Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free at Last!

Okay, I am not totally free. It is only the end of November and one third of that evil triumvirate of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The turkey is gone, the Christmas tree is up, a smattering of presents have appeared, and Boo just nearly caused me to break my (and more importantly, spill my orange juice) by swooshing past my legs. All seems to be going according to whatever master plan is in place, assuming there is one. It gets harder and harder to believe in one as time goes by.

Looking back, I do not think the sun has shined a single day this month. South Carolina is famous for its overcast late fall days, but the dreariness has been unusual. I suppose the weather is grumpy because it did not get to pound us with a devastating hurricane. Maybe there will be another ice storm like there was in 2004. It happened pretty much unexpectedly the day after Christmas at the same time as the tsunami that killed so many people in Indonesia. You see, fate has to make up for lost opportunities, so if we have missed out on one disaster, we should brace ourselves for the eye gauging yet to come.

Mercy, I am full of holiday cheer, am I not?

Anyway, I had planned to finish Washed Ashore this month as an unofficial participant of National Novel Writing Month. No such luck. I have been distracted by a number of things that have made it difficult to sit quietly and craft the final twelve chapters the way I want them to be. I have to assume no one is waiting on pins and needlesto find out what happens to everyone regardless, so no big loss. It will get done eventually if for no other reason than I am sick of thinking about it. You know the old saying that everyone wants to have written, but no one wants to write? Absolute gospel truth. Proofreading and rewriting is even more torturous. I do hope everyone else who successfully wrote a novel this month had a good time. Let me cast a broader net: I hope everyone else had a good November.

See you when the calendar page gets flipped over.
Kramer's Last Laugh

Yes, I am well aware no one cares about this issue anymore. You are all out searching blogs for photos of Briitney Spears' hoochie coo and have forgotten all about Michael Richards' meltdown the other week. But to cap it all off, the DVD set of Seinfeld seventh season is flying off the shelves faster than any of the other six season releases.

Which leads us to one of two conclusions or maybe both. One, the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity is completely true. Second, if you want to promote a product, have Jesse Jackson call for a boycott. sales will go through the roof. Fortunately, i will most likely have nothing else to blog about on the matter. It appears to be a closed case.

Good thing, too. Truth be told, I never liked the show in the first place.
Frist Flops

Bill Frist has announced he will not seek the presidency in 2008. In response, everyone looked at each other puzzled and said, "He was running?" Frist said he was giving up politics altogether. Now he can go back to his original job-- Glenn Camrbell lookalike in Branson, Missouri. I hear he can belt out a mean rendition of "Galveston."

Every presidential election has a load of also rans right on through the early primaries. I am amaed at how many are dropping out so early. Think about the names floated about but have dismissed the idea for one reason or another: George Allen, Mark Warner, Newt Gingrich, Michael Bloomberg, Bob Kerry, Condi Rice... you might even add Jeb Bush to the list. Are potential candidates intimdated by the realities of the fundraising it takes to run or is there some inside bitswe do not know about? Could Hillary Clinton or John McCain be so formidable even the rainbow chasers are not willing to give it a shot?
Greeks Bearing Gifts

Here is my music video for the latest episode of Torchwood. While I will continue making videos for the show, I am laying off the Doctor Who videos for a while and going back to my natural element-- Lost. There is only so much material to go around with Doctor Who and I feeel like I am repeating myself with new videos. I have never been a shipper, either, so when I started making sappy Ten/Rose videos, I knew it was time to quit. I will more than likely come up with one for the Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride," but that will more than likely be it until the third season starts in April.

If you wat to have some fun in the ensuing months ahead, take bets on how many of my subscribers will dump me once they realize only Jack, Kate, Locke, et al will be featured in videos for the near future. I lost roughly half my subscribers from the spring and summer the last time i made series of Lost videos. To be fair, I gained some Losties, but they have all stuck with me even through the Whovian days.

As for the Torchwood video, Tosh receives a pendant from a stranger that enables her to read minds. Video is set to The Pet Shop Boys' cover of "Always on My Mind."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Evangeline Lilly XIII

I assumed with Lost on hiatus, there would not be many opportunities to post photos of Evangeline Lilly. So far, my theory has held. Other than some paparazzi snapping a few shots of her Christmas shopping on Black Friday, there has not been much available. I considered those photos not much more than an intrusion considering she did not seem happy to have them taken. Therefore, they will not show up here. I did find this older set a few days ago. They are pretty nice photos, if not very revealing. Evangeline does not have to show a lot of skin to be beautiful, so here they are for your pleasure.

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

I have been awfully snaky about Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming Rocky Balboa and Rambo IV. Along with Harrison Ford’s long rumored and probably ain’t gonna happen final turn as Indiana Jones, I find the idea of a 60+ year old action hero too hard to swallow. Maybe I should not. Sean Connery has aged well in those kinds of roles and Steven Speilberg has promised the next Indiana Jones would reflect precisely what it is like to be a grave robber on the verge of collecting social security. In the same sense, perhaps I should be less harsh about Stallone revisiting rocky and Rambo.

Stallone is fully aware he cannot just pick up with the characters and do the things with them he used to in the ‘80’s. In fact, he is marketing both to an interesting demographic-- the faith and inspiration crowd. Granted, I think he is gearing the two sequels towards the bubblegum spiritual The Purpose Driven Life crowd, but it is interesting to see the steps he is taking to do so.

He recently made a conference call to entertainment journalists to explain himself. Stallone was reared Catholic, educated in Catholic schools, and taught Christian values from early on. Somewhere along the way, he assured reporters, he lost his way. No in the twilight of his career, he has gotten more reflective of the mistakes he has made in life. For whatever it is worth, he wants to make up for it by punctuating the careers of Rocky and Rambo with a positive spiritual message. Given Stallone, it could be great or it could be ham fisted and over the top.

