Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Pure Insanity of ObamaCare Advocates is Going to (Thankfully) Kill It

I have not written anything about ObamaCare since Barack Obama gave his pitch to the nation a few weeks ago. Frankly, my eye has long since glazed over while thinking about the whole matter. The national debate--I am being generous in calling it that--has gone well beyond theater of the absurd into pure nihilism. I pretty much stopped following the circus once a protestor got his finger bit off by an ObamaCare supporter.

Think of the demented character one has to have to bit off a man’s finger over a political dispute neither of them has any real control over in the first place. You cannot even chalk the incident up to the unwashed masses’ uncouth attitudes because, whether progressives want to admit it or not, there were death panels in the Senate Finance committee bill with an army of chomping at the bit (See what I did there?) eager to serve on them. If there is a difference in the character of people who will bite off someone else’s finger in a pointless political debate and someone else eager to have the power of life and death in their hands, I have no clue what it might be. Iweep for our national character regardless.

ObamaCare’s support as a whole has dropped to 41% according to the latest Rasmussen poll. This is after Barack Obama has mad his sales pitch to the country at which he was handed victim status, a valued condition for progressives, when Joe Wilson publicly called him a liar. What ever sympathy Obama might have gotten out of the outburst has faded into oblivion. I do not think there is much else he can do to win public support. Two ket senate committees have dropped the public option, resulting in health care reform being little more than new regulations for insurance companies.

Progressives have figured this out, too, and are running with one of two strategies for getting the public option back in.

The first is to just ram it through without republican support and against the public’s wishes. Few elected officials will advocate this publicly, but well known, unselected progressives--the naïve liberals for whom no one can possibly be liberal enough--like Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow, Michael Moore, and Bill Maher are pushing for it. These are the elitist types who swear up and down government knows best. They are the ones firing up the unthinking members of the progressive base. I have serious doubts this is going to happen.

These cod option seems more popular; scare mongering with more than a dash of lunacy. I am talking about Nancy Pelosi and her nazi references, Harry Reid’s labeling of ObamaCare opponents as evildoers, and now, Alan Grayson. I will confess I had never heard of Grayson before yesterday. He is one of those 400 or so anonymous, often absentee, house members. He wants to make a name for himself in all the wrong ways.

Yesterday, he claimed the Republican health care reform plan was for sick people to hurry up and die. Today, he refused to apologize to republicans, which is fine. Lord knows most politicians need thicker skins than their candy butts seem to have. But he turned around and said he will only apologize to the dead in this holocaust of a health care system we currently have. For good measure, he said he would not apologize for the Holocaust reference, either, because he thinks the Anti-Defamation League is a ’crazy, racist institution.” Run by the same Zionists who run the world through European banks, I will bet.

I made a prediction months ago ObamaCare was going to die because it was a combination of bad legislation, drafted my naïve progressive, advocated by nutty Congressmen who have not even read the bills, and pushed by an insane grassroots effort of violent tugs. I still believe ObamaCare is going to die because the situation has nly gotten worse.

Do not get me wrong, I am thrilled ObamaCare will likely not pass. It is an awful idea that would lead to health care rationing and skyrocketing costs for a commodity constantly decreasing in quality. But I do wish there could have been a reasonable dialogue over the issue rather than the madhouse jamboree we have gotten so far. The lunatics are running the asylum, people.

Literally.

Going Rogue with Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin’s forthcoming book, Going Rogue, currently sits atop the pre-order lists at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She hasa bestseller on her hands without Bill ayers having to secretly write a single syllable.

(Yes, I know Going Rogue was ghostwritten. No need to blast me in the comments. If you want to make a case Ayers did not write Dreams of my Father for Barack Obama, feel free. I could use the lulz.)

It looks like Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska has not diminished her stature in spite of constant criticism from progressives and pundits on both sides of the political aisle. The jury is still out on whether she is a viable presidential candidate for 2012. One point in her favor; Chris Matthews recently asked a Hardball if she was the conservative poster girl for racism, thereby beginning the meme you are going to hear a lot about whoever ultimately runs against Obama. I think we should nominate J. C. Watts just to take 90% of Obama’s campaign strategy away from him. But she certainly has a future within the GOP. The base loves her too much to let her fall into obscurity.

