Friday, April 27, 2007

What Naomi Really Said

Lost‘s downed helicopter pilot, Naomi, has quite a knack for languages. During “D. O. C.,” she spoke Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and English. She also appears to be full of secrets. Not only about Oceanic Flight 815 being discovered with no survivors, but another little tidbit she told Mikhail after he performed the quickie medical procedure on her.

Mikhail claimed she thanked him for saving her. In fact, she said, “I am not the only one.” Now here is where things get interesting, depending on who Naomi is working for. The assumption is Desmond’s sweet pea, Penny. Presumably Penny is not on the island. There would be no reason to have a picture of Desmond handy if that were so. Naomi must know someone or something else is coming to the island. Mikhail must be in the know about it as well since he both lied about what she said and beat a hasty retreat after saving her.

So is this a person or something to do with that four toed lizard statue? Recall the strange cultic funeral the Others had for the one Sun killed in “The Glass Ballerina.” I am still inclined to think the island is Lemuria of legend. Supposedly, Lemuria was a Pacific island populated by humaniod lizards. Think the Sleestak from Land of the Lost. Of course, that would probably also be a jump the shark moment once that is revealed to be true. Currently, I assume whatever it is will be revealed as the season finale cliffhanger. We shall see.

One thing to chew on. Consider that names chosen on Lost have significance. Naomi in the Bible was the mother of Ruth. She changed her name to Mara (the Hebrew word for bitter) after her family was killed by God. Mean anything?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

He's a Graveyard Smash

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, singer and songwriter for the Halloween favorite "Monster Mash," has died. He was a one hit wonder, but have mercy what a hit it was. Pickett was urged to write the song in order to utilize his dead on (forgive the pun) impression of Boris Karloff. The rest is history.
Lost Season Ending Spoilers

There are only a handful of Lost episodes left this season. It might be a long dry spell before we get to see anymore. The current plan is to bring the show back in January and run through the entire season 24. I do not mind the idea in theory, but having to wait from May until January to see the show just might kill it the same way Alias perished once ABC pulled the same stunt. But Lost is a better show with a more involved fan base. It will probably survive. Since we are getting close to the end of the season, it pays to speculate on what is coming up.

Last night gave us a lot to chew on. The Others are interested in the genetic material of the Lostaway women. Juliet got DNA samples from Sun last night and recorded in her message to Ben she would soon have Kate’s. Jut a random thought-- does that mean Kate might be pregnant with Sawyer’s kid? Considering the Others’ preoccupation with children, maybe so. We never did find out what Ben Linus wanted her to do in the season premiere that upset her so badly. Was that the long term plan? Juliet’s addition of, “I hate you” to her message to Ben was intended to elicit sympathy for her. It did not work for me. She is too much of an ends justifies the means person for me to care much about. I thought her feigning happiness with Sun was just creepy.

I am going to drop a couple spoilers here, so if you are not interested, stop reading. First, Locke’s father is the real Sawyer. The one who screwed over James “Sawyer” Ford’s family. Odds are our Sawyer is going to take revenge. I am curious how Locke will react. He obviously resents his father, yet is also afraid of him. Reasonable considering his father shoved him out of an eight story window, breaking his spine. The dynamics of the conflict are going to be fascinating to watch. Secondly, the Lostaways are going to divide into two camps for some reason. One will be lead by Jack and the other will be lead by either Locke or Sawyer. There is some conflict as to which one. I believe it is on purpose to keep the resolution of the Real Sawyer Storyline a secret for now. I supect the Real Sawyer will be killed before the conflict with the Others begins and whoever does the deed (Locke or Sawyer) will be an advocate of a heavy hand approach to dealing with them. It will appeal to many Lostaways.

But the conflict is going to result in five deaths. I do say deaths because under no circumstances are the Lostaways dead or in Purgatory. There is a twist to it somewhere, but that is not it. So who will be the five deaths? The most likely choices:
1. Charlie--they have been foreshadowing it all season, the next to last set of flashbacks are his, and in that episode, he will be undertaking a mission to reconnect the wire under the ocean Sayid found way back in the first season. Plus the actor has a movie role coming up. He is a goner, folks.

2. Sayid--he has not had much to so lately and I think his flashbacks have played out.

3. Tom--Carlton Cuse made a joke that he has worked with the actor who plays Tom many times and has killed him in every show.

3. Sun--the Others obviously want. She may be the catalyst for the conflict. Plus last night it was mentioned Jin was in the army at one point. Military service in South Korea is mandatory for able bodied men, so it may mean nothing. But it also may be setting up the possibility of Jin flashbacks without Sun. The actress, by the way, is the only regular on the show to not move permanently to Hawaii for filming. Something to chew on.

4. Desmond--We have not seen his army flashbacks or his reuniting with Penny, but the former may be a McGuffin and the latter may be addressed in the season finale. Henry Ian Cusack was supposedly only signed on for this season.

5. Another Other--your guess is as good as mine. Karl? Alex? Mikhail again? Ms. Klugh again? Who knows, but probably not Ben or Juliet.
There you have it. Other than the episode in a couple weeks dealing with DHARMA and the purge, which I still a mystery, that is the set up for the rest of the season. Be sure to come back and flog me un mercifully for the things I guessed wrong about when it is all said and done.
Britney Spears Looks Good

She looks skinnier at any rate. Personally, she does not do much for me. But I can tell by my search results I am in a minority there. Ergo, here are some photos of Britney Spears practically naked in front of the Millennium Dome a few nights ago.
Senate Passes Iraq Withdrawal Timetable

The Senate passed legislation establishing a US withdrawal from Iraq beginning at the end of the fiscal year and ending in March 2008. While it sends a bad sign to both the Iraqis and Al Qaeda, it is also found and fury signifying nothing. The Democrats may believe they have just capitalized on an unpopular war, but any boost is going to be short lived. There is just no where to go from here.

Cast aside for a moment Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s comments the other day that the war was lost. Even those who agree with him were irritated he said such a thing publicly while we have troops in harm’s way. It is tacky and shows poor judgment. Then again, that describes congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle, no? There have been calls for his resignation, but it will not happen. The war is unpopular, but only the most adamantly clueless want to abandon it. Therein lies the problem.

Bush is going to veto the withdrawal plan. No question about it. What does Congress do then? They cannot withhold funding for the war while troops are still fighting it. They are doing that to an extent now, but for whatever reason it has nor garnered much public attention. A veto and Democrat saber rattling (excuse the irony) will change all that. The American people may not like the war, but they do not like it because American servicemen are being killed. Limit their funds and Congress is killing even more of them.

I think most American hold unto the idea of finishing a war oce it has been started. I wish I could efine what a victory would be in Iraq. Currently it appears to be keeping the country from becoming an international terrorist haven like Afghanistan was prior to the US invasion in 2001. I do not believe the violence is going to end once Americans leave regardless, but I do think setting a timetable will ensure Al Qaeda will lay low until the Americans leave, then reassert themselves. Al Qeada has to be stopped in Iraq. Unfortunately, separating their violent acts from the sectarian growing pains of new democracy where there was none before is going to be extremely difficult for an impatient America that has long since forgotten 9/11.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lost--"D. O. C."

Generally speaking, episodes centering on Jin and Sun are my least favorite. I do not think they are particularly compelling characters. At least I did not until recent seasons. Jin I no longer the abusive jerk heonce was and Sun has revealed herself to not be the quiet mouse we all thought she was. After it was revealed she was pregnant, fans figured her character would take on a more pivotal role considering the Others’ interest in children. Tonight we started down that road with some big answers to questions lingering since the first season. This ws a much more monumental installment than I anticipated.

Jack takes an interest in sun’s baby, making her suspicious. She knows the Others are after children and suspects Jack may be compromised in his relationship with Juliet. She confronts Juliet after discovering from Kate pregnant women on the island do not survive. In the middle of the night, Juliet takes Sun to the medical hatch first shown in “Maternity Leave” last season. She performs an ultrasound and discovers that Sun conceived on the island and will die and the baby is miraculously Jin’s. In secret, Juliet reports about the baby into a recorder, mot likely for Ben Linus.

