Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year's End

As we are on the verge of saying goodbye to 2006 and a hopeful, “Hello” to 2007, it is wise to look back on the year that was. Hence, here is the first of a three part essay that I will pot daily right on through New Year’s Eve. I do so because everyone needs a little reflection and perspective every now and then. Recent days have been troubled. I have been advised it might be best to stop trying to find meaning in a world that does not have any. Perhaps that search has lead to and will only further deepen my general bitterness about life. I refuse to believe this. While my opinion on Christianity leans more towards Keikegaard than C. S. lewis, I believe there is a grand plan even if I am an insignificant part of it and everything happens for a reason.

Nevertheless, the reason is probably never obvious. It would not be called faith if it was and faith would be easy if the universe were not constantly heading towards entropy. With the seeming contradiction of everything happening for a reason while everything eventually breaks down, it is no wonder so many people lose faith. I have to admit I have grapple with the issue myself, more so in the last year than at any time in my life. Call it a test call it redemptive suffering, but do not call it random. I will not believe it despite the fact 2006 has been one long, chaotic, and sad year.

There is no doubt about how much my life has shrunk. Honestly, other than going completely blind, I do not see how things can get any worse than they already are. Believe me, I have had heart to hearts with several people who wound up being at a total loss at offering encouragement. There just is not any to give. In fact, the most sound advice I have received is to not think about it. Well, I cannot. I have to live with myself day after day on up until the end and it is impossible not to envision time marching on into oblivion.

Yes, it has made me moody and depressed. Those are the breaks. I think there has even been a darker turn in my attitude since my hospital stay in August with the obstruction. I certainly had a lot of time to think then with little else to do but watch the glucose drip. I did not have a clear head through the early parts of that ordeal-- I even wound up dedated once --but the memories and conclusions I drew were and still are painfully vivid and poignant. I have tried writing about them and have produced reams of stuff, but none of it has ever been posted here and will not be in its current form. There are a lot of nasty thoughts to still work through and I have no choice but to do so.

Bottom line: no matter how bad my life was, with alcoholic parents, estranged family members, chronic disabilities, lonely times plowing through the muck towards career goals, living paycheck to paycheck in a little apartment with no security other than my own inner will to survive, there were still enough bright moments to make it all worthwhile. There was occasional joy. It seemed like life, not just survival or coasting, which is what I am really doing now. There were positives then. They are all gone now.

There you have what I have learned in 2006 in a nutshell. Last year at this time, I said good riddance to 2005 with an awful lot of bitterness. Somehow I have mustered up even more vinegar for the end of 2006. Thus I say, good riddance 2006. You tried to beat me, and it was a valiant effort, but you failed.
Is Robert Carlyle the New Doctor Who?

Here is the first question for 2007. David Tennant says he is not quitting. The BBC has confirmed Tennant is staying. This article says otherwise. But it also says Tennant will quit halfway through the third season. All episodes except the final three or four have been filmed, but that may very be loosely considered "halfway." I still doubt the BBC could keep such a tidbit under wraps, but wgo knows?

Regardless, I will believe it when I see it and not a moment before-- especially because I really want Alexander Siddig to play the Eleventh Doctor.
Thinking of Sunny Beaches

Or is that skinny bitc... hello! The last day of 2006 has been a cold, drizzling one. I could feel it even while snuggling in my nice, warm bed early this morning. January and February tend to be the coldest months of the year in South Carolina. I used to think that was terrible until I spent three each in Virginia and learned otherwise. A cold, rainy, ocean chill and a skinny Southern boy do not a great combination make.

Since it is cold and I have already mentioned the ocean, here is a picture of Paris Hilton lounging on the beach in a bikini. Perhaps the thought of her might warm you up. She does not do much for me, really.. Out of all the popular celebrities I have posted photos of, she and Britney Spears have or the most part been blissfully absent. The one Hilton photo I did post punctuated a post about an Indian filmmaker wanting to cast her as Mother Theresa. That was just too mind bogglingly odd to pass up writing about. For the record, this photo is from a set in which you can tell in several pictures Paris is hiding a bag of pot in her stuff. I passed those up for this one. Hope you are not disappointed.

Itt was not by choice, but Jessica Simpson wound up the patron saint of the Eye for awhile there. As she became more of a joke, the search engine hits dropped accordingly. Not that I have any plan to stop posting celebrity photos. I most certainly will keep on, but it looks lie Jessica needs to make some sort of singing or acting comeback to rebuild her formerly high status here. It is not very likely to happen. I suppose you will all have to settle for more Reese Witherspoon, Ali Larter, and Evangeline Lilly, et al in the meantime.
Weekend of Morbidity

What an awfully morbid end to the year this weekend was, no? It has been nothing but death and the morbid curiosity surrounding it.

I have already written about the death watch regarding Saddam Hussein and the aftermath of his execution. Some of the talk regarding the video of his hanging has practically glowed with glee. Not everyone, mind you. The New York Times obituary chronicled Hussein’s final moments as though he were some sort of national hero and not a genocidal brute, yet other news sources have bordered on the macabre in discussing the surrounding issues. It has been almost as unsettling as the Katrina coverage when some reporters literally broke down on camera over the horrors they were watching.

It has been a different story with Gerald Ford’s funeral. Ford is a historical figure for me. His death does not have the emotional impact that Ronald Reagan’s did a couple of years ago. Reagan is the first president I remember following as I developed a very early interest in politics. All that to say I am mostly dwelling on the dancing act the media is engaged in talking about his life. They are angry that he pardoned Richard Nixon because it is the dream of every reporter to bring down a president and every liberal to have seen Nixon put in irons and tossed into a dungeon. The former and the latter are pretty much the same at the highest echelons of journalism. But Ford was against the war in Iraq and apparently told the president so. Since despising the war in Iraq is the current media/leftist pastime, what is a good commentator to do?

Finally, there was James Brown. I like music with soul, so I liked James Brown. I thought it was a nice touch for there to be a memorial service at the Apollo theatre, but why did it have to be open casket? I understand some people like to do that and see family members and friends one last time. It helps bring a sense of closure to see the spirit has obviously departed the body. But I have always gotten a chill over it, particularly when people take pictures Maybe I am in a minority here, but I just got the creeps from the open casket viewing.

What a way to end atruly terrible year, but sadly appropriate, all things considered.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Old Dogs, Old Tricks

No one really believes or even cares anymore if a fourth installment of Indiana Jones ever happens and one of the biggest reasons is, amidst all the soap opera surrounding pre-production (if you want to call it tat), George Lucas emerges every six months or so and assures us the movie will go before the cameras “next year.” Rest assured he did so yet aain a few days ago , announcing the final sequel will begin production in 2007 for a 2008 release. I would not even bother to mention it if the ins and outs of getting Indiana Jones IV to the screen were not such a pet interest of mine.

Will the film roll this year? No. will it ever get made in the first place? Probably not. The fees for Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford would be cost prohibitive. Each would expect $ 20 million a piece on top of a special effects laden budget that would probably top $ 150 million or more. No studio would front that kind of cash on even a reasonably solid hit like IJ4 would be. There are a load of egos in the way. None of the three have been able to agree on a script. It makes sense. Over the last seven years or so, I have read at least four script that were submitted, rejected by at least one of the Big Trio, and found its way to the web. They are easy to find by perusing online script sites, but let me save you the trouble-- they all read like Tomb Raider sequels.

The problem is they did not address the most logical problem outside of financial concerns for making the movie. Namely, Harrison Ford is heading towards his late 60’s. Indy cannot swing on vines, get dragged behind a fast moving car, or throw a punch with the best of them anymore. Sure we all want to see our childhood hero give it one last go around like he did 25 years ago, but it is not going to happen. None of the scripts really addressed the issue of what it means to be a 65 year old grave robber.

Some fans desperate to see Indy on the silver screen like he used to be have held on to the geeky idea that since Indy drank from the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade, he no longer ages. I can appreciate geekdom as much as the next guy, but if you want to do that, then recast Indy with another 40 something actor. Pure blasphemy, right? Indeed it is. I think a interesting IJ4 could be made if the formulafor Rocky Balboa were adopted. Adress the time elapse, adress the aging, and make the character real. If down right, IJ4 would make a fantastic bookend.

