April 21st, 2008

New Tilley Hat

Lost Season 3 and the final season of the Sopranos

Television by Netflix has gone from an addition to broadcast tv to my preference for watching broadcast shows. I can see them on widescreen, turn on closed captioning, listen to commentaries and watch other extras. I can watch at my leisure And, most importantly: No commercials.

This weekend, I managed to finish up two sequences: The final year of the Sopranos (Season 6) and the third season of Lost. I'm tempted to talk about them behind a cut, but for the moment let me ramble without spoilers: These were easily the worst seasons for both shows.

Lost, especially in the first few episodes, was just awful. I'm so glad I could zip through these. I don't really care about the characters anymore. They largely abandoned the character studies (via flashback) for a... a... (I almost hate to say it)... a plot. And a really dumb plot. I have my theory as to What's Really Going On, which was greatly strengthened by Season 3. I'll probably watch Season 4, when it comes out in DVD. I'm not going to waste my time watching it on air.

Season 3 of Alias was the worst one too. JJ Abrams likes to come up with interesting ideas without building the background first, which falters after a while.

Meanwhile, The Sopranos ended with a thud. Not just the famous last shot (which was okay), but the whole series of shows leading up to the last one. In a flip of Alias, the first ones of the Season were good, as Tony Soprano continues his journey of self-discovery and gets almost Buddhist. But they throw this away and he reverts to being a murderous thug.

They're all murderous thugs, and the show is built around showing the human side of being murderous thugs. Amusing for a while, but ultimately unstained. Paulie is the equivalent of Sawyer on Lost: Hard to like, and quickly descended into comic relief. This came back to haunt Tony at the end.

The best thing about the Sopranos, of course, is the parody on The Simpsons. I was vastly amused that I managed to watch the DVD of one episode and last Sunday's Simpsons made a direct reference to it. The Simpsons is usually pretty good about making their references funny even if you don't catch the antecedent, but I'm not sure it would have come off if you weren't familiar with the original. Oh well.

Next up: Buffy Season 6 and Battlestar Galactica Season 3. I'm also reading Frankenstein, and put the Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein disk in the queue as part of my Read The Book, See The Movie education.
New Tilley Hat

A New Toy!

test of S8000
A sign, with no zoom, approx 30ft. away

test of S8000
A sign, at 18x zoom and flash, approx 30ft. away

My new toy came today, a Fuji FinePix S8000fd. This model fills roughly the same niche -- at roughly the same price -- as my current camera, the S3000, which I got 4 1/2 years ago. I was looking to upgrade and asked around. Fuji cameras were at the top of my list, since I have much of the ancillary equipment (such as memory cards) and know how they operate. Ctein and local fan Michael K. raved about the S6000, which looked really good. Doing research, I found that the S6000 was the 2006 model, and the S8000 came out a year later. I went to a store and played with both (and a few others). While the S6000 has much to recommend it, the S8000 has all the things Ctein and Michael liked (fast shutter lag, good in low light) and the later model was 8meg (vs. 6) and has an 18x zoom. And the S8000's flash was rated as being viable from farther away.

The two pictures above are from a quick test in my condo's elevator lobby. The lower picture may not seem like much, but it's a flash picture from a distance of 30 feet! Both pictures are uncropped and unaltered except to reduce them from an 1.8meg jpg to 52K and 44K. You're welcome.

I'm just starting in on the camera, and will have to learn it's ins and outs. So far, the only thing I don't like about it is the case. The strap doesn't allow me to carry it, bandolier-like, around my shoulder and neck. Heck, the strap on the camera is longer. But this is a minor thing, and I may simply use the old case, though that would mean I can't wear two cameras at once. Somehow, I'll live.

In the meantime, I'm more dangerous than ever at cons and such. The first big test is likely to be the May Day Parade. That's outside, so I won't get a full test of the flash. That will wait for another day.