Saturday, June 30, 2007

Doctor Who--"Last of the Time Lords"

Russell T. Davies has done it again. I do not mean that in a good way. As I have said before, his writing is hit and miss. With three episodes in a row penned by him, it was bound to happen. I suppose there is a possibility I have just been spoiled by the last five outings. The two last RTD scripts were great as were the episode written by Steven Moffat and Paul Cornell. But I really do not think so. The finale was clichéd, predictable, and relied too much on supporting characters, many of whom we have never seen before. That worked all right in “The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit,” but not here. This was one of the weakest of the season and the worst finale thus far.

Why can RTD not vary his plots more? There was an alien invasion of Earth, a human resistance, and a companion’s departure after stealing the show from the Doctor the same as in both the previous seasons. What is worse this time around was the dreaded reset button. I saw that coming with the Paradox device the TARDIS had been turned into, but I hoped beyond all hope I would be wrong. I was not. The reset button used here was worse than any used on the worst episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.

We begin ne year later. Martha has been traveling across the world telling everyone about the Doctor and some secret plan to defeat the Master. She is part of a resistance movement which has been fighting the Toclafane. Much of the world has been utterly destroyed. The Master is completely drunk with power. He still holds the Doctor captive, even aging him another few centuries with some awful looking CGI even y BBC standards. Captain jack and the Jones family are also held captive. We learn the Tochlafane are the humans sent to utopia, but it was not what they expected. The Master freed them and allowed them to kill humans apparently just for the fun of it.

In the climax, Martha is betrayed by a new character we care nothing about and is about to be executed by the Master when the secret weapon is revealed. Everyone on Earth who knows about the Doctor mentally says his name. Somehow o another, that deages him. Hedefeats the Mster, Jack disables the Paradox, and everything returns to the point just after the US president was killed with no one other than the people in the immidate area remembering anything. Martha’s mother wants to kill he Master, but she cannot do it. His wife does instead. The Doctor begs him to regenerate, but he does not. Still, we get a hint at the end he will return.

There are a couple twits here. Captain Jack is apparently the Face of Boe. That is just weird and an anticlimactic point for Torchwood. Seondly, Martha ecides she has had enough of unrequited love and opts to leave the TARDIS. She tells the Doctor to contact her anytime for help, but otherwise, she is staying on Earth. There I where the rumors about Freema Agyeman leaving came from. We did get a preview of the Christmas special, too. It will be set on the Titanic. Give me a break. I was already under whelmed by the finale. Do not jab me twice in a row.

Rating: ** (out of 5)
Flash: Queen is Dead

The Sci Fi Channel, for better or for worse, is planning a new Flash Gordon series to premiere in August. The show is being over seen by Charmed and South Beach executive producer Peter Hume. It is said to be the antithesis of Battlestar Galactica gloom and doom. With Hume at the helm, one anticipates a campy romp at bargain basement Sci Fi Channel prices. Judging by advance word and photos like the one posted above, things do not seem too promising. Looks like we have another Painkiller Jane on our hands.

The premise adheres more to the 1980 Sam Jones movie which has become a cult classic for its sheer strangeness. I dare say many science fiction fans will claim the whipping scene perverted their views on women almost as badly as seeing Princess Leia in the metal bikini. Indulging male fantasies just a wee bit too much, no? I had occasion to view the movie again seven years ago. I thought it was even more peculiar at 24 than I did when I was five.

Ah, but the worst part. While early promos are using a cover version of the theme song, it will not likely be used in the series at all. If it is, it will likely be updated to a more hip style. I am picturing a Snow Patrol song here. The news irritates me, though. The original score done by Queen had a operatic quality you just do not get with movies these days. Besides, Queen is totally cool. Have a listen to the theme that likely will not be:
Will Newt Gingrich Run in 2008?

Every good brew needs an eye of newt. The 2008 crop of contenders is no exception, right? Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich has set a September deadline for himself to announce running for president. The reason for the deadline is he wishes to evaluate the all but announced candidacy of former Senator Fred Thompson. If Thompson runs a strong campaign, Gingrich will not likely run. If Thompson falters or does not appear to be the torch bearer for the conservative wing of the GOP, he will likely run.

Evidently Gingrich does not view the current field of candidates as electable conservatives. One could make a pretty fair argument at that as well as one a true conservative is as unlikely to win the White House as a true liberal. But the real issue Gingrich is overlooking is whether he is electable, conservative torch bearer or not.

There are some skeletons in his closet regarding his marital past. That may not be such abig deal considering the soap opera inherent in Rudy Giuliani’s past marital life and the pretty much sham marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton. But think of the taint Gingrich has from the impeachment folly, the multimillion dollar sweetheart advance he received on one of his books, and ethics violations on a course he was teaching. With all that, you have enough ammunition to dog him throughout the primaries without even talking about his out of the mainstream political ideas. He just cannot run.

He is a policy wonk, a loopy college professor, but not a presidential contender.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Joel Siegel (1943-2007)

The colorful movie critic has passed away after a long battle with colon cancer.
Doctor Who Season Four Spoilers

An interesting article appears in the Mirror today regarding the next season of Doctor Who. I cannot vouch for any of it as I am only vaguely familiar with the credibility of the paper, which I assume is better than The Sun but heaven only knows by how far. But if true, the dynamics of the next season have been seriously spoiled. Be warned about reading further into this post.

Word is the TARDIS will be getting a little more crowded as the Doctor addsanew companion. No word on who the companion will be, but the addition seems to alienate Martha Jones. She will still be around, but playing second fiddle will irritate her. There have been many hints this season she feels ignored by the Doctor and maybe even has a bit of unrequited love for him. The rumor sounds like it could have been the source for the "Freema Agyeman is leaving the show" rumorrs that have been floating about recently.

Reardless, she will not appear in the Christmas special. Singer Kylie Minogue will be assisting the Doctor then.

Next season will also be Russell T. Davies' last. He will be moving on to other projects. He has already dropped his plans to write for Tochwood. One assumes that is an early indication he is quitting the entire franchise. No word on David Tennant for a fifth season, but it is assumed he will move on as well. Let me take the opportunity yet again suggest Steven Moffat as showrunner and Alexander Siddig as the Eleventh Doctor.

Could be interesting times ahead, no?
Doctor Who: Eve of Destruction

I imagine I am that rare conservative (more libertarian than ever, so perhaps I no longer qualify) who likes '60's protest music. The Vietnam War is pages in a history book for me-- an academic subject for study and debate without the emotional baggage of either jingoism or fear of being drafted into an ambiguously moral quagmire of awar, whichever thoughts I might have had were I a Baby Boomer.

All that said, Barry MaGuire's "Eve of Destruction" seemed like a really good fit for the penultimate Doctor Who episode of season three, "The Sound of Drums." I already made an episodic video for it, so this is an edited version of the cliffhanger set to the song? Is this Baby Boomer blasphemy? You will have to decide that for yourselves.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Political Capital of Congress

According to the Gallup Poll:
Public approval of the job Congress is doing has dipped to its lowest level of 2006, and is now the worst Gallup has recorded since the closing days of the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. The current approval rating for Congress is a near-record low according to Gallup survey trending.
According to the the Associated Press:
Despite low approval ratings and hard feelings from last year's elections, Democrats and Republicans in the House are reaching out for an approximately $4,400 pay raise that would increase their salaries to almost $170,000.
Washington and Hollywood appear to be the only two places in the world where one can fail upwards. No wonder people still aspire to be part of either one.
Paris Hilton on Larry King

Boring and bemusing. You have to set the bar pretty low when it comes to Paris Hilton. I am more bemused at what it says about our culture that the nightly news and talk shows can be so mesmerized by a no talent celebrity --one who is famous for being famous --going to jail for a few days because of a suspended license. How much blood can you get out of such a turnip? Not much if the Larry Kig interview is any indication. I suspected that would be the case as much I did assumed King would have a humiliated, get me the heck out of here look on his face the entire time. This is the guy who mistook Ringo Starr for George Harrison a few nights ago, so maybe it is time to put him out to pasture.