Of course, no one is ever going to pay to have it made.
The Thin Line Between Justice and Vengeance

I remarked last night how I was curious to run Saddam Hussein’s execution up the flagpole and see who salutes. The Iraqi government ran it up even faster than I thought they would. The video of Hussein’s execution is all over the web today, presumably done so quickly to reassure skeptical Iraqis he is really pushing up sand fleas. True to my word, I have not viewed the video. There is no particular reason for that other than little interest on my part. I am just not that morbid. I am sure it will be quite popular regardless. i suspect to see all sots of web creativity regarding it eventually.

But back to word on the street about the execution. There were Iraqis celebrating in the streets over his death which has lead a number of leftists to question whether those who wanted Hussein dead have lost sight of the difference between justice and vengeance. It is a tough question because the line between the two is blurry. Honestly, a crime can be viewed as a violation of the social contract. Breaking the contract requires some sort of repayment. Breaking the contract too severely requires one to be removed from society altogether by life imprisonment or death. Society does not gain anything but removing these people other than an emotional sense of security for them being gone. That strikes meas more vengeance than justice, but I suppose it is a matter of semantics. I am one who thinks the death penalty out to be used more often, so I am not terribly concerned whether the line is blurry or not.

I can see where the critics are coming from in cases like this even though I am not sure there is a better solution. I think Hussein was clearly guilty and had to be removed from this world no doubt. I am just as sure of that as I am there was a desire for revenge on the part of most everyone involved in prosecuting his case. Such is the danger of letting the oppressed be in control o their oppressor’s fate. It is nearly impossible to stay the hand of vengeance. The urge to lash at those who have harmed you is too great an ure of human nature to resist.

At the same time, I am enormously skeptical of international trials for crimes against humanity. I think they work poorly because there is really no uniform set of ideals across the globe for how to handle such thins. It pains me to say that because I was one who agreed that if one of the rationales for overthrowing Hussein was that he sponsored international terrorism, he ought to have been tried internationally. It would not have woked, though. Given his abrasive behavior at his trail, Hussein would have turned The Hague into an international platform much like Milosevic. You may recall Milosevic not only did that, but escaped justice. No way could that have been allowed to happen in Hussein’s case. His execution may well wind up being the only positive point in the Iraq War.

I have to conclude letting the Iraqis try, convict, and execute Saddam was the best way of handling things even if there are skeptics about the validity of the trial or the morality of executing him. I support the outcome, if for no other reason, than the truthfulness of the old adage that those who live by the sword, die by the sword.
The Runaway Bride

A music video for the 2006 Christmas Special set to "Please Come Home for Christmas" by the Eagles.
Ladies of Lost--Julie Bowen

With all the death, destruction, and apocalyptic anxiety of a new year upon us, the eye could use a little lightening up. I do not think I have dipped into the Lost well beyond Evangeline Lilly in quite a while. Bssides her recurring role as Jack's estranged exwife, Bowen has appeared on Boston Legal and opposite Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore. Truth be told, she looks hotter now than she did twelve years ago in that movie. She is nowexpecting her first child at the tender age of 37.


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein is Dead

Arab TV news has been reporting for an hour or so now that Saddam Hussein was hanged until death sometime between 9:30-10:00 PM EST tonight. I have been flipping around various news channels to watch coverage. I always enjoy how cable news channels cover such events. It stems from watching the slow speed chase between OJ Simpson and the LAPD back in 1994. Older folks might have more vivid memories of other live events, such as airline hijackings in the mid-80’s which I have very little recall about other than a passenger being interviewed from a window, then being yanked back in by an armed terrorist. OJ was my generation’s introduction to instant macabre happening as much as the Gulf War was the first time the line got blurred between video games and real conflict.

These mews asters all seem to be covering the death watch with a certain glee. I suppose it is because they have us hooked with the prospect of gory details. So far, I think Sean Hannity had the best time with it. He was asking his three guests so many tantalizing questions about atrocities and executions they had to generally pause and try to think of polite answers while not appearing to squirm uncomfortably. Everyone has said they will break into commercial if they have to in order to report the death. Good thing, too. Some news items just cannot wait thirty seconds.

What I really liked about the whole affair was the last appeal Hussein’s defense lawyer made to a federal judge. Hussein is subject to a civil trial in the United States for his role in the crimes for which he was convicted. His lawyer basically said his death iviolates his right to defend himself at that trial. A judge refused to block the execution, but I am certain he saluted the creativity just as much as I did.

This all seem a bit anticlimactic. The execution was videotaped for the benefit of skeptical Iraqis, but I am not morbid enough to care to see it. He will b buried in a secret location to avoid his grave becoming a martyr’s shrine, so there will not be a very satisfying sense of closure with just the video. Really, who is this a victory for? The man deserved to die, no doubt. I do not think this will hasten US withdrawal. I do not think the insurgency will end now. I do not think families of victims will feel all that satisfied that he is sipping vinegar with Alguhl right now. This is a good thing, but I am having a hard time figuring out why. I hope that becomes clearer as news of his death spreads and I see who is celebrating.
Doctor Who Series Three Trailer

A Wholigan on YouTube finally came through for us. Some cool scenes from the first nine or so episodes, including Daleks in 1930's New York. The final three or four episodes have yet to be filmed. We can only wonder what is in store with them.
No Hang Ups

It looks like the "within thirty days" crowd won the debate. Saddam Hessein isscheduled to be executed around 10 PM EST tonight. I doubt anyone outside the French will shed a tear, but I fully expct Iraq to erupt into violence. Surprise me, insurgency, be eciding this is, in fact, the end.

Another bitter pill-- the funeral of former President Gerald Ford has been overshadowed by news of Saddam's imminent execution. I guess the poor fellow is just destined to be The Forgotten President.
The Final Fate Debate

There is a constitutional debate going on in iraq currently over whether Saddam Hussein must be executed within thirty days or if they have to wait thirty days to xecute. (The constitution was largely written by Noah Feldman, an NYU law professor. Take that,first tier law schools!) Anyway, it not only amuses me greatly they cannot decide exactly when they get to kill him (and not the morality of doing so) but you just know this is going to be a question on a contitutional law exam at some point in the future.

(Prediction: Noah Feldman will be NSA to the next Republican president regardless. Bank on it.)
Ali Larter VIII

Let us start the countdown to the new year off right with a few classy shots of the lovely Ali Larter. None are quite as risque as the nearly naked photo I posted last time around from Varsity Blues, but who could complain about such a pretty girl next door type?

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

David Tennant Quitting Doctor Who?

No, he is not, but that is what The Sun is reporting. You cannot rely on much of anything that rag comes up with, but this will be good for blog hits, so I am mentioning the rumor. Word is David Tennant plans to leave halfway through the fourth season (that would be 2008) to work on his film career. Tennant has stared in a number of British productions and played a part in one of the Harry Potter films. Possible replacements would be Robert Carlyle of Trainspotting fame and David Morrisey of Basin Instinct II.

All this is rubbish, of course. The BBC is officially denying it saying Tennant has not signed up for a fifth season solely because it has not yet been commissioned and fully intends to do so once that happens. Whether that is completely true is anyone’s guess, but Tennant has gone out of hi way to ham up the role and play the Doctor in radio dramas he was not even originally supposed to be in. Something tells me he enjoys the job.

Which is good. Now that both Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper have departed and taken the supporting cast with her, the show has no original cast members. The constant upheaval can be a bit unsettling, no? It would be great to see the Doctor and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) traveling through time and space for quite a while together.
Wasteful Government Spending?

The Labour Party spent £299.63 on Star Trek outfits for the last election, while the Tories shelled out £1,269 to import groundhog costumes. This is because Labour wanted to mock the new Tory leader, an avid Trekkie and the Tories wanted to know if there would be six more months of Blair as Prime Minister.

Politics is so much more fun in the UK.
Happy Birthday, Stan Lee!