Rocky Balboa takes place after Adrian’s death when Rocky has absolutely nothing left but an old sports bar and an estranged son. I can see how one would have to fight off bitterness in such circumstances by embracing spirituality. It makes even more sense if, like the original movie, Rocky loses the match with Mason Dixon but still experiences the more valuable lesson of victory over adversity. Rambo is tad bit different. The character has always been an emotionally disturbed, violent individual. The plot for Rambo IV calls for our hero to rescue missionaries from a third world Asian nation. In the process, he learns the true meaning of dedication to God by watching them suffer for their cause. It will move the incredibly jaded character to embrace spirituality aswell.

The first sounds hokey. The second sounds implausible. Regardless, I have to give Stallone some credit for winding down both the characters and his acting career (he will now move exclusively behind the camera) on a positive note. I find it fascinating that he has joined other ’80’s action movie icons in finding more meaningful things in life to do, such as Arnold’s time as governor of California and Chuck Norris’ public speaking on Christian values. Twenty years ago, you would scarcely have guessed it possible.
Boycotting Kramer

To further prove the whole bruhaha has moved nine miles passed irrelevant, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for a boycott of the new DVD release of Seinfeld‘s seventh season in order to protest Michael Richards’ racist outburst at the laugh Factory. This despite-- or maybe because of --Richards’ appearance on Jackson’s radio show to make amends to the black community. No word on whether anyone is taking the boycott call seriously.

I am not big on boycotts, petitions, and other such bric a brac. The idea here is too urt Richards where it counts-- in his wallet. Consider, however, that he appeared as Kramer for nine seasons for which he was well paid and the show is syndicated all over the dial. One has four opportunities a day to watch Seinfeld on my local cable system. Bigger areas probably have even more chances. Richards may be trying t rev up a stalling career by doing stand up, but he is not hurting for money with that salary and constant royalties. Further, why punish the rest of the actors by not buying the DVD? Jerry Seinfeld has publicly criticized Richards for his outburst. I am not aware of any others, but I am certain they are distancing themselves from the situation rather than expressing tacit approval.

You see, this is not about a boycott for social justice. This is about Jesse Jackson getting a cut of the Seinfeld gravy train just like he did during his brewery protest some time ago. Once his sons got distribution rights for the Chicago area, you heard nothing else about it. The good reverend just wants his cut.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Odd Oz

The Sci Fi Channel is planning to re-imagine the Wizard of Oz as an edgy, gothic fantasy. By gothic, I am referring to the whiny fourteen year olds who paint their faces like dark clowns and cut themselves while listening to Nine Inch Nails, not in the literary sense. When you consider Sci Fi’s poor track record with miniseries’ production values, I am sure you already had that figured out. Here is the press release announcing the project:
The miniseries is a sometimes psychedelic, often twisted and always bizarre take on The Wizard of Oz. It centers on DG, a young woman plucked from her humdrum life and thrust into The Outer Zone (the O.Z.), a fantastical realm filled with wonder, but oppressed by dark magic. DG discovers her true identity, battles evil winged monkey-bats and attempts to fulfill her destiny. Her perilous journey begins on the fabled Old Road that leads to a wizard known as the Mystic Man. Along the way, she is joined by "Glitch," an odd man missing half his brain; "Raw," a quietly powerful wolverine-like creature longing for inner courage; and "Cain," a heroic former policeman (known in the O.Z. as a "Tin Man"), who is seeking vengeance for his scarred heart. Ultimately, DG's destiny leads her to a showdown with the wicked sorceress Azkadellia, whose ties to DG are closer than anyone could have imagined.
Truth be told, this is not an old idea. The novel characters have been in public domain. (A legal misnomer, but it will do for my purpose here.) Anyone can write a novel, set it in Oz, and publish it. A quick Google search will point you towards group of enthusiasts who have published hundreds of short stories and novels set in that magical land. Most will make you wonder why so many good trees had to die for such tripe to see the light of day. Original films set in Oz have not fared much better. Recall The Wix or Return to Oz, a movie so bad it is never rerun, nor has it made it to DVD while all of the Ernest movies have. Dwell on that one a moment.

A few years ago, Tim Burton announced plan for his own version of an Oz story. It has lingered in development hell, probably never to escape. But considering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I would have a bit more faith in Burton’s vision. A video game turning Oz into a horror film was quietly axed a few years ago as well, although statuettes of the new characters are hot items at comic book and science fiction conventions.

I will admit I am not a big fan of Oz. I have seen the 1939 movie any number of times since my youth. I have even seen snippets of the silent film version which was one of the first motion pictures ever. I even once got into a debate in college over whether the oriins of the original novel lie in the presidential election of 1890. (They do not, darn it.) I recognize the huge difference between the novels and the musical. The novels are much stranger and frankly, the Sci Fi Channel’s plans would not be all that off the mark. However, most people do not even know there was a novel, much less a series. They only know the movie and that is just asking for comparisons to be made. In any comparison, the miniseries does not sound like it will stack up.
Jessica Simpson XXV

For the sake of continuity and gratuitous Google hits, I must address the latest Jessica Simpson rumors. It is all from the tabloids, so it is not even remotely true, but buzz is floating about that Jessica and Nick Lachey made a sex tape which has leaked to the same people who released the Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson tapes over the years. This “news” comes hot on the heels of the supposed Britney Spears/Kevin Federline romp the latter threatened to sell which does not exist. One assumes some source is making a buck off promoting the existence of fake celebrity nodding and gendering like frogs in a cistern in some form or another.

With a full understanding of human nature, I get why people would want to watch such a thing. What I cannot get is why people would be stupid enough to think these tapes actually get leaked. The above mentioned tapes were the best thing that ever happened to Paris Hilton especially, but Pamela Anderson as well. It is a money making scheme, people. It is the thrill of watching something celebrities supposedly do not want you to see. Sure, it is advertised as intimate moments not to be shared with the public. In reality, it is celebs throwing themselves under the wheels of steamrolling fame.

