Entry for July 10, 2007: SFTV and music

Friends, I hope that you had a good weekend. On Friday, 6 July 2007, I chatted with role-player Byron V.O. in St. Louis. Unfortunately, fellow “Holy Steel” teleconferencer Dexter V.H. was unable to join us in time, but at least I recorded the solid third-season premiere of the BBC’s revived Doctor Who.

The long-running, time-travel television show has had regular rounds of turnover, not unlike my gaming groups. While Christopher Eccleston gave the good Gallifreyan a strong relaunch, I’ve grown to like David Tennant, who in these most recent episodes reminded me of the swashbuckling third doctor, Jon Pertwee.

While Freema Agyeman has been somewhat controversial as new companion “Martha Jones,” I thought she has been an intelligent addition in the episodes I’ve seen thus far. Granted, comedienne Catherine Tate was funny as the “Runaway Bride,” and we’ll see her again in Series 4.

I’m still catching up on recorded episodes of the BBC’s latest Robin Hood. I’d also like to mark the passing of science fiction author Fred Saberhagen, whose “Berserker” novels were favorites of my brother Peter and me.

On Saturday, July 7, Janice and I drove to various used bookstores in Sharon and Waltham, Massachusetts in an unsuccessful initial attempt to sell four boxes of used books that we got from Robert A.S., who recently moved to North Carolina.

We also caught an early matinee of computer-animated culinary comedy Ratatouille, which we liked. I would compare the Disney/Pixar movie favorably to Dreamworks SKG/Aardman’s Flushed Away, which also had clever rodents trying to find how to coexist in a society that mirrors that of humanity. I’d give “Ratatouille” an 8 or 8.5 out of 10.

Later, we watched some of the Live Earth concerts on Bravo and NBC. Thanks again to Steve M.R., who notified me of the events on his blog. A good mix of musical acts performed around the world for the worthy cause of raising ecological awareness and starting to change consumer behavior.

Speaking of music, in recent weeks, I also watched the tribute to the late Diana, princess of Wales, and to Paul Simon. Princes William and Harry organized a nice tribute to their mother, but the audio quality of the broadcast from Wembley Stadium wasn’t very good.

I thought that the best songs in the latter special were those with Simon’s old collaborator Art Garfunkel, a rockin’ medley with Stevie Wonder, and songs with South Africa’s “Ladysmith Black Mambazo.”

During the various Fourth of July concerts, I was glad to catch a few songs of Bebe Neuwirth, best known as Frasier Crane’s shrewish wife Lilith in Cheers and Frasier. Neuwirth was also the star of Broadway’s Chicago revival, which Janice and I later saw in Boston before the recent movie with Catherine Zeta Jones, so it made sense for her to sing numbers from various Bob Fosse musicals.

In a related genre, current pop favorite Amy Winehouse is a young British singer whose latest album harkens back strongly to 1960s soul. The song “Rehab” is as catchy and retro as Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” was last summer, with dark undertones but a sense of humor.

Of other current Top 40 music and video hits, I like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (O.K., perhaps seeing her gyrate painted a la Goldfinger has something to do with that, but so does the beat), the “Black-Eyed Peas'” Fergie stretching a bit in “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and Carrie Underwood’s righteous fury in “Before He Cheats.”

As various games resume this week, I’m already making plans to screen Harry Potter [5] and the Order of the Phoenix with some of the local group this coming Saturday and Live Free or Die Hard [4] with visitor Ron J.K. on Sunday. I’ll try to post a review of those and more role-playing games in the coming week.

While my primary blog is part of my Yahoo 360 site, I have posted a few things to my MySpace page, including the results of a “What Superhero Are You?” quiz and a link to a preview of the animated adaptation of D.C. Comics’ Death of Superman.