Friday, March 31, 2006

Tick, Tock

March is quickly on its way out. Good riddance. This has been a bad month mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and not the least of which, spiritually. A good chunk of that time, I opted to not write a single word about anything. That was a conscious choice, not just a matter of spending a great deal of time with my head slumped over a toilet with a stomach bug or whatever the heck all that was. It was largely a concern for knee jerk reactions to outside forces and the internal dialogue they cause. Some things need to stay internal.

I am having trouble differentiating what can be working through, what can be improved, and what is just a cross I have to bear for the long haul. I used to think answers were hard to come by in my previous life. I believe they call that “the arrogance of youth,” thinking I’ve grown up and earned my jaded nature. I have to admit the silliness of an awful lot of concerns I had as recently as three years ago but couple that with a realization that I was also careening towards a fate I couldn’t stop. *Sigh* I am no longer surprised when someone who appears to be quite well off complains that things are actually hopeless. One gets pounded by life in so many ways.

Spring used to be my favorite time of the year. The weather was warm and a summer full of endless possibilities lay ahead. That’s the arrogance of youth that I wish I had kept. I could use that attitude now. Oh, well. Regardless of my personal hang ups, spring is here. Onward and upward…one hopes.
Doctor Who--"Aliens of London"

Ah, the infamous Farting Aliens of London. The reputation of this and the following episode preceded itself to this side of the pond. So did an offhand comment made by Rose (‘You’re so gay!”) to the doctor upon complaining about being slapped by her mother. In all honesty, I didn’t catch whether the comment was left in. I suspect it was not, considering the touchy state of sexual politics in the United States. If there is a sharper out there than mine that caught it, I will gladly stand corrected.

The episode begin as the Doctor takes Rose back to the present day, supposedly 12 hours after they initially left. Instead, they return 12 months later to discover Rose’s mother has begun a missing person’s campaign to find her and her boyfriend, Mickey, has been suspected of murdering her. Rose is upset she can’t explain things to the two of them, but her moping is interrupted by a spaceship which smashes into Big Ben and makes a splashdown in the Thames. London is in a panic and gets locked tight by the military. With the Prime Minister missing and the Cabinet caught in gridlock, a relatively low level m MP, Joseph Green (a comment on Gordon Brown, maybe?), becomes the acting Prime Minister. Unfortunately, he and several of his associates are the farting aliens in disguise. Through several machinations, they take everyone, including rose’s mother hostage. To be continued.

As I have admitted before, I don’t have much of a history with the Doctor, but I do recall a scene from the 1996 movie in which the Doctor emerges through some metal doors which was reminiscent of a scene tonight in which what is assumed to be one of the crashed aliens breaks through a door, a terrifying a lab technician. I don’t know if that was an intended homage or not. For what it is worth, I assume this is the first cliffhanger since 1989, to boot. Bifty episode, all things considered. I don’t think the cast has hit it’ stride just yet. They don’t seem to really have all the quirks and the feel of what Doctor Who is all about. Buz is that comes later in the season. I’ll wait.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Webb of Intrigue

Anthony Tollin, author of Dragnet on Radio, drops this tidbit in a published e-mail regarding Dragnet creator and star, Jack Webb:
Did you know that the 1950s Dragnet scripts were approved by a young L.A.P.D. police officer named Gene Roddenberry, who was Chief Parker's head researcher and scriptwriter? Roddenberry learned how to write television shows by borrowing Dragnet scripts from Webb's production company and comparing them to the actual telecasts, acquiring the technical terminology so he could later write his own scripts. In 1953, he was assigned as technical advisor to Ziv's Mr. District Attorney syndicated TV show, and launched his scriptwriting career moonlighting on that series.
if he learned script writing from the man behind Dragnet and Adam-12, how come his scripts were always the worat Star Trek had to offer? Just askin'.
Shakeup

I’m irritated and bored enough by today’s political happenings to have no desire to write about them. Ironically, I feel the need to write about why I don’t want to write about it, which means I am writing about it anyway. At least I know I’m a hypocrite in the matter. Most people don’t. A big reason I am no longer in the cheering section for Republicans in general and Bush is specific was made clear by the recent White House shakeup--or lack thereof.

Burnt out Chief of Staff Andrew Card (like myself, a University of South Carolina Gamecock) resigned from his position, giving Bush a golden opportunity to clean house while saving face. It happens often in second terms that presidents slump and bring in new blood. It’s a lot like baseball: twenty-five guys might be playing poorly, but it’s the manager that gets sacked for a new perspective. Unfortunately, Bush has continued his policy of internal promotion by appointing Josh Bolten, a former Karl Rove lieutenant, to replace Card.

This is typical Bush. Third tier staffers at the start of his presidency have been promoted to first tier, qualified or not, based solely on loyalty to Bush. Just because his approval ratings are in the mid-30’s is no reason, Bush surmises, to try something new. The real problem is an arrogance on Bush’s part. He has an inability to admit mistakes were made and believes replacing policy makers would be a tacit admission of failure. Bush is the kind of guy who would shoot himself in the left foot just to prove he meant to shoot himself in the right foot, too. Unfortunately, he’s dragging down the GOP--not to mention the entire country--with that attitude. It’s impossible for me to defend.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Housekeeping

There is now easy access in the sidebar for fans of the assorted lovely ladies who are featured by the Eye from time to time. Jessica Simpson, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Love Hewitt--they are all there. Enjoy.
Laptops Banned By Tennessee Law Professor

A University of Memphis law professor has banned laptops in her classroom. She claims it is a ditraction; he students say they can’t keep up writing handwritten notes. Try telling that one to a federal judge when he holds you in contempt fo typing away in open court. They make those legal pads for a reason. If I may hearken back to those hellish days of law school for a moment, I’d like to tell you that laptops in the classroom were a pet peeve of mine. It didn’t bother me so much that people had them or typed notes on them. What bugged me were the whiny prima donnas who needed to be catered to because they had taken a giant leap into the 21st century.

There were two sets of them. The first were the ones who had a laptop for convenience in note taking, but couldn’t handle the small keyboard. They brought in a full keyboard to hook up to the laptop. In certain classes, you could hear a clackety-clack so irritatingly loud it sounded like the whole room was transcribing War and Peace in Morse code. I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to reach over, grab one, and break it across my knee. The second group were the ones who demanded to type their exams. At least for this, the class was separated into two groups so the typists could sit in one room and take their exam without bugging the rest of us. What ticked me off was one class in which the professor was going to give us a two page, short answer easy-as-pie exam. All we had to do was bring a pen. Guess what? Our resident pain-in-the-butt (and I don’t mean Jeff this time. He was a more personal thorn.) demanded to type anyway. In fact, he showed himself so much the exam become a long, long, long take home exam which clocked in at 18 typed pages for me and a very subdued P-I-T-B for the remaining semester.

I had a laptop in law school. It was a life saver, but I never carried it to class with me. It would be something else I’d have to lug around and I frankly didn’t need the extra aggrevation. It meant had to retype outlines later from my handwritten notes, but that wound up beneficially giving me an extra go at them. I note that I was not part of the 30% attrition rate Regent is famous for like so many laptop bearers. Of course, I saw a lot of them playing solitaire, SimCity, and Riven during Civil Procedure and Property, so maybe the motivation for this conflict isn’t being spoken by the students or the professor, no?
More on the DHARMA Map

It is difficult to see even if you enlarge the map in my last post, but there are a number of scribblings that eagle-eyed fans have identified. My poor remaining peeper doesn't have the acuity to help with translation, but I rely on my less myopic brethren. There are several square root equation, the soltion of each being one of the infamous numbers. Below each square root is a Latin phrase They are:

1. Cogito Ergo Doleo--"I think, therefore I suffer."

2. Aegrescit Medendo--"The cure is worse than the disease."

3. Sursum Corda--"Lift up your hearts."

The last one is repeated three times. I imagine some of my Catholic friends probably have some insight on that phrase if there is any to be had. Anyone else cares to speculate, feel free. I gather the second phrase refers to the "sickness" Danielle Rousseau declared killed her research team 16 years ago.

