Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam VII

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It is virtually impossible to look attractive while eating. With this in mind, I am often baffled by the concept of dinner dates. Perhaps it is a subconscious decision on the guy’s part. Before a girl goes out on a first date, her mother warns to keep in mind a guy will never treat her any better than he does on the first date. Yes, to women, it is all downhill from there. A father pulls his son aside and says something along the lines of, “if she slaps you, you went too far” and “for heaven’s sake, don’t knock her up!’ Both are pearls of wisdom from dear old dad, but a guy needs more valuable advice. Just as girls are worried about seeing a guy best behavior, a guy wants to see a girl at her worst appearance. If they both wind up happy at the end of the evening, there is a love connection.

John Kerry put his foot in his mouth while speaking to college students when he admonished them to study hard or they would wind up stuck in Iraq. If you thought the guy was stupid because he is planning to run for president again in 2008, that bon mot should remove all doubt. Kerry managed to offend everyone from veterans to President Bush on that one by implying soldiers are uneducated cannon fodder and good for nothing else. Kerry defiantly offered no apologies. He just said it was a joke gone run. What a coinsidence. That is exactly how I describe his 2004 presidential bid.

Speaking of 2008, lay off the speculation Baraclk Obama wants to run for president. He wants the Veep spot under Hillary Clinton and he will probably get it. He may be ambitious, but he is no idiot. He wants to spend eight years as the second in command then glide into the Big Seat in 2016. History is not on his side. Outside of Bush 411 after Reagan, it has been decades since the Veep made the big jump. Will he change that trend? Doubtful. Even in the long shot Hillary chooses him and wins at all, much less two terms, expect an even more intense version of Clinton fatigue to set in around about 2015.

Reese Witherspoon is single. Billie Piper is single. Evangeline Lilly is still dating that Hobbit, but she is weird an unpredictable. Give it more time, but my harem is falling into place.

It looks like I survived October. Glory be. The days are already unusually cold for this time of year. I am not a fan of cold weather. It always bugs me when we get cold spells early on. November looks to be an unusually cold month as well. Shades of Virginia coming back to haunt me at home? It would not surprise me at all. At least I get turkey as a consolation prize towards the end. See you on the flip side with more blogging goodness.
Sex & Candy

I wished you guys and gals a happy Halloween earlier, but I have to admit it is one of my least favorite holidays. I like scary movies and such. I am moe a fan of Boris Karloff, Bela Logosi, and Lon Chaney, Jr. than the slasher film series that became popular in the 80’s. The ‘90’s trid to relives those glory days by taking some kids from Dawson’s Creek, some kids from Party of Five, and at least one Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum, adding a sadistic killer with a gimmick, and calling it a movie. They were fun, but not much. I have a killer (pardon the pun) sweet tooth as well, so you would think Halloween would be right up my alley. No such luck.

I do recall one of the best parties I ever went to was a Halloween party. It was in 1998. I was a senior in college. Everything felt like a last hurrah of sorts that year as we all knew we were either headed for jobs or graduate school. Either way, our lives were nearly over. The pary was a blast, but what was the most fun was this one girl who everyone had a crush on showed up in a midriff bearing genie costume. We are talking halter top, full belly button exposure, and sheer veiled pants showing off her wonderful legs. Bear in mind she was normally a prim, proper Daddy’s girl type who always dressed nicely, but never provocatively. Much to the chagrin of every guy in Gamecock Country who just knew there was a hot body under all all that fabric. That night it was confirmed. I still fondly recall guys trotting after her all night long. She knew that was going to happen and loved every minute of it. Maybe she thought that party would be her last hurrah, too.

So I do have one good memory of Halloween. It is not enough to put it on my list of favorites. I cannot see why we tell our children there is no suh thing as a free lunch, only to show them once a year there is such a thing and it is 95% sugar. Self-defeating, if you ask me, particularly when we dress them up to hide their identities first. It has been over twenty years since I trick ot treated and I am pretty sure I recall my participation being a matter of peer pressure. I could not very well let everyone else have a bag of candy and me not get one, too. Inconceivable! Since then I have discovered candy is half priced the day after Halloween, so there are easier ways of satiating a sweet tooth than humiliating yourself for the neighbors] amusement.

There you go. A Halloween poat about se and candy. Hope it brought back goo memories of one hit wonder Marcy Playground. I never even mentioned the one Halloween I went to a live, audience participation showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was a experience for you. I could end this post with the old saying that candy I good, but sex won’t rot your teeth. Alas, I am too classy to do such a thing.
The Split

My fondness for Reese Witherspoon is annoyingly obvious to anyone who has been around me for any length of time. I joked about her split my Ryan Phillippe last night without revealing how it all falls ino my master plan. Frankly, you should be shocked I am sitting here blogging instead of standing on her front steps with flowers and a box of candy. She would probably keep both while they hauled me off to the Los Angeles County jail, too. Alll kidding aside 9I say kidding, not snark) this is something of asurprise and is going to get brutal.

Maybe it is not a huge surprise. Reese went on Oprah last year and defending going to a marriage counselor by essentially saying any relationship could use a boost. That is true, particularly these celebrity marriages that are essentially built on grabbing ahold of someone for the sole purpose of having something steady and constant in your life. Such marriages even seem destined for success. Think Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, and yes, Reese and Ryan. All gone now. Perhaps this notion of clinging onto someone for stability is actually an unhealthy codependent relationship. I do not know enough about psychology to comment.

I am old enough now to have seen some aftermath of those type of relationships in my life. I have been to tthree different schools: high school, college, and law school. In the spring of every single senior year I have had at all three, there have been whirlwind romances often between two people I would never have guessed tolerated each other, much less loved. I usually assumed the relationships were built on a need for security. There was a ear of graduating, heading out into life, and never being able to find anyone. Would people get married just to have someone? Apparently the fear of being alone is enough to push a lot of people into a hasty decision.

Considering my physical state even before my health collapse in 2004, I never much considered the thought of marriage. I took the opportunity to be an observer instead. You know, Even after spending the last dozen years o so watching male friends make fools of themselves chasing after certain girls and girl friends stay with abusive jerks because ‘most of the time, he loves me,” I know next to nothing about relationships and what makes them last. I certainly did not have a decent example to go by from my parents. I have been around long enough to see a number of divorces from those clingy high school marriages I spoke of earlier. At least I know my suspicions were correct there. Otherwise, maybe it is good I am out of the game.

Back to my point point, this is going to be a brutal divorce. As noted from Ryan’s interview with Howard Stern recently, he is a jerk. You do not go live on the air and complain about what a witch your wife is, particularly not when you both have two small children who are going to one day find out what you said. I was fourteen when my parents split, already well on my way to being jaded, yet it was still a painful experience. I can still grit my teeth and burn over some things that were said and done, not to mention the things I had to say and do in order to protect myself. I cannot imagine how a child half that age will go through such an experience without becoming even more scarred than I am. It is always the worst when couples have kids before realizing they were not meant to spend their lives together.

If I may put on my lawyer hat for a moment, the court battle will be ugly. The is no prenuptual agreement. Ryan gets half of everything even though the bulk of the marriage’s wealth (by bulk, I mean 99%. Way of the Gun and cameos in Outkast videos do not pay quite as well as hits like Legally Blonde II is Reese’s. All joking about infatuation aside, you can look at her and get hints from news stories that she can be as mean as a rattlesnake with a backache. I would hope neither will want to to use the children as a weapon to get at the other, but I have enough experience I legal circles to know that is too good a temptation to avoid. Private practice lawyers know full that a child custody case is money in the bank because two people who have just been through a nasty divorce are willing to spend just about anything to et back at the other and are often perfectly willing to use their children as a weapon. Sad, but true. I think we may very well see a public display of how all that comes about over the next few months.
Tooth and Claw

Just in time for Halloween, this music video is from an episode that harkens back to the best gothic serials of the Tom Naker years of Doctor Who. Our heroes try to prevent Queen Victoria from being bitten by a werewolf from outer space. Video is set to "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran.
Ghosts 'n Goblins Day

Send candy. Or a girl named Candy. Either one is good.

Monday, October 30, 2006

There is a God

...and He is making up for all the crap I have been put through. Reese Witherspoon finally dumped that dope, Ryan Philippe. Yes, I am glowing. Why do you ask?

