Friday, August 31, 2007

The End of Summer

August is almost over and so is the summer of 2007. Tomorrow is the start of Labor Day weekend which marks the official end of sun and fun. Of course, once you are no longer a student, summer does not mean that much. It is just the usual routine except with hot, muggy days.

It was a much less eventful summer than last year with the lovely hernia surgery and subsequent obstruction issues. I do not believe there was a day from June to September on which I did not have to deal with some problem related to one or the other. But that is in the past.

What has this summer been like? Subdued is the best word for it. Save for a few snags it has been rather monotonous. I am not complaining, just noting I seem to be becoming…what? Complacent? Resigned? Mellow? Who knows? I guess we will figure that out as fall descends upon us.
Kevin Smith Not Directing Battlestar Galactica

It is old news now, but for the sake of posterity, Kevin Smith was tapped to direct an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Now he is not.
Tony Snow Resigns

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow announced his resignation effective September 14th. He cited finances as his main reason. The job is great, but he has his kids’ college education to pay for and other future family expenses.

I suspect the stated rationale might be a polite way of announcing his health has taken a turn for the worse. Speaking from experience, when you are about to go through a strenuous medical procedure in which you are going to suffer visible debilitations, you want to go through it with as few prying eyes as possible no matter how sympathetic those eyes might be. Snow’s first bout with cancer was by all accounts brutal. A second bout can only be worse.

(For the record, Snow had colon cancer. Worse than my diverticulitis, but a major colon ailment is a major colon ailment. Point is, I am empathetic, not just sympathetic.)

I hope I am wrong here. Snow may very well want to sock away cash for the future and figures now is the optimal time to cash in on his White House ties. Either way, I wish him the best.
Spock and Divergent Realities: J. J. Abrams' Star Trek

Paramount has been obtuse about whether J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek film will be a reboot, reimagining, or something else. New rumors have surfaced possibly explaining why that is. I will go into details below, but bear in mind this is still an unconfirmed rumor. That said, it is also potentially highly spoilerish if true, so read on only if you really want to know.

Evidently, Star Trek will take place in an alternate timeline. The Romulans have apparently either developed a way of time traveling or have gone back inn time by accident. Whichever is true, they seize the opportunity to kill James T. Kirk and causing the timeline to diverge into the one in which the movie will take place. This is a way of having new stories without negating all past continuity. Somehow or another, the real Spock, in a Leonard Nimoy cameo, knows the truth about what happened. Tragically for him, the movie is taking a page from Doctor Who and destroying Vulcan, leaving him as one of, if not the last, Vulcans.

My first thought upon reading this was DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths which consolidated the multiearths into one allowing for characters to be updated with modern twists. Everything prior to the Crisis still occurred, but only one character, Dr. Destiny, remembers that fact. It made sense to do that. Superman, as a `for instance, had battled Nazi spies in the ‘40’s and disco monsters in the ‘70’s while both were implausibly in continuity. Perhaps it is time to get away from the hippie roots of Trek for something a bit more relevant.

One question that has not been clarified: does this mean no Kirk? No one has been cast in the role yet. You would expect his would be the first role announced. How would fans react to that? Years ago, Abrams wrote a draft for Superman Returns which changed things so radically, fan uproar caused the studio to abandon the script. Ironically, the story of the script changes was broken by Ain’t It Cool News, the same source of this Trek Rumor. Word has it the character of Hurlery on Abrams’ Lost was created as a jab at AICN’s Harry Knowles in revenge for the script being canned.

Enterprise toyed with the idea of rebooting the timeline but ultimately failed to resonate with fans. There were myriad reasons why, not the least of which was awful writing, but a prominent reason was playing fast and loose with Trek canon. But the best Trek has often involved time travel and alternate universes, so perhaps this will fly better than I think. Assuming it is all true, of course. Abrams has kept his script under wraps and will only allow the already cast actors to go over it while he is with them. There may be no way to really know until we see it on the big screen.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Miss Teen South Carolina's Flub

I assume at this point you have seen Miss Teen South Carolina making a mess of a aemi-geography question during last week’s pageant and the ensuing press coverage. Frankly, you could not have missed it. But assuming you have, the poor girl had to answer a question regarding why so many Americans cannot find the United States on a map. She hem hawed and flittered about with an answer that, even though I have viewed it three times, I still cannot decipher.

I cannot say I am shocked at her answer. Come on, people. It is a beauty pageant. These girls are not supposed to be able to discuss Malthusian economic theory and the significance of colors in Moby Dick in between the evening gown competition and the bikini strut. They are supposed to look cute and wiggle their behinds at just the right moment. Miss Teen South Carolina did a decent job of that.

What she did not do was get her inanities down pat. Why did she not just say some meaningless platitude about the poor state of education in this country and grin her pearly whites? No one would have cared what she said. They were too busy tapping their feet impatiently waiting for the bikini competition to begin. Why they even bother to ask the girls these questions is beyond me. Besides, after six years of President Bush fumbling through answers in a similar manner, we ought to not only be used to it, but have expectations Miss Teen South Carolina might make a mediocre president one day.

The press coverage has been unreal. It has not helped matters the girl has made the rounds justifying her answer in an attempt to squeeze out her fifteen minutes of fame before Playboy comes calling for a centerfold, but the press has been repeatedly calling her performance a meltdown. No, it was not a meltdown. The girl just forgot how to make a pat answer. It does mean she committed the cardinal sin of the post modern era—she looked bad on television –but that is no rwason to make this a more dramatic than it was.
Reemergence

I will now be returning to blogging after a seven day absence for various and sundry reasons. I have had a lot of quiet time in the interim to think about things, watch the goings on of the world around me, marvel at its general stupidity, and just generally pass quality time. It means I have a lot to say in my reemerging.

Even better news, my sister was gracious enough to buy me a brand new computer a couple days ago. It is miles ahead of the glorified typewriter I had been using over the last few years. It has more Ram and memory, so I will also be able to make my videos more elaborate since I do not have to count each kilobyte in deciding which files to *ahem* acquire.

But those will come a bit later. For now, I have a thing or two to say about a thing or two worth talking about. Assuming anyone still checks into the place (crickets usually begin chirping after I skip a day, much less seven) I will see you when I return with those things. Until then, watch out for falling anvils.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lost Casting News

The fourth season of Lost begins filming in Hawaii this week after a delay due to the hurricane. Casting for new characters went right up to the wire in large part because Kristen Bell turned down the much ballyhooed role of Charlotte. The producers appear to have found their Charlotte an several others. The casting additions are as follows:
Ken Leung--impressed critics last year with a turn on The Sopranos last season. Heung will play the recurring role of Russell*, a brilliant mathematician who is capable of great insights and has a tremendous knowledge across various scientific fields. He's expected to first turn up in February's season premiere.

Lance Reddick--the star of The Wire will play Arthur, the initimdating corporate trainer. I have not watched The Wire, but sources say his character on that show is essentially as Arthur is escribed.

Jeremy Davies--best known for Saving Private Ryan, Davies will play an as yet unidentifiedcharacter for eiht episodes.

Rebecca Mader--Charlotte, presumably.
Apparently Aaron will be featured prominently in the first major storyline. The casting director has been frantic searching for infants to play Claire’s child. He has already ast six infants for the first episode and needs at least that many for the second. Sounds as though the interest the Others had in Claire during her pregnancy has not dissipated.
Watching Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison is my all time favorite writer. I discovered him relatively late in my descent into becoming a bibliophile or at least I thought I did. Turns out I liked him a lot longer than that but was not aware of it. Most first exposure to Elson was his television work, most notably the Star Trek episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” often cited as the best Trek episode in its forty year history, the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode of The Outer Limits, and the “Crazy as a Soup Sandwich” episode of the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone, all episodes I saw sometime in the ‘80’s as a wee tyke.