As a conservative, Christian, and Jeffersonian, I cannot think of any other potential candidate who excites me the way she does. As jaded as I have become over the last eighteen months or so regarding the leftward, degenerate turn of our body politic, I fear I am flirting with an unrealistic idealism hoping Palin or someone like her will emerge to turn things around. It is interesting, because out of the many ways I can be described, idealist never makes the list.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Best of Both Worlds, Part I"

“The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” tops just about everyone’s list of best TNG episodes. It is certainly at the top of my list. It marks a couple changes for the show. First, TNG moved out from under TOS’ shadow with the episode. It raised the level of scope and drama to a new level. Never before on small screen Trek had the captain literally been at risk of death, nor had the Federation truly risked destruction. Second, from this episode on, there was more emphasis on characterization than ever before. Granted, the writers still had to maintain Gene Roddenberry’s edict of no conflict between the perfectly enlightened humans, but at least they were allowed to explore their personalities more.

The main thing that makes this episode great is the ominous sense of finality. Both producer/writer Michael Piller and Patrick Stewart were both considering leaving the show at the end of the third season. The powers that be keep tight control over the backstage drama, but it is pretty well established Piller was not fond of Roddenberry’s intrusions and Stewart was upset over how little he was given to do with Picard. Note afew episodes back how his request for a more adventurous story resulted in the truly awful “Captain’s Holiday.” The best effort to honor his wishes could ot rise above mediocre.

Allegedly, Stewart had it in his contract Picard could be killed off if he did not wish to return for the fourth season. The notion that Picard was irretrievably lost as Locutus was a strong, convincing possibility. There is only one line in this episode, spoken desperately by Crusher, that even hints recovering him is possible. One could assume that is Crusher’s desperately romantic side grasping at straws.

The premise had been clearly set up for Riker to take over the ship should Stewart leave. Shelby would have been added to the cast as first officer, ice queen, and pain in the butt. For the record, I have to note Shelby is the only weak link. She is hard here, overly ambitious, and a royal b*tch on wheels, but it clearly set up for her to eventually fit into the first officer’s role and become a sex symbol should she have joined the regular cast. I am thankful she did not. For one, I have met too many people like her while working in politics. I cannot stand the type. For another, eventually Michelle Forbes would be added as Ro Laren, a similar, but much more interesting character. Ro is tough with sex appeal, but her edge is as a survivor, not a career opportunist like Shelby. It makes her much more interesting.

Shelby may be the weak point, but she is hardly noticeable considering the rest of the episode. As I said above, it is epic in scope and ominous in tone. The episode opens with an away team beaming down to a destroyed colony. For dramatic effect, it is ignored that the Enterprise can see the huge crater that once was the colony from space, not to mention the away team was supposedly beamed to the center of the colony, but were actually on the edge of the crater looking down to enhance the feel of devastation. Was anyone bothered by these logical flaws/ I was not until I put on my critic’s hat.

Shelby joins the crew as a special operative. She has been working closely with a dirty old man admiral since “Q Who?” to devise a defense against the Borg. They were not ready for an incursion this soon. Interestingly, the Borg are not Shelby’s main concern. She is angling for Riker’s job. He has been offered his own command for the third time, but refuses it. Picard gives him a kick in the pants to reconsider.

I have to admit, if not for Riker’s ballsy move at the cliffhanger to attempt destroying the Borg cube, killing Locutus, and crippling the Enterprise all in an effort to save Earth, I would think the character had been greatly diminished by practically everything up until that point. In a conversation he has with Troi, he is essentially licking his wounds over Shelby’s circumventing him and Picard’s assessment the Enterprise can run well without him. He comes across as someone who has grown fat and lazy. The kind of guy who has found a cushy spot and does not want to risk losing it. Honestly, there is no point where Shelby, who holds a rank just below his, does not have the upper hand with him. It is not until Picard is lost does he effectively rise to the challenge.

Which brings us to Picard as Locutus. If there is a more pivotal event in TNG lore than picard’s assimilation, I cannot venture a guess as to what it might be. I have been scolded in the past by classic Doctor Who fans for claiming the assimilation of characters is wholly original. I will concede the Cybermen did that schtick long before the Borg showed, but the borg do not look like walking baked potatoes, so there. The Borg solidified their role here as the ultimate Trek villains by being so..alien. Up until now, every alien in trek could be an allegory for a different culture on Earth. Not the Borg. There is nothing on Earth that turns someone into a mindless drone.

There is an argument to be made, one I find weak, by the way, that the Borg arean allegory for communism. While they are perfect communists--they are even referred to as a collective-- by the summer of 1990, the Cold War was sputtering to an end. The reds just were not the threat they used to be. A more apt analogy is a insect colony. Eventually, the insect analogy is going to be fully embraced by the introduction of the Borg queen.