In another point--one of the stations on the map is scribbled through. That must be where the "incident" referred to in the orientation video occurred. You have to wonder if that had something to do with the numbers not being typed in properly in that station and whether the same thing happened/will happen because of the slip up a few episodes ago causing the infamous heiroglyphs to appear. Interesting.This map can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lost--"Lockdown"

I can virtually guarantee by the time you finish reading this sentence, a dozen people will have already posted pictures of that freaky new glowing emblem that appeared on the blast door over john Locke as the timer ran out. Good thing, too, because I’m sure virtually every fan is hyperventilating for a better look at it. The promos for last week promised us five major revelations. Since it was jam packed with tidbits, who the heck knows what the five intended actually were?

As you can guess by the title, tonight was a Locke-centric episode. Those are usually my favorite. For better or worse, I identify with Locke. He has his disabilities, he has his insecurities, and he has his family issues, and other assorted demons that haunt him eerily similar to mine. I even note the other Castaway reactions to him are similar to my own experiences. I’ll let you think about those and draw your own conclusions if you feel so inclined.

His flashbacks continue right where we left off earlier this season. He is planning to pop the question to Helen when he learns that his father, who popped into his life last season only to con him out of a kidney, has died. Actually, that isn’t true. He faked his own death to get away from some ambiguous criminals who are 9get this) associates of Sawyer’s. That isn’t the only Castaway connection here, either. Locke has a job as a home inspector. He first encounter’s his “dead” father while inspecting the home of Nadia, Sayid’s lost love, to whom he was flying to America to find. His father gives him a song and dance about hidden money to which Locke can keep $200,000 if he retrieves it. Locke, in a momentary lapse of judgment, does so. He goes to his father’s motel, followed by Helen, who is angry that Locke once again chose his father over her. He gets on his knee to apologize and propose. She accepts neither and drives off. So does his father. The flashbacks end there, but one suspects the two crooks after the cash are the one that eventually turn him into a paraplegic, no?

Back in the present, Henry Gale is still playing on Locke’s insecurities regarding the way Jack orders him around. When the two are alone, there is a malfunction in the hatch speakers. Locke fiddles with it, causing something to go wrong. Blast doors immediately slam down, trapping him there. He realizes he can’t pry the doors up himself and cuts a deal with Gale--you help me, I’ll protect you. The two manage to pry it up a ways, but it slams back down on Locke’s legs, pinning him. He is more or less as paralyzed as he was before. Gale can’t lift the door by himself just as the alarm sounds. The numbers need to be typed in again. Locke demands Gale climb throih the vent system and type them in. Gale agrees, but falls from the ceiling and his knocked out--or is he? He does eventually revive and climb through, but it is unclear whether he typed in the numbers.

Last time, there were the famous hieroglyphs. This time, the whole place went pitch black and a glowing blue DHARMA logo/map appeared on the blast door pinning Locke. When the lights came back on, the door lifted back up, freeing Locke. Gale helps him stumble to the couch just as the balloon search party returns to the hatch. Things ain’t pretty.

Sayid, Clarlie, and Ana-Lucia found the grave and the balloon near where Gale said they would. This occurs before the opening credits, so we think all is well with his story. In the last moments of the episode, we see Jack and Kate walking back to the hatch after jack has won back the medical supplies from Sawyer playing poker. In the nearby brush, they discover a cache of DHARMA food attached to parachutes. Now we know where the food is coming from. Our balloon trio returns to this scene with dour looks. They enter the htch to find Gale tending to Locke’s wounded leg. Sayid never takes the gun off him. They found the balloon, they found the grave, but when they dug it up (eewww) they discovered the body of the real Henry Gale. Always remove nametags when you bury a body, people. I can’t stress that enough. So who is the guy they have prisoner? An Other? A member of DHARMA? Or is that one and the same?

I don’t know, but this was one of the best episodes in a while. They seem to crank things up right before the season finale.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

UPDATE: What did I tell you? Here's the new DHARMA symbol, hot off the press:Clearly, it is a map of all the hatches on the island, but what's with the question mark at the center? there appear to be a number of scribbled notes all around.
While Bonnie Tyler Gently Weeps

Later today, there will be a total eclipse of the sun.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Straight Talk Express Becomes the Long, Black Train

John McCain ran as the uncandidate in 2000, attempting to gain the GOP nod for president by inexplicably running against the GOP and appealing to moderates and Democrats who wouldn't normally flock to the party. Part of that strategy was to alienate the Christian base which he thought he could lump in with the Bob Jones University controversy which was still lingering from the South Carolina primaries. McCain chose--poorly--the Virginia primary to issue the following press release:
I am a pro-life, pro-family fiscal conservative, an advocate of a strong defense, and yet Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and a few Washington leaders of the pro-life movement call me an unacceptable presidential candidate. They distort my pro- life positions and smear the reputations of my supporters.

Why? Because I don't pander to them, because I don't ascribe to their failed philosophy that money is our message.

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
Well, all has been forgiven. McCain will deliver this year's commencement speech at Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Dominion State, you may recall, is also the home of Pat Robertson and Regent University, where I spent three years of time best left unspoken about. Virginia competes with South Carolina for the title of Buckle in the Bible Belt.

The point to be made here is that Falwell and Robertson haven't changed. Neither has McCain, of course, but he has rethought his presidential strategy and is attempting to appeal to the evangelical base of the Republican Party. Will it work? Sure, he'll pick off a few. I'm not convinced McCain's time hasn't come and gone, nor am I convinced he isn't unhinged from his time in Hanoi. I'm sympathetic, but I'm also a realist.

I'd probably vote for McCain if it came down to him and Hillary Clinton in the same way that i would hold my nose and vote for Rudy Guiliani under the same circumstances. I'm not thrilled with the leftward shift of the GOP, but I'm convinced we'll never have another true conservative in the White House again anyway. We are in the twilight of our republic, but historically speaking, we've got another 200 years or so before we have to hand it over to the cockroaches, so don't fret too much. In the meantime, be skeptical of McCain's new found religion.
Nick Lachey is Moving Up in the World

The Jessica Simpson castoff--or is it the other way around?--has bounced around various other women of the same caliber as Jessica. But now Nick is rumored to be attached to The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip star Kristin Chenoweth. Definitely a step up. The former Miss Oklahoma runner up, a cute little thing clocking in at barely 4’ 11”, is a Tony award winning actress with a master’s degree in opera performance from Oklahoma City University. That beats not knowing Chicken of the Sea is tuna all to heck. You know what else about her beats that to a bloody pulp? Pretty much everything. She fills out a bikini quite nicely to be so dimunitive. I really like her. You may click to enlarge should you deem it necessary.
Charlie Chaplin Speaks

Charlie Chaplin made a big splash in his first talking picture, 1940’s The Great Dictator. It was a personal project for Charlie--a satire on the rising threat of Nazism in Europe. The United states hadn’t entered the war yet and wouldn’t until pearl harbor a year and a half later, so this was a brave movie to put out in a country wary of being dragged into a foreign war for whatever the reason. Hitler himself requested a personal screening and viewed the film twice. What he thought of it remains a mystery known only to the denizens of Hell.

The plot was a variation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper in which a porr, Jewish barber is mistaken for a brutal dictator. Both roles were played masterfully by Charlie Chaplin. The final scene--and Charlie’s inspiring speech against fascism is linked here.. While watching it, notice how the barber goes from being his timid self to raising his voice and using hand motions in and almost perfect impression of Hitler before he catches himself and calms back down. It is a subtle commentary on how anyone can get caught up in mob mentality.