Back to Jessica. While it has further been my experience that preacher’s children are the biggest delinquents and/or sex fiends, I cannot imagine Poppa Simpson ever allowing hi cash cow to make such a mistake. Open a faux Hooter’s type bar or wiggle her behind as Daisy Duke in a pink bikini, sure. Heck, that is just doing the Lord’s work as far as he is concerned. But going the Paris Hilton route? I say thee nay.

Here are a few photos for your Tuesday afternoon:

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

As a matter of symmetry (just go with it), here is a Tenth Doctor and Rose music video set to "The One I Love" by David Gray. Yeah, I know. Cut me some slack, will you?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Marginalizing McCain

I am already irritated by the 2008 presidential race and we have not even squeaked out of 2006 yet. Most importantly, I am tired of John McCain. I cannot wait for his White House fortunes to fizzle the way Frist’s, Allen’s, and Huckabee’s have. You can add Guiliani to that list if you so desire. I think he missed what little opportunity he had by not running for governor of New York, assuming he could have beaten the extremely popular Spitzer. Doubtful, actually. But to the point of this post-- why I McCain the frontrunner for the GOP?

Sure he has conservative credentials, but he is a mess of contradictions. He ays we need more troops in Iraq but has no suggestions where they will come from. He believes abortion should be a state issue, yet supports every antiabortion legislation that comes along. (I was there in south Carolina when Bush managed to pin the pro abortion label on McCain and it stuck. Wildest thing I have ever seen in politics. It convinced me Karl Rove could sell icemakers to penguins.) McCain wants to reform ethic and campaign finance, but tows the party line when a Republican violates either. He flip flops to the point no one on the left or right ought to listen to him.

At the risk of sounding like a jerk, it was listening to him that did in his 2000 bid. As the campaign wore on, he hung his hat on his status as a former POW. That I fine. I have to admire anyone who can go through something like that and come out with a relatively level head. I say relatively because I suspect he still has issues with the whole experience. Who can blame him? But I want someone more diplomatic at the helm. Look at the mess the shoot from the hip bozo in the White House now has gotten us into. I oubt McCain will get a chance to screw things up as badly. In trying to straddle the fence, he has become too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives. Mavericks make for good television, but not good presidents.
Kramer v. Kramer

The real Kramer, for whom the Seinfeld wacky neighbor is based on, is upset about headlines plastered about to the effect of “Karmer is Racist.” Such headlines have appeared on The Drudge Report and all over radio and television shows. The real Kramer does not believe enough is being done to separate him from the fictional character. This is ironic for two reasons. The first reason being no one has ever heard of the real Kramer or, for that matter, cares. Secondly, Kramer spent an insanely large amount of time in the late ‘90’s trying to connect himself with the character in order to cash in.

Times change, no? Well not really. Money still makes the world go around.

Richards himself is buy trying to rehabilitate his image. He has hired one of the biggest public relations firms in the country which specializes in the prickly area of race relations. Richards has already been in contact with Rev. Al Sharpton and appeared on Jesse Jackson’s radio show. I do not yet believe he has appeared on BET’s public affairs show as Trent Lott did after his Strom Thurmond would make a dandy president snafu, but one assumes that is coming if the spiritual advisement of the Revs. Sharpton and Jackson fail. The only thing left is for Richards to enter rehab of some sort and come out announcing he had a spiritual epiphany. Maybe he should also get cornrows.

As I speculated before, tabloids are going all out to find other evidence of racism by Richards. So far, they tried to pin the anti-Semite tag on him for an in character routine he used to do in his stand up act. It did not resonate with the masses, especially considering Richards is Jewish. Better luck next time, folks.
Torchwood--"Greeks Bearing Gifts"

Torchwood is definitely stepping the episodes up a notch in the latter half of the season. Not to mention we finally get an alien adversary. It has been five installments since we have even though Torchwood is all about hunting down aliens and alien technology. It was also our first Tosh centered episode. She had up until this point been the most underdeveloped character even though she was introduced to us way back in 2005’s Doctor Who episode “Aliens of London.” She was even even before Capt. Jack Harkness showed up. It is about time we got to see a little more of her.

The episode begins in a flashback to the early 19th century with a British soldier having an assignation with what is presumably a tart. They have a violent altercation, she runs off, and when the soldier finally catches up with her, she kills him in some way we do not get to see. His body is uncovered in 2006 by Torchwood and Jack determines their were some alien shenanigans involved in the centuries old death when he discovers an artifact buried alongside the corpse. They take the skeleton back for research.

After Tosh’s computer is accidentally unplugged by Owen and Gwen foolong around and her project is ruined, she storms off for a drink. At the bar, she meets Mary, a woman who is the spitting image of the prostitute the 1800’s. She lets on that she knows a lot about the ultra secret Torchwood and for whatever reason, Tosh confides in her about her attitude towards the work they do. Mary gives Tosh a pendant which allows her to read other people’s thoughts. At first, Tosh does not like the idea, but he cannot resist using it.

Wearing the pendant in the Hub, Tosh learns all the negative thoughts her teammates have about her, those negative stray thoughts you have even about people you like. She learns of Owen and Gwen’s trits as well, but it is the idea that maybe her friends do not really like her that bugsher the most. Mary urges her to try the pendant out on a busy street so she can learn to filter thoughts. She does so and learns of a man’s plot to kill his ex-wife and their young son. She follows the man to his ex-wife’s home and stops him before he can do the deed. The incident convinces Tosh some good can come o the pendant. Shortly thereafter, Mary reveals herself asan alien. She tells Tosh she was a political prisoner exiled to Earth years ago. The pendant was the only way her people could communicate without being prosecuted. The device found near the corpse is a transportation device that can send her home. Hopefully, there has been a regime chane by now.

Owen has in the meantime discovered the soldier’s corpse had its heart rpped out and similar corpses have been found for nearly 200 years. Tosh leads Mary into the Hub and right into the rest of the team, who have figured everything out. After a hostage situation, Jack gives Mary the transportation evice. She uses it, but afterwards he reveals that he altered the coordinates to take her to the center of the sun. Tosh decides to destroy the pendant. Case closed.