At camp, Desmond, Charlie, Jin, and Jurley are taking care of Naomi. She has a collapsed lung and cannot speak. Inexplicably, Mikhail shows up alive and well. He was a medic in the Soviet army and repairs her lung. In exchange, Desmond lets him escape. Naomi recovers enough to speak. When she does, she drops a bomb on Hurley. Rescuers found the wreckage of Oceanic 815. There were no survivors. The revelation should get the Purgatory theorists riled up again. I believe the Catholic church no longer considers Limbo sound doctrine though, no?

The flashbacks were pretty interesting as well. They take place when Jin and Sun were newlyweds. Sun meets a woman who claims Jin’s father is still alive and his mother was a prostitute. She demands $100,000 or she will reveal all. Sun investigates and discovers Jin’s father is alive as is his mother. His father convinces her not to tell Jin they are still living. Sun agrees and convinces her father to give her the blackmail money. The extortionist is Jin’s mother and Sun, being the tough gal she is, threatens to have her killed if she ever demands more money.

Rating: **** (out of 5)
The Retro Vibe

It took a while to gather up the alacrity, but I added images back to the sidebar. I had opted to go bare bones for a while working under the assumption a blog is all about words and not petty pictures. It is for the most part, but a little sprucing up here and there never hurts. No one complains about eye candy, no? Maybe me. I seem awfully restless about the way this place looks at any given moment. I gave the place some of a ‘50’s retro look. It was actually unintentional. As I was going through al the specialized fonts when looking for new logo, I finally zeroed in on the Park Avenue style I used above.

It reminded me, oddly enough, of an old Beach Boys CD cover I used to own and lost somewhere between Columbia, Hartsville, Virginia Beach, and back to Hartsville. Fret not too much for me. I still have their greatest hits CD so I am not completely without Brian Wilson and the boys. I have, however, nearly worn it out along with Jimmy Buffet’s Songs You know By Heart. If there is such a thing as a yuppie beach bum, surely I am it. Oh, and yes, I am aware the Beach Boys were popular in the '60's, not the '50's. Give me some credit.

Further additions may come in the near future as I decide what is tacky and what looks all right. I suspect the Dr. Sivana image just above the Health Related Posts is not long or the Eye. It was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time but wore out its welcome fast. We shall see.
Kryptonite is Real

Kryptonite, pieces of Superman’s home planet which are now detrimental to him under our yellow sun, has been discovered in a mine in Serbia. The composition of the element matches that given in last year’s Superman Returns. Now, as any good comic book fan knows, if it is not on the page, it is not anon, but it is neat the coincidence occurred. Unfortunately, the element is neither green nor glowing, so it is a bit of a disappointment.

Makes sense it would be so readily found on Earth. In the Pre-Crisis C Universe, kryptonite was apparently in over abundance. Any two bit criminal worth his salt had access to some. You could not run a crooked plot in Metropolis without a piece. The Post-Crisis Dc universe tempered things a bit fist by making Superman not so invincible, then limiting the amount of kryptonite on Earth. The largest piece was the robot Metallo’s heart, which Lex Luthor ripped out (literally, not metaphorically) and used to make a ring to keep Superman at bay. Writers gave Luthor cancer because of his exposure to kryptonite, giving further reason for humans to stay away fro it. At some point in the future, Superman gives the ring to Batman for safekeeping and doomsday use should Superman ever lose control.

But here in the real world, kryptonite will be named Jadarite after the location of the mine and evaluated for commercial use. Presumably killing Superman will not qualify as such. You may read the article here.
Dalek Sec

When the BBC decides to make a creepy looking alien for the good Doctor to battle, they go all out, no? Talk about diving behind the sofa when the Daleks show up. How about Dalek Sec the Hybrid here? He ought to be worth diving behind the sofa, racing out the front door, buying a bus ticket to Las Cruces, New Mexico, checking into a Motel 6, locking yourself in the bathroom, turning on the shower, sitting rocking on the tiled floor and thinking about Christmas until the season is over.

The official Doctor Who web site did not put up a photo of Dalek Sec last week since his revelation was the cliffhanger or else I would have posted this sooner. I was blown away by it. It is the best make up job I have seen on the show yet, including the original series. Russell T. Davies evidently wants the Daleks to go out with a bang.

I imagine the purists are upset the xenophobic Daleks have opted to create Dalek/Human hybrids in order to survive, but I think it makes sense considering there are only four Daleks left. They have come to the conclusion the old ways are not working but humans manage to survive no matter what happens to them. Viola! They need to mix the two. Interesting the Cult of Skarro has apparently managed to succeed in creating workable hybrids whereas the Dalek Emperor ultimately failed with his effort in ”The Parting of the Ways.” Of course, there is obviously some fatal flaw there somewhere that will be exploited this weekend, so I will not say much further lest I wind up with egg on my face.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Billiards

I will coness one of the recent "projects" distracting me lately is this billiards game. The opponent is not all that tough, but I have been having a good time with it regardless. I must confess the Brokeback Mountain guitar music in the background is unnerving....
Golden Silence

Blogging has been spotty for quite a while here. I have been preoccupied with other things to the point I find little interesting to write about. My recent coverage of the Don Imus mess and the Virginia Tech tragedy was almost out of a sense of obligation. I mean, really, how can you not address incidents such as those and what is supposedly a supposedly a frequently updated, narcissistic catalogue of my opinions on pretty much any topic that tickles my tuckus? One gets a sense of obligation when one has been doing this sort of thing a while.

But as I said, I have had my mind on other things as of late. Some are other projects to pass the time. Others are this inexplicable need I have currently developed to do absolutely nothing. Honestly. I have lately gone through spells where I do not even lounge in my easy chair and stare mindlessly at the television. Not that one has to think much at television lately. Have you seen Drive? The proverbial thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters could come up with an idea more engaging than that. Are the Writer’s Guild of America’s top dogs already painting their picketing signs rather than coming up with fresh, long term ideas?

But I digress. As one who has only published on a small scale, I am frequently irritated at what gets big time exposure. Not only are we all supposed to be on a eighth grade reading level, but our mindset have to be even less than your average junior high lunk head or else we will change the channel rather than hurt our heads with inconsequentials like plot and characterization.

Outside of grinding that ax, I have been in hibernation for weeks. Beats me why, but I went to bed last night shortly after midnight and woke up at three. Three in the afternoon, that is. It was not for the first time in recent memory, either. My recent bouts of ill health have taken a toll. It is all right, though. Sleep is a peaceful time. I appreciate it these days. Perhaps once I get my head back on straight, these posts will get a little more substantial. I have plenty of stuff I would like to post, I just tend to go “zzzzzz” rather than make the effort. Oh well. Better luck next time, no?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Grey Matter II

In a follow up to a previous post on The Incredible Hulk, Avi Arad was joking when he said the Hulk would be grey in the next film. Nor will the hero be intelligent. it looks like the prospects of an homage to the earliest incarnation of the Hulk will not happen. Even with dramatic actor Ed Norton as Bruce Banner, I fear we are going to have a repeat of Ghost Rider in which the hero thinks it is great fun to have powers any rational person would think is a curse. I also fear nothing but a mindless, violent rampage against the military as the plot, but I hope not.

But the way, that photo of Heath Ledger looking like a cheap version of The Crow is not real. While the Joker will likely be more stylized in The Dark Knight than Jack Nicholson's was in 1989's Batman, it will most certainly look better than that.

Oh, and Josswhedon is not writing a fourth installment to the X-Men. Sadly he probably is still writing instead of delivering pizas like his talent merits, but there you go. Thus concludes my comic book movie update.
24--"12:00 AM-1:00 AM"

Is it just me or have the writers done a complete about face this season? The storyline they began has been tossed aside for another. Not that I am complaining. I was not particularly into the Bauer family drama, nor could I fathom how they could top destroying an entire American city with in the firt few episodes. Now that the bomb storyline has ended (prematurely?), Jack is back in his natural element. He has gone rogue, playing cat and mouse with the Chinese in order to save the world and Audrey. Not necessarily in that order, mind you. A man has his priorities.

