I vote network tv off the island

The last time a television show surprised me was when Boomer shot Adama. (I’ve had issues with Galactica, namely complaining in advance that saving the president’s life was going to be a terrific cheat. Turns out it made enough sense that I could believe it, because it wasn’t just convenient, it was complicating.) It will be awhile until I see more episodes, since we are watching it via Netflix instead of in “real” commercially-laden time, but I am convinced it will be worth the wait. For one thing, it isn’t on regular network tv.

The new Battlestar Galactica wouldn’t make it on network tv, because near as I can tell, there are only three shows on network television:

  • The crime show
  • The medical show
  • The reality show

I wonder sometimes why there are only three shows on network tv. What do these kinds of stories tell us, over and over again?

As the Law & Order noise has chung-chunged its way into every brain in America, we know that crime is everywhere, yet somehow it only happens to other people in New York City. From the bits I’ve seen of shows like ER and House and whatever that McCutesypie show is called, part of the attraction must be that you can’t spend longer than five or ten minutes with doctors any other way. Yeah, it’s nice to know that if you have a really exotic freaky problem, an asshole genius and his troubled minions will probably save your life. Not so nice to think about how hospital staff are always screwing each other literally or figuratively, but hey what do you expect from people who are forced to work 80+ hours a week? As for the wife-swapping, supernanny-needing, how-far-down-the-alphabet-can-you-go and still be a celebrity anyway z-listers and vote-for-me / don’t vote for me types, this much is clear: other people’s lives are a freak show, and we the audience control their destinies. Or control their destinies by proxy, via the hosts/judges. Obviously, their destinies are out of their own hands, or they wouldn’t subject themselves to prying cameras, would they? No. Of course not.

We’ve got the remote, so we’ve got the power. In fact, the remote even has a POWER button on it.

“they’ll charge you with treason”

1 down, 364 to go (day one)

The flag caught my eye because it was behind glass. Framed and up on a brick wall seemed an odd way to display an American flag, at least one that wasn’t a faded and weathered-thin antique. It didn’t have a plaque, so I don’t know if it had a special story.

The idea that this flag was somehow in need of protection, was a thing apart and separate in this public space disturbed me. It was a bit sad, though not surprising. So I wanted to do what I always want to do when something catches my eye: photograph it. But I knew this might be a problem, because the flag was on a wall in the Airport subway stop.

No one is supposed to take pictures in the subway system, though no one can explain exactly why. As soon as I took my super-not-stealthy, twenty year-old polaroid camera out of my bag, a uniformed T employee rushed right over to tell me to put it away.

“I can’t take a picture of that flag?” I asked him, hoping he would recognize the absurdity of the situation — our flag is a widely publicized icon, is in no way sensitive information, and was on a wall that thousands of people walk past every day.

“Not since 9/11 you can’t,” he said. “Security.”

I asked him if he could tell me which regulation specified no photography in the station. He shook his head and told me, “probably they’ll charge you with treason.” Then he pointed out the T employees behind glass, in a room with several computer monitors, told me to “go over there and ask them.”

T employee #2 clearly believed people like me were Not Her Job. “For security,” she said when I asked her to direct me to where I could find the policy banning photography on the T in writing. I told her I understood that it was For Security, but I wanted to know where I could find the rule about photographing on the T. I was polite; I didn’t act like the rule didn’t exist; I didn’t expect her to produce a copy. I just wanted her to point me in the right direction. Instead, she pointed me to T employee #3.

His answer to my question was, “10 Park Plaza.” Apparently that is the T’s office downtown — he didn’t know the department name, but he told me I could go there and apply for a permit to photograph on the T. (So photography is allowed, the T just wants to keep track of who is taking pictures.) You could tell employee #3 thinks the whole no photography except when you ask nice thing was sort of silly — he told me he knows people do it, and he personally doesn’t have a problem with it. “Unless you’ve got someone, you know, taking a photo here, then walking down the platform and taking another photo there — that’s suspicious.”

