Category Archives: TV

Michael K. Williams aka Omar

Michael K. Williams was more than just his character Omar Little. That’s how legacy works, though. We become filtered by perception. People are often reduced to singular acts or traits. Michael didn’t suffer the fate of being reduced, though; Omar was larger than life.

If we’re lucky enough, we find a role like Omar Little, something which defines us and gives us a platform to flourish.

“The Wire” was a slow-burning show, one which I loved when it aired. Omar fascinated me, in part because he didn’t adapt to please, and his code put his feet in motion. I loved the show more when I discovered that his killer, a young boy, and sociopath, had previously been in an episode mimicking Omar and saying he wanted to be “the next Omar.” Knowing that many of the characters on the show were based on real people gave the plot a little more kick.

Michael Williams was initially a dancer, of all things.

His scar, one earned in a horrific birthday fight when he was 25, gave him an unintended sinister look that allowed him to blossom as an actor, a career he’d never imagined. An unexpected horror surprised him with his shot in life. Michael Williams had other significant roles; it’s Omar that I picture in my head.

The above picture is one I made a couple of years ago. It’s a 16X20 custom canvas that I have in my weird sink window. I attempted to pack in meaningful references to movies, books, and icons that inspired me. I chose a few “musts,” and the rest I picked at random from a list of about 50.

Omar is in the bottom right-hand corner.

Michael died when he was 54, the same age as me. He’d struggled with drug use for years.

There are a lot of Omars walking the streets. This fact made “The Wire” such an incredible show.

There was only one Michael Williams, and his fly feet will no longer grace the Earth.

“A man gotta have a code,” Omar taught us.

I hope yours serves you well.

Love, X

Dexter+ Vindicated

Since Dexter ended, I’ve told at least five hundred people, “The show will be back. I have no doubt about it.” Many fans were upset by how the show ended. Not me. I get it. The showrunners wanted Dexter to survive the original series.

Three times since Dexter ended, I wrote short pieces regarding my certainty of its return. As Hall opted for other series, I knew that someone would look at the metrics and dollar signs.

It’s a win-win. If you don’t want to ‘spoil’ the original Dexter, don’t watch the new Season 9. For the rest of us, it all hinges on how much creativity the writers bring to the revival.

A little over two years ago, I wrote another piece about the fact that I just KNEW Dexter would return. Turns out, I was right. We’re getting it later this year. My opinion is that its return is perfectly timed. We’ll be in a different frame of mind after the pandemic.

Here’s the blog post from early 2019: https://xteri.me/2019/02/14/dexter-returns-to-kill-us-all/

After all, I told you so!

“What’s Remembered, Lives” Nomadland

The title of this, “What’s remembered, lives,” is a quote attributed to the father of Frances McDormand’s character, Fern. It’s a pithy encapsulation of a truth many of us remember when we lose someone close. Fern finds herself trapped in a self-fulfilling cocoon of memory.

I tried “Nomadland” without knowing much about it. I heard buzz about it before. Frances McDormand seems to bring depth to everything. Though she’s not a classic beauty, she’s aged beautifully. Despite being sixty-four, she appears nude in this movie and does not shirk from any realistic depiction of her character. Some moments will shock you, but none of them are gratuitous.

Frances McDormand’s character is experiencing the hollow of life after her husband died. The town they lived in died due to economics. She travels in a van as a nomad. Each place she visits greets her with fascinating and complicated people, many of whom are portrayed by ‘real’ people from the nomad movement.

It was one continuous, unutterable emotion rendered as a movie.

I might compare it to a dream, one punctuated by hyperrealistic moments that don’t let you flinch away from them. The scenery is beautiful, as is the simple music by Ludovico Einaudi. (Who I discovered accidentally a couple of years ago.) There is an odd assortment of live music in the movie, and all of it is performed with creative intimacy – by people you would love to get to know.

The movie paces with an intentional speed that might confuse some people. This movie is a bit of poetry and prose set in motion. It might well be a creative second cousin to Pat Conroy’s writing.

If I had to compare this movie to something, I might say it’s a photograph of the love of your life found after a violent storm, half-hidden in debris. Or a woman’s beautiful singing voice rendered hoarse from exertion. The beauty is bare for you to see.

