Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tagged! Zombie attack on Amy!

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tagged! Amy is my secretary in my fight against evil!

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Tagged! Amy, we'll always be like two nuts in a cracker!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Tagged! Amazing-Matt says, "Drink it in, Amy!"

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Tagged! Rocket Matt with Amy

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tagged! The latest monster attack on Amy

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Herman Melville Books: Moby Dick Google Doodle - YouTube

Herman Melville Books: Moby Dick Google Doodle - YouTube:

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Full Google Doodle animation at YouTube.

Google Doodle Moby-Dick

Herman Melville Gets The Google Doodle Treatment | WebProNews:

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Today is the 161st anniversary of the publication of Moby-Dick October 18. And of all the stuff that Google creates its famous little Doodles for on its main page, Moby-Dick wins one.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tagged! Another monster attack on my wife...

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Some thoughts on The Prisoner episode "The Chimes of Big Ben"

“The Chimes of Big Ben”

“The Chimes of Big Ben” will always be the second episode to me. It was played second during the 1990 run on Chicago’s PBS station WTTW (when it replaced Doctor Who for a stretch). This episode was the buy-in for me. The Bad Guys win--quite ingeniously too. And it is only the supreme will and focus of the Good Guy that allows him to at least not completely fail. The “twist” sold me on the series overall, especially blending into my third episode of “A., B., and C.” If I had watched “Free For All” second, I don’t know if I would have bought in.

And if you ask me, Leo McKern’s #2 simply must come early in the series, as early as possible after a couple of #2s. This facilitates his coming back in the penultimate and final episodes and for some of the things said in this episode.

“I want him with a whole heart, body, and soul.”

“One tiny piece at a time? I don’t want a man of fragments!”

“You’ll be cured.” The best line to allude to Orwell’s 1984, where 2 + 2 = 5.

And #2 talks about #6’s resignation to a subordinate--there’s our exposition that should have been in “Arrival.” He doesn’t have to say it directly to #6.

As #6 plays chess with the General, a lot is packed into that scene. The General tells him to “settle down,” that there’s “no point in being uncooperative.” #6 is looking at himself in the decades ahead if he doesn’t do something. The General didn’t take a position of authority but didn’t crack, and he’s stuck here. I like to think the General is #6 that gave up, settled down, but still tells them nothing, sort of like the deal that #6 makes with #2 over letting Nadia go. #6 builds a boat; the General really does settle down.

When #6 first meets Nadia, he talks as if he is already part of the Village just like everyone else. I love it. You’d think he would be pleasant instead of cryptic, mean instead of condescending to her--just like everyone else was to him on the first day.

“Who is #2?” Nadia asks and #6 replies, “Who is #1?” This is huge to the overall story. It’s made a question instead of in “Free For All” where #6 comes out and says that “Number One’s the boss.”

The best scene of the entire series is the chat between #2 and #6 on the beach, watching Nadia begin to swim out to sea.

#6: Did it ever occur to you that you’re just as much a prisoner as I am?

#2: My dear chap, of course--I know too much. We’re both lifers. I am definitely an optimist. That’s why it doesn’t matter who #1 is. It doesn’t matter which side runs the Village.

#6: It’s run by one side or the other.

#2: Oh, certainly. But both sides are becoming identical. What, in fact, has been created? An international community. A perfect blueprint for world order. When the sides facing each other suddenly realize they’re looking into a mirror, they will see that this is the pattern for the future.

#6: The whole earth, as the Village is.

#2: That is my hope. What’s yours?

#6: I’d like to be the first man on the moon.

