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    • Find a river
      But I do not know where she lies And I do not know if she cries Or laughs at me Oh Lord, Oh Lord, Oh Lord I wanna find my baby Oh I wanna find a river.
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    • The Joy of Reading & The Discovery Of New Author (Nero Wolfe Edition)
      I’ve been a big reader since I was perhaps 7 years old. In grade one I actually had remedial English: I’d been taught both whole word and phonics and it had screwed me up. Once I learned to actually read, I fell in love with it, trudging to the library, taking out the maximum and luxuriating in other worlds and other lives. I always find the strivers, attemp […]
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My Favorite Sondheim

Steven Sondheim died today. He was 91. He was a man of many words and By that I mean his song lyrics were dense. Sweeny Todd exhausted me. Not A Day Goes By from Send in the Clowns is a underappreciated ballad. But my favorite Sondheim song is this one from Side by Side by Sondheim. This version is by Laura Bruckmann. Sometimes I sing it when no one is around.

Completely OT: Invasion

Look, I realize there are a lot of important things happening in the world. I’m not unaware or indifferent. I still listen to podcasts. But for some reason, although psychologists, sociologists and political philosophers can explain what is happening and how the bad guys are manipulating people, they haven’t proposed any solutions. That’s because there are no solutions in which reason prevails. We can not communicate using language. The affected are being subsumed into something else entirely. There aren’t even that many people being high jacked. It’s location that is making the takeover possible in this country. Our vulnerable flaws are structural combined with something primordial.

But enough of that. Let’s talk about Invasion, a series about an alien invasion on Apple TV.

This is unlike most of the War of the Worlds or Cloverfield invasion stories. Those movies are non stop, heart clutching, action scene after action scene that leaves the viewer physically drained long before the movie ends. Invasion is about four characters and the effect of the invasion on their lives. These characters were in the midst of their own personal journeys when the invasion begins and their life trajectories continue on those paths even after the aliens have landed.

We’re now two episodes from the end of the first season and the series has been getting mixed reviews. The things that makes me love it seem to be the very things that make reviewers hate it. It’s not full of 15 minute long action sequences. There are episodes where tension and action happen. I think it was episode six where Aneesha, one of the main characters, has what looks like a horror movie “killer in the house” experience that she barely survives after her getaway car gets stuck in the mud and the killer jumps on the windshield. But the action is part of the narrative and not like The Walking Dead horde meets the survivors twice an episode. It’s more an explanation than a plot device.

The reviewers don’t think that one episode of frantic terror and non-stop action is enough. No, all of the episodes should be that way. It’s not enough to see the smoking ruins of cities. We should have seen the destruction in all its building toppling, buses falling off bridges into to river as our hero’s jump from moving vehicle to moving vehicle glory. In short, we have to see the invasion like a 14 year old boy wants to see an invasion. All show runners know that 14 year old boys are incredibly narcissistic so if the entertainment industry doesn’t completely revolve around their tastes and the Marvel universe action movies they (and we) are accustomed to, then the whole thing must be a piece of crap and a waste of time. Reviewer after reviewer whine that “there is no action!” in the latest episode. It’s BORING them, as if there is only one way of telling an invasion story and Apple is breaking all the roolz!!! How could this invasion story actually be interesting if Jayden and Dylan are not its target audience??

Instead, we have a slow build and a slow burn. The action is realistic. People in the suburbs aren’t around when the alien godzillas rip apart the city. They’re in their developments wondering what the heck just fell in the cul de sac. Or they’re school children who survive a bus crash in the English countryside and have a Lord of the Flies weekend as they waste their time establishing a pecking order instead of getting themselves out of the crater they find themselves in. It’s a soldier stranded in Afghanistan after a mysterious whirlwind separates him from the rest of his battalion. Or the Japanese space flight director who loses her wife who is on space station when it encounters a “Wajo”. The space station disintegrates but the wajo, wajo, wajo message continues to send.

Each character has a personal obstacle. A wife finds her husband has been cheating on her, got his girlfriend pregnant, and is planning to leave her when the invasion happens. She abandoned a medical career for this asshole and now she finds herself having to save his life on more than one occasion. The soldier is trying desperately to return to his wife in the states but he knows his relationship with her is over. The English schoolboy, the closest character we have to an actual 14 year old boy, has suffered from epilepsy but it turns out that his brain was actually looking for a frequency, the epilepsy was just static. The Japanese flight director overcomes her grief at losing her wife by channeling it into making contact with the alien hive mind.

Each character holds a piece of the puzzle on how to defeat the aliens but they are only now beginning to discover what those pieces are. The question is, will they be able to solve the puzzle before time runs out for them?

Does that question mean something to the rest of us in our own quiet lives watching a different invasion? Do we have the right weapons and instinct to turn this around? Will be make contact and compare notes with each other before the aliens eliminate us? Do we still have time?

These are things that 14 year old boys aren’t generally good at figuring out without superpowers and explosions. But it’s more realistic, human and existential in the end. It’s not a series for adolescents. It’s for the grown ups.