Like I always do, I found little pieces of myself in this movie, and in unexpected places.

As for the ending, after Fern experiences her catharsis, it is evident that Fern chooses herself and the nomad life over one filled with people and intimate love. She is a nomad once again.

She will see us all later, though.

How To With John Wilson

If you are looking for a deep, profane, and funny show that takes a single life and amplifies it to include everyone and everything, “How To With John Wilson” will be a show you need to try. I used the word “profane” so that those who have a problem with a full range of language and visual storytelling will know they will have to grimace a few times. As for me, the juxtaposition of the possibility of everything and anything being said or seen is precisely one of the reasons why I love this show.

While it is rooted in New York City, the delight of this show is in the random connections. I laughed at several strange moments.

Each short episode is allegedly centered on a single topic, but only inasmuch as John Wilson wishes it to be. The fringes are what make the show sublime. The last episode, the one decidedly at the beginning of the epidemic, feels like ancient history and yesterday.

You’ll learn something interesting. You’ll also learn something about yourself.

In a nutshell, it is a show worth watching because it slams the boring pieces of life against a curious eye. We live in a boring, mundane, fascinating, and complicated world.

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Rectify Revisit

If you want to try a show that I think should be universally loved, this is the one. Each of us will discover something about what we think we know as we watch.

A few years ago, I watched a show that defied me to dislike it: Rectify. It’s still available on Netflix. As many said, it was the best tv show that no one was watching when it first aired.

“It’s the beauty, not the ugly, that hurts the most.” As wounding as this quote was, I laughed when I heard it again this week. Laughter emanates from the recognition of at least a kernel of truth. Though I was prepared for The Stranger scene in Rectify, the wallop it hit me with caught me off guard. If this quote seems strange to you, it is because you didn’t visit the emotional world created in this tv series.

When Daniel violently taught Teddy a lesson about his ignorance of assault, I laughed at that too, even though the lesson was graphic.

Like other shows such as Six Feet Under, Rectify tore through me like a tornado. It uses language and emotion so close to my own inner monologue that I felt like someone strip-mined me a bit to create this show. I learned more from SFU during the second viewing. Rewatching Season 1 of Rectify both amplified and soothed my past life for me. For those not exposed to brutality, it may seem counterintuitive to find redemption in seeing someone else suffer to find it.

Along with books like “The Prince of Tides” or “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” I add “Rectify” to the list of great works that line the perimeter of the sublime for me. If you watch “Rectify” with a keen eye, you will see bits of me hidden in there.

Watching the show again, I must admit that a couple of the scenes almost led me to burst into tears. I think it’s because I recognized the beauty in the struggle. We’re never the same person twice.

Here’s a link from something I wrote a few years ago:

https://xteri.me/2017/12/28/the-gift-of-rectify/

Redacted!

Although similar thoughts have passed through my porous brain over the years, I admit that the “Brooklyn 99” episode with Gina forced me to laugh out loud. I’ve said “blank” or “unintelligible mumble” in the past. Gina’s use of “redacted” was funnier, perhaps in part to the fact that not everyone would use the word in everyday conversation.

Have something you’d like to say but not say it? Want to curse but can’t? Have something potentially offensive? “Redacted” is your word.

In much the same way that saying “Karl” (from “Sling Blade”) denotes sharing a deep feeling for me, I find “redacted” increasingly serving in that capacity, too.

I made a gif to commemorate the word’s increased usage in my private vocabulary.

“Unbelievable,” And Tangent Thoughts

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If you watch the Netflix show “Unbelievable” for no other reason, watch it to appreciate what compassionate victim-oriented police work looks like. It’s a show that I think most people will find something worthwhile to take away from it. Most people will cringe at the mishandling and neglect the subject of the series endured when she first reported the assault that is the focal point of the show. For those who have suffered abuse, they’ll likely experience some visceral reactions to it.

Merritt Wever stole the show, in my opinion, despite being paired with Toni Collette, who exudes authority and presence in this show. One takeaway from the show is the vast disparity in how different police jurisdictions deal with crime victims. You’ll get irritated and disgusted fairly quickly while watching the show.