Hilton was s vapid as ever. Not to mention a liar. The girl claimed she has never done drugs, is not a heavy drinker, and although she wishes Lindsay Lohan well, has no friends in rehab. Does not say much for Hilton’s loyalty to her gal pals, no? King asked about her favorite passage in the Bible, a book she supposedly read everyday while in jail. She could not name one. Why am I not surprised? She also stated the worst part of prison was the strip search. I do not see why. It was a poorly lit porno film that brought her to everyone’s attention in the first place. I would say she was just going back to her roots. Obviously she feels differently.

Evidently King’s show was a ratings hit. CNN will reair it Friday at 8:00 PM and I suspect a couple more times after that. I would hope the media attention is going to soon die off. Hilton did not appear to have any real change of heart last night or grand ideas on how to turn over a new leaf. I do not expect to see a socially conscious Paris Hilton anytime soon. I am curious how a media apparently bored with the war in Iraq and unable to spark any public interest in a too early presidential race will fill the void.
Senate Blocks Amnesty Bill

The illegal immigrant amnesty bill has been killed by a vote of 46=53.
Court Ends Racial Discrimination in Schools

In yet another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that schools cannot make up for racial by racially discriminating. What a novel concept. As Chief Justice John G. Roberts noted succinctly in his opinion, “The best way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Why we needed a Supreme Court ruling to establish the concept is one of those eternal mysteries I will never figure out. It does promote the whole notion the Court is full of demigods pronouncing all wisdom to the unwashed masses below, no matter how basic the wisdom actually is. Or ought to be.

The core question was whether a public school system that is not trying to dismantle officially segregated schools may nevertheless assign some students to schools based upon their race, in order voluntarily prevent students from going to school mainly with classmates of the same race. The Court has never ruled on the use of race in K-12 schools except as a means to end official segregation.

Justice Stevens noted that no one on his 32 years on the Court would have agreed with this decision. I have my doubts, considering Rehnquist as a for instance, but it is clear to me the Fourteenth Amendment forbids all discrimination on the basis of race regardless of the good intentions (suh as they are) of the discrimination. I further note there appears to finally be a working strict constructionist majority of the Court which bodes for the future assuming the next president, who will likely pick at least two justices, holds traditional philosophy of jurisprudence.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Roid Rage: Chris Benoit Kills Family, Self

I am not a fan of professional wrestling, but I am interested in the business end of sports (I am calling pro wrestling a sport for the sake of this post.) and the sociological impact it has on participants. Thus the tragedy with WWE wrestler Chris Benoit quickly caught my attention. It is an incredibly grisly tale and getting even worse as more details emerge.

The long and the short of it is Benoit killed his 43 year old wife and seven year old son at different times over the weekend, then hung himself. It is believed he murdered his wife fist, likely on Friday. Her wrists were tied and her head was bloodied. There appeared to be a struggle which she lost and was strangled. Benoit’s seven year old son was suffocated probably sometime Saturday and left in another room. Benoit remained in the house with the bodies for at least a day, at some point placing Bibles at their feet, then hanging himself with some exercise equipment. Authorities were notified after several WWE employees received strange text messages from Benoit.

The obvious question to ask is whether the murder/suicide was an incident of steroid rage. The WWE, which has had a fair share of incidents regarding steroid abuse scandalsand deaths, quickly pointed out the length of time between the deaths, coupled with the placing of the Bibles, showed the incident was not a sudden burst of uncontrolled violence usually associated with “roid rage.” To its credit, the WWE has opted not to honor Benoit any further than the special it aired instead of its usual RAW broadcast once more details of te case emerged. The WWE is not famous for being kid friendly, but at least it is showing some scruples here.

What are the new details to emerge? One is that Benoit’s wife filed for divorce in 2003, citing extreme cruelty perpetrated by the WWE champion. The suit was soon dropped and Benoit invited hi family into the ring when he won the championship belt. But the key revelation is Benoit was a customer of MedXLife, a Florida-based, anti-aging clinic that had two of its owners plead guilty in April to illegal steroid distribution. Circumstantial evidence yes, but in light of events, something that cannot be ignored.

Athlets continue to use steroids and will nott stop as long as they need to seek that clearer edge in performance. I have heard athletes such as Jose Canseco be supportive of their use. It certainly has aided record breakers like Mark McGwire-- probably enough to the point sports team owners likely know and keep quiet about steroid use among their players, if not endorse it. Vince McMahon has been accused of supplying steroids to wrestlers in the past. I cannot speak to the truth of the matter in his case or even if Jose Canseco is wrong. I am one who can begrudgingly accept self-destructive behavior if done by aconsenting adult as long as no one else gets hurt. Therein lies the problem. Apparently people are getting hurt and killed in the name of the almighty sports dollar. That cannot be tolerated.

The question for wiser heads than mine is why do some steroid usrs go into violent rages while others only develop life shortening health problems that damage only themselves? I would have an easier time decided my steroid stance if I knew the answer.
Hot Dog Champ Stymied by Arthritic Jaw

Are you a fan of the sport of competitive eating? Neither am I. In fact, I did not even know it was a sport. Not only is it a sport, but it is big enough to be televised. Televised sports, of course, have color commentators. I never sw that on career day at school, kids. Did you? It must be just as boring as bowling commentators.
“So, what do you think he is going to do here, Bob?” asks Jim all cozy in the studio.

“I think he’s going to try to knock down all those pins with the ball. Back to you, Jim.”
What must competitive eating competition banter be like?
“So what do you think he is going to do next, Bob?”

“Barf, most likely. Back to you, Jim.”
But assuming such things do make you all a tingle, I have bad news for you. Your star competitor, Takeru Kobayashi of Japan, who is actually a very lean 165 pounds, the hot-dog eating champ of New York City's Coney Island, may be out of commission for next week's annual July 4th contest. Kobayashi has developed severe jaw arthritis. He probably also has off the charts blood pressure considering the sodium ingest, but one problem at a time.

I did not even know you could get arthritis of the jaw. I have known tons of people who talk way too much. This newfound knowledge disappoints me there is not more poetic justice in the world. There should be a lot more people who run their mouths too much coming developing jaw arthritis.

If you want to read more about Kobayashi ’s possible career ending, uh… injury, here is the article.
Stargate DVD Movies Delayed Until 2008

Prepare to be upset, Stargate fans. The two DVDs which will carry on the story of our intrepid heroes post series will both be delayed until 2008. No reason has been given, but the first film, The Ark of Truth, which will (finally) warp up the two year Orii storyline, is said to be especially effects laden. As the film is currently in post production, one assumes the special effects are the culprit for the delay. A skeptic might say it was the incredibly lackluster series finale that aired a week ago prompting some down time for an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” effect, but I do not know anyone around here who would be cynical enough to say such a thing. Do you?

Later next year, MGM will release the next DVD in the series entitled Continuum. It will deal with SG-1’s missing teammates Teal’c and Vala. They have been trapped in some sort of timeline gone wrong. Man, that SG-1 team cannot leave alien technology alone and they keep screwing up the timeline. You would think they would learn at some point, but no. Maybe that is a good thing after all since MGM has plans to release two DVDs as long as sales merit.

Take heat yet again, fans Your favorite SG-1 character, Col. Samantha Carter, played by the lovely Amanda Tapping, will be taking command of Atlantis on the spin off show. She will outrank Lt. Col. John Shepard which will cause some tension, plus she has a history with Rodney McKay? Fireworks abound? Maybe if you are more into the shows than I am.
Farewell, Tony Blair

Thestaunch US ally in the war against terrorism steps down as the United Kingdom's Prime Minister today. It is sad to see him go, particularly since his successor, Gordon Brown (he of the three time successfully repaired detached retinas. Grr...) is said to be cool towards American foreign policy.

Not to worry too much. I doubt the current UK policy of following the US from war to war will be necessary. I cannot imagine a full scale attack on anyone-- including Iran --anytime soon. Furthermore, the UK's future is more across the Atlantic than it is on the continent despite the UK's leadership in European affairs. Even those who are not particularly fond of the US realize and accept that fact.