This was one of the better episodes. I have up until this point said Gwen was the sole conscience of the team, but I am going to have to alter that belief. Tosh was bursting to confide into someone how her view of alien life isdifferent from the rest of the team. They want to steal, utilize, or destroy whatever they find. Tosh has discovered there are common elements between humans and aliens and she is upset they do not get addressed. It is stereotypical that two women are the emotional, caring ones, but there you go. They added another little tidbit that Tosh was unable to read Jack’s mind for reasons relating to his resurrection by Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler in ‘”The Parting of the Ways.” There was one of those noted dramatic pauses when Tosh remarked, “It’s like you were dead.” Cue spooky music.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dave Cockrum Has Passed Away

It has been a sad day for longtime comic book fans. Artist Dave Cockrum died this morning from complications due to Diabetes. He had been sick for a long time, but his death still came as a surprise. Cockrum was an old school artist and one of the first to make the transition from fanzines to paid comic work. That is not an unusual journey now, but Cockrum was the one who showed aspiring artists it could be done. Cockrum eventually created his own comic, The Futurians, thereby becoming one of the first big names to start a creator owned series with mainstream distribution.

Cockrum is most famous for redesigning the X-Men in the1970’s. Back then, the comic had been cancelled after several years of reprinting the adventures of the original team. Marvel hired Cockrum to recreate the team as a group of international adventurers along the lines of DC Comics’ Blackhawks. Cockrum kept Cyclops as the sole original member and developed a line up of new and existing characters: Wolverine (Canada), Colossus (Soviet Union), Night crawler (West Germany), Storm (Egypt), Banshee (Ireland), Sunfire (Japan), and Thunderbird (Native American). The X-Men soared in popularity after the revamp. The first two issues featuring the new team are the Holy Grails of the Modern Era of comic book collecting.

I assume most of you could not care less about comics, but understand how many elements developed by Cockrum showed up in the X-Men movies over the last few years. Without Cockrum, they would never have been made. Aside from what Cockrum was famous for, I have to mention what he was notorious for. Copies of it have been floating about the internet for years, so the more corrupt amongst you have seen it already. I will confess that I have as well. Sometime in the ‘70’s, Cockrum was commissioned by a private art collector to paint a Disney character org. Cockrum proceeded with glee to produce a poster sized work of art featuring all your favorite Disney characters doing drugs and engaged in various sex acts. It is a sight to behold.

Quite a legacy, no?
On the Verge of Normalcy

Tomorrow is the official end of Thanksgiving weekend. Most everything returns to normal without a hint of The Holiday That Was. I have already enjoyed a mini preview-- I ate pancakes for brunch instead of any thing remotely resembling any Turkey Day leftovers. You take your blessings where you can get, especially when they are so few and far between. Now there is a smidgeon under a month left before more holidays creep up upon me.

Well, the Christmas tree is already up. The cat, Boo, is enormously irritated by the disturbance in her little world. She refuses to enter the living room at all. Not that it is terribly unusual. She I grossly antisocial and will not enter any room with more than two people in it regardless. Maybe my bad habits are rubbing off on her. There are no presents under the tree yet. Could be that is upsetting her. I am sprained the womenfolk here took Black Friday off myself. Often they shop like they are on a mission from God.

It is around about this time It’s a Wonderful Life gets repeated every other hour on every other channel. At the risk of sounding like a real Scrooge, may I say, “Meh” about that movie? I have taken to calling it It’s a Wonderful Lie. How exactly is this movie a feel good holiday film? George Bailey is put upon his whole life by his brother, father, girlfriend, and pretty much the whole town. Clarence the angel shows him how miserable everyone would be without him. Well, duh. The guy is a sucker. Of course they are happy to have him around! In the end everyone has to give up their Christmas in order to help him and Clarence gets his wings. Yet another “guy” who takes advantage of the poor guy’s misfortune. Not to mention he is no better off at the movie’s end as he was in the beginning. Heck, even my cynicism cannot handle that one.

The holidays are all about materialism and stomping on other people? Bah, humbug.
Gilmore in 2008?

Robert Novak’s “scoops” are often little more than conservative wishful thinking. Some even read like Republican National Committee press releases. With that in mind, take the following with a grain of salt until you see the gentleman in question showing up in New Hampshire and Iowa to glad hand. Former Virginia governor and RNC head Jim Gilmore is putting together a team to reenter electoral politics. Speculation is that since George Allen’s White House hopes are dashed, Gilmore thinks he can fill the conservative void.

Gilmore would make conservatives happy. He has solid right leaning credentials, executive experience, and appeals to moderate Democrats. He could come out of nowhere just like another unexpected Southern governor back in 1992 to win it all. But as I said, this could be conservative wish fulfillment for party loyalists unhappy the race for 2008 is so far between McCain and Romney, two politicians with reputations for taking leftist positions at very inconvenient times.

So let u embrace reality. Gilmore may want to stay in Virginia. He is the last Republican to carry Northern Virginia in an election. With a growing number of Washington refugees taking up residence there, the populous area gets bluer by the day. A republican who can win there would be a valuable asset in the Senate race of 2008 or the gubernatorial race of 2009, especially if former Gov. Mark Warner opts to enter either race. I am not privy to the internal working of Virginia politics, but I am certain Democrat poobahs are bugging the popular Warner daily on running for the Senate especially. Of course, that other Warner who currently holds the Senate seat may opt for reelection at the tender age of 81. We will have to adopt a wait and see attitude in order to sort this all out.
Jo Joyner

She is pretty much unknown in the United States, but Jo Joyner hs been a cast member on No Angels and Eastenders, two big hits in the United Kingdom. Considering all the European visitors I have been getting in recent months searching for Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman, presumably someone other than me will be interested. I think she has that same girl next door attractiveness as Allison Mack. She can be hot without being naked. (Sorryfor the choice word, guys. Demands of Google.) Alas, I am most familiar with Jo as the doomed almosr companion to the Ninth Doctor who (Heh. do not read that sentence too fast.) got spaced by the Daleks in "The Parting of the Ways." Pity, really.

