Peg’s Picks – July 26, 2017

me and mom

My mother (fan favorite Peggy Lee) recently retired and has a lot more time on her hands to listen to podcasts, so I’ve decided to curate a list of three specific episodes per week for her a listen to with a brief description to accompany them.  This is specifically made with her in mind, however, feel free to listen through I’m sure there will be interesting content for everyone, especially new listeners of podcasts.  Links are provided below for convenience however, you can also find these shows and episodes anywhere you consume podcasts.

This week we have three shows that I have not covered before on this blog.  The first is an NPR podcast entitled the “Ted Radio Hour”.  The host, Guy Raz, invites TED speakers to the show to dive deeper into the talks they gave.  Often times it allows for more context on a subject and answers questions that the talk may initially raise.  I found that I enjoy this podcast because it is essentially a relaxed speaker expanding on a big idea that in many cases I had never heard of.

The episode is called:

Prevention

This episode focuses on the idea of prevention in many of its forms.  Each speaker has a different lens to view the idea of preventing the perceived issue.  I don’t listen to this podcast as regularly as I used to, however, when this came on in my auto play list I found myself struggling to turn it off.

Hidden Brain is another NPR podcast that along the same lines of the Ted Radio Hour dives deeper into brilliant minds and big ideas.  The show will say it “reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”  However, I believe at its core this is a show about the science behind ideas we are curious about.  By ideas we’re curious about, I mean all of them, not only the science based ones.

The episode I’m recommending is called:

Summer Melt

This episode covers the phenomenon of “Summer Melt” which is when college students, (typically 1st generation college students) have completed all of their tasks to get into school however they don’t quite make it because of last minute issues.  This episode talks about what one school did to stop that.

Finally, I am recommending a podcast that has effectively become a mini series as it was canceled after only one season.  This is a Gimlet podcast entitled “Undone.”  Undone plays with the idea that stories in the news after they have been completed do not actually end.  This is to say that the story itself is only the tip of the iceberg and for the most part after it has been reported stories continue to move on beyond their perceived end.

This episode is called:

The Deacons

This episode covers the “Deacons for Defense and Justice”.  I love this episode because it dispels the idea that black folks have always attempted to fight for justice in a nonviolent way.  While this episode (nor I) advocate for violence when fighting for justice, this episode brings to light the idea of active resistance vs. passive resistance.  This was an eye opening episode that I would recommend to anyone.

Feel free to find me on Twitter or Instagram (@ohitsbigron) and let me know what you think of these recommendations, and check out the podcasts on the ohitsbigron studios network here, and here.

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Alien Covenant

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Alien Covenant is the second film in the prequel Alien series and the 6th film considered to be a part of the original canon of Alien films.  (This is a direct reference to the now defunct Alien vs Predator series which licenses the use of the Xenomorphs from the original films, I should also state that Aliens have also been in comic books and various other media ventures so the property itself has been very profitable.)  The continuation of the series picks up after the events of Prometheus which saw the film return to its original suspense/mystery roots.  This shift allowed for new questions to be asked and answered of the original series as well as make use of modern advances in film technology to build the world to be visually stunning.  Prometheus did well at the box office setting up director Ridley Scott nicely for his plan to make multiple prequels and sequels.  Alien Covenant picks up about 10 or 11 years after the events of Prometheus and follows the attempted colonization of the planet Origae-6.  This film seeks to add further depth to the Alien Universe and continue telling the origin story of the Xenomorphs and their creators the “Engineers”.

A few words about Alien:  Covenant:

  1. Characters are flat – There is not much character development at all in this installment of Alien.  While the characters have an assumed backstory, exposition that is explicitly stated in the movie does little to provide depth to the characters themselves.  It does not help that in many cases the characters are making stock horror movie decisions, such as always choosing to split up rather than work together.  At one point in the movie, the idea of them continuously splitting up becomes a little comical as one character will be found dead, and the remaining characters still assign separate tasks for each other to complete.  The setups for Alien carnage comes off a little convenient.
  2. Not many Xenomorphs – In this movie while the Xenomorphs (traditional Alien creatures from these films) are prominently displayed, at times their presence did not feel necessary.  The central conflict involved them, however, they were not the central villain.  This made seeing them feel a little empty or one note.  In many cases, it seemed as if they only showed up to ratchet up the immediate tension rather than because they were a necessity to the story.
  3. Two much fassbender – It is not a spoiler to say that Michael Fassbender plays two roles in this movie.  While his acting is solid and interesting to watch, at one point he’s doing scenes with both characters together.  These scenes were at least a little bit overwrought.  I found myself wondering what the ultimate purpose of these scenes were and don’t ever know that it was revealed.  Seeing him “mentor” himself came off hokier than I believe it was intended to be.
  4. Not much real story development – Prometheus introduces the characters of the “engineer” or the beings that humans suspect created them.  In Alien Covenant, the engineers have a brief moment but their story is not really expanded upon.  The questions raised about them in Prometheus seemed to be discarded in order to create a different movie.
  5. Visually Appealing – Much like Prometheus the use of wide shots in this movie did much to establish the contrast between the small humans exploring the vast universe.  Many of the shots are breathtaking on the big screen, which in this format does a great job of making the viewer feel small as well.

