Episode 83 – Battlestar GalacTALKa Series Finale / True Blood

October 5, 2010


Those who’ve listened to the episode already know that we didn’t GalacTALKa about the finale very much. Perhaps not as promised, but pretty much as expected. It wasn’t our fault though. For one thing True Blood is a lot more interesting to talk about. Those are some characters you can sink your teeth into.

Fear not, further talk on the BSG finale, Daybreak, will probably jump its way into future episodes. Perhaps if we ever do a Diana Gabaldon special. Because I will have even less to say about Outlander than Mandi did about the BSG finale. Or exactly the same amount: “It’s fine.” Except that would be a complete lie. I had to put it down at page 76 feeling that it is the antithesis of “fine.”

But in case we never get around to a real breakdown of Daybreak on the podcast, here’s a few thoughts we had.

1) Question: Why didn’t the fans like the finale? I’m not exactly sure I understand what upset people so much. It was, as Mandi said with a slight sigh of resignation, “Fine.”  I didn’t pay a lot of attention to their comments at the time it aired, trying to stay spoiler-free, but now I’m wishing I did.

Because for anyone who actually enjoyed the series for what it was, Daybreak had to be pretty much the perfect finale. Which means it was only “just fine” but still, what did people expect? Did anyone really think the show would suddenly stop being an overly melodramatic soap opera with massive continuity flaws and hackneyed, plot-driven writing?

Perhaps they objected to the completely pointless flashbacks to before the war that slowed the pace down to a near standstill. Those scenes could all have been removed to the betterment of the episode(s). They only served to be pretentious wankery and did little to shed any new light on the characters.

So Apollo and Starbuck almost made-out when Zack was still alive? Is that supposed to be a character revelation that suddenly puts their relationship in perspective? If so, it fails miserably. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about them.

Nor do Roslin’s ill-fated cougar episodes tell us anything more about her lonely, isolated personal life on Caprica. We got all that in the series, the way we should have—from her character development and in the subtext within Mary McDonnell’s portrayal.

Like any prequel, the flashbacks only served to weaken what was already there, not add a new layer of depth. Which is why they were probably so boring to watch. Perhaps, if you’d never experienced a single minute of BSG, they’d have been interesting interludes introducing you to those characters that added context for what was going on in the present. But if so, why the hell were you watching the series finale and not the debut miniseries?

2) It wasn’t nearly as religious as we’d been lead to believe. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it wasn’t religious at all. Instead it was purely mythological, a rehash of a thousand creation myths rolled into one. Based, again, on the outrage of fans at the time, I was expecting a heavy-handed Christian message tacked-on at the end or something.

But no, it was about as sci-fi as anything I’ve read or seen but with a lot less heavy-handed Christ imagery than something like Narnia, The Matrix or even Fifth Element.

Yes, religious beliefs do play a large role in the story for the characters. But religious beliefs play a major role for Bajorans, Vulcans, Klingons, Jedis, and Elves. There is clearly a “God” and “Angels” in BSG, but I expect it’s just some alien race like The Q.

But then, I’m an athiest and if I were confronted with a real life miracle, I’d probably think the same thing.

3) The opera house dream arc makes no sense at all. Well, it makes sense, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to working.

The strength of BSG is supposed to be the plot arc that sweeps over all four seasons. Which would be a great thing if it wasn’t painfully clear that they had no idea where they were headed from the start. The opera house/dream storyline highlights this best.

There is absolutely no point to Roslin’s or Gaius and Caprica Six’s connection to Hera. They don’t really save her. They don’t end up raising her, Athena and Helo are still alive. And beyond that, there ultimately isn’t even any point to Hera’s existence at all. She isn’t the one to point them to Earth, Kara does. Hera doesn’t convince Cavil and Adama to end the war, they more or less work that out on their own. If she doesn’t get eaten by a lion, Hera will probably just grow up to mate with a Neanderthal. Okay, great… So what? So is everyone else. After all the drama surrounding Hera, she ends up having no real significance? If there’s one thing the fans should have been upset about it’s that.

Of course, the writers and producers set themselves up to fail by, at one point or another,  alluding to almost every single character as being a possible Saviour figure. From Kara to Sam to Roslin to Gaius to Hera to Leoben to [insert character name here], they couldn’t all be the one who saves Humanity and Cylonity(?) from extinction.

Unfortunately, the writers didn’t tie the story up well enough so that they all played an equal part. Most of them were dead weight, dragging the plot down, by the time they finally reach Earth.

