Fall TV 2015!

It’s that time of year again – I as the traditionalist think of it as time for new tv stuff!  Of course, thanks to streaming tv, cable tv, and the ridiculous levels of competition out there, new stuff already came out anyway, so my traditionalism is antiquated.

Nonetheless, the following are some observations about the new stuff that I managed to catch so far…

An admission and sort-of disclaimer: I’m not much of a late-night tv viewer and I was never much of a Stephen Colbert fan.  However, I had to watch the first episode of his taking over the Late Night Show, and I thought he had a decently entertaining 1st episode on network late night. Nice cameos. Good music.  Clearly having Jon Baptiste and his band, Stay Human, was a good move and their music and their energy entertains the live audience. I like Jon Baptiste and Stay Human.

Since that 1st episode, I think so far some of the joke bits are a little too long, but I like the selection of guests so far.  Colbert was moving with Vice President Joe Biden, for instance; it was strangely entertaining to see Justice Stephen Breyer on the show – and the next day, Breyer was on Charlie Rose’s show… well, that was strange for me, since I was changing channels and lo and behold on PBS with Charlie Rose… oh, and Trevor Noah had an appearance, to get ready for his hosting The Daily Show.

Also, there are times when it feels like Colbert’s still being “Colbert,” the blowhard on Comedy Central and “the character” (I guess it’s hard to get rid of that guy) doesn’t and didn’t necessarily work for me (it might entertain the hardcore Colbert fans; I don’t know).

I’m not sure how this will all work with CBS (Letterman pulled it off for years, but he has been a network tv guy and got to tease the networks for years, and CBS is… CBS – I have lots of mixed feelings about that network).  I’m hopeful that this would be a good product – something more substantive than either of the Jimmys (the one on the Tonight Show on NBC or the one on ABC), so I’m not the one who’s going to be all judgmental about Colbert after only a couple of weeks.

We’ll see how Trevor Noah will be once he takes over The Daily Show. I miss Jon Stewart in the meantime.  It’s not fun trying to make up my own Donald Trump jokes.

The Doctor Who season premiere – it was nice to see the Doctor back, along with Clara.  I still don’t know what to make of Missy (a.k.a. the Master), and I don’t get the Daleks (I’m not a veteran fan of the Doctor, so it’s not like I understand the Daleks or even the Cybermen).  As a Part 1 of 2, it’s hard to assess the episode because Part 2 might make Part 1 more interesting or flesh it out.  But, it was fun to watch anyway, just for being the usual Doctor weird stuff.

I thought that the new show “Blindspot” on NBC had an ok pilot episode. Jaime Alexander as Jane Doe, the tattooed woman with amnesia, who the FBI wants as a mystery to solve, was compelling.  And, of course, I’m a sucker for FBI agents in weirdo mysteries (somehow I managed not to be on the Blacklist bandwagon, but James Spader manages to annoy me over the years, so it’s not entirely surprising that I’m not a viewer of that show).

But, some turnoffs for me based on the 1st episode of “Blindspot”: they filmed a scene by the subway station near my old workplace, but called that “Brooklyn” (no! I recognized it as the Battery Tunnel exit, Manhattan-side). And, I had no idea that an obscure Chinese dialect could be apparent in written Chinese (I believe not, since written Chinese is just written Chinese). Was this as cool as say, episode one of “Fringe”?  No.  But, I might be suckered into watching episode 2, simply because I wonder if they’ll figure out why is Jane Doe in her situation, so…

I didn’t catch the Emmys Award show, mainly because, during the last couple of years, I’ve slowly pulled back from watching it, even  though I used to be a big Emmy viewer (for many reasons, including that I got tired of watching the same people win for years, not that there was anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t every interesting).

We seem to be in a new Golden Age of TV, but there’s so much out there and I find myself really unable to catch up. And, then again, that’s ok.

But, history got made and I share this quote: “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” – Viola Davis.

I’m both surprised and not surprised that it’s not until 2015 that the first black woman wins an Emmy for best lead actress in a drama (so, yes, kudos to Viola Davis!). Roles must be created, even if we have to create them ourselves (so, yeah, we ought to have more people of color behind the screens too); so, hey, networks, keep it up with the experiment for more diversity in the small screen. Create great roles for great performing artists; I’ll be happy to getting used to seeing more people of color winning awards!

