“Lullaby,” by W. H. Auden (recited by Eric Robert Nolan)

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A few quick words on the premiere of “The Defenders” (2017)

I certainly wasn’t as thrilled with the premiere of Marvel’s “The Defenders” (2017) as I thought I’d be.  I’d somewhat grudgingly rate it a 7 out of 10.

The show’s first episode suffers a bit from an inescapable challenge — how to satisfy the fanbase for each of four superhero characters who have had their own shows.  I’d honestly say that this show so far interests me about 50 percent of the time — I love Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but I don’t much care about Luke Cage or Iron Fist.  Complicating things further is the show’s need to logically tie together all of their respective storylines, while arousing interest in a new overall story for this nascent ensemble team.  (It … looks a lot like Daredevil’s story from both the second season of the Netflix series and the original comics.)

I’m optimistic I’ll enjoy it more as I catch the rest of the series.  Marvel properties almost always have good writers.  And the large cast here (including none other than Sigourney Weaver) is uniformly excellent.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Airwolf” (1984-1987) and “Blue Thunder” (1984)

“Airwolf” (1984 – 1987) and “Blue Thunder” (1984) were part of the decade’s fad of building TV shows around incredibly high-tech vehicles — sports cars, helicopters … even a preposterously conceived “attack motorcycle.”  (Does anyone else remember 1985’s lamentable “Streethawk?”)

“Airwolf” was a decent techno-thriller produced by CBS.  (It was revamped in its final year and relaunched on the USA Network.)  It had great action sequences, a likable star (Jan-Michael Vincent) and seemed written to appeal to an older audience, with a fairly sophisticated and morally ambiguous overall story setup.  And goddam if it didn’t have a kickass theme — even if it’s a bit of an earworm and leans heavily on  the snythesizers.  (It was an 80’s thing.)  You can check it out in the first clip below.

“Blue Thunder” was ABC’s putative competitor, I suppose.  It was an adaptation of what I remember to be a pretty respectable 1983 feature film with Roy Scheider, but the show only ran for a single season.  I hardly remember it.  (As you can see from the second clip below, though, it had a pretty interesting cast, including Dana Carvey, Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith.)  I’ve never heard anyone bring up “Blue Thunder” nostalgically either.  I do remember that my friend Keith was a fan — he and I got into a spirited debate once about which could defeat the other in an aerial battle.

If Hollywood wants to recycle everything from the 1980’s … how the hell did “Airwolf” escape its radar?  (No pun intended.)  I would love to hear Ki: Theory update that killer theme.

 

 

“November, Blue Ridge Mountains, 1992,” by Eric Robert Nolan (recited by the author)

This is me reciting a very short love poem that I wrote in college.  “November, Blue Ridge Mountains, 1992” was first published in 2013 by the International Ware Veterans Poetry Archive.

November compelled us to visit the hills
Where ignorant rock and lofty pine
Were witness to our disregard
For strangeness, temptation and time.

But memories are sticky things.
Will any mountain ever let
Me dream again? Can I now
Feel rain without regret?

 

Poet Jennifer Santellano will read my poem,”hens staring upward”

I received some nice news a little while ago — Jennifer Santellano will record my poem, “hens staring upward,” as part of her ongoing Youtube audio series.  As I’ve shared here at the blog before, Jenny is a poet herself who lends her voice talents to help other independent writers gain exposure.  (She was kind enough this past September to do a very skilled interpretation of my 2013 poem, “The Writer.”)  I recommend that you check out her wonderful audio series over at her Youtube channel.

“hens staring upward” was published previously by Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and Dead Snakes in 2015.

 

 

 

“Operation Staffhound,” by Philippe Atherton-Blenkiron (read by Eric Robert Nolan)

I’m happy today to be able to share The Bees Are Dead’s release of my audio recording of “Operation Staffhound,” by Philippe Atherton-Blenkiron.  This truly excellent poem is an excerpt from his 2014 dystopian novel in verse format, “The Pustoy.”  (I quite positively reviewed the book both here at the blog and over at Amazon, where it can be purchased — “Operation Staffhound” might be my favorite poem in the complete work.)

“The Pustoy” is a particularly dark science fiction epic that imagines a genocidal dictator, Lev Solokov, ruling a nightmarish future Britain.  The brutal “Staffhounds” are his fascist foot-soldiers in the streets.

I had great fun reading the poem.  I’m grateful to Philippe for allowing me to interpret it, and to The Bees Are Dead for sharing my recording with its audience:

Philippe Atherton-Blenkiron’s “Operation Staffhound” at The Bees Are Dead

 

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A review of Season 2 of “Black Mirror” (2013)

“Black Mirror” seems to me to be  the best science fiction show on television; I’d rate Season 2 (2013) a 9 out of 10.  (I’m never quite certain whether to group British shows by “season” or by “series,” as they do.  I’m also a little uncertain why the fourth and final episode here, “White Christmas,” is included in Season 2, as it aired nearly two years later as a 2014 holiday special.)

I commented to a friend of mine after seeing “White Christmas” the other night that the show was “brave” — it just isn’t afraid to alienate mainstream audiences by being too dark.  Not all of “Black Mirror’s”  episodes have “twists,” but they typically have an unexpected plot development, and their outcomes and implications are arguably depressing.

It’s just such a damned good show, though, in terms of its writing and acting.  My friend told me she wasn’t aware of anyone who had seen it and disliked it.

“White Christmas,” for example, was one of the best hours of science fiction television I’ve ever seen.  It consists of three blackly tragic vignettes seamlessly woven withing a wraparound story, and it employs a sci-fi plot device that is mind-bending and brutal.  I believe this is the first time I’ve seen its lead actor, Jon Hamm, and I was extremely impressed with his performance.

My only quibbles with the program are extremely minor.  As with the first season, I think that not every episode truly requires a 44-minute running length.  I thought two episodes  (“Be Right Back” and “The Waldo Moment”) seemed like they could have been tightened up into one, maybe with tighter writing allowing for shorter segments.

I’ve noticed another minor relative weakness with “Black Mirror” in general as well — the show does not always present the viewer with likable protagonists.  Occasionally, the various characters we’re asked to identify with are either slightly off-putting or even annoying.  Again, “Be Right Back” and “The Waldo Moment” spring to mind.  This wasn’t enough to greatly affect my enjoyment of the episodes, though.

What an incredible show.

 

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