Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Night Videos

Henry Lee Summer's "I Wish I Had A Girl" probably wouldn't go over so well in the #yeseverywoman era. A valid case could be made about the lyrics' objectification of women, and as for the video... sheesh. Has there ever been such an in-your-face depiction of stalking and/or harassment? Still, Summer's antics are small potatoes compared to current misogynistic crap like "Blurred Lines," and Summer's portrayal as a sad-sack Romeo is ostensibly the butt of the joke. Even so, I really, really like this song. Of course, I'm always a sucker for the bluesy, guitar-driven Southern rock like Dan Baird and the Georgia Satellites put out. I could even envision a cover by John Mellencamp, so there's at least a little substance in there, somewhere.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Louise Robey.

Now Playing: The Kinks Did Ya
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Night Videos

I'm a big fan of Murray Head's no. 2 hit single from 1985, "One Night In Bangkok." So much so that back in the day I bought the 45 single and the original, pre-Broadway Chess soundtrack (which evolved radically by the time the show finally hit the stage). But one thing had nagged me for close to 30 years--sometime in 1984, well before Head's version got any kind of airplay--I saw a video for "One Night In Bangkok" air on Friday Night Videos, or WTBS' Night Tracks, that was performed by a woman. I wasn't really taken with it, but the video, arrangements and performance were distinctive enough that when Head's take took off, this other version stood out in my mind. And I only ever saw it aired the once. If, as all the stories insisted, "Bangkok" was specifically written for Head to perform in this new Broadway show, where'd this earlier version come from? The mystery persisted. But now I've learned that I wasn't hallucinating, that the singer Louise Robey did indeed cover it. How her "cover" managed to come out the year prior to the release of the more famous version has not been explained. Was she originally up for a role in the musical, only to get cut during one of the many rewrites? Did a licensing agent goof and make the song available before they should've? Did Head's version simply get pushed back because of production delays or somesuch? The world may never know, but here's the video that came first.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Toto Coleo.

Now Playing: The Smithereens 11
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Armadillocon 36 schedule

Armadillocon 36 is approaching July 25-27, and seeing as how pretty much every other guest has shared his or her schedule via the interwebz, I figured it was high time I do so myself. Fashionably late to the party and all that.

Most of my Friday will be consumed with being an instructor in the world-famous Armadillcon Writers Workshop. This writers workshop is a stunningly good deal for aspiring and neo-pro authors, as it puts them in close, intensive writerly-oriented contact with an array of insanely talented and accomplished authors and editors. I say this having actually taught in the workshop five or six times in addition to pretending to run it twice (you can verify with Patrice Sarath and Melissa Tyler on that last count). Deadline to register and submit manuscripts is June 15, so there's still time to get in. And if my presence isn't enough to win you over, check out the rest of the instructor lineup: Mario Acevedo, Ted Chiang, Nicky Drayden, Mark Finn, Derek Johnson, Claude Lalumiere, Stina Leicht, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Ian McDonald, Joe McKinney, Alex C. Renwick, Kat Richardson, Dr. Anne-Marie Thomas, Martin Wagner, Jacob Weisman, Martha Wells and Skyler White. Boom. Enough said.

Beyond that, here is the official ArmadilloCon 36 schedule for Jayme Lynn Blaschke (* denotes panel moderator):

9-10 p.m. Beyond the Plunder: Which genre books, movies, shows correctly portray historical pirates?
Blaschke*, Clarke, Hardy, Leicht, Rogers

1-2 p.m Autographing
Blaschke, Wells

8-9 p.m. Interview with Ted Chiang

9-10 p.m. Fireside Chat: The quartet talk about anything and much mirth will be expected.
Denton*, Blaschke, de Orive, Lansdale

10-11 a.m. Best Cons from Genre Books: Not many people are good at writing capers. Which books do it right?
Webb*, Blaschke, Maresca

2-3 p.m. Contagion: What diseases/syndromes/parasites could kill the entire population of the world if we didn't have current restrictions set. (Not including malaria.)
Blaschke*, Faust, Frater, Leicht, Moore
Now Playing: Original Broadway Cast The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
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Monday, June 09, 2014

Farscape: They've Got A Secret

I've really fallen behind with these, haven't I? I'm watching the episodes, but putting off writing my summaries. Must try to catch up in the coming weeks. My Farscape rewatch continues with "They've Got A Secret." And boy, do they. Pretty much everyone on Moya harbors deep secrets that will reverberate throughout the series, but this episode focuses on just two--D'Argo and Moya.

