Three Monkeys - Ten Minutes : Presidents Page January 2002

My Sky dish died just before the holiday break. It took a few days to get sufficiently organised to get it back on line and in that time I really suffered from the lack of the service. The drop from about forty crystal clear channels to four fuzzy ones really gave me a sense of loss. I have never been one of those people who profess that I really don't watch much television. I make no such claims. I love it. I am a committed videophile who would have the TV on 24x7 all the time if I could just find enough material to watch that wasn't so repellent that I have to turn it off. Of course, I do not need to tell you that so much of what is broadcast is not really worth watching. This is nothing new, it is just something about the medium that so much of it is crud. And that is a good thing too or I would not get any time to get any reading done.

Sky may just be planning to cut into that reading time however. The Sky 1 channel is getting pretty serious on the "SciFi" front. A lot of what it shows are repeats, but there are some new shows there as well. Looking through the schedule for January, I can see the following broadly genre shows: Lois and Clark: New Adventures of Superman, Stargate SG-1, Andromeda, Starhunter, Lexx, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Highlander The Raven, The Pretender, Hercules, Beastmaster, The Lost World, Charmed and Dark Angel. Its not exactly a dedicated channel but its not too shabby when you add it to the offerings on the other broadcast channels. A quick look at the movie listings suggests that spread across four movie channels there are about twenty movies which can broadly fit into the SF/Fantasy/Horror area during January. All this and BBC World as well.

Did you all like the Lord of the Rings movie? As at the time of writing I have not seen it. I suspect that puts me in a very small minority in Phoenix. No doubt I will have seen it by the time you have read this however. Without being too carried away, I have been trying to avoid reading reviews etc about the film. There is a danger that by reading too many reviews that they colour your impression regardless of how hard you try to be impartial. But there is no reason not to read satire. The National Lampoon Bored of the Rings has been re-issued recently so I procured a copy. I had not read it since I was in high school so it was interesting to see how my memory of it matched the reality after this time as well of course to see how it stacked up as a satire now that I know the source work so much better than I did way back then.

So how does it stack up. Well as comedy it is distinctly unfunny. As a piece of writing it is, quite frankly, crap. But as a commentary on the weaknesses of Lord of the Rings, it is an excellent piece of observation. If you want to highlight all the weaknesses and sillyness that exist in the most popular piece of fiction written in the last 100 years or so then this is a good way of doing so. And yet strangely it does not detract from LOTR. Those bits of the original which survive in BOTR still make a great story - even with the crap quality of the writing. A reflection of the basic strength of the original. I wonder if the Harvard Lampoon version of Dune shows the same strength in the original.

As I write this, today is the deadline for this article for the 'zine and that means that it is also new year's eve, Not surprisingly, to mark the end of the year the kind folks at TVNZ trotted out a certain Kubrick film again. I think it is the fourth time that I have watched this movie this year - or at least part of it. There does not seem to be any point watching it all the way through now as I know it so well. The one thing which hits me time and time again whenever I watch this film is that the space craft and level of occupation of Space that are depicted in the film are all well within the bounds of today's technology. So why are we not there yet? I'm sure you know all the reasons that are trotted out which boil down to politics and economics of course. Sigh. So how about we do something about it in the new year. Apart from being a numeric palindrome 2002 is an election year. So how about we campaign for any party that will deliver a credible space programme for New Zealand. No? Well we will just have to find something else. This is where I am supposed to get inspirational or philosophical or something like that. To heck with that - have a good 2002 everybody.