The Decade’s Top Ten: Visual Media

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December 28, 2019- 

It’s high time for me to reflect back on 2010-19, with regard to a couple of topics, today and tomorrow, at least.  In my mind, the decade is nearly over.  I know there are those who figure that this decade has another year to run-as there was no “Year Zero”, and therefore, the first decade A.D. started with Year 1.  Technically, they’re correct, but I was born in 1950, so MY decades start with numbers ending in zero.  Anyone else may figure the passage of time, as s(he) sees fit.

Anyway, let me look at my ten favourite films and television series of the past ten years.

10.  Law and Order:  SVU– The subject matter is odious and the antagonists are almost always unsympathetic, but the role played by such peace officers as bring sexual perpetrators, no matter how well-connected, to justice, is gratifying to see.  The great Mariska Hargitay’s portrayal of an all-too-human Section Leader has been quite a year-to-year evolution.

9. Game of Thrones– Also chock full of odious subject matter, and the Grand Daddy of “Medieval Life meets Modern English Profanity” (which is now found in abundance, across Netflix and Prime Video).  It is, however, a well-crafted blend of stories and romans-a-clef, unfolding over eight seasons. The series writers did seem to run out of steam and rushed things along, in the last two episodes, but all in all it was a riveting series.

8. Mr. Robot– This mix of Sci Fi and government intrigue is also riveting, over time, with a good dose of snarkiness, especially in the way it portrays “secret” government operations and corporate decision-making.

7.  The Star Wars series- The last three films mirror the first three, which were actually the middle episodes.  The main pull, for me, was seeing how age had affected the three young heroes of the original triad. They were twenty-somethings when I was in that decade of life, so their aging reflected my aging, though I remain happily earthbound.

6.  Supernatural– The original monster hunters, (the maudlin Ghostbusters                       notwithstanding),  two brothers who have one another’s backs and don’t flinch at the most hideous of demons, are among the few TV protagonists I find worthy of bing-watching.

5.  The Hunger Games series- I never tire of watching Jennifer Lawrence prevail over both obvious and slightly-concealed adversaries, and she never plays the same role in more than one film, or series. I also am a huge fan of common folk, especially young people, speaking, and bringing, truth to power.  There was enough intrigue and trickery employed by the snarky Donald Sutherland and the diabolical Julianne Moore to make Jenn and her allies keep thinking on their feet.

4.  Winter’s Bone– While I am referencing Ms. Lawrence, the role where she first got my attention was that of Ree Dolley, the unsupervised teen who  looks for answers about the disappearance of her father.  This was a dark and saddening film, but the girl who won’t give up is one character type for whom I am always cheering.

3.  Dr. Who– I admit, I am a latecomer to this series, one of television’s most enduring SciFi entries.  Nonetheless, the concept of time travel, especially for the purpose of righting wrongs, is a fascinating notion-even if, in practice, it would engender never-ending chaos.

2.  The Martian– I am a die-hard “Earthbounder”, but Matt Damon’s semi-comedic astronaut gave much food for thought, and a little for nutrition, in this exploration of the practical side of interplanetary settlement.

1.  Spotlight– It didn’t quite go far enough, in exposing the true lengths, to which powerful people go, in protecting those who abuse and intimidate children, but the Spotlight series, the result of an intense investigation by my first hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe,  opened the gates for worldwide exposure of not only Catholic priests committing sexual abuse, but of a wide variety of institutions, whose members transgressed their boundaries.  It was the father of #MeToo, in many ways. The film brought the investigation out, masterfully.

This is just my own list, and there are many other visual media that merit praise.  I am always interested in what others regard as worthy of mention.

New Beginnings

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December 21, 2019-

I am a late viewer of “Game of Thrones, Season 8”.  Although not knowing quite what  the author of  the series, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, will have to say in the last two books in that series, the television adaptation covered some basic themes, albeit in a modest way.

One of the themes mirrored the plight of the United Kingdom, which has chosen to leave the European Union.  In the program, the leaders of the northern sector, on the fictional continent of Westeros, chose to leave a continental political union, even though one of their own was chosen king, when the union faced a political vacuum.

Another was the matter of loyalty, and how easily it can shift, in uncertain times.  I’ve seen much of what passes for loyalty depend on how closely the views of the loyalist dovetail with those of the one being supported.   In the program, loyalty was a fleeting thing, at best.

The greatest theme, though, was that of new beginnings. The capital city, in the story, was nearly obliterated, by days of brutal warfare.  In the early days of the new regime, following continued carnage, there was squabbling about which projects would begin the reconstruction.  This is, of course, universal to our day and age, as well.

