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I watched the series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender this evening. While they left it open for plenty of new stories to tell, the three-season story arc is definitely complete. I can’t recommend this show enough. It appears on the surface to be a simple kids anime knock-off and while that characterization is partly correct, it has an incredible depth that is rarely found in anything on television, never mind a 30-minute animated show. The characters, deep world mythology, and wicked sense of humor are all reminiscent of the Buffyverse. The multitude of characters, creatures and conflicts is matched by the real world life lessons learned by all of the characters as they struggle with who they are and how they fit into their world. This series did not disappoint anyone in my family. While I look forward to a box set DVD one day, I am concerned about the signing of M. Night Shyamalan to direct a live-action film adaptation. Much like any of the gre4at television serials out right now, this story works because of its depth, breadth and length. Watch it.

idol superstar

I have purposefully managed to stay away from any artists or performances presented on American Idol…until the other night. My older son has discovered this show through his friends and insisted on watching it (I wanted the Red Sox game). I learned that the show occasionally features a guest artist who becomes part of the theme for number for shows. In this case it was Andrew Lloyd Webber. Knowing that there were going to be a number of torturous Phantom of the Opera tunes sung, I left the room. I came back a little later to see Mr. Lloyd Webber conversing with a contestant, Carly Smithson. He convinced her to sing Superstar from Jesus Christ Superstar. I have to admit it was pretty good – shortened quite  a bit for American TV viewers attention spans, but still pretty good.  Of course, JCS is one of my favorite pieces of music ever so she would have had to completely butcher it to make me not like it. I still don’t like American Idol and I will not watch it again unless forced to…unless the guest artist is Christian Vander and they contestants have to sing their pieces in Kobaïan….but a good JCS rendition is not something to pass up…some favorites:

The Original

Jesus Christ Superstar: A Resurrection

Gethsemane, Vanden Plas from Christ 0

Heaven on Their Minds, Queensrÿche from Take Cover

machines

from the wonderful quotes from kids file….

Both of my sons have long been into building kinetic sculptures, marble toys, dominos and anything that causes crazy actions over a distance…intersecting with this is lately we have been watching a lot of Start Trek: The Next Generation and they are very intrigued by the character of Guinan…tonight my younger son was overheard by my wife saying:

"Lets not make a Rube Golberg machine, lets make a Whoopi Golderberg machine!"

Agitation Free

b72fb340dca0c01ba7825010._AA240_.L.jpgFirst on the NWW list is the band Agitation Free and the Audion-recommended release is their debut from 1972, Malesch. The band is an experimental rock band from Germany that I knew nothing about and that falls into the family of music called Krautrock. This album is a mostly instrumental release with a few over-dubbed vocal bits. This is a classic psychedelic jam with a pretty standard rock lineup of two guitars, bass, drum, and keyboards. Like many good jam bands the music is carried by very solid bass playing throughout. The influences vary from Grateful Dead space to traditional middle-eastern sounds. The varying styles can be heard especially through some of the percussion from Christopher Franke who went on to more “famous” ventures including Tangerine Dream, penning the Babylon 5 soundtracks, and, in that wierd way the world works, penning the soundtrack for the film I watched on my iPhone this week, "What the Bleep Do You Know".  Some parts come off just like the instrumental jams the San Francisco bands were doing at that time, others sound like what has evolved into the post-rock of today. Good music and well worth the listen.

edit – as DavidK points out, Cristopher Franke left Agitation Free before the release of Malesch. The drumming heard on the album is from Burghard Rausch.

ToS online

it is about time…if this doesn’t get me to add a mac mini to my home entertainment center, nothing will

 

 

generations

250px-Enterprise_Forward.jpgnow I do feel like the years are passing by quickly….ew is celebrating 20 years since the debut of Start Trek: The Next Generation. Securely in my top five television shows of all time it took a full season before it got really going (as most shows do) but, as this list shows, it had some excellent sci-fi moments…The Measure of a Man is one of my favorites…a story right out of the Asimov playbook

Tasha

DSCN2816.JPGWe had to put our cat Tasha to sleep today. In the fall of 1990 Stephanie and I had been married and living in our house for a year and we felt it was time to add another presence. Since we are both cat people and as it turned out we were a good six years away from wanting children, we decided that a kitten would be the best choice. We went to the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem and picked up beautiful, almost perfect Tortise-shell kitten. Having been grieving over the demise of one of our favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation characters the previous season, we decided that Tasha was a good name (better than Worf anyway). Tasha was best described by my friend Bruce as a “roving knick-knack”. She never got in your way, she was always just part of the things in the room. I can’t help imagining that just like her namesake, there is some parallel universe somewhere where Paul and Stephanie only had Tasha for a very short period before some “skin of evil” takes her life…fortunately for us we live in the universe where Tasha lived a good long time.

sopranos revisit

sopranos-logo.jpgI have Asthma. What does that have to do wit the Sopranos you might ask. A few years ago we were visiting my in-law’s in New Jersey for Thanksgiving. That evening I had a mild attack and did not have any inhalers with me. Erring on the side of caution we went to the nearest emergency room where I spent the next few hours, after some doses of steroids, getting my breath back. The emergency room was in Saint Claire’s Hospital in Denville. Yes, the same Saint Claire’s that Tony calls Carmela from in this week’s episode….and yes there was yet again another “Comfortably Numb” reference…I guess I should just sign up for therapy now.

sopranos angst

sopranos-logo.jpgI am a big fan of the HBO series “The Sopranos” although I have often felt a bit awkward because of the stereotypes represented especially with respect to my own Italian American heritage. This season has now given me a few more reasons to feel a bit uncomfortable. Not only do I relate to Tony’s national heritage but in one episode they showed the family playing a classic board game and having the traditional house rules versus printed rules disagreements…and then in this week’s episode…not once, but twice they reference progressive rock classics (Tony sings a line from “Comfortably Numb” as he lopes down the stairs in the morning and later he is listening to “Tom Sawyer” in his car). OK, so he wasn’t playing Caylus and listening to Porcupine Tree, but still, relating to Tony Soprano on more than one level is personally disturbing.

b5 lost tales

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preorder now…’nuff said

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