Jack arranges for a secret meet up with the Chinese so CTU cannot track him. Before they arrive, he lines the place with C4 in a suicidal plan to keep the Chinese from getting the chip. Unfortunately, Doyle catches up with all of them first and disrupts the plan. Audrey is safe, but the Chinese get the chip and get away. Before Jack is arrested, he gets a quiet moment with Audrey. She turns out to be a babbling mess due to her torturous captivity.

There is still a lot going on in Washington as the Veep takes over as president for the ailing Palmer and mends fences with Lennox. It is revealed that the US once had Fayed in custody, but let him go. Someone’s head has to roll over that, since Valencia is now a crater as a result. Karen Hughes has to fire her husband. Bill Buchanan is out at CTU as Nadia takes over. All this despite accusations she was a traitor just a couple hours previously.

Interesting episode and one of the better cliffhangers. But this season has been noticeably uneven. There are just too many plot threads rolling at one time. They either get ended abruptly or dropped altogether when something new pops up. I get the vibe the season outline was dropped at some point and they are catering to critics’ whims at the moment. I am still watching, but I am not so enthralled anymore.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007)

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who faced the difficult task of transitioning the country from Communism to capitalism and democracy, has passed away at the age of 76. I do not have much to add to the story beyond the obituary in the link provided other than Godspeed, Mr. Yeltsin.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Jeff Gordon Ties Dale Earnhardt

With his victory in Phoenix, Jeff Gordon has tied the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. with 76 career wins. A very impressive feat considering the enormous amount of young talent to compete with that has joined the Nextel Cup circuit in recent years.
Doctor Who--"Daleks in Manhattan"

I can imagine Dalek purists being unhappy with the way this is going, but I was quite pleased. I have no particular attachments to the original series and have frankly found the supposed emotionless, xenophobic Daleks to be a bigger bore as their appearances wore on back in the day. I think the Cult of Skarro, introduced last season in “Army of Ghosts” and returning here, make much better villains with their ability to evolve and adapt. There is even a discussion between them over how humanity, with all its “inferiorities,” has managed to survive countless wars while the Dalek race has been wiped out save for the Cult. I assume this is also foreshadowing. Rumors are the contract with the Terry Nation estate is for use of the Daleks expires this year and will not be renewed. Is this the end of our staccato voiced Nazis from space?

There are only two gripes about the episode. The first is the Doctor takes Martha to 1930’s Manhattan in the first place without explanation. Supposedly she was supposed to get one trip to the past, which was in “The Shakespeare Code.” The Doctor extended that to a trip to the future as well in “Gridlock.” Now they are regularly traveling together with no elaboration as to why both, who were somewhat reluctant to join together, are now regular companions. Presumably this will be addressed later. Secondly, the faked American accents are awful. The exaggerated Bronx brogue on Tullalah reminds me of the horrible job Jessica Simpson dragging out her natural Southern drawl as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard. It was so over the top as to be parody.

The story so far involves the Doctor and Martha arriving in 1930 Manhattan in time to discover homeless people disappearing from a Hooverville in Central Park. Unbeknownst to them, the people are being kidnapped by the Cult of Skarro who are converting them into a slave race similar to the pig alien from “Aliens of London.” The Cult is running two experiments. One, they are in charge of constructing the Empire State Building for some purpose and two, they are creating Dalek/Human hybrids for the purpose of advancing their race. The Doctor does not discover Dalek involvement until the climax after Martha is kidnapped (again) and he joins up with Tullulah the showgirl to find her boyfriend who has been converte to a slave.

The high point of the episode was the production values. They were fantastic. Outside of the accents, everything was authentically New York. The BBC does past ettings extremely well on a low budget and every penny shows up on screen. Considering how elaborate this and “The Shakespeare Code” were, I expect some bare bones, low budget installments in the second half. I will not be too disappointed onsidering what we have gotten so far. I believe the Dalek/Human hybrid which appeared at the cliffhanger was the best and creepiest makeup job I have seen on Doctor Who. It was fantastic. There were kids diving behind the sofa all over the United Kingdom last night with that one, I guarantee.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Amanda Tapping VIII

Since Stargate Sg-1 and Stargate: Atlantis have returned to finish out their respective seasons (and its series run in the case of SG-1) there have a lot of hits at the Eye for Amanda Tapping. There are not, however, a whole load of photos out there of her. Peculiar. for a 42 year old woman, she is still hot. Here are a few screen caps of Tapping soaking wet in a bra. Surely these photos will whet some appetites.



Grey Matter

There is an interesting tidbit from Avi Arad from the premiere of Spider-Man 3. The other night in Japan. Well, something interesting in addition to the biggest American movie premiere outside the united states. That in itself is very unusual. So is word that the reviews are mixed on the highly anticipated film. But cast all that aside for a moment. There will be plenty of time to talk about Spidey later since he is my favorite super hero. Right now there is more on The Incredible Hulk.

Evidently to further separate the new movie from its 2003 predecessor, not only will Eric Banna be replaced by Ed Norton, but the Hulk will be grey rather than green. Most folks outside of comics probably do not realize the Hulk was originally grey. The color change was an accident as the colorist made an error after the first few issues of the comic and made him green. The color change was kept and has since not only become iconic, but an added element to the mythology is that anyone irradiated by gamma rays turns green.

Perhaps this means th movie will go back to the roots of the character. Brue Banner builds a gamma bomb for the government. A freak accident causes him to be caught in the heart of the explosion. It becomes not only a Jekyll and Hyde story, but a battle with the military trying to destroy the creature. The only peculiar thing I see-- and this is true with the new Iron Man as well --is theorigin of the Hulk is tied in with the Cold War.The US is in a race with the Soviets to build a gamma bomb. It will be interesting to see what the rationale for building the bomb is or if they will alter the origin story like the television show.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Day of Mourning

Gov. Tim Kaine has eclared it a Day of Mourning in the commonwealth of Virginia for the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings on Monday. I see around the photosphere and elsewhere the day of mourning is being honored pretty much everywhere, so I concur and note the somber occasion here. It is difficult to wrap my mind around what happened on Monday. Words fail me in talking about the victims and I no longer feel like discussing Cho. Therefore I have little else to see on the matter other than may God rest all their souls. Mercy, God rest all our souls. These are some rotten days all around.

I think Cho has gotten too much attention over the last week, which is exactly what he wanted, at the expense of the many he senselessly killed. I am still disturbed by the sensationalism prevalent in the news coverage. Not just NBC, although I find them the most reckless, but virtually every news source. Do we really need to see “Massacre at Virginia Tech” in a bold red letter in our faces after every commercial break? Could we not forego tories of Cho being bullied in junior high, as though that justifies the murder of 32 people?

No, for right now, cast aside the gory details of Cho’s life and whatever macabre fascination you may or may not have with it and remember that 32 young people were needlessly, senselessly, and violently killed on Monday. Thirty-two lives full of potential cut short because one disturbed young kid decided his momentary thrill was worth more than their lives. When you seet aside some time to think about that-- and I hope you do --mourn not only for the lost lives, but of the knowledge that somewhere at there, someone else is thinking about how to top Cho and not caring who gets in the way of his “glory.”
One of Us

Here is my music video for last week's episode of Lost. Because I was feeling under the weather, i did not get to it at a reasonably time like I normally try to do. This was another episode that did not easily lend itself to a particular song. I wound up emphasizing the relationship between Jack and Juliet (even though I am not a shipper with fictional characters. Come on, folks.) and it it to "White Flag" by Dido. a run of the mill video, if you ask me. A couple others down the road will have more apprpriate songs attached. Sit tight for them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oklahoma City Bombing Anniversary

Lost in all the recent drama is the significance of today. It is the twelfth anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building at Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh. It was the worst act of terrorism on American soul up until September 11th. These days it seem quaint. Not to make light of it by any means. I am trying to make a point how pervasive true life tragedy and violence has become in our lives thanks to a combination of sick people seeking attention and 24 hour news channels competing with each other to give them a venue.

There was a touching memorial service in Oklahoma City today which was dedicated to the victims at Virginia Tech. It was a nice gesture, but also a depressing one. One group of dead being honored because of another group of dead. None of those deaths should have ever happened, either. They were both the results of imagining from the fevered minds of marginal men. If you even want to dignify McVeigh and Cho with the classification of men.