(I keed, I keed. Sorta.)
Kristen Bell IV

Veronica Mars' Kristen Bell does not seem to do many sexy photo shoots, but on the occasional blue when when she when it happens, it is worth the wait. Here Kristen shows off her figure and tummy. I think she has a pretty hot girl next door look about he. I just cannot get into Versonica Mars. Oh well:

You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary. There are mote celebrity photos on the sidebar.
Torchwood--"Ghost Machine"

Mixed reviews for last night’s episode are emerging all over. The biggest complaint is the story ws contrived and predictable. Granted, it did not cover a whole lot of new ground. Quite a few have complained it was very similar to an Angel episode from a few years ago. I cannot comment on that, but I have seen the basic plotline on various Star Trek and Stargate episodes, so I can vouch for originality not being its strong point. But the fleshing out of two as yet relatively unknown characters, Owen and Gwen, made up for it.

The Torchwood team is chasing after a teenager who has some sort of alien technology on him. Gwen can only get a grip on his jacket as he slips away, but that is good enough. He device they are looking for is in the pocket. She accidentally turns it on and has a vision of a young schoolboy wandering about lost. She feels his fear and it lingers with her long after the vision disappears. Gwen assures the tam what she saw was real, so they seek out the boy. They discover he is real and is now an old man. Gwen pays him a visit and learns he was put on a train during the London Blitz and sent to the countryside. He was a quiet child and got lost in the shuffle. Gwen saw him as he was wandering about before anyone found him.

The team continues to hunt for the teenager who had the device to start with. They decide to recreate the initial use of the device. This time Owen uses in and sees a teenage girl having a spat with her boyfriend, Morgan. Morgan pulls a knife, assaults, and murders her. Owen experiences her emotions as it happens. He becomes obsessed with the murder by tracking down the murderer. The guy is still alive and has been hiding as a guilt ridden hermit since committing the murder in 1963. Now coms the contrived part. Owen just happens to run into the teenager the team is looking for after leaving the murdering boyfriend’s house. Lucky guy, that Owen.

The device and various aliens artifacts had fallen through the rift in Cardiff. The kid had accidentally triggered the device once and saw a young girl disposing of her dead baby in secret. She offered him cash to keep quiet and he realized he could make a fortune blackmailing other for crimes he witnessed through the device. Unfortunately, when he approaches Morgan, the old man will not cooperate. Eventually the kid sees himself being killed and assumes Morgan is the culprit. Gwen decides to help convince him that probably I not true, but they are both attacked by Morgan. After a scuffle, Morgan is subdued. Owen flashes his rage at the old man. Once Jack lets him go, Morgan decides it is time to end it all and falls on the knife he was carrying and Gwen is holding. She becomes distraught at his deah and the blood on her hands.

Characterization was tops here. Owen had up until this point wavered between arrogant jek and lecherous jerk. It was nice to see him actually care about something. Gwen is still making a lot of stupi mistakes. Early on, she takes the device home to relive happier moments with her boyfriend even though the only two experiences she knows device were negative. Not the wisest of moves, methinks. It was also interesting to see Jck train her in firearms use. It just seem strange to see a former cop who cannot use a gun. Welcome to the United Kingdom, no? We get hints of flirtations between her and Jack and she is still serving as the conscience of the group. Gwen is definitely taking on the Rose Tyler to Jack’s Ninth Doctor role here.

Another tidbit about Jack is revealed. Since his resurrection, he never sleeps. No sure what the significance of that is yet, but at least the writers resisted to urge to conveniently kill him just to bring him back. I had a fear--which may still come to pass--that will be a convenient plot device. But, as yet, no. Next week we get something of a crossover as a Cybermen converter makes an appearance. Maybe we will finally find out what happened to Yvonne Hartman then. It is about time Ianto got more than thee lines an episode as well, no?

Rating: *** (out of 5)
New Earth

The Doctor and Rose viit New earth billions of years in the future and discover a hospital worse than the one on Scrubs. Run by cats, no less. Video is set to "All You Wanted" by Michelle Branch.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Feel Old

I do feel old. Painfully so. It is not just that I am turning thirty in a few weeks. Most everyone takes stock and/or get melancholy about that. I am feeling old because I cannot tell often tell teenage boys and girls apart. I feel old because the music I used to think was edgy in high school and college is now used to sell laundry detergent and Subarus. I feel old because old friends have outgrown their dreams. I feel old because I have outgrown mine. I feel old simply because I feel old. Yikes I am becoming even more of a curmudgeon than I ever thought I would. I was shooting for just eccentric. Fate can be nasty with its other plans for you.

Well, I have always been curmudgeonly about politics. These days I wish I had not spent my college years studying. I cannot even pinpoint a reason why. I used to think about running for public office one day and thought I had to tow a certain line even then. Nowadays you have to decide you want to be a politician in grade school and keep your nose clean from there. That naked ambition, kowtowing to the poobahs , and artificial sincerity grew tiresome early on. These days I know I will never hold public office and can finally release my disdain for the lie.

I began to reach that conclusion when I accepted admission to Regent University. At that point in life I figured the law degree was more important than some pie-in-the-sky run for the South Carolina General Assembly. With a degree from Regent, Pat Robertson would forever be my running mate anyway. I also met a few folks with ambitions similar to my previou ones. Maybe I had been away from college and my politically ambitious friends for too long or maybe it was the cynicism I had developed by watching their chosen career paths meander from any political glory they had felt destined for, but I was irked by their behavior. I will admit my life between college and law school was pretty awful. Surgery, recovery, and an alcoholic, suicidal mother will suck the romance right out of being young and having your whole life ahead of you. That was an experience not everyone had and thank goodness for that even despite my arrogance for having gone through it and gaining wisdom my classmates may not possess for years down the road--if ever. But their behavior was a final nail in the coffin for my interest in politics as a career.

The decision made me a bit lost. I had spent years in the mindset and going through what I needed to do to be who I needed to be. It did not take long until I felt years had been wasted. In some ways I even wrestled with the idea that studying law would be throwing good years after bad. I was stuck, though, for personal and financial reasons. There was no small amount of irritation at being in a place I dd not want to be, surrounded by people who I, by and large, just tolerated (mutually), and studying what I did not want to study. Ironically, I was not alone. A good chunk of the class went to law school with idealized notions of being Christian lawyers but soon learned you can at best be a lawyer who happens to be a Christian and wind up wrestling with your conscience over the things you will be required to do. Many were not prepared to do that even after passing the bar.

I was, mind you. It was all part of that cynicism I had developed. Life is nasty and full of compromises. I would like to think God understands that. I believe that is why our sins are forgiven by grace. Too many Christians I knew at Regent put God in a box just like they--and a lot of my politically ambitious friends from college--put their lives in a box. I am not wagging my finger in anyone’s face here, either. I did the same thing. I am probably still doing it to whatever extent. But I am trying to work that out. I wish I had been faster on the draw. If I could, I would go back in time and give my self a good, swift kick in the butt in September of 1994 before filling out my college application. I would have some sort of different path. I might very well have wound up sitting here anyway blogging about how I should hve been a lawyer and politician because I could have made a difference, darn it.

The is the kicker. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. You get warned about thinking like that when you are young, but in your enthusiasm, you never listen. Near as I can tell, people either spend their lives chasing rainbows or are angry they did. Everyone spends some time doing both. I did. Neither one seems to really matter in the grand scheme of things. That is a painful realization. There is always going to be some nagging doubt about every decision you make, whether it is in regards to friendship, family, love, or career. You will always wonder if you made a mistake no matter what you choose. That is hard to live with. It makes me feel old.
Studio 60 to Get the Ax

Well, there is a shocker for everyone. The show will probably be canned even before Jessica Simpson can stretch her thespian muscles or show off her goods, whichever Aaron Sorkin thought would bring in the better ratings. Despite getting an order for three new scripts last week, Studio 60 is doomed. Not that getting a script order means a thing in television. Both E-Ring and Joey received script orders and filmed new episodes before being canned. As far as I know, the remaining episodes of those shows have never aired.