There’s no small amount of minutiae I could get into, but picking apart BSG’s minutiae is like shooting ducks in a barrel with Galactica’s cannons (which never really seemed to hit much, considering the continuous barrage of death they spewed). The above were the main points I noticed while watching the finale and, really, about all the consideration I wish to ever give the show again.

Perhaps in the future some nit-picking will emerge as we tangent off topic on another show, but for now we’re watching True Blood (which is like a really good Twilight fanfic).


Episode 81 – Degrassholes (Back 2 School Special)

September 10, 2010


Jian Ghomeshi denies Joey Jeremiah inspired the FruVest.

This week (in Canada at least) kids (and teachers) left their lives of freedom behind and went back to school. To celebrate (prepare), Jakob and Mandi watched some Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and School’s Out! then talked about why they’re all better than Degrassi: TNG and every other teen television drama ever aired.


Episode 80 – Pets, Peeves and Pikachu

September 3, 2010

Beans has no shame.

This is episode 80 in which we talk about pets. Or , to be a little more accurate, we talk insufferably about our own pets. We don’t actually talk about Pikachu much so don’t expect Pokemon talk.

I used to want a Bengal cat until I found out they’re more than a pretty face. They’re batshit crazy and will destroy your house if you don’t keep them entertained. This, of course, completely negates the whole point of owning a cat. The reason people own cats over something absurd like a Jack Russell terrier (or the even more neurotic Border Collie) is that they’re supposed to be less, not more, work than a two-year old human.

But also, why settle for a reasonably conventional pet when instead you could isntead go for the gusto and have something awesome like a Russian Fishing Cat. I imagine living with one is the Russian roulette of pet ownership. Only I think a better way to go out is with a bullet to the brain instead of having your face eaten off in the bathtub.

That’s a disturbing enough image, but it doesn’t compare to the freaky world of purebred dogs.

And even more disturbing…

Well, we finally got around to watching Disc 2 of Season 4.5. It sure starts off with a bang. I won’t spoiler it here, but whoa! The first two episodes are the best BSG in a long time. Actually, we don’t even spoiler (too) much in our discussion because we’re far too busy being bad at Cylon math. (There are, of course, spoliers as usual though).


Episode 78: Thriftspotting

August 20, 2010

Have you ever found an original Han Solo figure still in the card for $2 at a thrift store or a yard sale? Probably not. But it’s the dream.

The reality (and nightmare) of thrifting is you’re in danger of ending up with a house full of broken-down, kitschy junk. Like the terrifying Baby Secret!

This guy is pretty annoying but you get to hear all of Baby Secret’s, uh, secrets in this clip.

Slightly more terrifying, if you can believe it, is the Reborn doll phenomenon.


Episode 77 – Craft Beers and Crap Beers

August 13, 2010

Third time’s a charm for this episode. After two disastrous attempts to record this podcast (one too drunk, one too hung over), we finally got this episode in the can.

Beer is a hurdle for almost everyone. People tend to have very set opinions on what is a drinkable brew. Some won’t drink anything other than mass-market (Bud, Labatts, Coors, Molson) swill, others will only imbibe the richer flavours of a micro brewery’s craft ale.

Here at the hurdle hut, we’re decidedly in the latter camp. Though there are a few beer Jedi’s who can balance the light and the dark without batting an eye, people are generally set in their ways.

Personally, I like the dark ales and stouts (once you go black, you never go back). Though, almost a full week after the Toronto Festival of Beer, I still feel a little like I will never again touch another drop . Or, perhaps, until tonight.

Dark ales weren’t the order of the day at Great Lake’s Brewing’s Caskapalooza area of the festival where wheat beers, fruity brews and ales so hoppy a rabbit would be scared reigned. These interesting small batch brews were the essence of what beer fest is all about; tipping back a half-pint of something you’d never tried before.

Left: Jakob annoys Tara while wearing the “shit compress” Labatt’s Fiddy shirt he found on a tree and wrapped around his head. Also, a flower in his beard and the inability to focus his eyes properly.

Referenced video: Double Complete Rainbow


Episode 76 – Hack Job (Computer hackers)

August 6, 2010


Pouting is an essential part of being a hacker.

Hackers. People sure do love hackers in movies. Oddly, in real life, they just get ridiculed. Probably because they don’t actually look like Angelina Jolie or Keanu Reeves and aren’t as cool as Kevin Flynn.

