Thursday, March 26, 2009

BSG - thoughts on the final episode

I wasn't fond of Baltar's soliloquy about god; it's not that I disagreed, per se, I just didn't think it was necessary to make it all explicit. Anyone who's watched the show should have already been able to see what the show's creators were trying to say, that god is inherently unknowable and it is ridiculous to get into a dick swinging match about whether your beliefs or someone else's beliefs are uniquely correct. So I thought it was overkill to come right out and say it. On the other hand, someone pointed out to me that this scene could be viewed as Baltar's redemption for his original sin. I'm still mulling that over. I thought his redemption came later in the show, on earth, when he told Caprica 6 that he knew a little about farming (from his father) and then started crying. But maybe that's just because I have my own kettle full of father issues.

I have mixed feelings about the fleet's decision to abandon all of their advanced technology and start from scratch on the new earth they found. On one hand, the series has been building towards that decision and arguing for it from the start; there was always a theme about the dangers of technology, that it is folly to think that our clever devices will save us. I have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view. On the other hand, could such a tremendous decision really be made without any sort of discussion and argument? Did no one object? The way that decision was made and played out just didn't seem realistic to me. Maybe a more interesting question, though, is whether I agreed with the decision. To which I say, well... sort of. There is definitely a strong anti-technological bent to my thinking. But if push came to shove, I really doubt I would be willing to walk away from all the tech and gadgetry. Most of it, yes. 99%, probably. But not all. Creative use of tools is part of what makes us human. So in that sense, I found the show's conclusion unrealistic and unfulfilling.

This is sort of a dull blog entry... sorry. I thought I'd have more to say.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Battlestar Galactica - penultimate episode

So, Adama has changed his mind, and he and his crew of volunteers (both human and cylon) are going to jump into the lion's den to try to save little kidnapped Hera after all. I like this. What an essentially human thing to do - risk the lives of many for the good of one. Courageous, irrational, hopeless, sacrificial. I know there's a bigger explanation given in the context of the show, but what I keep coming back to is many for one. This really highlights the difference between man and machine, which obviously has been a theme throughout the show. We can make decisions for emotional reasons rather than rational ones. We do this all the time. Actually, I have a theory that emotion is the driving force behind essentially all of our decisions; rationality and logic are thin veneers that we apply after the fact to keep ourselves from feeling vulnerable or foolish. The world becomes much softer and more plastic when one starts to look at it this way.

I am both looking forward to and dreading the final episode tomorrow night. There has been a lot of food for thought in this programme.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Student of Weather - a review

I finished reading A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay last night. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I enjoyed her other novel, Late Nights on Air, but it was still quite good. Exceptional, in fact, for a first novel. It pleased me to no end that not only did a large portion of the book take place in Ottawa, it took place in a part of Ottawa that I know well - the square of the city bordered by Bank Street, Bronson Ave, the canal, and the Rideau River. This familiar landscape wasn't my chief source of pleasure in the book, but it was definitely a bonus.

The author's writing is strong and her story is compelling. Perhaps most importantly, the protagonist is a sympathetic character. Even at the points (there were several) when I groaned and said to myself, "She's not really going to do that, is she?" I could still understand and relate to her decisions. Love doesn't just make us crazy sometimes; sometimes it makes us wilfully ignorant or just plain stupid. We all know this, but it's hard to write such a flawed, human character without making her pathetic or one dimensional. Elizabeth Hay pulled it off well. Actually, now that I think about it, she did much the same with the protagonist in Late Nights on Air. H'mmm. I wouldn't have recognized that if I hadn't sat down to write this review. Oh, also - she's good at writing both male and female characters convincingly, which is an exceedingly rare talent and one I admire above almost any other fiction writing skill.

An excerpt from the ending that I'm particularly fond of:

She has worked her way into the heaven of her childhood. Ontario, and all it means. This is where it took so long to "make the land" - three generations to clear two hundred acres of trees and stumps and stones. This is where weary listeners fell for those mythical tales about the Canadian west - how you could plough a furrow a mile long without even striking a stone, how the feet of oxen were stained red by all the wild strawberries, how the light, dry, spicy air restored the feeblest person to health. This is the place they returned to, some of them, after drought and dust did them in.

That is the Ontario I know and love. It was the heaven of my childhood, too. Sometimes, in my depths of vulnerability and doubt, it still is.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I finally pledged today, despite not being able to listen at home anymore (except online, which just doesn't appeal to me). Yay! Now I get to enjoy the unique fruits of smugness that come from donating to a listener sponsored radio station. Plus, I get a T shirt.