Friday, February 29, 2008

Just a Flesh Wound

February is almost over. I, for one, am ecstatic. What a rotten month it has been. It even lasted an extra day just to spite me. At first, I disliked February because a cold front promised to hover over most of it. I had no idea that was going to be the least of my travails until week two when I discovered a bout of the flu would lead the way to surgery. Oh, not just surgery, but the good kind. The three hour, slice and dice, one month later you are still feeling gutted kind. You know, the kind I usually wind up suffering.

Truth be told, the doctors and nurses who have been watching over me from the beginning are surprised by my progress. I spent eight days in the hospital. The norm for this sort of procedure is ten or twelve. Considering I spent much of last weekend upchucking, I probably should have stayed the full ten oe twelve, but there is no sense in worrying about that now. The staples are out, the soup is plentiful, and whoever invented Percodan deserves the Nobel prize if he has not won it already.

This surgery threw me for a bigger loop than most seem to realize. While I have had a string of related operations in the last few years, I am still not accustomed to just how far back these things knock me. I was drained from the flu already, but waking up from major surgery srawled in a strange hospital bed with tubes everywhere is something even a morphine haze cannot quite put you at ease about. This was the first time I was not inadvertently awakened by a nurse, either. It is incredibly surreal to wake up in the middle of the night after surgery and find yourself alone. No, I never thought I was dead and heaven was just really disappointing.

I wrote earlier I had a couple anecdotes I would like to tell. The mood has sense passed. You have noty missed anything, really. They were just some personal epiphanies unlikely to perk any interest out of you, but offered some clarity for me. As such, they should probably stay mine alone. Besides, I had a rough time. Reliving it on a blog is not my idea of a good time.

Next month, I expect blogging to resume normally, assuming the other shoe does not drop. I have yet to shed my characteristic pessimism. The surgeon tried to remove it, but assumed I would bleed to death while he was prying it all out. Hopefully, I can pick my numbers back up again. They had been trending upward until my forced hiatus. I have had the whim lately to write whatever I want, as much as I want, whenever I want regardless of any blogging norms and have had a righteous good time doing so. I think I will keep that up.
Jessica Simpson to Sing for US Troops

Jessica Simpson, presumably following Poppa Joe's orders, will stage a concert for US troops stationed in Kuwait on March 10. my first thought was have they not suffered enough? then I realized she is taking a break from making her upcoming country album in order to travel to the Middle East, so I thought have we not suffered enough?

It all balances out.
Leap Day

Seems like a pretty much non issue to have gotten so much attention today. of course, I slept through it, so what do I know?
John McCain: "I'm a conservative liberal...oops."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lost--"The Constant"

Everyone reading this knows I love Lost, but I especially love episodes centering on Desmond. It is difficult to believe he has really only been prominent in a handful of episodes, but what an impact he has made. I remember back in 2006 when his first flashback was featured in “Live Together, Die Alone” fans speculating that his quest to get back to his true love Penelope was going to be the heart of the show. I was skeptical of the storyline being so central, but I think I was overlooking the word “heart.” There is no much here—from Kate’s bouncing from Jack to Sawyer, Jin and Sun trying to establish new lives, claire’s relationship with Aaron, or Locke trying to find his place in the world –that means quite as much as Desmond and Pen struggling to return to one another.

In a lot of ways, Desmond is my favorite character. He is caught up in events beyond his control. All he wants to do is get off the island and play house with his girl. But he keeps getting caught up in events in which he has to make moral choices. He has to sacrifice the one thing he truly wants because there is a greater good involved. It might be pushing that freaking button to save the world or saving Charlie from certain death over and over again. It costs him, but he keeps on doing it, no matter how Sisyphean the task. I like it, then, when he wins one, like he did tonight.

Much like last year’s “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” this is an unusual flashback episode. Desmond is shifting literally between 1996 and 2004 as the helicopter carries them both to the freighter. Desmond finds himself back in the Scottish regiment of the British army in 1996 and losing his mind in 2004. the freighter crew quarantines him with Minkowski, another man who appears to be shifting through time and suffering greatly for it. Sayid arranges with Lapidas to contact the island. A day has passed as far as Jack and company are concerned. It has been only twenty minutes for Sayid and desmond. But Desmond is their main concern now.

Faraday reveals the island exists on some sort of different time shift than the rest of the world. Because Desmond was exposed to high levels of electromagnetism, he exists out of sync with both time periods. Faraday discovers Desmond believes he is in 1996, so he recommends Desmond find his 1996 self as an Oxford professor and say a sequence of numbers to convince his old self Desmond is in trouble.

A skeptical Desmond, visibly deteriorating, does so. The 1996 Faraday tells him to find a constant between 1996 and 2004 to latch onto. Desmond chooses his estranged love pen. He experiences some heart wrenching twists in finding and convincing her to let him have her contact number. He only convinces her by promising he will only call once in eight years time. He does so on the freighter in 2004, not only restoring himself to perfect health, but rekiondling his romance with Pen. Sometime in the eight years, she realized she does still love him. Now he has a renewed vigor for escaping the island.

This was the best episode of the season. Even the weird, pseudoscience elements and doc Brown like craziness of Faraday, which could have probably turned off your average viewer, were well matched with the human drama everyone can relate to. I was actually worried for awhile there Desmond might die as Minkowski did from the same situation. The ending revealed Faraday is also suffering from being out of sync. As he is flipping through his diary, he comes to a page claiming Desmond is his constant. It looks like the next episode dwells more on his predicament. I do not want to think about that just yet. This was just that good.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)
Campaign 2008 Surprises

I have my eyes uncrossed enough from recovering from abdominal surgery to comment on the presidential race. I kept up with the race for the most part throughout my hospital stay. There was even one nurse who commented I was the only patient she had ever seen who willingly watched a news talk show every night. I blamed the morphine. In all honesty, I lost a lot of interest in the race. I am sensing a redux of 1996 when Bill Clinton, a young perceived idealist looked unbeatable, so the Republican party nominated a old war hero who could not win rather than waste a viable candidate. Yes, party gadfly John McCain is being thrown to the Barack Obama wolves to keep his supporters quiet for 2012 when the party goes crawling back to the Bush family, begging Jeb to run.

Perhaps after McCain loses, he will discover Viagra like Bob Dole and scare Cindy into as presidential bid in order to get out of the house the same way Elizabeth Dole briefly did. Heck, she might even take her husband’s Senate seat. The perpetual sun makes people do crazy things in Arizona.

I have had a few surprises in the race. The first prompts me to eat crow. I have predicted on several occasions the two nominees would be Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. The former is looking more unlikely by the day and the latter never really had a shot at anything in hindsight. I figured Barack Obama was a flash in the pan who excited voters because he was a new, unknown quantity—a blank slate on which to write all your idealistic fantasies. In my gut, I think he still is. Should he win, he will be a Jimmy Carter level disaster completely overwhelmed by the office. Look how badly the more experienced George W. Bush has done. Tell me the difference between “compassionate conservatism” and “change we can believe in” as a platitude, then I might change my mind.

Further surprising me about obama’s rise is Hillary Clinton’s fall. I would never have votedfor her, but I was never upset at the prospect of her winning. I never even thought she would not be nominated.. Clinton was running for president based not on a liberal platform so much as ego. Have you gotten any vibe from her other than “I am awesome. I should be president?” I have not. She is more ruthless than her husband, but certainly no more of a party loyalist than egomaniac Bill. I sympathize with her, really. There has not been a waking moment of her life since 1999 in which she has not thought about being president. That is a huge chunk of time wasted, especially considering this is probably her only window of opportunity. I am prompted to wonder the significant difference between a Clinton and McCain presidency, particularly if and when the other party takes over Congress and forces the white House in the opposite direction.

Speaking of McCain, how did the party scold manage to become the party leader? Easy. They needed a sacrificial lamb. I know it is nad to say that about someone with a history like McCain’s. I take solace in knowing no one will Swift Boast his military service record. I am just surprised how blatantly the GOP gave up on 2008. I remember back in 1996 when I, as part of College republicans at USC, sent out flyers, put up posters, and worked phone banks for Bob Dole knowing full well we in all doing it for the free pizza because there was no way Dole was going to pull this one out. Everyone went through the motions like zombies anyway, but I see even less enthusiasm for McCain now.