We here at the eye aecomicc book fanatics and therefore wish the coceator of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men and countless other heroes that brightened my youth immensely a happy 84th trip around the sun.
From Chasing Ambulances to Chasing Hillary

It is a bit anticlimactic since it has already been announced on his website, but former ambulance chaser and Senator John Edwards is officially joining the 2008 presidential race. Apparently he will continue his motif of promoting class warfare as he plans to announce in New Orleans while crying into the Ponchartrain over the sad state of Hurricane Katrina relief. Edwards has been attempting to distance himself from his trial lawyer past and reinvent himself as a champion of the poor and downtrodden against the wealthy an elite people like...well, him. Self-loathing is as a good a mottivation for running for president as any.

Why he is planning to run is beyond me. He will not get any further than Sen. Joe Lieberman, another losing vice presidential nominee, did in 2004. He will not even carry his home state of North Carolina and especially not his birthplace, South Carolina. In fact, his primary motivation for running for the White House in 2004 was that his clock would have been cleaned in a reelection bid. Heck, even he knew what a joke it was. He announced his first run to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Further, his selection as Sen. John Kerry’s VP was a disaster for the Democratic Party which you will soon see the aftermath. Kerry chose Edwards over Gephardt, thereby informing labor that Trial lawyers were more important to the party base. I am not naïve enough to think labor will start voting for the GOP, but the Democrats cannot start taking labor for granted, either. There is going to be a lot of (amusing) jumping through hoops to patch things up.

Edwards entering the race would not be a luggable item if not for the scheduling of the primaries. Here is the thing-- Sen. Barack Obama knows his only virtue in a presidential race is the novelty of himelf. He has to run no or never while people are excited about him. H will stay in and do well through New Hampshire and Iowa. He may even win one or both. With Edwards being from South Carolina, he will likely pick up the state in the primaries with Obama attracting the very important black vote. All this adds up to a slow start and maybe even a campaign killer for Sem Hillary Clinton. She may very well be the Howard Dean of 2008-- all smoke and mirrors.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Combat

YouTube appears to be acting up with its search engine for the umpteenth time. Who knows when new videos will actually show up. Either way, here is my video for the latest episode of Torchwood. I am workin on one for Doctor Who's "The runaway Bride" as well. There is no telling when i will get that one up. it will be the only one until April, so there is no real hurry, yes?

(As much as I disliked the episode, the video is a personal favorite. Any chance I get to add '80's heavy metal to a video and have it fit well makes my heart flutter.)

The first rule of Weevil Fight Club--do not talk about Weevil Fight Club. Video is set to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns 'n Roses.
The Return of Capt. Jack Harkness

The Torchwood two hour season finale airs on New Year’s Day. The plotline is largely being kept under wraps, although we do know the Rift transports Capt. Jack and Tosh back to 1941 and shows the rest of the team their past and possible futures. Rumors abound that Diane will return and so will Lisa, cyberized or not I cannot say. David Tennant gave a radio interview on Christmas Day regarding Capt. Jack’s return to Doctor Who late this year. His Who appearance will not be a diect sequel to the Torchwood finale, but it will dovetail in some unknown manner.

Jack returns in the 11th episode. It will be like “”Love & Monsters” in the sense the Doctor and Martha will not be featured prominently, if at all. The story is unknown at this point, but the assumption is it deal with Jack’s missing two years mentioned in “The Doctor Dance.” One bit of possible disappointment: Steven Moffat will not write the episode as previously hoped. Instead it will be penned by Russell T. Davies. In my humblest opinion, RTD is a hit and miss writer, so I have no idea whether I will like or hate the episode.

Jack will also be a part of the two part season finale which has not yet filmed. No word yet on what any of that is about other than the Doctor, Martha, and Jack will encounter whatever was originally supposed to be in the pit in “The Satan Pit.” With that in mind, fans speculate the story centers on the quest to restore Jack to normal after whatever changes occurred to him in “The Parting of the Ways.” How or why he leaves the Doctor and returns for the second season of Torchwood is anyone’s guess. After so obsessively wanting to return to the TARDIS, why in the world would he apparently give up the chance to resume?
Gerald Ford (1913-2006)

Former President Gerald Ford is dead at 93. He was our longest lived president and in retrospect, I am amazed by that. The last time I recall getting a good look at him was the 2000 Republican National Convention. The convention had a special tribute to the three surviving GOP presidents. Ford looked sickly with puffy eyes, and spent at least one night in the hospital, yet not only was he there, but he lived another six years. I was born when Ford was a lame duck, so I have no memories of him, obviously. I can loook at his presidency as a matter of history rather than with the highly charged debates you are going to see over the next few days regarding his decision to pardon Richard Nixon.

First of all, do not believe that is the only significant aspect of Ford’s presidency. Beyond that, Ford presided over the US leaving Vietnam, visited China, was part of the SALT treaty, and granted partial amnesty for Vietnam draft dodgers. I think we forget Ford’s impact because he a subdued man. (Ford chose the reserved Sen. Bob Dole to the GOP ticket in 1976 in order to add energy and excitement. Think about that.) He was also a principled one. When pardoning Nixon, he explained it was for the good of the country to avoid a protracted criminal trial that would have essentially shut down the government for what could have very well been dubious ends. Think about Ken Starr doggedly pursuing Bill Clinton for years, even to the point of impeachment, with nothing to show other than millions of dollars wasted , months of a stalled federal government, and the rest of the world scratching their heads and wondering if we have collectively gone insane. Ford knew Nixon would essentially fade into the background so he country could move on. Can you name a politician today who would put the country’ interests over his own political future?

It is true one can never know for sure whether it was the pardon who did him in or Chevy Chase’s buffoonish impression of him on Saturday Night Live. Jimmy Carter barely squeaked into office by 50.1% of the vote even with Ford winning 27 states. Bush defeated John kerry worse than that and folks still claim he stole the election. Since his defeat, Ford moved into quiet obscurity much like Nixon. Probably even more so. I believes you have heard the least from him than any other ex-president of the last 35 years To his critics, that reinforced the idea he was a puppet for Nixon. I think just the opposite. It proves he was his own man without the nee to hog the spotlight beyond his time in it. He was still an elder statesman when it counted.

Godspeed, Mr. President.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Doctor Who--"The Runaway Bride"

Yes, I know Martha has not joined up yet, but since the Christmas episode is the official start of the season despite a four month hiatus (and you thought Lost’‘s was bad), I have gone ahead with added the Doctor/Martha photo. Funny thing, really. “The Runaway Bride” takes place immediately after Rose’s departure, she is only shown in aquick but poignant flashback, and yet she is all over the episode. Overall it was a nice bridge between the Rose Tyler and Martha Jones Eras which should satisfy both the fans and detractors of Rose and her relationship with the Doctor. Catherine Tate was a nifty one time stand in, but mercy does her voice grate on me.

You may recall from the tail end of “Doomsday” that a bride appeared inside the TARDIS. Donna has been subjected to drugging of huon particles, a substance which exists in the heart of the TARDIS. That is how she gets pulled in, but the fact that huon particles have not existed for billions of years piques that Doctor’s curiosity. He tries to get her back to her wedding and along the way untangles a four billion year old plot to awaken a alien race of spider alien hibernating inside the Earth. The Queen plans to use the infected donna as the catalyst by tossing her down a tunnel to the Earth’s core.

The doctor manages to save her and the earth in his usual manner, but it I the personal touches that really get you. Donna’s fiance was in on the plot with the Queen’s promise to show him the universe. There was a certain twinge of recognition there how that is the Doctor’s promise to his new companions. Donna is broken hearted and alone, much like the Doctor over Rose, yet she refuses his offer to become his new companion by saying he is dangerous and scary. The remark is particularly painful, considering what has happened to Rose. Donna does tell him to find someone. He needs the anchor. Someone had to verballize that, I believe, for it to not appear callous for Martha to hitch a ride on the TARDIS.

It was not a bad episode, although I liked last year’s better. Catherine Tate at some point had a sketch comedy show and I got the idea she was hamming it up as some of her more popular characters Perhaps it tickled more British funny bones. I cannot say. There were certainly an awful lot of connection to previous elements. Torchwood was mentioned, the Sycorax invasion, the Battle of Canary Warf, and my favorite just because, several flashbacks to Rose during the wedding reception as the Doctor was reminded of her by every peroxide blonde on the dance floor. Funny, yet kind of sad. A good start to the third sason, methinks.