By the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, I was beginning to pay attention to the writers and artists working on comic books I liked. Ellison’s name came up sporadically, but memorably.

But it was not until the mid- ‘90’s when I began watching his commentary segments on the Sci Fi Channel that I began to seek out his novels, short stories, and essays because of how much I enjoyed his dark wit and cynical view of the world. I was not as jaded then as I am now, but that just means I have grown even more like in my advancing years. Not only that, but he has carved out a career as a writer in the purest sense. He is a writer who has been a journalist, essayist, novelist, screenwriter, television writer, and comic book scripter and won high praise and awards for all of it. You are not going to find too many writers, if any, in the future who can move between all those mediums and still maintain credibility. Heck, you are already scoffing at the television and comic book credits as sticking out like a sore thumb.

I discovered Ellison’s television commentaries about thirteen years ago. Since then, I have read just about everything he has written that is still in print and a lot that is not. I have scoured used book stores and online sources for many items over that time. But even after all that, I am still fascinated mostly with the man himself. Below I have posted a three part interview with him. It appears to be from a show profiling fantasy writers. The interviewer is pretty awful at his job and Ellison knows it, so he often just runs off on rants regarding whatever he feels like talking about. That means the writing profession, his writing process, his inspiration, stupid people, religion, and why the cockroaches ought to be given a second shot at running the world. If you know me at all, you will quickly see why I like him as much as I do. The show lasts about thirty minutes. Enjoy.




Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Michael Vick's Jury

You will probably want to plea bargain in Virginia court, too, Vick.
Mindset List

Beloit College has published its annual Mindset List on the incoming freshmen class. This list gets passed around every year and I always read it even if I most often do not see the point. While I do consider most 18 year olds to be dumb as pencil erasers, I think thee lists are insulting. Surely kids cannot be so lacking in self-awareness they have no sense of what went on before them, particularly if they are making the jump from high school to college.

The real purpose of the list is twofold. First, to let aging professors update their cultural references (assuming they care what the kids they teach think) and to make fogies like me feel older than I am.

The incoming class of 2011 was mostly born in 1989. I remember 1989 vividly. It was the latter half of my sixth grade year and the first half of my seventh. My sixth grade teacher was also the principal’s wife which I know is the only reason the incompetent old hag kept her job. If anyone did not need to be shaping young minds, it was her. She was one of those sheltered fundamentalist Christians who thought doing anything more exciting than watching grass grow would send you straight to hell She could identify Satanic messages in a bowl of cornflakes. There was an upside to her, though. This was about the age when toys lost their appeal and music, friends, and dating started to emerge as important. That woman did more to promote sexual perversion and rock album sales than any person I have ever known with her vivid descriptions of the Satanic aspects of specific bands and the like.

What else? That was the year I started going to comic book conventions regularly. The Tim Burton Batman movie was the hit of the summer and brought comics to a level of popularity they had not enjoyed in years. My neighbor was my best friend. She had a swimming poll I used to spend every day in aall summer long. I was playing the NES, discovering Aerosmith and some guy named Garth Brooks. Quantum Leap quickly became my favorite television show.

That was the year Hurricane Hugo tore through South Carolina with aforce not seen since General Sherman’s march to the sea. Our family vacations were forever altered by the damage done to our beach house. The economy took a downturn and alcoholism reare its ugly head. We spent Christmas in Florida with my mother’s family. It was the beginning of the incredibly awkward Christmases I spent for years.

I remember all that year just as well as my freshman year of college in 1995-96. It is sobering to realize today’s freshman have no memories of a time I recall very clearly. As if I needed something else to make me feel old and worn out.
Lost: The Flash Forward II

A second music video for the flash forward from, "Through the Looking Glass." This one is more from Kate's perspective and features a different, more appropriate song.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Christopher Hitchens' Religion of Atheism

Ever since watching his interview with Charlie Rose last week regarding his anti religion screed, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” I have sought out further insight on religion from Hitchens. He has been a longtime atheist. Ever since he learned in Sunday school Christians believe every animal on Earth lived within walking distance of Noah’s house, in fact. It has only been fairly recently that Hitchens has turned his writing skills towards critiquing religion. Near as I can tell, it began seven or eight years ago with heavy criticism of Mother Theresa, a woman he has accused of being a suffering junkie and of misusing charitable funds for Catholic operations rather than direct aid to India’s poor. As he I currently working on a book about Thomas Paine and his book, The Age of Reason, I do not believe it will end anytime soon.

Hitchens for the longest time was a leftist utopian to the point that was his religion, whether he will admit it or not. Shortly after 9/11, he changed his mind a he became an advocate of the war on terror and of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ironic, as he avidly opposed Desert Storm which wound up having a better rationale for being fought. Hitchens dumped his godless utopian religion in exchange for the religion of atheism. In some ways he is insightful about it. In many others, he is extremely obnoxious and every bit as fundamentalist as those he opposes.

Truth be told, I have not heard much new from him on the subject. He does not tread a whole lot of new ground He believes religion has encouraged killing of millions in wars; it has fostered ignorance and superstition which results in unhealthy practices; it has fought reason, science, and modern thought; it is full of inconsistencies, errors, impossibilities and irrational assertions all in the service of superstition. He is right about every single one of those points, but these are conclusions people, religious and non, have drawn from the beginning of time.

I think Hitchens misses the point that religion does not poison everything; rather, people poison religion. It is people that poison everything, not just religion. I suppose it is a key example of the concept of “looking good on paper.” Religion is natural. We look for patterns in things. We want to think there is a Creator out there. The sheer fact we have a concept there is a God points to there actually being one. While Hitchens and his kind would like to think science and reason solve every problem, they are going to have to deal with the fact that people instinctively feel the need to call upon a higher power when they suffering in the same way a child calls out for his parents in the same situation. It is indeed the same principle. The Bible many times refers to God the Father and Christians as children.

I am less enthralled by what Hitchens has to say on the subject these days. If he could just open his eyes a bit more and see what he really despises is fallen human nature, he would finally be on the right track. Right now his just just grinding an age old ax against a subject that has existed long before him and will last far eyond when he has turned to dut.
True Colors

I am reentering my blue period.
Janeane Garofalo Joins 24

It is hard to see where they are going with this one, but since only Jack and Chloe appear to be immune from being killed, she will probably kick the bucket sometime over the the season. Garofalo will play an FBI agent embroiled in whatever latest mess Jack Bauer has gotten himself into. You may recall Garofalo played an FBI agent before in one of my favorite movies, Clay Pigeons.

I am surprised she hasagreed to join the show. Garofalo is an outspoken liberal who last took a turn on the probably more to her liking The West Wing. Her star does not shine as brightly these days, so I will bet her role will be subdued here.

24 returns in January.
Lindsay Lohan: Maxim Cover Girl

Maxim has decided to use Lindsay Lohan as the over girl for its tenth anniversary issue. Because nothing says desirable, hot girl quite like cocaine possession, DUI busts, rehab stints, and an awful movie. Get in line, guys. She is waiting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Michael Vick Plea Bargains

Atlanta Falcons (former?) quarterback Michael Vick has plea bargained his federal charges on animal cruelty. Evidently he will not be thrown into a pit to fight to the death as I thought was a good idea.

There is no word yet about Virginia commonwealth charges being brought against him, noer has the NFL announced its decision about his future, but I imagine a lifetime ban will be forthcoming. Vick is way more a liability these days than a spectator draw. He will never live this down and the Falcons will never tolerate the drag he would have on the team.