The final thing that surprises me? How fast the New York Times turned on McCain. I knew they would, mind you. He is the only Republican the papper likes, but would definitely forget that once he was the nominee. Well, he has not even won the nomination yet and the NYT has already made an unsubstantiated smear accusing him of being a philanderer and just today have questioned whether he is eligible to be president because he was born in the Panama Canal zone. You might chalk this one up t the NYT’s notion that military personnel ought to be second or third class citizens to begin with or an academic question such as whether children born by C-section and natural born citizens, but I choose to think it is indicative of a boring, nit picky campaign that we are all going to weary of quickly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Torchwood--"Dead Man Walking"

I wanted to like this episode. For the most part, I did, but there were several almost fatal flaws in what could have been a classic. I have a gut feeling the script should have gone through at least one more draft before filming in order to clear up a few contrivances. As it was, the episode was a decent follow up to last week’s shock ending. I wondered how long it would take the writers to bring Owen back. The answer was the duration of a single title sequence.

I cannot recap this one yet without remarking on the episode’s flaws, so forgive me for seeming hypercritical on something I otherwise enjoyed. First, this was the much hyped second appearance of Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones, but she was practically an afterthought. The lone dramatic sequence involved her in dire straits had very little relevance to anything, seemed solely a plot device to get the team in a hospital, and was magically 9literally) repaired without any consequences. I thought it was a big waste. Second, Owen is brought back by another resurrection glove. Somehow Jack just seems to know there is one and utilizes a fortune teller to find it. Very convenient. Can someone explain to me why Weevils are roaming Cardiff freely and are obsessed with getting the glove back when they do not even know what it is for?

Jack does bring Owen back to life with another resurrection glove. This one is different than the life draining one used on Suzie Costello last season. This one contains the living embodiment of Death. According to a legend from the Black Plague, Death was trapped with a little girl who somehow managed to stop him. Death leaves in a particularly brutal moment and is drawn towards a hospital. Martha has had the life nearly drained out of her during the conflict with the glove itself, so the hospital winds up Torchwood’s destination as well. It is evacuated, but not before Death takes twelve of the thirteen victims he needs to gain a foothold on Earth.

Owen realizes the girl back in medieval times did not do anything to stop Death. She was already dead and he “starved” instead. He locks himself in the hospital with Death, preventing him from escaping until he starves yet again. In the end, Owen continues on still conscious, but not really alive. The story continues next episode, so who knows where the development actually leads.

I liked a couple of the touching moments here. After Owen leaves the Hub, he goes out for a night on the town, maybe for the last time, until he realizes he cannot eat, drink, or have sex. Bummer. He and Jack discuss life and death from both their unique perspectives. It is one of the few times you see jack as a multidimensional character rather than a stereotypical sex machine. There ought to be more of that. Owen also has a humanizing moment consoling the cancer stricken boy they are trying to rescue. This is his third bout with leukemia and he does not believe he will ever survive it. Owen uses his final conflict with Death as a metaphor for surviving the odds. It has been easy to forget Owen is a doctor. Nice to see the caring side come out, even if he had to die for it to happen.

Rating: ****(out of 5)
William F. Buckley (1925-2008)

When such an witty, intellectual conservative with a penchant for latin dies, one must take note of his many achievements.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Torchwood--"Reset"

Here we have the much hyped beginning of a three episode appearance for Freema Agyeman, aka Tenth Doctor companion Martha Jones. I am glad to see her here. I think she was given a bum wrap by fans for Doctor Who’s third season I have no clue whether it was too much attachment to Rose Tyler, but I for one thought Agyeman was head and shoulders above Billie Piper as an actress. It could well be that Atlantic Divide at as the culprit yet again. I appear to be decidedly American, and therefore philistine in reviewing some of these shows.

Jack calls in Martha, who now works for UNIT, when there are a series of unusual murders in which beyond perfectly healthy people are being attacked and injected through the eye. When one survives an assassination attempt, Torchwood learns they were all clients of the phom, a research facility which has found a way to restore people to perfect health regardless of their chronic ailments. The miracle cure comes at a high price. The perfect bodies incubate an alien larva the phom is harvesting for research.

Martha goes undercover but is soon captured. Her travels in the TARDIS have granted her a never before mentioned and hereafter completely ignored (just watch) physiology. She is injected with a larva, but is rescued by Jack and Owen just in the nick of time with a never before mentioned and hereafter completely ignored alien device Owen just happened to have with himeven though he has never been able to work it properly before. The team destroys the facility and every alien that has been experimented on.

Honestly, if not for Freema Agyemen, this would have been a run of the mill episode. She set a fun, adventurous tone that was completely shattered –in a good way –by the shock ending. The head researcher of the facility shoots and kills Owen. That was quite a slap and turned the episode up a notch. There was much more drama involved here than in Suzie Costello’s death last season, mainly because there was more more development for Owen. He may have been a cynical jerk (hypocritical of me, no?) but he was even starting to warm up to Tosh. But will he stay dead?

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Torchwood--"Adam"

Torchwood has kicked it up a notch from its first season of boring aliens, flat characterization, and sexual innuendo just for the sake of doing it. The latter still exists more than I find fun, but the other elements more than make up for it. The team is finally a team and they are facing alien menaces much less cartoonish than its parent show, a very appropriate differentiation. The only drawback I saw here was in Jack’s memories. It was advertised we would see his former life in the 51sy century, but I had visions of the story actually traveling there, not in memories. I guess you cannot have it all.

The team is monitoring a mysterious box that, unbeknownst to them, contains the memories of an alien called Adam. Adam has infiltrated himself into their memories, but he has to edge certain other memories out to do so. He believes he has changed the team for the better. He removes Owen’s cynicism, helps Jack remember his father, and makes Tosh fall in love with him. It all begins to unravel when Gwen forgets Rhys, raising the team’s suspicions.

Along the way there are some highly intense moments involving Adam implanted memories into Ianto of gruesome murders of women he did not actually commit and jack losing his brother, gray, during an invasion. Jack eventually turns the tables and uses amnesia pills to wipe out all memory of Adam, thereby killing him.

I confess a twinge of Star Trek: Voyager’s famed reset button endings. I also thought the long scene of angst, angst, and more angst as the team drag up their real memories of being friendless nerds, mommy issues, and strange romantic entanglements which all seem to involve Jack in some form or another, was melodramatic, but still a bit touching considering the team actually did seem happier with Adam leeching onto their memories, even if it was a detrimental thing ultimately.

Rating: **** (out of 5)
Lost--"Eggtown"

The flashforwards have not existed long, but this is the first time I have felt they truly complemented the main story rather than one overshadowing the other. The past flashbacks centering on Kate have generally been good. It looks like the tradition is being carried forward with the flashforwards. This was a very pivotal episode for the future of Kate. It answered the longstanding question of how she managed to survive off island without facing her criminal past. You just cannot beat that shock ending, either, can you?

The episode is entirely Kate’s after a few opening moments of Locke’s frustration at not knowing what to do next and his emotional conflict with the captured Ben. Kate is curious whether Miles, who is also being held by Locke, knows who she really is and what she has done. Locke will not let her talk to him, but she tricks Hurley into revealing his location. Miles agrees to tell her everything if he can get a moment with Ben. Kate agrees and recruits Sawyer to distract Locke while she gets the two together.

Surprisingly, Miles wants to extort money from Ben more than anything else. He promises to tell his mysterious employer Ben is dead in exchange for $ 3.2 million. Ben is obviously not fond of his prospects otherwise and agrees, but he needs time since he is, well, tied up at the moment. Locke discovers what Kate has done and banishes her from the barracks.

She winds up hiding out at Sawyer’s. they have an intimate encounter before she reveals she is not pregnant. (When did this become an issue? There were hints Juliet needed to check up on Kate, but that seemed like FYI. I do not recall there ever being any real drama about if Kate was preggers or not. It has been one of Lost’s few stumbles in recent times, methinks.) Sawyer is relieved, which upsets Kate in spite of her stated wariness about her maternal instincts. She decides to go back to the beach. Sawyer finally says what we have all been thinking about her going back and forth between Jack and him. She slaps him for it and takes off.

Before I hit the all important flashforwards, it is revealed the helicopter taking Sayid and Desmond to the freighter a day ago has disappeared.

In the future, Kate is about to face up to her crimes, hoping her newfound celebrity and life situation will work in her favor. She needs all this behind her because she has a son. (??!!) She is charged with a string of federal offices steaming from murdering her stepfather and her subsequent fugitive days and is put on trial. Her lawyer puts Jack on the stand. He lies and claims the Oceanic Six would not have survived without Kate’s aid in the days after the crash. The prosecutor cross examines him with one question—do you loveher? Jack says he does not.