I’ll admit he loses me a bit at the end. He quotes from the Gospel of Luke, yet also advocates science and reason as the tools for a better world. Maybe he is assuring us science and religion can live in peace together (they can, by the way) but I have a sneaky suspicion he’d like to get rid of religion as a barrier to some idealistic ‘brotherhood of man.” Either way, enjoy it and seek out the whole film while you are at it. It is hilariously satirical, especially when Charlie, as the dictator, dances around his office bouncing an inflated globe map of the world that eventually bursts as he get too far into it. Very poignant for this old cinema/history/political science buff.
No Apprentice, No Doctor--How Novel

From my blog, at least. I watched The Apprentice tonight, but couldn’t come up with an interesting thing to say about it. That has occurred several times in the last few weeks to the point I’m just going to drop writing about it altogether. The show is getting terribly repetitive. The task tonight was to make yet another commercial that the company involved will, never, ever use even under the best of circumstances. There are the same stereotypical candidates having the same personality clashes all guided over--and I use that concept loosely--by egomaniac Donald Trump. Sometimes while watching I have flashbacks to some of the similar silly durm und strang I endured in law school. I certainly don’t feel entertained by watching it on the boob tube, nor do I want to write about it.

I anticipated the Sci Fi Channel might repeat the Doctor Who episode I missed Friday lat 11 like they used to do with Battlestar Galactica and review it. I haven’t seen enough of the show to declare I really like it, but I want to, so that’s at least a semi-thumbs up. But all was for naught. Sci Fi was repeating some Chicks in Chainmail miniseries they have become famous for. I’m assuming this is another overblown spectacle of a cheap novel series that no one has ever heard of. Sure enough, I saw Diane Duane’s name in the opening credits which confirmed that one for me.

Diane Duane is one of those cookie cutter science fiction writers that pumps out a new paperback featuring some medieval universe she has created. Sounds imaginative until you stroll down the sci fi series section at the local Barnes & Noble and see twenty other series just like it. Want to tell which ones are the worst of the worst? Scan several rows and get three or four names in your head. Now go over to the Star Trek and Star Wars section and see how many of them authored numbered books in those series. You will quickly identify which of those authos are desperate to pay the rent.

For the record, I did go through a phase in my formative science fiction fan years in which I sampled both series before discovering they were anemic enough to starve an anorexic mosquito. However, Diane Duane wrote a hardback Star Trek novel in 1988 called Spock’s world in which Vulcan considers seceding fro the Federation which I quite enjoyed. Those hardcover novels sometimes do have an extra oomph about them, so to be fair to Ms. Duane, that one was a nifty effort.
Kevin Smith is an Untalented Jerk

Kevin Smith, the mediocre director and self-appointed raconteur known for for such juvenile efforts as Jersey Girl (a flop starring Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck), Mallrats (a flop featuring fart jokes and Star Wars references), and Dogma (a flop which bounced around studios for years because no one wanted to distribute such an ignorant view of religion) has insulted Reese witherspoon at a speech at the University of Pennsylvania using his typically poor vocabulary skills. Reese Witherspoon, you may recall, is a recent Oscar winner and is now the highest paid actress in Hollywood. Kevin Smith, you may also recall, has done a guest spot on the recently cancelled Friends spinoff, Joey, and little else other than have his scripts for Superman and the Green Hornet be rejected as unfilmable. Some folks just need to learn to keep their mouths shut, don't they?

Excuse me a moment:Here we go:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
That's more like it and, no, this isnit the first time Kevin Smith and I have been at daggers drawn over Reese.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Band of Brothers







Which Band of Brothers character are you?




Ronald Speirs
Take this quiz!








Quizilla |
Join

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code



Band of Brothers was the rarest of rare deals--I loved both the book and the miniseries.
Desmond Doss Dies

Desmond Doss has died at the ahe of 87. Desmond Doss, first conscientious objector to win a Medal of Honor, was a Seventh Day Adventist who refused to carry a gun, eat meat, or work on Saturday. Under heavy Japanese fire, he lowered 75 wounded men to safety from the top of the Maeda Escarpment on Okinawa. There is a difference between a man who says, "I won't go to war" and one who says, "I won't fight." Doss wasn't drafted, he enlisted.

Godspeed, Mr. Doss.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

An Interview With an Evil Man

Quite by accident I caught much of a ,I>Dateline,/I> interview with Michael Schiavo, widower of Terri Schiavo. It was in the back of my mind that this week will be the first anniversary of her murder. I’m not certain why the date March 18th, the day her feeding tube was pulled, didn’t stick out more in my mind. For obvious reasons, it should have. I have no explanation for that, but I do still have an ax to grind about Terri’s painful death and the fact that--ignorant notion or not--Michael Schiavo still gives me the creeps.

I couldn’t help but think how evil he cam off looking tonight. He was living with another woman, the sole beneficiary of Terri’s six figure insurance policy, fought state authorities, federal courts, Congress, the President, and the Vatican to kill Terri, dehydrated her to death, and then wouldn’t allow the family to be with her in the last moments of her life. That doesn’t end it. He put, “I kept my promise” on her tombstone then proceeded to establish a political action committee to specifically aid candidates running against congressman who tried to block the removal of Terri feeding tube. I’m sorry, people. You may think he’s a humanitarian for a so-called mercy killing, but those are the actions of a petty, vengeful, sociopath man. I don’t see one lick of difference between him and Scott Peterson.

Oh, wait…yes I do. Fifty-five percent of the country thought it was fine to kill Terri while everyone (rightfully) wanted to crucify Scott Peterson for killing Stacey. If only she had been a handicapped woman, then he’d have been a hero, getting to run off with Amber Fry and shedding a convenient tear for Matt Lauer just like good old Michael Schiavo.
The West Wing--"Welcome to Wherever You Are"

It is difficult to tell which is the ‘A’ and which is the “B” story here. Santos is on a manic, cross-country tour 5 days before the election with Jon Bon Jovi in tow. Maybe he’s there as a talisman, I don’t know. Back in DC, Toby is facing indictment for his White House leaking of classified secrets about the apace shuttle. Hey, Bon Jovi has to be worth something, so we’ll call that the “A” story and run with it. Both were pretty pointless in the grand scheme of things. Bon Jovi doesn’t even sing. Draw your own conclusions as to whether that is good or bad.

Santos’ wife makes an appearance for him at a Latina Women’s group and advocates allowing convicted felons the right to vote once they are released. This causes a firestorm at a time when Santos is trying to woo moderate crime and punishment Democrats in swing states. Santos is an idealist. He believes released felons ought to be given every reasonable chance to assimilate back into society, but doesn’t want every serial killer voting. Maybe he forgot John Wayne Gacy was a Democrat activist. (I keed, I keed.) The press of TWW world works the same as ours. In other words, the distinction--if there is one--doesn’t get through. Bleary eyed, punchy, and desperate, Santos openly wonders if pulling off victory is possible.

The “B” story goes back to the uninteresting leak saga that dragged across the ltter half of last season, too. An ambitious US Attorney threatens to throw in an obstruction of justice charge against CJ, Leo, and Bartlet if Toby doesn’t reveal his source. Such an act would certainly put Vinick over the top in the election. Toby has a personal crisis deciding how to handle things. Everyone around him urges him to rat out his dead brother. Toby refuses to do so, but isn’t clear that his brother actually was the source. Instead, Toby cops his usual morally smug attitude with the US Attorney about what his job is supposed to be--I.e., not throwing election. Who knows if that did the trick, but with TWW, it usually does.

Next week is the election night episode and the long anticipated dealing with the death of John Spencer.

Rating: ** (out of 5)
Lost in Oz

Now that the second season of Lost is coming to a close, fans are speculating on where it’s inspiration came from. Last season paralleled Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This season has taken on a twisted Wizard of Oz as night mare theme. One might consider that an intellectual step down, but so is literary criticism in general. A few weeks back, Locke made a statement to that effect to Henry Gale as a friendly tweak to overzealous fans who are pouring over every jot and tittle for clues which may or may not be there. As I still have an excuse 0”Don’t blame me! I was delirious with illness!’) I’d like to try my hand at pointing out some parallels.

The most obvious is Henry Gale. That was the name of Dorothy’s uncle who flew to Oz in a hot air balloon to become the man behind the curtain. Gale claims he was flying in a hot air balloon across the Pacific with his wife when they crashed on the died and he was eventually captured by Rousseau and eventually, Sayid. There are lots of hints he isn’t telling the truth, not the leat of which is that the actor has signed on for only six episodes. Three have already aired. Seven remain in the season. Do the math. Something happens to him and it ain’t living happily ever after amongst the Castaways. I think it’s too obvious for him to b an Other. He is messing with Jack and Locke’s minds too blatantly. I think he may actually be “The Man Behind the Curtain”--the “he” that Zeke said would be angry Claire got away in “Maternity Leave.”