(and, coincidentally,  one of the panel programs at this year’s fall conference of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) covered the issue of racial diversity in casting; it really is becoming a thing where we have to create stuff for ourselves, it seems!).

Brooklyn Book Festival 2015 Edition

As a follow up to the prior post, here’s the write up!

As I said there, great weather, great turnout. Space was a little tight, due to the construction zone by Brooklyn Borough Hall.   When that construction is done, it’d be so much better again!   Anyway, I managed to attend a couple of panels and caught some others.

Poets Tell All” – where poets Elizabeth Alexander (The Light of the Wood) and Tracy K. Smith (Ordinary Light) talked about their published memoirs, and moderated by poet Mark Doty.  I still remember Alexander from her reading her poem at the 1st Obama inauguration, and I had really enjoyed reading Smith’s Life on Mars earlier this year.  Such a great program, to hear Alexander and Smith talk about writing poetry and prose, and the life of the artist and grief in life, as well as finding beauty in life.  I thought it was great that they even had some humor about their experiences.  (the  writing experience, putting aside the tragedies in life for the moment, being what it is).  Alexander’s and Smith’s respective readings of excerpts from their memoirs were amazing, and I especially admired Alexander’s reading an excerpt from Doty’s memoir of experiencing the passing of his late partner (Deep Lane). Deeply moving, all around.  I ended up buying Alexander’s and Smith’s books, and was delighted that Smith signed my copy of Life on Mars.

I admire poets, even if I don’t read enough poetry, can’t pretend to be able to write poetry, and so glad to keep learning more from poets and poetry.

Home Plate” – I attended most of this panel. Very interesting conversation covering a lot of questions: what is “authentic” cooking?  What does one do at home with the food on hand?  What is the intersection of cuisine and culture?  What does “sustainability” mean, if it’s not accessible to everyone?  (well, that last question is still more my question than anything else).  Moderator Julia Turshen facilitated a fascinating conversation with panelists Tamar E. Adler, Amy Chaplin, and Dale Talde.  I thought Talde was great about how he found inspiration in his urban settling and the mix of cultures on his surroundings, and appreciated the good humor too.

It was heart-warming to see Alma Mater law school hosting a number of panels (nice that the law school is getting more involved with the community at large as it is).   I attended the one where Dean Nick Allard, Brooklyn Law School, led a Q&A of author Derek Taylor on his book, Magna Carta in 20 Places (in time for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, and the school is hosting an American Bar Association exhibit on the Magna Carta and a symposium on it – which I’m just about totally missing).   Dean Allard also further facilitated a Q&A of Dina Gold, whose book Stolen Legacy is about how she won restitution from Germany for a building her family owned and lost to the Nazis – an analog to the story of “The Woman in Gold.”  Fascinating stuff and some food for thought about the various legal legacies out there.

I tried to catch some of the conversation of David Simon and Nelson George on the relationship of narrative and drama, but the standing room only – and the lack of space due to the construction anyway – made that hard to check out.

As noted, I also caught a little bit of the the panel on “Brooklyn Places and Spaces,” in which Carlo Scissura, CEO and President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, moderated with panelists: Arabella Bowen, Fodor’s Editor in Chief, who introduced Fodor’s
Brooklyn, and Oriana Leckert, author, Brooklyn Spaces.  It encouraged people to explore more of Brooklyn – and visit the places that are still around, in an ever changing Brooklyn.   (and, as I said in the prior post, it reminded me that I haven’t eaten at L&B Spumoni in awhile…).

So many programs, not enough time! I would have loved to have attended more.  The book vendors were also great and the food vendors – well, yeah, I gave in to an empanada from the Nuchas food truck.  Tasty stuff, and then again, I’m not too fussy about what I eat.  Now, on to reading the books that I bought…

The coming Sunday, for more fun in Brooklyn: Atlantic Antic.

(cross-posted at sswslitinmotion.tumblr.com).