The prosecution’s case hinges on the testimony of Kate’s mother who has miraculously survived cancer for four years. She has had a change of heart since believing Kate was dead and does not want to testify against her, but she does want to see her grandson. Kate refuses, but her mother will not testify anyway. Instead, Kate pleas to ten years probation and a ban on leaving California. Outside, Jack congratulates her and admits he still loves her, but cannot be around her because of her son. A saddened Kate says nothing can change until he gets over that. She returns home and enters the nursery to greet her son. It’s Aaron, Claire’s baby.

I liked this one a lot. I have a gut feeling it will go down as one of the classics considering the back story it hints at. Jack knowsatthis point Claire is his half-sister, making Aaron his nephew. But what happened to Claire? How did Kate and Aaron wind up bonded when she was so against being a mother to begin with? Best question—why is it important enough to keep the story quiet that Jack will even lie in a federal court about the plane crash? There is lots of interesting stuff hinted at here.

Rating. **** (out of 5)
Lost--"The Economist"

I tried to watch “The Economist” when it first aired on Valentine’s Day, but it was the night before my surgery, so I was feeling quite distracted. The episode still had a great deal of its impact, particularly with the flashforward, which stuck with me anyway. I have seen *ahem* acquired the episode (I stopped every eight minutes and thought about products I might like to buy while watching, promise.) and now have some thoughts on it.

In a lot of ways, the show has shifted emphasis, at least with episodes featuring flashforwards. Rather than having the main island story with a flashback explaining some character’s motivation, the main stories tend to explain the motivation for the character’s actions in the flashforward. These days, the island is not necessarily the main point of interest. It is refreshing considering how often the flashbacks seemed clunky and pointless.

Here the main story (if you can even call it that) was mostly set up. Team Locke has captured Charlotte. Lapidas makes a deal with Sayid that if he can get her back safely, he will fly Sayid to the freighter. Sayid marches off to the Barracks with Kate and rescuer Miles in tow. Team Locke is floundering as he is unable to make contact with Jacob and is at a loss for what to do next. They establish a ruse to capture sayid and his bunch , but after a few tense negotiations, Sayid and Locke forge an agreement based on their mutual distrust of the people on the freighter. They agree to sawp Miles for Charlotte and returns sans Kate, who is back to see sawing between sawyer and Jack. This week, she decides to play house with sawyer for a while. The main story ends with sayid and Desmond leaving the island with Lapidas flying the helicopter.

Rather mundane with little pay off yet, but ah, those flashforwards. Sayid is revealed to be one of the Oceanic Six in the future. His life has taken a dark turn as he assassinates a businessman on a European glof course. The man was on a list, which immediately brought to mind Jacob’s List, which has been mentioned quite a few times. Sayid’s next target is the economist of the episode’s title. He begins a relationship with Elsa, one of his top assistants. She turns out to be a double agent and shoots Sayid just before he kills her. Later, he turns up at a veterinarian’s office for treatment where Ben Linus turns out to be his doctor. Ben is driving Sayid to assassinate everyone on this list in order to “save his friends.” Sayid is wary because whoever is on the list now know he is after them.

The writers are dancing around exactly how the Oceanic Six plus others escaped the island and the fate of those evidently left behind. All six are lying about anyone else surviving the crash, so they are desperately covering for something. Ben’s ‘save your friends” line implies the island people are still held hostage somehow, but that is just my current impression. I am curious about the list and its correlation with the early obsession with good and bad people. Notably, so far all of the Oceanic Six currently revealed have been labeled bad people(Jack by Pickett, Sayid and Kate by Patchy, and. While I am drawing a blank on Hurley, his numbers curse has to be a taint.) Were only good people prevented from leaving the island to give them, as the Others oftencalled it, a better life? Interesting theory.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Post Op Update

The staples are out and everything looks good so far. I am still a hernia risk, so I am going to continue wearing the clasp for a while. My setback this weekend was not much of a big deal, so i have avoided a return to the hospital.

i am still not up to snuff. I am way too distracted to enjoy following many of the topics i usually pursue here. Just as well. It does not appear the news has changed much in the last two weeks anyway. I loathe being repetitious.

I am planning to catch up on Lost and Torchwood as the opportunity presents itself. Please do not hold your breath waiting. I am much more interested in nap, cracker, and juice times these days.
Over the Rainbow

TNT ran one of my favorite episodes of ER last Monday. I should clarify it is more of a bittersweet favorite. It is one of those experiences where I know its coming, vow not to put myself through it, but do it anyway. It does not help much that TNT paid a whopping $ 2 million per episode to air the gazillion the long running show has in the bag, so the opportunity comes around on a pretty regular basis.

The episode was “On the Beach,” the time lapsed episode in which Anthony Edwards’ character, Dr. Mark Greene succumbs to cancer. He spends his last days in Hawaii with his estranged daughter before his second wife and infant daughter show up . The fractured family is all back together for Greene’s final days. It is all very touching and maybe some small solace for Edwards who was supposed to be the show’s star but had long since been surpassed by George Clooney.

Greene’s actual death was done to a musical montage set to “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. It is a much more upbeat version than anything Judy Garland ever crooned. In the episode, it is short, but someone has taken the time to put the entire song to a montage of Greene’s bout with cancer well beyond “On the Beach.” I went looking for the original sequence and liked this one much better.

One of the reasons I avoid the episode even though I like it is because something bad happens to me around the time I watch it again. The first time I saw it was shortly after my mother died. I saw it again not long before the attempt to reverse my colonectomy failed. This time around, I should have known better, but I watched on Monday and wound up in the hospital two days later for surgery. Some folks are just hard learners.

Anyway, enjoy the video. The song and scenes resonate with me some five years later.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

About My Absence

I meant to write this on Friday before I had a relapse knock me flat on my back until this morning, but as long as it gets posted, what difference does it make? I note I have still had my usual stream of visitors since the 13th, so I thank everyone who has kept dropping by for sticking with me and happy salivating to all my Jessica Simpson Googlers. You are welcome yet again. As for me, the last eleven days have been, shall we say, less than spectacular.

First, I have to tell you a little background tidbit that has been going on fort the better part of a year, but I have kept quiet about since it is rather disturbing. I had a hernia repaired in the summer of 2006. It was fixed by sewing a mesh patch over the hole, apparently the modern, least intrusive way of repair. The surgeon used the same incision that had been cut open two times previously. It healed well for a while, but slowly but surely reopened superficially. For most of 2007, about a third of the patch was exposed on my abdomen. No one quite knew what to do about it or even what problems it might cause passed being creepy looking and one could take care of that with a skin graft should one be so inclined. I was not so inclined.

So Wednesday morning a week ago, I woke up seriously ill. There is a particularly virulent strain of the flu being passed about here. A few days after this, the local schools closed down a day hoping to stop spreading it among the children. So I figured I had caught it. But this involved a burning in my abdomen and a shooting pain up my lower back, so it seemed like a god idea to check with the surgeon who has been following my GI troubles in recent years. It turned out to be a good thing.

The patch was infected and had to come out on top of me, yes, having caught the flu. Double whammies area pain. I spent two days getting fluids and antibiotics to kick the flu and then had surgery on Friday morning to remove the patch., check for further infection, and get stapled all back up. The hernia had to be repaired once again, but this time the old fashioned way by sewing up the entrails and hoping for thebest. I wound up with more staples than an Office Depot warehouse.

It was a rough week in the hospital as well. If you have never had the pleasure of intrusive abdominal surgery, you wind up with a tube down your nose, constantly coating your stomach, and a few other unpleasant attachments and insertions that pretty much keep you bedridden even though they toss you out of bed in twelve hours, win, lose, or draw. That is your second rude awakening beyond the one in the recovery room. I have always hated this one much worse.

I spent the week recovering, losing tubes on schedule, sipping clear liquids when called upon, and finally nibbling on solid food again befote going home on Thursday. Unfortunately, it only took about six hours to screw things up by pushing my weak stomach. I have made a number of offerings to the porcelain god from Thursday to Saturday nights hoping it would grant me some mercy. Today is the first day I have been up in any significant manner and all I have been able to do is eat some crackers and broth. I may wind up back in the hospital tomorrow when I have a post op consult. It all depends on how well I can restore fluids.

