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Posts Tagged ‘StarTrek’

Today’s “binge” review is for the series “Lie to me*“, which aired between 2009 and 2010.  I purchased two of the seasons (I haven’t seen Season 3 – from 2011) on VUDU while on sale for $5 each.  Season one has 13 episodes and season two has 22, so I watched about 26 hours of the show over the last week (ish).  Season three (13 episodes) is not currently available to purchase on VUDU, and even if it becomes available, I’ll still wait until it’s on sale for $5.  (Cause I’m just cheap / thrifty that way.)  Which means I may be waiting some time before I see / review the final season.  I believe the series was cancelled for lack of audience.  My brother referred this series over a year ago (he said it was terrific / must see), but when I told him I was watching it, he claimed to not remember it at all.  Go figure…
The series is basically a crime drama / investigation / police procedural starring Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, Kelli Williams as Lightman’s partner, Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, a graduate student / employee of the Lightman Group (Lightman and Foster’s company), Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, another employee, Hayley McFarland, as Emily Lightman (the Dr.’s daughter) and Mekhi Phifer as FBI Agent Ben Reynolds, muscle assigned to work with the Group.
The company specializes in “reading” body language and micro-expressions to act as human lie detectors.  The premise is Dr. Lightman is a “genius” at this and can tell if anyone is trying to lie.  Hence, he gets lots of work from the government and various police forces.
The show is based on the actual scientific studies and work of Dr. Paul Ekman who serves as a consultant for the show and who actually performed these duties for real agencies, in the real world.  I was completely unfamiliar with “micro-expressions” or the work of Dr. Ekman.  I read “Body Language” by Julius Fast, way back in the early 1970’s when it was a best seller, so I have been “kind-of” familiar with the general concept of “reading” people for most of my adult life.  Fast’s book was published in paperback in 1970, which is the version I read.  Dr. Ekman has loads of books and has been publishing for over fifty years.  You can find some of his videos on YouTube if you are interested in the topic.
Is the show any good?  Does the “science” work?  Yes and who knows for sure…  I thoroughly enjoyed the series after I got over my initial doubts that ANY of the premise is actual science.  If the show works (as entertainment), who really cares if the science is real or not (see StarTrek, StarWars or any of a million other series).  It IS entertaining.  Mostly because Roth owns this role.  I’m not familiar with much of his other work, so I don’t know if he’s acting or doing a John Wayne (playing himself in every role, over and over again).  I remember Roth from one of the Hulk movies and kind of remember him from “Reservoir Dogs“, but I haven’t seen that in ages, so, like I said, I’m not sure.  The other actors are mostly ok to good in their roles, but to be honest, it’s all mostly attractive yuppie stuff, so I wouldn’t say I’d go out of my way to look for any of them in other roles.
Final recommendation: Strong, but with reservations. I did enjoy the series and found the premise interesting enough that I will look into the scientific basis if I happen to stumble on a used book on the topic of micro-expressions / lie detection / body language, but I doubt if I would ever really try to use any of the info I might glean from the book.  Generally, I think I’m a bit too narcissistic to care about other people’s body language now that I’m retired.  I’m not sure their “truth” is worth all that much effort on my part and I certainly would not devote enough time on it to become expert level.  Like I said: interesting premise and entertaining series.  I’m looking forward to viewing season three.
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On This Day In:
2017 Give And Keep
2016 No Change Here
2015 Campbell’s Law
2014 Dignified Values
2013 Unappreciated Skill
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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I took Friday off to get a little maintenance done on the car and to just chill a bit from work.  I also went out and picked up the DVD for “Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows (part 1)“.