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

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Butt Kickin' Chickens

My beloved University of South Carolina Gamecocks defeated 24th ranked archrival Clemson Tigers 31-28 for a 7-5 record. Honestly, that record should be about 9-3. We lost to the 6th ranked University of Florida Gators by one measely point a couple of weeks ago and that was just the closest heartbreaker. There were others. Regardless, with the rabid fanbase, a bowl bid is a virtual guarantee. Concratulations to my alma mater.Yeah, that's right--hold that tiger!
Quitting Cold Turkey

The excitement, assuming you want to call it that, has finally died down. The turkey is almost completely gone as well. There is jut enough to make a sandwich or two out of. I managed to eat as little of the bird as possible. I cannot even honestly say why. Granted, I have always liked the ham better. Both my mother and grandmother would cook a ham with the turkey for anyone who was not a fan. Most family members wound up eating some of both, but there was always one you preferred over the other. As a family, we ate ham all the time, but turkey only on holidays. I honestly do not recall even buying heap packs of sandwich turkey until I finally had my own apartment. I guess have always associated turkey with Thanksgiving and Christmas exclusively. By the time I was 22 and moved out on my own permanently, those holidays were so tumultuous I must have lost the association. Apparently I have it back now and have connected it to my distaste for the holidays.

I am such a contradiction. I yearn for the happier times with a full family that at least pretends to be at peace with each other, but now I am too cynical and jaded to enjoy even my memories of those times. Ah, who can blame me? You know Christmas 1993 was the last “normal” holiday I have experienced? It is true. That year we ha a nice turkey dinner for Thanksgiving and a Christmas tree loaded with presents a month later. Then a string of drunks showed up along with enough vodka to float a battleship for the next-- good heavens --nine years. The ninth year was when my mother decided to begin her suicide run. It took her less than three months. The woman always was an impatient one. I have bounced around for the holidays from Virginia to Texas to strange South Carolina locales.

No more though. It would appear I am not destined to have much of my life on my terms, but I am going to take at least that much. I dislike the holidays. They have been taken awakes from me by rotten, self-absorbed people and I will never have a chance to rebuild what I have lost with a family of my own. But I am going to do my thing regardless. It may not be the best, but it isall I have or ever will.
Ali Larter V

Yes, I am still on my Ali Larter kick. You are not too terribly broken up over it, are you? I did not think so.

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

Friday, November 24, 2006

Divorced from Reality

I confess outside of following American foreign policy, I do a wee bit of celebrity watching. The personal dramas do not fascinate me nearly as much as say, the charity work of Bono, Angelina Jolie, and George Clooney, whether I like their personal politics or not. I am one to separate the politics from the person, something that came about by watching a jerk former roommate of mine in action. My interest is the armchair, nonpartisan political scientist in me. The almost lawyer in me has the occasional penchant to follow the legal dramas that spring up here and there. Currently, I am following the Reese and Ryan show. It is not pretty.

I am not naïve about either of them. Through anecdotes and whispers from former costars, I know full well Reese Witherspoon is mean as a rattlesnake with a backache. She has already contacted one of the best divorce lawyers in southern California to mop the floor as best she can with Ryan Philippe. I am sympathetic to her as much as one can healthily be to a celebrity. Other celebrity watchers are talking about how broken up she is versus Ryan, who has been spotted clubbing on two different continents and having a grand old time. Well, duh. Of course he is. He has it made in a situation which to me clearly demonstrates my community property states have it all wrong. At the very least, people ought to realize forever is a promise no love can survive and get a prenuptial agreement.

Ryan, who is obvious irritated by Reese, as he pretty much trashed her on The Howard Stern Show, is entitled to half the marital assets regardless of the reason for the divorce. Reese is worth approximately $ 100 million. He is looking at $ 50 million after cheating with at least one other woman, Abbie Cornish, which he has evidently dumped for greener pastures. I doubt given his general attitude he will seek custody of their two children, so he is on the verge of becoming a treat parent-- the one who picks the kids up on the weekend, takes them to the circus, buys them candy, then dumps them back home with the other parent who is there for the skinned knees and trouble at school. Frankly, it is a sweet deal for him.

I am no idiot about divorce. I am full aware some people are jut better off apart. I watched hook up in high school, college, and law school that I knew were doomed from the start, but you cannot tell people that-- mostly because it is none of your business --but mostly because of that early infatuation that seem to go away after two kids and a mortgage show up. No one wants to ruin that puppy love with talk of a prenuptial. I do not see why. Signing one is proof the marriage is true love. It is proof the poorer party is not after the money. I mean, one still has to worry about the other tossing a toaster into the bathtub, but still. I am cynical about love and marriage. I suspect if two people knew they had to fight tooth and nail for everything, marriages would not fall apart so easily. Well, it dod not stop my parents, but it did open their eyes to reality when the battle was over and done with. Neither could decide whether they were better off before or after, even if they would not admit it. So I guess I have to end this pot the same way I so often do-- with an admission there are no easy answers. Only painful ones.
Another Bad Day in Iraq

At least I do not hold the honor of having the worst day yesterday. That unfortunate distinction goes to the Iraqis in Sadr City. Three car bombs killed 150+ people making it the bloodiest day for civilians since Bush stood in front of a banner and declared “mission accomplished.” I have not seen any polls lately stating how many Iraqis want the US to leave, but I suspect the number is growing by the day. Heck, that is probably why I have not seen any polls. Bush does not want his legacy to be a lost war along with the worst attack on our soil ever and the destruction of New Orleans. History will not remember him kindly.