It is understandable that Studio 60 is a goner. II have heard that same complaint or practically everyone: they want to like it, but cannot tell precisely what it is. The one thing that has been determined is how pretentious the show is. Putting a sketch comedy show together just is not all that important. You cannot make it with the same gravity of chronicling the decision making of the Bartlet White House, but good grief if Sorkin did not give it ye olde college try. The funny thing is the drama of making a sketch comedy show is no less a thrill than showing the backroom angst of putting on a SportsCenter clone, but I really liked SportsNight. What is the difference? Hallucinogenic mushrooms, near as I can tell. Apparently normalcy is not conducive to creativity.

While we are on the subject, Ken Levine is a regular read from my blogroll. He penned some of the best episodes of MASH and Cheers. However, I am not entirely certain why his If Baeball Were Written By Aaron Sorkin has been making the rounds as much as it has. Not that it is not a spot on parody of Sorkin dialogue--I can hear Leo McGarry and Sam Seaborne, swapping these lines--but it just is not that funny. You may judge for youself, of course.
The Christmas Invasion

Here we go with music videos from the second season of Doctor Who, beginning with the holiday special. The Tenth Doctor takes Rose home for Christmas just as the Earth is being invaded by aliens. Video is set to "Christmas at Ground Zero" by "Weird" Al Yankovic.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jessica Simpson: Cyberstalker

I take this with a huge grain of salt, but I would find it a strange combination of funny and sad if true. Apparently, Jessica Simpson was so broken up after her divorce from Nick Lachey, she signed up for an anonymous MySpace account and began flirting online. In some ways< I can accept that might be true. I am aware of people around me who have done this sort of thing for the emotional boost after a break up. The chase thrills the girls and the cheap cybersex thrills the uys. Strange, but in the 21st century, it happens. I imagine it is not awhole lot different than the whole secret admirer/pen pals deal that has probably gone on since the beginning of time. There is nothing new under the sun, as a wise man oce said.

An anonymous source tells a British tabloid-- a double whammy of credibility if there ever was one --Jessica became hooked on the idea and kept it up. One hasto assume Johnny Knoxville, Dane Cook, and John Mayer don’t do it for her quite like some 23 year old, Pantera tee shirt wearing computer programmer from Flint Michigan. The source goes on to say Jessica fears hr celebrity either intimidates or awes potential suitors, so she fears never finding genuine love. One also wonders how genuine love can be found when the relationship begins with dishonesty, but then again, how many guys would be upset to know that shy Texan they have been talking to is actually Jessica Simpson and not some 40 year old dump truck driver hiding his online life from his wife. He is anticipating meeting someone from Dateline himself.

Yes, I think this is a totally untrue story. Jessica strikes me as the type who wants some Hollywood cardboard cutout of a guy and who cares about genuine love? It is all about having an anchor in a tumultuous life. At least she is not contemplating the new tend of adopting a third world baby for emotional satisfaction. Besides, I cannot imagine Poppa Simpson allowing his number one daughter to be searching for love without his express approval. If he does not have veto power over who his cash cow is seen in public with, I would be shocked. Still, I will bet there are a load of guys who will be searching through shy, quiet Texas girls on MySpace tonight in he lon hopes that Poppa Simpson might eventually toss them out headfirst onto the driveway.
St. Louis Cardinals Win 2006 World Series

I was not particularly excited about this World Series. Neither team thrilled me, but I am a nearly compulsive baseball fan. I had to choose St. Louis as my team. The National League is more familiar territory for me being an avid Atlanta Braves fans. It did not bother me much that the analysts virtually all predicted a Dtrroit Tigers sweep or victory in five at worst. One wiseguy even predicted Detroit in three.

No such luck. St. Louis won it in five games. I have to admit this was a pretty boring series overall, however. I just could not get into it. Usually I am either hooked or desperately flicking back and forth between the game and something else I would normally watch. Not this time around. I even missed a couple of games completely without batting (pardon the pun) an eye. I have not been that ambivalent bout a World Series since 2000's Subway Series.

(Yes, i am no fan of California teams, but I was pulling for the California Angels against the San Francisco Giants in 2002 because I wanted them to win one for the memory of the late Gene Autry. Normally I would have been blah about the match up, but there was some added drama there. )

Regardless, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on their victory.
My Blog of Many Colors

Yes, I changed the blog color again. The font, too. Change is good. Just do not call me fickle. I prefer volatile or unpredictable, if you lack imagination or a thesaurus. I liked the black. It was a good choice for a while. But black is overdone even if it is high contrast enough for my poor, remaining peeper. I no longer feel I can be the Man in Black. We are now entering my blue period. Probably in more ways than one. Out of all the high contrast colors schemes I have tried in the last hour or so, this one suits me best for many reasons. it is going to stay a while. Who knows how long. I am volatile, remember?

Truth be told, this was a middle of the night whim, but I think it will still seem like a good idea after both the sun and I have been up for a while. I get a wild hair to shake things up every now and then when things start to stagnate. I have to get down to business of updating the sidebar with new blogroll additions and half-naked celebrities.

On the plus side, I have brand new posts coming up that have absolutely nothing to do with me becoming a worthless couch potato. Seems like it has been a while since I have had any of those. For the last little bit of time I have been writing solely on momentary whim--kind of like how I redesigned the blog. Old habits die hard. But anyway, more to come later as I plod through all the stuff I need to do first. Buckle your seatbelts, hold onto your hat, and for heaven’s sake, do not hang your arms outside the windows while we are speeding along.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Battlestar Galactica--"Collaborators"

Now that the people have been evacuated from New Caprica and are back on the Galactica, another problem has arisen. Under the occupation, the Cylons recruited humans to serve in administrative and security positions. A lot of those people committed crimes against the people of New Caprica. A small group called the Circle, whose members Col. Tigh and Tyrol, are snatching up collaborators and tossing them out of airlocks after secret kangaroo court trials. The episode opens with Jammer being hold by the Circle. He was part of the murder of 22 people at the Cylon’s order. Jammer appeals to Tyrol--he was the one who saved Tyrol’s wife from being executed in the season premiere--but to no avail. Jammer is executed.

There is a lot of other aftermath to deal with. Baltar is struggling with his decision to aid the Cylons. He knows he can never go back to the fleet with all the blood on his hand. Starbuck is feeling the loss of Kasie. She truly bonded with the child while on New Caprica. But the most damaged is Col. Tigh. He explodes when seeing Gaeta, one of Baltar’s aides on New Caprica, on the Galactica bridge. Adama assures him with the loses they have suffered, they need everyone they can get. It is Tigh that is in charge of the Circle and it is pretty clear he is using the group as a way of taking out the pain of losing his wife and his eye.

Not surprisingly, Gaeta is high on the Circle’s list. He is kidnapped and put before them. There is not much proof he did anything directly, but most of the Circle is determined to kill him anyway. Tyrol discovers that Gaeta had been the Resistance’s secret contact within the government. Help he anonymously gave saved all their lives. Tyrol refuses to go along with the execution and Gaeta is freed. Roslin is sworn back in as president and ends all possibility of retribution against collaborators in the future as the first step in healing the wounds of the last 18 months.

Interesting episode. It had all the personal touches on would expect after the tour de force sequence of episodes we have had so far. While I fear the angst may be drawn out to long, I like how things are not returning to any since of normalcy like most sows would do. The survivorshave suffered great losses and it is good to see that addressed. One wonders how these things will fit into the continued search for Earth and how Baltar, who is now among the Cylons, will play into it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Doctor Who--"Rise of the Cybermen" (Commentary)

There is not much to talk about this episode. It is the first installment of a two part episode and is completely set up for the not only the second half, but of the two part season finale as well. I have since learned the show (and perhaps most all BBC shows) are designed with the executive producer designing the entire season and handing off a script treatment to a commissioned writer toturn it into an a teleplay. Apparently show runner Russell T. Davies is rather brutal about taking the teleplays afterwards and hacking them up to his satisfaction. There have been some bruised egos, the most prominent of which I will post about in a couple of weeks.

“Rise of the Cybermen” touches on subjects near and dear to a comic book fan like me: origin stories and parallel worlds/ Origin stories are generally well sought after collectable issues particularly when prominent characters are introduced. The Cybermen have trailed only the Daleks as the premiere thorn in the Doctor’s side, but it was absolutely necessary to revamp their 1940’s movie serial appearance and give them an edge. Truth be told, given their silly appearance, I am surprised an original head showed up in Henry van Staten’s collection of alien objects in the first season’s “Dalek.” The new design and origin story is quite hood, although the revamp is dangerously similar to the mid-90’s War Machine armor worn by iron Man in Marvel Comics. Now that RTD has revealed he is a fan of Marvel and named Capt. Jack Harkness after Fantastic Four supporting character Agatha Harkness, I am not so sure that was not an homage.