It makes you wonder. In another four years, it will have been a decade since September 11th, 2001. There will be a big memorial service no doubt. More than likely our resolve against terrorism will have faltered by then. Iraq will be a distant memory. We will probably believe America is an impenetrable fortress yet again. Will that anniversary be dedicated to yet another group of people who were senselessly killed like the students and professors at Virginia Tech? Will it all just be a pile on from here on out?
Matthew Fox to Play Racer X

Lost tar Matthew Fox is set to trade the gridiron in We Are Marshall for the open road. He is in final negotiations to play Racer X in the big budget Speed Racer movie planned by the creators of The Matrix. Fox would join Christina Ricci, John Goodman, and Susan Sarandon already cast in the movie set to film over the summer for a May 2008 release.

Shades of Caesar's bath, Japanimation in general is something friends who have similar taste with me seem to like, but I cannot get into.Speed Racer, along with Astro Boy, were two of the first imported Japanese animated series to catch hold in America. But not really with me.

Regardless, I am a fan in general of animation and the comic book genre, plus I try to follow the goings on of my favorite Lostaways, so here i am reporting on the developments.
Media Mayhem II

As expected, NBC scored big last night with its exclusive airing of the package Cho sent to them during a lull in his rampage. The nightly newscast scored a 7.4/15 share. What gets me is despite proclaiming they debated all day whether to show the photos and air the manifesto, they let it be known early they had the material to begin with. Pure hype for the nightly telecast. There was no debate. Champagne, perhaps, but no debate. This morning, the hosts of the Today show felt the need to justify the airing.

Good thing, too. Not only was it aired against the advice of authorities fearful of copycat rampages, but families of victims were outraged. Many have begun refusing to speak to NBC because of the perceived glorification of Cho. And why not? NB gave the murderer exactly what he wanted. He had one moment of unanswered fame from beyond the grave. Hollywood could not write a cheesier script. That is pure disturbed, adolescent fantasy that a major news network full of supposedly consummate professionals allow themselves to be lead by in the name of market share.

NBC is not the only news organization to fall into sheer weirdness over Cho. Aside from interviewing a professor who kicked him out of class for refusing to remove his hat and sunglasses, news outlets have gone back to his junior high school to identify times he was picked on. Good grief. Who does not have stories about being harangued in junior high? Everyone was I that awkward state where they were too old to be kids but were not adults yet. Of course they took their frustrations out on each other we all did. An immigrant kid who spoke poor English was going to get it worse than most. That happens all over, but murderous rampages are not the common result.

It also appears Cho was emulating a South Korean movie called Oldboy in some of his photos in which he was brandishing an ax or holding a gun to his temple. The movie is about a wrongfully imprisoned man who, after 15 years in the pokey, goes on a rampaging crusade of revenge. Perhaps Cho identified with the man. The movie premiered at Cannes, which is apparently no loner as artsy fartsy as I once thought it was. While I am hovering about the subject matter, what is an Ishmael ax? No one seems to know what it means or if it is a code for something, so they keep repeating it anyway without any inkling what message they might be sending out to those in the know. This is all very strange and irresponsible.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lost--"Catch 22"

Tonight’s episode was hyped to the gills all over television and the internet. For me it was cool because it was the first episode co written by one of my favorite comic book writers, Brain K. Vaighn. These days more than ever comic book writers and screenwriters are crossing over into each others’ territory. Used to be comic book writers bounced between there and animation with only a select few going into live action. Welcome to the age of the all around pop culture writer. They are also teasing us pretty hard about Charlie’s impending death. I am beginning to think they will have to spare him just to avoid being anticlimactic.

Desmond has one of his visions that scatters between the photo of Penelope, Hurley finding the cable buried at the beach from season one, and Charlie being killed in an incredibly gruesome manner. He decodes to organize everyone in his vision and follow it to the letter. For that effect, he, Hurley, Jin, and Charlie all go camping on a remote part of the beach. While there, they witness a helicopter crash and the pilot skydive out to safety. They go traipsing into the jungle to find the landing spot. Along the way they find a bag with Joseph Heller’s Ctach 22 in it. Tucked in the novel’s pages is a photo of Desmond and Pen, leading him to believe the missing pilot is her.

Desmond becomes obsessed with finding the downed pilot, even to the poin the nearly allows Charlie to die. But he does save Charlie at the last minute. He explains angrily that every time he saves Charlie, his own destiny changes. (Hence the title o the episode, a llusion to the novel.) He seems to believe if he let Charlie die this time, the pilot would have been pen. As it turns out, they find the pilot caught up in the trees. It is not Pen but a woman named Naomi. The flashbacks were all Desmond. They told of a failed relationship, his search for spirituality by becoming a monk, and his first meeting with Pen, which was love at first sight. One interesting bit, but blink and you will miss it, is the photo on the head monk's desk. it was a Ms. Hawkings, the DHARMA lady who refused to sell Desmond the ring in his last flashback. Have DHARMA been manipulating Desmond for years?

I frankly did not see much monumental going on here. If there was a big revelation as promised, I missed it. Even the flashbacks were back to boring without adding much detail. We did get to see Evangeline Lilly in her panties. That was worthwhile, no? we also saw her character act all catty and force herself on Sawyer after seeing Jack having fun with Juliet. I could have done without cheapening the character that much. Jack has gotten over whatever animosity he may have ha for Sawyer. They played ping pong for a while. Indeed.

Rating: ** (out of 5)
Sanjaya Voted Off American Idol

Last month, Simon Cowell said he would quit American Idol if Sanjaya won. His claim sparked off a number of joke promises: If Sanjaya wins, I will ___________. Cowell's job issafe and none of those promises have to be called in. After a record breaking 38 million votes for a Final Seven, Sanjaya was sent home.

You may recall I made the promise I would sing the praises of that hack, Joss Whedon, if sanjaya won. While I am convinced, considering my current health status, that i have angered any and all dieties, spirits, and other such beings in charge, they smiled upon me tonight, so you Whedonites who were waiting to read me change my tune are out of luck.

Better luck next season. You could go ahead and form a line to buy Sanjaya's CD when it comes out in few months. Come on, you know there will be one. then he will go on tour will William Hung just like David Lee Roth did with Sammie Hagar. You want to see that, too, do you not?
Media Mayhem

I appreciate media coverage of events like the shootings at Virginia Tech. If nothing else, we all need to have ou eyes opened about the ticking time bombs that are walking the streets. As a history buff, I can also respect that a full chronicle of events ought to be preserved for all time as well. I do not even get too upset when coverage drags on for days as it has with Virginia Tech, although I have tuned out many times today when it became just too much. By the time Paula Zahn is dragging up English professors who complained Cho did not take his hat off in class, I would say there is not much more marrow to suck out of the bone. We are now heading into sensationalist territory.

This is the point where news organizations angling for ratings start getting unwise and downright unethical it their practices. Case in Point: NBC. Cho Seung-Hui took the two hours between his first shootings and his massive spree to mail off a package of videos, photos, and an 1,800 word manifesto to the president of NBC News. NBC held off revealing the contents until the nightly newsast with Brian Williams, but let it well be known they had it beforehand. It was reported on every major news outlet in every form of media. Talking heads on other networks popped up all day long as did experts such as former FBI profilers. The general consensus was revealing the video and airing the manifesto was a horrendous idea that would encourage copycats. Of course, NC Nightly News led off the broadcast with all of it. I have not seen the ratings numbers, but I am sure the gambit paid off.

Here is the big problem--Cho was a drama queen. He liked the idea of spooking people from beyond the grave. This was away for him to get his message out without anyone talking back to him. There are a load of people out there who are going to see this and light bulbs will go off over their heads. There he was in photos dressed to kill with a gun in both hands. Ain’t that cool? The entire civilized world is going to have that picture imprinted in their minds by tomorrow, assuming it is not there already. News travels faster than it ever has. Like they say in advertising, you just cannot buy that kind of publicity.

