Thursday, March 19, 2009

There's Good News and There's Bad News

The good news is tomorrow is the first day of Spring. That's always good news. We got through another winter. The worst is behind us. Balmy will soon be the order of the day. Now for the bad news.

The bad news is that the final episode of Battlestar Galactica airs tomorrow night. Now before you tune me out, listen to this by Jack Myers of

"The most politically engaging, culturally relevant, socially entertaining and spiritually rewarding experience I had this past week was watching the two-hour finale of Battlestar Galactica at a special press screening hosted by Sci Fi network, which announced yesterday it would soon be called Syfy. Without sharing any of the details about the two-hour conclusion to be aired this Friday, it ranks among the best - if not the best - of all series grand finales. With the loss this year of Battlestar, unquestionably one of the top ten one-hour drama series ever, along with ER and, next year, Lost, the age of great long-running television dramatic series is coming to an end.

My second favorite experience of the past week was the face off between CNBC's Jim Cramer and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart. If this were Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Cramer would have been shot dead in a duel on the western shores of the Hudson River. Cramer and CNBC should be very grateful that today's TV society is suffering from a permanent and terminal case of attention deficit disorder. Stewart's bludgeoning of Cramer stands like a tower of integrity compared to John King's embarrassing CNN interview of former Vice President DICK Cheney. Where were the questions, the challenges, the intervention of truth?

I admit I am a Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow left-leaning member of the New York so-called intelligencia. I try to read and think and absorb and be open to all opinions. And I also view the world from the perspective of the media industry, which is struggling for its survival. I truly have to wonder what the future holds for an industry that simply cannot seem to connect the dots from the past eighty years to the next five. The themes in the finale of Battlestar Galactica have more to offer in the way of solutions for the challenges we face than all the news media, politicians, economists, op ed writers and pundits combined. It also had so much more to offer as a marketing partner, and while Sci Fi generated advertising premiums, NBC Universal in no way received the support it should have from marketing partners.

Asking the political questions raised by Battlestar, will the Obama team break the patterns and models of the past and lead us back to peace and prosperity? Or will the powers of the Republican Colony hold us in familiar patterns of conservatism? On MSNBC one of the commentators suggested last week we are in an economic war. If, he asked, the Democrats had constantly second guessed President Bush when he invaded Iraq, and publically hoped for the failure of our forces, would anyone have embraced the Democrats? Yet, that is what, suggested this pundit, the Republicans are doing as president Obama wages war against the economic recession, and loyal Republican supporters refuse to waver in their antipathy toward the new wave of politics. Whether you favor the Republican or Democrat points of view, you need to accept that those who hold onto traditional models in any business today are doomed to failure and defeat.

Battlestar Galactica dealt with anarchy, socialism, religious fractionalism, economic meltdown, war and many of the issues the world is confronting today. It's not a Hollywood publicity stunt that executive producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore and two stars of Battlestar Galactica (Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell) were invited to speak at the United Nations today. Fiction and life intersect. Both the fans and the talent of great TV are absorbed into it; it becomes part of our world. Its social, cultural, political and spiritual messages transcend the screen and become engrained in our reality. Battlestar Galactica, as its fans know, is about the soul and the need to transcend our every day existence in order to face the challenges of a transforming universe.

As we watch reality unfold in Washington, in the Middle East, at the G-20 Meetings, at the FCC, on Wall Street and at the upcoming network television Upfronts, it will serve us well to heed the lessons of Battlestar Galactica, of Jon Stewart and even of South Park. 'There must be some kind of way out of here said the joker to the thief. There's too much confusion; I can't get no relief.' "

So who said you can't learn anything from television?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Missing Dog - Reward

Longwood's foo dog

I read this morning in the newspaper how some local people have had their foo-dog stolen. They are understandably upset because they have had their dog for many years and it is very dear to them. Not only that, but it brings them luck. Somebody or bodies snuck onto their front porch in the middle of the night and carted their dog right off. Foo dog statues are part of a long tradition in Asia where they were originally assigned to guard temples. They are called "dogs," but are actually meant to depict lions and can be made of marble, concrete, bronze, iron, or granite. Regardless, they are pretty heavy fellows.

According to Wikipedia, the lions are always presented in pairs, with the female on the left and the male on the right. The male lion has his right paw on a ball, which represents the "Flower of life" The female is essentially identical, but has a single cub under her left paw, representing the cycle of life. Symbolically, the female fu lion protects those dwelling inside, while the male guards the structure. Sometimes the female has her mouth closed, and the male open. This symbolizes the enunciation of the sacred word om. However, Japanese adaptions state that the male is inhaling, representing life, while the female exhales, representing death. Other styles have both lions with a single large pearl in each of their partially opened mouths. The pearl is carved so that it can roll about in the lion's mouth but sized just large enough so that it can never be removed.

According to feng shui, when facing the entrance the male lion with the globe should be placed on the right with the female on the left. The article doesn't mention if these people had a pair. Maybe the male lion is off looking for his mate. So if you happen to see a stray foo-dog wandering around, call the Southwest Detective Division at 215-686-3183.

The victims of this theft are mourning its loss as well as the bad luck that seems to have befallen them. I hope they get it back. Who wouldn't love this face?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Signs Of Spring

Here is the grand entrance to The Philadelphia Flower Show with fountains, columns, statuary, pools all in great abundance.
Wednesday was "Flower Show" day, sunny, cold, and so crowded probably due to Monday's snowstorm. Madeline and I persevered as we do each year, ducking around people, trying to get up close for a decent photo, and generally battling the surge of people around each of the large exhibits. The theme this year was Bella Italia and endeavored to highlight garden spots in different areas of Italy--Tuscany (of course), Rome, the Lake district, Venice, and Milan. Maybe I've missed something, but these were the standouts.

A charmingly realistic villa.

My absolute favorite exhibit was created by the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) who do something quite avant-garde every year. I think they outdid themselves this year with their large exhibit of gowns, purses, shoes, perfume bottles and hats, all made of plant material. Their theme was Alta Moda Floreale, Milan and its fashion district. It was just fabulous. It took a long time to look at everything and people were moving so slowly to take it all in. We spoke with one of the designers who told us about 30 different people were responsible for their Best in Show trophy and other awards. Well deserved.

Here are a few of the stunning gowns they displayed (although that twig one was almost painful to behold). They were so visually gorgeous and creative.

Detail of twig skirt. Fortunately, they didn't use live models.

And the shoes. . .

Not only were the objects amazing, but the displays were so unique and compelling. See the shoes mounted on the overturned goblets with moss underfoot. Loved it.
Purses, hats, and perfume bottles too. What great imagination.

And last, but not least, my annual candy picture from The Reading Terminal Market. Why didn't I buy those lambs? All I could think to do was take pictures of them.

The rest of my photos are up in a slide show over on the right.