For now, Picard as Locutus fills that role. Appropriately, Locutus is Latin for “one who speaks.”

One final point that makes “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” so interesting is that Earth is threatened. It sounds cliché, but at the time, there was agrowing cynicism within science fiction movies, television shows, novels, and comic books that the planet was in the such a mess environmentally and politically, no vilain in his right mind would want to take it over. This is the era of the grim, gritty vigilante hero who fights on a small scale. Any conflicts bigger in scope were environmentally motivated. Witness Captain Planet, MacGyber‘s social cause of the week, Bush 41 promoting a thousand points of light community service projects while wanting to be known as the environmental president, etc. Much of that translates to a blame humanity first for all the world’s problems--a self-loathing that says the world is not worth fighting for since we will just ruin it anyway. It was refreshing to see a better perspective on the issue. Earth is because of it people, not in spite of them.

So this is my all time favorite TNG episode and my second favorite in all of Trek. I not only like the story, but I have fond memories of its original airing. It aired the summer after my seventh grade year. Virtually no one really enjoys being junior high age, but it was particularly rough for me. I was having a rough time at school when it suddenly became cool, after I had long been accepted in elementary, to make fun of the crippled kid. To add insult to injury, Hurricane Hugo had occurred nearly a year before, but its effects were still felt on my family, financially and emotionally. My parents were barreling steadily towards divorce largely because of it. I always looked forward to summer because of beach vacations and the big comic book convention in Charlotte every June. That year, this episode aired on the weekend of the convention, then I left for a vscation at the beach. I hit the trifecta as well as won a respite from a lot of drama that had been pounding me all year long. So it has a personal bonus for me.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Angelina Jolie

Just because.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roman Polanski Ought to Go to Jail

Call me naïve, but I am stunned there is a debate over whether Roman Polanski ought to be extradited so he can rot in a Los Angeles prison cell.

Let me repeat the circumstance here, because they bear repeating. In 1977, Polanaski asked a friend of his if he could take photographs of her thirteen year old daughter for a magazine spread. She agreed, and while Polanski was alone in Jack Nicholson’s house, he got the girl drunk, gave her some Qualudes, and then raped and sodomized her. He spent 42 days in jail at which point the plea bargained down to a charge of committing a lewd out with a minor. Before he could be sentenced, he fled back to his native France where he could not be extradited.

Over the weekend, he arrived in Switzerland at which point Swiss authorities nabbed him at the request of American law enforcement. A concerted effort from European perverts (What else could you call them?) and Hollywood degenerates (What else could you call them?) has begun to fight Polanski’s extradition to the United States. They have even gone so far as to petition Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene diplomatically.

So what is the mindset for Polanski’s defenders?

There appears to be an artsy side of his defenders who claim his lack of ability to work in Hollywood over the last 32 years has been punishment enough. Poppycock, I say. Actions have consequences and no matter how skilled a moviemaker is--I have praised Chinatown and The Pianist myself--he does not get to be excused from the consequences of committing a heinous act simplu because he has already been deprived of what he enjoys. It does not matter if his fans feel deprived, too. There are higher principles involved than personal enoyment. He did the crime, he ought to do the appropriate time.

Many French apparently see nothing wrong with doping a thirteen year old girl and sodomizing her. Well, they al think Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal is some kind of folk hero, so who the heck cares what those surrender frogs think?

As for Hollywood, I have been trying to decipher them for a while. I listened to a clip of Whoopi Goldberg today defending Polanski’s actions as not really “rape-rape.” she babbled on about not passing judgment without all the facts, said he had been punished enough already, and finally hinted that a thirteen year might be able to consent to sex with an adult. That goes a long way towards explaining why Whoopi’s daughter got pregnant a fifteen. Why anyone watches those screwy old bitties on The View is beyond me.

Polanski’s most vocal Hollywood defender is Woody Allen. Yes, the guy who married his ex-lover’s adopted daughter. There is acharacter witness to trot out.

As a history buff, I am intrigued by Polanski’s role on the periphery of all sorts of pivotal events of the 20th century. He survived Auschwitz when much of his family did not, he survived the Manson family when his wife and unborn child did not, and somehow he became the toast of the weird Hollywood of the late ’60’s and ’70’s, flirting with the occult and hanging out with Jack Nicholson. But I do not believe tragedies in life are excuses for evil acts as an adult, nor am I charmed by a guy who has a magic touch with movies and hangs out with the hip people. For whatever reason, that is worth one raped little girl to many people. For me, that is just a sign of our fallen culture.