That is about the gist of it. I have a few relative stories I may tell, but I lack the juice at the moment to relay the impact I really want. Those will have to come later. I will say this, though: I do not envy those who had hernias repaired pre-patch days. I have been given this clasp to wear around my waist. It almost looks like a girdle, so one has to be secure in his manhood in order to wear it. But it puts pressure on the repair work while it heals, so I am stuck with it for about six more weeks. Remember that when you are reading the likely more sporadic than usual posts here. I am working with difficulties.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama, McCain Win Big

I expected the two to emerge as victors, but a few things did surprise me, particularly on the Democratic side. Barack Obama did exceptionally well across the board with all ages, levels of education, worker class, and gender. He severely cut into Hillary Clinton’s base of women supporters. That does not bode well for Clinton who has relied on women to carry her in the past. A few pundits are saying the mock outrage over David Shuster’s “pimping” comment regarding Chelsea Clinton may have backfired and repelled the maternal instincts in women rather than attracted them. Personally, I think the Democratic base is just visibly turning towards Obama regardless.

John McCain won handily in spite of the race being neck and neck for a good while. I heard some less than serious speculation over the weekend Mike Huckabee might win Virginia considering the high evangelical population, but if that had happened, it would only have served to pressure McCain into putting a religious conservative on the ticket. I doubt that would be necessary in either regard. The GOP treats its Christian voters with the same patronizing attitude as the Democrats have towards blacks—Well, who else are you going to vote for if not us?

Huckabee is definitely done. He has been done a while, actually, but he seems oblivious. Sometimes I suspect there is some sort of Brewster’s Millions situation going on. Remember that movie in which Richard Pryor had to spend $30 million in a month in order to inherit $ 300 million, but he could not tell anyone what he was doing? Everyone thought he was crazy So Huckabee must have to run the entire presidential campaign no matter how nutty it might be to do so. So what does he get in return other than the satisfaction of carrying the political torch for Jesus?
The WGA Strike is Over

The new contract has to be ratified, but that is assured.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thirteen Episodes in Lost Season Four

There had been the notion, assuming the WGA strike ends today as expected, Lost would have a twelve to fourteen episode season and not the sixteen originally planned. Whether the two or three additional episode would ever be produced was an open question.

Well, it is a question no more. Showrunner Carlton Cuse has told Variety the fourth season will be no more than thirteen episodes. The writing staff will condense the sixteen episode storyline into the shortened episode order, so the remaining three episodes will be unnecessary.

This is good news and bad. For one, it means Lost will only have 43 episodes remaining in the series. Then again, what is three less episodes besides fewer extraneous subplots? I am not terribly upset by the news. There is a possibility the season will continue uninterrupted as originally planned, to boot.

UPDATE: Not so fast. Damon Lindelof says we may get all sixteen episodes.
Potomac Primaries

I like how political pundits feel the need to name their particular set of primaries just liker dubbing the previous week’s super Tuesday. I guess they want to commemorate that their chance to cast a vote for Barack Obama has finally arrived. I am not sure whose nipples are harder, Chris Matthews’ ort Lawrence O’Donall’s. if you find out, I promise to take your word for it.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign appears to be in trouble. I would never have thought right on up until a couple weeks ago. She has had a recent campaign shake up which, while not always a portent of bad things to come, when the candidate also feels the need to announce her campaign is fine along with it, that usually is a bad sing. Clinton needs to win at least Virginia today in order to be competitive in seeking the endorsements of Vice-President Al Gore and John Edwards, both of which I suspect are inclined to support Obama instead. Gore in particular will be calculated in his endorsement. He does not want to jump the gun like last time around and back another loser like Howard Dean.

There is not much to say on the republican side. The only person who believes Mike Huckabee should still even be in the race is Mike Huckabee. He is even losing among evangelicals in Virginia, which is a good sign for John McCain. I cannot speak for their enthusiasm for the Arizona senator, but at least they are not casting protest votes for Huckabee. I imagine much of the hand wringing over McCain will disappear once conservative voters get a load of what Clinton or Obama are all about in the general elections.

My prediction? Clean sweeps today for McCain and Obama.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Plays with Dolls

I only write that because I know he is three thousand miles away.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Roy Scheider (1932-2008)

I am just surprised the embarrassment of starring in SeaQuest: DSV did not kill him much earlier.
Roger Clemens Wackiness Continues

Roger Clemens will not testify before the Congressional committee until Wednesday, but already his situation is heating up. Over the weekend, Brian McNamee made two new claims against The rocket. The first was he injected human growth hormone into Clemens’ wife before a bikini photo shoot for Sports Illustrated a few years ago. Second, McNamee claims Clemens was at a party at Jose Canseco’s house in 1998 when the subject of steroids came up and Clemens decided it was a good idea for him to use them in order to stretch out another few seasons.

The first point I cannot say much about other than, while bringing family into the dispute is tacky, Clemens brought it on himself by publicizing the phone call between McNamee and him in which McNamee’s son’s serious illness was discussed. I do not condone either action, but they unfortunately logically follow one another. As for the second point, Clemens claims he can prove he was never at Canseco’s party with video proof of game announcers declaring he was never there. Clemens also claims he still has a green ticket or whatever the technical term for it is that allowed him to reserve a spot that day. Who in the world saves those things period, much less for a decade?

Decade old ticket stubs, used needles, and bloody gauze. One thing is for certain: Clemens and McNamee had weird collector tastes in common if nothing else.

Clemens’ lawyer made the prediction his client will be the subject of a federal criminal trial in short order. I will make another prediction. Considering his baseball connections, President Bush will pardon Roger Clemens on his final day in office should federal charges against the pitcher emerge. That would truly cap off a weirder baseball scandal than the Black Sox throwing the World Series in 1919.
Keeley Hazell in a Bikini

There are two odd statues in the photo, too, but I assume you will not notice them since, you know, Hazell has an incredibly hot body and all.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Torri Higginson Leaves Stargate: Atlantis

Torri Higginson, who played Dr. Elizabeth Weir for three full seasons and four episodes of the fourth season of Stargate: Atlantis, has refused a deal to appear in the first episode of the fifth season. The appearance would have kicked off a story arc explaining her brief appearance in the fourth season’s “All My Sins be Remembered.” There is no word on how her cameo will now be explained or whether Replicator storyline will even be revisited in season five.

Such events tend to be whitewashed. There was word Higginson was not fond of being part of a science fiction series and wanted out by the third season. Her character became recurring for the fourth season, replaced by the ever popular Amanda Tapping as Col. Samantha Carter. Whether the recurring status was a compromise to cajole Higginson to stay on or a move by producers to appease her over the more popular Tapping being added to the cast is lost to rumor. Whichever is true, it did not work. Higginson and the show have parted ways.

Is there animosity? Apparently so. Producer Joe Mallozzi has gone on the record explaining how gracious the production staff was in dealing with the character’s diminished role. He has said so with the intimation Higginson is being unreasonable. Considering a huge chunk of the fifth season plan has to now be scrapped, one assumes emotions are going to run high no matter who is at fault.

My biggest disappointment? Since I have not regularly paid much attention to SGA since the third season, I have to say the only thing I will miss is the inevitable surge of “torri Higginson nude” Google searches I get here from late Friday night and on into Saturday. I run a high class blog here, you know.
Obama Wins Big; Huckabee Hangs On

Barack Obama won Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana while Huckabee won Kansas. Translation: John McCain deeply sighs over conservative skepticism. Hillary Clinton cries over everyone's skepticism.

What's more, Huckabee is projected to win in Louisiana and is running neck and neck with McCain in Washington. Iy feels like there is a brewing backlash against McCain's inevitability. It comes too little, too late, methinks. Huckabee would have to overwhelming run the board from here on out. He is praying for a miracle, but I assume remembers Rudy Giuliani did not get his Hail Mary pass, either.

There was a bruhaha last night over MSNBC reporter David Shuster claiming Chelsea Clinton had been "pimped out" by her mother to contact superdelegates. He has been suspended over the comment, which was tame compared to some of the stuff Chris Matthews and Keither Olbermann have said over the last few months, because of Clinton's outrage. Frankly, I think the comment was apt. Both Clinton and Obama are going to begin some serious wooing of the superdelegates from here on out. watch for plenty more flowers and candy and the doorsteps to come.
A Jessica Simpson Weekend, Day Three

Here is the final photo for what i have the Daisy Duke Surge. simpson is sexy in this one, but it just screams duh, does it not?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The WGA Strike Ending Tonight?

