Pop Culture Notes

I’ve just finished marking this year’s Cosmology exams — I’m quite pleased with the outcome. But that’s meant that I’ve rewarded myself with some happily lowbrow (meant as a descriptive, not normative, term) entertainment:

  • I finally got around to the finale of Lost. Watching it, I was disappointed with the purgatorial explanation for this season’s “flash-sideways”; I would have preferred a less faux-spiritual device. But on reflection, considered purely as a fictional device for letting the creators illuminate their characters — seeing them act, react and interact in new situations — it worked (and, yes, jerked the odd tear on the way).
  • I bought an iPad. This will undoubtedly engender both jealousy and derision, so no one will be happy. It is a pretty, erm, magical piece of hardware. Somewhere between a toy and an appliance for now, but not yet a work necessity, like my laptop, nor a real-life one, as I admit my iPhone has become. But I could see it encroaching on the role of both of those, especially as I become less wary of taking it out — and as it becomes more powerful.
  • Although I missed some of the episodes along the way, I’ve been enjoying the BBC’s Luther. The melodrama was a bit much, but Idris Elba was fun to watch in the Columbo/Holmes/McNulty title roll, and Ruth Wilson was embarrassingly compelling as his gorgeous and psychopathic astrophysicist (!) nemesis-cum-sidecick. But even more exciting were the weird pop culture references that kept cropping up. There was Johnny Rotten’s “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”, and Faulkner’s “the past isn’t dead; it’s not even past” within a few minutes of each other in episode two. And last week we found London’s DCIs calling New York City Detective Munch (Richard Belzer’s character from Homicide, various versions of Law and Order, and a few other series along the way). What have I missed?
  • And of course there’s Hitch’s acknowledgement that galaxy formation may be a harder problem than the existence of god (about which I am considerably more than 95% against) or the invasion of Iraq (on which I am somewhat more equivocal, I admit).