WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND THEY ARE US

In this insane political year, when many of us are wondering if Donald Trump is the Beast of the Apocalypse, the angriest controversy on the Internet is over the loss of Stana Katic (Kate Beckett) on ABC’s “Castle.” It’s huge. Gigantic. Cataclysmic.

castle-4

It’s more important than our lemming-like rush to national oblivion.

Although I watch more television than I did when I was young and working, I can’t imagine being so invested in a show that I would display such vitriol about it. Garry and I watch “Castle.” We’ve enjoyed it, but the show has been drooping for the last two seasons. It’s probably past its prime and deserves honorable retirement. Nonetheless, ABC is going to give the show a full face lift, starting by ditching one of its two primary players. I doubt it’ll work, but hey, it’s their show. If they want to give a try, what’s the harm, right?

But man, the people on all these TV web sites are frothing at the mouth. As far as they are concerned, this is personal. They’re ready to take up arms in defense of a character on a television series.


Everyone is in a state of rage about something. Constantly. What used to be minor annoyances are now reasons for killing rage. Road rage is a great example. When did fender benders become cause for violently attacking each other? Maybe that accounts for why we’re locked into a national political suicide pact.

It’s generational. Our younger generations from Gen X through my granddaughter and her crowd — all of them are convinced the world has cheated them. Stolen the good life to which they were (by birth?) entitled.

Things have been a lot worse in this country than they are now without everyone going wacko. We’ve forgotten how to lose, so every contest — political, sporting, or whatever — is life or death. Surely we know that in any contest, one side wins and the other loses. Why is everyone going ballistic if they find themselves on the losing side?

When did a sense of entitlement replace commonsense and reason? If the good stuff doesn’t happen, if life doesn’t go as hoped, we are angry. Enraged. Failure no longer is a spur to greater effort, to rethink career goals, go back to school, find a better job, or work harder. We prefer to look for someone to blame. We could hold a national “Scapegoat of the Year” contest. Vent our national spleen on whichever group is the current favored object of collective wrath. It would be the only contest no one would mind losing.

Muslims. Mexicans. Brown people. Asian people. Democrats. Atheists. Poor people. Disabled people. Old people. Those People. What potential!

Pogo - Walt Kelly

Pogo – Walt Kelly

Whatever is wrong with the world, it didn’t get that way without our help. We elected the morons who got us here. Time to look in the mirror, then point an accusing finger at the real source of our woes. Us.

Oh, and Beckett is leaving Castle. Get over it.

GENERATIONS

THE REIGN OF CHAOS AND MADNESS IN STARLING CITY

Garry and I have been binge-watching DC comic book hero shows. It started innocently enough, but now it’s a full-scale immersion. First, we dipped a toe in the waters and watched a single season of “The Flash.” We had three seasons of “Arrow” on Netflix, so we are almost finished with that. Hopefully, the next two seasons will be offered soon.

Arrow-Ollie-3

Did I mention that we’re already watching “Supergirl”? Not sure what city she is in, but obviously, it’s nearby. Not Gotham. Garry watches “Gotham” where baby Batman is learning to be super-duper. It’s so confusing!

We are almost done with our three Arrow seasons. The show has gone from moderately intelligent and occasionally funny, to All-Violence-All-the-Time and … well … a bit (more than a bit) dumb. Oliver Queen, our not-very-secret hero (who in Starling City doesn’t know he’s the Arrow?) seems to be getting increasingly stupid. Maybe it’s those explosions … or he doesn’t get his arrow polished often enough. Whatever.

Starling City 2

Ollie, or Oliver, aka The Arrow wants nothing more than to protect his loved ones and what’s left of Starling City from (further) harm.

I grew up in New York which has a bad (undeserved) reputation as being especially violent and crime-ridden. Then I lived for a decade in Jerusalem where, according to the news, terrorism rules. Then I came back to Boston where … well … y’know, there was Whitey Bulger and the Irish “mafia” (oxymoron). If you could take the dangers inherent in all the cities in which I’ve lived , added their crime levels then multiplied them by 10, you would not come close to the peril of living in Starling City for a week.