Parallel worlds are a favorite element in comics aswell. The trick is to make the world similar but still have frightening differences. The difficult part is that familiar characters have to either completely unlike their regular selves or in exist in utterly different circumstances. It is difficult to do tht without being contrived or far fetched. One of the things that killed Sliders for me is how important Quinn Mallory was on every other parallel Earth our heroes visited. It got way too implausible for my tastes. “Rise of the Cybermen” did it right. Mickey’s life circumstances, Pete Tyler’s success, and Jackie’s attitude wwre all what you would expect them to be if life had just turned slightly in the other direction for them at some pivotal piint in the past.

Getting back to homage, while I have not heard many fans talk about it, there was a definite vibe of James Bond’s A View to a Kill here. The main villain, John Lumis, is a psychotic businessman who made a fortune in the computer industry. He uses a zeppelin as his transportation of choice. The President of Great Britain was murdered same as the Mayor of San Francisco. The Doctor even cavorts about in a tuxedo throughout both episodes. Maybe I am just loopy here, but why has no one else talked about these things? I am not saying anything was plagiarized, but come on. Surely people have noticed.

The one really important bit here is Mickey’s characterization. He is bitter and insecure because both his father left him as a child and Rose abandoned him to travel with the Doctor. There is a certain feeling that he is being ignored and dismissed by everyone. In truth, he is. But here is where he begins to come into his own. Even the Doctor begins to respect him here. More on that next week when the meatier aspects o the story happen.

You may read my original review for "Rise of the Cybermen" here.
Billie Piper IX

It is Friday. That means the Sci Fi Channel will be airing a Doctor Who episode for its first run in the United States. More importantly, it means I post photos of Billie Piper. Last week I think I skipped the photos for a video interview instead, but there is a pattern developing here. Or maybe I am just getting predictable here in my Melancholy Days. Whatever the case, here is a photo spread of Billie in her Avril Lavigne "I Wanna Be Punk But Can't Quite Pull It Off" mode. She still looks pretty nice regardless.

You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary. There are more celebrity photos on the sidebar.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam V

Rush Limbaugh crossed the line I was straddling the other day when writing about Micheal J. Fox’s advertisements supporting political candidates in Missouri and Maryland because they support stem cell research while their opponents do not. I thought it was a blatant appeal to the emotions and exploitive to the viewer. Limbaugh went much further, pretty much accusing Fox of exaggerating his disability and allowing the Democrat to exploit him as a victim. I do agree with that. I am sure Fox was more than happy to participate as he did. There is nothing dishonest about. It was just…tasteless is not the word. At least for me, it was an uncomfortable advertisement that turned me off to the candidates. If I were a voter in their districts, I would have an ax to grind with them. That is the best way I can explain it.

Bush’s press conference the other day was a horrible idea. He more or less said his Iraq policy is wrongheaded, but asked the country to continue going along with it instead. Some critics have said that was a stupid thing to do, but I think they are looking at it wrong. What Bush has done is said he made a mistake, does not see anyway to fix it, and realizes the blame lies with him. I would much prefer his misjudgment not have cost 93 American lives so far this month (the bloodiet month this year), but politics is a nasty game and imprecise science. But if Bush keeps on, he is going to be worse than a lame duck. His own party is already shunning him. They may have to dump him altogether. It is going to be a lonely final two years for Bush.

I am going to stat posting second season Doctor who videos in short order. It took awhile to find decent songs, but I have. This time around will feature artists as varied as “Weird” Al Yankovic, Jeff Buckley, the Cranberries, and Bloodhound Gang. They should do well. David Tennant ‘s Doctor appears to be more popular than Christopher Eccleston’s on YouTube for some reason. I guess I am in a minority as a fan of the Ninth Doctor. Not unusual, mind you. I thought Timothy Dalton was a good James Bond, too. There is a double whammy for you. Not to stray to far from Whovian lore, the repeat on BBC2 last night of the premiere epiodes of Torchwood were as big a hit as the original run on BBC3 Suday night. With that in mind, can Rose Tyler: Earth Defender be far behind? *Ahem*
Ladies of Lost--Evangeline Lilly IX

Surf's up for Evangeline Lilly--assuming she can hadle the surg board. Still looks nice in the tiny, blue bikini, though, does she not? Seeing her would make any man's heart explode, deadly paemaker or not.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lost--"Every Man for Himself"

Lost has definitely cranked it up a notch this season, if not in revealing the overall story arc, then in making the episodes skinning crawlingly disturbing. It has been largely in the flashbacks, with Jack being an obsessed stalker, dear, sweet Sun and adulterer, and Locke nearly killing an undercover narcotics officer, but tonight, it extended to the island story. The sheer cruelty of the Others combined with the claustrophobia of Sawyer, Kate, and Jack being held captive made for a hard to watch episode. Several scenes in particular stand out. All that is great, but the much hyped revelation that changes everything will not, in my humbles of opinion.

Sawyer makes a plan utilizing the “hamster feeding device” deal that is in his cage to create a puddle of water beside his cage. He intends to get one of the Others to stand in it while using their tasser. Instead, Ben comes out already knowing Sawyer’s plan sine the cages have been bugged. He take Sawyer to an operating room and, in what brought back nasty memories of a spinal tap I had twenty years ago, jams a long needle into his chest while Sawyer is still awake. When he awakens, Ben puts a rabbit in a cage and his chest and in a inexplicably disturbing scene, shakes the cage to stir the rabbit up. The animal gets upset, then dies. Sawyer is informed the rabbit had a device on his heart that will cause it to explode once it reaches a high number of beats a minute. They have put one of those in Sawyer to keep him under control.

Sawyer has to keep quiet about it and the heart rate monitor around his wrist or they will put one in Kate as well. In the only light moment in the episode--and on destined to bring lots of Evangeline Lilly naked Googlers here--Kate starts changing clothes in her cage. We cath a glimpse of her bare back which is enough to get the wrist monitor beeping. Sawyer pours a bucket of water on his head to calm down.

Jack is not faring much better. The Other that was shot by Sun two episodes ago is brought in on a stretcher in critical condition. Sun manged to damage the spinal chord. Good shot, that Sun. Jack has been messing with Juliet’s mind hoping to rattle her and find a way to escape. It is working pretty well, but she eventually drags Jack to an operating room to save the wounded Other. He fails and assures her the girl was dead before she was ever put on the table. In another one of those extremely disturbing scenes, the dead Other’s husband storms out to sawyer’s cage. He drags Sawyer out and begin viciously beating him while demanding to know id Kate oves him. It is incredibly degrading to the character as she sobs uncontrollably while screaming that she does love Sawyer.

Afterwards, while Sawyer lickes his wound, Kate realize she can probably fit through the bars of her cage’s roof and climbs out. She does and tries to break the lock on Sawyer’s cage, but cannot. Sawyer implores her to get away as fast as she can, but she refuses, eventually climbing back into her cage. H believes it is every man for himself. She assures him it is not. Ben ha been wathing on a close circuit television the entire time. Sometime later, he takes Sawyer out of his cell and marches him up a steep hill and to the ocean on the other side. Sawyer’s heart rate nears the danger one, but Ben reveals there I no device in him. They needed to gain his confidence and the only way to gain the trust of a con man is to con him. Ben shows sawyer the “big” reveal--the Others have their own island just offshore of the Lotaways island. I am under whelmed, but that is my only gripe about the episode.
There is a tiny, but interesting bit with Desmond. Whatever happened to him after the sawn Hatch exploded has given him the power to see the future. He offers to fi a leak in Claire’s tent so the baby will not be rained on. Jealous Charlie shoos him away while assuring him everything is fine. Desmond does so, but begins building an odd device nearby. When he is done hhe sits back. First it begin to rain. Sure enough, there is a leak. Then lightning strikes near Claire’s tent but is caught by Desmond’s creation--a lightning rod. Baby Aaron would have been killed otherwise. Charlie and Claire know it.