Cross your fingers. Michael Eisner was correct. The producers and the WGA have reached a tentative agreement. Tentative meaning the rank and file members of the WGa have not voted on it yet. they will do so tonight. There is no guarantee it will pass. there has already been some grumbling about certain measures, such as theexclusion of jurisdiction over animation and reality shows. A big sticking poiint may the the 17 day window in which television shows may be streamed online for 'promotional" purposes without compensation to the writers.

could that be a deal breaker? I doubt it at this point. It would appear the WGA has lost much of its clout and cannot bargain for all it wanted right now. the new contract is set to expire in 2011, so there would be plenty of time to determine how the new agreement will fly without too much damage. However, if the WGA rejects the new contract, they are not likely to pick up negotiations again until June when the Sag contract expires as well. A rejection tonight could put the fall television season in jeopardy as well.

One bright spot--Matthew Fox said in an interview this week that as soon as the strike ends, Lost will immediately go into production for four to six episodes, bringing the total this season to twelve or fourteen out of the originally planned sixteen. Whether that means the storyline will be condensed or the two remaining episodes will be tacked onto another season is unclear. But at least we will not be as shortchanged as previously thought this season.
Running Mates


John McCain/Fred Thompson 2008?

It is way early in the game to be playing Veep Sweeps, but John McCain has to be thinking about it. He is in something of a predicament being an unpopular nominee, a situation I can only compare academically to the 1976 election when the GOP had buyer’s remorse about choosing Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole was added to the ticket to generate excitement. Yes, it is hard to imagine anyone finding Bob Dole exciting, but I believe the GOP was much more of a country club Ozzie & Harriet party back then for whom excitement was eating ice cream on the good china. The point is sometimes a running mate makes a lot more difference than in other instances.

The conventional wisdom now is that since McCain’s conservative credentials are in doubt, he needs a running mate to appease the right wingers. I have been following this train of thought myself assuming Mike Huckabee will get the nod. Upon further reflection, I see the wisdom of choosing someone else. Despite being an overt Christian, Huckabee has not gotten the religious right enthusiastic about him. There is no chance he will add any states in November McCain would not pick up regardless. Huckabee brings nothing to the table.

A McCain running mate has to be what McCain is not. So what should a running mate be? I figure solid conservative credentials which appeal to religious conservatives, but not so much as to make him a regional candidate like Huckabee. He needs to be young and energetic. You almost need to feel the vibe he is being mentored by McCain. Considering the Democratic ticket is going to have to have some combination of a minority and a woman on the it in order to mend fences, McCain really ought to choose a minority or woman as his running mate.

Here is where it gets tough. Virtually no one fits the bill perfectly. Try these:

J. C. Watts--If I were running for president, I would have had him at the top of my list from the get go. He is young, intelligent, has credentials with religious conservatives without being labeled a Bible thumping firebrand. He would have been perfect—eight years ago. He has been out of politics so long, I imagine most people have forgotten about him. Plus one of the key reasons he left politics in the first place was resentment over being patronized by his white colleagues. He probably does not want to jump back into that again, but he has nothing to lose by doing so, either.

Condi Rice--I would be thrown out of any GOP meeting head first for even suggesting her and rightly so. There will not be anyone even remotely associated with Bush anywhere near this campaign. I imagine if they could have the RNC convention without him present, they would. Rice was an early favorite of mine before much of her incompetence became apparent. I believe her star never shown as brightly as I once thought it did.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson--Yep, I am grasping at straws here. She would be a terrible choice. So would Elizabeth Dole, Olympia Snowe, or Susan Mollinari, if you could even find where she is hiding these days.

Jeb Bush--I hate to say it, but there has not been a winning GOP ticket since 1980 without a Bush on it. Jeb would never do it though. He is popular straight across the board from business types to fundamentalist Christians and he knows it. He also knows that in 2012, after four years of Clinton or Obama, the party will come crawling to beg him to run the sam3e way they came to his brother in 2000 after eight years of Bill Clinton. He want not really want to run, but he will not jeopardize it by hitching his wagon to McCain.

There you go. The pickings are slim at this moment. I think pretty much everyone thinks this is the Democrats’ year anyway. The republicans are probably going to wind up with another half hearted Veep candidate like Jack Kemp in 1996 who is running straight into oblivion out of party loyalty.
A Jessica Simpson Weekend, Day Two

Boobs. Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Mind of a Candidate

Try as I might, I cannot think of anything to say about Mitt Romney’s departure from the presidential race. I never considered supporting him `at any point other than holding my nose and pulling the lever for him in November should he miraculously win the nomination. I thought he was wooden and boring, much like Al Gore. But at least the latter’s exaggerated claims about his place in the world were amusing. You do not take it seriously when a guy claims he invented the internet, but when he falsely claims to hav3e marched with Martin Luther King, that has to raise a few eyebrows.

I heard throughout the campaign Romney was the conservative’s favorite, but I likened it to the old joke that Michael Bolton has sold ten million albums but I do not know anyone who owns one. I do not know anyone who thought Romney was a great candidate. I8 met a few who thought John McCain and Rudy Giuliani were too liberal and a couple who did not trust what Jesus might be whispering in Mike Huckabee’s ear, but no one I knew was enthusiastic about Romney.

The only thing I have to wonder about Romney—and I honestly wonder this about any one who wants the presidency –is what is his mindset? He just spent $ 35 million of his own money and has nothing to show for it. I think I would have to lie in bed for weeks thinking about that. The foolishness and the guilt would eat me up. But he is thinking about running again in 2012. he has not blinked an eye over what a costly failure his White House bid has been.

So what drives people to run for the office? In any given election year, some of the most off the wall candidates throw their hat in the ring. Alan Keyes has never one an election in his life. Even most Californians have never heard of Duncan hunter. Many people look at Ron Paul and wonder msn, Lee Marvin looks awful.. Wait…isn’t he dead?. Look back to past elections, too. Bill Bradley? He made Al Gore look dynamic. Gary Bauer had never won an office in his life and, like Keyes, was not much in the loop in his one political appointment. Is there anyone in either party who would associate with Pat Buchanan?

Yet all these guys have something inside them that convinces them they can win. I am curious if it is the same spark that makes a pitcher step out on the mound every four nights to pitch for a team twenty games out of contention or the defensive tackle on a 1-13 team who keeps on slamming into the opposition anyway. They have to know they are not going to win it all. Is it a matter of personal victory? Egomania? Run it up the flag pole and see who salutes? It is part of the national spectacle that fascinates me.

But you know what? I thought Barack Obama was going to be a member of that club, yet he has a good shot at not only beating Hillary Clinton, but McCain, too. Do you think his Cinderella story is going to convince even more long shot candidates to make a run in the future?
Michael Eisner: Writers Strike is Over

A deal has allegedly been reached and will go to the rank and file writers at a meeting on Saturday.

When i have more than Michael Eisner's word on it, there will be a clearer picture as to how the rest of the television season will play out, assuming scripted shows will even move back into production before the summer. Until then, I remain cautiously optimistic that a deal has even been reached. The story has not been picked up by many major outlets as yet.

Stay tuned...
A Jessica Simpson Weekend, Day One

If you will excuse the peculiar interlude, there are sometimes you have to pander to the masses in order to get where you want to go. Just ask Mitt Romney. On second thought, do not. Look, there is a photo of Jessica Simpson in a hot pink bikini!

Long perform Simpson left her mark on the NFL, she was busy destroying movie careers. The other day I was watching Monk (good show, by the way, even though I do not write about it here.) on USA when a promo come up for the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie starring Simpson as Daisy Duke. After a quick memorial service for the 10,000 brain cells who tragically lost their lives viewing the commercial, I marveled the network is going to show that clap trap on three consecutive nights.

I am pretty sure there will be enough guys wanting to *ahem* pollinate that Daisy that many perverts will hit the internet looking for better shots of the hot pink bikini Simpson wears prominently in a few scenes. Being the gracious guy I am, I am happy to accommodate with a few I have been able to scrounge up. Of course, it means three days of Jessica Simpson posts, but I assume the uninterested can overlook the eye candy.

Besides, most of you would like Michelle Malkin to show a little more skin in between her (often deranged) political coverage, no?

On an additional note, does it not strike you as even dumber Simpson adopts an exaggerated Southern accent for the movie. She is from Texas. She already has a passably southern accent. The way she delivers her dialogue makes your ears bleed.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lost--"Confirmed Dead"

While last week’s premiere was easily the weakest first episode in the series’ history, it was by no means bad. However, the sophomore effort towers above it mightily. While watching, I could not shake the vibe the premiere should have combined the two episodes utilizing the rescuers flashbacks rather than Hurley’s flashforwards. I doubt that was ever considered considering the small size of the season even before the accursed writers strike reared its ugly head, but it definitely would have made for a stellar event. As it was, it was still great.

