Sunday, July 29, 2012

Elementary at CBS's press tour

The Elementary stars and producers attended the TCA press tour today. They say many of the same things that they said at Comic Con, although now they say that Lucy Liu's Asian-Americanness is not going to be addressed on the show.

I'm not sure how I feel about that, being Asian-American myself. Sure, color-blind casting is fine, but I don't like not acknowledging a character's traits. No, Watson doesn't have to do karate moves, but I was hoping she would do some fighting or brandishing a gun when necessary. You want to avoid a racist stereotype certainly, but can still have fun with the character. I remember that in the original Star Trek episode "Naked Time," Sulu had a fantasy about being one of the three Musketeers and started fencing. But in later episodes, they disappointingly relegated Sulu's fights to Japanese katanas. Ideally I'd want Watson to kick ass, but not in a blatantly stereotypical way.

Alan Sepinwall has a much fuller interview with Rob Doherty.


Since I began to tire of Burn Notice and be disappointed by Person of Interest, I looked around for another series to get my weekly vigilante fix. As usual, I wanted something like the old A-Team, and I had also seen the British series Hustle on my PBS station before it disappeared. The writing on that show was excellent, and I liked the idea of a conman who was specifically targeting other people who prey on ordinary citizens. Mickey Bricks seemed to have a conscience even if he stole from rich people, and his team was mostly likeable.

So, after hearing recommendations that Leverage was an Americanized version of Hustle, I began recording episodes of it from TV. Sadly, it was not as good as Hustle.

Kung Fu Panda

Meanwhile, I had to do something to cheer myself up after the horrible Colorado shooting, so I recently watched Kung Fu Panda on DVD.

London Olympics

I voted early on Friday in the Democratic Primary runoff. Luckily I also got the day off from work, but was still bombarded with political flyers in my mailbox and with the hated TV and radio ads from the Republicans.

That night I watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony on NBC, and Danny Boyle managed to celebrate British culture fairly well, but the different sections felt disjointed. The children's choirs sounded lovely but I couldn't make out most of the words they were singing, other than "Oh Danny Boy" and the last "green and pleasant land" bit of the Jerusalem hymn.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Encyclopedia Brown

I was sad to read about Donald J. Sobol's death this week. I used to read all the Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid, though I don't remember much of the plots now. I mostly read them from my school library, so I don't own any books that I could thumb through for nostalgia now. I recently looked for them in used bookstores, but nobody had the complete set. I remember that the Encyclopedia Brown books used to have a logo and tag line saying "America's Sherlock Holmes in Sneakers" but the books apparently dropped that later on. Threatened by a lawyer, perhaps? So sad.

Alyssa discusses Encyclopedia's intelligence and Sally Kimball's refreshing role as both the prettiest girl, and the toughest girl. She defends Encyclopedia against Bugs Meany the bully. That is such a great choice by Sobol, way back in the 1960s. I heard that there was a short-lived HBO TV series which I never saw. I wish I could find it somewhere.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

True Grit and more

I watched the Coen brothers' True Grit last night and enjoyed it. Mattie Ross was really impressive and formidable for a teenager, saying things matter-of-factly with "no sugar" or deference to characters that try to argue with her. She's hell bent on avenging her father's death, and nobody will stand in her way. At one point, she irritates the LaBoeuf character so much that he spanks her and tries to hit her with stick like a disobedient child. He is stopped by Rooster Cogburn, who apparently respected her for stubbornly crossing the wide, deep river on horseback to catch up with them. As the movie goes on, Rooster and Mattie form a bond, as well as with LaBoeuf, who is trying to catch the same man Chaney and take him to Texas for a reward. Mattie is opposed to him at first, before learning to like and trust him. The characters all have an odd way of talking, which I hear is true to the book. They are eloquent and thoughtful, measuring their words carefully even in weird situations. It's a grim movie with many deaths, injuries, and hardships. I found the ending somewhat abrupt when we changed to the adult Mattie, but I liked that she didn't mind who she turned out to be. Still strong and independent, with no sugar and softness. I would have liked more information about LaBoeuf, though.

In other news, a panel of judges is still considering Texas's voter ID law. Some people live 120 miles away from a DMV center, and couldn't get a driver's license without undue burden. (And as I saw on the news the other day, even living close doesn't mean you won't have to miss hours of work waiting in overcrowded lines.) It's laughable for the lawyer Hughes to argue that this is okay, and easy to get an ID. The voters' polling places are presumably closer to where they live because their right to vote is so essential. Either make more DMVs close to where they live and reduce overcrowding in urban areas too, or drop the freaking ID requirement. Voting should always be easy and free.