Blair still has a bright future ahead. He is a relatively young man as far as former politiians go. He will likely become peace envoy to the Middle East and perhaps eventually taking a leadership role within the European Union before settling down on the board of directors of Halliburton or Bechtel.

It was a good run, Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you for hanging in there with us all the way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Illegal Immigrant Amnesty Passes Senate: 64-35

Surprise, surprise: our illustrious senior Sen. Lindsey Graham voted lockstep behind his old buddy McCain.
Paris Hilton is a Free Woman

Is our long national nightmare finally over since Americas most beloved political prisoner has been freed? Not by a long shot. Will she turn over a new leaf as she has promised? Maybe after hitting a few clubs and standing in front of every camera she can find over the next few days. People have a quick tendency to forget where they were just a few moments ago when their fortunes swing from worse to better.

The sheriffs made Hilton walk out the front door the same as they do any other inmate to avoid any accusations of preferential treatment. Obviously they are still burnt by her early release bruhaha a couple weeks ago. Hilton strutted to her parents’ waiting SUV and sped off for home. Even at 12:01 AM, their were paparazzi everywhere snapping photos. She gave them a good show by strutting out as though she was on a French catwalk, waving goodbye to the sheriffs you know she has nothing but galling contempt for at this point.

Speaking of galling contempt, do you really think Larry King, the man who interviews presidents and monarchs, wants to have Paris Hilton on his show for the full hour tomorrow night? I am betting he does not. That is the sort of thing that happens when you combine the dumbing down of America with news becoming a for profit commodity. Give the people what they want no matter how degrading it might be. Oh, well. If we do indeed get the Paris Hilton Halfway House out of it, it might all be worth it. I do, of course, have my doubts.
McCain's Misfortunes

Sen. and presiential candidate John McCain is not happy the Supreme Court ease campaign finance laws yesterday. Perhaps he should be considering unless his fundraising fortunes reverse, he will be will be out of the running before the primaries.

Not that I am upset about it, mind you. The McCain-Kennedy Immigration bill is enough to turn me off, much less McCain-Feingold. I never thought McCain had much of a shot anyway with his advanced age and burnt bridges, but it is interesting to see that reality catching up with him. I honestly thought his 2000 run was full of fluff. Now I am sure of it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Valkyrie's Wings Clipped

The German Defense Ministry has banned filming of the movie Valkyrie from military sites because its star, Tom Cruise, is a professed Scientologist.

Wow. First Berthold Von Stauffenberg is upset Cruise will be playing his father. Now the German government i getting into the act. Considering the troubles Cruise has had with German tabloids as well, perhaps he should steer clear of the country, no?
Star Trek XI All About Young Kirk and Spock

We have finally received official confirmation on the plot of Star Trek XI, due out Christmas 2008. In an article in Sunday’s New York Times, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman said the film will focus on the early adventures of James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock. Truth be told, that does not clarify much. Cold this mean Kirk and Spock new each other at the Academy? Perhaps the film is an adventure set before the pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Maybe it fits in with continuity. Maybe it does not. Who knows?

One thing that I funny is the film has a release date, a promotional poster, and casting news which will be revealed in a few weeks at the San Diego ComiCon. One thing it does not have is a story or script. And you wonder why movies are the way they are.

While I am on the subject, various sources have confirmed a Leonard Nimoy cameo and that Shatner will not appear at all. No word whether he is upset about his absence, but I suspect he is. Given previous rumors the movie will be told as an anecdote by Spock to Academy cadets and the revelation it will deal with the earliest adventures of Kirk and Spock, I would venture to guess the movie will be about their Academy days. Such a move would call for much younger actors than Matt Damon and Adrien Brody, the two names most kicked around for the leads.
Funding Religious Charities

The Supreme Court ruled today in Hein v. Freedom from Religion taxpayers do not have standing to bring suit against faith based initiatives. That should get some atheists' panties in a wad. Now Christopher Hitchens has another chapter for the paperback edition of God is Not Great to boot.

Ah, but the SCOTUS is not giving carte blanche to the president in regards to religion. I see the ruling lists several hypothetical examples how the executive branch could violate the Establishment Clause. Take heart, atheists and agnostics alike. Not only can you wring your hands over the ruling being the typical 5-4 conservative split, but you still have a few windows of opportunity if you can claim solid standing. Hopt to it.

Looks like the kids lost the Bong Hits for Jesus case, too. I was a little fuzzy on that one. They were not on school property at the time, nor was there a reasonable way to associate their activities with school policy. But the conservative member of the SCOTUSdisagree. I need to read their decision more in depth to find out why.
The Sound of Drums

Here is my music video for the latest episode of Doctor Who. In this one, the Master gets elected Prime Minister of Great Britain and uses his post to take over the world with alien help. Video is set to "Land of Confusion" by Genesis.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

John Smoltz v. Chipper Jones

There has been very little turmoil in the Atlanta Braves dugout during Bobby Cox’s term as manager. As I recall, there have only been three eye openers. First, David Justice once claimed Greg Maddux used a racial epithet at him once when he pitched for Chicago. The incident was either untrue or resolved as nothing ever came out of it. Second, Bobby Cox was involved in a domestic dispute with his wife a decade ago. Finally there was the John Rocker interview in Sports Illustrated which showed him to be a racist and homophobe. None of these had any real lingering effect on the team. But now there appears to be a fued brewing between the two most senior players.

If you have not been following the Braves lately, they are struggling after a solid start. This week they were shut out two games in a row for the first time since 1988. The subsequent game was asqueaker the Braves lost 2-1 against the Detroit Tigers. In that game, slugger Chipper Jones returned from the disabled list and scored the sole run with a homer. Afterwards, Jones said in an interview he felt as though he was rushed off the disabled list quicker than he should have been because of teammate pressure. He appeared to be referring to press statements made by pitcher John Smoltz expressing disappointment the team could not get its act together and they all wished they felt better than they do. Jones took that to mean Smoltz did not believe his groin injury merited a stint on the DL.

Cox has attempted to play peacemaker, saying a downturn in fortunes is no time to start squabbling and they all need to stick together. Who knows if that will actually work. Smoltz has revealed a certain bitterness regarding the Braves lost chances at a dynasty. Indeed, they have won their division 14 times yet have only one World Series championship to show for it. Smoltzis getting on up there in years for an athlete. I suspect he is frustrated as his chances for another ring dwindle. But all it takes is one bad apple to ruin the bunch. Can the Braves turn things around with that attitude amongst them?
Doctor Who--"The Sound of Drums"

The penultimate episode of the third series was a mixed bag. It was an exciting bridge to the finale next week, but I could not help but feel we have seen it all before. Russell T. Davies’ worst habit is retreading past success to the point it becomes cliched and boring. Here we have the United Kingdom being mind controlled (“Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel”), the government being taken over by aliens (“Aliens of London/World War III”), a massive alien invasion of Earth (“The Parting of the Ways” and “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”), the companion’s family specifically in peril (Ibid) and the companion being dumped, but still heading back to save the day. Not to mention the first thought that comes to mind seeing the mindless destruction of the Trochefane is the Daleks. I certainly hope it does not wind up being them again, but there is more to that I will get to in a moment.

Last week’s cliffhanger is quickly resolved as our heroic trio of the Doctor, Martha, and Captain Jack use Jack’s wrist teleported to follow the TARDIS from the end of the universe to the 21st century. Once there, the Doctor discovers the Master is Harold Saxon, the new Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Master has used some sort of subliminal messaging through cell phones to make voters unquestionably favor him. Once in power, he kills the Cabinet and prepares the country for first contact with a new, supposedly peaceful, alien race. He attempts to kill Martha by hiding Wile E. Coyote sticks of dynamite in her flat. Our trio, who had been hiding there, escape, but our declared enemies of the state. The Master has Martha’s family captured in hopes of luring them out.