Rating: *** (out of 5).
Lookee What Day It Is

I survived the holidays. It looks like not everyone else did. Heh.I still have new year's to go which has its own pitfalls. We will cross that brudge when we come to it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Torchwood--"Combat"

Many fans groaned when they heard Noel Clarke, Mickey Smith of Doctor Who fame, would be joining the writing staff of Torchwood. Clarke has won some acclaim for penning a coming of age movie a couple of years ago, so he is not without portfolio, but after watching his first episode tonight, I am joining the ranks of the skeptics regarding his writing skills. The episode ran two storylines. The main one was a direct lift, even down to some dialogue, of Fight Club. The “B’ story involved a nasty character twist from Gwen and the degradation of Rhys. Needless to say, I disliked both.

Someone is kidnapping Wheevils off the streets of Cardiff. When a dead body obviously mangled by a Wheevil shows up at a supposedly abandoned warehouse, Jack sends owen in undercover as a businessman to discover what the place is actually being used for. Owen is not himself after Diane left last episode. In certain ways he begins to bond with his contact, a Tyler Durden clone who says the current generation has nothing to believe in and can find no meaning outside the unleashing of raw emotion. Jack and Tosh allow their first captured Wheevil to be fitted with a tracker and captured. The Wheevil winds up in a makeshift cage inside the warehouse that night. Businessmen take turns seeing who can stay inside the cage the longest. When jack and Tosh arrive for the rescue, Owen has crawled inside the cage, apparently attempting suicide. The whole thing is broken up, but Owen appears to now be somehow connected telepathically with the Wheevils.

On the other side, Owen and Gwen’s relationship has hit the skids and Gwen ecides to confess to Rhys about the affair. But she goes about it by explaining it to him, begging him for forgiveness, and drugging him with an amnesia pill so only she will remember any of it. It was incredibly selfish and showed poor character on Gwen’s part. I thought it was degrading to Rhys and completely tarnished Gwen. I hope that stoylne gets swept under the rug quickly. I do not see how it can be redeemed otherwise.

Actually, I do not see how the episode in general can be redeemed. It was a complete and utter rip off of Fight Club. you would think Clarke would steal from a better movie. Alas, no. Torchwood finally has its “Love & Monsters.” Lucky us.

Rating: * (out of 5)
Sneaking Away a Moment on Christmas

The festivities have died down, presents have been opened, and most everyone is lounging about waiting for football to come on television. It seems like the perfect time to slink away for a few quiet moments. I hope everyone had a good Christmas or continues to have one if you celebrate at night rather than lunch. I have been a bit of a scrooge so far regarding the holidays. Understand what a tough time they are for me these days before critiquing me for it. It has been a long time since this time of the year has not been awkward for me. I feel like a stranger in a strange land even in places I supposedly should not.

I had all intentions of writing about Christmases past, present, and future here, but I am not. The whim passed for various and sundry reasons. Maybe after some further reflection. But I received the first season of Lost on DVD (I know you are surprised I did not have it already. Wonders never ease.) and am going to watch a few of my favorite episodes tonight. I also have Batman Begins, one of my favorite comic book based movies of all time that is probably going to get a turn in ye olde DVD player. I also have the latest episode of Torchwood and the Doctor Who Christmas special on tap. I will have review up for the latter two at some point in the near future as soon as I decide what I am going to watch first.

I have to mention the passing of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. I cannot say I was a huge fan, but his music was fun to listen to at times. Besides, anyone willing to lead South Carolina law enforcement officers on a high speed chase through several counties and lives to tell the tale is worthy of a little salute. Godspeed, Mr. Brown.
I will probably back later tonight with a review or two of BBC offerings. Hang loose until then, my brethren.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Tis the Season

To be jolly? Hardly. Well, maybe if Reese Witherspoon actually did show up at my door wanting to smooch. Wearing nothing but a big, red ribbon. Then I might be inclined to sat, ‘Yes, Virginia, there is Santa Clause and he understands what a thirty year old guy puts on his Christmas list. But no such luck. It is Christmas eve and I have zero Christmas spirit. It does not even feel like the holidays, but I am going to put the old axiom “Fake it ‘til you make it” to good use.

For one thing, I am nursing two wounds. My sister has a new Rowdier puppy. She named him Buddy, but I think Bloodfang more suits his personality. I first encountered him two days ago when I walked into the kitchen and the vicious runt was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. I, being the gentle, loving soul that I am, offered to make friends. He looked at me. I looked at him. He assessed and found me wanting. That is until everyone else left and he was put away for a while. Then he decided I was good for the occasional rescue. I held him in my lap and he celebrated by trying to turn me into Capt. Hook. This morning he greeted me by trying to finish the job. So even though it is freezing cold outside, I have some bandages to keep me warm.

On a heftier note, I have been given a lot of things to chew on (pardon the pun) over the last few weeks. I have made no secret that I am blah about the holidays and life in general, for that matter. Now that the year is ending --probably the worst year o my life, all things considered --and a new one about to begin with no prospects for improvement, one has to give serious thought to one’s philosophy of life in general. It is not a matter to write about on Christmas or Christmas Eve, but it is not far from my mind today. At a more appropriate time, I will organize my thoughts as best as I can and work through them on paper. Not that it will make things any clearer. I think we are beyond that point, but there is something to be said for having it all down for the sake of posterity.
Mistletoe Meme

The annual Mistletoe Meme is obligatory even if one is not really in the mood for smooching, huh? Very well. The purpose I simple: list five famous females you would like to lip lock with under the mistletoe. My choices:
1. Reese Witherspoon I know this one comes as a shock to all parties since I hardly ever mention my fondness for the girl. This time around she is single, so I do not even have to plot Ryan Philippe’s death like I have in the past. Further proof there is a Santa Clause after all.

2. Ali Larter--I have not really gotten into Heroes as I have said before, but Ms. Larter is the key reason I tune in anyway. She is one hot little number who can be my hero any day.

3. Evangeline Lilly--She has a very natural beauty about her. Besides, she seems to be a little geeky and could probably use some Southern Comfort this holiday season with her house burning down and all.

4. Billie Piper--Yes, her jaw line is reminiscent of Pac-Man’s, to which I say, “Wonka, wonka wonka.”

5. Kristen Chenoweth-I adore the diminutive Broadway star, opera singer, and actress.
There you have it. If any else wants to play, consider yourself duly tagged.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Beat Goes On

Robert Frost, the great poet, once said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Wiser words were never spoken. I think that is a dose of reality we all need from time to time just to keep us humble and in perspective. I mean that in two different ways. First, no matter how bad things get, life itself does not stop until it is finally over. You can lose absolutely everything you have and ever cared about, but still have to slog through the rest of you existence anyway. Second, the world will not stop for your broken, mainly because it is just not that pivotal in the grand scheme of things. Sad, but true.

I am thinking about this currently because of the “Doomsday” season finale of Doctor Who last night. I have seen the episode three or four times already, but last night, quite absentmindedly even, I noticed something for the first time. You do not have to have seen the show to understand it, but the set up might strike you as hokey science fiction. The Doctor is going to send hi assistant of two years, Rose Tyler, back with her family to a parallel Earth. It is the only way he can be certain she will be safe. She has gotten attached to him and refuses to go. While she is explaining to her mother that the Doctor has been all alone in the universe but he never will again because of her. I noticed this time during her sppeh that David Tennant, standing in the background as the Doctor, has a wizened look on his face. For once, I understood that scene for what it was.

Although the Doctor had taken a fancy to Rose, he finally realized she was a naïve, starry eyed nineteen year old who is not very savvy. She has no idea he had a life before her and will have one after her as well. It is all about her and how life ceases to exist when she leaves the room. He knows she needs alife away from him to be better grounded in reality. It makes it easier for him to leave her and move on to other things with a clear, but maybe more hardened, conscience.

