Category: TV & Media

About Mondays…



For reasons I can’t explain, I’m compelled to write a list of my top ten favorite male actors. In my limited experience, the best actors tend to be the most underrated. I assume this is because the best actors, when they’re really doing their jobs, cease to be actors and start becoming the characters they create on-screen.

Apart from the likes of Johnny Depp and Will Smith, who can make a movie better simply by being themselves (or at least the multimillion dollar versions of themselves).

Mandy Patinkin…I’ve loved his work from The Princess Bride to Chicago Hope and beyond. He has a gentle power and softness of heart that makes a role.

Anson Mount…Loved him in Hell on Wheels, but his credits include edgy theatre work like Venus in Fur as well as gritty indie films like Cook County. Not to mince words, the man can act. He’s also possibly the only actor I get googly-eyed over (sorry, Matt).

Common…Also seen in Hell on Wheels. I didn’t know he acted prior to watching the show, but I’ve been paying attention ever since. He’s intense, heavy, with a ton of heart. He’s got a strong potential as leading-man, but just needs the right role to launch him.

Colin Firth…Again, a quiet power that brings a high believability (and sometimes absurdity) to a role. A leading man, but really shines in a group cast, adding depth and dimension as a supporting character.

Eric Schweig…I’ll remember him best from Tom and Huck as Injun Joe, but before that, he was Uncas from Last of the Mohicans and Metacomet in The Scarlett Letter.

John C McGinley…One of the funniest actors I’ve ever seen, hands down. Displays great range from roles as abrasive Dr. Cox and meek, embattled step-father in Identity.

Alfred Molina…Prominent in Chocolat, Spiderman 2, and even Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (stage) Molina can do anything. He has heart and presence.

Don Cheadle…This man has been in everything. Usually serving in an ensemble cast (Oceans 11,12 & 13), Swordfish, or second fiddle as in Iron Man to Robert Downey, Jr., Cheadle’s talents are oft overlooked or underplayed. Something which should have been remedied in the wake of the poignant hit Hotel Rwanda. Don only wants for a proper vehicle to bring him to the forefront, although it could well be said that his body of worthwhile work speaks for itself.

Gary Oldman…He’s been in virtually everything, but you might not know it was him: The Dark Knight, Harry Potter/Prisoner of Azkaban (as Sirius Black), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Fifth Element. While nominated for many awards, he’s yet to win an Academy Award, and has been nominated  for an Oscar only once.

James Wolk…After the fantastically-written but epically under-viewed Lonestar tanked after only 2 episodes, things looked bad for James. But when Mad Men picked him up as mysterious Bob Benson, he just might get the boost he deserves.

What about you? Who would you add to this list?

So, yesterday marked the 30-Year anniversary for The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars episode V (or 2, if you’re using original numbers).

That, combined with my general geekiness & the news today that several social media sites were busted for sharing private data with advertisers without user consent (that’s a no-no, FB), got me thinking.

For those who’ve seen TESB, you’ll remember a pivotal place turned out to be Cloud City. This is where Han and Leia take the M. Falcon for emergency repairs and safe harbor from the empire,  meeting up with Lando, Han’s old buddy who actually runs the entire community (well played, George, well played).

Cloud city is a mining community (mining for what? who really knows. it’s a city in the clouds.), who thus far has remained outside of the empire’s scope of vision and off the radar. They enjoy freedom and can conduct business without harassment.

As you know, Han and Lei arrive, only to be betrayed by Lando and ambushed by Darth Vader & friends.

Lando’s response to all this is “I’m sorry, Han. They beat you here and threatened to take over our community. I had no choice.”

Originally, Lando’s agreement with Vader was simple: noone would be hurt, and they would leave without incident. Gradually, the agreement began to change, once Vader was meeting his objectives, and of course, the deal kept getting worse for everyone else. To save Han, Lando rebels and calls for an immediate and total evacuation of cloud city.

Ultimately, it was better to leave the cloud entirely, than to put up with the system’s manipulation of it.

And so we arrive at the point: to really get the most out of the web and “mine” the communities for information relevant to our needs (be it artistic and creative or simply understanding what the consumers want), you need to be in it.

Otherwise, if you blow in like the empire and try to artificially colonize and pirate such information, you risk damaging the community that could have otherwise helped you meet your goal.

Privacy policies, EULAs, Terms of Use, and general advertising practices could really use to keep that point in mind.

Just an observation.

I recently finished reading the entire (printed) Twilight saga.

Feel free to laugh openly about this because, apparently, this is so outside my genre it is comical (or so I’m told by my sister).

I am pleased to say that I very much enjoyed it and that there were several parts of it that really taught me things about myself that I guess I’d never picked up elsewhere. You could also have quite a heavy discussion from the spiritual symbolism that was woven generously throughout the books:

– How priorities change when immortality is yours.
The Cullens have no mundane worries as to “where they will live or what they will wear” (except for Alice of course). They lend and give generously with what they have because they understand that things are temporal. After scores of decades on the planet, they’ve gained great perspective.

– Getting better with age.
Instead of growing bitter, inflexible, or otherwise stained by the world, they continue to improve and to grow personally. This is miraculous as even a mere 20 years on the planet is more than enough time to become jaded.