He is a subhuman idiot, to boot.
Joan Collins as The Rani in Doctor Who?

Another day, another possibly outlandish Doctor Who casting rumor. I have not poked around Outpost Gallifrey to see if this one has been debunked yet, but some eventually shows up around here to set the record straight if it is. Rumor has it Joan Collins has signed on to season four in order to play returning villain The Rani. The Rani is yet another refugee from Gallifrey. Rumors of her return were sparked off by what was obviously the hand of an older woman picking up the Master’s ring from beside his funeral pyre.

Collins is no stranger to the BBC or to science fiction. She recently had a two episode guest starring role on Footballers and she played doomed pacifist Edith Keeler in Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever,” thought by many to be the finest episode in all of Trekdom.

As I said, I have no clue I this is true or not. The rumor does seem to indicate this will be Russell T. Davies’ last season as he appears to be running through his wish list wit casting choices. So far we definitely have Kylie Minogue and speculation has fluttered about Dennis Hopper, Ben Kingsley, Britney Spears, Prince Charles, Tony Blair, and Noel Clark reprising his role as Mickey Smith. Quite a jammed packed season if only one or two of these casting coups pans out.
Kristen Bell Joins Heroes

For this she turned down Lost?At least we will get achance to check her out every week. that isan opportunity we have been missing since Veronica Mars' untimely cancellation.
Lost: The Flash Forward

I am done with the Star Trek music videos for a while. Instead I am going back to my old stomping grounds of Lost. I have started with the flash forward from the third season finale, "Through the Looking Glass." Right after the show ended, Losties nearly crashed the internet talking about the flashback that turned out to not be a flashback at all. I have tried to set a somber mood with it. Whether it is effective is up to you. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

WGA Labor Talks Stall

Talks between the Writer's Guild of America and management have stalled. The WGA has been touteing its $ 9. 2 million strike kitty, which also does not bode well. It is virrtually inveitable the WGA will begin a strike on November 1st.

At issue is a larger chunk of DVD profits and cash for product placement within movies and television shows. The current operating agreement between labor and management was put in place before the rise of either and there are no stipulations for including them in royalties.

What would this mean for movies and your favorite television shows? Any script written before thestrike can still be produced, so production companies are locking in scripts for the long haul. If the strike goes on longer than expected, look for lots more reality shows, game shows, and new, mediocre talent spread really thin.
Remembering Groucho

It was overshadowed by the death of Elvis Presley, as the remembrances will be toay, but Groucho Marx died thirty years ago today. Had he not died three daysafter Elvis, Groucho would have had a much bigger and well deserved send off for his contributions to comedy. But at the time, Elvis’ death was a shock and Groucho’s health had been declining for years. His final public appearance had been three years previous when he accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Academy Awards and took about on behalf of his decease brothers. Quite a way to leave the public eye, huh?

I am impressed Groucho ever became a success. He was born into a slum from an immigrant family. He was an acid tongued cynic full of self doubts and neuroses but had a rapier wit. (Sound familiar?) The rest of the Marx Brothers had their own demons. Chico was a womanizing gambler. Harpo was practically illiterate. Zeppo felt forgotten as the straight man, left his brothers, and fell into obscurity. Yet for a long while it all clicked.

Groucho’s career lasted from 1910 until the early ‘70’s. He lead his brothers in a vaudeville act. Afterwards they made fourteen movies which, while declining in quality over the years, still hold up as some of the funniest ever made. The Brothers—and Groucho in particular – had away of tweaking the pretentious upper crust of society which not only resonated with Depression Era audiences, but still have a timeless quality now. The elites always set themselves up for jabbing. After the Mar Brothers split, Groucho hosted the game show You Bet Your Life for fourteen years. On the show, Groucho frequently traded witty barswith contestants.

I cannot write about Groucho without mentioning how it all ended. It was a sad state of affairs that he would up alienated from his family in his last few years by Erin Fleming, his caregiver and aspiring actress who used Groucho as a tool to further her own career. His family felt she was pushing the frail, sickly comedian too hard for her own benefit. She likely was, but to no avail. If you have ever heard of her without being a Gouchophile yourself to begin with, go to the head of the class because she never made it in show business. Groucho passed away from pneumonia at the age of 86.

I have seen the Marx Brothers films so many times, I can virtually act them out myself. Yet I cannot help but which every chance I get. I used to be an avd reader of books written both by and about Groucho. He was deeply wounded by the fact he only had an elementary education, so hhe became a voracious reader and writer himself. Groucho was well versed in the classics, yet never bragged about it publicly. Collections of his correspondences show a eeply introspective man well aware of the world around him. All the great satitiats are, but Groucho was one of a kind. I doubt we will ever see anyone else like him again.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Jessica Simpson Breaks Her Nose

Her last movie, Blonde Ambition, is heading straight to video, but Jessica Simpson has finally caught a break with her movie career. Too bad it was her nose.

If this story was about anyone else, I would be skeptical, but with Jessica, I have no problem believing it. Jessica was running with a gun on the set of her latest movie, Major Movie Star, when she fell flat on her face, breaking her nose. Either she will have to wear a bandage for the remainder of filming or her nose will have to be digitally altered.

Personally, i think she just wante a nose job like her sister even though she has claimed she never would out of fondness for the bump in the center.
Hurricane Dean Media Watch

I am not trying to make light of the storm, especially since it may be the biggest to ever hit Jamaica, but watching the news organizations cover Hurricane Dean is amusing. Matt Drudge is referring to Dean as a “hell storm.” The 24 hour news networks are all scrambling to get reporters and experts in place as though they are just about to cover the beginning of a war.

All of it is for the sake of ratings, emmy nods, and book deals. You an almost feel it in the air journalists would like another Katrina to cover. I remember the coverage back then and how many reporters were clearly horrified by what they were witnessing in the hurricane’s aftermath. But it was a big chance to (rightfully so) blast the Bush Administration, so they could suffer some human tragedy for the sake of that.

Come to think of it, the Administration has not been able to find its footing since Katrina. Conspiracy theorists claim since Bush’s support was in rural areas rather than urban, he did not think New Orleans was much of a priority even if it is (was?) the US’s fourth largest port. I do not buy that or any ideas that Bush is a racist. I just think he and most of his appointees, like FEMA head Michael Brown, are incompetent boobs. You do know FEMA now stands for “Fix Everything My A - -,” do you not?

I have grown as skeptical and weary of the media as I have the bozos in Washington. But they are still funny to watch. Or at least they would be if people were not suffering for their sake.
Star Trek: Kung Fu Fighting

Here is the last of my Star Trek videos for a while. It sounded like a fun idea at first, but I did not realize how tedious making 28 videos in a row on the same material would be. Silly me, huh? I will probably come back to it eventually, but no time soon. I could not end without a compilation video encompassing the entire season, so here it is. It has already been critiqued as not matching up to the music well, so there is another clue for me to give it up for awhile.

For a mission of peaceful exploration, the crew of the Enterprise gets into an awful lot of brawls. I imagine you can already tell what song I used.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Michael Vick Faces More Charges

Things are getting (thankfully) worse for the barbarous Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Not only is he facing federal charges for participating in an illegal dog fighting ring, the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney is Gerald Poindexter will be submitting the case to a grand jury. Animal cruelty is a felony in Virginia. The punishment is up to five years per animal’s death. Eight dogs died, so Vick faces a penalty of up to forty years in jail.

He has already been suspended for the 2007 season by the NFL, but he faces a lifetime ban for his participation in a gambling ring. Vick and all others NFL players have it in their contracts they will not participate in any gambling activities which would sully the reputation of the NFL. Associates claim Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring’s “operation and gambling monies were almost exclusively funded by Vick. It looks like Vick is going to get it from all sides.