I cannot draw an exact parallel to thoughts I am dwelling upon and realizations I have come to, but the principle is still there. You are here for awhile, maybe you mattered, and then you were gone. Carpe diem, but sic transit gloria mundi. Not that it is easy to keep in mind the two concepts go hand in hand. I wish I had done more seizing of the day, but I have tempered that with the realization it would not have mattered a whole lot if I did. Life goes on regardless of how big a speed bump you think you are..
Ali Larter Naked with Whipped Cream

That title ouht to bring some search engine visitors. Recall how I said in my last post that I ast no judgment upon thee for desiring to ogle Jessica Simpson’s boobs? Now I ask for that favor in return. Consider it striking a blow against sexual repression. I am all for that as I have noticed the fundamentalist Christian who are so concerned with preventing everyone else from having sex usually have nine children and counting. I suppose the stork delivers them all. ’Tis a season of miracles to behold, no? This is about the raciest photo you will ever see poted at the Eye, but it is a necessary post about a girl of whom I am quite fond.

Anyway, I like Ali Larter and the above phoo is a scene from 1998’s Varsity Blues in which she dolls up, covering her naughty bits with whipped cream. James Van Der Beek has absolutely no idea what to do with her and neither does some other character later on in the movie. The girl is bouncing naked on top of him and he has the nerve to tell her to stop because he is in love with someone else. Dude, you never tell her that. Let her finish, take her out for pizza, then never call her again. Where the heck is your manhood?

I stumbled across the photo quite at random. I have not thought about that movie since college. These days I recall larter from Heroes, a show which I am trying to like but cannot quite swing it. Maybe if something more pivotal happened. Or maybe I am just getting too old to enjoy suh things. Perhaps if Ali would cavort about naked again, I might be more enthralled. Regardless, here is one of my favorite photos of the lovely Ms. Larter to brighten up a dreary holiday weekend.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Jessica Simpson Quits Dolly Parton Tribute

After flubbing the song “9 to 5” at the Kennedy Center Honors a couple of weeks ago, Jessica Simpson has backed out of the Dolly Parton tribute altogether, citing that she does not wish to further embarrass herself or Parton. I do not find this interesting or important. In fact, the only thing I note about the story is how odd it is that Jessica Simpson is supposedly a singer first and movie sexpot second.

Honestly, I just wanted to post the above photo because it shows off her boobs. Jessica Simpson has nice boobs. I know all you Googlers will want to see it and the strategically placed microphone, too, for all those with minds that think about that sort of thing. Fear not, for I cast no judgment upon thee.
Doctor Who--"Army of Ghosts/Doomsday" (Commentary)

Tonight we get a doubleheader to finish off the Sci Fi Channel’s run of the second season of Doctor Who. I think it works out better this way at the from the standpoint of these commentaries. “Army of Ghosts” was little more than set up for “Doomsday.” the final five minutes or so were the only seriously riveting moments, but boy were they. I would say you are missing on a great experience by not having to wait a week for the conclusion. Once you see real Daleks as opposed to the hybrids from “The Parting of the Ways” floating out of that sphere right before a “to be continued,{, you will get the same feeling you had when Captain Picard was turned into Locutus seventeen (Good Lord. Seventeen?) years ago. But let us not jump ahead of ourselves. The season finale brings us the culmination of two major plot points. The first being the first appearance of Torchwood beyond casual mentions. Second-- and most important --this is the end of Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.

Torchwood had been the buzzword for this season the same as “Bad Wolf” was for the first. We never got to see anything of the team up until now. I admit a certain disappointment about that. Supposedly the team was created for the sole purpose of capturing aliens and specifically the Doctor, even though he and countless alien critters have managed to slip in and out of the United Kingdom at will since Queen Victoria established the organization. In fact, the Queen banished the Doctor from the UK. I thought it would have been intereting if he honored that ban, at least for a while. We could have had some exotic adventures that way and made a big splash on his eventual return. Well, we did not get the exotic adventures, but we did get the big splash on his return. Odd how Torchwood London was so much different than Torchwood Cardiff featured in the spin off. The London branch was a big research facility guarded by paramilitary forces. The Cardiff branch seems more like an detective agency. This is neither the time or place to talk about that.

The Doctor, the Daleks, and the Parallel Earth Cybermen manage to destroy the Canary Warf headquarters of Torchwood London after the Daleks and Cybermen have a hisy fit argument over each others’ design flaws. Leave it to Russell T. Davies to turn the first onscreen conflict between the two major Wholigan villains into a purse sligging match. I will admit it was funny, but RTD still gives me the creeps at times. What else gave me the creeps comes from the unseen aftermath. The Doctor gets rid of the villains by opening up the Void and sucking them in. Anything that had crossed the Void had to go, but everything else stayed behind. What that means is a gruesome fate for humans converted into Cybermen like Torchwood’s head, Yvonne, who metal body fell into the Void while her brain stayed behind. Yikes. We never learned this until the Torchwood episode, “Cyberwomen,” where we discovered Ianto’s girlfriend was converted by materials exclusively from Earth and was therefore spared from the Void. We now know the Daleks return for at least one last go around. It remains to be seen whether the new Cybermen return.

The second bit, the departure of Billie Piper asRose Tyler, seem to divide Wholigans bitterly. Half loved her, half hated her. I liked her myself. I did find it od the Doctor would choose a chav like her as a companion, but she turned out to be a very capable, hands on assistant. What most fans objected to was the thinly veiled romance between the Doctor and her. That did not bother me. In the revised series, The Doctor is alone in the universe, tormented by war guilt, and generally looking for an understanding soul to be with whether he realizes it or not. That he clung to someone inclined to be starry eyed about him is no surprise. Because the relationship ended badly, I think there will not be any romantic elements in the future. This relationship was necessary to prove what a bad idea companion romantic relationships are. It was sad to see the Doctor and Rose be split apart, although you will note while watching the show that even though he sent her away, he knew she would come back. He needed a second person for his plan to work. He did not count on the screw up that stranded her anyway. At least everyone was happy with the end. He never got to say “I love you,” so both camps can believe he would or would not have said it. Rose had a good run. More often than not, she saved the day instead of the Doctor. One wonders if Martha Jones will be as capable.

Speaking of Martha Jones, Freema Agyeman does appear as a different character in “Army of Ghosts” before she takes on the role of companion next season. There is some connection between her character here and Martha, but the exact remains unknown. Given RTD, it could be incredibly dubious or eye rollingly appalling. We will see how that pans out and also what RTD meant by Rose being in season three in one form or another. Could be just as dubious or appalling.

Thus ends my second season commentary. There have been rumors floating about the Sci Fi Channel might air the third season simultaneously with the BBC, but considering the Christmas special airs on the BBC Monday, that is the official start of season three, and it will not be aired on the Sci Fi Channel, I would advise you not to hold your breath. I like the second season all right. It wasextemely uneven, but its high pints were very high. I am still inclined to consider the firt eason the best and I do miss Christopher Eccleston. As goood as David Tennant is, he just cannot touch Eccleston’s performance as the Ninth Doctor.

You may read my original reviews for "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" here and here, respectively.

If you are feeling sentimental about the departure of Rose, here is a music video for you:
Behold the Silver Surfer!

I have always like the Fantastic Four. Spider-Man may be tops both in my book and Marvel in general, but the FF has always been the flagship title. Virtually every big time comics writer or artist wants to take a crack at them, especially the chance to play around with the mythos created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Really, who could know about Doctor Doom, Mole man, the Skrulls, Monster Island, Galactus, and the Negative Zone without wanting to play with them?

My biggest gripe about the 2005 movie was that is just was not the FF. I understand how comics do not necessarily translate well to film. Honestly until Tim Burton came along with Batman in 1989, most movies-- even the Superman series --were not very faithful renditions. It looks like that pattern may change for the FF sequel.

Fantastic Four II: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (Okay. I di hate the title almost as much as I hated Attack of the Clones) looks to be a faithful adaption of the classic Fantastic Four # 48-50-- the first encounter with the planet devourer, Galactus and his heald, the Silver Surfer. Taking a look up top at the old Sufrer as he will appear in the movie gets my fragile heart to pumping. Mercy, I hope they do not blow this one.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Know, I Know

Yes, I am fully aware of the rumor that Reese Witherspoon has moved to Charleston, South Carolina to get away from it all. No, I do not yet believe it is true. I do not think I have angered God quite that much, but you know at the rate things are going. Thanks for all the heads up regardless. Makes me wonder how many of you notified the FBI and local authorities shortly thereafter.