I am no fan of Bush. O cast two ballots for him, of course, but that was because I could not stomach Gore or Kerry. I will grant you had Gore been president on 9/11, the Taliban would still be in power and Al Qeada would be firmly entrenched in Afghanistan. I fully supported the war in Afghanistan. I even backed the war in Iraq for the same reasons Henry Kissinger articulated a few days ago. I am embarrassed to admit that at this point, but like most anything else people fall for, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Here was Kissinger’s rationale. The US looked invulnerable on September 10, 2001. After the terrorist attack, we lost that image and had to get it back. We had to show the Muslim extremists we had muscle. Unfortunately for our purposes, the war in Afghanistan was too short to do that effectively. We did not get to use planes and roll over the entire country with tanks in a show of brute force. Indeed, the ground campaign was a proxy war fought largely on our behalf by the Northern Alliance. There had to be a new enemy, one that we could show our might against. The Saddam Hussein regime was perfect to make an example out of. Do you wonder why the initial onslaught was labeled “Shock and Awe?” Because it was too be a message to our enemies that we would cause more damage than any terrorist act they could muster should they attack again.

The first part worked. US forces toppled Iraq’s military and government like an anthill. We were not prepared for the ants to scatter, then fight back. Knocking over an anthill is one thing. Stomping individual, scurrying ants is something else entirely. I think now the latter has negated any results the former might have had on the extremist Muslim mindset. In other words, maybe this was not such a good idea after all. The pageant value of Operation Iraqi Freedom amounted to nothing. I think we would have been better off sticking with the covert hunting down of individual terrorists an bringing them to Gitmo even if that does not make for flashy television. The question is how are we ever going to fix the mistake we have made?
Bah, Humbug

I have expressed blahs about the holidays. Yesterday was a fine example not only of why I do, but why I am such a distant recluse. No matter how cynical I get, the cold cruelty I constantly witness never ceases to astound me. I guess it is just my lot in life to be forever pounded. At least it gives other people something entertaining to do, no?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving to any who are sitting at their computers today rather than munching on turkey. If I may be a pedant for a moment and embrace my love of irony, I appreciate the skill we have in this country of turning secular holidays religious and religious holidays secular. Christmas is the biggest offender as Jesus was likely born in April when shepherds would still have their flocks out in pastures at night and December 25th is the pagan holiday of Winter Solstice. But thanksgiving has its contradiction as well. The pilgrims held the first feast as a way of thanking God for the protection He had offered them in the New World. It was based on the Jewish feasts of thanksgiving. Somewhere along the way we forgot that and now Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shipping season and the down to the wire portion of the NFL season. A pity, really, but such is human nature.

Regardless, enjoy your day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam XVI

Quite a few people do not have much to be thankful for here on the eve of Turkey Day. Hopefully a few drumsticks, cranberries, and pumpkin pie can fix things right up. If nothing else, having to spend time with distant relatives tomorrow will make you thankful they are distant relatives. There is always a bright side even if it is just a little cynical flicker.

You know who is having a bad month? The Bush family. The president lost Congress when the election became a referendum on his tenure in office. He now officially has lame duck stamped on his forehead. I have mixed emotions about that, but relief is generally leading the pack. Like Clinton, it took him more than thirty years to make it to Vietnam, but by gosh, he arrived. Yesterday, two motorcycles in his motorcade crashed, an aide was mugged, and worse yet, his daughter Barbara had her purse snatched in Argentina. That one hurt the most. At the risk of a visit from the nice gentlemen at the Secret Service, I like Barbara. She is the cuter of the two twins, although I am pretty sure Jenna knows where the better parties are. You have to hope things start going better for Babs, no?

The two gentlemen who bore the brunt of Michael Richards’ racist tirade Friday night at the Laugh Factory have retained Pit bull in Pumps attorney Gloria Allred to sue Richards for emotional trauma. Allred has challenged Richards to meet with her clients and allow a retired judge to arbitrate a settlement. That is pretty sneaky, I must say. She would hav no real case in court because she would hav to prove her clients suffered monetary damage because of their pain and suffering. (Then again, this is California, so who knows?) By pushing for an alternative dispute resolution method, she bypasses all that and looks good by not clogging the court system with a frivolous lawsuit. It is beautiful and makes me melancholy about not practicing law myself.

FOX offering to give proceeds from OJ’s book to the Brown and Goldman families as pretty much hush money. They refused it and in so doing went up a few notches in my book inversely proportional to how far down FOX is rapidly falling in my opinion. The book was bad enough, but to expect the families to take cash and allow some they know murdered their loved ones flaunt his getting away free as a bird? How disgusting can you get?

Finally, while this is not really funny, it is. Three Atlanta narc officers broke down the door o a 92 year old woman and. There was subsequently a gunfight in which three of them were wounded by her befoe she was shot and killed as well. Now this is sad, do not get me wrong, but this old woman had a gun handy and knew how to use it. Maybe this was not a case of mistaken identity after all. Was she a 92 year old drug dealer? We may never know. Well, we will probably find out a lot when the lawsuits are filed and Jesse Jackson senses a television camera.Gloria Allred might even show up. You never know.

Gwen begins to crack under the pressure of being part of Torchwood and clings to Owen. Video is set to "Numb" by Linkin Park.
Sarah Michelle Gellar III

It has been a while since Sarah Michelle Gellar grace these pages. I have often expressed my distaste for all things Joss whedon, including but not limited to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But I did like SMG in Cryel Intentions even though she was not the main attraction. I was more into that other girl. Reese something or another. Oh, and Ryan Philippe getting killed. That was good, too. Anyway, here are a few SMG wallpapers that flaunt some of her assets.
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Michael Richards Apologizes...Sorta

Michael Richards appeared on Late Night with David Letterman last night in order to explain himself and apologize for his racist tirade Friday night. It was apparently a last minute idea and I missed the original airing. YouTube came through yet again for me.ccRichards appeared via satellite during the segment in which Letterman had Jerry Seinfeld on the couch. Seinfeld was promoting the seventh season DVD release and allowed Richards some time to offer up an explanation.

I say Seinfeld allowed him time to offer up an explanation because I suspect Richards’ national apology was at Seinfeld’s urging. Richards fumbled around a bit, offering up the same sort of non-apology Mel Gibson put forth after his drunken anti-Semitic rant a few months ago. In short, he claimed he was enraged by the heckling and used the most brutal weapon he could think of in his arsenal--the “n” word. He said it shocked him as well because he is not a racist. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that after watching the incident in its entirety. He not only used the racial slur, but implied a lynching type response was appropriate. That goes well beyond letting the “n” word slip in the heat of an argument. It betrays inner feelings.