The US president arrives and demand to oversee the meeting with the aliens. He is a clear satire of George W. Bush, even once claiming he could become master of the world if that was God’s will. I rolled my eyes at that one. The Master and the Doctor play cat and mouse a while, even giving us a glimpse of Gallifrey and the Time War in the process. The Doctor and his cohorts eventually make it to UNIT’s ship, Valiant, where he fins the TARDIS booby trapped by the Master. The Doctor is captured and, using the Lazerus technology from a few episodes ago, aged 100 years. We watches helplessly as the sky fill with six billion alien ships that immediately begin attacking Earth. Jack urges Martha to teleport away to fight another day. To be continued.

Like a I said above, a mixed here. One thing I have to mention as a fancier of linguistics. The Master orders the aliens to decimate the population in the literal sense, not the commonly accepted one. They are to kill 1/10th of humanity. There is a nice, proper use of terms. I am not so sure how much I like John Simm’s turn as the Master. He seems too much like a funhouse mirror version of the Tenth Doctor. He is manic, hyperactive, with an arrogance that allows him to be cruel. More cruel than the Doctor, granted, but he till does not strike me as a mastermind kind of villain. I want Ras al Gul, not the Joker.

The alien spaceships look a lot like the sphere the Daleks were hiding in last season. The resemblance opens the possibility the denizens of the spheres might be Daleks, the Time Lords, or the revamped Cybermen. I would groan if the Daleks are used again, but I would not put it pased RTD. Could it e the Time Lords gone mad? The Master told the Doctor if he knew what was inside the spheres it would break his hearts. There have been some hints through official channels the Cybermen are back from Hell and in the spheres. I think that would be a cheap move to use them out of the blue, especially when they have been so easily defeated twice before. You know, I am almost rady to say they have something to do with Rose and her stint as the Bad Wolf. That would certainly upset the Doctor. I do not know yet, but I hope I am not disappointed

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Son of Would Be Hitler Assassin Mad at Tom Cruise

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The son of a German who tried to kill Adolf Hitler is upset his father will be played by Tom Cruise in the upcoming movie Valkyrie

Berthold Von Stauffenberg told a German newspaper that Cruise's devotion to Scientology is:
"…off-putting, [[the movie] is sure to be crap. I am not saying that Cruise is a bad actor -- I cannot judge that. But in any case, I fear that it could turn into horrible kitsch."
I have to admit, while Valkyrie sounds like it would make a really good movie, I would never have suggested Tom Cruise for the lead role. The rest of the cast includes such fine actors like Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, and Stephen Fry. Tell me which name does not belong on that particular list. I would much rather see George Clooney or Russell Crowe in the role.

Oh, and I could not care less about his Scientology beliefs, but I would be offended if Tom Cruise played any member of my family, too, just out of general principle. Especially if one of my brethren took a shot at killing Adolf Hitler.
A New President for 24?

The producers of 24, citing sagging ratings and criticism of too much torture, have promised revamps for the show next season. One of the more basic ideas kicked about is moving the setting out of Los Angeles. Jack Bauer hinte in the final scene of the season finale he was planning to disappear. Whether he moves to another city or not, it also sounds as though the Counter Terrorism Unit (“CTU”), other than the now in the family way Chloe O’Brien that is, will be gone. There is other change being toyed with-- a new president. One thing that will not change, then. Whatever Jack Bauer is up to, he has the president's full attention.

The show changes presidents more than any regular guy changes his socks. But this possible change will have an added twist. the successor to David Palmer, John Keeler, Charles Logan, Hal Gardner, Wayne Palmer and Noah Daniels may be female. I have a nagging suspicion it will be Sandra Palmer. As fanciful as 24, having a third Palmer family member take over the White House in seven years stretches credibility to the breaking point.

While Sandra Palmer still seems the mot likely choice, I would not mind seeing another big gust star as president instead. But if yo ask me to pin down one and I cannot. Glenn Close would normally come to mind, but she has a new show herself. Stockard Channing would be a fun choice considering her stint on The West Wing. Who knows. Surprise me. Surprise me by not choosing Sandra Palmer.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Is Star Trek Due for a Reboot?

There has been a lot of rumbling lately regarding the next Star trek movie due out Christmas 2008. First, no one really seems to know exactly what the plot is or whether it is a reboot or just a new story set in the past with different actors. It is still early yet for such answers, but one does fear for the quality of the story when an element that big is still up in the air. Second, there will be big casting news revealed at the San Diego ComiCon next month. One assumes there will at least be an announcement on who is playing Captain James T. Kirk. I, for one, hope it is not Matt Damon.

Finally, there are rumors that Leonard Nimoy will make a cameo in the movie. Perhaps that means J. J. Abrams is going with the plan of having the movie be a story Spock is relaying to Starfleet Academy cadets. But wait. William Shatner is not happy he has been passed up for a cameo. According to Harlan Ellison, Shatner has been known to count lines in scripts in comparison to Nimoy, so he may very well be jealous. I will be curious to see how the alleged turmoil plays out.

I have been kicking around whether I like the idea of a reboot versus a story with new actors playing old roles. My knee jerk reaction is to say reboots are bad. But I have enjoyed both Batman Begins and Casino Royale, both of which smashed all previous continuity. Of course, the Batman movie franchise was relatively short lived in the grand scheme of things and the James Bond series had little continuity beyond hi wife having been killed by SPECTRE some time ago. Even that had to remain ambiguous after the creator of SPECTRE won control of his property. Of course, old Bond never could forget he once shagged Emme Peel herself. I could not. I wonder if she wore the black leather catsuit at any point in their short courtship?

But then there is the idea of prequels. For whatever reason that has been in fashion lately. I cannot imagine it was brought on by the mediocre Star Wars: The Phantom menace, but perhaps it was. Despite being an awful movie, it was the top grossing film of 1999. Star Trek has had its own prequel already with pretty poor results. It is one of the reasons I am surprised the movie will be set in the past as well. It probably would not, nor would it even be made period, if not for the interest of successful producer J. J. Abrams. Word from him is Paramount did not care to revive the franchise at all. The news gives the impression Abrams has carte blanche to do what he wishes with the property. So here is the question: should the movie reboot or fit in continuity?

I like Star Trek. I am a bigger fan of Star Wars, but Trek has its merits. I recall watching the show as a young tyke when I was way too small to follow the story. I watched because I was a Star Wars nut and wanted to satiate my science fiction fix. My first really clear memory of Trek was watching The Wrath of Khan in the theater. I believe I was only six years old and terrified out of my mind over the scene with the slugs crawling into the two captured Starfleet officers’ ears. I did not fully appreciate the movie until I had read Moby Dick many years later and understood the obsession Khan had with Kirk. That is a selling point of Trek with me. It may be geeky and often preachy, but there are many literary and philosophical questions dealt with throughout. Star wars attempted a science versus religion debate, but George Lucas never spent much time developing it.

I saw the rest o the movies and liked Star Trek: the Next Generation right of the bat. I can tell you a good part of my attachment to Trek is the large amount of time I have spent with it over the years. It was some part of my weekly routine from 1987-2005. That may sound like five television series and six movies to you, but to me it is doing homework while watching the show, going to the movie with my closest friends from junior high the college, late night discussions on the Just War Theory and Deep Space Nine, debating the link between the Borg and Communism, recovering from eye surgery while watching Voyager, collapsing in front of the television in law school to watch Enterpprise and so much more. I saw at least two of the movies on my birthday. Trek has been intertwined with my comic book collecting buddies as well. The first spec script I ever wrote was for The Next Generation. It is not just the continuity. It is the memories of a big part of my life.

Ne thing I have desperately learned in recent years is you cannot go home again. The series finale of Enterprise featured Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis reprising their roles as riker and Troi respectively. The episode was being told as a holodeck program set during a 1992 episode of TNG. All it did for me was emind me how much better Trek was years ago. Maybe even how much happier I was at that time. Truth be told, Trek has gone downhill since DS9, my favorite of the bunh, went off the air. Voyager was often fun and kind of goofy, but Enterprise as boring and derivative. It never delivered the birth of the Federation story it promised. I watched largely because it was a needed break from law school and then because I was recovering from surgery with nothing else better to do. The thrill was gone.