Those people should go live somewhere else. Between the crazed assassins roaming the streets with automatic weapons, biological onslaughts of epic proportions, and scientists with earthquake machines. At least once each week, a quarter of the city is leveled.

Arrow-1

Starling has been under continuous attack by evil overlords of every stripe. The League of Assassins. That weird Aussie who was Oliver’s friend on The Island, but took some drug and then hunted Oliver for killing someone who he didn’t kill (someone else did it, but it’s complicated). Ollie’s mom was murdered. His father killed himself. His sister was murdered, but came back from the dead after Oliver agreed to become the new Demon Head of the League of Assassins (it’s very complicated). His girlfriend’s sister is currently dead, but I bet she’s coming back. She became an assassin, was briefly a superhero, and is now dead and buried, but on these shows? Who knows?

No one in this DC world stays dead, not even if you see their rotting corpse. Unless their contract with the network is finished, they WILL be back. Maybe with a new name and new role, but alive.

On the final show we watched last night, Ollie (the Arrow’s) friends are trying to rescue him (or escape?) from the secret, impregnable castle of the ultra-dangerous bad guys and Felicity (don’t worry about who’s who because it doesn’t really matter) said:

“I’ve watched a lot of movies, so I KNOW that there’s always a secret exit from the impregnable castle.” Wow, so that’s where she’s getting her information! I was wondering.

Arrow-Season-3-Poster

And finally, there’s Ollie, troubled by the feeling that he and “The League of Assassins” have a date with destiny, says: “I can’t escape feeling that everything in my life has led me here, to this place.”

Well, duh. Wherever you may be, everything led you there. Whether you are in the kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich, or being inducted into the League of Assassins, everything led you to the current moment. True of everyone, everywhere because how else did you get there? Seriously?

Every character in these series has lost one or more people they love and is obsessed with revenge, which means destroying entire cities — or,  alternatively, trying to save the world. We’ve all suffered losses. I don’t know anyone who felt obliged to level a city because someone they cared about died.

You can get over this stuff without a high body count.

And if you were contemplating a move to Starling City? In a word? Don’t.

Chaos Reigns

TECHNICOLOR DREAMS AND GENETIC NIGHTMARES – BY TOM CURLEY

A few weeks ago my old friend Ben Taylor sent me a very interesting link to a story about archiving technologies . The story was about how all of our storage media eventually degrades. Film, tape, CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and so on all decay over time. Technicolor, the company that makes films so, technically colorful, has figured out a way to encode and store media on a DNA molecule! Here’s the article.

Basically, it’s not complicated. All of our media is now digital, encoded as a really long string of ones and zeros. DNA is a double helix molecule made up of four proteins CGAT. Cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine.

teravivos.com

teravivos.com

They can combine in an infinite number of combinations, which is why DNA is such a handy way to store all of life’s genetic information. We also have machines called genetic sequencers that can both read a DNA molecule and build one.

DNA-O-MATIC! web.uri.edu

web.uri.edu

So, what the TECHNICOLOR people did was figure out how to encode the ones and zeros onto a DNA molecule, then build that DNA molecule. How do you play back the material? Build a player that reads the DNA molecule and converts it back to ones and zeros. Burn it onto a DVD and put it into your Blue Ray player.

The cool part is that you can store over 700 terabytes of information on one DNA molecule! Which is pretty much every movie and TV show ever made. The other reason they did this was because they say the DNA molecule is stable and won’t degrade.

But here’s the problem.

DNA MUTATES!!!!!!!

rbssbiology11ilos.wikispaces.com

rbssbiology11ilos.wikispaces.com

That’s how evolution works!

If DNA didn’t mutate, we’d still be four-legged lungfish crawling up out of the surf, looking up at the sky, land and saying: “Well, this is different. Hey Phil! Come on up here. You gotta see this!”

land fish

youtube.com

Now at this point you could argue that DNA usually mutates when cells reproduce.  Sometimes the DNA copies aren’t perfect and that’s what causes the mutation. But the Technicolor DNA molecules are just sitting in a test tube. They are not replicating.