While we are at it, yes to all Regent folks lurking. I do know she is single and I said many times I would like to establish my law career along the along the coast, probably in Charleston or the surrounding Low Country. Need I remind you my law career when down the tubes with ¾/s of my vision and 1/3of my colon (and counting)? Perhaps it is a subject best left unapproached at the moment, no? If you are really curious, though, a girl I used to fancy is also practicing law in Charleston and I currently married to a pediatrician.

What have we learned children, if nothing else? First, there are approximately 50,000 deities in the pantheon of world religions and I have apparently managed to anger every single one of them without hope of redemption and two, if I have ever had even the slightest bit of affection for you, you will one day live in Charleston. You may have to go through Ryan Philippe to get there, but at least you know your final destination. Bonus: you never have to deal with me ever again. Would that not be worth living in the Holy City?
A Most Peculiar Fact from Left Field

As if life is not depressing enough, I just ran across an interesting factoid. By interesting, I mean, “Yeah, I kinda figured something like that.” Did you know on average right handed people live nine years longer than left handed people. Tough luck for us southpaws, huh? Fortunately we are only 10% of the population or you would notice us dropping like flies.

The idea leads to some interesting questions. Do ambidextrous people split the difference? Should they stop using their left hand altogether or can fate not be avoided? I am very vocally in the latter camp of that belief. What about poor polar bears? They are all left handed. Maybe we have to rethink the whole global warming thing. Polar bears are not going extinct because their habitat is heating up. They just lost the hand…er, paw lottery.

Some people are just born to suffer. Well, I typed all this with my left hand. Do not tempt fate? Heh. Fate should not tempt me.
"Shell Game" (Fictional Fact/Factual Fiction)

“Do you ever contemplate your place in this world?” she asked without ever looking at me. She did not even stop twirling her finger in the sand, something her fidgety self felt compelled to do from the moment we sat down on the beach.

I was watching the seas meet the sky and listening to the tide crash against the shore. I only heard the tail end of her question, but I knew it would be best to come up with an answer off the cuff rather than ask her to repeat it. I knew her well enough to understand the kind of questions she would ask anyway. Such was the danger of befriending a Philosophy major.

“No,” I said. “I am not that deep.”

She finally looked up at me with brow knit. She stopped twirling her finger in the sand long enough to give me a disbelieving nudge on my upper arm. It was enough to finally draw my attention away from the water.

“What?” I asked in mock surprise.

“You. You are one of the most reserved people I know. Half the people you know think there is nothing going on in that head of yours and the other half are dying to pick your brain. I am in the latter half,” she said.

I let out a deep sigh. This was not something I wanted to talk about.

“About seven or eight years ago, I thought I was going to be arich lawyer and beat a pathway to the governor’s mansion before I was fifty. At some point, I outgrew the idea, realized I might make a good but not great living, and could not win a city council seat with my prickly as a porcupine personality. Now that idea is even gone with my health being what it is. So, no, I do not contemplate my place in this world.”

“Why not?” she asked. I took a moment to be thrilled I hit the nail on the head in figuring out her original question. I hate looking like a clueless ninny. The joy did not last long, of course. Reality is a constant companion.

“My world is…small. Smaller than it has ever been. My place is irrelevant.” I told her.

“Oh, good grief,” she grumbled. She turned away from me and took a quick scan of the surrounding sand. She picked up four seashells scattered about and then placed them in a formation between us. As usual, I braced myself. I knew she was about to get a poignant lesson even though I had no idea what it might be.

“Pick one up. Any one of them,” she said.

I played along, hovering my hand over all four before I picked the one closest to her. I held it in my hand and looked up at her quizzically.

“Now, what have you changed?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said. She rolled her eyes.

“Come on. Think a little.”

“All, right. There were four and then I moved one. Only three remain,” I answered.

“That is why you are so cynical. You fail to see the big picture. You saw four shells and now there a three. You fail to realize those four shells, in that place, were a component of the entire world before you moved one. You have not just moved one shell. You have changed the entire world,” she told me.

I looked at the shell in my hand, tossed it into the air, and caught it again. I cannot tell you how much I hated it when she did these things to me.

“You know, that sounds like some hokey junk George Harrison would write a song about,” I quipped.

“Could you just let me bask in the moment of using my liberal arts degree? Just once?” she asked mockingly.

We both quietly stared off into the setting sun over the ocean waves. I let her bask. I had a lot of other things to think about.
Evangeline Lilly's House Burns Down

Evangeline Lilly’s rental home in Kailua, Hawaii burned to the ground yesterday. Neither Lilly nor her two roommates were home at the time. (Roommates? She does not live with the Hobbit? Wonder of wonders.) Lilly was already on the set for the last day of filming Lost before Christmas break. Neighbors reported hearing electrical popping sounds in the early morning hours before the house erupted in flames. One neighbor, apparently hoping for a heroic kiss afterwards, attempted to enter the house and rescue anyone who may have been inside. He was blocked by heavy black smoke, proving that the Black Smoke Monster can trouble our poor Losties and their associates in real life, too. anyway, i am sure there is no lack of offers for places to stay for her, but, you know, just to be polite...

How long do you think it will be before folks start talking about The Cure of Lost? Josh Holloway and his wife were robbed at gunpoint in their home. Navenn Andrews had an extramarital affair and kid exposed. Michelle Rodriguez did jail time for DUI. Cynthia Wattros and AAA have both been arrested for DUI and/or traffic violations. Heck, pretty much everyone on the show has had a run in with traffic cops and we are only a third of the way through the third season. Obviously Hurley’s bad luck numbers extend beyond the show as well as the Black Smoke, no?

On a brighter note-- and further proof of what comic book geeks the creators of Lost are --an old favorite from comic books has joined the writing staff of Lost. Brian K. Vaughn. Vaughn has written for Justice League America and Wonder Woman, two comics with a large ensemble cast and many mythic elements respectively. He should fit right in with the show. Full disclosure-- Vaughn has gotten most of his acclaim from writing Ultimate X-Men, which I know next to nothing about. The Ultimates were an attempt by Marvel to allow “hot” artists and writers to recreate established characters outside normal continuity. It was trying to reach out to a new generation of comics fans obsessed with manga, Pokemon, etc, and jut passed be by completely. But I imagine the notion that the mind behind Ultimate X-Men joining Lost will get some excited, so there you go. Pick up Justice League America sometime instead, will you?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Staying the Coarse Course

Bush held an “ultra” important press conference earlier this morning regarding the military. The gist of the conference was that the military needs to be expanding in order to complete the missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the general war on terror. Specifically, Bush wants more troops in Iraq. Despite it becoming more of an unpopular war on a daily basis, the President plans to stay the course until victory can be declared. Not that he can clearly efine for us what that victory might look like. We have been assured he will continue to stay the course even if the American people turn completely against the war.

Which they are doing quite rapidly, I might point out. Depending on your personal feelings about Bush, you can take this pronouncement one of two ways. Either he is highly principled in the face of adversity and planning to fix the problems we have caused in Iraq despite the cost because that is just the responsible thing to do or that hw is concerned solely with how he is going to be remembered by history and his willing to risk the lives of scores of American servicemen in aquest for a favorable blurb in a future history text book. Given the parallels between the two, I often wonder I Bush fancies himself a modern day Teddy Roosevelt.

Now the quandary for presidential hopefuls becomes more pronounced. Hillary Clinton has already aid she would not vote for the war again in a hindsight is 20/20 argument. That is as worthless as John Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it” argument in 2004. A more serious problem is John McCain. He has said both that we need more troops in Iraq and that it is immoral to send in troops to die for a lost cause. Now he is going to have to choose whether to support the president and presumably the conservative base or stand on principle, move for a troop withdrawal, and look like a leader following popular will. It will probably be a tough decision for him. Is he going to un in 2008 as a party loyalist or a populist? We are about to find out.
Life is Not a Team Sport

I have to go back to well yet again. The question and answer section from Sylvester Stallone at Ain’t it Cool News was in its penultimate day yesterday. I have been enjoying the insight thoroughly and while I am sure it is just polite banter, Stallone says he will do this again before Rambo IV is released and has suggested his colleagues give it a shot as well. Who knows if that will happen, but since I was surprised at how much I enjoyed hearing from Stallone, I anticipate being intrigued by reading thoughts from Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and other Stallone associates should that ever come about.