I decided not arguing the point was the better part of getting the picture, so clunky polaroid still in hand, I asked him if he would mind if I took one picture of the flag on the wall. I’d go to 10 Park Plaza and get the permit if I wanted to keep photographing, but… So he granted me permission.

Permission, to take a photograph of an American flag, in plain view, in public. On property my tax dollars help clean, as they T is always reminding me. Yet another example of paying attention to the wrong thing. I’m sure I’ll reflect further on this ridiculous state of affairs next week, when I will leave my polaroid camera at home because asking for a hand inspection of a box of film at the airport security checkpoint will probably just get my film x-rayed and ruined. I mean, checking my sealed packet of film with human eyes might divert otherwise riveted attention from the streaming scan of everyone’s quart-sized plastic baggies stuffed with three ounce-sized toiletries. What a shame.

Twelve favorites on the twelfth

It’s that time again — I post my annual schizophrenic eclectic list of the media bits I enjoyed most in the last year.

Same ground rules apply for this, my fifth list: things have to be new-to-me in the last year, they have to be things you can still access (I don’t want to compile a list of “you missed this and it was the best experience of the year*” type stuff), and blogs and websites are out (because I write about the web and other blogs all the time). In no particular order, my favorites this year were:

Utata It may look like I’m breaking my “no websites” rule, but I’m not. I’m saying Utata — the flickr-based photography community — has, as a whole, produced some of the media bits I’ve loved the most this year, because it is a way to see fantastic photography. The group photo stream is full of powerful and wonderful images, and the projects always inspire.

The Long Run and The Last Dancer by Daniel Keys Moran. The more I think about it, the more baffled I am that practically no one seems to know who this guy is. He’s written some of the best science fiction I’ve ever read.

Fire and Ice by Michael Adams. When I blogged my review, I recommended it because Adams provided more in-depth and objective consideration of American (and Canadian) values than either Fox News or the New York Times can muster. Yes, I still want to move to Canada. Have I mentioned I score ten points higher than needed on the skilled worker self-assessment tool, and that is without extra points for having a job offer? I’m not in a hurry, I’m just saying…

X-Men: The Last Stand I have a soft spot for the X-Men. Mutants are complicated super heroes because, well, they really aren’t super heroes — they just have supernatural-seeming powers. The final flick in the trilogy was dark, with a relatively high bodycount, and I’m twisted enough to enjoy that. Yes, I watched all the way through the credits for the surprise at the very end, and I loved it.

Battlestar Galactica, seasons 1 & 2. Thanks to Netflix, I watched both seasons (and the miniseries, which counted as the beginning of season 1, I think). Lifeboat ethics and political intrigue in space, people! Kickass chicks and messy, flawed characters! There is so much to love… I won’t go on an on about it, I’ll just tell you to read this guy evangelizing the show.

Most of the Angels & Airwaves album We Don’t Need to Whisper. I say most of because, honestly, I never listen to an entire album of anything anymore. I will admit to playing “It Hurts” too many times. Ditto for “The Adventure” and “A Little’s Enough” and “Distraction” and it is becoming clear I have no shame so I’ll stop now.

Most the songs from Andy Bell’s Electric Blue. Yes, it is poppy and disco-like. The cicada vocal mix of “Crazy” is six minutes and twenty seconds of thumping goodness. I will not apologize.

Metropolis I’m on the verge of cheating with this one, because I saw it at the Barbican, with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg playing the original score. I believe the movie is available on DVD, so I’ve decided it counts. Science fiction from 1927, it will blow you away.

My favorite photos on flickr. Almost everything in this set was something I saw for the first time in the last year — they are the images that make me feel something, that I want to keep looking at. Sometimes I just play them as a slideshow when I’m having a bad day, or need some inspiration.

51 Birch Street is a fascinating family documentary. How much to do you know — or want to know — about your parents, really?

For the completists or the curious, bits from the past: 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002

*But if I did, theTakao Tanabe exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery would be on the list, because I loved it. I could feel something in my chest open up when I stood in front of Crossing the Straight.