serialized route, where key plot elements are only gradually revealed. So far, there's been something about a hurricane, Hurricane Eve, in South Florida that the military may have used to cover up something sinister going on in and around Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. And there's the usual "little girl who knows more than the adults about what's going on" who saw some lights fall into Biscayne Bay, and there's some sort of support group going on at the local church to help people "adjust" (to what?), and people whose behaviours and perceptions begin to change in subtle ways after being underwater (or being kissed by someone whose been underwater). And there's aliens... maybe (though that's how they promoted the show from the get-go, that aliens are involved somehow). We actually kinda, sorta, perhaps got a glimpse of one of the aliens on the most recent episode (looked kind of like an overgrown goldfish). Like Lost
, there's a whole diverse group of characters (and I'm not naming them all, since I have other things to do this afternoon), like Dave Groves, this unemployed blogger guy (the official ABC page for Invasion
is presented in the form of his blog) who looks an awful lot like Jack Black (though actor Tyler Labine looks even more like Guy, this guy from my old anime club, than Jack Black), his sister Larkin (Lisa Sheridan), an investigative reporter, his brother-in-law (and Larkin's husband), Russel Varon (Eddie Cibrian), an Everglades Park Ranger, and Sheriff Tom Underlay (William Fichtner), who seems to take an active interest in controlling the lives of the residents of the town beyond what is necessary in the wake of a brutal hurricane. The slightly sinister Sheriff character seems a little familiar:
Sheriff Tom Underlay is a very, very similar character to Sheriff Lucas Buck, the character, played by Gary Cole, who tried to impose his will upon the residents of Trinity, South Carolina (sometimes helping them out, but he expected the people he assisted to live up to their side of the bargain) in the short-lived CBS supernatural-ish drama from a decade ago, American Gothic
, which lasted only one season (1995-96). One important difference is that the ambiguous "supernatural" nature of the characters is different: Tom Underlay is, perhaps, an alien clone or, perhaps, someone who has just come under the influence of aliens, while the implication with Lucas Black was that he was either The Devil or possessed, but the role they play in their respective stories is damn near identical. They even look similar, with a stone-faced sort of brooding below the surface kind of expression, and I say that actor William Fichtner looks quite similar to the way that actor Gary Cole looked ten years ago. And this is no accident: both shows are the creation of none other than former Hardy Boy
and 1970's era teen idol, Shaun Cassidy
, and, while I'm not claiming that Invasion
is American Gothic: The Next Generation
, I can't help but feel that sheriff Underlay has some elements of what might have become of sheriff Buck if American Gothic
hadn't been prematurely cancelled (which was a goddamned shame; American Gothic
's problem was that it came a decade too soon, it seems. Had it been released during the Lost
zeitgeist, when serialized supernatural dramas are all the rage, it would have fared much, much better in the ratings. Yes, American Gothic
was released right at the height of the X-Files
era, but X-Files
was more of a standalone episode kind of show with many recurring story threads.).
I'll keep watching.
ABOUT TIME SOME MEMBERS OF THE QUEBEC POLITICAL ELITE GOT AROUND TO SAYING IT!
(And about time I got around to writing about it, since this news is a week old, I know.)
I haven't forgiven Lucien Bouchard for almost destroying the country. I know, as far as separatists go, he's one of the more pragmatic ones and is more reasonable than the hardline Péquiste
wackos who imagine an independent Quebec as being, essentially, Cuba North (Cuba, in their minds, being a socialist worker's paradise and everything that's wrong with it is really the fault of the Americans, of course). While I think an independent Quebec would be a banana republic and a economic basket case no matter how you slice it, an independent Quebec under someone like Lucien Bouchard would at least have some semblance of a market economy, possibly even slightly freer a market than they have now, since they wouldn't have the taxpayers from the rest of Canada to bail them out anymore from the financial drain that expansive 1960s and 1970s-level social services brings. But I remember that horrible and scary couple of days leading up to the last sovergnity referendum that we went through exactly a decade ago this week
, and, whether, a few years from now, I'm still living in Ontario or whether I'm back in Quebec, the sheer dread of the prospect of my country being torn apart on a whim is not something I want to experience again in my lifetime. Lucien Bouchard gave national suicide a palatable face, and he had the charisma that prime minister Jean Chrétien's No campaign lacked, and, as a result, Quebec came within a hair's bredth of slitting its own wrists.
However, despite having some personal animosity, I wholeheartedly give at least preliminary support to the "Manifesto for a Clear-Eyed Vision of Québec"
supported by Lucien Bouchard along with "former Liberal minister and SNC Lavalin president Guy Saint-Pierre; Joseph Facal, a minister in the last Parti Quebecois government; former Universite de Montreal rector Robert Lacroix; leading film producer Denise Robert; and economist Pierre Fortin of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal".Finally, some mainstream political figures in Quebec saying some of the things that should have been said a long time ago regarding outdated and backwards policies in the province
From the Montreal Gazette
"A group of leading Quebec establishment figures issued a ringing manifesto yesterday calling for radical changes in Quebec politics and public administration.