But we go along those lines, we have to relate other oz characters to our Castaways.
Dorothy--(Kate) This one is pretty obvious. She the scared girl in way over her head, always on the run, and fearful she can never go home.

Tin Man--(Sawyer) Another pretty obvious one. Sawyer is the cynical con man who needs a heart. He has proclaimed in the past he has never loved anything in his life. Yet his character has grown--with a few regressions, of course. He has a soft spot for kids. He got shot trying to save Walt and gave up one of the guns he is hoarding for leverage when he heard kate and Claire wre going into the jungle to look for medication for Aaron. He is still seeking a heart, however.

Scarecrow--(Locke) This isn’t meant to be an insult. Locke isn’t a stupid man, but it has not yet learned the value of a reasoned faith. I fully grasp that the Bible advises us “to lean not unto thy own understanding,” but I’ve also been around the block to know how many ignorant Christians abuse the privilege to the point I have accepted there is a difference between a childlike faith and being a pie-in-the-sky dreamer. Locke crosses that line way too much to the detriment of the other Castways--Boone, most notably. I think Locke’s miracle has clouded his view of reality. He needs a brain.

Lion--(Jack) This is the toughest one because it doesn’t fit perfectly, but since Jack is the central character, he has to be one of the four main oz characters. Jack has had to step up as a leader and show some courage he’s never had before. He is coming out of his overbearing father’s shadow, an apparent insecurity about love caused by his ex-wife Sarah, and an overwhelming fear of not being able to “save” everyone. Jack has the courage to obercome all that, he just doesn’t seem to know it himself.
I’m sure if I dug deeper, I could come up with more, but believe it or not, I’m not that obsessive about lost or deconstructive criticism. The one thing that stayed with me from the two literary criticism classics I took in college was that when you bring your own prejudices to the page, you can read most anything into it. Oh, and it is usually phallic. So, take from this what you will, read into what you want. Just don’t assert to me that Hurley is Toto. I will never, ever believe it.
Chicken Soup for the Soul

Okay it wasn’t so much for the soul as it was for the ribs that are on the verge of protruding. Chicken noodle soup isn’t all that greasy or hard on the stomach, so it seemed like a goood idea for m first (successful) hot meal since Monday night. Yes, it has been that long. I’ve always thought of soup as a quickie lunch or supper--something you never have a yearning to eat, but fix when you’re in a hurry. Nevertheless, I was quite fond of it this afternoon. It’s kind of like those old prison movies you see from time to time in which the inmates got a ladel full of pig slop and you wonder how they could possibly eat that stuff. Well, wonder no more. After six days, you would, too.

Gentle on the stomach? Heh. I was friends once with a vegetarian in college. We were riding back from Myrtle Beach one spring with a third friend and stopped off at Shoneys. She ordered the hot bar and had the soup. On the way back, she started feeling queasy and ruefully declared, “That broth much have a some meat in it.” I thought, oh, yeah. Vegeetarians must be the paragon of health id broth can knock them for a loop. I’m Southern. I have a cast iron stomach even when I’m sick. Tempt chicken soup? I say soup should not tempt me.

Spaghetti is, of course, a different matter.
Sleepless in Hartsville

I’m tired, but not sleepy. I hate that feeling. I’m weary and I ache. Everything screams go to bed except my mind. For the past several days I’ve been having that deep, disorienting sleep--the kind in which you roll over, look at the clock, and can’t decide if it is 7 AM or PM. Then you roll back over because you realize it doesn’t matter. No appointments were missed either way and you’re only renting food no matter how soft, so what differnce does it make if it’s night or day?

The night before last, I sprawled flat on my back to sleep. I never do that. I’m a curl up on my side kind of guy. But apparently I stayed that way all night. It was dark when I fell asleep that way and light when a certain Yorkie divebombed me on the chest. Ever look up and see two brown eyes peeking through a mop top with the distinct aroma of Kibble & Bits in the air? Welcome to my world. The dog isn’t happy that I haven’t played with her in days. I can’t say I wouldn’t rather be doing that than what I have been preoccupied with.

I ort of absent-mindedly watched the Saturday Night Live episode earlier. It was a repeat of the Steve martin episode from right before the Olympics hiatus. They pulled out all the stops for this one, including several digital shorts. They are trying to repeat the success of the “Narnia Rap” so desperately, you can almost smell it through the screen. It struck me funny that Martin was promoting Pink Panther, which I’m gathering was a flop and no longer in theatres. I could be wrong. I am out of the loop these days. This has been a lackluster season. I think I laughed just as many times the second viewing as I did the first. Considering my current shape, I don’t know what that is a testament to. Maybe I’ll sleep on it.

Or not.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Buck Owens (1929-2006)

Buck Owens died today at the age of 76. Outside of country music, he was best known for being one half the the Hee Haw hosting duo with Roy Clark. Growing up, my hometown shut dow twice a week. Once during The Dukes of Hazzard and the other during Hee Haw. Embarrassing, but true. Corny jokes and Daisy Duke cut off jeans were staples of life.

Owens was a much better musician than comedian. He was one of the early pioneers who came from outside of the South with a new sound that kept country from becoming a stale, self=parody. Think Dwight Yoakam, Chris Isaak, even the Eagles, and you can start to imagine his influence on country music. He earned 20 number one hits himself throughout the ‘60’s-’70’s.

Country radio left Owens behind, like it has so many other big names, in the early ‘90’s once steel guitars and pimple cream took over the airwaves. But all true country fans will remember Buck Owens for the great artist that he was.
Same Old Song and Dance

I think it is safe to say there won’t be a hospital visit today. I have made no offerings to the porcelain god and have…uh, “happily” eaten saltines and a couple of bananas. I’m still lightheaded enough that I swear I can literally hear the blood rushing through the vessels in my head. I have fell off the Earth yet, but I do lurch about like Quasimodo. I guess the bells ringing in my ears are appropriate then, no?

I caught this little bug from the womenfolk who suffered for a day or two and bounced right back. Buzz is this has been going around town. Most everyone who gets it has a day or two of “just shoot me now” nausea followed by a few days of Night of the Living Dead, “no more Jello. I’ll just starve, thanks,” days. No one has noted a relapse of the former--except me, of course--so I have no idea how long the latter will last now.

I’m trying to maintain a sense of normalcy here. You know, the world doesn’t stop when you are sick, but your interest in it definitely does. I’ve tried writing a minor post or two here at the odd hours that I couldn’t sleep, and not much came out save for a nearly uncontrollable urge to whine, wail, and gnash my teeth. Sounded pretty boring to me and not really my style in the first place. Here’s to better health in the near future. Oh, and thanks to all the e-mailed well wishes in the last couple of days. They are appreciated.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sucker Punched By His Noodly Appendage

Anyone who read my spaghetti posts from last night and thought, “How could he be that dumb?” can feel free to make nasty comments regarding the issue. I have had a serious relapse. Today I have been unable to hold down anything but ginger ale and that isn’t doing the trick to stem the tide. I’ve made quite a few trips to worship before the porcelain god today and one trip over the cat. (Sorry, Boo. You got in the way.) If I’m still in this shape tomorrow, I’m going to have to have an IV. I can’t seem to stay hydrated on my own.

I had planned to review the latest Doctor Who tonight and still might if I can get my eyes uncroed and my ears to stop ringing. Needless to say, holding your breath in anticipation is a bad idea. Of course, you are likely to get your eyes crossed and have your ears ring, and there is something to be said for empathy. There’s something to think about.