The only good thing about it is that people are going to be on their toes at least for a little while now watching for warning signs in people they are suspicious of. It will not last. Even 9/11 was a distant memory by the time the Thanksgiving turkey was carved in 2001. But finger pointing has begun at Virginia Tech. Cho had two run ins with police regarding the alleged stalking of girls. He was declared a danger to himself by a court and committed to a mental hospital, but released after a day. He was once on uicide watch. Why did this guy not raise more warning flags? Worse yet, what was going on in that two hour gap between shootings? It is not easy to second guess that one. Even a decade ago, years before Columbine, a weapon on my campus at the University of South Carolina meant big trouble for whoever had it. Even in an urban environment with 28,000 students, we wwre kept on top of any and all viilent acts that took place and they were nipped in the bud immediately. Why, in the post-Columbine world, was Virginia Tech woefully unprepared? We may never know, but it was a costly mistake that is going to cost some administrators their jobs.

Now if only the sensational and unwise reporting would cost some journalists their jobs, we might actually be getting somewhere.
Partial Birth Abortion Ban Upheld

The Supreme Court today upheld the federal ban on partial birth abortions. It was the first limitation on the "Constitutional right" right to an abortion since Roe v. Wade became law 34 years ago. I personally hold the ruling is a good thing, but i do not see a big reason for other pro life supporters to get too excited about the future. The impact of this ruling will be minimal. Much more interesting is watching the presidential candidates' reactions instead.

I note Rudy Guiliani came out in favor of the SCOTUS' upholding the partial abortion ban. It is not much-- only 2% of abortions are partial birth and even a lot of pro-choicers are squeamish at the procedure--but it will get the pro-choice activists rumbling and putting pressure on the presidential candidates with regards to their potential picks for future SCOTUS vacancies.

We will soon see true colors of candidate emerging as candidates like Mitt Romney and Giuiliani, who have allegedly changed their minds on the issue since launching presidential bids will be pinned down for good on their positions.

For the record, I think Roe v. Wade will never be overturned, but choosing pro-life SCOTUS justices abortion seems to be the litmus test for social conservatism regardless.
Anakin Skywalker: The Unforgiven

Here is my latest music video. For a change of pace, this one is from Revenge of the Sith and chronicles the fall of Annakin Skywalker. Truth be told, I grinned like a doofus watching this one. I mean, I am an arrogant twerp about any of my creations, but I really liked this effort. It comes from being both an old Star Wars nut and an old school metal fan. Because, ya know, Metallica was cool once upon a time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ed Norton is the Hulk

Marvel I sending out mixed signals regarding The Incredible Hulk, a sequel/remaining/whatever it will be to the 2003 movie directed by Ang Lee. The 2003 film started out strong, but faltered at the box office because of its dark themes of child abuse. It was not the mindless popcorn movie fun one expects to take th kids to on a lazy summer day. Indeed, I went to see the film on a lazy Saturday and squirmed the entire time at the depictions of physical and emotional abuse Brian Banner forced on his son Bruce, including the coup de grace which I will not elaborate on just in case there are spoilerphobics out there. It was a major plot point. This time around, arvel is hoping for a more fun romp.

So who do they cast but Ed Norton. Do not get me wrong. I like Ed Norton. He has chosen some of the mot fascinating and risky roles a young actor can. I am personally found of Primal Fear, American History X, and, while I think it is unnecessarily preachy, Fight Club. All those movie are tough adult fare I doubt anyone who has not been kicked around the block a few times could appreciate. It seems like strange casting to make him Bruce Banner. But as I recall, I was skeptical of Eric Bana as well. He turned out to be one of the only twin bright spots in the movie, the other being Jennifer Connnelly.

The movie is going to center on Bruce Banner being on the run from the army while trying to find a cure for his gamma irradiated alter ego. No word yet on any villains, but one assumes the army will be the sole obstacle while Banner does not cure himself. It will be penned by the same screenwriter for the X-Men sequels. Given the inequality of those, I would give this a coin toss shot of being good. Marvel is feast or famine in its movies. They are either really good (Spidey, X-Men) or really bad (Fantastic Four, Ghosts Rider.)
Wrongs Darker Than Dark or Night

In yesterday’s post, I reiterated the early rumor that the Virginia The shooter was a Chinese immigrant on a student visa. This is incorrect. Today we know the shooter was Cho Seung-Hui, a South Korean who has been in this country for fourteen years. Cho passed the federal criminal background check in acquiring guns. Tragic no one seemed to know the deep emotional problems the senior English major had.

Evidently his rampage was premeditated, over a girl, and at least hinted at in some of his violent and sexually disturbed writings he turned in for his creative writing classes. A play detailing accusations of pedophilia and child murder earned him a referral to the university’s counselors. No one appear to know what became of those sessions if he indeed ever took part in them.

I do not really have much else to say about this beyond correcting my previous error in identifying the shooter’s nationality. As one who fancies myself a creative type with a melancholic personality to go along with it, I am personality upset when such about the stereotype of unhinged artists and writers going off on violent rampages with the rationality no one understands or cares about them. First it is poppycock. Sure creative types tend to be misfits. They do think differently than others. That is why they draw, write, or paint instead of prepare your taxes or fix your leaky faucets. But to say they cannot be understood or pegged down is personal arrogance. Oftentimes these rampages occur for the exact opposite reason. Everyone doe understand them when they wish they were “special” personalities. Then they feel the need to distinguish themselves some other way.

That is what happened yesterday. A poor, broken soul realize he was not what he previously assumed he was. At the very least, he got tired of others not upholding the illusion for him. They all had to pay for a crime that was never acrime. They had to pay for embracing a reality Cho could not. What is terribly disturbing is that he went out a storyteller. If he was just sick of being battered by life, he could have just killed himself. But he wanted to leave a legacy of blood instead. Well, he got it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

24--"11:00 PM-12:00 AM"

There is an interesting dichotomy going on here. This season’s best aspects have arguably been the palace intrigue at the White House. In that regard, it has been interesting determining who is wearing the white and black hats. The Jack Bauer drama has often played second fiddle, especially during the early bit with his family. But this episode not only had interesting white House goings on with the Prez and Veep, but old fashion Jack Bauer bending all the rules to implausibly save the world just like old times. I only wih the rest of the season had been this good.

Might as well start at the White House. Palmer, who is visibly ailing, decides to go live to the nation to announce the nukes have been captured. But before he does, he has a tense encounter with VP Daniels and demands his resignation. But at the press conference, Pres. Palmer looks confused and befuddled. Daniels opts not to turn his resignation in. good thing for him, too. Palmer collapses and Daniels resumes the presidency.

Before collapsing, Palmer authorizes Jack to go through with a fake out plan to rescue Audrey from the Chinese. They want a circuit board from of the nukes in exchange for her. Jack first planned to steal one with Chloe’s help, but when that failed, convinced the prez and CTU to trust him with plan B. For whatever reason, they do. Ah, but before the plan can go through, Daniels is now the president. While risking World War III a couple hours ago sounded like a good idea, it no loner does. He orders Jack to call it off. No can do, however, Jack goes rogue in order to save Audrey, the only person who never gave up on him while imprisoned in China.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Rocks & Shoals

I appear to be back in business. A little dry and dizzy, but still in one piece. I should be back up to snuff in a few days-- at least until the next bug, virus, or just stroke of bad luck rolls along. Ugh. I nearly completed the cycle. So far, my sister is the only one who did not get sick with whatever it is we all got sick with. We will all hold hands later and sing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” to commemorate the occasion.

What a day to not blog, too, huh? I do not have much to say about the shootings at Virginia Tech other than how sorry I am it happened in the first place. My first thought was that Columbine happened in April as well and wondered if a copycat was at work. Turns out it was a jealous boyfriend who…well, I guess you cannot ay he snapped considering he calle in several bombs threats beforehand in order to test campus security.

I was a first year law student when another guy went on a shooting spree in a Virginia school. That time around it was Appalachian Law School, an unaccredited school that was just getting off the ground. Few students had a chance at graduating period, much less passing a state bar exam. Honestly, I have forgotten the reason the disturbed fellow started shooting then, but I believe it was over his academic progress and future prospects. The dean was among those killed in the incident.

