Nov 27 2016

Watching TV in a live concert

Adel Gabot

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8:28AM

I was rewatching Adele: Live in New York City this morning, and I noticed a curious thing: whenever the footage switched to a combined shot showing Adele in the foreground and a large video monitor showing the live concert in the background, I found myself unconsciously watching the video monitor instead of the more accessible, vibrant foreground of the actual concert.

Eh? What the hell?

I remember catching myself doing the same thing in actual live concerts, and have to consciously remind myself to watch the actual damn show happening right in front of me instead of watching it on a monitor. I didn’t pay an inordinate amount to go to a live show and just watch television in a concert hall, dammit.

I think this is a consequence of our incessant media watching that it’s become an ingrained and unconscious habit to turn to a video monitor and watch when one presents itself. Even when it’s doing a redundant function such as providing better visuals of a live concert to the cheap seats far in the back.

It’s not as if I can help it. It’s an automatic response, a Pavlovian reaction. I don’t even think about it, I just do it. It’s a function of the current technological stage we’re living in that we unconsciously watch a video monitor whenever there’s one around, regardless of the situation or environment at that time. It’s so deep-seated as to be a fundamental instinct.

We have to remind ourselves that there’s a time and a place for everything, and when the actual reason for the video coverage is happening right there, in flesh and blood, breathing and thinking and reacting, singing and dancing and acting, we need to watch that actual thing instead of watching reproduced pixels and phosphors on a bright screen. When the actual thing is long gone, or the actual thing is not happening in front of us and we don’t have easy access to it, then that’s the time we consider watching the footage on video.

So there.

Wala lang. Just ranting.


Nov 1 2016

This is how it’s done

Adel Gabot

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7:49PM

I’ve long griped about how ridiculous these paranormal investigation shows on TV are.

The overhyped, overdramatized, overdone lunacy that is Ghost Adventures, the staid and boring Ghost Hunters, the southern, down-home idiocy that is Ghost Asylum and the plethora of what I call Wishful Thinking TV, they’re all just patently stupid. Usually investigating for an evening with all the lights out, with their night vision cameras and “equipment”, they’re all just pulling our and each other’s legs, and scaring themselves silly. And for all the hundreds of hours I’ve put into them, I have yet to see one genuine apparition.

Yet I watch them anyway. And feel stupid for doing so, week after week.

Then came Paranormal Lockdown.

I’ve written about it before in this blog, I think.

The show is refreshingly uncluttered. All you have are the two investigators, Nick Groff, a former original Ghost Adventures investigator and Katrina Weidman, a ten-year veteran paranormal investigator, and their single cameraman.

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They somehow get it right.

Groff, Weidman and their cameraman lock themselves into a location for 100 hours (not just overnight), investigate continuously (even during the day), have better much equipment than the other shows, and have a healthy streak of skepticism. More often than not, they get better evidence too. Well, relatively.

Don’t get me wrong. They have their own problems, and they have their share of mostly wishful thinking. But the overdramatization and the overhyping is kept to a minimum, and they are more serious then their competitors. And they’ve actually given me a goosebump or two to boot, for the first time in reality TV of this sort.

The series premiered earlier this year with a truncated six-episode season, with no word that it’s going to continue. Then all of a sudden, there’s a special two-hour Halloween Special that just aired.

In this episode, investigating poltergeist phenomena at The Black Monk House in Pontrefact, England, there is actual evidence: strange noises, painful scratches, pushing, doors opening and closing, battery-less clocks operating, marbles flying around, big grandfather clocks being thrown about, an actual apparition. For a couple of moments there, I felt like I was watching a good horror movie and was properly sucked in. I actually wondered if I was watching real phenomena.

Keep it up, Destination America, and I just might keep watching.


Oct 31 2016

Robots Are Us

Adel Gabot

Humans Series 1 Episode 5

4:57PM

Just saw the premiere episode of Humans Season 2 this afternoon, and as I was watching it I was struck by how much show business has overlapped with similar or same stories and plots again. This happens every so often. In cycles. And it’s happened again.

Humans, the remake of Westworld, Pure Genius (the premiere of which I saw this weekend), to name a few.

We have androids/robots slowly gaining sentience, Silicon Valley young upstart billionaires spending their money to promote their own agendas—some plots are so alike they could pass for one another with a few simple tweaks.