I'm also glad that Apple returned to EPEAT. Their decision to suddenly pull out all their products from certification always seemed abrupt and boneheaded. Why did they imagine they wouldn't receive criticism for it? There is a wide swath of Apple-haters ready to pounce on them for anything, and even neutral or Apple-positive people would have a hard time defending this.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Elementary at Comic Con

Apparently Elementary was at Comic Con, and the audience got to see the whole pilot. I wish I could have been there.

Then the actors and the writer Rob Doherty answered questions. Here's a summary at TVLine, and here's a liveblog version. This article is more in depth, and CBS posted video clips on their website. You have to click each video separately.

They say that the episodes will be new cases rather than adaptations of the canon. They'll also hold off on an appearance from Mycroft but make Holmes's father into a looming presence. I would prefer that they don't introduce Moriarty right away. Just wait for a few episodes, please? Like five or six. You've got 22 episodes to work with. Please don't rush it. There's plenty of other great villains like Charles Augustus Milverton, Grimesby Roylott, and John Clay. (Or do equivalents of them, given that you're not adapting the book cases.)

I hope it will be like the 1950s Ronald Howard series, where even though they made up plenty of original cases, the stories sometimes had echoes of the canon even still.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Elementary and AD

In happier news, Jason Bateman announced that Arrested Development will start filming in four weeks. Huzzah!

CBS finally announced its fall premiere dates, and Elementary will start on September 27th. I hope it starts filming soon too.

Voter ID laws

Texas is one of the states that passed a voter ID law (and is still waiting for a court ruling on whether it's okay to put it in effect). Republicans claim that it's to prevent voter fraud and that citizens should have no trouble getting an ID, such as a driver's license. And yet on my TV news today was a story about how most DMV centers are hopelessly overcrowded, with hours of waiting time, and backlogs for driving tests. There's going to be a "megacenter" opened to try to relieve the congestion, but what if the voter can't get to the megacenter? Or if the voter is elderly and has stopped driving? How are they gonna get a precious driver's license so they can vote? It's insane that Republicans assume that it's easy for a citizen to get an ID. They shouldn't have to get an ID, anyway, that they have to pay for. That's a poll tax discriminating against the poor. Voting is a right, not a privilege. It's not fair at all, putting in more obstacles that prevent real citizens from voting. Fuck these voter ID laws.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fuck you, Rick Perry

I'm not really surprised at Rick Perry's decision to opt out of healthcare reform, but he's still an asshole for doing it. The Texas Republicans always assume that they're speaking for the whole state, while ignoring all the Democrats who oppose their stupid policies.

According to the article, though, "any state that refuses to set up a health insurance exchange will have one set up for them by the federal government", so something will be set up in Texas. But Perry is refusing all that Medicaid money that Texas so desperately needs, and the Supreme Court ruled that the Medicaid expansion was optional. Fuck them.

The Texas primary runoff elections are July 31, and it's a case of dueling endorsements among the Democrats. I still don't know who I'll vote for, and I still feel helpless about the November election. Fuck all of this.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Millie Warne

This appears to be the only picture of Millie Warne that I can find online.

It's part of a website about Beatrix Potter, and there's no more info on Millie. I do find it interesting, though, that the website points out that Beatrix Potter's parents Rupert and Helen were Unitarians who never celebrated Christmas, when the film Miss Potter prominently featured a Christmas party and said that the Potters had one every year. Well, since they felt free to change the circumstances of Norman's proposal and his death, I shouldn't be surprised. I wish I could learn more about the real Millie Warne. I even tried looking under her formal name Amelia Warne.

In other news, I found They Might Be Giants on Netflix and have been watching it. It's the one with a judge who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes. Goofy and offbeat, but sad and earnest too.

Speaking of Netflix, I'm trying to figure out how to turn subtitles/captions on for streaming movies, but either the movies don't have it, or I just can't turn it on. That's rotten, since surely the DVD versions ought to have subtitles available. It's really going to impede my movie watching, since I find that I can't hear dialogue easily over action/music/special effects on my TV. Maybe I need better speakers, but I can never find anything affordable that I can add to my system.