Also everyone’s afraid some pimply kid in a Nine Inch Nails shirt is going to drain their bank account. Somehow. No one really knows how computers work so it seems like a perfectly valid fear. Just like vampires were in the middle ages.

But is the hacker, as seen in movies, real or just a sort of urban myth? The problem is, a census can’t be taken since real hackers would never reveal their identity. And would a real life hacker actually choose a name like Zerœ_Bürn or Acid Re:FLUX?


The first and best hacker movie ever? War Games.

Somehow I doubt it. The real computer wizards I’ve met never had any kind of edginess to them whatsoever. They’re quiet, unassuming and more likely to listen to Matchbox 20 than Front 242. Not a single set of tight leather pants in their wardrobe. I don’t know if those guys are the real hackers of the world, but I imagine the real hackers are closer to David Lightman than Kate Libby.

Internet comedian Community Channel’s awesome take on hackers in movies:


Episode 72 – To Infinerdery and Beyond

July 9, 2010

Buzz

At some point Pixar films went from a breath of the freshest air to a lungful of the same stale popcorn.

And I’m not sure why. Looking at the list of their films, other than the WTF wrong-turn they took with Cars, it’s all pretty good stuff. The best of the genre, you might even say. Though I’ll always pick Dreamworks’ Antz over A Bug’s Life, my dislike for their films I don’t rate (Wall-E, The Incredibles) has more to do with over-hyping than the quality of the films themselves.

I haven’t seen Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Up simply because when I saw Monsters Inc, I knew Pixar were beginning to spin their wheels and no one else seemed to notice. Mostly that the conveyor belt scene is the same as the conveyor belt scene in the airport in Toy Story 2. Not only that, they relied on the same character dynamics and pranks, just packaged in a new set of creatures.

To compound matters, the Shrek and Ice Age movies jumped on the bandwagon in a big way. At first they gave it some new momentum but ultimately bogged it down into the mire of mediocrity. Shrek 2, unfairly, has more to do with my Pixar hurdle than any Pixar film.

When Finding Nemo came out I’d had it. I didn’t need to see the same quest with the same gags and the same conveyor belt scene at the end. Though there probably isn’t a conveyor belt in the ocean, I suspect there’s some underwater current or a ride down a system of sewer pipes at some point. I still haven’t seen Nemo, the hurdle is that strong.

I did see Wall-E though. People said it was a breath of fresh air; it broke down barriers; it built on Pixar’s original standards set by Toy Story. Sounded good.

I watched it. And, yes, it started strong. Really strong. But what was I treated to? That same fucking conveyor belt scene for the last half the film.

Pixar were dead to me at this point. They were definitely going down. Up looked like a new low, as far as I was concerned. I still haven’t risen to the challenge.

But we did see Toy Story 3. And it is glorious.

Not only does it live up to the standard set by the previous two adventures—again raising the bar and not lowering it—it’s the only 3D film where I’ve said “They got it right.” It’s not a 3-D wankery spectacle like Avatar, it’s an enhanced movie experience.

It’s also a lesson in how to do a sequel that references the previous films without leaning on them. It’s satisfying, not ham-fisted. Sure, there’s a goddamn conveyor belt at the end, but they found a new(ish) way to flog that horse.

Is Pixar back in the game? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t hesitate to see Toy Story 4.

Some nerds made some buzz with Buzz.

We wrap up Season 4.0 in the most spoiler-heavy way possible. But more importantly, who wears pants and who goes comando?


Episode 71 – Trials and Tribulations of Nerds in The Workplace

June 25, 2010

After high school, the most dangerous place for the common nerd is the workplace. Or is it?

It really all depends on the workplace in question. An investment office full of ambitious, privileged, pretty people might not be a safe haven for a dumpy, balding man with a moderate case of Aspergers. But he might be revered as a guru at the comic shop.

Or he might get fired for sexually harassing “the girl” who works there.

But extreme situations aside, many people feel the need to hide their nerdy inclinations from their colleagues. And it’s too bad since they might find out there’s a fellow Trekkie two cubicles down if they weren’t afraid of ridicule around the water-cooler.

And it’s no wonder people are afraid. Whenever coworkers find out I like Star Trek and sci-fi they always say something to the effect of, “Really? I didn’t think you would be into that kind of thing!” with barely disguised disdain. I find it amusing  but someone less at ease with their own nerdiness may feel the need to cry away the shame in a bathroom stall.