Admittedly, Richards looked deeply upset. I do not know if that was genuine remorse or if he was just humiliated that he had to go to such measures to make amends. It does not really matter as far as his career is concerned. While he has gone back to performing on the comedy circuit, hisdays of television and movies (as pitiable as that part of his career was. Other than Seinfeld, he has been a flop.) is over. I suspect-- and I think this was Jerry Seinfeld’s fear, too --that DVD sales are going to take a hit as people kep Richards’ attitude in mind. The show will still make money, of course. If people boycotted entertainment because of the actors’/singers’ behaviors, we would all have to sit around the living room retelling Beowolf every night for lack of anything better to do. I am curious to see the aftermath of the incident.

Richards himself drew a comparison to Katrina and how blacks feel neglected in the wake of the hurricane. He spoke of comedian doing benefit shows for the hurricane victims, but I was not sure if he was trying to be profound or if he feared he would overshadow their efforts with his racist remarks. He is not very articulate and the media is not going to let this go so quickly. Tablois are rolling through everything he has ever said right now to find anything even remotely insenitive to report on. It will be interesting to see how he deals with further hounding about all this.

Everyone is gone this morning. Even Boo is not under my feet like she normally would be. I made my usual rounds like I do whenever there is no one about to ask me why the heck I am strolling around the house aimlessly. According to the clock, I did so for nearly two hours. I think that might be a record for me. The total time is not completely accurate. I made breakfast and sat in front of the dining room window for a while to eat. It is damp and cold morning. I actually had to get up in the middle of the night to change from a tee shirt to a sweatshirt. Things have not improved muh since I passed back out.

You know how people who have lived in houses a long time will say there is an echo of the past there? Christmases, family gatherings, children playing--that sort of thing? I have lived in six different houses in my life time. The longest was for fourteen years in the house I grew up in. My mother and I left that house as a result of my parents’ divorce. It was neither a happy, nor sad occasion, but it was not one to dwell on the past or look forward to the future, either. We just left and that was it. For the next twelve years, I bounced from place to place because of college, job, law school, and now health collapse. I would venture to guess I spent less than four years all told in the house we moved into after the divorce. Once you let go of the only home you have ever known, particularly when good memories of it wee far in the distant past, the anchor of having a home instead of a house is difficult to find again, particularly when life is transitory.

There were no echoes anywhere. No in my second house. Nowhere in college. Not in my apartment in Columbia. Not in Virginia. Not in my sisters old house and not in this new one. I walk about and I hear nothing. This place is so far a box to keep my stuff. I will grant you I always expected to live asolitary life. My disabilities seemed to repulse even the nicest of people at their core. There was always going to be a wall of separation. I never realized how thick it was going to get, but sometimes even my fatalism is shortsighted. Regardless, I still feel pain at never setting up housekeeping of my own and with the shape I am in, I never will. I will never hear echoes of my own. I guess it is appropriate they have always been silent.
Ashlee Simpson III

With all my posting photos of and mentioning Jessica Simpson, it is easy to forget she has a cuter sister. An unpopular opinion, I know. I understand fully that Jessica tops many hottest lists and Ashlee barely makes any. But I like what i like despite what the polls say and i think Ashlee is cute as a bug's ear. I thought so even before she went under the knife, in fact. Here she is till sporting the hairdo from her stint in Chicago (Let's see jessica star in something like that.) It i a classy throwback and quite nice looking.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Flotsam and Jetsam XV

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, NewsCorp has cancelled not only the interview special, but OJ Simpson’s book, If I Did It as well. You may recall the purpose of the book was for OJ to “speculate” on how he would kill Nicole Brown (the mother of his children) and her friend Ron Goldman. By “speculate” I mean reveal exactly how he committed both murders. Darn you, double jeopardy. There was a huge outcry, not only among the families of the deceased, but a number of FOX affiliates refused to carry the interview. I am thinking word came from the top down on this one. It sounds like case of the right hand not knowing what the left was doing. I just could not see a major publisher ever thinking putting something like that out was a good idea. Heads will roll over it, I imagine.

I am not a fan of sitcoms. I may very well be the only guy in America who could not care less about Seinfeld. Does not mean I have not seen the show. I am very familiar with the popular character of Kramer, played by Michael Richards. Unfortunately, Richards has now tainted my favorable view of him. He has been attempting a stand up career to shake the so called Seinfeld Curse with limited success. Obviously the struggle has gotten to him. While performing Friday night at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, he suffered a meltdown and flung racial epithets and profanity at two black men who were heckling him. The incident was caught on tape in all its nastiness. The video is floating around the net, but I have no desire to link it. You can find it easily if you so desire.

I have not written much about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for months now. Rankly, their relationship is too weird, the jokes too obvious, to really say anything more. But I have to note they finally tied the knot this weekend. I have not read any gossip about the grand event, so I do not know if any strange Scientology customs were followed. Xenu blessings and such. All I can really say is I am happy for Suri’s sake they got married. It will only leave two questions on her mind from when she gets older: "Why was I illegitimate?" and, "Who is my real daddy?"
Ramrodding Rodham Clinton

It seems pretty clear to everyone except the democrats that they did not receive a mandate election night. Congress was lost by the Republicans, not won by the Democrats. A few days ago former President Bill Clinton warned Democrat poobahs and leftist pundits of that fact. Whether it took hold remains to be seen. A Democrats have wandered off the reservation, such as Rep. Rangel’s plan to reinstate the draft or various calls from assorted Congressmen to either cut off Iraq war funds or retreat altogether. Moves have been taken to quell all three potential moves and the rhetoric surrounding them, so at this early stage, there appears to be some reason within the Democrat ranks not to blow it so soon. Choosing Hoyer over Murtha despite the incoming Speaker’s wishes was the first positive sign that a far reaching leftist agenda is not in the offing. But what of Hillary Clinton?