It made us all as frustrated young law students edgy. It put the administration on it’s toes as well. At the end of the spring semester, a student sure to fail out wrote an evaluation o the professor he blamed for his misfortune so vile, the police were notified. I am not cetain anyone ever figured out exactly who did it (Classmates just seem to disappear without further mention or thought, either by failing out, transferring, deciding to breed llamas instead, etc) or what was said, but there was a certain animosity between the administration and our class right up until the end. We even hard a hard time finding three to moderate the Moot Court competition, which was a chance to role play as a judge and ordinarily an ego inflating experience for professors. Then again, I was not a big fan of our class, either, so maybe they just ha taste.

See? The mind races in some strange directions when you start thinking about how bad things happen You would think I would have learned my lesson about dwelling on such matters at this point, but I have not.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

42

Not the meaning of life, but close to it. After all the racially charged news lately regarding Don Imus and Al Sharpton and Duke lacrosse and whatever ever messes might be simmering, it is good to note a special anniversary. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball when he become the Dodgers' fist baseman. That is why the number 42-- his number --is retired by every team in the league.

Recall how big a feat this was. Jesse Owens, the Olympic gold medal winner in track for the 1936 games was reduced to racing against horses as a sideshow attraction while white gold medal winners had their luxury tickets already written. Robinson's brother won th silver medal. He wore his Olympic jacket proublyy as a street cleaner. Despite our racial issues, we have come a long way since then.

Here is to Jackie Robinson.
Doctor Who--"Gridlock"

I was not excited to see this episode when I heard rumors about it. First, I heard it featured a return to New Earth, a concept I was not enamored with the first time around. You may recall New Earth was where humanity settled down after the Earth was destroyed in “The End of the World.” The Doctor and Rose visited the Face of Boe there in last season’s premiere and had a fairly run of the mill adventure there. Second, the episode was written by show runner Russell T. Davies, a hit and miss writer if there ever was one. Generally when he reisits pet concepts, the stories are pretty mediocre. Not really so this time around.

The doctor will not admit it, but he wants Martha to stick around, so he stretches his offer of one TARDIS trip to two. One to the past, one to the future. Once in New New York, Martha is immediately kidnapped and forced to join in a carpool stuck in a never ending traffic jam. The Doctor join another car and discovers the passengers have been stuck there for twelve years. Another has been there for twenty-three. Before he can rescue Martha from her car, he is teleported away by Boe’s personal nurse.

Boe is dying, but he has one last message for the Doctor-- “You are not alone.” Most of New New York was wiped out decades ago by virus laden drugs. The only survivors were the ones on the motorway. The Doctor fixes things so everyone an return, Martha is transported back to him in time to save her from human enslaving crabs that live below the fast lane, (Yep.) and they are both with Boe as he dies. The episode ends with a homesick Doctor describing Gallifrey to her.

Not a great episode, but decent. It was necessary set up for the big revelation of the Master’s existence in the form of MP John Saxon a few episode down the line as well as pay off for the prophecy Boe has been destined to give the Doctor since the first eason. Davies throws in his two favorite themes, gay is good, religion is bad liberally. At least two motorist were in homosexual relationships as an unnecessary touch. The religion one struck me as weird. From time to time, the radio airs a praise and worship song everyone sings along with. They are using religion as a crutch to cope with a journey that has no destination. Davies is a firm believer in religion as the opiate of the masses so that mirrors his attitude about living a spiritual life with the expectation of a reward at the end. Rather obnoxious, but I can ignore it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Notes from the Doldrums

I seem to be getting better at keeping my head on straight here. Not that I have not spent half the day in bed. Because I have and I plan to go right back there once I have jotted down a few things I want to say here. Thinking honestly, though, I am not sure what I want to say. Not only do I feel poorly health wise, but I am stranded in the doldrums. The big problem with such a state is there is just nothing to really talk about. One just eists in such a state. Nothing more.

I have gotten out of bed several times since I last posted. Mostly it was to drink down some water or fruit juice or nibble on some soft food. I tried something with a little more substance yesterday afternoon. It was not the wisest of moves. Better that I sit quietly and sip fluids. That I seem to have no problem doing. Last night, I was up in the wee hours, sitting at the breakfast table nursing a glass of water with Boo hovering about. She is a back in her cool, but cordial stage. I note now it means she is in tune with the gloomy clouds hanging over my head at these times. She wants to be friendly, but then again, I am being a downer.

Fine. I am well aware of that. I am just as irritated with these droopy feelings as anyone else is, assuming anyone else is still hanging on there with me. Considering my own ambivalence, I do not blame anyone for not. But like I said, right now staring off into the dark with a glass o water is the best way I can deal with things, not blogging. Therefore, I am not yet going to say much until I am finally back on my feet and not dry as the Gobi desert. Good luck with that, too. Lack of fluids is an annoying problem to deal with.

I did manage to watch the latest Doctor Who episode. It was delayed a while due to soccer, but surprisingly worth the wait. I will have a review up shortly.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I Can Sorta Identify What Planet I Am On

But do not hold me to it. Clear thinking is not my strong suit at the moment. I quit barfing sometime late afternoon yesterday, but it has taken its toll in the short time I was partaking of the action. I am dizzy as all get out and can barely stand without grabbing onto the nearest heavy object. The last time this situation occurred and there was no heavy object, I hit the floor hard injuring my left knee and shoulder. I still have a small knot on my knee from it. I would rather not have a repeat performance.

Nevertheless, I managed to get out of bed awhile, eat something soft, and clean myself off a bit. It was admittedly an uncomfortable ordeal. I have been sitting here at my desk for the last twenty minutes or so deciding whether to try staying up as long as I can, which right now means sitting in this chair and staring off into space until I cannot hold my ees open anymore. I figure that will be about another hour at the rate I am going. Or I could just say screw it and go back to bed. These days I am more inclined to say screw it about pretty much everything, so that is probably what I will wind up doing.

This is happening with such regularity it is hard to get over on bout before another takes place. My weight is fluctuating rapidly if nothing else. It is all so incredibly wearisome, especially considering my mindset of late has been so poor. I would really just like to sleep it all away and figure out what to do later, but fate is not through pounding me yet. No respite for the weary, huh?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Same Old Song and Dance

It has been three weeks since my reular session of being sick to my stomach, so it is about time, right? Indeed. It struck me about 7 o’clock lat night and kept on until the wee hours of the morning. It was the same old song and dance: cramping barfing, and other assorted nasty things I will leave to your imagination. This marks the twelfth straight month in a row, not counting my obstruction in August or my bout with Salmonella in January, this has happened without anyone knowing why. It is not just because it is Friday the 13th. It is just my apparent lot in life.

If history means anything, I will be sick fo another day, then feel completely wiped out for the better part of a week. Then when May roll around, I will probably do it again. Yippy skippy, huh? Right now I have a headache from lack of fluids and am nearly cross eyed. That is a good indication I should cut this short and go pass out.

I will return when I return. Try not to kill each other in the interim.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CBS Fires Don Imus

I figured that was coming, especially after the show this morning. Radio is not a growth industry; it is a market share industry. Imus was damaging the CBS brand and he had to go. I am surprised they pulled the plug so quickly without anything else definite to fill the time slot. Funny thing, too, that MSNBC's ratings for the simulcast have grown rapidly in the last couple days with curiosity viewers. Still not enough to save Imus, though.

As I previously speculated, CBS President Les Moonves has gone on record as saying he will take the opportunity to expand the diversity of the company's radio personalities. Did the company bow under the pressure of being accused of racism or is this a genuine gab for better market share? It is said that there is no obvious answer to that question.

Either way, so long, Don Imus. I hope you do not ride off into the sunset, but if you do, it was a good run while it lasted. I hope your charities do not suffer for the loss.
Don Imus, Duke Lacrosse, and Hypocrisy

Don Imus is starting to fire back like the cantankerous old goat we all know and love. I was beginning to agree with Howard Stern regarding Imus’ apology tour. The guy was going around groveling like a brand new disc jockey for an amateur mistake. It was a joke, in poor taste no doubt, but a joke. A professional like Imus who has been around for forty years making acerbic insults his bread and butter ought to know how to handle the fallout more ably than he has. At least now he is tossing some punches.