The flashbacks belong to Sawyer and reveal why, although he seem to hate everyone else, he has a soft spot for kids. He is in prison when a new guy arrives. The guy is a bit of a wimp, but he is a good white collar criminal. She has stolen and hidden $ 10 million. Sawyer convinces him the warden has been giving him special treatment in order to get at the money. Eventually, the guy accept that as true and asks Sawyer to help him get it to a new hiding place. Meanwhile, the woman Sawyer conned out of $ 500,000 shows up at prison with big news--Sawyer is the father of her daughter. Sawyer blows it off heartlessly. Later it I revealed Sawyer is on the take with the feds. The other inmate revealed the money’s location and Sawyer handed that information to the feds. For his cut, he requests the money be put in a trust under his daughter’s name. There is to be no way to trace the account back to him.

This was the best episode of the season so far even though the big reveal was pretty small in retrospect. The Others were on DHARMA Island when Flight 815 crashed, but moved to this new island afterwards? Why would they need to do that? The other reveal is that Juliet is a fertility doctor. The X-ray hanging on the wall was a nifty trick. Jack spotted that it was of a male with a spinal tumor. Obviously they need Jack's surgical skills for something and they apparently need Sawyer as well, since Ben is trying establish a working relationship with him. What could they possibly need a con man for? So they have Kate fo the sole purpose of manipulating Jack and Sawyer? The cliffhanger episode before the long hiatus is Kate-centric, so I am thinking she is probably more important than that. They plane crashed 71 days ago. Jack, Kate, and Sawyer have been imprisoned for six days. Been specifically gave Kate a time frame of two that would be horrible for her. Whatever the others need them for, it happens in eight more days. I am guessing cliffhanger here.

Rating: **** (out of 5)
Reese's Pieces

I post this photo for two reasons. One, I really like Reese Witherspoon. two, you figure it out. I would of coure prefer to not spell it out, but i know from past experience I have to say something like Reese Witherspoon has nice boobs in order for Google to work its magic. Hence I point out this photo proves Reese Witherspoon has nice boobs. As a bonus it features Jennifer Garner--or is it Jennifer Affleck? The married name has not rally caught on. I guess people are in denial she married Ben Affleck.The photo is nearly a year old even though I came into possession of it last night from an anonymous benfactor and fan of the Eye. Reese and Jennifer are playing with children from New Orleans who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The sadd part is the kids are likely still in the same predicament. It is nice of the two stars to help out.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Bad Day

The trailer for the sixth season of 24 is now online. It looks like Jack Bauer had a rough time at the hands of the Chinese. January is a looonnngggg way off.
Everything Changes

Yes, one last Torchwood post then I will give it a rest. Here is a music video with scenes from the pilot, "Everything Changes." The video is set to "Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan. Enjoy.
Torchwood Promotes Welsh Tourism

The Wales Tourist Board is anticipating that Torchwood's success will bring lots of visitors to Cardiff. Torchwood is filmed on location there and a number of landmarks are prominent. I believe the Hub was already a hot spot from it being featured in the first season Doctor Who episode, "Boomtown" in 2005. Surely as the show features more of the city, it will bring in the curiousity seekers.

It is certainly not out of the question. A number of movies have been filmed near Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas because of it's temperate climate and lower production costs compared to California. Tourists come all the time to look for spots where The Patriot, Die Hard III, Ace Ventura II, and even the old cheapo filck Swamp Thing were filmed. For that last one, I believe they are hoping to catch a glimpse of Adrienne Barbeau in that soaking wet, white evening gown. Forget all those Antebellum homes. Barbeau is where it is at.

No word on whether Cardiff visitors are encountering any Weevils, but I will keep my eye open.
King Kong Needs a Bra

Yeah, I know. Great observation there, huh? Just doing my part to keep the Eye as highbrow classy as possible. I am a big fan of the original 1933 King Kong. I even cut the Dino de Larentis remake from 1976 some slack. “Everybody luvva da monkey,” he said, but, “everybody hate-a da movie” was the audience’s reply. I thought Jack Black could make this version worth watching. He could not. Naomi Watts was surprisingly good in it. She would not have been my first choice to play Ann Darrow. I would have gone with Joey Lauren Adams, Elizabeth Shue, or maybe even Julie Bowen.

Too bad there was not enough interest to even think about a Son of Kong remake. I love that movie almost as much just for the sheer brainlessness of it. Carl Denham is being sued right and left over the damage Kong caused by falling off the Empire State Building, so he gets the idea to go out and find another Kong and bring him back to New York and make his fortune. Guess what happens?

Yesterday wasa slow news day. My sleep pattern isreversing again, too. I am betting there will be late night blogging for a while to come. I did get a brief reprieve from the doldrums today by watching the first two episodes of Torchwood. I already wrote earlier of my split decision over them but still wanting to see more. The show makes Nip/Tuck look like a Saturday morning cartoon. You remember those, do you not? Hey have not had any in years to my recollection. Ids get gypped these days. How do they fill out their Christmas lists without thirty minute commercials like we used to get with Transformers and G. I. Joe? Heck, I just found out there is a Billie Piper action figure by accident last night. Cool, even if it does resemble a grumpy lesbian.

Boo is continuing her clinginess. I currently have my door shut to keep her napping elsewhere. As I have said before, she is not an overly friendly cat. In fact, she usually acts irritated that all the people who live here are occupying her space. Still this afternoon she sprawled across my lap for both episodes of Torchwood and the writing and posting of the reviews. That was around two hours. Just sitting there. Not sleeping. Just pinning me down. For the fun of it, I guess. Her switch in behavior is still creeping me out. Why must cats mess with our minds?

Speaking of messing with my mind, I notice a dip in my readership numbers. You guys tired of half nakd celebrities, television reviews, political droppings, and angt filled rants on the unfairness of life? I am pretty much out of my element if you desire something beyond that. Well, I do have a trick or two up my sleeve. The Eye may roll along steadily or ump the shark in short order. Should be fun to watch, no?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Torchwood--"Day One"

Well, that was prurient. Lucky for everyone I am an anything goes type of guy. Torchwood was described by critics as X-Files meets Angel. I did not get that vibe from the premiere episode, but I did get it here. Jack even has a lot of Mulder an Angel’s brooding demeanor and dry, bitter sense of humor. Reminds me of someone we all know and love, but I just cannot put my finer on it. Maybe it will come to me later. Anyway, I am not so sure this was the best story to have as the second episode, but I suppose there was some value in letting everyone know that gritty sex and violence are going to be a comstant presence. No blue police boxes and sonic screwdrivers to save the day here.

It is Gwen’s first day on the job and Torchwood investigates a crashed meteorite from space. During a spat with the flirtatious Owen, Gwen accidentally damages the meteorite and allowsa gaseous alien to escape. The alien possesses a young proceeds to seek out sex partners. She feeds off their *ahem* climatic energy. Torchwood eventually captures the girl after afew very graphic scenes that showed pretty much everything but actually nudity. The team finally encounters her before the alien presence in the woman’s body can literally cause her to explode. The alien gets trapped in a force field while trying to switch bodies to Gwen and dies.

Once again, Gwen serves as the conscience of the team. They have no particular desire to save the girl, just eliminate the alien. In fact, Jack is on the verge of killing the girl himself to protect a precious item of his--the severed hand of the Doctor (lost in “The Christmas Invasion”) in a jar. There we have the obligatory Doctor Who reference. I have to admit there was not a heck of a lot else going on here other than some gratuitous shots of Gwen’s rear end, lots of sexual innuendo, and a full on lesbian love scene. It was not as good as the pilot, but I think “Everything Changes” proves enough potential to give a weak episode a break.

Rating: ** (out of 5)
Torchwood--"Everything Changes"

Anticipation has been building for Torchwood for over a year now and it apparently pain off. The double bill of episodes one and two were the highest rated premiere in BBC3 history. I am assuming a lot of Doctor Who turned in for the first episode to try it out. Since the second episode lost only 10% of the audience, I assume they like what they saw. Ah, but the question of the hour is did I? More on that momentarily.

The beginning of the episode introduces us to Welsh cop Gwen Cooper who is keeping gawkers away from a stabbing victim on the street. Torchwood arrives and the police are told to clear away, leaving the body. Gwen curiosity is piqued--who is Torchwood and why do they have the authority to impede an murder investigation? Gwen sneaks out of sight to watch torchwood in action. They use what they call a Resurrection Glove on the victim which brings him back to life for two minutes. Gwen is shocked at the whole affair. When the victim dies yet again, Jack Harkness acknowledges Gwen’s prsence. She runs off.