There was plenty of speculation even before she ran for the Senate that she had presidential ambitions. New York, with its carpetbagger election laws, has been a stepping stone before for presidential aspirants. One has to asume that is the big reason they would elect someone who is not a New Yorker to office--the chance to have another president from the Empire State. It has been a long time since that has occurred after all and barring Hillary, may be a long while hence. Giuliani, Pataki, an Bloomberg have all toyed with the idea. None of the three have a shot at it, even though Bloomberg is the only one who realizes it. The US has not had a northeastern president since JFK. There just seems to be a distaste for them from the rest of the country. Never mind both Bushes were originally northeast bluebloods. But what about Clinton? It is getting around about that time when she will have to make overt steps to run if that is what she is ging to do.

I solidly believe that it is. Sure there are some downsides of which I am sure she is aware. The biggest being being half the country loves her, half the country hates her, and there is no telling how many of each will be the less than half of the country that will actually bother to go to the polls. She is particularly unpopular in the South where she hopes the affection blacks feel for her husband will carry over to her. It did not work for Gore and if Barack Obama is serious about running (he is not, by the way) she may very well wind up clinging to life in the Southern primaries. One of the biggest obstacles she will have is herself. Ambition does not a president make. Her husband had a way of making people like him to the point they would listen to him drone on about all sort of mind numbingly boring policy initiatives and still be ecited about it. Hillary has done little but state a lott of lieftist platitudes and hope for the best. She just does not have Bill’s personality.

By all accounts, she loves being in the Senate. Perhaps she will forgo a presidential run and position herself as Majority Leader within a few years. That may even be part of the plan. She could certainly gain some extra credibility with the job. As it stands, she would have to run on a legislative record--an extremely difficult thing to do as votes can often appear contradictory. John Kerry discovered that in 2004 It would probably benefit her to not remind anyone of her failed attempt to reform health care in the early ‘90’s. That little adventure helped the GOP take Congress in the first place and while I know the US will eventually have socialized medicine, now is not the time.

But for a woman who said on numerous occasion throughout the ‘90’s “We are the president,” I cannot see any of these negatives stopping her. She is the current frontrunner for the Democratic nod in 2008 and it will be hard to take that away from her. The general election may be a different story, but I cannot honestly see any scenario that does not end up much like the last two presidential elections. There will be more blue state/red state divide that will probably come down to Florida or Ohio yet again. But one thing we should all bear in mind--the election is two years away. At this point before the 1992 election, Mario Cuomo looked like a shoo in and all anyone knew of some obscure Arkansas governor was that he talked way too much at the 1988 nominating convention. Anything can happen in two years.

Torchwood continues to earn its stripe as the British answer to the X-Files. “Countrycide” had all the elements of an X-File: strange murders, a splash of gore, a heap of claustrophobia, and things never being exactly what they seem. The only big difference with Torchwood is the avoidance of the sexual tension that existed between Scully and Mulder. This time around, two teammates go ahead and hook up. I was admittedly surprised which two sealed the deal.

There have been 17 people kidnapped in the sticks outside Cardiff. There are no connections with race, age, or gender. The disappearances seem random and Jack suspects the rift is widening, dropping some vicious alien on Earth to hunt. The team sets up camp in order to scout about for clues. Gwen and Owen trail off and encounter a corpse that has been completely stripped of skin and organs. It turns out to be a decoy as someone steals the Torchwood truck while the team investigates the body. They track the truck to an old, rundown inn that looks deseted. Here is where the fun begins.

They find a couple more corpses in the same state scattered about when Gwen is winged by a shotgun bullet fired rom a hiding inn employee. She and Owen have their second intense scene together. The first was sexually charged and rather uncomfortable. The second was more of a bonding as Owen tends to he wound. While Owen, Gwen, and Jack are distracted, Ianto and Tosh wind up stalked by whatever critter has attacked the other people and are thrown into what appears to be a cellar.

While the stalker turns its attention to Jack, Gwen, and Owen, Ianto and Tosh are rescued (so it seems) but soon discover the tuth--there is no alien at all. It is a bunch of people who are cannibals. The two are handcuffed and violently brutalized, but Tosh escapes into the woods. She is followed and nearly recaptured before Owen and Gwen show up. After a Mexican standoff, they all get captured. Jack eventually saves the day with a particularly bloody cavalry resue that was not pretty, but was effective. In the end, Gwen is traumatized by her experience. Everything she has seen as a member of Torchwood has given her a darker view of the world. She has no one to confide in--until the last scene when it is very clear she and Owen have just done a lott more than snog in his apartment that night.

I still agree with my assessment last week that the show is following the patten of the first season of Doctor Who in which the back end episode are miles ahead of the front end. I particularly like the characterizations here. Admittedly, Owen and Gwen were a surprise, but believable once you get down to it. When the team is bantering about at camp, they talk about their first kiss. Owen adnits his was Gwen. Ianto says his was Lisa, which brings about a tense moment and a glare in Jack’s direction. Ianto has not forgotten his promise to make Jack suffer for what he did.

I liked the episode. It was gross at timesand incredibly violent, but appropriate for the material. I find it interesting there have been two stories in a row in which no a row in which no aliens were involved. Torchwood had to deal with things beyond its usual realm of expertise and do not necessarily know how to do so well. It is interesting to see them not be the always on top of things heroes a lesser show might make them out to be.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Ali Larter IV

Has that “Save the Cheerleader, Save the world” promo for tonight’s episode of Heroes annoyed you yet? It has been popping up in every locale science fiction fans might possibly be haunting. Apparently it will be a pivotal November sweeps episode. Alas, saving the cheerleader is not as high a priority for me as ogling the lovely Ali Larter. Conveniently, I have a few photos here so you can join in the festivities. No nude or bikini pics, but she does show off some tummy, legs, and a hint of boobs. You will have to go rent Varsity Blues for the total package.

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