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the good ol' days weren't always good...

...and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems. -- billy joel

i recently discovered the miracle (actually much, much less than that) of free movies online with netflix. turns out i am eligible for about 17 hours of online viewing, included in my $17/month subscription to the otherwise brilliant internet movie service. a couple of weeks ago i was browsing through the titles available online-- some good ones, a few great ones, mostly "b" or "c" movies. for example, i downloaded the ghost and mr. chicken, an old don knotts movie from the 1960s that i thought my dad recommended i see. i watched it with james, and after a pretty solid first five minutes it was a complete flop. i'm surprised it got an average vote of 7 out of 10 on the internet movie data base.

two days ago i swam through the freebies again, hoping to find a lost gem. turns out the entire first season of the outer limits, again from the 1960s, is there. you've probably heard of the twilight zone, yeah? the outer limits creepier and better, i think, at least from a sci-fi perspective. the twilight zone excelled on the psychological side of things. but i digress. i watched the first few minutes of a couple of episodes, brilliant as ever, but james wasn't too impressed. honestly, any chance to watch t.v. is a major score for him, but he kept asking, "why is everything gray?"

the outer limits isn't kid material, so i decided to check out the other free abc network programming, battlestar galatica-- the 1970s version, not the new one out today. i have not seen the sci-fi channel's version yet, though i hear it is one of the best things on t.v. guess what's next in my queue at netflix? the original battlestar galatica came out when i was seven, in 1978. actually to call it original-- mixing it with truly original shows like twilight zone and the outer limits-- is just wrong. nothing original about b.g. it is a blatant rip-off of star wars. but hey, in 1978 i was all over star wars-- so copy or not i was on board.

besides, last time i checked, not even star wars had robots with the flashing red eye thing. that was very cool. and they had the voice too. and if you dug the 1980s version of transformers like i did you have to remember soundwave-- the decepticon who transformed into a cassette player-- he had the same cool voice. ok, i am descending into the nerd realm here. i promise a point is coming.

i watched the first two parts of a three part pilot of b.g. with james and miles. what kind of show has a three part pilot? the cylons did their thing, starbuck, apollo, boomer, and the others did theirs, blah blah. it was so boring. of course the boys were out of their minds. and when the kid in the series gets a robot dog called muffy they went nuts-- turns out they've been playing with a toy muffy i've had for thirty years that got stuck with my star wars toys.

galatica had to remake everything. ok, the premise of the series is humanity will survive the failed cylon attempt to annihilate our entire race. a convoy of surviving ships journeys back to earth, which they speak of as if it is the garden of eden. it's actually a veiled reference to the exodus story, where the israelites plot through the wilderness in order to reach the promised land while running from evil. the main characters are named after mythological figures, and the different tribes of humanity (12 tribes of israel!-- shhh!) are named for the constellations. that's fine, i can deal with that. but why do they need a new vocabulary? how long is a centon? or a yarn? and why not just call it a dog instead of a daggit? i probably drove my mom crazy using these terms now and then. we'll see if james unleashes them on his kindergarten teacher next week!

all of this is to say as much as i love the rediscovery of the old school movement, some of that stuff needs to stay buried in carter's presidency or reagan's first term (by the way, if you haven't heard me rant about the term "old school," here's the sort version: stuff that happened in the years 1977-1984. there is nothing old school about a cd player or a cell phone-- even the ones that had the pack you carried around attached to the phone. let's get our vocab straight, ok?).

we tend to remember things as better than they were, while at the same time we fear the things that are new today. it is easy to live in the past, when things were slower, or at least we were faster. today things are faster and we are slower. or maybe we've just decided to protest everything new or see things that are different as a threat. sometimes it takes a battlestar galatica experience to remind us that the world keeps turning, it will continue to do so with or without our noticing, and that some things that we used to love aren't really worth the effort anymore. all of us, at one time or another, are like those pilgrims on the convoy to a long-lost place called earth. and maybe if we keep ourselves focused in the right direction we'll get there, and we'll learn that the new school has as much to offer-- if not {cringe} more-- than the old school.

see you on the journey.


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