The next day Gwen has an encounter with the resident aliens of Torchwood--a Weevil--after she has gotten stitches from an in the line of duty wound. The Weevil attacks a hospital worker, but Jack suddenly appears to rescue Gwen before she becomes the next victim. He disappears, but Gwen is now obsessed with finding out what Torchwood is all about. She finally sneaks her way into the Hub under the ruse of delivering pizzas. Surpringly, Jack decides to explain everything to her. Torchwood gathers alien technology to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Gwen’s memories are wiped of everything Jack told her, yet there is still a glint of things that nag at her.

Although she remembers next to nothing, she finds her way back to the Hub where she encountersSuzi Costello. Suzi explains to Gwen that they needed to test the Resurrection glove and it worked best on those who died violent deaths. Suzi took matters into her own hands and killed people herself to test the glove. Suzi is a little coo coo. Nowshe has to kill Gwen. Jack intervenes but is shot in the head and apparently killed. However, he revives, heals his head wound right in front ofSuzi and Gwen, and tells Suzi to give up. Instead, Suzi puts the gun under her chin and kills herself. Later jack explain to Gwen that he is now immortal, or at least he dies an comes back. He offers her Suzi’s spot in Torchwood. She accepts.

Now, what did I think? It did exactly what a pilot is supposed to do: introduce the characters, set up long term conflict, and have abeginning, middle, and end of its own. We caught a good glimpse of the characters’ personalities. There is still no explanation why a group like Torchwood is lead by an American with no past, but I will give them that one. I also liked that promos advertised suzi as a part of the group when she turned out to be an unhinged bad guy. Two points hinted at the long term conflict. One, there are hundreds of Weevils living below the streets oCardiff and something is making them come to the surface and attack people. Second, Tochwood IV is missing. Surely they are going to show up before long. Season finale? The actual story with Suzi was abit paint by numbers, but that is only a small gripe.

Lots of references to Doctor Who as well. The only record of Capt. Jack Harkness is as an RAF volunteer who diappeared in 1941 (“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”), the alien spaceship over London on Christmas Day (“The Christmas Invasion”), the Cybermen/Dalek War and the destruction of Torchwood II (“Army of Ghosts/Doomsaday”), and Jack’s resurrection by Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (“The Parting of the Ways”) although he has no idea what happened to him then. He also tells Gwen he is waiting for a Doctor to return and explain things to him. The Hub is built on top the rift establish in “The Unquiet Dead” and aliens are seeping through periodically all over Cardiff. The Doctor returns to the rift every now and then to recharge the TARDIS (“Boomtown”) Jack is apparently biding his time for the Doctor’s return, which will not happen until season three of Doctor Who. Rumors are Jack will appear in three episodes then. One will be a solo adventure by him with no Doctor or Martha Jones (a la “Love & Monsters”) which I thought was a bad idea until I learned it would be penned by Steven Moffat, my favorite Whovian writer. Jack will also appear in the two part season finale.

For all the references, Torchwood certainly was not Doctor Who. I was edgy, gory in parts, with very amoral characters. The show has set up Gwen as the group’s conscience and specifically Jack’s. I can already see that the Jack/Gwen relationship iss going to have shades of Ninth Doctor/Rose without the doe eyed wonder of a 19 year old in over her head. Jack is a lot darker than he was in his appearances on Doctor Who, which I think is a good thing. It makes the character more complex, but I think it could be overdone here. The darkness of Torchwood runs the risk of being so exaggerated, it will border on melodrama. But it is early yet. We shall see.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Election Vendettas

I visit the Drudge Report daily even though I take most of what is written there with a huge grain of salt. Political innuendo, weird sex crimes, and freakish animal births make for a news site you cannot take too seriously. I have noticed over the last few days that drudge appears to have developed a vendetta against Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her desire to be House speaker. Admittedly, she is making herself look foolish by bragging about all the things she will do as Speaker. Drudge seems to be making an effort to make her look even more foolish, overly ambitious, and sad.

What is sadder still is a political advertisement Micheal J. Fox filmed for the Missouri Senate race. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and retired from acting a few years ago as the disease progressed. He supports stem cell research to find a cure. Sen. Talent opposes stem cell research on moral grounds. The disturbing thing is that Fox stopped taking the medication that controls his involuntary movements for the commercial. He shakes uncontrollably all during his plea for voters to support talent’s opponent.

The advertisement is on YouTube and I debated embedding it here, but thought better of it. On a dopey personal level, I am a child of the ‘80’s and I am saddened to see Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly in that state. I think a lot of you would be, too. On a more serious personal level, while I am empathetic, not just sympathetic, to those suffering from diseases that stem cell research might find a cure for, I am still squeamish about the idea. It may not even be logical to object, but the thought of experimenting on embryos--useless or not--bothers me. I know full well if I were in Fox’s position, I would probably be an adamant supporter of stem cell research, too. That bothers me even more. But my curent pint is how, while Fox has every right to make such a impassioned plea, it strikes me as extremely exploitive. It is like those telethons where they hall out the youngest, most crippled child they can find and give the impression she will die within a week if you do not get out your checkbook. Such things can backfire. I am curious if this will.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Billie Piper Interview

Yss, I know. Two amorous posts in a row. Jessica Simpson is a concession to interested visitors. I really like Billie Piper. She appeared on Friday Night with Jonathon Ross last week. Here is the interview in two parts. All told they run a smidgeon under 14 minutes. In the first, she talks about her early singing career, leaving Doctor Who, and why she would like to kick Freema Agyeman all the way to Mars.In the second part, Billie talks about her ill fated marriage to Chris Evans, her bout with anorexia, and how her Rose tyler action figure looks like a grumpy lesbian. Wait--there is an action figure modeled after her? Hmm....
Jessica Simpson XXI

Sometimes Jessica Simpson impresses me. Not only did she recently use the word “Podunk” correctly in an interview--and you have to take not anytime Jessica uses any word correctly--but she is a independent woman. No hollaback girl. She is career oriented, what with becoming her own publicist after reading Marketting for Dummies and taking a guest role on the one foot in the grave and the other slipping Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, she is finally entering the upper echelons of the business and thespian worlds, respectively.

She is liberated in other ways as well. She has gone on the record as being perfectly fine with her father, a former minister, making public comments about her breasts. She also talks about her sex life with her mother. Can you imagine telling mommy dearest you have done the horizontal shuffle with Johnny Knoxville and Dane Cook? That is class, people. She knows it as well. That was where the word “Podunk” came into the proceedings to describe her family.

There are other terms which come to mind, but here are some new photos instead. No nudes or bikini pictures, but the goods are all there regardless.

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Congressional Shift

Some interesting political analysis floating about by more conservative pundits. By interesting, I mean, I mean an Arte Johnson, “Veerrrrryyy interesting, but stupid.” Wishful thinking, as it were. The rationale goes that Democrats running for house seats have the best chance of knocking off moderate Republicans because the more staunch conservatives are in districts where voters love them. Hence the Republicans that are left can go back to a more conservative agenda without the RINOs dragging them down.

I do not buy it. Not that the republicans remaining will not be more conservative ideologically speaking, but as far as policy initiatives go, they cannot pull off anything too conservative in the current climate. Congress is still going to spend money like it is made out of trees, which they have figured out it is. I do not expect any sort of social conservative talking points to become reality, either. I do not see a fence being built across the border with Mexico or any sort of ban on gay marriage. Along the same vein, the Supreme Court is not going to touch abortion rights now or ever.

The only way I see things as not being business as usual is the unlikely repeat of 1994 with the democrats getting the windfall this time around. I do not think that will happen. There just is not that sense of palpable anger over Iraq or energy costs (as a for instance) as there was over Clinton and the Democrat Congress trying to push though universal health care a dozen years ago. If I am reading things wrong, there will most certainly be all sorts of investigations into the Bush Administration to the point we are going to get as sick of bush 9if we are not already) as we were of Clinton by the end. It will happen. If the Democrats win, they will have to appease the Daily Kos wing o the electorate who voted them in with a purple faced rage over Bush, Iraq, etc, etc, and etc.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ed Wood Needs a Star

Do you want to help get the late Ed Wood, Jr., the writer/producer/director of gloriously awful movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? A group is forming to lobby the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for it to happen. First they are requesting every tidbit of information you might have to help Wood’s case and $ 15,000 to cover the cost of the star. Lotsa luck, says I.

