Saturday, September 30, 2006

Platypus in Space

I finally finished watching all five seasons of J. Michael Strazinsky's Babylon 5 today. I can remember seeing the pilot episode when it first aired as a teenager and being hooked. It was a sci-fi television show, and suffered from all the weaknesses of the genre, and yet this show was ever so much more. There's a Je ne sais qua to Babylon 5 that transcends the hokiness of rubber masks and funny hair to reach just a whiff of Shakespeare, Tacitus, Tennyson, and Dostoevsky. With all its epic scale there is a profound humanness in the characters that carries the viewer through each well-crafted season to the final end. Unlike any other American show I can think of, Babylon 5 was a series that was planned with a beginning, middle, and an end; five seasons in all. There was no attempt to run the show into the ground just to make money, and an unprecedented boldness in its attempt to tell one continuous story. And it paid off! I could go on, but I don't want to let to give out any spoilers for those who haven't seen it yet. If you haven't, go ahead and give it a try!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Strange Platypus(es) Part V

Crucifixion: Slow, Painful, Death. The imitation of Christ: Only that which dies can live. The Word: If any man would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me daily.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sunday Platypus


Old School Enthusiasm is back in town.

Be afraid... Be very afraid...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Platypus of the Worlds

Next one down. My quest to read books I should have read by now but haven't continues. I've just finished H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds," and begun "The Time Machine" and "The Invisible Man." I've always thought of the "War of the Worlds" as a simple horror novel (of course it wouldn't have remained popular for over a hundred years if it was just that, come to think of it!). The edition I've been reading is put together by Barnes and Noble and contains endnotes and commentary by Alfred Mac Adam. Mac Adam's notes alerted me from the get-go that there was a lot more to "War of the Worlds" than a summer blockbuster. Indeed, it's rather frightening. Well's lays out with grim enthusiasms a program for eugenics, race war, and the horrors of the twentieth century. As his character, the artillery man, expounds, all useless people ought to willingly shuffle off and die for the good of the race. The benefit to man in the Martians coming is that man may one day learn to be like them! Well's takes a dark, pessimistic, stoic satisfaction that only conflict and cataclysm can spur advancement (The greatest commandment in his Darwinian faith). If Wells has a saving grace (perhaps), it's that he lacks Marx's naivete and Nietzsche's perverse joy in the thought of uber-men smashing the planets to pieces for the sheer fun of it (see G. K. Chesterton's critique of Wells and Nietzsche in his works "Orthodoxy" and "The Everlasting Man."

Reading the novels that you were supposed to have read as an over-imaginative teenager has its advantages: while they may entertain at that level, there's ever so much more to be gotten out of them!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Platypus of the Forest

One of the benefits of being married is that you get to see old and familiar things through a new set of eyes. My wife and I have recently been working our way through "Jane Eyre," for instance. Last night, we watched and old favorite of mine, "Princess Mononoke." My wife, who spent two years in a village in equatorial west Africa remarked that she was impressed by how well the film represents a functioning anamistic worldview. In fact, the whole film is about worldview; worldviews in conflict. That seems to be a particular virtue of anime; its ability to authentically express and robustly handle questions of worldview. Would that American cinema would take a page from the Japanese in this department! I think we're learning, though. Shows like "Firefly" give me a bit of hope. We'll see what cinematic favorite my wife and I light on next. We've already watched "Spirited Away." Maybe it's time to move from movies to television. Anyone out there willing to part with "Trigun" for a little while. ;-)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Platypus of the Opera

I just finished reading Gaston Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera," and I have to say that it's one of the better novels I've read. I have a whole new appreciation now of Andrew, Lord Webber's musical. If you haven't read it yet, and especially if you enjoy the musical adaptation, bump this one up near the top of your reading list.

Next up: H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds." Ok, so I'm going back to all those "should have read this by now" books. I take some comfort in the fact that the Platypus is independently wealthy and he still doesn't have time to do all the reading that he means to.