There should not even be a debate over Polanski’s fate.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "Transfigurations"

Does anyone ever remember this episode? I barely did.

I think the problem is how many common plot elements are present, but done elsewhere. The Enterprise encounters a wounded alien. The crew nurses him back to health. The alien bonds with a crewmember. In this case, it is Beverly Crusher. She falls in love with him. Hostile aliens come looking for the alien. He has a secret that saves the day.

I could list out a dozen subsequent episodes which are going to feature those plot elements. You could argue they are stealing from the success of ’transfigurations,” but I would have to ask what success? I was not impressed.

Two things really irritated me. First, Worf gets killed just when there happens to be an alien on board who can bring him back to life. I really hate it when shows do some dumb stunt like that when they are going to go to all sorts of absurd links to have their main characters survive anything the rest of the time. It is just as bad as when TOS would kill off anonymous red shirts in the most trivial of ways just to prove space exploration is dangerous while the main characters the main characters faced tougher situations without suffering a scratch.

I also have to go back to the hypocrisy of “Hide and Q” when Picard argues that riker should not have a guilty conscience for not bringing the dead little girl back to life when he had the Q power because her death was meant to be. Yet he is grateful for Worf’s Lazarus act here. Picard has either changed his mind, only cares when it is someone he knows isdead, or was just happy there was one less child to annoy him in ’Hide and Q.” Only the first option would surprise me. He is one stubborn old goat regarding his own opinion.

The second point which bothers me is the change in LaForge brought on by the alien’s energy blast. It is made abundantly clear LaForge lacked much self-confidence when it came to his scientific skills and charming women, but all that is fixed for him artificially by the alien. So instead of encouraging personal growth through learning experiences, LaForge is automatically “fixed’ by artificial means. I immediately thought of a steroid analogy or getting liquored up in order to talk to women. It is really embarrassing TNG is sending such a message.

I obviously did not go for “Transfigurations,” but tomorrow will more than make up for it and a string of uneven installments. The third season finale will be covered tomorrow. It is my favorite TNG episode for many reasons, not the least of which is how the Borg become every bit the menace I anticipated them being.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tina Fey

Hot and nerdy almost overcomes arrogant and liberal.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spanish Prime Minister's Daughters Are Goth

That is hilarious! You know, the weirdest part is not even the girls, but Barack Obama's plastic smile. he has the same look in every single photo. I will bet he practices it along with sincerity every morning in the bathroom mirror.

Check this out:

A Nightmare on Elm Street Remake Trailer

Watch the trailer before reading my rant below:I hinted at this already when I wrote about Scream IV, but I am disappointed with recent attempts to remake horror classics of the ’80’s. I would like to see a revival of the genre, but stuff like this A Nightmare on Elm Street remake is not doing it for me.

It is not even Michael Bay’s name as executive producer that bothers me most, although I wonder who the genius was who decided that hack would be the best choice. I guess it was not enough he ruined Transformers for us who loved them back in the day, but he has to screw up our horror icons, too.

It is not even the production values. The movie looks beautiful, actually. While I like these feels to have gritty look, that does not necessarily mean it has to look like it was made for $ 3.57 on a second hand web cam. The Silence of the lLambs, se7en, and Saw were all sleek productions that were still dark and moody.

The problem is this is a literal remake. There is no spin on it. The iconography is still there. The parents are chasing Freddy Krueger through the streets, they burn him alive, there are slash marks on kids clothes, and the glove in the bathtub scene is in it. It is a complete rehash of the first movie without Robert Eglund’s sadistic, yet quirky portrayal of Freddy to make it entertaining. I am not fond of the new make up job, either.

Toss this one into the same awful remake pile as Halloween and Friday the 13th . Someone needs to come up with some fresh, new horror memes for contemporary times and leave the golden era of slasher horror films alone. Keep Bay out of that, too.

Hitler's Skull is Not Actually Hitler's Skull

A skull allegedly recovered by the Russians from Berlin in 1945, which has long since considered to be Adolf Hilter’s, is now confirmed to be that of an unidentified woman younger than forty. In other words, it is not Eva Braun’s skull, either.

So what is the deal? Typical Russian tomfoolery, it would seem.

The Russians claim they never said it was actually Hitler’s skull. They had other proof Hitler was dead, like his dental records. Dental records which they somehow had from bombed out berlin and were able to compare to--wait for it--the skull which has just been proven to not be Hitler’s.