If you have not seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, you have missed…not really a treat. It is more like a really gory car wreck you cannot look away from. The plot is that aliens decide to take over the Earth by raising the dead. It makes you wonder how bad the other eight plans were. The dialogue? Oh, it is classic: “Of course we have to protect the future. That’s where we are all going to live!” Bear in mind this is considered his best ovie.

This committee forming to get his star does not sound much better, but I guess they are true Wood fans. First they remind you that if 15,000 send in a dollar, they will have $ 15,000. I guess we know who got a 230 on the math section of the SAT, do we not? Second, they remind you on the web page how to donate if you do not have internet access. No word on how you knew about this in the first place. I suppose if Frito lay can claim “No purchase necessary. Details inside the bag” for years, I should not be too nitpicky. Maybe it is all part of Plan Ten. Who knows.

I cannot recommend throwing your time or money on this lost cause, but I can tell you that Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp and Martin landau is worth a rental. Landau is particularly good as a pathetically aging and bitter Bela Legosi. The rant he has about rival Boris Karloff is hilarious. Look for it. But if you do want to help out, the web page is here.
Flotsam and Jetsam IV

Sarah Michelle Gellar is not the hottest number in the system, but this is about the best picture of her I have encountered. I have never noticed whether she had a ice tummy or not and I cannot tell if she is sucking that baby in until the point her eyeballs are about to shoot across the room and seriously wound the photographer. The picture is completely unrelated to any item I am going to write about below. You do not really care about that, though, do you?

My beloved University of South Carolina beat Vanderbilt. I never thought I would ever be relieved as such news. During my college days,, Vanderbilt was the designated homecoming opponent for every team in the Southeast Conference. We used to mop the floor with them. It is not that the Gamecocks are doing badly this year. They are actually 5-2 and well on their way to another bowl game. But the next three weeks are going to be brutal. We play Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida right in a row. All are ranked nationally. The SEC is the toughest conference in college football. Every other division is just playing patty cake.

Flags of Our Fathers has done soft box office on its opening weekend. I am disappointed. It looks like a really good movie and you just cannot go wrong with th combination of Clint Eastwood and Paul Haggis. I have to wonder I part of the reason is a war weary America. It is tough to go from evening news coverage of the war in Iraq to going to a theatre and watching a dramatized war for entertainment. Come to think of it, there have not been very many war movies in release in recent months. Perhaps this one was ill timed.

For Halloween, Conan O’Brien is going to do an entire installment of his talk show with skeletons. He, the band, and all his guests will be anaamatronic collections of bones. I do not know who his guests will be that night, but I am surprised they are willing to go along with the gag. The stunt has to put a crimp in whatever movie/television show/CD they are going on the show to promote. Still I think the idea is cool. Leno and Letterman never try anything as off kilter and attention getting as that.

More pundits are coming out to say the GOP will hold onto Congress with a slim majority next session. Estimates are a loss o betweeen 8 and 20 House seats. Theoretically the Republicans could wind up with a one vote majority which would essentially be a Democratic House anyway with the sizeable number of raging RINOs. He republicans may lose three seats in the Senate for a 52 seat majority. Do I buy this? It would not surprise we for the GOP to maintain power. Bush is at ease with the situation and he has the best inside information of anyone. A net loss for the GOP does mean they will have to move to the left and compromise more with the opposition, so it frankly does not matter a whole lot if the Democrats win. The country will continue to shift left. It is just a matter of the speed in which the body politic does so.
Plop Fly on the Warning Track

I accept the existence of God s a matter of faith, but the fact that both New York teams made the playoffs but neither is in the World Series is enough to make a believer out of the most heathen of infidels. Now I Reese Witherspoon would just show up at my front door wearing nothing but a bathrobe and a smile, I would have to become a missionary to Kenya or something as a Devine thank you.

Still, the St. Louis Cardinals v. the Detroit Tigers does not an exciting World Series make. I will still follow the games just because of my fondness for baseball. It is cliché, but the game is a metaphor for life. No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears go into season, no matter if a team wins 100 games, leads the league in homers and RBI and has a Cy Young winner on the pitching staff, it all comes down to one pith in the ninth inning at the end of October. Everything comes to a head in that single moment when the pitcher lets go of the ball and the batter swings. Whether one is a champ or chump comes down to a split second.

That is life. All you efforts hang on a split econd. Sometimes you can swing. Other times, you can do nothing. The thought has run through my mind as of late. Sometimes, in the bottom of the ninth, n a chilly October night, you swing, miss, and it no longer matters how well you season went. Awfully melancholy to think about how things turn on even less than a dime, no? These are the thoughts that have been running through my head over the lat few days. Check the time of this post and you will figure out how intensely.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Battlestar Galactica--"Exodus, Part Two"

I love this show. As near as I can remember, there has only been one episode out of two and a fraction seasons that I was meh about. Therefore it is no small compliment for me to say this was the best episode of the series. I do not think I have ever been this emotional about an hour of fictional television without being on painkillers while watching. I went back and forth from being choked up to excitement and back again. When BSG jumped ahead a year during the season finale, I feared it had jumped the shark. If the purpose was to find Earth, it seemed completely wrong to settle everyone on a planet then have the Cylons take over. I was further bemused by the human insurgency that rose up and the potential Iraq allegories. This episode laid them all to rest.

Let’s start with the personal moments. The insurgents demand Ellen Tigh’s head for her betrayal in the season premiere. Col. Tigh has no choice but to kill his wife. He does so after spending one last night with her, reiterating how much he loves her as she dies. It was hear trenching as he sobs uncontrollably over her lifeless body. You would like to think true love is more important than the lives of people you barely know, but Col. Tigh follows the higher principle. Ellen’s betrayal could have doomed humanity. Now in the name of vengeance, he is a lonely old man who killed his only love.

Starbuck has her own pain. When the insurgents rise up and begin their attack as the Galactica appears in orbit, she has to escape the Cylon “love” interest she has been assigned. After a scuffle, she is knocked out and eventually rescued by her husband who is an insurgent. When she wakes up, she goes back for Casie, encounters the Cylon again, but this time kills him, pronanly for the umpteenth time. She takes Casie and joins the refugees. Once back on Galactica, she runs into Casie real mother quite by accident. The look on Starbuck’s face as she realizes that even though Casie is genetically her child, that carried her to termand is recognized by Casie as the real mother was a terribly painful moment.

I have already spoiled the ending. The Galactica launches an attack to evacuate the humans from New Caprica. The special effects in the battle were fantastic. Watching the Galactica actually enter orbit with Vipers flying all about--definitely a bang for the buck. Four Cylon Basestars show up and just when it looks hopeless, Lee Adama disobeys orders and comes to the rescue. The scene of the abandoned Pegasus ramming a Basestar to destroy it while crashing debris destroys another was about the coolest scene in the episode. We are back to the search for Earth, but what a price thatwaspaid on the detour.

A couple of interesting question arise. Bumber Three seems to think the only way the conflict between the humans and the Cylons will end is either the utter annihilation or subjugation of the other. I cannot see that as a satisfactory end to the series. It seems more likely the two groups will eventually make peace. Will Hera, the hybrid baby, be the key? He was taken away by the Cylons to parts unknown after the humans were rescued and Galactica escaped/. What are they going to do with her? That slipped in during aquiet moment, but it is a crucial plot element for the future.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)
Doctor Who--"The Girl in the Fireplace" (Commentary)

I waver between calling “The Girl in the Fireplace” or “Doomsday” the best episode of the season. More often than not, “Girl” gets the nod. It was written y Steven Moffat , who also penned “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” for the first season. Moffat has quickly become my favorite Doctor Who writer with those three entries. He will write a third episode for the upcoming third season in April 2007. I do not believe I am alone in wishing he would take over as show runner once Russell T. Davies moves on to other things rather than Life on Mar‘s Terry Jones, but I do not believe that will happen. A pity.