Oh, look! More ginger ale! Yummy.
Super Adventure Club

I’ve taken my knife to Tom Cruise’s Scientology antics before, but the pseudo religion hasn’t held much interest for me. It’s a dangerous cult. I first learned how dangerous, not by the story I just linked, but my friends who counsel former cult members who informed me that the Cult Awareness Network, a group dedicated to rescuing brainwashed members of cults, was sued out of existence by Scientology and restarted as their own pet project. Now if you call CAN, you’re talking to a Scientologist. That’s a classice example of “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

A controversy has erupted in recent weeks involving Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef on South Park and a noted Scientologist. Hayes reportedly quit the show before it’s tenth season premiere last night over last season’s parody episode of Tom Cruise and Scientology. It struck folks as odd, of course. It isn’t the first time South Park had mocked Scientology. They did so on an MTV special some years ago, as well. One figures if Hayes was offended by his religion being parodied, he would have quit then--or, if last season’s episode particularly bugged him, why not quit in immediate protest of that episode’s airing?

Well, there’s some mystery to all that. Evidently, Haes had a mild stroke in January and has been in the hospital since then. The press release announcing his quitting the show wasn’t issued by him, but by representatives of the Church of Scientology. There are certain other rumors floating about that Tom Cruise has refused to promote Mission Impossible III if the Scientology episode is repeated. The parent company of Comedy Central is distributing MI3. Whether any of that is true (I suspect it is. The controlling and strong armed tactics of the cult are legendary. Representatives of the cult harassed Scientologist Sonny Bono unmercifully during his tenure in Congress. His successor, widow Mary Bono, has put her foot down during her time in office.) it didn’t stop Trey Parker and Matt Stone from giving Chef a big sendoff last night while taking a few potshots at Scientology.

I did not see the episode at its scheduled time, but when I finally did see it, I saluted it’s brilliance. Aside from being domineering bullies, the Church of Scientology is famous (infamous?) for being litigation happy. The dialogue and stuations were crafted so perfectly, they are practically litigation proof. Chef’s fate was classic South Park and the eulogy for Chef was quite touching for the show. It was evident this wasn’t a kiss of to Isaac Hayes but rather to the Scientologists who have turned him into..well, whatever he is today. It’s clear despite a snaky press release of their own, Parker and Stone are more saddened by the loss of Hayes than angry at him.

The two of them are nihilists. I can appreciate that, as I have streak of it myself. They see the grey areas of everything and poke it with a stick in front of everyone who can only see in black and white. Hayes knew this, participated in paryding other religions and institutions, and apparently wasn’t too bothered my jabs at his own beliefs up until he was incapacitated by a stroke. Must be thse darn Thetans punishing him, no? Maybe if hayes will fork over $25 million, pop a few vitamins, and maybe buy up the many, many leftover copies of Battlefield: Earth on the bargain tables at Barnes & Noble, he can make it all up to Xenu.

Sound like bad science fiction? There’s a good reason for that. In between stints as a pederast, L. Ron Hubbard was an awful science fiction writer. Reams and reams of 4,000 page epics that no one in his right mind read then or reads now. Needless to say, he wasn’t rolling in dough--that is, until he decided to create his own religion. My hero, Harlan Ellison, recounts the tale here. Considering that I’ve never heard a Scientologist defend their religion beyond telling me to “just read Dianteics“ and the large amount of trust I put in Ellion’s cynicism, I believe it. I’d say the fact that they are embracing their kooks rather than calling them out is indicative of the birds of a feather adage. Hopfully, that cult’s goose is cooked as far as the impressionable public is concerned.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

I slept most all day long and woke up to an empty house, save for the black cat inexplicably sprawled out on the dining room rug. I stepped over her on two wobbly legs headed for my usual serving of a banana, saltines, and ginger ale. Boo, the cat, griped at me again for apparently not heeding her advice and eating grass. Personally, I was on the verge of trying it as late as last night before bed. Heh.

Anyway, I was brave enough to try some spaghetti tonight. Not too terribly spicy. I’ve been lightheaded from lack of real food, so frankly I figured I was going to feel bad one way or the other, I might as well take a shot at getting rid of my starvation headache. My taste buds are scrwed up, so I could have been eating cardboard (no offense to the chef) but it did not make the anticipated return trip. It has, however, been rumbling inside me like Mout St. Helens for the last four hours. I hate the recovery process almost as much as being sick in the first place.

I’m still not up to snuff, but at least I’m not still on the downhill slide. I can really only stand a day of being that kind of sick before I need intravenous fluids in order to recover. At least I missed that experience this time. I’m still light headed, though, and it’s going to take another regular meal or two to get rid of that. I figure it will be at least Saturday before I don’t have to grab onto the ground in order to keep from falling off the Earth. I’m guessing if spaghetti sits well tonight, pretty much anything will sit well tomorrow.
Rough Draft

Jacob Weisberg speculates in this article that while a military draft isn’t feasible in our current political climate, not having a draft hasn’t worked so well, either. Aside from any debates over the morality of war in general of the War on Terror specifically, I have often thought the Us could benefit from compulsory military or civil service post high school. I didn’t take it upon myself to do that once I graduated high school, so you may call me a hyporite for writing the remainder of this post if you so desire. There in’t muh of a defense for me.

I’ve know lots of young people from all sorts of backgrounds at every stage of my life. Some were from broken homes where a tragedy was their drunken parents might come home angry and beat them to a pulp. To others, a disaster was not having the right shoes to go with a prom dress. Buth groups, I think, could stand a little experience in altruism, if for no other reason that to understand each other and the world better. There’s nothing quite like running a soup kitchen in the Detroit slums to give those prom shoes some perspective. There is also something to be said for giving an abused, unloved kid something worthwhile to believe in by showing him what a positive difference he can make in someone life.

I’m no idiot. I know we are too self-absorbed to institute such a thing. Like I said. I was selling real estate and vegging out in front of the TV between college and law school, not toiling away for Habitat for Humanity, so I know even those with good intentions often wouldn’t bother with it. But I do think I would be better off now had I done something like that. I couldn’t see that at the time, of couse. I was eighteen and in a hurry to get rich. That’s just the sort of attitude a civil service draft would eliminate.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kvetching

I’ve had another banana and ginger ale, but I still feel just as lightheaded and sore as I did this morning. This bug might have only lasted a day, but it made me sicker than I have been since my colon rupture in 2004. Maybe I should consider it a blessing that there was a two year gap. Somehow, I just can’t bring myself to do that. I recovered from the failed second colon surgery faster than this. Stomach viruses do odd things to someone in the shape I’m in. or the same of pleasant reading, I offer no elaboration. Use your imagination. Or don’t. I wouldn’t.

It’s been a rough two weeks. I thought so even before I spent a day sprawled over a toilet. That just really punctuated the whole affair for me. I’ve been having an internal dialogue for quite a while now. I have no clue what spurred it on, but it has seemed to be of dire importance in recent days. I’ve kept it to myself, obviously. Despite my being a public blogger, I’m actually quite private and very defensive when other intrude upon things I consider too personal to be any of their business. Despite that, you jut can’t help but have certain thing leak out.

I have no idea where anything ends anymore. If you don’t know what I mean, realize that I have had four surgeries in the last two years and the only one that was successful would have been fatal if it hadn’t. The other were extremely costly to varying degrees. Life altering costly. Plummeting quality of life costly. Probably not yet pain in full costly. Take those two facts and all the ancillary issue surrounding them, and I think you can appreciate that the exploration as to the meaning and purpose of life, assuming there is one, is foremost in my mind. I always thought I was an introspective, savvy, and world weary guy before. I had no clue. I also have no clue when or if answers come. He doesn’t seem to use burning bushes anymore, if you know what I mean. One thing I do know is that at various times, I get on certain trains of thought that are apparently hinted at here.Whether that is a good thing or not remain to be seen.
Lost--"The Whole Truth"

These three weeks hiatuses are incredibly annoying for a show with a continued storyline. If there ever was a television show made for DVD viewing it’s Lost. It’s also interesting for us to get another Jin/Sun-centric episode so soon after the last. They are the two most undeveloped characters among the original Castaways. There hasn’t been a whole lot in their backstory that says either of them is crying out for redemption or that any extraordinary has happened to either of them. That changed tonight, although I have a suspicion that may not be entirely true.