Aeryn is leading a concerted effort to remove every last remaining vestige of Peacekeeper technology from Moya, lest more booby-traps or homing beacons endanger the crew. D'Argo, crawling through an obscure shaft deep within Moya, comes across an odd installation obviously of Peacekeeper origin. Losing his temper, D'Argo kicks it, which releases a burst of fluid. D'Argo then falls down the shaft and is vented into space. Aeryn rescues him "half an arn" later, and although Luxans can survive in open space for brief periods, D'Argo's exceeded this limit. The crew manages to resuscitate D'Argo, but the big Luxan hallucinates, viewing the crew as people and family from his past. Meanwhile, Moya is suffering violent tremors, Pilot falls unconscious, the DRDs turn hostile and the life support systems shut down. The crew fears D'Argo unleashed a Peacekeeper virus designed to infect Leviathans, since analysis of the fluid shows it composed of identical particles. D'Argo, delirious, sees Rygel as his son, Jothee, Zhaan as his wife, Lo'Laan, and Crichton as his brother-in-law, Macton. In a moment of lucidity, D'Argo tells Crichton where the shaft with the Peacekeeper device is. D'Argo relapses, attacking Crichton as Macton before breaking down to mourn the death of his wife. Crichton escapes and attempts to reach the shaft, but DRDs block his attempts. Crichton confronts D'Argo, assuming the role of Macton to provoke his memory to return. In their back-and-forth, D'Argo reveals he and Lo'Laan fled their world with their son, Jothee, and destroyed their ship so they couldn't be traced. But Macton found them anyway and killed his sister for marrying D'Argo, a type of intergalactic "honor killing." Macton then arrested D'Argo when D'Argo found his wife's corpse... revealing that Macton was Peacekeeper, making Lo'Laan a Sebacian. D'Argo's was an interracial marriage, explaining why he sent his son, Jothee, away to protect him from those who would consider him an abomination. With his repressed hurt finally exposed, D'Argo recovers his memory. Unfortunately, the air on Moya is running thin, and by this point the crew has realized Moya is responsible for the DRD attacks and loss of life support. Desperate, Aeryn manages to deactivate all of the DRDs. The crew then decides that Aeryn will sever Moya's higher brain functions as a drastic, if desperate, attempt to regain control of the ship. Simultaneously, Crichton and D'Argo return to the shaft, now unguarded but sealed. They break through, and Crichton climbs down and finds a large side chamber filled with inactive DRDs and... something else. Crichton realized Moya is pregnant, that D'Argo and inadvertently release some sort of space sperm on his previous visit. Crichton stops Aeryn from performing her lobotomy on Moya just in time. Aeryn reactivates the DRDs, which move to attack Crichton but he's able to talk Moya down and a truce is established. Moya restores Pilot and life support, and the crew promises to help protect Moya's baby.

Commentary: Boy, a whole lot of backstory gets filled in this episode! D'Argo's "crime" was a setup, his punishment for violating the fascist Peacekeepers' obsession with racial purity. If it wasn't obvious before, the Nazi parallels are brought front and center. To be fair, the Peacekeepers aren't strictly a Nazi analog, but rather one of any totalitarian, militaristic society, seeing as how the Peacekeeper symbol is almost a direct copy of the bolshevik "Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge" symbol from the Russian civil war. With all this revelation, D'Argo moves significantly beyond the "violent Klingon analog" he first came across as in the early episodes of the series, and now is a character that is much more vulnerable and nuanced than originally perceived. Moya, too, has significant blanks filled in: Namely, what type of "experiments" those nasty Peacekeepers were performing on her back when she was still restrained by a control collar. The full extent and implications won't become apparent for a while yet, but it has a profound and lasting impact on the series from here on out. This is an intense episode, emotionally speaking, but is most significant in that it signals a shift from Farscape being primarily an episodic series to one with complex, interwoven story arcs. Rather than a bickering collection of escaped prisoners, the individuals on Moya (and Moya herself) are beginning to rely on, and trust one another (albeit unwillingly in some cases), thus showing signs of becoming not just a crew, but an actual team.

Crichton Quote of the Episode:: "Is there some kind of What to Expect When You're Expecting a Baby Leviathan book? Doctor Spock... Mister Spock..."

Now Playing: Pink Martini Hang On Little Tomato
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Friday, June 06, 2014

Friday Night Videos

You know, as many gob-smackingly bizarre 80s videos as I've come across, there's always another out there that just pushes things to another level of questionable taste. Case in point: "I Eat Cannibals" by Toto Coelo. It's like the 80s chugged syrup of ipecac and vomited itself up on the screen. These people had to know how insane this video was when making it, right? They're struggling to keep straight faces, right? I know I am.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Johnny Cash and Martin Delray.

Now Playing: Billy Joel 52nd Street
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