Trek was going downhill because the best writers had dispersed to the wind. Some had been there since 1987. Tracy Torme, Maurice Hurley, Michael Piller (RIP), Ron Moore, Jeri Tayler, Nick Sagan, Michael Sussman, Ira Steven Baer, Ron D. Moore, and Manny Coto are all gone. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were still around on Enterprise, but had long since lost their touch. There was not much left to pmp life into the franchise. It my still be that way. Manny Coto has suggested a new series be placed in the 25th century but still in continuity. If the movie is a hit, that may happen, but not before late 2009 and without any of the previous Trek handlers.

I guess when it comes down to it, I do not care whether the new movie is in continuity or a reboot. What I really like about Trek is the nostalgia. All the events of my lie for which it was on the tertiary. I cannot have that again regardless, so there does not seem to be much reason for me to be a continuity freak at any level. O do whatever you like, J. J. Abrams. I do not have anything more to say on the subject.
Giuliani and the Iraq Study Group

Since I have for the time being thrown lukewarm allegiance to former New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid, I feel I must say a few words about the current controversy surrounding him. Not that it has made many waves. Reporters appear to be glossing over the story of his skipping out on the Iraq Study Group meetings as thought it was no big deal. Were I one of those inclined to cry libel bias at the top of my lungs like many of my conservative brethren, I would saythe story has been ignored because leftist journalists are dead set against the war to begin with and do not care if Giuliani is uninterested in finding a solution to the “Iraq Problem.” But I am not, so I will not. Truth is, I am even more cynical about the situation.

Giuliani skipped out of two meetings of the Iraq Study Group in order to give two speeches. One was in South Korea for $ 200,000. The other was in Atlanta for $ 100,000. The ISG head, former Secretary of State Jams Baker, gave the former mayor an ultimatum-- show up for the next meeting or resign. Giuliani promptly resigned. Does the lack of participation and resignation make him look bad? You bet, especially since his only foreign policy qualification is his perceived toughness against terrorism, a reputation which is not very well earned to begin with. Sure, Giuliani was the face of America on 9/11 while Bush was hiding out, but he did not actually do anything other than show off for the cameras.

Giuliani’s explanation for resigning from the Group was that he joined before decide ding to run for president and thought his partisanship might taint the Group’s findings. Too which I say poppycock two times over. Giuliani has been humming “Hail to the Chief” every morning shaving since he left the Justice Department for Gracie Mansion and probably earlier than that. This was no spur of the moment decision. He was showboating on 9/11 because he knew he ould ride the wave of heroism all the way to the White House. He may very well be right even though the sting of 9/11 has faded into memory. Second, the ISG is bipartisan, not non-partisan. It is headed by James Baker, for heaven’s sake. The man has done the Bush family’s bidding for decades. Giuliani was replaced by former Reganite Edwin Meese. Everyone else in the group, including Giuliani, was firmly in the Bush Camp as far as supporting the war. The whole purpose of the ISG was to find a way to bail Bush out of the war while still saving face. There was no way partisanship was going to taint anything about the ISG.

Truth is Giuliani did it for the money. I do not blame him, really. No one is offering me six figure sums to speak, but if they did, I would blow off a boring debate session myself in order to cash in. The ISG is a typical blue ribbon panel of highly recognizable do nothings who attract the television cameras while low level flunkies fresh out of graduate and law schools do all the grunt work. It dos not matter I Giuliani, Meese, or even Baker show up, much less do anything. What this is honestly a reflection on is Giuliani’s priorities. He is in for personal gain. While color me shocked. Folks, no one runs for president out of a sense of statesmanship. Someone runs for president to get his name in the history books. If you did not already know that about Giuliani as well, then you are too naïve to get out of bed in the morning. He is in it for fortune and glory, but so is everybody else. There is why this is not news.
First Photo of 1950's Era Indiana Jones

Here is our first look at the aging Indiana Jones. The above photo was snapped by director Steven Spielberg himself and shamelessly swiped from the official site by me.

This is the first time since 1989 that Harrison Ford has donned the fedora and cracked the whip. I have been pretty snaky about the sequel needing to be titled Indiana Jones and the Nursing Home of Doom, but I am very excited about the film. The Indiana Jones Trilogy is my second favorite, right up there with the original Stars Wars Trilogy. Those of you who think the Lord of the Rings Trilogy competes can kiss my Wookie.

I do find it disappointing Sean Connery will not return to play Indy’s father. His presence made The Last Crusade the best of the bunch. There is a fine cast assembled regardless. John Hurt as a bad guy and Cate Blanchett as a dirty, rotten Commie. Yeah, I am going to miss the Nazis as well. They make such great villains.

The movie has already begun filming for a May 22, 2008 release.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It Could Happen to Anyone

Herman Munster was a victim of identity theft.
Freema Agyeman Not Leaving Doctor Who, Round II

In case you missed it, Freema Agyeman, who plays new Doctor Who companion Martha Jones, has denied yet again she is leaving the show. An article appeared first in The Sun and then Metro stating the actress had been fired because of lackluster performance and lukewarm fan response. Both she and the BBC have denied her firing, any intentions to fire her, or any notions on her part to quit. Agyeman seems quite distressed by the stories.

I have gone on the record as stating I like Agyeman’s Martha ones moe than I liked previous actress Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. That is saying something, believe me. Ask anyone around me with whom I have discussed Who. They will tell you how fond of the girl I was, sometimes even as a lone voice in the wilderness. Most of the Who fans I know are old school. They like the original series and are generally not fond of the new, much less how much the first season emphasized Rose over the Doctor, even going so far as Rose saving the day in the first season finale.

Admittedly, I do not think Martha has been as hands on. But she does have her merits. Martha proved adept at Time Lord CPR in “The Shakespeare Code” and was tough as nails during the “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” two part episode. I like her because there is much more story potential with her. The previously mentioned two parter was set in 1913 and had a racial undercurrent you just could not get with Rose. She was a doe eyed teenager from start from to finish regardless of what transpired in her life. Rose barked orders at side characters all the time, but when it got right down to it, she was a lovesick puppy with no clue how immature she was being. Martha is older and a doctor herself-- a much more fitting companion for the Doctor. She rolls her eyes whenever Rose is mentioned wistfully by the Doctor and so do I. Get over it, dude. Do not whine about losing Captain D’s when you now have Red Lobster on your plate.

Are fans disappointed with her? I think quite a few are. It would appear many are not as skeptical of the romance potential between the Doctor and Rose. Perhaps they feel Martha is an interlopper somehow. For those who feel that way, I have two reminders. First, recall how easily the Doctor fell for Reinette in “The Girl in the Fireplace.” It was, “Rose who?” all the way. Second, despite him telling Rose she was different in “School Reunion,” look at his face when he is listening to her explain to her mother why she has to stay with him forever in “Doomsday.” He realizes she has a unhealthy puppy love for him and she needs to be sent away. He subsequently tricks her into doing so, then stalls around as a hologram later so he never has to say he loves her. Folks, he never really did.

Regardless, Martha is filling a different type role an fans ought to give her a better hance. Rumors are several enings have been filmed for the finale airing on June 30tth. One of those would have Martha becoming lost in space and time. I have doubts considering the tight schedules and budgets of BBC shows, but I hope that is not a way of edging her out of the show. If nothing else, it would be a shame to change cast members every season. But I take Agyeman at her word. She will be around for the fourth season and I am ecstatic to hear it.
Journalists' Political Donations

Lots of journalists have political backgrounds. It sort of goes hand in hand with getting the job. What good is a reporter who is not in the know, after all? I even knew a fair number of fellow political science majors who were either double majoring or minoring in journalism as a back up plan to law school and to save them from teaching high school civics for peanuts It is, as near as I can tell, the chief ambition of a journalist to become a big time political correspondent and maybe take down a president or two. All that to say journalists pretty much eat, sleep, and breathe politics. Therefore this list of journalist political donors does not surprise me.

I have at times regretted not taking a few steps towards a back up career in journalism myself. I would have preferred being a college professor instead, but I went through spells where I wished I could just earn a four year degree that would ensure a respectable career without spending seven years in graduate school. But what kept gnawing at me was political ambition. I never wanted to rule out running for office myself one day. I assumed professional ethics would make that nearly impossible as a journalist. Perhaps I was being a wee bit naïve.