First and foremost, Imus blasted the hypocrisy of his critics this morning on his radio show. MSNBC allowed him to use their studio even though they do not allow the simulcast anymore. While appreciative of the gesture, he is privy to corporate shenanigans to which he claims are unethical. I have to wonder if said unethical actions have to do with recent complaints by Jesse Jackson that a black host ought to feel the morning hours somewhere on cable news. He has used that tactic in the past in order, most prominently to get beer distributorship licenses for his sons in Chicago. But more importantly, Imus has justifiably critiqued Al Sharpton for his duplicity. He asked point blank this morning when Sharpton and other civil rights leaders who had been calling for the heads of the Duke lacrosse team alleged rape suspects would apologize to them?

The year long drama there finally ended yesterday when all charges were dropped. That does not mean the boys were found not guilty of the crime. It means there was not one shred o evidence to even justify accusing them o rape in the first place. A number of civil rights activits have spoken on television how they still think the entire story has not been told, the lacrosse team surely did something, and justice has not been served because the accuser is black. Sharpton has been of this school of thought from the beginning. Understand I am not naïve. From law school I know two things if nothing else. First justice can be bought. A millionaire with a big city pedigreed lawyer is going to have a better chance of escaping scott free from just about anything while the little guy with the court appointed attorney will not get diddly. I also understand that minorities will not get the same treatment as whites. It is a fact of life. However, it is not true in the lacrosse case and everyone knows it. So when is the apology for the civil rights witch hunt coming?

Short answer: it is not.

I think both of thse affairs have shown how little race relations have come in this country. Supposedly there are concepts that unites us all as a country. I would think two of those ideas are freedom of speech and a desire for blind justice. Not only have we just tossed those two in the garbage when discussing Imus and the lacrosse case, but we are all at daggers drawn over both. Maybe I am being simplistic. Imus made an unwise joke, but people have a right to say something stupid in public. The lacrosse team deserved to be innocent until proven guilty and they were not and still are not given that courtesy. I find it dismaying how quikly we will abandon our priciple in highly charged situations when we honestly need them the most.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

I was expecting this one to happen fairly soon. Not just because of his advance age, but because of several interviews he has given in recent times. They were full of world weariness and a sense that everything he ever valued in life was already dead and gone. It was painful to read even for one like me who has fully experienced the darkly comedic satire to which Vonnegut excelled. I related to him. Well, to be more honest, I thought I related to him well in my hih school and college years. It was not until recent times that I truly understand why he felt the way he did. It is also true generations claim to understand him just as well though his writings, so take what I just said with a huge grain of salt.

Vonnegut had a life changing-- perhaps more aptly called a lie scarring experience --as a young prisoner of war witnessing the firebombing of Dresden. You cannot watch helplessly at something like that, no matter how good a cause, and not lose faith in humanity. I have only seen a fraction of such horror and on personal inhumanity to me and others close to me, the brutality of having sacred bonds broken before your eyes for years on end, and I feel just as bitter. Vonnegut may very well have been the perfect cynic. He was the eternal pessimist with a wounded idealism that just never could shine bright enough for very long.

I would venture to say Vonnegut was the modern day Mark Twain in virtually every sense. They both used dark humor in the popular vernacular, were masters of sarcasm and satire, and both got more bitter as time went on. He wrote of the tragic fate of those immersed in folly, vanity, and cruelty without offering many solutions as to making things better. His novels were alternate universe full of surrealism and brutality. I am going to miss him.

I know good and well he was not only an atheist, but despised Christians. Nevertheless, I am going to give him my usual send off just in case Devine mercy extends to wounded, scarred souls. Godspeed, Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lost--"One of Us"

The flashbacks are really cooking this season. Sure they are not spacing out the characters as well as they have in the past. Kate, Juliet, and Jack, who is rumored to be the focus of the season finale’s flashbacks, have only been separated by a handful of episodes. Tonight we got the second Juliet-centric show. I enjoyed her first go around, “Not in Portland,” largely for personal reasons no one else would care about. But I also got hints that furthering Juliet’s story would make for big reveals later on. Tonight was a pretty big payoff as far as the mythology was concerned, not to mention some ominous set up for the rest of the season.

Jack, kate, Sayid and Juliet are headed back to camp, but only Jack seems comfy with one of the Other’s tagging along. Sayid, in particular, want answers. Things do not thaw out much more back at camp. None of the other Lostaways trust her, much less want her anywhere around. The touching reunion (including hints of genuine feeling between Sawyer and Kate) is cut short by conflict. Jack is bending over backwards to protect Juliet even to the point of alienating everyone at camp. He believes she wants off the island as much as anyone else and is just as trapped. Things pick up for her when Claire becomes deathly ill and she knows how to cure it. The illness is a delayed reaction from medication given to Claire while she was kidnapped. Juliet retrieves medical supplies and cures Claire, further earning Jack’s trust, but not much of anyone else’s.

The flashbacks are incredibly revealing. They tell of Juliet’s journey to the island (she is drugged and brought by submarine.) and her purpose there (every pregnant woman on the island has died because their bodies treated the baby as a foreign object.) She makes no progress and emands to go home. Ben will not let her. Instead he blackmails her by revealing her sister’s cancer is back, but he will cure it if she stays. Juliet agrees. However, so time later she iscovers Ben has a tumor. She realizes he cannot cure cancer if that is true and angrily demands to go home. The next day is when the plane crashes, she eventually loses her lover, Goodwin, and does her number on Claire, who turns out to be the only pregnant woman to survive childbirth on the island. The kidnapping was not part of the plan, actually. It had to be done once Ethan was discovered. The episode ends with a big splash. This is all a con job. The handcuffing with Kate last week, the abandonment, Claire’s illness, Juliet ingratiating herself in with the amp-- it is all some sort of plot by Ben. He gives her a gas mask and says he will see her in a week.

I liked this episode a lot. My only complaint is the lack of foreshadowing about Sun being pregnant and the problems she may eventually have. There was a flash o recognition with Kate, but not Jack, who ought to have zeroed in on that. I am certain there will be a payoff soon. We also only got the briefest of hints Sawyer was settling into a leadership role while Jack is missing. It would have been interesting to see more hints of character growth in him. Regardless of those two points, a very strong outing.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Don Imus' Goose is Cooked

The largest sponsors of Don Imus’ show, Staples, GM, and Nextel, are pulling their advertising. Now people in political circles are weighing in. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want him fired. John McCain and John Edwards believe in the power of forgiveness, though one suspects the Vietnamese do not count as far as McCain is concerned. (Poor taste, I know. Surprised? What? Are you new here?) Interesting that celebrities seem more forgiving. Howard Stern is flabbergasted Imus is being roasted alive over a joke. Rosie O’Donnell, one whom you would expect to blast Imus, is calling the incident the thought police run amuck.

The Powers That Be are listening. They are listening more to the advertising dollars zapping into oblivion more than any critic, but that is all that matters anyway. Imus is a niche broadcaster. He is not the most popular radio personality and may very well be easy to replace. Frankly, they may have to regardless. Cal Ripken, Jr. was to promote his new book on the show this week and cancelled ather than be associated. I do not yet know of other guests who have or intend to pull out, but I imagine there are some now and the number will only increase. The two week suspension for Imus is going to be extended into infinity.

A shame, really. While I am not defending Imus’ slip of the tongue, I am not lambasting him as a bad guy, either. To fire someone says not only has what he has done reprehensible, but you do not feel he could ever at any point in the future have anything to say worth hearing. That idea is going too far. As I have said, I like his show. I have watched the MSNBC simulcast semi regularly for seven years. I would like for it to continue, perhaps jumping to satellite like Howard Stern. Considering Imus’ age and accumulated wealth, he might just say it is not worth it and ride off into the sunset. I would hate for that to happen.

UPDATE: MSNBC has pulled the simulcast permanently.
Tarzan's Cheeta Turns 75

Tarzan's chimpanzeepal, Cheetha, turned 75 yesterday:
"TARZAN chimp Cheeta celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday — and had the day named after him.

The famous animal star, who appeared in the 30s and 40s jungle blockbusters, is the world’s oldest chimpanzee. The usual lifespan is about 50.