Also amusing is when they think they’re being reassuring and supportive by saying, “But you’re not a… a nerd.”

I usually just say, “Yeah, I am kind of,” and refrain from pointing out they’re a big nerd too. Probably bigger than me. Like closeted gays who rattle off homophobic epithets to protect themselves from their own desires, the biggest offenders of workplace nerd-bashing are closeted nerds. Another reason the Nerd Pride movement is so important.

ugly betty
They even make sitcoms about nerds facing discrimination in the workplace.

By and large, Mandi and I have been lucky. We’ve both worked exclusively in nerd-friendly environments. Mandi worked at a Nerd Store (comics, role-playing games, magic supplies—as in actual stage magic, not the card game) and historical reenactment Fort, and I’ve worked at video stores and record stores before moving on to the uber-geeky environment of mid-level government offices.

Record stores may seem like hot-beds of cool from the outside, but you’ll never find a more wretched hive of nerds and geekery. Sure, the odd coolie-woolie comes in looking for the hippest new record by the hippest new band from Brooklyn, but the regulars are guys looking for first-pressings of ’70s prog bands or Japanese pressings of Deep Purple records with the obi intact.

I ask you who’s nerdier: A guy looking for a specific Spiderman comic or a dude looking for a specific bluegrass 78 from the 1930s? I’ve seen both and let me tell you, anyone looking for 78s is beyond hope.

So the other side of the counter is pretty much the safest place for a nerd to work. I’ve also seen nerds’ social statuses skyrocket as soon as they became record store employees. It’s a sad statement on society and the sheep-like nature of human beings, but it’s a fact. Record stores turn nerds from pumpkins into princesses. Too bad they really are going to be a thing of the past in about five to ten years.

Nerd-bashing certainly can be a danger in the workplace, we’ve just never experienced it. But normies should take note and watch this classic study on what can result from workplace nerd abuse. Be careful who you marginalize.

LINK: We reference a Karen who bought actress Suzie Plakson‘s vulcan ears. And we say some stuff about that. You can read about that HERE for context.


Episode 70 – Prom Bombers

June 18, 2010
Mandi’s date wore a white belt before they were cool.

Prom. What a bizarre tradition. A party to reward kids for merely showing-up at the state-run daycare for 12 years and occasionally doing a little homework. A celebration of finally being free. Free to slave at a minimum wage job or go on to another school. A rite of passage into the adult world of binge-drinking and date-rape.

But mostly it’s the night the coolie-woolies look forward to the whole school year and nerds dread.

Except those nerds who plan to pull an Andie Walsh and stun the room with their stupendously ugly homemade dress and win the guy. I’m sure many an unfortunate nerd has attempted to emulate the climax of a John Hughes movie to the amusement of their classmates.

Neither Mandi or Jakob went that route. Though Mandi did steal her dress from a prop-room and Jakob wore hand-painted Chuck Taylors. So maybe they both kind of did.


The dress that almost drew blood. You are correct in thinking Jakob’s been wearing those glasses since highschool.

Episode 69 – Sexy Hurdles Part Deux: Sex Shops

June 11, 2010

Heh heh. The window says Additional Entrance In Rear. Heh heh.

One has to wonder if there’s a natural reason humans surround sex with so much shame. Since continuing to bump uglies is as essential for the survival of our species as figuring out how to fix global warming, what could be the evolutionary advantage to shrouding sex with negative associations?

And is it the sex or the gauche cheesiness that makes sex shops such a hurdle for so many people?

And why are sex toys so expensive? The first time I set foot in a sex shop I was struck by two impressions. A) What is that smell? and B) I can’t afford any of this stuff!

Whatever the reasons philosphers ans sociologists will never be able to discover, people have hurdles surrounding sex. In spite of being a moderate Kevin Smith movie fan and an avid listener of Smodcast, I’d been avoiding Zack and Miri Make a Porno since I first saw a poster for it in the subway station. Something about it just have me a “no feeling” as Mandi is apt to say. Whether it was the concept of debt-riddled roomates turning to porn to pay the bills was too close to the unfunny circumstances of junkies turning to porn to support their habbit or just the childlike word “porno” gives me icky shivers like the word “panties” does, I did not want to see the film.

After having hidden it under my coffee table for six months, we finally watched it. Did we hurdle it? Did it have a heart like Chasing Amy and Smith’s best films? Was it merely a Judd Apatow rip-off as the trailers suggested. You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out.


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