While much of the episode happens in pre-revolutionary France, this is one of the few episodes so far that has any setting away from Earth or New Earth. It was good to see the Doctor at least sort of leave the safe confines of Mother Earth for a while. I am not one of those who complains a whole lot about the Doctor not traveling to as many exotic locales as he used to on the original series. I like the added emotional impact of Earth being threatened by whatever alien menace has shown up this week. It adds something to it. Frankly, there is not much science fiction out there in which Earth is not a big factor.

Before getting into the bulk of what is good, there a few glitches that bugged me. At the end of “School Reunion,” Mickey joins the TARDIS crew. Rose is not happy that she no longer has the Doctor all to herself. When the TARDIS arrives on the spaceship here, Mickey remarks that he got a spaceship on his first go, implying this takes place immediately after he singed up. Yet Rose no longer has any animosity towards him. True, Rose has a gentle personality and probably got over her anger quickly, but it seems strange for her to be so buddy-buddy with Mickey so quickly afterwards. Secondly, when the clockwork robots have Rose captured, they remark her brain is compatible with Reinette’s. Was that supposed to explain why the Doctor has fallen for both of them? A hint that Rose is reincarnated? More of that, “Rose, what have you done?” when she absorbed the time vortex in “The Parting of the Ways?” What cannot tell just yet, but Rose’s escapade with the time vortex is also a plot pint in Torchwood, so there are probably more far reaching effects of it. Finally, after climing he would never leave Rose, he does so for the first time, stranding both her and Mickey in the 51st century in order to save Reinette. A reasonable decision? Maybe, but it was going bak on his words days after he gave it to her.

This is about the only episode in which Rose plays second fiddle to another woman. The Doctor had some bittersweet moments with Sarah Jane last episode, but Rose was never forgotten like she was here. You could not help but feel the chemistry between the Doctor and Reinette. No surprise, really. David Tennant and Sophie Myles are an item off screen. Their bonding reveals the near desperate need the Doctor has to always have a companion, whether he is an alien unemotionally attached to humans at large or not. I am puzzled as to why when he and Reinette were able to look into each others’ minds, she did not see that he sacrificed his own people to kill the Daleks. Did he purposefully reveal his loneliness to her but blocked that out in oder to make a personal connection? I suspect he may have.

I will not spoil the ending because that would ruin the emotional impact, but I found it unusual the Doctor would becme so attached to a human that quickly. In the past, he has had little more than kiddie table flirtations with his companions. The ‘new” Doctor appears to make attachments much more quickly and is a lot more wounded when bad things happen. I assume this is a lingering effect of his stint as a soldier in the Time War. I think it adds an extra dimension to the character even I old school fans are divided on the issue. Take heart: word is the companion for next season (and beyond?) is a reluctant one who travels with the Doctor out of necessity. It sounds ripe for sexual tension, but I believe RTD wishes to differeniate between the Doctor/Rose relationship and the Doctor/Martha one. We shall see, but I can guarantee some relation shippers are going to spring up almost immediately.

You may read my original review for "The Girl in the Fireplace" here. As a bonus, there is a hot off the presses interview with writer Steven Moffat here.
Jessica Simpson to Appear on Studio 60

Jessica Simpson is looking pretty hot there. I say that without even being afan of hers. But guess who took the photo? If you said Poppa Joe Simpson, move to the head of the class, you teacher’s pet you. Hugh Hefnet allowed his daughter to pose naked for Playboy once, but that is to be expected from a guy like him. Joe is a minister taking sexy pictures of his daughter. While I do not believe there is anything going on here beyond exploiting both his kids for money, there is still something creepy about his behavior.

Jessica Simpson is set to appear on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip during November sweeps. A necessary step since her movie with no talent Dane Cook flopped. Who would have thought a movie in which two guys compete to have sex with Jessica Simpson would flop? It had Oscar written all over it. Simpson will play the music guest on the show within the show, but the part was written especially for her, implying she will have a bigger role beyond the cameo Sting had as the musical guest I cannot imagine Aaron Sorkin wanted Jessica Simpson to take an acting part on his show. This has got to be a (desperately needed) ratings stunt mandated by the network. If that is the case, I imagine some backhanded, sbtle jabs are in the script.

Would Sorkin be snaky enough to make fun of Ashlee Simpson lip synching on Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago? Would Jessica go along with tweaking her sister? Jessica’s appearance seems ripe for that joke. Of course the real question is whether they are trying to boost ratings or kill off the show by having Jessica appear. The show is hanging on by its fingertips as it is.
Iraq Was a Worthy Mistake

An oxymoron if there ever was one. Jonah Goldberg of National Review fame does a surprising about face on the war in Iraq. Goldberg has been completely uncritical of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy moves in the War on Terror. He has gone so far as to praise the Bush Doctrine as an idea whose time has come without offering up much rationale as to why the United States should be allowed to overthrow the government of any “unsuitable” sovereign nation simply because of whatever real or imagined risks that country poses. Frankly, the linked essay is as much a fluff piece as anything else Goldberg writes, but it is the change in attitude that is interesting, not the content.

Reading the article, I get the idea Goldberg is saying those who were against the war were right, but I do not want to give them any credit, much less be associated with them. I have a similar problem. When it was believed Iraq was developing WMDs, I thought the war was a good idea. That Saddam sponsor red terrorism around the world and the conflict that had been lingering since 1991 would soon come to an end was icing on the cake. Without a WMD program, I have to say without WMDs, there was no compelling reason to spend blood and treasure on Iraq. One may argue that Saddam would have resumed a WMD plan regardless and one would probably be right. So are any number of evil regimes currently in power. We cannot and will not knock over all of them. Heck, as I wrote yesterday, US policy has encouraged them to speed up the process.

The crux of the matter on Iraq comes down to this: knowing what we know now, would you still do the same thing? There are quite a few out there who say yes. Dick Cheney went on Meet the Press weeks ago and reiterated that he would still support the invasion knowing what he knows now. We lost the war more in that statement than when the Abu Gharib photos became public. Even Bush is now bracing the nation y comparing I raq to Vietname after the Tet Offensive. From the top down people recognize the folly of this war, but no one knows quite what to do.

In hindsight, the exit strategy of Iraq becoming a stable democracy was foolhardy. Historically speaking, even the US did not become a stable democracy until after matters wwre settled on the battlefields of Bull run and Gettysburg some ninty odd years after the nation became independent--and we were a nation that had a history of English political tradition to begin with. Iraq had nothing even remotely similar. I am not so sure we cannot just pull up our stakes and leave. A new government’s growing pains often involve bloodshed between its people. If only Iraq were not becoming a breeding ground for new terrorists, that would be a relatively easy choice. Unfortunately, they heeded Bush and brought it on. Knocking over an anthill is easy. Stomping the individual ants is nearly impossible There are no easy answers to this mess.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Royal-ty Treatment

Anyone with an interest in screenplays or teleplays should take note. While it is not getting much attention outside of Hollywood, a major workers strike is brewing for 2007 when the current Writers Guild of America contract expires. The potential work stoppage could make the 1988 strike look like a lovers spat. It could get brutal because of the general attitude in Hollywood that writers have the lowest spot in the pecking order despite the fact that without scripts, everyone from the director and actors on down would have to stand on he set with their fingers in their mouths waiting for Devine inspiration.

The problem I that networks have begun offering their shows as free or low cost downloads on web sties and for the I-Pod. Writers (and actors, to a certain extent) are beginning to grumble about being cheated out of royalties due. Season sets of virtually every television show to air have generally been raking in cash hand over fist with very little royalty money paid to the writers. The origin of that conflict is the agreement the WGA settled for twenty years ago shortly before the VHS boom took place. The WGA has been simmering over this for quite a while.

So what is the big eal? Plenty. At any given moment, 95% of the WGA is not working in the industry. They are writing freelance scripts and shopping them around while also writing novels, copy editing a newspaper, teaching English as a second language, breeding chinchillas--whatever. The luckiest few of that 95%--and we are talking very few--may sell two scripts a year at roughly $ 15,000 each. That is $ 30,000 a year. Decent money, but maybe not worth the blood, sweat, tears, and hustle that go into the entire process from staring at a blank page to actually selling the thing. The reward is in the royalties. Long after the $ 30,000, the WGA collects a small fee for every time the scripted show airs. We are taling about in perpetuity. Long after the writer has died, the estate and/or heirs can collect the royalties. That can become a nice wad of cash--nice enough for WGA members to risk their staff jobs and producer positions to strike next year.

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on the subject.