Truth be told, journalists were a lot cozier with politician long ago. In the first few Congresses, politicians would give a speech, then approach their buddies in the press and edit the copy to make themselves sound more regal. Subsequently, many journalists found themselves as Congressmen later due to the aid of grateful elected officials. Some things have not changed. The 1905 mayoral race in New York City was between publisher William Randolph Hearst and former journalist George McClellan, son of the loony tune Union General. No one much bats an eye these days when talk show host Geraldo Rivera talks about running for NYC mayor, radio personality (I use the term loosely) Al Franken runs for the US Senate, or Tony Snow leaves his journalism job to become White House Press Secretary. It is pretty much business as usual.

Are the ethics of it still fuzzy? Only if there is a blatant conflict of interest. I do not buy the notion a journalist is free to promote personal agendas in any way they see fit. Private discussions of politics over the dinner table is great. Writing checks to the Democratic National Committee while covering the Bush White House is a wee bit less so. Scanning through the list linked above, I see a lot of the journalists realize that. Many had no comment and abruptly hung up the phone. Others more willing to talk were movie critics and sports writers who saw no conflicts of interest at all. I see their point, too. It all boils down to the fact people are going to find a way to do whatever they want regardless of circumstances.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Star Trek--"The Enemy Within"

My latest creation. A transporter accident splits Kirk into good and evil halves. Video is set to "Numb" by Linkin Park. This is two aptain Kirks for the price of one and William Shatner at his melodramatic best. You cannot beat that with a soggy noodle.




Battlestar Galactica: Razor Rumors

Battlestar Galactica, the second best reason to own a television behind Lost, will not return to the airwaves until early next year. But the producers of the show have plans to ai a two hour movie sometime in November which will simultaneously be released on DVD. The movie will be subtitled Razor and centers on Adm. Cain, the Pegasus, and their involvement in apparently both Cylon Wars. Early word had it would have some Pearl Harbor -esque elements regarding the final Cylon attack on Caprica. That may or may not still be true, but more detailed rumors have emerged regarding the storyline. Spoilers lay ahead in the next paragraphs, so skip I you wish to remain a virgin.

First, Cain and Gina were once in a romantic relationship. It will not be explicitly stated, but it will still be obvious. Gina, you may recall, was captured by Cain last season and brutally tortured. When Gina escaped, she sought out Cain and killed her. There was apparently much more going on there than just petty revenge on both sides. Razor should shed some light on that. Second, Cain has some other issues. There will be a flashback to the First Cylon War forty years ago. At some point, Cain was forced to abandon her younger sister to the Cylon in order to save herself. It was a decision that still haunts her. Finally, the First Cylon War was fought by models similar to the original show’s, so those will be the Cylons shown. It is possible the updated models will not appear in the steel at all.

Frankly, the movie sound like a science fiction geek nirvana. I am quite excited about seeing it myself, if for no other raason than to tide me over in the long drought until 2008. If you want to read the entire article, click here.
Bloomberg Quits GOP

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday he had switched his party affiliation to Independent, fuelng speculation his overblown ego is prompting him to spend 100’s of millions of dollars in a futile attempt to win the presidency. Bloomberg has been making the rounds across the country making speeches beyond the scope of concerns for a Gotham Mayor. He has even shown up on the cover of TIME with another “maverick” politician, Gov. Arnold Swarzenegger. Could he announce soon? Coul he become a Raplh Nader spoiler? For the old time political scientists with the perspective on such things, has New York returned to the limelight as the state most consistently represented on the presidential ticket?

The first question is not hard to answer. The second is a wait and see proposition, but I am inclined to say no. Bloomberg was never a committed Republican. He ran on the GOP ticket to avoid a most certainly losing battle in the Democratic primary an to cash in on Rudy Giuliani’s popularity. No big loss there except maybe to party officials who had benefited from his lavish fundraisers. All that to say I cannot imagine he would drain away votes from any one candidate as Ross Perot did to President Bush 41 in 1992 or Nader did to Vice President Al Gore in 2000. He will probably wind up more like Perot in 1996: he is there, but no one really cares.

I find the dynamics of the 2008 election absolutely fascinating. The Gop is in a nosedive with an unpopular president at the controls. As far back as1998 when rumors of Hillary Clinton running for the Senate emerged, everyone knew she was using it as nothing more than a stepping stone for the White House. Virtually everyone also thought the 2008 race would be hers to lose. It may still be. Rarely can a party elect a member president in three consecutive elections even when the two termer is popular, as is most certainly not the case with Bush. Yet folks are coming out the woodworks to challenge her, including candidates like Sen. Barack Obama who apparently thinks the presidency is a near entry level position. I am inclined to think dreamrs like him and Bloomberg ought to be disqualified for the ob automatically just for being so fanciful.
South Carolina State Treasurer Indicted

As a South Carolinian, you learn to take your lumps from the rest of the country. There are a load of negative presumptions people make about the state and most all of them have a least a kernel of truth. I believe it was former State Sen. Theo Mitchell who claimed the state was too small to be a country and too large to be an insane asylum. I do not think you could describe the place more accurately. It is still much better than the accursed Virginia in which I wasexiled for three hellish years.

The point is that for every bit of positive national attention we get, such as the heroism and sacrifice of the Charleston firefighters yesterday, some thing that should rightfully be on the national radar for days, something like this happens. Our state treasurer has been charged with intent to distribute cocaine:
The indictments accuse Ravenel, 44, and Michael Miller, 25, of distributing less than 500 grams of cocaine starting in late 2005. They're officially indicted on charges of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute.

Officials say Ravenel bought the drugs from Miller to share with other people. U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd says Ravenel didn't sell any of the drugs. Lloyd says the investigation is just beginning.

Authorities say Ravenel will be allowed to turn himself in.
Lovely. It is a position ripe for corruption. the Treasurer when I was living in Columbia paid off his mistress with state funds.

Even better, this bozo was part of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, but has now been duly removed and presumably forgotten. As a point of interest to mention, Ravenel ran for the US senate in 2004. His campaign was run by a former University of South Carolina classmate of mine from College Republicans. He made a run for student government office in 1996 that wound up being investigated by the Federal Elections Commission. How can accomplish that in an SG election is beyond me, but he pulled it off. I am not tempted to mention the old adage birds of a feather…..

Read the whole article if you so desire.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nine Charleston Firefighters Killed

Nine firefighters from Charleston were killed when the roof of a furniture warehouse collapsed. My condolences to the families and I wish the firefighters themselves Godspeed. It is a tough but necessary job and takes brave individuals to risk their lives doing it.
James Marsters in Torchwood?

This site claims Buffy the Vampire slayer alumnus James Marsters will be appearing in the second season of Torchwood.

There is no word on whether it is a cameo or if he is playing a significant character. Marsters recently appeared on Smallville playing the villainous Brainiac. The episode was full of Buffy references which had fans all aflutter. Perhaps Torchwood is cheeky enough to do the same. There have been many comparisons between Torchwood and the Buffy spin off Angel. Marsters has appeared on both shows.

If only I did not think Buffy was a teenie bopper show and Joss Whedon was a no talent hack who only got his job because of hi family name, I might be excited about the news. As it is, it is just an early casting tidbit.
Utopia

Captain Jack Harkness returns, but so does the Master. Video is set to "Promised Land" by Joe Smooth.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fantastic Four Surfs to Number One

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer topped the box office this weekend despite bad reviews from critics and poor word of mouth from fan who had caught early rough cuts. The sequel scored $ 57.4 million, one million shy of its 2005 predecessor’s opening weekend take. When we are talking about that much money, there is no particular reason to claim the movie is somehow less than the original. However, the trend of comic book based movies in general has been to fade rather quickly. We shall see how the Fantastic Four hold up.