The synths of Humans and the hosts of Westworld could literally switch places and no one would be the wiser. Carrie-Anne Moss and Anthony Hopkins too. Or the wonderkinds from Pure Genius and Humans.

Strange.

Wala lang. It’s probably nothing important, but I thought I’d mention it.


Oct 24 2016

Dead Walking

Adel Gabot

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6:16PM

I can’t let this one pass by without make some sort of comment: today’s season premiere of The Walking Dead is abominable.

I’ve gradually been disappointed over the years and frankly, digusted by the depths to which the show has slowly sunk.

This latest episode takes the cake.

It’s just an excuse to shock and showcase the violence and cruelty of men to other men, and it’s just an hour of pure… God, I can’t even begin to put it into words. In a word, it’s unspeakably brutal. It’s repulsive and relentlessly cruel. And I think like that because the show has made me care for the characters too much.

The double-header murder (pun intended) of Abraham and Glenn at the hand of Negan’s barbed-wired baseball bat Lucille as everyone looks on has finally driven the show over the edge. That, and the threatened amputation of the arm of Rick’s son—by a put-upon Rick. And they had the audacity to make it a cliffhanger from the previous season, making us wait for the resolution.

I’ve had enough. Me, a lifelong horror connoiseur and fan. But I have my limits too, you know.

To my view, the show has been steadily deteriorating since Season Three or maybe Four, and I’ve long wanted to give up watching it, but I’ve been horridly fascinated, like a driver happening upon a horrible accident on the road and not being able to look away.

Well, no more. I’m giving up on The Walking Dead. I’m Walking away. The show is Dead to me.


Oct 2 2016

One Punch Man

Adel Gabot

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10:56AM

I just finished binge-watching the first season of the anime One Punch Man. Not to mince words, but… I loved it.

It’s one of those silly, no-explanation-necessary, fun anime epics Japan is known to produce from time to time. This 12-episode run of 30-minute shows doesn’t try to explain where the hero’s powers come from (apart from his simple story about just working out for three years to prepare), and frankly, I don’t really care to know.

But the man is incredibly strong. All he needs is one single punch to devastate an enemy, and that’s basically it. It’s a one-joke anime; you never really worry about how he’s going to do, you know all he needs is that one punch, and everything’s over. Somehow, the producers make that one joke last for one whole season, and the strange part is it doesn’t get stale. At least for me.

Saitama, our hero (when he goes out as one) is dressed in a basic, ridiculously simple yellow and red costume with a white cape, and he lives simply in a bare apartment, looking forward to sale days at his neighborhood grocery and making simple egg-and-rice dinners. To quote him, he “is just a hero for fun.”

He is bald (apparently from all that working out), and his freewheeling, carefree manner even in the face of overwhelming danger is odd, but strangely appropriate for his character, who doesn’t seem to care much about anything other than what’s for dinner. He wanders about the city looking for wrong things to right in his spare time. For fun.

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In his adventures, he comes across a man named Genos, who’s been converted into a powerful cyborg in the recent past and has aspirations to be a hero as well. Genos gets to know Saitama and, admiring his abilities, makes himself Saitama’s “disciple,” hoping to learn from him, and begins living in Saitama’s apartment.

They both apply to get registered in a database of heros, where Genos becomes a top-rated Class “S” hero while Saitama becomes a low-rated Class “C”. There, they meet an assortment of other different, weird and eccentric heroes, and the show explores the adjustments and class conflicts Saitama has with these other heroes, mixed with their many adventures protecting the world from all sorts of weirdos and aliens.

I don’t really know what makes the show appealing. It’s all patent nonsense, with the usual anime-style tricks the Japanese have turned into an art. Sometimes the animation is very basic and simple, but sometimes turns into heavy, overwrought graphics to emphasize the power and action involved. Occasionally, it devolves into Moebius-type drawings, and sometimes into a childish cartoon style. It’s all good.

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One Man Punch has its share of detractors and non-fans. My brother, for instance, hates it and says it’s too-Eighties looking for him, whatever that means. But I’m a big fan for sure, as are millions of otaku around the globe.

I can’t wait for the second season, which begins on Dec. 19.