Because shows like “Unbelievable” push me into tangents…

While the show gets a bit of the information wrong, everyone who watches has that moment when the show drives home the truth that police are 2-4 times more likely to be involved in domestic abuse cases than the general population. Many cases are not reported, while others are not pursued. (Much like the shockingly low numbers of sexual abuse cases that are ever reported.) Even among the cases prosecuted, about 1/2 of the emotionally disturbed police officers convicted of domestic abuse keep their jobs, at least in the past. The statistic didn’t surprise me.

The show also makes the point that those guilty of domestic abuse are much more likely to commit other assaults, too, but that’s another tangent.

Police also tend to suffer from alcoholism at a much higher rate than the general population. Obviously, much of it goes untreated and unaddressed. Baseline reports place the number at about 1 in 4. Most put the number between 1/4 and 1/3. The tendency for a given police officer to develop an addiction increases as his tenure on the job increases. More interesting are the statistics that measure what percentage of officers are using addictive substances while on the job. Police also have higher rates of suicide and divorce than the general population.

Of course, the majority of police are stable people. There’s always at least one person who dislikes the truth and resorts to the red herring of making the mind-numbing observation that not everyone can be lumped in with those with a problem. Duh.

Because I’ve been on the receiving end of a police officer who suffered from a mix of addiction and anger issues, I find this sort of thing to be fascinating. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that an officer needs help, the odds of the officer or his or her department insisting on correction is exceedingly low. The same is true for the cases in which officers are caught drinking and driving, theft, assault, or any number of other issues. Not only does it threaten the career of the officer, but it rightly sheds damaging scrutiny on the department chain of command for the city, state, or government who should be liable for any shenanigans. Police officers, whether on duty or in their civilian capacity, are much less likely to voluntarily submit to treatment, rehab or counseling than the general population.

Though I’ve mentioned it before, I have an email from a Chief of Police in the State of Arkansas. He flatly stated that there are times when he can’t teach his officers to do the right thing. (And, as a consequence, he also didn’t ask or require them to right the apparent wrong that had been done.) I’m not making it sound worse than it is. The email was an atrocious read, reflecting the deficiency of a system that shouldn’t have any. Periodically, I find the email and read it. It reminds how badly some departments are managed.

When I watch shows detailing police incompetence or misbehavior, I always find myself nodding in recognition.

P.S. This post doesn’t end with a conclusion or nicely-themed words. It’s just some thoughts that I had from watching the show “Unbelievable.”

X
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Poldark Ends. Or Does It?

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Guest Post:

 

The series finale of Poldark ends, as Ross turns away from Demelza and boards the ship to France, to spy for the British… “I will return,” he says, his devilish grin belying nothing.

It’s likely he will return, albeit years older, in the inevitable sequel which will pass to the next generation of Poldarks, assuming both he and his friend Dr. Enys survive their foray into French espionage.

In the finale, George sees the ghost of Elizabeth once last time. Her back was turned as she entered Trenwith, even as George departed his adopted home, perhaps forever. For me, this was the nod to the sentiment of the series. It’s inescapable that some of the show is indeed soap opera-ish. Almost 90% of all the plot twists could have been avoided if people simply communicated directly. On the other hand, this sort of logical human discourse would make good drama impossible.

The actor who played Poldark in the original version of the series in the 70s made several appearances in this series. Poldark’s horse Seamus has its own Twitter account. (Yes, really.) If you want to visit Trenwith, it’s Chavenage House, in Beverston, Gloucestershire. If you were confused by the layout of the surrounding mines, villages, and towns, don’t be: in reality, they are not proximate. (And Poldark didn’t travel everywhere via the coastline and cliffs, as the series would have you imagine.)

Like Elizabeth’s ghostly return, the rebirth of another Poldark storyline is inevitable. Everything rests on the shoulders of the writers who can imagine the full world that Poldark brought to us.

The series finale is a call to remember that the principal characters will carry on, even if in our imaginations.

All of our stories must end in a predetermined conclusion. Drama, laughter, and finality.

May this serve as a tentative ‘goodbye’ to the series. I will miss the show, but certainly not the hat.

I am certain that another line of Poldarks will live to remind us what we found so sublime and delightful in this series. I’m predicting that they’ll find another unnaturally good-looking actor to serve as the focus of the revival. Don’t bother calling me, BBC One. I’m busy.
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