Technicolor-DNA-Archive-2

That’s true. However — there are other things that can make DNA mutate, like radiation. A stray alpha, beta, or gamma particle could come along, hit the molecule, and knock out a quinine here, a cytosine there. After a while, things could change. Not immediately, but after a hundred, five hundred, or a thousand years?

A thousand years from now a group of historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and movie critics could get together to examine a recently discovered cache of late 20th Century movies and TV shows. They were  found buried in a vault archived with a quaint technology utilizing DNA by a long-forgotten company called Technicolor.

theshoreways.com

theshoreways.com

HEAD SCIENTIST: As you all know the discovery of this cache of ancient media has given us an unprecedented opportunity to measure the accuracy of our historical records against actual recordings of history.  You’ve all had a month to watch and review media from the last millennium. What have you found?

SCIENTIST #1: Well, actually some their movies are quite good.  I just watched two fantastic movies, “Ishtar” and “Waterworld”.

HEAD SCIENTIST: Hmmm. Our records indicate they were two of the worst movies ever made.

SCIENTIST #1: I can’t understand why. Did you know that Ishtar was the movie where Betty Davis said “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.!”  It only makes sense since they were all riding camels.  And Waterworld!  At the end, when Kevin Costner helped ET get back to his spaceship? I have to admit, I cried.

HEAD SCIENTIST: I see.  What about “Star Wars’?

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

SCIENTIST #2: I saw the first three movies starting with “The Phantom Menace”.

HEAD SCIENTIST: And?

SCIENTIST #2: They were really good!  And funny! Casting Groucho Marx as Obi Wan Kenobi and Robin Williams as  young Anakin Skywalker was inspired!

HEAD SCIENTIST: And the next three in the series?

SCIENTIST #3: Not so much. Darth Vader and the Emperor win in the end and destroy the rebellion. It was really depressing.  The only rebel left alive was Jar Jar Binks.

twitter.com

twitter.com

HEAD SCIENTIST: What about “Citizen Kane”? Our records show that as being one of the greatest movies of all time.

SCIENTIST #4: I don’t know why sir. In the first place somebody named Jackie Chan played the part of Kane. He spent the whole movie kicking people and riding on a sled. But he did do his own stunts!

HEAD SCIENTIST: What about “Casablanca?”

SCIENTIST #5: Horrible! Ronald Reagan as Rick and Joan Rivers as Ilsa? What were they thinking? No chemistry!

HEAD SCIENTIST: OK, what about television?

SCIENTIST #6: Quite frankly only one show stood out and it was brilliant.

HEAD SCIENTIST: What was it?

SCIENTIST #6: “Gilligan’s Island.”  Orson Welles as the Skipper, Brad Pitt as Gilligan, Marilyn Monroe as Ginger,  Sally Field as Mary Ann, Helen Mirren and John Barrymore as the Howells and  John Wayne as the professor.! Brilliant casting. And who knew Arthur Miller could write comedy!

sitcomsonline.com

sitcomsonline.com

What have you done Technicolor?  What have you done?

MEMORY, MEMORIES AND WHERE THE HELL ARE MY KEYS? – by TOM CURLEY

First off, this isn’t a blog about “Senior Moments”. You know, like when you get up and go into another room and the second you enter the other room you can’t for the life of you remember why you’re there.

drz.org

drz.org

The annoying part is that the only way to remember why you went in there is to go back to the room you started in. As soon as you do, you immediately remember why you got up in the first place.

“Oh right. I really have to pee.”

No, this blog is about memory and memories. Why does my brain work the way it does? Why do I remember some things and not others?

Let me explain.

I went to college. I was a biology major and pre-med. I took lots and lots of science courses; biology, physics, math, and chemistry. I got good grades. All A’s or B’s.

