Books, Movies and TV, Seen on the 'Net

Seen on the ‘Net XVII

05.22.07 | 2 Comments

In today’s news roundup, we go from LA gangbangers to Heroes in New York, make a quick stop with e-book technology in China, and end with a drum solo. So let’s get going!

First, L.A. Times has a news article about aging street gang members who are finding a new lease on life in skilled trades. The article is worth a read, but the gist is that as (mostly white) trade unions found their numbers dangerously dwindling, they started recruiting minorities. Nor were they too particular about their new recruits’ pasts. These former gang members found a way out of a cycle of poverty, self respect in learning a skill and doing difficult work, and the rewards of being a productive member of society. It’s nice to read about people turning their lives around. At least these people will have a chance to atone for the evil they did earlier in life. It certainly beats the alternative–dying a lonely druggie’s death, carrying the weight of their sins into the hereafter.

Shifting from L.A. to New York, let’s talk Heroes. The season finale was last night. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, you might want to skip this paragraph and the next. First let me say that I didn’t get to watch this under optimal conditions. I started watching it last night, but Mrs. Flametoad got sick and so I took double duty on getting both kids bathed and put to bed. After dragging myself from Tadpole 1’s bed, I just didn’t feel like waking up enough to finish watching it. This morning I fired up the Tivo and watched the second half, but any sense of urgency or excitement had pretty much fled. This morning I found that Melida Snodgrass had nicely summed up my feelings about the episode. Too many characters, not enough emotional impact. (Is it just me, or did the Matt Parkman character seem like little more than an afterthought in this episode?) I think the story would have been better served by if Kring (the writer) had written two finale episodes. One with one set of characters, and another with the other set. Run through the same last hour, then have them meet up at the very end in the last five minutes what what we saw last night. That would have let us focus on a smaller group of people and given each of them enough screen time for us to actually care. Last night’s episode could have–should have–been a very emotionally charged episode bringing the entire season to a climax. Instead, it just maintained the same level as the last few episodes.

While I lay a fair amount of blame at the feet of Kring, I think we have to look to the actors as well. As the season has progressed, I think it has become clear that some much of the cast haven’t yet honed their craft. Noah Grey-Cabey (Micah Sanders) comes off as a kid acting a part. Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Patrelli) is absolutely wooden. For a while I forgave the lack of emotion as just part of Nathan’s character, but when Peter Patrelli appeared to be dead (and again when Clair pulled the glass from his head) where were the cries of anguish (and joy)? How many opportunities did he have in this episode to show anger, fear, doubt, resignation? The circumstances certainly called for it. Instead we were treated to the same inscrutable expression–even at the very end. Ali Larter (Niki/Jessica Sanders) is someone who actually has improved over the season. She started out as eye-candy but essentially uninteresting, but at least she has shown slightly more range than Pasdar. Frankly, her on-screen husband (played by D.L. Hawkins) was both more believable and interesting than either of them. Hopefully in season five we’ll look back at this season and marvel at how much these actors have improved over time.

In e-book related news, Galleycat points out a neat Samsung digital audio player available in China. Not only does it play audio files and has a built-in FM tuner, but it also lets you dump a text file into it and have it read the file aloud. This is just the kind of thing that needs to be built into a e-book reader. This would allow users to read a book in bed, or plug in a headset to listen to the same book–from the same file–while working out. The technology has been demonstrated, so I think it’s safe to say it’s only a matter of time.

Finally, Len at Jawbone Radio posted this neat YouTube video of a drum solo. My neighbor would probably find this interesting, although I don’t know how he’d feel about all the sampling. Enjoy!

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Comment by Neal5x5
2007-05-24 18:05:21

Regarding the LA Times article on gangbangers joining unions. Um, isn’t that how the Teamsters got started?

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Comment by Prest0
2007-05-24 20:04:51

It did occur to me to wonder who was assimilating who.


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