Overall, this movie did very many traditional “Alien” things.  There are Xenomorphs, space tension, action, air locks, acid blood, running, screaming and dying.  However, this film eventually ends up just being another installment of Xenomorphs killing humans.  While the reasoning for the existence of Xenomorphs is a little clearer, the film ultimate does little to expand the mythology of the Alien universe.  I would still love to see a movie that does more to expand this backstory, much like Prometheus began to do.  This is a solid summer movie, but ultimately I left the theater feeling like something was missing.  Do not bring your kids.  2.5 of 5 stars.

 

Time Well Spent Episode 06 – Breve Part 2

Please enjoy Episode 6 of the Time Well Spent with Ronald podcast.

Also, check out the work of the creator of our outro music Michael Korte in #GAGA4RENT

Time Well Spent Episode 05 – Breve

Please enjoy episode 4 of Time Well Spent with Ronald.

Also, check out the work of the creator of our outro music Michael Korte in #GAGA4RENT

Time Well Spent Episode 03 – Garbage Persons

Please enjoy episode 3 of Time Well Spent with Ronald.

The Netflix Chronicles: 13th

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There is a documentary on Netflix by Ava DuVernay about the shift from slavery to prison for black folks in the United States called ’13th’.  I am not going to rate this film but rather just mention a few reflections from watching the film.

A few words on 13th:

1. The history of black people in this country continues to have the ability to be traced directly back to slavery.

2.  The inability of people to admit that the history of this country and the thought processes of both white and black people perpetuates an issue commonly thought as “solved” or to have “ended”

3.  This country still profits off of slave labor, but the slaves are now classified as criminals, which makes it easier for most folks to stomach.

4.  Criminal, nigger, slave, and black person for the most part are pretty much synonymous.

5.  As long as it is profitable for black folks to remain in prison, policies will be implemented to keep them there.

6.  Kalief Browder is one of the most important martyrs of our age, and I never heard of him before this movie.

7.  Being released from prison, does not actually release you, from prison.

I encourage everyone to watch this documentary.  It was extremely informative.

The Netflix Chronicles: Time Lapse

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Typically Netflix is the perfect place to binge watch a television show.  However it is also a fine place to stumble across hidden gems.  Movie distribution has changed in this era of film making and while cream rises to the top in terms of the best movies being distributed by the traditional methods, streaming services like Hulu and Netflix are making room for all types of movies to be consumed by the masses.  Enter this independent film, which falls into the nontraditional distribution method category.  ‘Time Lapse’ is a film about three roommates who discover a method to view a snapshot of their lives 24 hours in the future.  As the film begins, the most obvious of “what would you do if knew the future?” questions are immediately answered.  However as the film continues it becomes all about decisions these characters are making because of their knowledge.  It is a slow burn thriller.

A few words about ‘Time Lapse’:

  1.  Understated acting – There are no real familiar faces in this film, which lends to its authenticity.  Here are three young people in a pretty baffling situation and their reactions seem to be pretty believable.  Watching the film a second time lends itself to really take note of the acting choices, which are important to the film’s conclusion.  It was the second viewing that really allowed the subtly of these choices to shine.
  2. Really solid premise – This is film based on time travel.  That being said, there is no actual travel in the movie.  It rather explores decisions people make when they have a peek into their future.  This allows for some pretty intense questions that the movie attempts to answer.
  3. Excellent deliberate pacing – This movie unfolds at a pace commiserate with the decisions the characters are making.  While at times the pace is slow and steady, even when the pace quickens it’s only enough to drive home the larger point or to further highlight the decisions the characters are making.  The movie at its “slowest” never feels slow because the viewer is waiting for the next decision to be made.
  4. Satisfying conclusion – Movies based in time travel, or time viewing have a tendency to fizzle out toward the end, unraveling and/or imploding on themselves.  This movie does not do that.  This writer in particular finished the movie than walked around his apartment wit his hands on his head saying “ahhhhhhhhahahahahahahaha”.  While this is not the typical descriptive language used to convey an ending, the point gleaned here should be that this movie follows its own time travel rules and concludes its story as it should.  This was enough to make the journey that much more enjoyable.

This is solid movie, especially for it not to be on anyone’s radar.  Before stumbling across it on Netflix, the writer cannot be certain that he would have even viewed this movie.  This is why it pays to rate everything you watch on Netflix.  This is a good, stay in and try to ride out hurricane matthew film.  Put the kids to bed first, as this isn’t particularly a gory or graphic movie however is some spurts of strong language and very adult themes.  4 of 5 stars.