But to my point. Yesterday Stallone was asked why he thought boxing movies resonated so much with audiences. Many have been big hits and movies like Rocky, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, and Million Dollar Baby have been critically acclaimed award winners. His answer provoked a flash within me. Before I get to it, I do have to say I think baseball movies seem to have grabbed moviegoers more over the years. Perhaps they have not won as much acclaim, but Pride of the Yankees, The Natural, Field of Dream, and Bull Durham among many others are classics that have grabbed unto something about spirit that make people watch these movies over and over again. I do sense there is something about the American spirit in them, while Stallone’s answer about boxing movies has a universal truth to it.

He said that boxing is a lonely sport. It is just one man in a struggle. There is no team to fall back on and pick up the slack of any mistakes one might make. There are no cheerleaders to pump up the excitement. There is just one guy on the other side of the ring whoe goal is to destroy you. Not score points. Not get a ball to the other side. Not to put the ball into a basket. His goal is to cause pain.Every boxer suffers pain even in victory Boxing resonates with people because it is about life. It is fatalistic bcause you can never win at life. You will always die in the en after a fruitless struggle. I doubt most people grasp the concept on an overt level, but deep down, they subconsciously do. Therefore, I think Stallone has a point.

I think it was John Paul Sarte who said time is the best teacher, but it kills all its pupils. (You know, I have never noticed how dark my reading list has been over the years. Leads to some interesting cause and effect questions about my personality bet left for exploration some other time.) It is really difficult with all of this in mind to determine the point of it all. What good is a learning experience if you never get the chance to use it? Wisdom always comes after you actually need it in the first place. You cannot pass it on because the arrogance of youth and the self-absorption of people in general make sure no one will listen anyway. Everyone is bound and determine to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation and I suppose that is the only way to get a point through to people anyway.

But there I more to it than making mistakes and suffering from the consequences. The metaphor between boxing and life talks about all the unseen, dark forces that pound you day in and day out. Fate, time, illness, and the unbridled cruelty of friend and foe alike which can sting just as badly when practiced in love as hate. Is there really anything to do at the end of it all besides study your scars, physical and emotional, and wonder if it was all worth it? I have discovered the reason life seems so bad is because no answers will ever come in life. It is all just a matter of being pulled along to an inevitable end..
A Few Follow Ups

We have some follow up on three items I have blogged about over the last few weeks. These are just a few end notes that do not merit three posts of their own. In fact, they probably never merited posts to begin with, but when has that ever stopped me? At any rate, closure demands I finish what I started. Nothing of any particular consequence, of course, but there are a few lessons to be learned, so glean whatever value you can from them. Blood from a turnip I still blood, no?

First off, Tara Conner has been forgiven by Donald Trump and allowed to stay on as Miss USA even though she has been caught crawling through New York bars and underage drinking. I suppose the news should warm the heart about the power of forgiveness, but there is just so much to dissect here, I cannot muter it. I am thinking if you had to dump every Miss USA contestant who has drunk alcohol, you would just have to crown Miss Utah every year and save yourself the trouble of even having a pageant. Who knows if she would be pure as the first snow of winter, either. Perhaps there is too much endorsement money tied up in having Miss USA ride the teacups with Mickey Mouse in a photo op or cut the ribbon in a new mini mall somewhere in New Jersey. If you rally want to get cynical (and I do) Trump could be getting a little side sumpthin’ sump thin,” if you know what I mean. Why else would someone buy a beauty pageant?

Secondly, we have Jessica Simpson. Yes, oddly enough it does not feel right for a week to go by without mentioning the girl. I could talk about how those HDTV commercials make her look dumb by not only showing she has no idea what HDTV means, but also that she is still in the Daisy Duke motif even though everyone forgot about that movie well over a year ago. It is much better to follow up on her brain fart at the Kennedy Center Honors. You may recall she forgot some of the words to Dollly Parton’s ’9 to 5” during a tribute. Not an isolated incident, it would appear. Simpson recently took seven tries to get one line down on the set of her new movie, Bblonde Ambition. Finally, the director gave her and earpiece so her lines could be fed to her. Word is costar Luke Wilson, who is the understanding boyfriend in every freaking movie he does not star in with his brother, patted her on the back like trying to soothe a skittish kitten. Learning lines is like hard and stuff.

Finally, on that OJ book fiasco a few weeks ago. Rupert Murdoch fired Judith Regan, the edittor responsible for buying If I Did It. News Corp feared the public black eye it would get from publishing such a tawdry tome. Regan is planning to file a lawsuit at some point in the coming days, which just warms the cockls of my almost a lawyer heart. Since word of her firing came during a Christmas party, I will bet she is waiting to file as close to Christmas as possible, which further warms the cockles of my heart. There is nothing like a down and dirty legal battle. OJ Simpson got paid either way, so it is all beautiful, no?

What have we learned kids? If you are beautiful and make a mistake, it is okay because most men want to have sex with you. But if you make a mistake that loses uninterested men a ton of money, you will get 86’ed just before the holidays. It is the American way. Have your business firmly in hand and do enjoy your Christmas.
Out of Time

A plane from 1953 flies through the Rift and lands in modern day Cardiff. The team helps the three passengersadjust with bittersweet results. Video is set to "Take a Giant Step" by Dana Pomfret.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Year End Reflections

The end of the year is fast approaching. This is always a time to sit back and reflect on the past year at the very least and life in general if one is wise. Taking on such a journey can be a daunting task. I do not blame most people for avoiding it like the plague. Heck, after dwelling on the issue myself, I think I would have been better off to run screaming into the night. But, usual, I did not listen to my better judgment and took a look back on things anyway, past present and future. Good grief the nasty stuff one finds cleaning out the nooks and crannies of one’s mind. They say keeping sch things to yourself is unhealthy. Letting them out is not much better, let me tell you. It is like putting a target square on your back. But I frequently go where angels fear to tread and do things that would make said angels sweat like greased pigs, so here we go.

This year has been absolutely, one hundred percent, from start to finish, rotten. Not even being TIME’s Person of the Year has made up for it. Not that I do not think I should have gotten an award for slogging through the whole year while keeping my head on straight. Without the benefit of actually checking to confirm, I am pretty sure I said the same thing about last year. Mind you, last year I was sick at least a week out of every month, I did not have a hernia to repair, nor did I get a bowel obstruction after repairing said hernia. Those were just the high points. I till have much of the gooe egg on my knee from falling several months ago during a dizzy spell from whatever bug I had at the time even though the one on my shoulder has healed quite nicely. The side issues that have combined to wear me down physically, mentally, and emotionally have just kept on coming, rain and shine, winter, spring, summer, and fall.

I did not make any resolutions last year. I will not make any this year, either. I no longer see the point of it. One thing that has become crystal clear to me that lead to that decision-- and I am not entirely sure the epiphany dawned on me in 2006 exactly, but saying it did will do for now -- is there is a distinct difference between livin and merely existing. No matter how bad things were in the past, I never thought it was devoid of life. By life I mean pleasure, happiness, fun, and hope. The future promising to bring something new and different. You see, life was all about highs and lows. The low points wre learning experience, they never lasted for too terribly long, and they made you appreciate the high points all the more. Well, now I know better. Now I know what existence is. In short, it is astate devoid of everything I just described. I guess you could say I learned something new this year. Well, that is something, is it not?

The days, weeks, and months just run together into a jumbled mess. There have been times when I have had to stop and try to decide whether something occurred last year or the year before. Often I get frustrated with the effort up until I realize it does not matter one iota when anything happened, so why worry with it? Some might consider that liberating. I think it reinforces the pointlessness of it all. Obviously nothing of value came out of things since I cannot even pinpoint the originating point of anything. Just a slow, tediously of sludging through, day after day, for no reason other than being dragged along by time.