– The necessity of community to retain our humanity.
The difference between the nomads who drink the blood of humans and the Cullens who do not is that the Cullens have a family unit to keep them in touch with their humanity. The further we get out on our own, the more our survival instincts take over. This is re-inforced when we do have contact with others because we tend to see them as threats or competition to us. We in-turn begin to “devour” one-another to feed our own interests.

– Love does not need to be perfect, but genuine.

I had difficulty with Bella and Edward’s relationship in the beginning because I saw it as the perfect image of how misplaced affection places us in harm’s way: “Bella, he isn’t good for you! He’s a vampire and you are a tasty human. How is this a good match?” But then I realized that, again, we all have the opportunity to devour one another for our selfish reasons. When we choose not to, that’s love. Hence, love is not perfect, but true and genuine. This was a huge change in my outlook on this series and for relationships in general.

– The coming power shift from fear-based to love-based relationships.
Ok, so this one was incredible. At one point in the series, we see “the powers that be” in all their sinister glory, come with muscle and manipulation to divide relationships in order to then conquer the family they viewed to be a threat to their kingdom of fear. This is such a prophetic moment as we really see the shift that must come to the earth and to Christianity: we cannot continue to build our own kingdoms, and what we do build must be founded in love. Only what is built upon organic love will endure and prevail. Fear-based rule will have to turn and walk away.

This is really exciting. I’m always thrilled to find spiritual truth in “secular” media. So in some ways, I think I’m envious of secular authors. Without any promise of theology or doctrine, truth can be heard more clearly for what it is rather than how people expect it to be packaged or worded. We don’t have to believe them, so sometimes we give them a better shot at making a point.

I love the way the Publisher puts it in his blog: God’s Word is unchanging. He will not defy His Word. He does, however, defy daily what we believe His Word to mean.

Tim Hawkins

I just discovered Tim Hawkins. From what I can gather, he’s a Christian comedian and, really, he’s actually funny.

I thought these were especially good.

What is a Life?

I’ve been following the new TV series “Dollhouse.” Normally, its premise wouldn’t capture me, but as a recently converted fan of the creator, Joss Whedon (Firefly, R.I.P.), I found myself bound to at least giving it a shot.

I’m hopeful that this show could become something great.

The basic premise is that an underground organization recruits, wipes all memory and personality from its new hires, and then imprints them with other personalities and skills, as needed by the high-paying customer. The show focuses mainly upon the heroine, Echo. We see that, during an “engagement,” she may save the world, deliver a baby, or fall in love.

In between “engagements” she is somewhat of a vegetable. She, of herself, now has no personality, dreams, hopes, goals, or even memory. However, we see what she could be by viewing her as other people, as she is programmed throughout the series.

I’ve developed an interest in the character, fairly similar to the way you would feel after briefly meeting a potential new friend. If only you could know more about them. It’s a mix of hope and trepidation.

So you observe this character every week in a different light. And you really like her. But it isn’t her. So the question becomes, which life would make the “real” her happy? If one of the imprints became permanent, would she find contentment? Would it even be a real life? If you cut her, she still bleeds. The feelings of happiness and grief are real to her, so doesn’t that make it real?

What is a life? What determines our outcome: is it programming? Perspective? Expectations? What makes anything real? Are we what we could be? What could we accomplish if we believed it were possible?

I don’t know, but it’s given me something to think about, and that’s what I like to see from media.

Nuke the Fridge

A few months ago, I saw the newest Indiana Jones movie.

It wasn’t a terrible movie, but definitely not one I’d watch again soon.

But I recently read an article which really captured the legacy of the movie in such a way that I had to share it.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the scene in which Indy finds himself trapped with nowhere to hide in the U.S. government’s test “town” for the Atomic Bomb.  

Naturally, Indy escapes, but does so at the expense of every scrap of believability the movie had:

He jumps into a WWII-era lead refrigerator and hang on for the ride of his life. He is shot like a cannonball into the sky and lands a ways off into the desert, emerging from the unit entirely unharmed.

Hence, Spielburg inadvertently birthed a colloquialism to describe this effect of a singular movie scene robbing the rest of the film of its credibility: Nuking the Fridge.

I’ve heard people say that the lead in the fridge would save Indiana, and that could be true, but I believe only from the radiation.

The amount of heat generated from that blast would have surely raised the temperature of that lead and thus, the action hero hiding inside. I’d estimate the results to be similar to those of chicken cooked in aluminum foil…I only hope the fridge was well-stocked with aromatics to provide flavor in the cooking process.

Plus, even if he hadn’t been cooked, the refrigerator would have locked him in. That would have been a truly disappointing ending: Indiana Jones, in the desert, trapped in a refrigerator. Still, at least he would have died with his hat on. 🙂

I was watching Jeopardy this weekend and the question, or answer, really, was from the category “Character Films:”

“The main character’s parents from this 1942 film were an unnamed mother and a father referred to as “the great prince of the forest.”

Correct Answer: Bambi.
Answer Given: Citizen Kane.
Cost: $3,000.
Entertainment Value: Priceless.

Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. And in this case, he should’ve known Bambi.  🙂