This dialogue means everything to the series. Compare to 1984. This is what these guys see the world as--in order to save it from itself, it needs to take over and crush down free thinking. If the people can’t think, we would have no trouble! That is the difference between #6 and these guys. And Leo McKern’s character buys it now, like all these people in charge of us. They think they know better than regular Joe Shmoes, and the sad part is that most of the time they are right. I’m a teacher and have fallen into this trap of the mind when I know what is best for these students. I see it as being important, I have had all the training and education to be able to decide what is most important for them. So when I have gotten debate, it takes a moment to go back to their new perspectives on life. It is sort of like when as parents we say, and mean it perfectly logically, “Because I said so, that’s why.” I also see this, for anybody that knows comic books, as how Sinestro took care of his world in the pages of Green Lantern. He was a dictator that took away free thought to keep them safe. Sure, he had order, but not happiness. But he was being assessed on the order he kept, not the happiness of the people he was supposed to be helping. As a teacher, if I don’t send anybody to the office, I don’t get in trouble--it really doesn’t matter if they are happy in my classroom or not. As long as students don’t fail my class, I never get talked to about them reaching any kind of standards--but if I have dozens of F’s and standards that are too high for slackers, then I am the one that is called onto the carpet; it doesn’t matter if the good students really pushed the envelope and succeeded beyond all expectations, what they all look at is the low range of grades. (FYI--I do not believe in these scenarios as a teacher, but I see them as possibilities.)

I love the exhibition being all likenesses of #2. Notice when #6 puts his head in the hole of his sculpture you can also see #2’s visage on a drawing on the back wall.

Rover being bulletproof is important--I have had students question why it can’t just be popped.

I always wondered about Fotheringay and the Colonel in the office that #6 knows “very well in London.” Does this prove that it’s run by the British side? But later, we see complete dopplegangers, even of #6 himself. So this proves nothing. He gets yelled at by the Colonel in a perfect argument--exactly what the guy should say had this escape been real.

After all the episodes, I think #6 comes the closest to failing right here.

“It was a matter of conscience!” This is the best answer we ever get.

“I resigned because for a very long time…”

Leo McKern comes the closest of all #2s but even he realizes that should never have worked. “I told you.” It’s almost like he was a player betting on the other team.

Some thoughts on The Prisoner episode "A., B., and C."

“A., B., and C.”

My third episode is “A., B., and C.” because it helped to solidify the potential with twists and turns.

Colin Gordon’s #2 fails. “I know I’m not indispensable ” When he fails, I like to think that he was reassigned. He’s a good company man, overall. That’s why he comes back later as #2, several episodes later, in “The General,” one that’s really not even about #6. His reassignment experiment needed a realistic population of people and the Village is a good place for experiments.

This episode focuses on if #6 resigned to sell out, to whom would he sell out and what would he sell?
#14: “We all make mistakes. Sometimes we have to.” Clearly, especially with all the threats that #2 makes to her, she is just another one of those people doing her job. Where is the line drawn about doing one’s job compared to ethics?

While this episode may not be very deep, it is a great extension of the spy show. It’s a bridge, in a way, from Secret Agent Man to the deeper themes of The Prisoner.

Some thoughts on The Prisoner episode "Dance of the Dead"

“Dance of the Dead”

#2: He’s not like the others.
Doctor: …Every man has his breaking point.
#2: I don’t want him broken. He must be won over. It may seem a long process to your practical mind but this man has a future with us.

Again, the highlight of the crowd scenes show that they all look happy and full of ebullience from afar, but up close they have no emotion on their faces.

#2: You’ll come?
#6: I have a choice?
#2: You do as you want.
#6: As long as it’s what you want.
#2: As long as it is what the majority wants. We’re democratic…in some ways.

Ain’t it the truth? Oh, my, I love this exchange. Democracy works sometimes! But in close items, there’s always 49% of people who are going to be upset! On issues that divide our nation 50/50, stuff like gun control, euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion, TAXES, you are never going to appease the vast majority because there isn’t a vast majority. It’s easy to say that democracy brought these issues to a vote and the majority won, but when the losing side still have completely valid points--and all those issues mentioned heretofore easily can be seen in a variety of ways, I don’t care which side you’re on--you’ll never truly win. For instance, no matter what side you are on when it comes to abortion and Roe v. Wade, there are still plenty of people out there who think it can be overturned if you get the “right” people on the Supreme Court. What does this say about the issue then? Switch the people and you switch the verdict?