I think it did better than expected because it is so much different than the other comic book based movies of late. All the angst inherent within the Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil, and Hulk films brought me back to the days of the late ‘80’s when the over whelming popularity of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns meant every comic had to go through an angst, grim and gritty phase in order to cash in. It was cool for a while. I had only been collecting comic book for a short time, so the marked difference in pre and post 1986 comic books did not really dawn on me until I expanded my collection into older comic books. By the time the fad started cooling off, Spider-Man had been buried alive by Kraven the Hunter who subsequently committed suicide because he had no challenges left, Captain America had been replaced temporarily by a murderous psychopath, Bruce Banner was revealed to be a victim of horrific child abuse, Batgirl was torture and paralyzed from the waist down, and so on and so on. It got to be too much, but it still was not until a new generation of writers like Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek came along that classic heroism returned.

That is what FF: RTSS is all about. It is a family friendly, action romp not meant to be taken too seriously. Certainly that was the dynamic at the heart of the Stan Lee/ Jack Kirby stories the movie is based on. I understand movie are made for a different audience than omic book fans. I am still nitpicky about the changes often made. I was not a huge fan of cramming in 20 years of Chris Claremont subplots in X-Men and I squirmed an unhealthy amount watching the Hulk‘s depictions of child abuse, angst, angst, and more angst. That is not what summer movies are all about. Even 1989’s Batman, the first real blockbuuster comic book based summer movie I recall seeing in theaters, was fun despite its brooding nature. I am glad to see classic hero action is back and earning a ton of cash at the box office.

I imagine the returns bode well for the rumored Silver Sufer movie J. Michael Stracynski is writing. Early word has it will b a prequel of sorts dealing with Norrin Radd’s life on Zenn La, the coming of Galactus, and Radd sacrificing himself by becoming the Silver Surfer in order to save his home planet. Sounds like it might be heading into dark territory, but I am intrigued nonetheless. The Surfer was never a really big favorite of mine, but the late ‘800’s series penned by Jim starlin was quite good. Starlin made what could be a silly character into something meaningful. I trust JMS to do the same.
Evangeline Lilly Slide Show

Some of the most popular videos I make for YouTube are also the simplest to put together. Case in point: this slide show featuring photos of the beautiful Lost star, Evangeline Lilly. There are ample bikini shots thrown in for your ediication.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Yassir Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize Stolen

As a big skeptic of the efficacy of international law and consequently relations, the Nobel Peace Prize has been a dubious award in my opinion. I will admit it has been given out to some deserving individuals, but the awards committee lost all the meager credibility it ever mustered in my eyes when it awarded the prize to Palestinian Liberation organization Chairman Yassir Arafat in 1993. Arafat’s main qualification was being the world’s most successful terrorist. Thus it brings me great joy to report his Nobel Peace Prize has been stolen by Hams.

I do not see what the big rush was. Considering their similar resumes to Arafat, they probably just could have killed a few more Israelis then waited for the awards committee to give them one, too. Therewas certainly no need to go snatching up Arafat’s well earned reward. Perhaps they will put the thing up on E*Bay some other deserving soul like Kim Il Sung can have a shot at owning one. Too bad Saddam is rotting in hell. He would probably have liked to bid on it, too.

I have have no problem mocking the entire situation. The current situation in Gaza is the result of the Oslo Accord for which Arafat foolishly won his prize. This is the legacy of the “peace” won there. It has been a long time boiling. I do not mind Arafat’s legacy being looted, either. He stole millions, perhaps even billions, while his impoverished people suffered, all the while becoming an international hero. Heck, he visited the Clinton White House more than any other foreign “dignitary,” if you want to call him that. He was even the first foreign White House guest to see Clinton after an oral sex encounter with Monica Lewinsky according to the Lewinsky Report. No word on whether Arafat noticed the glow or high fived the Prez.

I love the iony of both Arafat’s Peace Prize win and his perceived heroism in light of what he really was. The man went from blowing up airports to having one named after him. That is just sick. I hope his Prize never turns up again.
Doctor Who--"Utopia"

Here we ave the first episode of the first trilogy for the revived Doctor Who series. I have to admit it was pretty run of the mill, Russell T. Davies filler right up until the final ten or so minutes. Then it became an anticipation for the next two episodes. That said, I have little to no attachment for the original series, so when an archrival of the Doctor appears, I have no sense of history. The Daleks I was familiar with. I like the new Cybermen much better than the old. They are at least less laughable than the odd tinfoil and bucket with eye holes cut out Cybermen of old. So while I abticipate the return of the Master being cool, I have no iea what his character is all about. Bear that in mind as I critique what is going on.

Like I said, the first good while here felt like filler. The TARDIS returns to Cardiff to refuel on the rift.. Capt. Jack Harkness hitches along for the ride. As fans of Torchwood know, he has been waiting for the Doctor a long time. But the reunion is not a happy one. The TARDIS is literally repulsed by Jack and travels to the end of the universe trying to get rid of him. It does not work. Even the Doctor is apprehensive at being this far out. All of reality is in its death throes at this point. The TARDIS crew wind up chased by a group o cannibals or vampires or something like that. It is not made very clear. They find refuge in a gated city with a scientist named Professor Yana and hundreds of refugees. They are the last surviving humans in the universe.

Yana ha been building a rocket with which he plans to take every survivor to a near mythical utopia. He ha heard a repeated message to come there. He has also heard voicesand drums in his own head his entire life. More on that in a minute. Yana cannot get the rocket to work until the Doctor and his handy dandy soni screwdriver show up. That thing is becoming too much of a crutch for stories, by the way. I am tempted to say lose it for good and find some way the Doctor can never build another. Now that the rocket works, the people escape, leaving Yana, who feels he is too old to start again on Utopia, behind.

Yan has a pocket watch just like the one the Doctor held his essence in during “Human Nature/The Family of Blood.” Martha recognizes the markings even if Yana does not. He is a Time Lord in disguise. As she runs off to tell the Doctor, Yana opens the watch. He is not just a Time Lord. He is the Master. It dawns on the Doctor that he has not found a frienly Time Lord, but one of his greatest enemies. The Master shuts down all the cities defenses allowing the cannibal vampire whatsises to attack. He steals the Doctor’s TARDISand strands the Doctor, Martha, and Jack in the future to be eaten or have their blood sucked or whatever it is those critters are supposed to do. The Master returns to Earth in the present dat as Harold Saxon, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Somehow or another, he uses that as a stepping stone to take over the world. But that is astory for next week.

We finally learn what we hd been watching Torchwood to discover, but to no avail. The doctor knew Jack was alive after “The Parting of the Ways” y dumped him because of his new immortality. Jack uses his time displacer to travel back to the21st century, but missed his shot. He actually wound up in 1869 and had to live his life up until the moment he clung onto the TARDIS this episode. So nowwe know how he fought in World War I. The two also discussed Rose. The Doctor mournfully so. Martha rolled her eyes the entire time, saying exactly what I think a lot of fans are: get over the chav already. Martha is had and shoulders better.

Watch this episode for the last ten minutes or so. The first 35 mean next to nothing. We do not even know if Utopia exists, much less if it is worth going to. But the return of the Master was cool even if he is either completely changed and old school fans hate it, or he is doig the same old shenanigans and it is just new to me. Next week appears to be thestory of his rise to power without nary an appearance by our TARDIs heroes. It still looks cool.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Doctor Who Season Finale Spoilers

The BBC has revealed some elements on the Doctor Who season finale, “The Last of the Time Lords,” to be aired in a couple weeks. The Master has managed to conquer Earth by becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. And people think Tony Blair was too autocratic. The entire planet is enslaved as a fleet of Time Lord ships surround the planet. The Doctor is held prisoner by the Master, so it is up to Martha Jones and Capt. Jack Harkness to come to the rescue.

Accurate spoilers are tough to come by on this side of the pond, so I am unaware if the Time Lord fleet is the revived Time Lords (good guys) or an army loyal to The Master (bad guys.) Either one would fulfill the Face of Boe’s message that the Doctor is not alone. There is also a rumor floating about Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor, has recorded some dialogue for either the finale or the fourth season. The eighth Doctor was the one who fought in the Time War, so we may finally get some details about the war if this turns out to be true.