Led by former premier Lucien Bouchard, the group warned that the province, whether or not it separates from Canada, faces a drastic economic decline and crippling social problems if reforms are not undertaken that require the slaughter of some of the most sacred cows in the field of Quebec politics.
The avowedly non-partisan group of a dozen, which also includes two former cabinet ministers and leading figures from industry and academe, proposes short-term elimination of the provincial debt mainly through substantial increases in electricity rates and massive investment in education, financed in part by sharply increased tuition fees.
Also proposed is major tax reform that targets consumption more than income, and a guaranteed minimum income plan to reduce the cumbersome bureaucracy required by today's array of social programs.
The manifesto warns if Quebec society refuses to accept such changes, it will fall victim to a demographic shock in the near future and risk becoming "the republic of the status quo, a fossil from the 20th century."
The group also offered a stinging criticism of the general reluctance to forsake old habits. "The slightest change to the way government functions, a bold project, the most timid call to responsibility or the smallest change in our comfortable habits, is met with an angry outcry and objections or, at best, indifference."
Along with Bouchard, who yesterday made his first political foray since resigning as premier nearly four years ago, the group includes former Liberal minister and SNC Lavalin president Guy Saint-Pierre; Joseph Facal, a minister in the last Parti Quebecois government; former Universite de Montreal rector Robert Lacroix; leading film producer Denise Robert; and economist Pierre Fortin of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal.
At a news conference he called to address the manifesto, Premier Jean Charest wasted no words: "If you want to look at it in partisan terms, if I were involved in the leadership race of the PQ, I wouldn't exactly call it a ringing endorsement.
"It's a smack in the head. It can't be stated in any other way."
The manifesto's authors are an informal group of concerned citizens, Bouchard said. Their hope is to spark a public debate that will lead to a broad consensus.
The group includes both sovereignists and federalists and deliberately chose not to take a position on constitutional options.
"We all agreed not to go there," Bouchard said. "We know Quebecers will have to make a choice, and whatever they decide, those challenges identified today will have to be met.""
Man, even though this is bipartisan on the constitutional issue, they have so much to piss off the usual separatist constituents: higher tuition rates for university students, a lessening of the power of unions on the economic agenda, and an admission that the English taught to students at most French-language schools is woefully inadequate for Francophone children, who will be prevented from doing business in the international marketplace and giving them insular attitudes by limiting the media they are exposed to.
There's a lot that still needs to be said that is left unsaid by this manifesto, but I'm not going to denigrate how much of an incredible step forward it is to hear people of influence within the Quebec political, academic, and ecomonic elites admit even this much. It was almost like getting an unexpected birthday present two weeks late when I first heard of this, and I encourage the "Quebec Lucide" campaign to continue to finally stimulate some healthy political dialogue within the province without letting those opponents who are not used to real debate and differing opinions on how things should be run intimidate them from letting the message be heard.
I HAVEN'T WRITTEN MUCH ABOUT BIZARRE DREAMS LATELY, BUT...
...I had one last night, that was fairly literal, as far as my dreams go anyway.
I was using my computer, and somehow I got a virus. Maybe it has something to do with this site I visit occasionally that sometimes wants to install something called "Installer.exe" on my computer, but, since it's a site I only ever visit using Firefox, I get warned and obiously press "Cancel". Anyhow, I keep on trying to reboot and frantically press F4 over and over to get to the menu that will get me to Windows "Safe Mode", but the virus has somehow made it so that I can't even get to the "Safe Mode" menu, it just goes automatically to the start-up screen, except, instead of seeing my usual Windows desktop background image of Natsumi Tsujimoto and Miyuki Kobayakawa from You're Under Arrest
, there are just weird, random images, like some sort of multimedia slideshow. And there was some weird pop-up rant against post-Peter Jennings ABC World News Tonight
anchorman Charles Gibson, blaming him for getting some facts wrong when he was talking about a computer virus that briefly disabled ABC computers until they went to safe mode and used an antivirus program. (The ABC news report was a real one that I saw about two months ago or so.) Anyways, I tried to access my usual antivirus programme, AntiVir Personal Edition
, but the virus had disabled it, so I try writing the URL "AntiVir.com" (which, incidentally, doesn't go anywhere in the real world, but I didn't remember that in my dream), but, everytime I tried to type the word "AntiVir", the virus kept on adding useless characters, so it would read something like Antfesfjkpifjnvsonvir.com. I even went to Google (damn, this dream was detailed), but had the same problem typing "AntiVir" there too. Eventually, I decided that and I would have to tell my father that, but he seemed in a good mood and was eating something good and I didn't want to ruin his day, so I kept quiet, instead deciding to use an eraser on random words in the TV Times
, the TV listings magazine that comes in newspapers here in Canada, for no apparent reason.
Dunno what that dream means. I like it when my dreams have some literal elements, but, when the literal elements are that mundane, it seems pointless.
OMG! COOLEST THING EVER!
I don't normally link to pop-culture in-joke Flash animations, since they're a dime a dozen at Newgrounds
, but I found out about this one Flash animation, created by someone named Robert Montjoy ("CapnBob"), that's particularly clever, "Lost Rhapsody", the first season of Lost in a musical nutshell
Let's briefly review it.