What he should have done was stab two people to death like OJ. Then he could have gotten away with it, kept his pension, and played golf the rest of his life instead. Will these NFL athletes never learn?
Giuliani's Foreign Policy Errors

I have declared my support for Rudy Giuliani as president, but I am a fair critic of his shot comings. As the former mayor of New York City, I understand his political experience possesses little foreign policy knowledge beyond what an intellectual like him would routinely discuss with interested associates. I have faith he understands that and surrounds himself with people in the know. I am, however, becoming more convinced Giuliani is the most dangerous kind of political leader: the kind who does not know how little he actually knows.

I offer as proof a piece supposedly authored by him in Foreign Affairs. I say supposedly because I would like to offer him the chance to claim some low level staff member wrote it without his knowledge or approval. It reads like a freshman year Political Science term paper. The biggest problem with it and Giuliani’s foreign policy itself is he is hung up on 9/11. I understand that is his hook, but he needs to at the very least e able to flesh it out more. Already the luster is off him from his actions that day. Critics claim he was a glory hound and he has not been as supportive of emergency services workers as is claimed.

Giuliani begins his essay by saying we are all part of the 9/11 Generation. I disagree at this point. Perhaps three or four years ago that might have been true. Today I think it is more likely we are part of the Iraq War Generation. We have already largely forgotten 9/11. we did not believe it could happen in the first place and we certainly do not believe it will happen again. The sting is gone, but our minds are very clear about the lessons of Iraq. The war is going to leave a much more lasting impression on our nation than 9/11 in the same way as Vietnam.

Giuliani is correct about global terrorism being our number one foreign policy priority. I do not and never have bought into the idea that we “fight them there so we do not have to fight them here.” These are not terrorist armies. These are groups of thugs. Fighting them in a traditional manner with armies is like stomping on individual ants. You have the satisfaction of killing them, but you are not really stopping anything. There are millions more at the source. Besides, virtually every major terrorist act since 9/11 has been internal citizens rebelling against their adopted countries.

That is more an assimilation problem which I think Giuliani is coming around to see. The other day he announced he would stop the “invasion.” Sure he was pandering to the anti illegal immigrant rowd, but as he investigates deeper into the issue, he will note home grown terror starts with immigrants who want to bring their ol country with them.

I am coming around to the idea the war on terror is a matter of tighter immigration, covert, Israeli style police actions, and removing our dependence on foreign oil. The idea o a long, flashy made for television war has gone by the wayside. We needed that after 9/11. It was necessary too make a show of force in Afghanistan. I even think knocking over Saddam Hussein’s regime was a good idea since it showed we were ready to fight any and all threats, not just Al Qaeda. But the point has been proven. Now we need a new strategy.

Can Giuliani come up with that strategy? Yes, and I believe so because I am cynical, ironically enough. Giuliani’s presidential platform boil down to “Rudy Giuliani is Awesome>’ He became a liberal to support MvGovern. He became a conservative to work for Reagan. He returned to being a liberal to get elected mayor. Now he is a conservative again to get elected president. The man will adapt with the political winds. We just have to make sure they blow in the right direction.
Homecoming

One year ago today I finally came home from the hospital after my obstruction. The entire incident wound up leaving a deep impact on me for various reasons. Some of them I cannot entirely put my finger on. Delayed reactions, maybe? Perhaps reality finally sinking in. It could have mostly been just a matter of no longer needing the part of me I invented in order to get where I wanted to go. We all have one of those. Sometimes you even lose yourself to be replaced by the creation until it is too late. I am not sure that happened to me, but whatever happened, it was not good.

First and foremost, there is a funny thing about hospital time. It never runs normally. When you have constant treatments and have to go to lab or radiology or surgery all the time, it actually moves quite fast. There does not seem to be any break in between. There is only enough time to collapse into sleep for a while before being abruptly awakened for something else. It is restless sleep, as though you never got any at all. On the other hand, there is sit a wait hospital time. This is the time of calculating what to do next. It is all about anticipation of something you know you are not going to like, but you have to go through it to reach the other side.

My hospital stay was of the latter kind. It started just a few days after I had already had abdominal surgery. The staples were still not comfortably stretched from the incision before there I speculation I may have another. It went on like that for days and days. During the process, I was taken for a CT scan daily to check the movement of the injected fluid, assuming there was any. For the longest time, there was not. These were the times when I got dragged out of bed, taken in a wheelchair downstairs, and surrounded by people who talk around you as though you are not even there. Otherwise, I just lay in bed and watch fluids pump in and out. Tedious, but it had a certain rhythm.

So it went. If you have never had the pleasure of an obstruction, let me describe it. It is not painful, per se, especially if you stay on your back. For whatever reason, laying on your side is aggravates the situation. It is an empty, hollow feeling, almost as though your abdomen is ready to collapse on itself. You cannot eat or drink, but you have all sorts of strange cravings. I once dreamed (or hallucinated, I honestly do not know which) eating an entire cheesecake. Cheesecake is basically sugar and protein. One assumes it was my starving body screaming out to me. I managed to lose fifteen pounds over the course of the ordeal, which would be the equivalent of thirty pounds on a person in better shape than I.

Therein was my problem. Ever more with the obstruction than my colon vivisection two years prior, I thought constantly about food. Not just foo, because I am and always have been finicky, but memories attached to food. I started to recall Sunday dinners, quickie ham sandwich lunches in the summer, and always having aked goods in the house. My old house. My home which was long gone by the time. Dead just like my mother. Dead just like everything in my life.

In the years prior to this, I never seemed to let myself feel such a sense of deep sorrow. Things happened in such a rapi sucession. There was lossafter loss and failure upon failure to the point I was more numb than anything else. I did not have time to think about any of it. Then it all just stopped. I stagnated with life right up until my hernia surgery. I just went through the motions not really grasping rwality. Resined to my fate, yes, but not really grasping what that fate really was. But in those moments, lying in a hospital bed, I finally did. To this day, it has not appeared any brighter.

I avoided surgery simply on a fluke. I left the hospital to regain weight on soup, oft sandwiches, and cereal. I missed the days when everyone around me tried to get me to eat anything just to regain weight. I knew that was gone, too. Regaining weight was slow and tedious work. Once I even fell during a dizzy spell and injured my shoulder and knee. Just to put icing on the cake. Even the cat avoided me for the longest time. Maybe she noticed there was something trang going on or perhaps she just sense my sour mood. Whatever it was, it capped off a truly rottn time in my life that still haunts me.
Star Trek--"The City on the Edge of Forever"

Edith Keeler must die. Video is set to "Soon" by LeAnn Rimes

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Evangeline Lilly

It is still quite a wait before we get nw episodes of Lost, but the cast i still out and about. Here are some photos of the lovely Evangeline Lilly from an Australian talk show.
Jose Padilla Convicted

What a winding path it was. Jose Padilla is a US citizen from Chicago who was held for 3 ½ years on suspicion of terrorism. At first he was accused of planning to set off a dirty bomb of radioactive materials. The allegations never panned outand were not part of the chares in his eventual trial.

Padilla’s case was eventually tied into a alleged cell of terrorists in South Florida who were supplying aide, weapons, and recruits to terrorist organizations. Padilla was attached to the case just as the Supreme Court was looking into the matter of a UScitizen being held as an enemy combatant without charges being filed against him.Padilla was convicted today of being part of Al Qaeda. The principle proof against him was a signed and fingerprinted document in which he agreed to attend an Al Qaeda training amp. The document was discovered by the CIA in Afghanistan in 2001.

