Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Shock Doctrine jolted me awake

Category: Documentary

In a strange city and jet lagged, you tend to watch whatever is on in the early hours of the day with the hope that it is boring enough to drive you to well-deserved sleep. This was my hope not fulfilled.
The Shock Doctrine is a documentary that claims that the economic and social disasters in the last few decades were caused by policies put in place after some disaster or catastrophe. The documentary is based on the book of the same name. The shock facing the general population, with it's attention diverted, provided an opportunity to introduce extreme measures that would not normally be accepted, sometime under the disguise of helping to improve the situation. This was done on purpose or in latter years, planned as part of the whole scheme. The ultimate goal of the Shock Doctrine was at first, to try out Milton Friedman's free-market economic theory in real life. This led to some successes and some failures. But the value of the doctrine lies in it's ability to introduce or make people accept what they normally would not. In the end, the doctrine is used to ultimately put wealth in the hands of the few.
What is shocking to me was the nature of the doctrine itself. This was not thought up by some politician with some shady deal in mind. This was thought up and identified by people in academia, in universities who were driven by some high-minded academic goal. This doctrine was thought up as a means to an end, a tool to be used. I have never fully understood why people of my parent's generation viewed academics with suspicion. I understood why universities were forcing science undergraduates to take more arts-related courses and vice versa, to create a more rounded person. But putting the historical events in the documentary in context (plus the minor event called the creation of the atomic bomb), the drive to make academic more humans seems logical now.
The documentary is depressing to no end. It just piles on woe upon woe of the helplessness of the general public to their manipulation to agree to something that will ultimately bring them great harm. It sheds a new light on politics and war and the tools and goals of them both. Personally, it finally made me understand what the fuss was about Pinochet in the UK and why Margret Thatcher came back to public life to support him. The documentary pulled me in and although I thought I saw some leaps of faith, generally it was easy to follow and lays out the reasoning logically.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bone Spin-off May Have Legs

Caught the Bones episode which is a back-door pilot for a spin-off. Basically, it is about a former comrade of Booth who is able to find just about anything. Booth calls it "Finder Power". He helps Booth and Bones on a case in Florida. He goes around with a very British cockney accented bar keep, played by the ever-wonderful Saffron Burrows and his legal adviser played by Michael Clark Duncan.  I am always skeptical about spin-offs. I understand that the producers or the studio is trying to duplicate success. Success built by the original series. But often it feels that they are trying to build a new series without paying their dues. Instead of investing in the creative process needed to create a series, they just want to ride the success the original series. More of the same is not always what people want. If the original series was quirky, doesn't more quirkiness become grating? You can try to recreate the chemistry that made the original series good but repeating the trick may not be as appealing. The first time it was cool but now it will be, "Well, what else have you got?".
Another reason probably why producers try for a spin-off is that they want to build on the existing series fans. If that is the premise, ok. But sometimes, they don't want to answer THE critical question. That question is the one that needs to be answered to make the new series successful. It is probably the same one that was answered the first time around in the first series. The answer or not answering it at all, will determine whether the new series is a Fraiser or a Joey.
Back to the Bones episode. It seemed that they were trying too hard at first but then got better towards the end. Since the setting was in Florida, gratuitous showing of skin was the order of the day. My message to the producers is please do not make this too much like Burn Notice. It has the potential to have the same dynamics but that is not what Bones is about. Be your own series but always have a link to the past to keep the fans there. This could be an opportunity to bring back some some of the characters were memorable and interesting in Bones. My top pick is Peyton Perotta, the FBI agent who stood in for Booth on some episodes in Season 4. She could work as a foil for the Locator, his handler so to speak. Another character I'd like to see is Tim "Sully" Sullivan, another FBI agent who worked with Bones and Booth. He could be carrying around his own baggage and the chance to team up with the Locater would be his only way back in the FBI. There would be also the mystery of what happened after Bones rejected his invite to sail off with him and his failure to come back to Bones after the one year trip.

Monday, June 06, 2011

More new talent on YouTube

To my surprise, my previous post on new talent on YouTube was quite popular. I don't go looking for new videos but browsing around, something on the right side of the screen would catch my eye and down that rabbit hole I would go. I find myself listening more and more to covers by these new talent. Not because they come out with a good imitation but rather because they have put in their own spin on these songs. More often than not, they put their heart and soul in these songs.
Most of these songs are also acoustic which is quite pleasing. I am tired of the whole auto-tuning scene and producers bent on trying to fill in every second of the song with music. So these are some of the new talent I have been listening to on YouTube.
Boyce Avenue consists of Daniel, Alejandro and Fabian. They are quite successful in their own right and are touring. They have studio songs out on iTunes but their strengths is in acoustic renditions of popular songs. I especially like their cover of Back For Good by Take That and How to Save a life by the Fray.
Barely in her teens, Maddi Jane is blessed with a strong voice that projects well without breaking. Yet it's her heartful rendition of Adele's Rolling in the Deep with her nuances in her delivery that stands out. I like Adele (she reminds me of Alison Moyet) but She also does well with songs that are not known to be played acoustic. Maddi sings and ends Price Tag by Jesse J. with her own flair and style.