The elation about being rescued does not last long for Team Jack. Twitchy Daniels and trigger happy Miles do not seem to be as advertised. The gun waving is a big clue. Miles in particular is distraught over Naomi’s death and demands to be taken to her body by Jack and Kate. Last week’s plea to “tell my sister I lover her” was a code for when she was in trouble. Sayid and Juliet eventually ambush the semi-hostage situation (stranrge bedfellows, no?) and before long the unified group heads off in search of the missing helicopter pilot set to get them off the island.

The fourth member of their team, Charlotte Staples Lewis (C. S. Lewis, anyone? Much speculation to be made about Narnia and Lost, methinks.) has the bad luck of parachuting right into the hands of Team Locke. She seems to take a special interest in Aaron, something that is going to pay off in the next couple episodes if spoilers are to be believed. Locke decides to keep her from being tracked by the rest of her team Ben decides to take a further step and kill her. She is spared by a bullet proof vest, but the cat is let out of the bag and confirmed by the helicopter pilot when he discovers Juliet is not an 815 passenger. They are after Ben Linus.

This was one of those episodes in which the flashbacks were more fascinating than the main story, not to mention more revealing. Daniels is some sort of kooky genius. Miles is a psychic who can determine the fate of the dead by touching their personal items. Lewis is an anthropologist who discovers a polar bear skeleton with a DHARMA logo beside it in Tunisia. Lapidas reveals he was supposed to be flying Flight 815 the day of the crash, not the man who actually was. There are not many hints right now how it all adds up, but are those not some fascinating twists?

Ben has a more mysterious pastthan has thus far been revealed. We know he eventually sided with the island natives, but we do not know why. It is also pretty clear he has had contact with the outside world without telling his people about his activities. He reveals here he has a spy on the boat, so one can only assume he has been expecting this invasion to come for quite awhile. I still have no clue what is so special about him. A bit of a surprise, but fascinating nonetheless.

One other tidbit. The mysterious fellow who visited Hurley in the institution last week asking if anyone from 915 had survived was also in contact with Naomi before her team’s expedition. However he works for, they are still keen years later of finding the island. What is the big secret the Oceanic Six are keeping? Will we even find out this season?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

One other question. take a look at this photo and tell me if the helicopter pilot, Lapidas, is Jacob:He certainly fits the profile.
Mitt Romney Suspends Campaign

Paving the way for McCain/Huckabee 2008?
Torchwood--"Meat"

When I heard the description of this episode, I had three thoughts. First, it was going to be an ode to vegetarianism. Second, it was going to be gross. Finally, Rhys was going to be presented as an idiot. The first two were spot on. The plot gave us a visual aid to half the old joke that anyone who loves sausage and laws should not watch either being made. But I was wrong on the final point. Rhys was developed well beyond the weak idiot he has been in the past. Now that he knows what Torchwood is, he is certainly being set up to be useful to them in the future.

The story begins when Rhys is notified one of his truckers has had an accident. The guy was carrying incredibly large pieces of meat the police feel the need to notify Torchwood about. Rhys spots Gwen when the team arrives, but unbeknownst to her. He still believes she is part of an anti-terrorist team that is top secret. Following her, he stumbles across a meat packing plant which has captured a large alien creature that can regenerate itself and grow. They have been slicing it up alive and selling the meat with virtually no overhead. Rhys has to weasel his way into to a trucking delivery job in order to save himself and Torchwood reluctantly uses his new connection to get inside the place and rescue the alien. Things do not go smoothly as Rhys gets shot. After a few tense moments, the day is saved in a way only a true cynic could love.

The big theme of the episode was about losing connection with humanity. Gwen was certainly dragging Rhys along, well jeopardizing their relationship by lying to him about Torchwood. After it was all said and done, she refused to give him the retcon drug to make him forget all he had seen (in spite of the fact she did retcon him once last season) because of what a confidence boost becoming a hero gave him. The other team members were visibly affected by seeing the two together save for Owen. There have been hints, none more obvious than here, which Tosh has a thing for him, but he is oblivious. Or is he still hurt by Diana from last season? It is hard to tell, but that he and Tosh will eventually hook up is blatantly obvious.

The other theme was a concerted effort to make meat eaters feel ashamed of themselves. Scenes of the creature being sliced up and its subsequent wounds were disturbing even for this old hard hearted carnivore. What really got me—and not in a guilt inducing way, but more of an eye rolling at the manipulation way –was the painful moaning of the alien throughout the last fifteen minutes of the episode. It went from a sympathetic plot element to an annoying, maudlin device in no time flat. The fact Torchwood had to incinerate the creature when they discovered they could not send it back through the rift was just too much.

Despite my complaints, I like the episode. The CGI on the alien was fantastic. It reminded a lot of the head bug in Starship Troopers and (unintentionally, of course.) the Cloverfield monster. I have to admit the aliens are getting much better than the critters Torchwood encountered last season. I am also anticipating the new dynamic of the team now that they are less clinical about the aliens they are hunting.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Steroids as Rocket Fuel

I never believed Roger Clemens’ denials about using steroids. When your 24th yerar in the majors is your most dominating, there is something up. Plus, anyone who comes out as adamantly about his innocence as Clemens has, coupled by his violent outbursts towards accusers, and secretly taping his trainer’s phone calls all add up to a guilty conscience. The Rocket just has not done the public relations move a innocent man would do. He is hiding something.

Earlier this week, he threw down the gauntlet. He was deposed by a Congeressional subcommittee during which he denied ever using steroids. Clemens was under oath and faces perjury charges if it is discovered he lied. We are talking about three to five years of jail time. Now I do not believe Clemens is a dumb man. He had his lawyer’s full advisement before talking to the committee and the press afterwards. If he thought there was any way he was going to get busted, he would have never protested his innocence so vehemently.

So today I am a bit shocked to hear Clemens’ trainer, Brian McNamee handed over physical evidence of the Rocket’s steroid use. The evidence includes empty vials, syringes, and bloody gauze. All items are up for DNA testing to determine if they are Clemens’.

To me, the evidence confirms Clemens steroid use. Obviously he was not aware McNamee kept the stuff, which is a reasonable assumption. Who keeps used bloody gauze for seven years? If you thought keeping the Monica Lewinsky semen stained dress was creepy, this one ought to have you wondering about McNamee’s mental and emotional health. Why keep it if not for blackmail purposes? He did not mention it to the Mitchell Report investigators. It looks like he wanted to cash in at some point, but has now given it up to save his own bacon.

Now I have to wonder not only what Andy Pettite said under oath as well. Does McNamee have the goods on him, too? I had assumed when they all testify before the full committee next week, it was going to be three guys pointing fingers at each other so that nothing could be determined. Now I suspect McNamee is going to sell both his former clients up the river and Clemens may actually be sent up the river for perjury.
Britney Spears released from Hospital

After all that drama, they let her go with paparazzi not far behind.
Old Dogs, Old Tricks

A lot can change in an election in a very short period of time—you may very well find a dead woman or a live man in someone’s bed yet –but things are clearly going Barrack Obama’s way in the democratic race. He has taken the lead in delegates, is on pace to raise $ 30 million dollars this cycle (however those are measured), and looks like a national candidate in spite of the Clinton’s comparison of him to Jesse Jackson. Conversely, Hillary Clinton, the heir apparent, could not serve a knock out blow, had to loan her campaign $ 5 million out of her own pocket, and surely realizes there is no compelling reason the states she won last night would not happily vote for Obama in November without a second thought about her departure.

Now, the Democrats nominate their guy/gal in strange ways. I recall learning how the superdelegate process worked back in a Campaign & Elections class my junior year of college, but darn if I can explain either the process or the rationale for it beyond the DNC not trusting the unwashed masses to choose a proper candidate. So odds are even in the unlikely event of as brokered convention, Clinton may come out on top in spite of everything, assuming she is as much of an establishment candidate as I believe she is. But they may very well go for Obama as well. I am not certain whether the party poobahs consider being loyalty more important than forward looking.

(Digression: Pundits salivate over the thought of brokered convention for both sides because they would be exciting to cover. But they could theoretically be free for alls Party loyalists could sweep in and nominate Al Gore or Howard Dean for the Democrats and angry conservatives unsatisfied with John McCain, could nominate someone like Newt Gingrich of George Allen, depending on badly the parties want to shoot themselves in the foot. End digression.)