The episode opens in flashback in South Korea. Jin and Sun are talking about having a baby. Jin surmises that if they give Sun father a grandchild, he might give Jin a better job than being a crime boss’ enforcer. There is palpable tension between the two. She hates his job and the time he is away. She acquiesces, agreeing that perhaps a baby would make things better. At the fertility clinic, they discover Sun is barren. Jin is enraged, and continues to be right through the first half of last season in retrospect.

So why is Sun having stomach pains? A pregnancy test she gets from Sawyer’s medical stash reveals the answer--she’s pregnant. Sun doesn’t take the news well. In further flashbacks, we discoer she has been seeing her old beau on the sly. He has been teaching her English without Jin’s knowledge with plans to leave him and head off to America. He has a heart-to-heart with her and as the scene fades out, we are left with the distinct impression she is about to sleep with him. Things are further complicated when Sun is secretly approached by the fertility doctor who reveals that she isn’t barren, it’s actually a problem with Jin. Had he revealed that, the doctor feared Sun’s father would have destroyed his practice. Now we are left with a big question: have Jin and Sun gotten a miracle healing like Locke with his legs, or is the baby not Jin’s? Sun’s reactions seem to imply it could be either.

The “B’ story involves the clash of Alpha males between Locke and Jack. Henry Gale is still locked in the ammunition closet under suspicion of being an Other. Locke approaches Ana-Lucia, the former LA cop, to interrogate him over Jack’s back. Ana-Lucia has him draw a map to where his ballooon has crashed. Why no one thought to do this before is beyond me, but there you go. She enlists Sayid on the expedition. Charlie tags along, being suspicious of Ana-Lucia. Interesting tidbit that Charlie was carrying a gun. Sawyer has them all stashed away after “The Long Con.” It would appear an alliance between the two has solidly formed. The three of them head of into the jungle. At the overnight camp, Ana-Lucia finally offers a genuine apology for accidentally killing Shannon. Sayid, oddly enough, accepts, as she was defending her people. They don’t find the balloon exactly where the map says and Sayid is ready to go bac and kill Gale with his bare hands. Ana-Lucia recalls her mistake in dealing with the Others and urges a further search. Thy split up to do so.

Back at the hatch, Jack lets Gale out for a while. He sits at a table with locke for breakfast and eveals that he drew a map for Ana-Lucia. Neither Locke nor Jack were aware of that. In an astoundingly creepy monologue, Gale goes on about how if he were an Other, he could have drawn that map to lead them into an ambush They might even be dead by now. Fade out.
Not very monumental for the three week wait, but still an interesting episode with tidbits about the future. Sayid and Charlie are building another raft. Kate reveals she once took a pregnancy test as well. Jack has a possible throwaway line about him being the last one to give advice about revealing the pregnancy to Jin. Is Jack hinting that Sarah might have been pregnant/ could their split have had something to do with that? Something to think about for next season, as we will get no further Jack or Kate flashbacks this year.

Well, as I’ve said before, Jin and Sun aren’t favorite characters of mine, but it is nice for their stories to get more meat. Could Sun not be the sweet little angel she appears?

Rating: *** (out of 5)
What's Bugging Me?

An actual bug. An apparent 24 hour virus to be exact. It hit me yesterday morning around 6:00 AM when I felt an overwhelming desire to make an offering to the porcelain god. I managed to stay there for quite a while and made frequent trips throughout the day when I wasn’t completely passed out in the bed. Ugh. My cat, Boo, often sat in the bathroom doorway and watched as if to say, “Why don’t you go outside and eat grass like a reasonable cat would?”

Mainly because food sounded like the most horrible punishment imaginable. It still does, although I’ve just polished off a banana out of necessity. I can already tell I’ve lost a few pounds on my already scrawny self. I’ve got a headache and my joints and muscles are still sore from dehydration. The worst is over, but I still feel rotten.

That explains the radio silence for yesterday. I may kvetch more later if the mood strikes and I don’t keil over in the interim.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Apprentice, Week Four

I missed covering last week's episode, but i'm back for this installment. This episode was advertised as the one where Brent crosses the line and goes crazy. I was expecting him to be the lynchpin in his team’s defeat, but actually he wasn’t. Instead it was his obnoxiousness that caused his team to put him on the sidelines as much as possible. It’s difficult to respect a guy who is so arrogant yet untalented. While I think Synergy was a heck of lot politer to him than he deserved, he really didn’t go wild tonight. He seemed like his old foulmouthed, difficult to deal with self. Frankly, that isn’t much different than the Russian fellow from Gold rush. Anyway, the task this week was to create a billboard promoting a new cereal brand from post.

Synergy decides to create a billboard with an older man and a young girl to represent a new generation of cereal. They have a tough time finding an older model and settle on a mid-thirtyish guy that just doesn’t look right compared to the pretty twenty-something female model. Gold Rush hits the streets to find a girl next door type model for their ad.. Incredibly enough, the first girl they meet agrees to come with them. Huh? Didn’t her daddy ever tell her not to get in a van with a bunch of strangers on the unbelievable promise of becoming a star? You’d think she’d be wary of talking to anyone in New York City giving her that line, but she isn’t. Incredible and somewhat sad. It may not matter. Despite her willingness to pose and the team’s cooing over the idea, the finished result is met with a decided lack of enthusiasm.

Turns out that’s a big error in judgment. Synergy’s billboard design is deemed too busy by the post executives and the ages of the models inappropriate to designate a father and daughter. In fact, Trump is rather mocking and even cuts off the presentation because Synergy has so obviously lost. Gold rush leaves for their reward and the fireworks begin within Synergy.

As expected, they plan to team up on Brent in the boardroom. I’d like to be sympathetic, but Brent is such an obnoxious and abusive jerk in his personal interviews, I just can’t. Personally, they could shoot him out of a cannon rather than give him a cab ride and it would suit me just fine. Th boardroom quickly degenerates into a Brent hate fest. They don’t respect him, the don’t like him, and they want him gone. Brent feels exactly the same way, sans the gone part. I don’t know. I guess he wants to be in charge of every aspect of every task and then things will all be fine. Obviously that isn’t going to happen. Trump doesn’t even allow for a second boardroom. He fires Brent on the spot with a lot less lip from the portly lawyer than I expected. He certainly does have a mouth on him.
Deal or No Deal

Just like the game show, sans Howie Mandel. I've played half a dozen times and have yet to win more than $200,000. For some reason, that irritates me. Strange how your attitude changes in certain situations.
Fizzled War Protests

Why has the antiwar movement been so lackluster? One columnist offers his opinion:
A clue to this curiously low-key response may be found in the bustling shopping centres. Despite the mounting cost of the war in Iraq, the economic consequences have remained relatively contained. There have been no signs of a decline in consumer confidence and no uptick in inflation....

As of Friday military casualties had mounted to 2,313 killed and 17,000 wounded. This is enough to make many Americans question the conflict, but the toll still falls far short of the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam.

A poll for Newsweek magazine at the end of last week showed that just 29 per cent of Americans approve of the president's handling of the war, down from 69 per cent in the months after the conflict began in March 2003. Almost 60 per cent of Americans now feel less confident that the war will come to a successful conclusion, with fears mounting that the country will slide into civil war.
Granted, there are some intellectual points to be pondered, but pundits are missing the ovious point for the sake of having columns to write. The reason the antiwar movement hasn't gotten off the ground is there is no draft. As long as people know they or their kids aren't going to get killed on some sand dune outsid Samarra, they don't care about the war. Institute a draft tomorow, Bush will be impeached by the end of April and every serviceman would be back home by July. It's as simple as that.

I firmly believe the main reason The Powers That Be think the cost in blood and treasure is worth the theoretical tranformation of the Middle East into a democracy because none of their kids are being killed in the process. It's easy to embrce the idea of spreading democracy as a high ideal when they know it's going to be someone else's suffered loss in order to do it. It that mean spirited to say? probably? Is it true anyway? Most definitely.
Extiction Agenda

The united Nations has now asserted that humans are causing the greatest level of extinctions since the dinosaurs. It is no secret the United nations as a body has a skewered sense of morality and priorities, but to adopt the talking points of a group like the Earth Liberation Front, whose ultimate goal is to wipe out humanity in favor of plants and animals, is a scary thought. I don't believe for one second that when the Allies at the end of World War Ii decided to establish a worldwide diplomatic body, they ever intended fo it to become so overreaching and strange.