Human rights activists have protested Padilla’s treatment, claiming the extreme isolation of the last 3 ½ years broke him down. While I am squeamish at the idea o a US citizen being arrested and held for years on suspicions alone, I find it difficult to sympathize with Padilla. This certainly is not a matter of some really nice guy being railroaded into a show trial. He was clearly a threat and the right verdict was drawn today. I am just not very proud of the way it had to be done. Some people just will not let you have your principles, though.
Christopher Hitchens Unbound

Earlier this evening I was pointed to the home page of Charlie Rose. For the better part of a year, his web team has been assembling videos of nearly 4,000 hours of interviews the host has done over the years. If you are interested in hearing guests talk about ideas rather than blatantly promoting whatever book or film they are currently pushing, then I recommend you snoop around the site. You will be like a hyperactive child let loose in a candy store with dad’s credit card. While the viewing choices are almost over whelming, I zeroed in on the most recent interview with Christopher Hitchens, a journalist I have shifted from finding an irritating devil’s advocate to someone who sees the world in many ways similar to myself. There is what browing old and bitter will do to you.

The interview is here, if you care to watch it. It lasts a smidgeon under thirty minutes. In it, Hitchens talks about his views on Iraq and about his new boo, God is Not Great, both topics I found fascinating.

I got the impression Charlie Rose intended for the bulk of the interview to be about the book, but Iraq absorbed too much time. Hitchens was and still is a strong supported of the war although he has now, like many others, drawn the conclusion Iraq is a failed state. Buthe also concedes Iraq was probably always a failed state. The country was cobbled together by Winston Churchill with no regard to whether the diverse ethnicities and religious believers could hold it all together. They could not and probably cannot without a strong, barbarous grip like Saddam Hussein had.

At the same time, Hitchens believes the US has to stand up to such regimes because we cannot coexist with totalitarian regimes. It is an anathema to a healthy democratic state. We part ways here somewhat. I agree the Us could not coexist with a Nazi Germany or a Communist Soviet Union because of their aggressive, totalitarian ways. I am not so sure we could not coexist with Iraq under Saddam. Yes, it was necessary to liberate Kuwait from his grip to maintain the free flow of oil, but I have doubts Iraq could have been anything more than a terrorist nuisance from there on out. Hindsight is 20/20 and like Hitchens, I suspect terrorist ties were enough of a US interest to remove him. I just fear the Talibanization of Iraq is goig to come back to haunt us.

Despite all that, the heart of the interview was about Hitchens’ antireligious book. Honestly, there are no new atheistic arguments under the sun, if I may ironically take a phrase from the book of Eclesiastes. Hitchens basically could have crossed out the title Age of Reason from Thomas Paine’s famous book and wrote in God is Not Great. Hitchens, like Pain, is an angry man who believes religion poisons everything. I think, like many nonbelievers, misses the notion that people are likely the bigger problem than the religion and that goes across the board. A little blue haired old lady walking to church with a Bible tucked under her arm is fine. Fred Phelps protesting the funerals of homosexuals is not, yet both at least marginally part of the same religion. I have had enough experience in apologetics to know the distinction is lost on most skeptics.

He did say one thing on the issue I thought was insightful and revealed to me that while he is a skeptic himself, his beef is with fundamentalist. I am no skeptic, but I have in recent years developed a large distaste for fundamentalists. (*Waves at Regent University*) He finds it interesting that people who genuinely believe there is a God out there who loves them enough to redeem them from evil and will welcome them into eternal paradise ought to logically be very happy with their own belief. Yet they do not seem happy unls everyone else believes it, too. It betrays a certain insecurity about faith that there is a contrary opinion floating about that serves the contrarians well. I have thought this way for awhile. It was really hammered home after three years at Regent University where I witnessed first hand the paranoia of Christians regarding differences o opinion in doctrine and morality. Faith the size of a mustard see indeed. I think it lead to my full embrace of Calvinism. You either have it all or you do not, but either way, there is no sense in bugging anyone else with it.

Finally, Hitchens notes a point which is actually what I wanted to address here before I started meandering. He is not a novelist. He told Rose he could not write fiction if his life depended on it. He explained the difference between novelists and essayists like himself. Novelists and poets seem to understand music while essayists do not. I have been dwelling on that observation all night wondering how true it is. More accurately, I have been wondering how well an understanding of music I have an what that means for me as a writer of fiction. Food for thought I imagine I will continue feasting on for some time to come..
The King is Dead: Long Live the King

"If love truly is going out of fashion, which I do not believe, then along with our nurtured indifference to each other will be an even more contemptuous indifference to each other's objects of reverence. . . . We will continue to fragment in this manner because solipsism holds all the cards at present; it is a king whose domain engulfs even Elvis's. But I can guarantee you one thing: we will never again agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis. So I won't bother saying good-bye to his corpse. I will say good-bye to you." -- Lester Bangs.
Elvis Presley died thirty years ago today. A large pilgrimage to Graceland rivaling that of Mecca (Have I just put afatwa on my head?) has already begun and had its own tragedy. A visitor camping out near Elvis’ old mansion died earlier this week in the heat wave. That fans still flock to see his old homestead and many other speculating he still alive because a guy like him could not possibly be dead yet, shows the power Elvis had over hearts and minds.

Do you recall the scene in Pulp Fiction where Mia Wallace wants to find out about Vincent Vega, so she asks him the question of whether he is an Elvis person or a Beatles person? She goes on to tell him someone can like both, but there is always one you like more than the other and your choice tells a lot about you. She speculates he is an Elvis person. He confirms she is correct. I like both myself, but I am an Elvis person.

I find him fascinating because, like Johnny Cash, more than one genre of music claims him. Elvis had long since abandoned his country roots at Sun Records by the ‘60’s, yet you cannot tell that to any fan of country music these days. Indeed, I can see why. They cling to the old Elvis of country ballads and country twinged gospel as a way of coping with the sick, bloated, and dying Elvis doing karate moves in Las Vegas while barely recalling the lyrics to his songs. Who can blame them? It is not often a star that once shone so brightly can burnt out so spectacularly right before our eyes.

I suspect many of today’s musical artists care little o Elvis or note his influence in their music. At the same time, I look at American Idol’s popularity and the Southern rock, gospel, an blues background of its mot successful contestants and note the reasons we loved Elvis are all still there even if it is not acknowledged.

Below I have linked one of my favorite Elvis songs. His version of “Kentucky Rain” is the best I have ever heard.
Star Trek--"Operation-Annihilate"

Fake barf incites violent behavior on a colony. Seriously. Video is set to "Mad World" by Gary Jules.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Katie Holmes is Wonder Woman?

Do not get too excited about this rumor just yet. A film version of Wonder Woman is still only in the discussion stage after Joss Wedon’s script for the project was tossed out some months ago.

As for me, I am a Marvel Zombie and have little attachment to DC character. The Powers That Be can cast anyone they want with little complaint fro me. Katie is cute as a bug’s seemed quite nice before Tom Cruise came along and ruined her, so I have no beef with her as an actress. I might get a little miffed if Tom Cruise gets cast as Steve Trevor, but the odds of that are very slim so as to be laughable.

Thing is-- and this is the comics geek in me –she seems more the type to play Donna Troy instead. In fact, she looks a lot like the character to begin with. I picture an Amazon like Wonder Woman to be much larger than 5’ 9” like Katie. Then again, a true Amazon lops off one of her breasts so as not to interfere with her archery. Wonder Woman is certainly expected to not only have two boobs, but huge knockers to show of for the young male viewing audience. So there is no sense in worrying too much about accuracy here.