Hil and I watched it last night.  Hil hasn’t read the books and hasn’t followed the movie series closely, so she was a bit lost.  I’ve only read the books once and although I’ve seen every movie, I don’t tend to “study” them the way my daughter Sarah does.  Anyway, it was my second viewing.  The first was at the theater the weekend of first release.  I enjoyed it (again) even though I still didn’t feel like the movie made much sense.  I also didn’t like the producers splitting the ending movie up by a whole year (parts 1 and 2).  In my opinion, it’s just to drive up the sales of both tickets and DVDs.  Still, it is what it is…
During the day (yesterday), I watched “The Core“.  This is a SciFi movie which I must have seen 20 or 30 times in the last 10 years.  (Actually, I believe it came out in ’03, so the last 8 years.)  I enjoy it more each time I watch it.  There are just some great “movie moments” in this film (for me).  One of the classics is when the character Hilary Swank plays is waiting outside a hearing room where she believes she is to be court-martialed and she gets called in and has no place to put her gum, so she swallows it.  That was just a great, real-life, happened to me moment (forced to swallow gum, not getting court-martialed).  The movie is about the core of the earth stops spinning and a group of scientists must go to the core and restart the spinning.  The effects are great the first few times you see them, average after about ten and so-so after twenty views.  BUT the acting gets better and better!  There is a lot of subtle character interaction and that’s what makes it so enjoyable for me to re-watch.  This is definitely a movie I’ll have to pick up on DVD (when the price is right).  Highly recommended!!
Yesterday, I also read a graphic novel: “Fallen Son: The Death Of Captain America”, written by Jeph Loeb (2007©).   My son (James) and I were discussing patriotism and he was out a the mall and thought I would like this book, so he bought it for me.  I grew up reading most of the comics Marvel Comic Company produced.  Captain America was one of the many characters I read about, but without super powers, he seemed one of the least interesting to me.  Marvel was always ahead of their time in dealing with societal issues – particularly the angst of being “different” in a society where many people just want to “be normal” and “fit in”.  I never really thought much about how a fictional, comic-book patriot would feel about what was happening in America during the George W. Bush Presidency.  After reading “Fallen Son“, it’s refreshing to see Captain America came out against many of the abuses of personal liberty which came out of that Administration and time period.  It is also interesting to see the company have the character captured and “assassinated” in order to draw attention to the ideals of freedom which Captain America came to represent.
Of course, Cap is a popular character, so after a suitable period of time he gets resurrected (more correctly, he never actually died) by Marvel, but still, it is nice to see some company stood up for fundamental American values.  I wonder if Marvel took any “heat” for their stance and if they would be allowed to do it again (as the comic company is currently owned by Disney Corp).
It seems there is always a conflict between the needs of the many and the needs of the few.  This theme keeps coming up in my lifetime – be it in comics, the Army, StarTrek, current politics, or American history.  I don’t know that there is any resolution to the question.  What is “safety and security”?  Are we safer with nine criminals and one innocent in prison than we are with all ten free?  Historically, this country has – in theory – always sided with it being better to have guilty free.  As a practical matter, I’d wager the reverse is the reality though – particularly if the incarcerated “innocent” is poor or a minority.  (But I digress…)
I am currently reading a short book on the faiths of several of the founding fathers.  It is fascinating.  More later…
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In my last post, I forgot to mention another point the author of the book spends a lot of time on – namely, “a runner’s high“.  This is vaguely described as a feeling of euphoria during or immediately after (and a result of) physical exertion.  The author says there is a vast range of experiences and intensities to this “high”.  I have felt it numerous times, but would point out a more addictive form which I would label (borrowing from StarTrek) the “temporal shift”.  In this state, the person is “in the zone”, that is, time appears to slow, experience (colors, sounds, tastes and textures) is intensified and you genuinely feel “alive” and in the moment.  It is a sensation of perfection.
One example of this occured while I was taking an Aikido lesson several years ago.  The person was throwing me and as I entered (attacked), I had the sense of being caught in the wind.  I could not feel the opponent, but I was so caught up in his energy and movement I followed a natual path into my fall and roll.  When I got up I asked him if he felt it too, and strangely enough, he did not.  He did not feel I was particularly easy or  difficult to throw, but he did not “experience” the throw in the same energy flow I did.  This seemed strange to me because I assumed if you felt the shift with another they would also feel it.  On reflection, though, it made perfect sense as I’ve had numerous other similar experiences where time appeared to slow – or stand still – and others seemed completely unaware of the experience.
A similar experience (for me) used to happen every once in a while when I was a programmer.  I would be concentrating so hard for so long, I seemed to have 15 or 20 variables in my head and the cloud of the application running simultaneously in my brain (with the cpu).  In a strange way, although time seemed to slow, it was actually racing along, as I would look up and hours would have passed and it would be time to go home.  Obviously, there is a different mechanism which produces the state of euphoria, but makes the experience of time variable.
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