Sure, it's only rhetoric now, but how long before the Un decides to push a radical population control agenda? The more I learn about that organization, the more I support the US Out of the UN movement. I just wish there were so many "black helicopter" conspiracy theorists involved mucking it up for the rest of us who have legitimate issues with causes the UN supports and incidents it has sorely scrweed up. (See Rwanda, for reference.)
Cyclone Nomenclature

A "super cyclone" struck northeastern Australia on Sunday. You know what they called that thing--besides a "super cyclone"? Larry. Cyclone Larry. Just like the middle Stooge or the guy you bought homeowner's insurance from. I'm guessing the process of naming cyclones is just like naming hurricanes. They run through the alphabet with predetermined names for each potential storm regardless of how silly the name might sound in the long run. Where is Cyclone Adolf? Cyclone Lucifer? Cyclone Ghengis? I'd even settle for something like Cyclone Bloodfang. We need a little more truth in advertising with our killer storms here, people.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The West Wing--"Two Weeks Out"

We are coming down to the wire in the presidential race with Santos and Vinick. Questions still linger about Vinick’s involvement in getting the license for the nuclear power plant that nearly had a meltdown several weeks previous. The press has been hounding him and many of his former supporters have switched to undecided. Writers of TWW, being political nocies, hold this out to be a dramatic battle, not realizing the reality that anyone who claims to be undecided two weeks before an election is not going to vote anyway. See? A Political Science degree is good for something. It gives me a leg up on TV writers. But I will play their game.

Santos is up by two in Vinick’s home state of California. Josh insists Santos should spend his time in Florida and Illinois until the wizened Toby urges the campaign to head to California for a knockout blow. Vinick wants to go back home, too, in order to clear up every possible question about the nuclear disaster. His new campaign manager, a pit bull in high heels from the Republican National Committee insists he write off California and concentrate on a Southern strategy. Vinick charges that for every vote he gets in Alabama, he loses two in California. Vinick wins out in the argument. He and Santos wind up with dueling press conferences in which Vinick winds up looking presidential while Santos looks desperate.

Santos gets another blow. A Vinick advisor accidentally picks up Santos’ briefcase in Pennsylvania and discoers Santos has been writing child support checks to a woman who worked for him when he was mayor of Houston. Vinick has a dilemma of whether he should use this dirt in his campaign. Instead, he opts to have a personal meeting with Santos instead and give him the case back. Santos angrily reveals the kid is his brother’s, but he is taking care of it financially instead. How tue is that? We are left to wonder. Vinick promises not to use the news in his campaign. The point to this was what? It’s a given Santos will win. Now there is a question about his character while Vinick is being presented as principled. What sort of cynical scenarion is that? Some sort of commentary on today’s political scene that nice, principled guys always lose while the crook scores the wining touchdown and bags the head cheerleader? Man, if only Aaron Sorkin were still around to run this show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Billie Piper

Raise your hands if you didn't see this post coming. I have to assume for the morally upright amongst us who don't torrent these things beforehand, friday night was the first many American science fiction fans got a look at Billie Piper, the latest Doctor Who companian. Being as unfamiliar with who lore as I am, I can't honestly rank her on the scale of past companions. I can tell you tat with that jawline and those teeth that if I ever needed someone to chew through steel prison bars, I'd rather have her with me than say, Rocky Squirrel.

Oh, who am I kidding? She's pretty hot:Billie Piper studied at the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School. She caught the eyes of record producers who were interested in signing a young vocalist when she was the poster girl for the ad campaign of a British pop music magazine, Smash Hits. She released her first single, "Because We Want To", which debuted at #1 at age 15. Her second single "Girlfriend" was also a #1 hit. By the time she turned 16, Billie had released 4 singles that all made the top three on the charts. She has been labeled the "Pop Princess" of the united Kingdom. Won the most popular actress award at the 11th annual National Television Awards in London, England on October 25, 2005 for her portrayal of Rose Tyler. Her Doctor Who co-star Christopher Eccleston, won for most popular actor.

If you are disappointed that Billie Piper isn't nude/naked/in a bikini, here's a consolation prize:Oldies but goodies, no? You may click to enlarge any phtos you deem necessary.
Who is Your Lost Alter Ego?

You scored as Locke. You're Locke! People underestimate you, but you know you can do anything you want to. You hate limits being put on your life
- you don't like it when people don't believe in you.

Locke

100%

Kate

88%

Sawyer

88%

Claire

75%

Charlie

75%

Shannon

75%

Jack

56%

Jin

50%

Michael

50%

Sun

50%

Boone

44%

Hurley

44%

Sayid

38%

Who is your "Lost" alter ego?
created with QuizFarm.com

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blood and Treasure

It is not lost on me that today is a significant anniversary for others reasons more monumental than my own family issues. The world doesn’t stop for personal tragedies of any kind. Operation Iraqi Freedom began three years ago today. While it only took 21 days to reach Baghdad and only a scant while before Bush declared “Mission Accomplished,” the war still rages on. The situation gets murkier for me on a daily basis.

I am a supporter of the war. There is no question about that. Inever believed Saddam had WMDs and neither did anyone in the US government. In order to support the idea that Iraq had WMDs, you had to buy into a contradiction. First that Iraq was an imminent threat to the united states with its weapons program and second, that regardless of that, the Iraqi military could be destroyed in a matter of weeks. Either Iraq is a terrible threat or it can be destroyed anytime with minimal effort. Which it, Mr. President? It doesn’t matter, since no one thought to ask that question during our national debate before hostilities began.

That said, there were rationales for overthrowing Saddam that I accepted. He has supported terrorist in the past, including an assassination attempt on George Bush, Sr. He has committed crimes against humanity. He would develop WMDs if not for the United Nations weapons inspectors. He had violated the Gulf War ceasefire treaty on an almost daily basis for the 12 years leading up to our invasion. Any one of those arguments would have sold the war to the American public, but they inexplicably played second fiddle to chasing WMDs and pie-in-the-sky plans for spreading democracy to a place that has been so crushed by dictatorship over the centuries, freedom is just as paralyzing as tyranny.

I am a realist as far as foreign policy goes. While I reluctantly supported the neoconservative idea of spreading democracy, deep down I still felt there was no Iraqi Thomas Jefferson waiting in the wings and all this just wasn’t going to work. Eventually, some fly-by-night despot was going to take over and it was in the US’ best interest to make sure he was our fly-by-night-despot. But that’s why I spout off on a peon blog instead of running the State Department.

This war has been expensive in both blood and treasure despite the unprecedented low casualties for an operation of this type. The cost of this war may exceed $1 Trillion dollars. That number is hard to comprehend. To get a grip on it, observe that the CIA says the average annual purchasing power of Iraqi citizens is $3,400, and there are about 7,500,000 males between 15-65 years old in Iraq. Divide this out, and it turns out that by the time we're "done" with Iraq, we could have hired each and every man in Iraq and paid them their average annual income for 39 years. Yup - we could have hired every man in Iraq for their entire career. More perspective? ne million seconds takes about 11 days to tick by. A billion seconds would take almost 32 years. A trillion seconds equals 32,000 years.

Honestly, I don’t know what else to say on the subject at this point. I don’t know how success will be measured or how victory will be declared. The only thing that runs through my mind is a quote from a man who knew war and its tragic realities on all fronts, Dwight D. Eisenhower:
“Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
Amen.