I am drawing a blank on coming up with any alternate choices. Does Lucy Lawless have the clout? Maybe…
Speaking of Frivolous Lawsuits

Michael Vick is being sued for $ 63 billion by a South Carolina (Surprise, surprise) inmate. The suit alleges the now suspended NFL quarterback stole the inmates pit bulls and sold them on E*Bay in order to sell missiles to Iran.

I just could not let the Imus suit be the stupidest one I wrote about today. That the bozo filing the suit is from South Carolina is just icing on the cake.

Now, if someone would actually sue Vick for $ 63 billion, i am all for it. I would like to see that subhuman jerk suffer just like the dogs he forces to fight each other for sport.
Rutgers Player Sues Don Imus

Now that former radio host Don Imus has settled the dispute over his firing for $ 20 million, he is facing his first lawsuit from one of the female Rutgers basketball players he allegedly insulted. Kia Vaughn is suing Imus, MNSNB, NB, and anyone else remotely associated with the incident who might have deep pockets for libel, defamation, and slander, and You may recall Imus joked about the team looking like a “bunch of nappy headed hoes” on the air. The suit comes on the heels of Imus’ multimillion dollar settlement overtly because he is coming on smelling like a rose and covertly because $ 20 million is a lot of money.

I think the suit is flimsy. Libel, defamation, and slander? I have my doubts. The incident was high profile enough to bring the Rutgers team to national attention. No one knew their names before then. Did you even know who Kia Vaughn was before reading this? While in the spotlight, the nation saw they were bright, respectable young ladies. I doubt anyone suddenly decided they were, in fact, nappy headed hoes after finding out who they were. Anyone who did thought that way to begin with, so what did any of them lose?

I expect this suit to settle just to make it all go away. Imus may fight it out just o discourage any of the other players from filing similar suits, but since he will now be seeking a new radio job, I imagine he will want all of this mess behind him so as not to be a distraction. It goes to show you how our litigious society really works these days though, does it not?
Star Trek--"Errand of Mercy"

The first appearance of the fearsome Klingons. Video is set to "War" by Edwin Starr.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

James Bond Goes to the Races; PETA Freaks

The makers of the next installment of James Bond are looking to add a little controversy to the proceedings. They plan to use the traditional horse race of Palio di Siena will serve as the backdrop of the last major action sequence in the next film. PETA would have kittens if they did not think that would be cruel to animals as well.

The 'Palio' sees thousands of people from across the world attending the race and the race itself involves the jockeys riding their horses bareback three times around the outer edge of Tuscany's Piazza del Campo. Famous for its lack of rules, riders are allowed to use whips not only on their own horses but against the other contestants - bribery and doping are said to be commonplace. The winner is the first horse to cross the finish line with its head ornaments intact.

The town council at Siena has given permission for the film makers to shoot a climax in which Bond chases the villain through the steep and narrow cobbled streets and then pursues him across the rooftops and through the underground medieval aqueducts, while the horses thunder round the Campo above.

Animal rights activists are already swinging into action saying the sequence will glorify an unspeakably cruel sport. Indeed, dozens of horses have been killed in the race. Most recently, one had its neck broken and was ragged out of the piazza. I am not certain what to make of it yet as I am not certain the movie will glamorize the event or demonstrate its abuses. Personally, I think many activists of all stripes do not think outside the box about such things. James Bond is very popular and may serve to call awareness to the ugliness of the race rather than glorify it. The movie might even be a catalyst for change if protestors do not make a nuisance out of themselves and take away from it.
Buster Crabbe is Rolling Over in His Grave

The Flash Gordon series premiere pulled in a 1.5 rating, which equals 2.1 million viewers, making it the Sci Fi Channels highest rated premiere of the season. It just edged out Painkiller Jane’s premiere at 1.4 and The Dresden Files at 1.3. Recall The Dresden Files has been canceled despite its premiere ratings, so Flash does not have a lot of wiggle room. How Painkiller Jane holds on is anyone’s guess. I guess big boobs and midriff go a long way in science fiction these days. Flash’s premiere numbers fall far below the premiere ratings of Battletar Galactica and Stargate: Atlantis.

Considering the awful reviews prior to its airing, I am surprised it managed the ratings it did. The second episode will tell the tale as I am certain many tuned in out of curiosity and headed for the hills once they saw how terrible the shows was compared to the 1980 movie I am sure most all of them remember fondly or at least with bemusement.

There is a rumor floating about I have yet to confirm that Sam Jones, who played Flash in the movie, will appear in the ninth episode. Half the buzz on the internet is of hih interest. The other half is taking bets whether the show will last long enough to reach that point. The Sci Fi Channel has made some incredibly peculiar programming decisions over the years by letting bad shows drag on while canceling good ones, so you never can tell.
The Legacy of Turd Blossom

I was curious to see the reaction from pundits, particularly on the talk shows on in the early evening, regarding Karl Rove’s resignation and his legacy. I was not terribly disappointed. I was not terribly surprised. I have not seen so much hand wringing over a political adviser since fellow South Carolina boy ran Bush 41’s campaign in 1988. Atwater pulled some pretty dirty tricks out of his hat the. The racist Willie Horton advertisement comes immediately to mind. Looking back over the last eight years, I cannot think of much comparable in Rove’s involvement with the Bush camp.

I can tell you personally, assuming anyone even remembers this now, the decision to start the 2000 South Carolina primary race at Bob Jones University was not Rove’s. That was local gun slinging political operative Warren Thompson, a fellow I knew back in my College Republican days at USC. The Bush visit there called attention to the no interracial dating rule at BJU and its anti-Catholic rhetoric at a time, cynically or not, Rove was hatching a compassionate conservative that was supposed to reach out to minorities and poorer folks who did not traditionally vote Republican while not alienating the base. While I would like to avod any arguments regarding the Florida recount, I will just say it worked.

But what happened to compassionate conservatism? Bush said he was going to Washington as a uniter, not a divider. One could speculate 9/11 changed all that and one might be right. The Bush Administration floundered its first months in office trying to devise an immigration and social security plan to no avail. It was not until 9/11 gave him an enemy that Bush shined. But if you look at the plans Rove put in place, you will notice Bush never embraced any sense of compassionate conservatism. Indeed, under Rove’s guidance, his actions added even more cynicism to an already cynical system.

Rove spent all his time politicizing agencies that ought not be politicized. All to increae his own power and influence. It is not coincidence he has felt no guilt over his involvement in blowing the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Major agencies of the ederal government were his playground full of his buddies. When agencies were called on to do their jobs, they could not. Recall FEMA’s poor showing after Katrina because it was being run by novice whose sole management experience was running a thoroughbred syndicate.

Rove still has a pretty nasty legacy to live down. I would dare say the GOP is in as dire a shape as it was post Watergate. It is not a matter o the message. It is all about the messengers themselves. Congressional Republicans listened to Rove when he told them they would triumph in the 2006 elections despite corruption scandals, sex scandals, an unpopular war, an unpopular president, and frosty relations with the White House. They lost anyway and needed someone to blame. Thing is, I do not believe rove sees that about himself or even about Bush. Maybe because of the animosity many on both sides of the aisle have for him, there is not muh point in judging his legacy now. History will have to tell the tale.
Star Trek--"The Devil in the Dark"

A creature is killing miners, but why? Video is set to "Angels or Devils" by Dishwalla.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brannon Braga: "I Made a Mistake with Enterprise"

Tomorrow is Brannon Braga’s birthday. You may recall Braga has had a big hand in most of the Star trek series set in the 24th century and the prequel Enterpprise. You may also know he has been sorely criticized by many fans for the declining quality of the Trek franchise under his guidance. I have written some tough posts about Voyager and Enterprise. Well, Braga appeared at a Las Vegas convention this weekend and delivered fans something of a birthday present himself: he admitted the final episode of ENT was a mistake.