I learned lots of stuff. I knew calculus. I knew what a derivative was. No, not the financial thingies that caused the global crash of 2008. But equations that started with dy/dx, or something like that.

Notice the past tense in these last sentences? I “knew” all these things. Today, all that information is gone! Vanished, like I never took any of those courses. Actually, I do remember that there was something called the “Krebs Cycle.” It had to do with respiration or metabolism. I know it’s something we all do that’s very important. If we don’t do it, we die. But that’s all I remember.

Yet, with no effort at all, I can recite all the words to the theme song to the 1960’s TV show Mr. Ed!!!

mr ed

Youtube.com

“A horse is a horse of course of course, and nobody can talk to a horse of course. That is of course, unless the horse, is the famous Mr. Ed.” I could go on to the second verse.

But I won’t.

Hell, I can even recite the words to “Car 54 Where Are You?” And I didn’t really watch the show that often!

Youtube.com

Youtube.com

“There’s a hold up in the Bronx,

Brooklyn’s broken out in fights.

There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights.

There’s a scout troop short a child.

Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild.

Car 54 where are you?”

72-Mr-Goose-cropped_09

I swear I wrote those from memory. They flowed effortlessly from my brain, like crap through a goose. I didn’t Google them.

Which brings me to my next point.

We live in an amazing age. We have all the knowledge of the world literally at our fingertips. Any question you could possibly think of can be googled. It’s gotten so easy that you can type the most rambling of questions and still get the right answer.

For example, a while ago I got into a conversation about time travel and it reminded me of a movie I’d seen a long time ago. It was about an aircraft carrier that went back in time to just before Pearl Harbor. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name so I typed the following sentence into Google:

“There was this movie a long time ago about an aircraft carrier that goes back in time to just before Pearl Harbor and ….”

google-search-screen

At this point Google popped up “The Final Countdown.” It listed the cast, the plot, and where I could buy it. All before I could finish typing a full sentence! Wow!

imdb.com

imdb.com

It made me realize something. I could use the internet to bring back all that science knowledge I once had!

But I don’t.

I use it for far more important stuff. Mostly, finding out the name of the actor my wife and I are currently watching on TV. We know we’ve seen him or her on some other show. But we can’t for the life of us remember either his/her name or the show’s name. Google it! Go to IMDB!

“Oh, right! She was the head doctor on that show we used to watch back in the 90’s!”

“Right! She was married to … what’s his name?  He was on … what was the name of that show?”

Back to Google.

So in the end, I still don’t know why my brain works the way it does. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Kreb’s Cycle.

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

When I started reading it, I actually remembered most of it. Although I gotta admit. It was pretty dull. Mr. Ed was a lot more fun.

Hmm, maybe I do know why my brain works the way it does.

TRUMPED: REALITY, REALITY SHOWS, AND REAL TV – TOM CURLEY

Ellin and I were on a brief ski trip a couple of weeks ago up in Vermont. We learned three things.

  1. We are still not too old to ski.
  2. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
  3. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

Let me explain.

We were on our trip on a Tuesday. One of the Super Tuesdays. I forget which one because they’re all Super now. We’re both fascinated by this incredibly bizarre presidential campaign, so of course we were watching …

house of cards

indiewire.com

House of Cards on Netflix. We love that show.

In between binge watching episode after episode, we’d check in on the (real) election coverage. And that’s when I noticed that on House of Cards, the characters are constantly on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, and so on. All this stuff is shot on the actual news sets with real people playing themselves — while reporting on a fictional presidential campaign.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but this season’s episodes were filmed way before the actual election began. Despite this, the show (House of Cards) contains a lot of surprisingly prescient plot lines.

We sat there watching CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows interview and talk with Frank Underwood as he brilliantly manipulates the government and the world to get whatever he wants.

Then we’d change the channel to watch CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows talk — with Donald Trump — where they were debating whether or not Trump has a large penis.

trumphands

washingtonpost.com

Then, a bunch of pundits complained this (real) campaign is nothing more than a bad reality show. They are correct. The Republicans are currently trying to throw their leading candidate off the island, but inextricably, he keeps winning the immunity idol.

immunity idol.jpg

survivor.wikia.com

The other questions everyone keeps asking is “How did a reality show star end up running for President?”