Just a prediction on my part, but I suspect The Mater gave Time Lord technology to the Daleks, like the Genesis Ark last season, to fight the war in hopes both races would wipe each other out. He did not anticipate the Doctor surviving. It would make for some interesting conversation when the two finally meet up again, no?
Nifong Disbarred

District attorney Mike Nifong's disbarrment comes as no surprise to anyone-- especially Nifong himself.

This is a fine example of both abuse of power, hubris and the fact that despite stereotypes to the contrary of the legal profession being full of crooked lawyers getting away with all sorts of shenanigans, law is the most heavily policed for ethics profession in the world.

It is just too bad the falsely accused Duke lacrosse players will never get the taint off them, innocent or not.
Bob Barker Endorses Rosie O'Donell

Yesterday was indeed a big day for Bob Barker. Not only was his final installment of The Price is right shown in prime time, but he won the Daytime Emmy award for Best Game Show Host. But most everyone is talking about what happened at the press conference afterwards. Barker sort of endorsed his friend Rosie O’Donell as his sucessor, although he added the producers may not be looking for a female host. Fans are in a bit of a tizzy over the semi-endorsement. O’Donell has a lot of detractors out there.

I do not blame them. Her talk show was cancelled, she had to leave The View, she maintained a silly feud with Donald Trump, her political views are obnoxious (Recall her argument with Tom Selleck several years ago about gun control when he was a guest on her show.) and her odd obsession with weirdo Scientologist Tom Cruise all add up to too much baggage for producers to consider her seriously. I suspect Barker was just speaking up for his friend regardless. He has no say in the matter of choosing his replacement.

Evidently Mario Lopez is no longer in the running as I asserted last night. The main contenders are said to be Todd Newton of E!, Mark Steines of Entertainment Tonight, George Hamilton and John O'Hurley. Hamilton seems a little long in the tooth for the job. The others I cannot say much about. I am surprised Tom Bergeron or Jeff Probst are in the running. Probst has griped on a number of occasions how tired he is of traveling with Survivor. This hosting job sounds right up his alley.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Evangeline Lilly

It has been a while since I posted some Evangeline Lilly photos. With Lost in a long hiatus, it may be a while before she comes back into the spotlight. Better get while the getting is good, no? Some of these photos are a bit old, but they are bikini and bare midriff shots, a couple with her soaking wet. Worth seeing despite the vintage.

Goodbye, Bob Barker

The final Bob Barker hosted episode of The Price is Right aired this morning and was repeated tonight before the Daytime Emmy awards. I have not consistently watched TPiR in years, but I have gone through long stretches of it in the past. It was a staple of Christmas vacation in particular. Summer not so much-- there was a swimming pool to be in --but it was a way of counting the days during Christmas break. I knew I would have five more days of Bob Barker before I would be re-shackled back to a desk.

The last time I watched TPiR regularly was after my colon surgery. It took me months to recover amd though I did not pay much attention to anything, must less television, I watched. Rod Roddy had passed away from cancer by then. It was palpable what a sense of loss his absence was. You could tell then things were winding down even though Barker still maintained every bit of enthusiasm when some idiot trying to win a dining room set has no idea how much a box of Rice-a Roni costs. Day in and day out in Barker’s case. It takes someone who really loves his job to not go completely bonkers.

He is a large part of the show’s success. He may be the only part, in fact. The games are incredibly repetitive. I note from just a couple weeks ago when I was flipping channels and stopped on the show that someone was playing Plinko. I recall that game as far back as the early ’80’s watching some old lady play it while I was eating some donuts. The game probably goes back further than that. Point is, people tuned in everyday to see Bob Barker do the same thing over and over again. Now he is gone.

The show generates quite a bit of revenue for CBS. They are going to keep it going with someone. There are hints former Saved by the Bell jock and Dancing with the Stars winner Mario Lopez may take over. I wish whoever takes over well, but I suspect the show is going to go south no matter who hosts. If he he does poorly, the show's staleness will come through but he will never be able to replace Bob Barker in a lot of fans eyes. Stepping into Barker's shoes not a coveted job to have.
Mike Nifong Resigns

Mike Nifong, who heavily pushed the case against three Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, resigned on the stand today while testifying in his ethics hearing. i cannot help but think he is still being a egotist here.

He appeared to have visions of himself as an heroic crusader of the downtrodden when he was pursuing the case. Now he is being a drama queen preempting the ethics committee which is bound to disbar him for withholding crucial DNA evidence from the defense and other dishonesty.His career was over no matter what. Maybe he will move to Idaho and try to reinvent himself like Mark Fuhrman. He seems like the type who would write a book on his experiences and weasel his way into a job as a legal correspondent.

The three accused lacrosse players were declared innocent by the North Carolina Attorney General a couple months ago. Not not guilty. Innocent of all charges. There is a significant diference and Nifong is paying for it now.
Housekeeping

I switched over to the new Blogger a few months ago but did not take advantage of every new feature. In order to do so I would have had to switch templates. There was a warning I would lose all sorts of edits in the changeover. I had all sorts of bric a brac in the sidebar I wanted to keep, so I never took the plunge. The only advantage I got out of the new Blogger was the Label feature, which I have had a wonderously good time with. Perfect for a statistics junkie like me.

However, when a visitor clicked on a label, he would only see the last thirty or so posts. What was the point of that, I thought to myself. Actually, I said it out loud. I talk to myself all the time. I am weird that way. But I digress. In response, I have now converted over fully to the new Blogger. The sidebar is not what it used to be, but the labels are there for you to easily find whatever you might be looking for. I am a bit mortified for you to know I have that many posts about Jessica Simpson, but you have to take new things warts and all.

Theswitch gave me a chance to redo my blogroll from scratch as well. I believe I have re-added everyone who has linked to, but I could have made a mistake. If you have been left off, it is not meant to be a slight. You were accidentally lost in the shuffle, buried in Technorati results, not traded on Blogshares, no longer counted in the Ecosytem, or my fading peeper just missed you while searching through those sites. Drop my a comment and I will put you back on. Or if you are new, still comment and I will add you for the first time. The more the merrier, says I.
Kurt Waldheim (1918-2007)

If you had asked me about Kurt Waldheim before yesterday, I would have said he died years ago. In fact, he died yesterday. I am further unsure of what to say about the man. He definitely had an interesting, but complicated life. His reign as Secretary-General of the united nations was one of the finest that organization of undemocratic do nothings ever had, which I guess is not saying much. The controversies began when Walldheim went back to Austria to establish a political career. He did go on to an unremarkable presidency but was for ever tainte by his World War II affiliations.

Waldheim was a commissioned officer in a German unit in the Balkans which was party to numerous atrocities. Waldheim claimed he never took part in any war crimes and established an independent group of jurists in Vienna to establish the facts of the matter. The group determined Waldheim was “in the vicinity” of atrocities, but never took part. Not everyone took those ambiguous findings as conclusive. The united states put Waldheim on awatch list of people banned from entering the country. It was never lifted.

The waldheim situation brings up many issues about how to conduct oneself in war. There is no doubt Waldheim joined up willing as opposed to the current pope who was foced into Hilter’s Youth under penalty of death. But what exactly does one man do when he signs up to defend his country and that country winds up party to despicable acts? Is it reasonable to ask him to make a moral stand in the middle of all the madness when it would mean certain death? Woul you do that? Who could he have saved to begin with? I do not know any of those answers, nor do I necessarily believe he did not directly participate in atrocities himself. I do find it telling famed Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal defended the findings which exonerated Waldheim.

I also note Waldheim was one of the voices, along with Jimmy Carter, on the Voyager probe, so it is likely if there are aliens out there, his is the first voice they will hear. Pretty indicative of humanity, I would say. Commit brutal acts of inhumanity and still become a world leader even though we cannot decide if you should be given a hero’s welcome or taken out and shot. You know, the probe also features Werner von Braun and scenes from the 1936 Olympics. Nazis are well represented in space, no?

Normally I close out these obituaries with “Godspeed.” Somehow I do not think that is appropriate here. If I am wrong, Waldheim will just ave to forgive me.