That was the gist of his actual admission. He stated the finale was meant to be a love letter for trek fans with the return of Riker and Troi and the final episode taking place on the holodeck during a 1992 episode of TNG. I will grant you that was not a bad idea. For me, it wind up reminding me how much better TNG was than ENT, but it also made me feel old and nostalgic for the time period when the show was on the air period. With that in mind, you can assume any complaints about the actual episode would be the ranting of a grumpy old man.

But Braga goes a little further when he elaborates. He does not go so far as to say ENT was a bad idea altogether. What he does say is that when he viewed fourth and final season’s show runner Manny Coto’s plan, he knew it was the direction the show should have taken all along. Coto’s fourth season tried to tie in elements from Trek lore such as the augments like Khan, the origins of Vulcan logic, the Mirror Universe, the romulans, and the invention of the transporter. Basically he was making ENT an actual prequel rather than just a show set in the past.

A prequel is what it should have been all along. In the beginning, the show was to establish the origins of the Federation by showing us the Romulan Wars, the creation of Starfleet, and the development of concepts like the Prime Directive. The show runner should have had a sense of history, but I do not think Braga did. So we got a time travel story arc, which was a big mistake, the creation of an alien menace we had never heard of, and a weapons of mass destruction story line that was too much like preaching. By the time the show could course correct and start hinting at the Romulan Wars, it was too late. UPN pulled the plug.

The finale flash forwarded past all that to the actual signing of the Federation Chart with little to no hints of what lead up to it. There will not be any real opportunity to go into, either. It has been established how important the crew was to the establishment of the Federation, so any subsequent television o cinematic Trek would have to deal with those characters or hit the reset button. Either way, an opportunity was squandered. But at least Braga knows it.
Mike Wieringo Passes Away

Sad news from the world of comic books. Artist and self-described vegetarian health nut Mike Wieringo passed away this weekend from a sudden heart attack. he was a much too young 44 years old. Details are sketchy, but it appears he called 911 after suffering chest pains but emergency help arrived too late. Perhaps they could not have done anything regardless. It is not known for sure.

I first discovered Wieringo on Spider-Man back in the mid to late '90's. Later on, I very much enjoyed his collaboration on the Fantastic Four with J. Michael Stracazynski. Reading the comic and appreciating his artistic interpretation of the characters was one of the few bright spots during the years I suffered through law school. Below is his version of the team.Godspeed, Mr. Wieringo.
Ali Larter at Marigold Premiere

Word is you will not e seeing much of Ali Larter on Heroes this season. Her character, Nikki Sanders, is sent off from one reason or another on a quest. I imagine the lack of screen time will be due to a burgeoning movie career, but I cannot say for certain. Larter has appeared in a Bollywood film called Marigold. here are some photos from the premiere.
Karl Rove Resins

The presidential adviser, maybe the most influential in history, is set to resign effective August 31st. That should make the left happy, eeven if tey will complain it comes eight years too late.

The stated reason is the standard desire to spend more quality time with his family, but I suspect the truth is a bit nastier. For all his past success, Rove has become liability. He has recently come under Congressional scrutiny by Democrats and his advice has been dismissed by Republicans since their disastrous defeat in 2006. The time is about right for some, "Karl who?" space for the GOP in general and the White House in specific.

Still, it wold not surprise me if he turned up, at least behind the scenes, with another presidential campaign. Fred Thompson's perhaps?
Star Trek--"This Side of Paradise"

The crew dicovers peace, love, and understanding through a plant. Yes, it is a commentary on pot, but I have no idea if it is pro or con. Video is set to "San Francisco" by Scott Mackenzie.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Merv Griffin (1925-2007)

Merv Griffin has passé away after a long bout with prostate cancer. Griffin had a stellar career as a siner, actor, television producer, talk show host, hotelier, real estate mogul, and a man who dated Eva Gabor and lived to tell the tale. Hi first big hit was the song, “I’ve got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.” His last offering, the game show Crossword, will hit the airwaves this fall. In etween, he created my favorite game show Jeopardy.

Television executives considered him to be one of the savviest in the business because he came up with the idea of putting commercials in the television shows. A viewer might flip the channels during commercials, but they would sit through a ten second decription of the latest GE appliance being offered on Wheel of Fortune.

I recall hearing his name at the end of certain game shows as a youngster without really knowin what that meant. A little later I discovered the bit in Steve Martin’s The Man with Two Brains in which he was revealed to be the Elevator Killer. I had no idea why was that was supposed to be funny until years later. Then I thought it was a riot. The man was a brilliant media mogul who could turn nickels into dimes in a flash, yet few of my generation even knew who he was. Too bad, really.

Godspeed, Mr. Griffin.
Iowa Straw Poll Results

Yesterday afternoon I was tempted to make a post joking about making the safest bet in the 2008 GOP campaign—that Gov. Mike Huckabee, who few even know is running for president, would bow out after a pitiful showing in the Iowa straw poll. To my surprise, the former Arkansas governor came in second behind Mitt Romney who won with flying colors.

I am glad I did not make the joke now, but then again, the Iowa straw poll is a joke in itself. I am not certain why Romney opted to participate when the other front runners, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson, had better things to do. The only thin I can think of is Romney thought he needed to boost his chops among social conservatives. His Massachusetts roots, flip flopping on abortion, and Mormon faith make it difficult for the right wing, particularly the religious right, to embrace him. He may very well get the GOP nod, but even if he does, I doubt Iowa will hae much to do with it.

The trick to the Iowa straw poll is to bus in as many of your supporters as possible. Romney was able to do that because his opponents are for the most part less than also rans. Who even knew Huckabee was running? He has held no large fundraisers and has virtually no internet presence. But recall twenty years ago when the Iowa star poll put Rat Robertson on the map as a contender—for about twenty minutes. That is what Iowa is always about: giving conservatives too out of the mainstream false hope for a little while longer.
Billie Piper Suffers Sudden Blindness

Tough news for fans of Rose Tyler. Billie Piper suffered temporary blindness a couple nights ago and was treated at a London hospital. Word is she had been experiencing blurry vision at a restaurant. She went out for a cancer stick when a photographer flashed his bulb right in her face. Piper tried to cover her face, clearly in discomfort. The next morning, she could not even open her eyes.

Piper’s representatives say she is currently being treated and doctors are not certain whether there has been damage or the incident is a symptom of an eye infection.

Camera flashes can cause retina damage in eye if certain conditions are preexisting. If Piper has retinal damage, I am not only sympathetic, but empathetic. I know firsthand how even a little damage on those little buggers can destroy your life completely. Let us all wish her a speedy recovery, yes?
Star Trek--"Space Seed"

Khan first appears and seduces a crewman to help him take over the Enterprise. Video is set to "White Flag" by Dido.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

For Whom the Bell Tolls

It tolls for the rumor Kristen Bell is joining the cast of Lost. She is not.
Potential Indiana Jones Titles

Lucasfilm has registered six potential titles for for the fourth Indiana Jones film with the Motion Picture Association of America. They are:
Indiana Jones and the City of Gods
Indiana Jones and the Destroyer of Worlds
Indiana Jones and the Fourth Corner of the Earth
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Gold
Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Covenant
The varying titles are an attempt to hide the actual story line. Each one of these is pretty revealing as they each betray evidence of past script drafts. Unfortunately, no one seems to know just what draft, if any that have leaked, is being used.