Good Lord am I ever being dragged along by time. I can barely see myself when I look in the mirror, of course. But what little I do see is how old I look. Old and worn out. My face is long and gaunt. My eyes are vacant and empty brown pools. It is no small wonder they do not look worse. They have been operated on so much, I am surprised they are not permanently bloodshot. Thank heavens for small miracles-- mainly because small miracles are the only ones I seem to receive--on an extremely infrequent basis, to boot.

I would like to give you a better recap of 2006, but that about sums it up. It sounds like I am being a self-pitying drama queen, but I am not. I am just trying to embrace a sad reality. There is a phrase that says life is what happens when you are making other plans. The saying immediately came to mind when I ran across the William Butler Yeats quote I posted in the last entry. I am not sure how much I can agree with either. The first implies good things can happen even if you did not think you wanted them. Yeats implies preparation may be useless as your greatest worries and fears may never occur. For me, I have come to the conclusion that life just turns out irreparably bad for some and it can do so on a dime when you least expect it. I supposse that is another thing I have learned. Unfortunately, it came to late for it to have any value.

I have changed my mind. I think I am going to make a resolution in the coming year to learn nothing else. Things might be more satisfying that way.
Meeting of the Minds

The crack staff here at Casa de Polyphemus (including a bunch of Cylons, as you can see) has had a meeting of the minds and determined that all the interesting newsmakers must have already knocked off for the holidays because there is absolutely nothing of consequence that has attracted anyone’s attention to blog about. Hence posts have been a little scarce as of late in regards to content. If you believe no news is good news, then rejoice, my dear readers. Rejoice and try not think dwell on whether they are all just biding their time to pounce come January.

So the fact that the world is going to hell in a handpicked is currently camouflaged. I am afraid that does not extend to personal issues. I have a lot on my mind-- this is the holiday season, after all, and the end of the worst year of my life --so I am still distracted anyway. I will write some about it all later as soon as I can sort it all out for myself. Lord only knows when that will be. In the meantime, I have run across a quote that has resonated with me as of late:
“All life is preparation for something that will probably never occur." --William Buttler Yeats.
Chew on that in the interim. I will be back at some point with lots of maudlin melodrama I picked up on the road to self-discovery or some such drivel.
Random Shoes

Playing a wee bit of catch up, here is a music video for last week's episode of Torchwood. Gwen investigates the death of geeky eugene Jones--with his help. Video is set to "Demons" by Brian McFadden.
Joseph Barbera (1911-2006)

Joseph Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera tam that brought us Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones, has passed away at the venerable age of 95. There goes one of the last remaining pioneers of animation. It is difficult to accept so many of the talents who established the ins and outs of animation are now gone forever. Like many other animators, Barbera started making cartoon shorts to be shown with movie features. Later, when the motif of having animated and comedy shorts before a movie went the way of the dinosaur, Barbera and his partner moved to television. From Tom & Jerry in the movies to Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Jonny Quest, Fred Flintstone, and Scooby-Doo on the small screen, they left quite a legacy.

I was and still am a science fiction, comic book, and cartooning geek. Looney Tunes were more my speed, but I remember fondly virtually every major character Hanna-Barbera created. Tom & Jerry was a personal favorite. I even used to wear a necktie featuring the battling duo to events that required such attire but were not terribly stringent. How could you not enjoy the senseless violence involved in the age old cat v. mouse conflict? I always pulled for Tom, of course. I had many cat growing up, including a few grey ones who looked a lot like Tom. I had a lot of chances to note the mouse was at a distinct disadvantage when it came to dealing with cats. I never was one to pull for the underdog.

I do not recall being a big fan of Yogi, Huckleberry Hound, Wally Gator, or Snagglepuss, but I did enjoy a lot of the full half hour shows Hanna-Barbera produced. The Flintstones was a fantatic satire on modern life if you looked at it with that mindset. Being a comic book fan, I really liked Spae Ghot and Johnny Quest. Goodness gracious, I recall classmates in college who rearranged their schedules when Cartoon Network aired Scooby Doo reruns. Even the truly awful ones with Scrappy. Some things you just never outgrow, huh? I confess to watching Tom & Jerry even in law school and dared anyone to say a word. Miraculously, they did not. To my face, anyway.

People will be watching these cartoons long after Spongebob is as forgotten a relic as ALF or Pee Wee Herman. They are just that good and so was Joseph Barabera. Godspeed, Mr. Barbera.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Torchwood--"Out of Time"

Before I got a chance to watch “Out of Time,” I heard a lot of grumbling concerning how little it had to do with science fiction elements. Such a thing is not a deal breaker for me, but I was still wary of watching because of further complaints of how much of a soap opera it was. I believe one person called it the Cardiff version of Eastenders (Without Jo Joyner, there is no Eastenders. Remember that.) I watched anyway and have some bittersweet reactions to it. I can see why regular Torchwood fans probably did not like it. I might not have either if t were not for current issues in my own life.

I can only manage a short summary as I do not think any recap can do the emotional bits justice. Jack, Owen, and Gwen are standing on a tarmac waiting for a small plane to land. When it does, out steps an older man (John), a young girl (Emma), and the pilot, a young Beryl Markham type pilot (Dianna.) Their plane originally took off in 1953 and officially disappeared. In reality, it fell into the Rift and flew into modern day Cardiff. Each one of our three heroes bonds with one of the time displaced passengers. Gwen takes Emma under her wing (forgive the pun), Owen begins falling for Diana, and Jack bonds with John. Emma is only 18 and misses her family. After adjusting to the culture shock and causing some trouble between Gwen and Rhys, she heads off to London to find her future. Diana begins a relationship with Owen, but sneaks off one night to fly her plane 9hopefully) back into the Rift. Owen professes his love and begs her not to go. She does anyway and disappears into the clouds.

That is all well and good., but John hit me the hardest. He discovers his wife iisdead, but his son is still alive. He visits him in a nursing home and discovers his son suffers from acute senility. Many times he does not even remember who he is. John is upet that everything he knew is gone. He steals Ianto’s car, takes it gome, and decides to commit suicide by inhaling the exhaust fumes. Jack tracks the car to his home and rescues John. He tells him he is still young enough to find a job, make friends, and even start a new family. John tells him he has already done that at a time he was meant to do it. Now his wife is gone and his son is nothing but a shell. There is no reason for him to live. His plea convince Jack, who decides to sit with John in the car as the fumes overtake John. Being immortal, Jack is unaffected,. He holds John’s hand as he dies.

I suppose someone watching word think the decisions of Dianna and John to end it all when they feel there is nothing left would be unreasonable or corny. Personally, I found it an interesting reaction to being victims of fate. I mean, we all are to some degree, but to lose your entire life is something I do not think ou can get over and just start again. I have certainly had a difficult time finding any reason to salvage my own loses. I guess it is something you have to personally experience (and I hope you do not) in order to understand why Dianna and John did the things they did. Dianna had the opportunity to fall in love wit Owen (both said they loved each other) but it was not enough of a replacement even it was good. Yes, Jack was right. John could have begun everything anew, but it would have been hollow to him even if it might sound like a dream opportunity to someone else. In fact, Emma di ind the opportunity liberating. Diferent strokes for different folks. Maybe it is the idealism of youth that Emma still possessed that let her do that. I do not know. My youthful idealism has been gone a long time.

Admittedly, those who kvetched about “Out of Time” are right. It was not really a typical episode of Torchwood.. There were no aliens or supernatural critters. Just people who felt out of place and left behind by life. It is a good thing, in reality, that so few viewers seemed to have related to the characters. Hopefully that means there are fewer broken down, abandoned people in the world than I thought. Jack alluded to John how alone he feels being out o place. He told him he was from the future, had been trapped in the relatively distant past, and was abandoned by someone. (He was ambiguously referring to the Doctor in “The Parting of the Ways.”) Finally getting some Jack backstory was not enough to salvage the episode for everyone. Truth be told, if I had known how it wa going to rip at my current mindset, I might not have watched, either. Particularly not this weekend. But what is done is done and in a bittersweet way, I am glad I was given something like this to chew on.

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

She may not be Rose Tyler anymore, but Billie Piper is still in the public eye in the United Kingdom. She has been busy promoting The Ruby in the Smoke, her first major television appearance since leaving Doctor Who. It isset to air on Christmas Day. here are some photos from a couple of magazines in which billie has been featured recently.


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