Good question. But I know the answer.

It’s all Dan Quayle’s fault.

dan quayle

businessinsider.com

You remember Dan Quayle, the guy who was George Bush Senior’s Vice President, don’t you? Dan had a reputation for not being the sharpest pencil in the box.

He was famous for misspelling potato as “potatoe” at a campaign stop at an elementary school in 1992.

quayle potatoe

Dailyhaymaker.com

Most people have forgotten the other important thing he did.

He started a fight with Murphy Brown.

brown3

cloudpix.com

Murphy Brown was the fictional TV journalist and anchor. Played by Candice Bergen, she headed the cast in a 90’s sitcom about a fictional news show called FYI.

In one of the late seasons, she got pregnant and was going to be a single mother. Quayle gave a campaign speech (real) calling her out as being against “Family Values” because she didn’t have a husband. Murphy Brown was “mocking the importance of fathers” (an actual quote from Quayle’s speech).

quayle v brown2

uselectionatlas.org

Here’s where it got brilliant. The producers and writers of the show didn’t put out a statement denouncing his speech. They had Murphy Brown go after Quayle on the television show. It made front page headlines (real) all across the country.

quayle v brown1jpg

dykewriter

So, now you had Dan Quayle fighting with — and being mocked by — a fictional character on a fictional show. And he fought back. In real life.

Pretty much nobody said “Has anyone noticed the Vice President of the United States is fighting with A FICTIONAL TV CHARACTER ????”

No one appeared to notice. Or care.

That’s was the beginning of the end, when American politics started down the rabbit hole. What began as a real-life politician appearing on a fictional TV news show, morphed into fictional politicians on real TV news shows. And real news shows showing up on fictional TV shows.

And a bad reality host running for President of the United States.

In the real world.

At least I think it’s the real world. I’m not sure anymore. I used to have to take drugs to get this confused. Personally I’d rather watch House of Cards. It makes more sense.

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, our current reality is a poorly written episode. And it’s not over, not nearly.

GREAT COP SHOW MOMENT OF THE WEEK

RIZZOLI & ISLES

Set in Boston, it’s Angie Harmon as the hot Boston detective and Sasha Alexander as her BFF, aka the Medical Examiner.

Tonight’s episode:

A cop is murdered in Maine. The crime is probably connected to a series of crimes in Boston. So, Angie (Sasha stays in the lab in Boston) heads to Maine. When they get there, the cop’s corpse is still lying on the sidewalk. 

Rizzoli and Isles Header

Garry thinks maybe they got beamed up to Maine because otherwise, that corpse had to be pretty ripe.

It gave us the best laugh of the week. This is the closer for season six. The seventh and final season of Rizzoli & Isles will air this summer. Unless the suits change their minds (they’ve done it before) and bring them back for an encore season. Or a different network picks up their option.

One way or the other, I’m sure you will be able to catch it in reruns … forever.

WHY I DON’T BELIEVE IN CONSPIRACIES

After many years of not watching “The X Files,” Garry and I ran out of stuff to watch. So … we started watching the series. Now, maybe a dozen episodes in, I have some thoughts on conspiracies and secrets.

x-files poster


Has anyone ever confided a secret to you? The moment that happened, it stopped being a secret.

Have you ever told someone something, then realized you shouldn’t have said anything? Wished you hadn’t said it? Asked them to please, not tell anyone else?

top secret 2

How did that work out for you?

Now. Think about getting the entire military-industrial complex including politicians — basically the who’s-who of power in the nation and the world — to keep a secret. For decades. And not tell anyone.

That’s my point. Not that aliens might be here — now or in the past — but that a secret of such magnitude could or would be kept for a day, much less decades. Not going to happen in this or anyplace where there’s a press corps. Maybe not in any country where the Internet and computers exist. Which is … everywhere.