Donald Rumsfeld offers up an evaluation on the war in a Washington Post editorial:: What We've Gained By Three Years in Iraq. It's trite, but honest as he sees it.
Stop Crying Your Heart Out

Here's another interesting Google video. Like the last on, it's a comilation of scenes from a television show set to "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" by oasis. i'll give you three whopping guesses what show it's from. I'm surpised there are more floating about, really. After playing around on Google video, I have found tons featuring smaller shows like Buffy, Smallville, and Nip/Tuck but not as many as one would expect from Lost. maybe the scenes won't mean much to you if you haven't seen the show, but they are actually pivotal moments of plot to those familiar with it.
I've never considered myself a big fan of Oasis. I think they are more or less a Beatles cover band and don't know it. But thinking back, I can't recall a song of theirs I didn't like, including this one. Perhaps I should reevaluate my stance on them.
Elegy

One day I will not mark this anniversary, but today is not that day. It was a turning point in my life regardless of my mixed emotions about my mother's very permanent decision.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Doctor Who--"The End of the World"

I wasn’t so impressed with the special effects of the first episode, but there appeared to be a vast improvement with the second. They avoided the Star Trek trappings of putting pointy ears and a ridged nose on some stock actor and calling him an alien. We actually got strange looking, original aliens. The CGI effects of the spiders were particularly impressive. The story, too, was deeper and more involved this time around.

We start right where we left off. The Doctor takes rose in the future as per her first request. They jump fie billion years ahead in order to view the sun’s expansion and the swallowing up of Earth. The two stay on a space station in which a number of alien races have come to watch the spectacle. But there is a saboteur on board in control of cybernetic spiders. Among the guests is the last living human--a piece of talking skin stretched out on a frame, which was both a nifty and creepy idea at the same time. Lady Cassandra, as she is called, turns out to be behind the sabotage. Her treatments are expensive, so she decided to create a hostage situation and hold all the wealthy aliens for ransom. Now she decides to kill everyone and takes over their corporate assets. The doctor defeats her plans and transports her away without her moisturizing attendants. Her skin begins to crack and tear. She literally explodes after a few seconds.

Rose is humbled by the whole event and the revelation that the Doctor’s world of Galafrey has been long since destroyed as well. She is troubled momentarily by what I mentioned in the last review. The doctor unmercifully allows Lady Cassandra to die. Yes, she did attempt mass murder, but this is indicative of that arrogant cruelty I spoke of earlier. It matters little, as rose gets over it quickly and she and the Doctor bond back in the present time over fish and chips. Another neat touch I really liked was one of the artifacts Lady Cassandra brought with her to the event. She claimed it was called an iPod, but it was in fact a jukebox which played Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” and later “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Yes, it is sad to know the last song played by humanity is by Britney Spears. I harken back to the conversation Vylon Boomer had with Adama a few weeks ago on Battlestar Galactica: “Maybe humans don’t deserve to survive.” Not with taste like that, Boomer.

I thought this was much improved over the first episode. I can see why the producers originally wanted the two aired back-to-back on the BBC and why the Sci Fi Channel actually complied with the request. I think some of the British sensibilities still go over my head, but I like what I have seen so far.

Rating: **** (out of 5)
Doctor Who--"Rose"

I have only the vaguest familiarity with Dr. Who, so I had very few preconceived notions about the new Who and can bypass the entire 27h v. 1st season classification argument altogether. My emotional attachments to the old who are few and far between. I recall a Tom Baker episode or two on PBS as a tyke, but I was way too young to appreciate the subtties of the plots or the dry British humor. I met up with Tom Baker’s Doctor again in the early ‘90’s when the Sci Fi Channel aired a few seasons in their afternoon lineup and the occasional reunion movie. Speaking of movies, I sat through the 1996 TV movie movie but wasn’t all that impressed. I got the feeling many Who fans wee as well. I understand their problem. As a comic book fan, I’m part of a cottage industry in which there are certain expectations as to how characters are going to act. It doesn’t translate well to other mediums and when the beloved characters are done badly for an audience who doesn’t care about what’s gone before, it’s painful. It does not appear the new season has disappointed fans.

The episode feels very muh like a pilot with no lingering backstory rather than a continuation of the previos series. I’m not sure how adamant fans are about either case being true. Regardless, we have some shape shifting aliens, not unlike the T-1000 from Terminator Ii, chasing after poor Rose. The girl is in way over her head, but once she is rescued by the Doctor, develops a fascination with him. Once he saves her the first time, Rose takes to the internet to discover more about him. Nice touch, really. I imagine the Doctor has mostly lived on through the internet over the years. Rose encounters the doctor again when he rescues her from an alien that has assumed the form of her boyfriend. The doctor thwarts their nefarious plan to take over the Earth and offers Rose the chance to become his companion, which she rather impulsively accepts once she learns the TARDIS can travel through time.

I have always assumed the Doctor had a certain arrogance that allowed him to be cruel in order to get certain jobs done. The Doctor seemed particularly violent in this episode, tearing the head of an alien. Perhaps it is my unfamiliarity with the character, but I seem to recall him surviving more on whit and cleverness in the past.This was a nifty introduction to the series. The villains seemed too much like throwaway characters to me, but the emphasis on the episode was all about getting Rose and the Doctor together, so I can’t complain much. Some of the humor went over my head and quite a few of the special effects were laugh out loud pitiful, but I had a good time watching, and that’s all that counts.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Ladies of Lost: Evangeline Lilly II

It has proved popular in the past, so it's back again. There won't be a new episode until next Wednesday and I'd hate for any readers to suspect I have a myriad of interests to write about in the interim. Nope. It's all Lost, all the time here at the Eye.You may click to enlarge if you deem it necessary.
Housekeeping

Yes, I changed the style yet again. I'm fickle that way.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jessica Simpson on Capitol Hill

I have a longstanding problem here at the Eye. Well, it’s not really my problem. I’ve always claimed this is my blog for whatever I want to post at any given moment. But folks who come for the politics complain about the pictures of pretty girls and those that come for the pretty girls are annoyed they have to wade through some boring. I am one who enjoys pushing buttons whenever they are exposed, combine the two kinds of posts whenever possible if for no other reason than to make readers wonder why the heck I would torture them so. It’s a rare opportunity that I get to combine Jessica Simpson and politics. All partisans are going to have to admit its too good to not comment on.

What’s getting me is that everyone is commenting on it. Every show on the FOX and CNN lineup have featured the story of Simpson lobbying Congress and snubbing the president. Even Entertainment Tonight, a show that considers Dr. Phil’s wisdom on par with Ghandi’s and far more useful. How far have we fallen down the toilet as a nation we are holding our collective breath waiting for Jessica Simpson to reveal her political loyalties. Come on. Would you vote for a politician just because Jessica Simpson did? Wait…don’t answer that. I probably don’t want to know.

I don’t think anyone, least of all Bush, ought to care that Simpson won’t meet with him. He’s a big boy and knows the reality--he’s only slightly more popular than cholera these days. Simpson doesn’t want his negative ratings to rub off on her good cause. Operation: Smile, the Doctors Without Borders-like charity of which Simpson is the Ambassador, repairs cleft palates and other deformities for children around the world. Maybe she should have taken a cue from Bono, who went on the record as saying Bush has done moe for Africa than any recent president, and nor feared any repercussions. But she didn’t and that’s that. The center of this whole deal was Operation: Smile. The media should have kept it that way instead of dragging up this non issue of whether Simpson will meet Bush or not.
Tomarken Presses His Luck Once Too Often

Peter Tomarken died in a plane crash a few days ago. Tomarken started his career in magazines, branched out to advertising, and eventually to hosting TV game shows, most notably Press Your Luck. That show is most famous--perhaps infamous--for once having a contestant figure out the pattern on the “random” game board and winning a six figure sum playing.

Tomarken was a guy probably too classy to be shilling on game shows. He and his wife were piloting a plane for Angel flight West, a charity that offers transportation for patients in dire need of medical treatment. Tomarken, who had a pilot’s license, was flying the plane to San Diego to pick up a patient. The plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean due to engine failure. There were no survivors.

It is doubly tragic, if death can be measured, that the Tomarkens died on an errand of mercy. The older and more hardened I get, the more the peculiar mercies of the Grand Scheme of Things confuse me. Godspeed, Mr. & Mrs. Tomarken.