I have a simple idea about such reconstruction, though.  That is, whatever area is given priority should have the support of the community, state or nation, as long as the project will be of demonstrable benefit to those who have been left behind, in the prior progress of the political unit or community.  It is not a matter of mutual backscratching, per se, but a case of a new start being consistent and incremental, in the progress of the realm.

While each of us is headed forward, in one way or another, it’s a good thing if there is a network of support.

 

Godswood

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June 10, 2019, Bellemont-

Those who faithfully watched Game of Thrones will know the title term, as being the spiritual retreat of the family Stark and their vassals.  There are several places on this property that serve as such a place of solace.

I have spent six of the past eight nights here, three of them in the company of middle-school aged youth, who are, as their predecessors were, far more of a blessing than many realize.

Their spontaneity needs monitoring, and correction at times, but does not need the check that some in my generation see as imperative.  We, the Baby Boomers, were after all the generation of free speech. I heard no more than three “f-bombs”, during the course of these three days.  The kids’ focus was primarily on elevated speech; on matters of the mind and spirit.  We, the Baby Boomers, had a thing about “free love”-though it was less widespread than the media often portrayed.  I saw no unwanted attention directed towards anyone.  The kids both see one another as people-first and foremost-and not as objects to help a person break from his/her shell.

There is, in any generation of youth, a cooperative spirit.  This spirit has been ravaged, among many who have aged, by the way we have approached the issues of everyday life.  Some will say that the rising generations will feature more of the same, as that’s how human beings just are.

By and large, I don’t concur.  Humanity is moving, slowly but inexorably, towards a cooperative, united front.  I find youth, basically, to be fairly more mature, at a younger age with each generation.  Their methods of communication may differ, as may their methods of spending time.  I do not, though, see a dark future ahead, on account of the “dissolute gamers”.  Any darkness that comes forth will be solely the result of selfishness and a provincial, “me-centered” mindset.  No generation has a corner on either, and no generation can point fingers at another.

These are things that came to me, during work, play and at meals, during these eight days in “Godswood”.

 

Obliqueness

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May 16, 2019-

Just some random thoughts, on a blustery but otherwise laid back day:

  1. I contacted my employer, and found there is one person doing the work of three.  Sound familiar?
  2. May is seeming more like March, around here.  Higher elevations in the Rockies may get snow, over the next few days.
  3. I would weigh in on Game of Thrones, but-a) I’m still watching Season 7; b) The outpouring of dissatisfaction is a perfect distraction from real-time events; c) The outcome is not subject to popular opinion.
  4.  No sooner did I wonder what on Earth I was doing here, than three different projects presented themselves.
  5. One of those projects involves an All-in-One Printer.  Guess what has gone kaput and needs replacing?
  6. I’ve said it a few times:  I count many different people, all ages, ethnicities, creeds, orientations and body types, as friends.  That stands, because it’s who I am.  If you are kind, considerate and honest, I am your friend.
  7. Romantic interest, though, is my private domain and no, I won’t “consider all the possibilities”.  Nor will I intrude on anyone else’s business, in that regard.  We are each entitled to our own preferences, and I am drawn, in that way, to some women, but not to others.  I guess that makes me neurotypical, in that respect.  I don’t think it makes me mean.
  8.   No offense is intended, in any of the above remarks.
  9. Life is sacred.  Consider the safety and well-being of others.  These two statements are not contradictory.
  10. The planet and its parts, including living parts, deserve to be honoured.  It’s possible to make a living and still be honourable.  Let’s figure this out, together.

Dystopia

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I have a propensity for watching TV shows and films which have a dystopian theme:  Revolution, The Black List, Person of Interest, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game.  I mainly like to see how the protagonists solve their dilemmas, though in too many cases, the choice is “Blam, Blam”.  Revolution got old, and formulaic, so it’ll be consigned to Hulu after one last episode.

Dystopia, the collapse of all we know and either love or hate, the primal turn to either a Lord of the Flies mentality, a Glengarry, Glenross or 1984 mindset, or both, seems to be much on everyone’s mind.  Despite my fascination with these shows, however, I don’t see an actual, full-blown dystopia as the long-term wave of the future.  Yes, we may very well endure a stretch of trials and tribulations, which won’t lend themselves to a quick return to “Business as Usual”, but I believe there will emerge something far better.

People are bound to notice that there are those who are building a better, more organized and less officious civilization from whatever ashes to which the old systems lead.  Some won’t want anything to do with it, but most will, over a period of decades.  I have had several iterations of my own life, in which, as Baha’u’llah, Founder of the Baha’i Faith wrote “Poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty…” His meaning is that material possessions come and go, but He is emphatic in saying that we will always have what we need.

With Paul Simon, in “Peace Like a River”,  I see a glorious Day.