- Graphics: 4/10
Well, it's mostly just still shots from the show, sometimes with "marionette"-type mouths added to the characters. There are also a few mosaic shots featuring Photoshopped elements poorly tacked together, but that's intentionally supposed to be cheesy.
- Music: 8/10
You can't go wrong with "Weird Al" Yankovic. This Flash animation uses "Bohemian Rhapsody", the sped-up and polka-ized version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" from Al's 1993 album, Alapalooza (the one with the Jurassic Park spoof cover).
- Humour: 15/10
Lots of clever gags synched to the lyrics, like pointing out the carry-on baggage when Al sings "Carry on, Carry on", and the plane breaking apart into three Photoshop chunks during "Look up to the sky". Also, there are a few WTF?-type gags, like a giant version of Locke playing the tuba. And, I take it that this guy is very suspicious of Walt too, just like I am. (I would not be surprised if Walt turns out to be in cahoots with the Others somehow... I think he wants whatever is hidden in that highly magnetic chamber to escape.)
- Grimlock: 16/10
Keep an eye on the things chasing Charlie; it's not just the usual boar and polar bear, everyone's favourite Tarzan-talking, Autobot-affiliated tyrannosaurus Transformer makes a cameo appearance too.
- Spoilers: 23/10
It spoils most major plot points from the first season, but, since the show is so "odd", they're the sort of spoilers that would go completely over your head if you aren't already familiar with what happened.
- Completely out-of-the-blue Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer reference: 42/10
Yes! Yes! I was stunned to see an explicit reference to what I consider to be the best Japanese anime film ever animated, Mamoru Oshii's Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer.
When Sayid is being launched into the air with the giant catapult (which never actually happened in the show, though I don't remember if they ever explained how Sayid got off the island the first time), as he flies farther and farther through the air into space, he can see that the island isn't really on Earth at all, but is on a giant platform supported on the back of a gigantic stone turtle swimming in space.
The image is taken directly from the scene in Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer where Mendou launches his MiG from the Mach Noodle Shop, and he, Ataru, Lum, and the rest of the gang look down at the weird Groundhog Day-esque version of Tomobiki town they somehow found themselves in, also on a platform on the back of a giant turtle.
The Turtle is a reference to the Japanese folk legend of Urashima Taro, the Japanese "Rip Van Winkle". Mason Proulx explains all this more fully in his liner notes for Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (scroll down to "A Night at the Palace").
I'm just astonished that Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer got referenced. I thought that only I and rocker Matthew Sweet and maybe twelve other people in all of North America even know about that movie. Okay, I exaggerate a tiny bit, but, certainly, the Urashima Taro turtle reference will go over the heads of at least 99% of people who viewed it.
Hmm... does this mean that the one behind this mysterious "Dharma" organization is none other than... Mujaki?
While, I don't think, on the real Lost
show, they'll find out that the island is on a platform on a turtle, that joke theory might have a couple of elements of where I suspect the story may be going. I hope that the island will turn out to be a literal island and they don't pull any St. Elsewhere
-like crap twist ending, where it's all happening in Walt's mind. I'm also kind of hoping that they don't go for any cop-out overly sci-fi twists, like the island is a real island but it's in another dimension or that the island is a real island, but it's on an alien planet. but, as long as it isn't all happening in their minds, I'll be somewhat satisfied. (Or, maybe, they'll have a twist on the "It's all in their minds" cliché, when they really are on a literal island, but some things or everything you see happening in the flashbacks up to and including the crash of Oceanic Airlines flight 815 are false memories implanted somehow by "the Dharma Initiative".)
With the possibility of a couple of dozen more Google Image Search hits a day in mind, here are a few bonus Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
Lum and company rollerskating through the streets of abandoned Tomobiki-cho. (Tomobiki is usually roughly based on Nerima ward in Tokyo, but, in the version in this movie, it seems to incorporate the skyscrapers of Shinjuku ward too.)
Ataru, Lum, Shinobu, Jariten (a.k.a. "Ten-chan"), and the others enjoy carefree days and evenings in a strange new world free from worries and material concerns.
Shinobu and Lum.
Sakura, the Shinto priestess-cum-Tomobiki high school nurse, looking out a window at a butterfly (which is symbolically important in the film if you pay close attention to the dialogue).
The Third Reich Café at the school festival. (Please note that this film does not, in any way, glorify Nazi-ism. The sheer political incorrectness of it all, like with Cartman on South Park
or John Cleese inadvertently mimicing Hitler in Fawlty Towers
, is the source of the comedy, and, while the character, Megane, is infatuated with Nazi uniforms and war machinery, it's strictly from a military otaku perspective, he has never indicated that he believes in Nazi ideology, though he does mix fascism and socialism on occasion.)
Also, a review which I wrote in 1998 or early 1999 about Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer
, and the one I wrote for Anime On DVD
(despite the date listed as the review date, it was actually submitted within a day or two of New Year's Eve 1999/New Year's Day 2000).