Cheeta outlived both his human co-stars. Johnny Weismuller, who played Tarzan, died in 1984, aged 79, while Maureen O’Sullivan, who was Jane, died in 1998, at 87.

Cheeta celebrated his three-quarters of a century at his sanctuary in Palm Springs, California, where he has lived for 16 years after retiring from the movie business.

Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden later named April 9 Cheeta Day."
Twenty-five years and counting beyond one's life expectancy is quite a good run. Ungowa!
First Look at Iron Man

I cannot vouch entirely for the validity of this photo since it has not hit all the movie scoop sites yet, but it is purported to be our first look at the suit of armor for Jon Favreau's Iron Man adaption. I further gather this is the original rough suit Tony Stark built in order to initially save his life and not the red and gold space age suit he built later on to do his major heroics. If true, then the movie appears to faithfully follow the comics minus the original Vietname War setting that has been glossed over in recent years regardless.

This is shaping up to be one of Marvel's better films already. Lots of Spider-Man, very little Fantastic Four, if you please.
Fred Thompson Has Cancer

That sound you hear is the crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from all the conservatives who thought Fred Thompson was going to be the Great Hope from Tennessee. In the interview in which he announces he has lymphoma, the former senator quickly covers every base for a 2008 presidential run. He says he is in remission. His life expectancy will not be effected, so the odds of him kieling over dead in office are even better than Dick Cheney’s. But if anything goes wrong, it is very treatable with drugs and those drugs will not effect his ability to be president. The guy sounds like a young teenager who has rehearsed his rationale for why dad should let him have the car Saturday night.

Oh, and he has had cancer for over two years and was still able to learn his lines on Law & Order. Did he mention he has no symptoms? He did not even know he had cancer. It was discovered during a routine physical. So, you know, how bad could it be?

Thompson has announced this as a way of testing the waters before making a serious bi for president. He is now inviting himself to tons of inquiries at every step of the way about his health. He is going to be so dogged by health questions, there will not be much room to talk about the issues. It will b a bigger deal than Dick Cheney’s heart problems since Thompson actually wants the top spot rather than being a heartbeat (no Cheney pun intended) from the office. He might be able to weather the storm and make a bid, but since he was not a first tier candidate, I have doubts. There were already accusations of him being a do nothing senator. I imagine very few will jump on his bandwagon at this point. At the vey least, I woud be surprised if anyone did.
The Shakespeare Code

Every now and then finding an appropriate song for thses videos is tough. Nothing quite jumps out at me. This was one of those times. What kind of song do you choose for a video heavily featuring a young William Shakespeare? Good question and one that took me a while to answer. I finally resorted to scanning the soundtracks for Shakespeare in Love and Romeo + Juliet. You know, the 1996 Leonardo DiCaprio snore fest? I did not pay much attention to either movie back in the day and now I am surprised at the rock soundtrack the former had and am reminded how awful the latter was. But I digress.

I eventually settled on “#1 Crush” by Garbage. Garbage is one of the few really popular bands in the ’90’s I thought deserved more attention and acclaim than they received. The video here has hints of the crush Shakespeare had on Martha Jones and hints of jealous rivalry between he and the Doctor. Oh, the magic of editing. Too bad the Doctor is spending so much time moping over Rose. Martha is so much better than she was.

I think there are a few odd transitions that were too rapid, but overall, I like this one. I liked the episode, too. Doctor Who always does period pieces well. Usually way much better than visions of the future. Anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Day the Earth Stood Still Remake Has a Director

The Day the Earth Stood Still remake now has a director, Scott Derrickson. Derrickson is known for helming The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I have not seen that movie and cannot comment on Derrickson’s style as a director. Considering my fondness for TDTESS, I doubt I would feel positive about any director taking a stab at the film. Some things just should not be remade. Derrickson is said to be planning a filming schedule in Vancouver which will run through the summer and into November, making it one of the longest shoots in Canadian filmmaking history.

I was skeptical the movie’s message would translate well into modern times. It was originally made in 1951 with a end of World War II, beginning of the Cold War, beginning of the Space Age feel to it in which the inhumanity of a world war was fresh in people’s minds while the threat of nuclear war annihilating every living thing on Earth was also a possibility. Perhaps trying to shift the focus to terrorism may work for the 21st century, but I doubt it. For all the horror of 9/11, being caught in a collapsing skyscraper just does not compare to a nuclear holocaust.

Now I am wondering I there will be any semblance of a theme like that at all. Is this going to be a horror movie instead? Not that the idea would be bad. The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers were both science fiction films with horror elements along with Cold War allegory and a healthy dose of paranoia. Perhaps there will be a new spin on TDTESS which will reflect our time period memorably. I doubt it, however. The remake of The Thing was more gore than anything else and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake has been mercifully forgotten in the dustbin of bad cinema ideas. I am still chewing on the Iraq allegory of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds remake a couple years ago and coming up unsatisfied every time. Something tells me TDTESS remake is going to miss the point.
Kipling Would Not Approve

It was not too long ago the pundits, particularly bloggers, were speculating the capture of British marines and sailors by Iran was an act of war. There was dire talk of heated negotiations, fears of the captured souls being put on trial, naval blockades, and even the futile possibility of the United Kingdom responding with military force. The British lion is not what it used to be, mind you. Rule Brtainia is just an echo in a duty old history book these days. Prime Minister Blair went public with a plea for United nations intervention, something that would get a US president unmercifully mocked by the American people, but received nods of agreement throught the UK. The Brits may think publicly they can still police the world, but they know in their hearts they no longer have the ability to defend themselves alone against enemies even as relatively weak as Iran.

The image the captured military men and woman evoked has not helped at all. I just saw video yesterday of them playing ping pong and chess while grinning for the camera. Contrast that with the fears of trial and execution they were supposedly paralyzed with. They went on cameras rather readily to apologize for invading Iranian territory. I have yet to see a military expert who was not angry about that. (Note the contradiction, too that rough treatmnt makes them cooperate but torture works at Gitmo. How the Powers That Be push these contradictions as gospel truth is beyond me.) ) True the Brits do not have the name, rank, and serial number only requirement of the American military, but they do have something similar. There actions were out of line. To top it all off, they get suits and gift baskets like they are Oscar presenters.

Am I being harsh? Maybe. I have never been in such a situation, but I would like to think you would have to smack me around a bit before I would make a propaganda video, especially if I voluntarily joined the military and enemy capture was something I needed to be prepared for. Now they are selling their angst filled stories of having to sleep with uncomfortable sheets, being called “Mr. Bean,” and not getting as good a gift basket as the other guy. Seriously. The British military is now full of heterosexuals. If that be the case, my advice is to leave espionage to the countries who can handle the possibility of fighting back. We would not want you guys to break a nail.
More with the Don Imus Affair

All right. I am a little clearer on new developments in the whole Don Imus matter. Evidently he was suspended not for his comments regarding the women’s basketball team last week but because he used the phrase “you people” in the radio interview yesterday with Al Sharpton. I honestly did not catch that the firt time around when I listened. Such statement is harder to defend. Imus is a blnt person. I can relate, as I am one myself, but there is some level of care one has to use no matter how much one dislikes pulling punches. That one crossed the line and I see the suspension as more justified than I did last night.

I still do not think imus is a racist. Careless, maybe, but not a racist. There seems to be an awful lot of people, famous and not so much, coming out of the woodworks to complain of Imus’ alleged racist, sexist, or otherwise insulting remarks. After seen years o listening to his show, I can honestly say nothing he has said or done has been offensive to me. A few things raised my eyebrow, but nothing more than that up until now. He was reckless and he ought to pay for it. I do not believe he ought to be fired. Firing him says he will have nothing of value to offer at any subsequent point and I just do not think that is true.

What else irritats me about this whole mess is the lack of black leadership to rise up and call Imus on his slip of the tongue. Sharpton is an embarrassment and certainly not the epitome of racial tolerance or even consistency in his criticism of others’ racial gaffes. Listening to he and Imus spar, one loses any and all respect for any seriousness that might be found in an open discussion about racial attitudes. If one wants to elevate the rhetoric in this country, letting Sharpton lead the chorus is not the way to do it.