Personally, i like the third one.
Drew's Bruise

Drew Carey suffered a minor injury yesterday on the set of The Price is Right. He bruised his arm during the Grocery Game. While the grocery Game is, of course, the most dangerous possible segment on the show, Bob Barker, an 83 year old man, could handle the gameon a regular basis without incident.

Something to think about.

While I am o the subject of game shows, uberproducer Merv Griffin is not doing well after his cancer treatment. He is the man behind just about every game show you really like. It is sad to know his pronosis is not good at this point.
Flash Gordon--"Pilot"

I am a sucker for retro science fiction. I am speaking not only about the classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet, but the cheesy stuff like old Republic serials with all the anachronisms and awful dialogue intact. This affection makes me a true sci fi geek. I even miss the way the Si Fi Channel used to ai certain serials, as old (bad) movies and television shows. There was a certain goofy quality to the line up back then. Sci Fic still has bad movies like Mansquito which have zero charm and the silly television shows are all bad for the same reason: poor writing and production values. Youmay add Flash Gordon to the lowly cadre.

I would like to recap the plot, but if there was one, I could not find it. Near as I could tell, Flash believes his missing father is alive on Mongo, travels there via dimensional warp, and encounters a blonde GQ dictator named Ming. Oh, and Dale Arden is the poor woman’s Lois Lane. A bowling alley gets destroyed and the planet Mongo looks a lot like the Vancouver wilderness.

The show’s biggest problem is its poor writing. There just was not enough to sustain a ninety minute episode or make me interested in coming back next week for another round. I understand the Sci Fi Channel wanted something more light hearted to counter its very dark hit, Battlestar Galactica, but this trite junk is just plain silly. Even the actors appear to think so as they often mug for the camera as if to say, “Can you believe I am this desperate to pay the rent? Who writes this stuff, anyway?” The former show runner for Jennifer Lopez’s South Beach, that is who writes this stuff—and it explainsalot. Where were all the freelance writer from other science fiction media who have contributed interesting stories to the Stargate franchise over the deade when it came to finding someone to whip this show into shape?

Like most fan my age, my biggest experience with Flash was the 1980 movie. I saw it in theaters way ack then and have seen it another half dozen times or so since then. I believe the most recent was 2001. It was campy with some squeamish sexual innuendo as well. The whipping scene of Ming’s daughter combined with Princess Leia’s metal bikini in Return of the Jedi perverted many a young mind, I imagine. The most memorable aspect of the film was its rock anthem score by Queen which the Sci Fi Channel opted not to use for this show. Why not? It was the one thing fans were clamoring for. Without it, they got nothing. Literally. There was not one interesting moment in the episode.

Aside from the like of Queen, I am botheed the show did not have a retro feel. The 1980 version tried to copy the designs of settings and space ships from the Buster Crabbe era. Why not make an effort here? Apparently because the budget was about $ 3.52. The most unforgivable sin was turning Ming into a mewling kitten. What kind of wussy planet is afraid of this bozo? I understand Ming was originally a stereotype of the evil oriental and that would never fly in today’s politically correct television landscape, ut surely they can make a villain more menacing than what we got. A hero is only as good as the villain he faces. They are both pathetic here.

I cannot imagine I will be reviewing next week’s episode. I imagine I will e able to find much better things to do. My advice to you would be wash your hair or watch grass grow instead of tuning in.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Michael Jackson and the Beatles' Songs

Here is something interesting I discovered recently. I am interested in intellectual property rights, particularly the notion of ownership of ideas, how they are bought and sold, and how royalties are assigned. True confession is I find publishing and screenwriting more fascinating than the music business since I can barely carry a tune and know two pitiful chords on the guitar There is no possibility of me ever becoming a songwriter while novels or television scripts are not completely out of the picture. No was practicing intellectual property law if all else failed. All that to say that the continual income from written projects are enormously desirable and therefore prone to folks screwing you over royally if you can manage it.

I am going to assume everyone reading this is aware Michael Jackson owns the rights to the Beatles catalogue of songs. If not, he does. At least I thought that was the whole story. I assumed “owning the rights” meant lock, stock, and barrel. It does not. Last night I discovered the inside scoop about the affair and now realize what a screwy business music publishing is.

Long story short, Michael Jackson teamed up with paul McCartney in 1984 for the song, “Say, Say, Say.” It was a bi hit and the two of them (three, if you count Paul’s wife, Linda.) hit it off splendidly. McCartney advised his new pal on the advantages of purchasing the rights to songs. It was steady income you had to do nothing for other than cash the checks. Whether this was fresh on McCartney’s mind because the Beatles catalogue was about to go up for sale is a mystery, but Jackson took his advice to heart and outbid McCartney for the song rights. It cot Jackson $ 49 million

I am aware this caused the friendship to end and I assumed it was because McCartney felt cheated out of his songs twice, but this is not entirely true. The key point is that Jackson bought the publishing rights to the songs. Hence, Jackson had and still has the power to license songs out for use in publishing, movies, television, radio, promotions, and what have you. Thus you have Jackson allowing the song “Revolution” to be used to sell sports sneakers against McCartney’s wishes. For his trouble, Jackson splits the roalties 50/50 with the songwriter. So despite his disapproval, McCartney still made millions off the songs use in the commercials because regardless of what Jackson owned, 50% of the royalties always go to the songwriter. Therefore McCartney still gets a tidy sum from his music. He just has very little say where it comes from.

How does that work? The Beatles, particularly John Lennon and Paul McCartney, were making so much money off songwriting, record sales, concerts, and merchandiing that they were losing 90% of their income because of the United Kingdom’s confiscatory tax policies. They were advised to either sell the publishing rights to the songs or place them into a publicly held company to receive the money as capital gains rather than income. They opted for the latter and created Northern Music. Lennon and McCartney held 30% of the shares between them, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were assigned token shares, and the rest were owned my manager Brian Epstein and a couple business associates. In 1969, the Beatles lost a buy out bid when Epsttein and his buddies sold their shares to Sir Lew Grade of the Associated Television Corporation.

The Associate television Corporation put its catalogue up for sale in 1984. Jackson outbid McCartney for the Beatles’ songs and the rest is history. McCartney is still worth an estimated $ 500 million because of royalties he has received as songwriter. The value of John Lennon’s estate is comparable for the same reason. McCartney wanted 100% of the proceeds from his songs. He is stuck with the same 50% he has had since 1963, which ain’t bad.

Like I said, it is a srewy business.
David Beckham Comes Off the Bench

David Beckham has finally taken part in a game for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Does this mean America loves soccer now? Let me check. Look at this picture of the lovely Kristen Bell while I am gone.

*Runs off to check**Runs back in, out of breath.*

No, no we do not.
Star Trek--"The Return of the Archons"

The crew finds a planet of people brainwashed by a computer named Landru. Video is set to "In God's Country" by U2.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

First Look: Ten & Donna


Doctor Who has begun filming its fourth season in Cardiff, Wales. Whether you are blah on the casting or not (For the record, I am blah) here is the first photo of David Tennant as the Doctor and screeching comedian Catherine Tate as the new companion, Donna.

Freema Agyeman will show up towards the latter half of the season playing Martha, but is expected to not be around for the fifth. That is a darn shame, by the way. I was a bigger fan of her than Billie Piper as Rose.

The only confirmed rumors I can tell you are the Doctor and Donna will visit mystery novelist Dame Agatha Christie and the home planet of the Ood, a favorite alien race from the second season. The other rumors regarding Kylie Minogue wanting to be added to the cast, Mickey Smith returning, Tony Blair making a cameo, Ben Kingsley playing Davros, and Dennis Hopper playing the Celestial Toymaker, are all unconfirmed and are varying degrees of fanciful.