Town Crier: There will be…happiness…by order.” The guy behind him looks like a riot cop with a face shield!

The observer does it because it’s her job--she even paraphrases Lincoln. She’s part of that society and sees #6 as the insane one. This is another great comparison to 1984. Winston Smith was the crazy one, remember.

Dutton is forgotten during a lot of Prisoner discussions. But he’s another showcase of what could happen to #6.

Dutton says he’s already told them everything but they don’t believe him. He’s broken and not in a good way to being on their side. He is apparently not as important as #6. But if #6 gives in, maybe he’ll get a nice lobotomy, especially if he gives in but doesn't buy in to the Village.

#2: This is your world. I am your world. If you insist on living a dream you may be taken for mad.
#6: I like my dream.
#2: Then you are mad.

Later at the trial, #6 says how it is just like in the French Revolution and #2 says, “They got through the dead wood, didn't they?” It’s as if she is envious of their accomplishments--she applauds them.

I love how the judges are Queen Elizabeth I, Caesar, and Napoleon.

#6: Has anyone ever seen these ‘rules’?
That is brilliant, a striking allusion to Orwell’s Animal Farm. The animals can’t read so they don’t know when the rules have been changed. If you have never seen the rulebook, how do you know the rules aren't being made up to suit someone’s purpose?

The ending chase is like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” They chase him because they are sufficiently conditioned and told to chase him.

The tickertape machine (?) or newswire(?) starts up again, even after having its guts ripped out. How cryptically fascinating.

Some thoughts on The Prisoner episode "Free For All"

“Free For All”

This is a heinous plan because they even disguise who #2 really is, starting with the opening sequence being read by a generic actor and not the male #2.

“Everybody votes for a dictator.”

I usually preface this episode when I teach it with the Zimbabwe elections of the past dozen or so years.
The close-ups on the faces of the crowd show no real enthusiasm towards #2; in fact, they only start their adulation when he waves his hand. The idea of cue cards is just amazing. That’s what it feels like when I watch some speeches during election campaigns.

When the crowd laughs after #6 says, “I am not a number; I am a person,” I think the crowd finally shows real emotion. Usually they are just zombies going through the motions. But here they start to shut up and stare when he reveals the truth that they once felt. You can see basic shame on some of their faces. I think this was masterfully done.

The immediate poster of #6 is amazing.

I love the newspaperman and photographer combination of #113 and #113B. The news is printed before he says anything!

What is the secret cabal in the town hall? Amazing. “They were here when I arrived,” #2 says. #6 is allowed to question them but they don’t say a single word--but he was able to question them.

“Why don’t you put us all in solitary confinement until you get what you’re after?”

“Brainwashed imbeciles!”

Down at the test, the contradictions blend until he understands both--like Orwell with his paradoxes of War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery. When we actually understand those things, we buy into them, falling for them. I mean, we all understand how these paradoxes work, but when you actually believe them, you’re bought and sold. I understand how War brings about Peace from coming together as one side, like during World War II and after 9/11. But to seek War simply to bring about Peace at home is sick, to me anyway but not to some people who want to be in power. What better way to divert attention with problems at home than to start problems with others far away--and you’re unpatriotic if you don’t stand with us.

Then #6 starts spouting political Hallmark cards--gibberish and gobbledygook that is exactly what the people want to hear. They are empty phrases of political jargon. This always hits me every four years.

When #6 wins, the crowd is now silent. He is one of them now, the opposition. It’s like being excited for your political candidate and then just a few months later hating his policies.

Are those men worshiping the Rover? Not that the guards manage to hold him twice in a Jesus Christ pose. Here is everyman, taking it all on him for us.