October 15th, 2003

"Warrior Queen" 10-12-03

I don't usually comment on TV because we watch so little, but we stayed up Sunday night to watch "Warrior Queen" on PBS. We found the adapatation of the story of Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, and her doomed war against the Roman invaders. The teleplay recounts the known (or at least, the recorded) history with great accuracy, including the maneuvering of the climactic battle, although the ending does imply that Boudica died gloriously in battle, whereas the Roman historians recount that she took poison rather than be taken prisoner. Some of the interpolations are more reasonable than others--the tribal shaman is shown as having some apprently real mystical powers, notably in the scene where he purifies Boudica's daughters, and where he hides one of them from the eyes of the enemy so she can escape from the battlefield after the final defeat.

Great performances by Alex Kingston as Boudica, Andrew Lee-Potts as the psychotic Nero, Michael Feast as the hard-headed general Suetonius, and Gary Lewis as the sinister shaman Magior.

PBS Previews: http://www.pbs.org/previews/EMMTWarriorQueen/

Good Historical writeup:


The Animation Show, 10-14-03

On Tuesday night, we went with friends to see The Animation Show, a new collection of classic and new animated shorts, compiled by Mike Judge (creator of the infamous "Bevis and Butthead")and animator Don Hertzfeld (who seems to have done most of the actual work and promotion). As much as I despise "B&B," I have to admit Judge and Hertzfeld have pretty good taste otherwise. Highlights of the program on teh classic side included "Mars and Beyond," a classic Disney "science-fact" animation from 1957, which was wonderfully creative as to the possibilities of life on Mars, and "Vincent," the dark little film that gave Tim Burton his start. Newer pieces of note were the Japanese "Mt. Head," a very weird little story; "The Cathedral" and "La Course A L'Abime," both facinating art pieces and each entirely different from the other; and "Das Rad," which deals with the "life" of two sentient stones while human civilization rises and falls around them. Also worthy of note was "Parking," a homage to the Looney Toons of the past, and Hertzfelds own "Rejected," a supposed compilation of the cartoonist's rejected works chronicalling the artist's decline into ever greater surrealism and incoherence.

Ironically enough, Hertzfeld's other work, the introductory, "intermission", and end pieces are the weakest parts of the show: the introduction, which takes off talky serious lectures about intermission is too long and Hertzfeld's very minimalist and intentionally crude style is not the best lead-in to the more elegant works that follow. I could have done without Judge's "Early Pencil Tests and Other Experiments", which are indeed just scraps of work, and three short "Ricardo" clay animations, but all these parts were mecifully short.

The Animation Show is a new entry to the class of animation compliations that includes Spike and Mike's Festival and the Tournee of Animation, and strives to be a yearly offering. We enjoyed this opening outing and found it well worth watching.

The Animation Show: http://www.animationshow.com/


Even though I care not at all for Baseball, and despise professional sports in general as a parasite on the body politic, I find, perversely, that the prospect of a World Series between the perennial underdogs the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs would be an aesthetically pleasing prospect, the end of the world coming after notwithstanding.

China in Space, mixed feelings.

As a human being, the sucessful (so far) launch of an astronaut by China pleases me. As an American, my feelings are distinctly mixed. Both the US and Russia have been puttering around in Earth orbit with our antiquated Shuttle and Soyuz systems, and I wonder if China will be the next nation to visit the Moon, or even Mars. Make no mistake about it, the International Space Stationis a great thing, and the research we have done so far is excellent, but the short-sightedness of our space programs has been disheartening. If one of the Presidential candidates would say, "I think we should go back to the Moon," or "I think we should go back to Mars," that would go a long way toward getting my vote--.