Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Prisoner, Night Two, Episodes Three and Four

OK. We're in the middle of the mess. Confusion abounds. Questions spin. Random thoughts on blog:

  1. I've got to get this off my chest, or it's just going to keep bugging me. I am sick, sick, sick, of the Palm Pre Red Head. My vow: Even if it is given to me, I will never, ever use a Palm Pre. They've taken mind control, manipulation, and brain washing to all new levels. How many times does it take to completely turn me off from your product? Ten? Twenty? ENOUGH!
  2. On with the show - They've got us right where they want us. If the first two installments added confusion on confusion, these middle two multiplied it. Holes in the ground. Colored pills. And what is happening in The Clinic?
  3. Seems like for any media to be au courant these days, it has to include a gay storyline. Necessary? Elemental to the plot? 
  4. If you're watching the mini-series, and if you're expecting to get all the loose ends tied up tonight, lower your expectations. They might tie them up, but it will be in a knot so thoroughly tight you'll pick at it for years without pulling the strands apart.
  5. I loved the way they brought in the rotating Twos from the original series, and the explanation about Number One. 
  6. The connections between Six's real life and his Village life is getting blurred, which leads me to a possible "dream" solution which would be A COMPLETE BETRAYAL OF THE VIEWER! DON'T DO IT! CLICHE CITY!
  7. But I will keep watching. Like any good novel, it's in the middle that chaos reigns. 
  8. Significant pointing to cult processes: Two's "humility" compared to "One," the manipulation of love, (broken heart), the strategic control of memory.
  9. My son, Jeremy, who is watching with me, noticed that in the original the clothes were standardized and no drinking was allowed in the Village, but in the new version, drinking seems part of the charade, and people appear to wear what they want. Not only that, but the whole underground, nightclub scene is an interesting, albeit seedy, addition. Does that whole culture exist at the will of Two? (Or One?). Or is it tolerated for the sake of exploitation? 
So far, 4.5 out of 5. Tonight's bowl of serial may tip it over. (Or if it's a dream, WILL NET A ZERO!).

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Prisoner - Post-Premiere Thoughts

I cut my story teeth on The Prisoner. By the time I watched it I was in high school, and while the political allusions failed to sink in at all, (my son Jeremy caught the implications) the story caught my attention. Here are some reasons why:

  • Unanswered Questions. Here's some background: I was not a student. I was a socialite. My literary experience was slim, at best. I'd slogged through The Hobbit, just because a friend thought it was hip. Up to that point, my literature was confined to assigned reading from a small-town high school in the conservative west, and further limited by my academic philosophy--squeeking by with a C or D. SRA (this will date you!) was how I liked to read: short short stories, quick and to the point, with an easy little test at the end. And the stories had a beginning, middle, and end, and the end tied up all the loose ones. Not so, The Prisoner. The show did not answer all my questions. In fact, just the opposite; the longer I watched the more questions I had. I would have considered this unsatisfying before, and downright rude to the watcher, but The Prisoner taught me to enjoy--relish--the ambiguity and mystery. I discovered that not knowing was as stimulating as knowing. I have used this in my speaking and writing.
  • Literary Claustrophobia. Part of the unsettling nuance of The Prisoner was the island. In many ways idyllic, it also served as the malevolent force working not behind the scenes, but inhabiting the scenes! 
  • The Bubbles of Doom. Sheer terror. I had nightmares about the big white bubbles. How very clever of the screenwriters to use something that might fascinate a child as the rabid yard dog guards of the island.
  • Rotating Number Two. This was a frustrating device, but it worked to stir the intrigue.
And now comes the new Prisoner. Older now, I can see the political/cultural messages. They're more real than ever, what with video cameras on every corner and cell phones that (I wonder) may secretly be "on" all the time. Once when a thief snagged our credit card, we were able within minutes to know where he was and what he was buying. There is a camera mounted on a tower in Saginaw Township that can see up to two miles in any direction, and can zoom in to catch a license plate or a face. The island is here; the prisoner is us.

I can also see spiritual connections. I am a pastor--I think that way. As in The Matrix, reality is not all it's cracked up to be, and there is a better thing off-shore that features freedom. Prisoner details the life of legalism--it is easy, nice, comfortable. As long as you conform.

You want a review of the new Prisoner? I like it. I think the changes offer huge potential. The terror is still there (I didn't have nightmares, but it was in my dreams). What really stuck with me last night, though, was the shaky platform of memory. Number Six is falling into the trap of memory. It's tenuous. It can be manipulated. And I will write more on that theme tomorrow. If I remember.

BTW: If you missed the premiere, don't worry. AMC will repeat it, and if you have On-Demand, you can watch it anytime. Meanwhile, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Want My Coke Glass

The innovative franchisees of McDonalds in the Tri-Cities of Mid-Michigan thought it would be clever marketing if they DID NOT participate in the national Coke Glass give away, wherein an old-fashioned Coca-Cola glass (real glass!) can be had with the purchase of a super-sized Value Meal.

I guess they thought they would make more money if I decided to go to Taco Bell instead.

Do churches ever do the same?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Top Ten or Eleven Things I Liked About Writing at the Ranch

I just got back from an adventure in the red rocks of New Mexico. CLASSeminars sponsored the CLASS Christian Writers Conference at Ghost Ranch, about an hour northwest of Santa Fe. I was privileged and humbled to be part of the teaching team, and to serve as chaplain (although I was never quite clear on the job description). I love Christian writers conferences, because they're Christian, (although I might like one of the non--- varieties if I ever tried one), because they're about writing, and because they're con-ferences.

This one was the best ever. Why? To squeeze content through the way-over-used top ten list, here it is:

  1. Seeing friends I only see once a year. I need to see them more.
  2. Exposing new writers to the conference scene, and gently helping them adjust their expectations. (Hello, On-Rampers!)
  3. Worshiping (on congas!) with people who love Jesus.
  4. Praying with people who are feeling the emotion of acceptance and rejection, either one of which drives us to God.
  5. Location. Location. Location.
  6. Teaching with my best writer friend, Lee Warren.
  7. New Mexican food! Oh, the posole! Pork stew with green chilis and hominy! Oh man.
  8. Finding a small cadre of mad writers who see things through the same warped lens as me. Big shout out to Sherry and Bill and Aaron and all the rest of y'all!
  9. The wild life. Mule deer haunting the fields at night. La cucaracha - a big, black, satanic cockroach that lurked near the light switch in the bathroom, making every late-night toilet expedition an exercise in paranoia. And Legion--the rodent horde of mice who scurried into my room at night to clean the floors. They not only chewed up  the crackers, but they ate soap, drank Nyquil, attempted a take-over of the trash can, and left myriads of small black gifts behind. (Oh wait, this was the top ten reasons why I LIKED this conference!)
  10. Seeing God in the background, working his great stuff. I don't know why, and it may be a liability, but I often don't see the BIG DEAL spiritual things--the on-stage moments--that others do. But I tend to be powerfully aware of God moving and shaking in the wings. I love him for that.
  11. Coming home.
  Thank you to all of you who prayed. These conferences are just not about me anymore. Sure, I pitched stuff, but it's all up to God's clever operations. Tomorrow I'll be back at the greatest church, digging in to all the good going on there. Life is full. God is good.