Here is what my thoughts realistically have to turn to: come October, when we are steeped in a recession and the Iraq War lingers on, two men stand on a stage debating change and new ideas. One is a youthful looking newcomer with energy and the other is a 72 year old nman half his party does not even want. Who are the American people going to listen to?
Sol Goes Home

The great Edward G. Robinson's last scene ever from Soylent Green. He died nine days later. Very poignant with that in mind.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Primary Thoughts

I am still watching the returns come in, but I am enormously impressed with quite a few things. The primary (excuse the pun) one is how the dynamics have played out. I am going to hold judgment on whether the Democratic contest is really a horse race until later. Hillary Clinton has a big lead there now, but it is early in the game and I suspect California will go for Barack obama’s forward looking message. But there has been more resolved tonight than pundits seem willing to admit.

I did not expect a John McCain/Mike Huckabee presidential ticket to be come so obvious, but it has. I was expecting Huckabee to do poorly and drop out tomorrow with Mitt Romney not making much headway, either but still carrying on out of necessity. McCain has won handily in most of the bluer states while Huckabee has done well in the South. They need each other for a balanced ticket. As for Romney, I do not see how he can carry on with any vigor. I am not saying he will give up, since I do not think McCain has any way of clinching tonight, but he is not only the clear nominee, I doubt Romney can hope for any benefit for campaigning on.

On the Democrat side, Obama has surprised me with his widespread appeal. Clinton defeated the Kennedy Mystique (such that it is) in Massachusetts, but all she has really done is solidify herself as the old school, establishment candidate. Obama has won states across the board, proving he appeals to all ethnicities, economic classes, and ages across the country. I just finished listening to his speech a few moments ago and even though I have zero plans to vote for him, he just sounds presidential. If Clinton wins California, however, you can probably consider the night hers regardless.

The weirdest part about all this is the conservatives do not like McCain and the liberals are enamored with Obama over Clinton. Yet both parties are on their way to nominating candidates neither seems to care much for. Odd that the parties cannot get their acts together to nominate their most high profile leader.

UPDATE: California has been called for Clinton, so the night is hers.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bobby Knight Retires

I am only slightly more interested in basketball than I am in Lithuanian midget wrestling, but when a 42 year career like Knight's ends, I have to take note. he is liable to choke me if I do not, anyway.

But seriously, Knight had only two seasons in which his teams finished under .500 in 42 years of coaching . That is absolutely amazing. There are four Final Four appearances in there, to boot. The only question now is what will motivate Knight to throw chairs now? Shuffleboard does not go his way?

On a side note, Mike & Mike had Dick Vitale on this morning, principally to talk about Knight, but also about his health. Vitale had a prostate cancer scare back in December. He told the fellows this morning that lying in the hospital after surgery, his only thought was how he would give up everything--his money, his career, all his luxuries --if he could have his health back. He told them he would gladly go back to New Jersey to live in his old $ 25,000 house and eat peanut butter sandwiches every meal if he could just have his health back.

I can not venture a guess how many times I have written about my health and how I feel about it. But Dick Vitale has summed up my thoughts better than the ream of useless words I have come up with over thwe last few years. I am glad to know I am not crazy for thinking it.
Super Tuesday Predictions

I am up way before the sun or the polls opening anywhere in the country, so it sounds like a good time to make some untainted predictions about Super Tuesday. But first, a moment of silence for Rudy Giuliani’s lost chance at becoming a one term Republican version of Jimmy Carter….okay. That is enough.
1. The overall winners will be John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

2. Outside of Arizona, McCain will not win more than 50% of the vote, leading everyone to wonder why the heck he is going to be the nominee.

3. Barack Obama will not carry much passed Illinois, Georgia, and California, but it will be enough for supporters to think he will eventually grab the nomination anyway.

4. The newly conservative campaign to avoid voting for McCain will backfire since they will split their votes between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, giving McCain an edge.

5. Huckabee will drop out tomorrow and endorse McCain.

6. McCain will not clinch today, but Romney will have to (impossibly) run the table in order to secure the nomination from here on out.

7. no one will care about Ron Paul save for his small, but merry band of supporters who claim there is a huge conspiracy afoot to keep him from the nomination in spite of the fact there actually *is* a huge conspiracy to keep McCain from winning the nomination.
It could take a while to find out how well I have prognosticated. They probably will not be able to call the west coast election until two am or so. I will be in the bed making sweet love to Reese Witherspoon in my dreams at that point.
Crystal Skull

This little bugger is apparently going to be causing a lot of trouble this summer in Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Alian involvement in the movie was well know already, but this image confirms it pretty handily.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Extraneous Factors

On a much more frivolous note than the last post, I do not expect much drama for Super Tuesday. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney might win California, but everywhere else will be a rout for Hillary Clinton and John McCain even though I do not believe either can mathematically clinch. Pundits are claiming the Clinton/Obama match could go on for weeks, which has me wondering—why are voters having such a hard time making up their minds?

It is not just the Democrat side. There was a different winner and different front runner in every GOP primary. Voters have been wishy washy about every candidate who has had a fair shot at winning their party’s nomination. It is unprecedented for there to be this much indecision this late in the process. So why is it happening? My guess is the writers strike.

Hear me out. While those who actually make the effort to get out and vote are usually savvier about politics—the type who listen to talk radio, read magazines, and watch pundits on the boob tube –they still get their most lasting impressions from less serious sources. One remembers a funny political cartoon much better than a point scored on a policy issue in a debate. Do you remember what Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentsen were debating about in 1988 just before Bentsen zinged Quayle with the, ‘you’re no Jack Kennedy,’ line? Of course you do not, but you remember taunt and it stuck with Quayle forever.

So tell me, can a Jon Stewart joke or a brutal impression on Saturday Night Live affect a candidate? If SNL sketches consistently make a candidate look dumb, will voters start believing it is true? Since the writers strike, we have not had such shows on the air. Politicians have gone unscathed and I am wondering how many people arelost in the wilderness about the candidates because of it.

I am also curious how the Super Bowl will affect tomorrow’s vote. There will be a ticker tape parade in New York City for the victorious Giants. People will be distracted while much alcohol will be consumed. Meanwhile, New Englanders will still be dejected, perhaps to the point they do not care about making it to the polls. Which candidates might be benefited or hurt by such occurrences?
Britney Spears' Legal Woes

While Britney Spears is still hospitalized in Los Angeles for at least the next fourteen days, two court proceedings are deciding her fate without her.

Her lawyers have gone to court today in order to dispute the conservatorship her father was awarded on Friday. Control of all decisions, including medical and the fate of Spears’ $ 40 million fortune (the first time I have heard a figure, actually) are completely her father’s. He is even allowed to restrict visits to the troubled singer. There is a good argument to be made that will protect her from reporters and glory hounds like Dr. Phil, but when you consider this family, it sounds sinister anyway.

Also a child custody hearing went ahead today obviously without Spears present. Such hearings will determine her future with her kids. There is a responsibility to protect the children from danger assuming their mother is one, so I understand why the hearing moved ahead and why Spears’ current predicament was a factor. The legal minded part of me understands that. The non legal side cannot help but feel sorry for the piling on.

You know, not being in control of my life was one of my biggest fears. Others are afraid of spiders and snakes and the like. That is what their nightmares are full of. I used to have nightmares of dying in a nursing home while everyone who used to surround me spent all their time picking over everything that was my life, and then dumping me. I used to dream that even when I was in my 20’s Truth be told, after my retina detached and colon ruptured, that came as close to reality as I ever feared. I think that is why this Spears’ case bugs me so much. It is not just some distant celebrity drama only bored housewives fantasize about, at least for me. It is amazing how you can gind personal connections in the oddest places.
About That WGA Agreement Rumor

Patric M. Verrone, current WGA president, has disavowed the rumor in a mass e-mail to Guild members.
A Four Year Lame Duck

Are all you political junkies excited about Super Tuesday? I am not. Not only is my man Rudy Giuliani out of the race, I do not trust John McCain to tow any sort of conservative line, and I cannot get excited about Mitt Romney no matter how hard I try. I do not get what other conservatives see in him other than he is not McCain. When I watch him give a speech or participate in a debate, I have to keep reminding myself it is not a Saturday Night Live impersonation but the real deal, such that it is. Watch the guy sometime and tell me that is not Will Ferrell under a ton of make up.

I cannot muster any more excitement about the Democrats, either. A part of me would like to see Hillary Clinton get her clock cleaned during the primaries just to see what her future would be like. I bet she would stay a senator and probably weasel her way into the Majority Leader position before long. She could probably eat Harry Reid for breakfast once she got into full hatchet mode. She might toy with running for governor of New York to gain some executive experience before trying again. The democrats do not usually give losers a second chance, though. She will probably just finally divorce Bill and spend her days bitterly debating legislation on the Senate floor.

Barack Obama? I have already written how he gives me a Jimmy Carter vibe. I do not believe the hype. Furthermore, I think we are due for a one term, hapless presidency no matter who wins. Such things come in rough cycles and we have had sixteen years of very dominate presidents. It is about time for another Chester A. Arthur to take the reins for a term. I say that because I just cannot see the next president coming along meriting two terms. We have been on a roller coaster since 1992. After that, you want to ride the teacups a while.

I may be simplifying it too much. Let me put it this way: the last two presidents we have had profoundly shaped the attitude of the country. Obama was wrong when he said Bill Clinton was not an agent of change. It is true he never convinced us it was morning in America like Ronald Reagan did. No, Clinton donned sunglasses, blew his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, showing us he was going to be the laid back, rock and roll president. The whole country followed suit. We so fat, dumb, and happy surfing the internet, becoming day trading millionaires, and ogling heroin chic models, we did not care he financed his reelection campaign illegally with Chinese money or lied to a grand jury about taking sexual advantage of a 21 year old girl? Impeachment? No way, man. Clinton was cool.!

There was a backlash, of course. The so Republican Revolution was fed up conservatives organized enough maker gains in the oddest of places. A Republican mayor of New York City and Los Angeles? Republican governors in California, New York, and, of all places, Massachusetts? Yes, it happened. Im a darker sense, the Clinton Administration encouraged Tim McVeigh to rebel against the government in the most brutal, traic of ways.

Then we got George w. Bush. I will confess, way back in 200, I thought he was going to be the one term breather the country got before another solid president came along. When pundits spoke of Clinton Fatigue, I figured we were all on the same wavelength. Right up until 9/11, I figured I was right. That day gave him an undeserved shot at making a name for himself. That is likely why Giuliani took a nosedive in the polls. He never really abandoned the early primaries, he just did nothing but talk about 9/11 while he was there. We already had one president run on his reputation from that day. We sure as heck did not need another.

But look what we did get with Bush after 9/11. A sense of a holy crusade against radical Muslims to the point we decided it was a great idea to invade another country unilaterally just to prove we were still big shots in the world. We wound up with a big brother style Patriot Act would have prompted folks a lot less fevered than Tim McVeigh up in arms. But we did not care and still do not. Honestly, would you call the debate over waterboarding something that grabbed the nation’s attention? No more so than anyone thinks about the Gitmo prisoners? How many of them are held there? Do you even know? Are you aware under the Geneva Convention, they can be summarily executed for being irregular fighters on a battlefield? It has been brought to our attention, but hardly anyone bats an eye over the idea. That is the Buch cowboy culture in action.
\
There has been a backlash here, too. It has been a lor more muted in spite of everything, but it has been in full swing for a while.

Trust me, there will be talk of Bush fatigue come January when the new president is sworn in. Whoever it is will have a heck of a time gaining any traction. At that point, we will likely be in a recession lasting months before any solution can be put in place. With apologies to Harry Truman, Iraq policy is like riding a tiger. We do not want to stay on the ride, but we dare not get off, either. The new president will not be able to blame Bush, either. Americans have short term memories and put the blame squarely on the new guy or gal on top. These are just the foreseeable problems. Who knows what else might pop up. How well can an inexperienced first term senator, a former first lady, a 72 year old anger management therapy candidate, or a stiff, flip flopping one term governor do to inspire us to endure against all that? There is no sense in getting too excited about finding out.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giants Upset Patriots

I owe Eli Manning an apology.
WGA Strike Settled?

According to this Los Angeles Times article, yes. Assuming the WGA approves the terms of the proposal, that is. The contract is hinted to be similar to the ones agreed upon by the DGA which a number of writers were reluctant to adopt in a the WGA contract.

I will believe it all when I see it. We will know by the end of the week after the WGA leadership has fully examined the proposal.

Note the article states if the proposal is accepted by the end of the week, it will save the Oscars and the fall season. By fall season, it means new pilots. There is your confirmation there are not going to be any new episodes of existing television shows this season.
Super Bowl

So is the current debate whether Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time? Who knows about that, but I think the real debate should be whether the Giants can slip Peyton Manning into his brother Eli’s uniform tonight and get away with it. Or maybe sneak a bikini clad Jessica Simpson into Brady’s hotel room. It worked against the Cowboys. I wonder if Randy Moss would cry on camera over the agony of loss being shared by the whole team was getting the most coveted nookie of the moment?

I do not really have a horse in this race. I am not a fan of either the Patriots or the Giants. In fact, whoever comes out on top makes this an historic season. Either the Patriots cap off a perfect 19-0 season or two brothers win back to back Super Bowls. It will make for a neat story either way. For the record, I suspect the Giants will keep it close until the half when the Patriots will blow it out.

This year, just like last, I will be watching mostly for the commercials. I have not enthusiastically pulled for a Super Bowl team since the Panthers in 2004. That is a pretty long dry spell, all things considered.
Party Cohesion & the McCain Mutiny

This hand wringing over John McCain as the nominee apparent of the Republican Party is getting ridiculous. I am not thrilled with the guy myself and yes, he has yet to win more than a third of the Republican vote in any primary, but I do not believe he is the death of the party. While flipping channels earlier, I caught a couple of pundits on FOX salivating over the prospect of the complete destruction of the coalition between economic conservatives and social conservatives while Cal Thomas looked on bemused at the entire discussion.

The theory goes like this: the Republican Party is made up of two coalitions. There is a country club set that wants lower taxes and a balanced budget. The other group is social conservatives who believe moral decay is sending the country to hell in a handbasket and really wish Jesus was a natural born citizen so he could seek the GOP nomination for president. The business wing tolerates the social conservatives as long as it does not cost them any money. When it does, the business side always wins out. There was money to be made in stem cell research, so there was a compromise. The boycott was affecting trade and tourism in South Carolina, so the Confederate flag was moved. In both cases, the left thought it would be the end of the party. It was not to be even though I suspect neither side really cares about the other’s pet issues.

I am simplifying the situation, I know. It is almost certainly true a number of wealthy, life long Republicans have positions on social issues that would embarrass Ann coulter to mention in public. I once read in an expose on Wall Street called Liar’s Poker (I cannot recall the Author’s name right off hand) that everyone of the most racist, homophobic, and chauvinistic jokes you have ever heard originated with Ivy League education, silver spoon mouthed stock traders over cocktails at the Hamptons. I see no reason to disbelieve it. Perhaps those are the types who serve as the crème in the Oreo cookie that holds the Republican Party together. Who knows?

But I am with Cal Thomas, at least in regards to snickering at liberals who expect the republican Party to disintegrate because of a little dissent. That is because the Democratic Party tolerates no dissent whatsoever. The GOP has the so called “big tent.” The party is big enough to have social liberals like Rudy Giuliani, libertarians like Ron Paul, and (before his ambition got in the way, that is social firebrands like Pat Buchanan. What about the Democrats? There is not much of a big tent there. You have to tow a definite line. Harry Reid, Dick Gephardt, and Al Gore were all once staunchly pro-life before moving into leadership positions in the party. It was required or else. There has not been a pro life speaker at the DNC convention since Bob Casey in 1992. Think about that. It has been sixteen years anyone opposing abortion has been allowed to see the light of day. The GOP had at least three pro choice speaker at its 2004 convention.

So is that why Democrats seem to have a better time holding its coalition together? They shut up anyone who might not tow the most popular opinion? That is nothing to be proud of. Bill Clinton revealed the party poobah’s true feelings a couple weeks ago when he dismissed Barack Obama as just a black candidate. The democrats do not care about identity politics, feminism, or racial equality, much less protecting the unborn. Anyone in the party who has different insight on those issues is not going to be allowed anywhere near a microphone. Any liberal who thinks otherwise isdeluding himself.

I have to say the GOP is more inclusive than most anyone gives it credit. It will survive McCain orMitt Romney or, heck, Mike Huckabee if Divine intervention allows him to sweep the rest of the primaries. There is no completely destructive insecurity there about differing viewpoints as there is on the left.