So what really happened to Hitler? I am not a conspiracy theorists. I have no doubts he killed himself. But did the Russians do anything to his body in revenge for the twenty million killed during the failed nazi invasion of the Soviet Union or can the Russians just not admit they never found his body ?

The Roman Polanski Apologists

The Washington Post's Ann Applebaum essetially argues that if one dodges the authorities long enough, child rape is no big deal:
He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.... Polanski is 76. To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system. If he weren't famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.
Note the bulk of her argument is about how attempts to bring him to justice have limited his movie making career. In her mind, that is the true crime. What is a raped child worth win we are missing a Chinatown sequel? Society is not being punished by a rapist walking free, but by being denied his art. This explains much of the whitewashing of Michael Jackson after his death earlier this summer.

I suggest reading the original testimony in the rape case, if you can stand it.

Applebaum also failed to disclose her husband is lobbying Barack Obama for a presidential pardon for Polanski.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Menage a Trois"

I can sum up my feelings about “Menage a Trois” in the following sentence--it features a sixty year old woman naked, yet that is not the worst part of the episode. In fact, it has everything bad about trek accept for children: both Trois are in it. So are the Ferengi and wesley is taking his Starfleet entrance exams for the umpteenth time. Ethan phillips even has a guest spot, echoing how annoying he is going to be in five years when he takeson the role of Neelix in VOY.

If anything redeems this episode, I have no clue what it is. If you want to consider Marina Sirtis naked as a virtue, I really, truly, and honestly have nothing to say to you other than I will offer up prayers to spare your soul. Assuming you still have one.

Lwaxana Troi takes part in a diplomatic event. While there, she interferes in Troi’s love life yet again. A ferengi named tog takes a shine to her. One wonders if having an orange toad enamored with you is acompliment. Lwaxana does not take it assuch, so she rebuffs him. He does nottake rejection well, so he decides to kidnap her, Trois, and Riker from a picnic on Betazed.

Tog wants to create a partnership with Lwaxana in order to use her abilities as an advantage in negotiations. You may recall that was already a plot in one of the worst third season episodes thus far. Why TNG has a habit of revisiting it failures is beyond me, but it will not be the last time the show revisits depleted mines in an attempt to find a nugget or two. Usually with the kind of results you would expect.

Riker finds a way to send a message to the Enterprise. It is discovered by Crusher just as he is about to leave for his exams, so he misses them while rescuing his comrades. Picard winds up quoting Shakespeare and Tennyson love poetry to lawwoman in order to get her away from tog. That would be nauseating enough, but seeing Crusher strut like Tony Manero in his new uniform after receiving a field commission to full ensign caps it all off.

Yes, “Menage a Trois” is bad all around. Even the double entendre in the title is awful. Skip this one if at all possible. That goes for Riker/Troi shippers, too. It is done better in future episodes.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

If only she really did go for nerds.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Roman Polanski Should Face Justice

Controversial director Roman Polanski has been arrested by Swissauthoritiesat the request of the United States. Polanski may be extradited to face the consequence of drugging, then raping, a thirteen year old girl in 1978. Oddly enough, Polanski is finding some support in the United States for letting him go. The two biggest arguments is that the crime took place thirty-one years ago and his victim has asked him not to be prosecuted.

I have mixed emotions about the first. There is much precedent for the justice system to drop charges of crimes after a long period of time has passed, but only when the crime was not that serious and the alleged perpetrator has changed in the interim. Drugging a child and raping her is no small crime, so forget the first half of the standard for dropping the charges. Whether Polanski is a changed man is up to interpretation. I have no criteria to judge, but I suspect the Hollywood types who support him now do not really care whether he raped a girl. Witness the recent revelation Mackenzie Phillips had an decade long, incestuous affair with her father, John Phillips. She has had more defenders than detractors over it.

I find the too much time has passed argument equally ironic sice that is also what those nut jobs who consider Charles Manson a prophet say every time he comes up for parloe for murdering actress Sharon Tate--Polanski’s wife.

Asfor whether his victim forgives him, while I am all for forgiveness on an existential level, that does not cut it in the justice system. nor should it. It looks like I am solidly in the prosecute Polanski and throw the book at him school of thought. Chinatown and The Pianist were masterpieces, but creativity does not make one above the law.

I Have Given Up on Jay Leno

I think I have figured out why I do not like The Jay Leno Show. I have given it ample opportunity to hook, or at least more than I usually give television shows, because I felt like leno was trying something new. But it is not and I knew it all along because that is not the real reason I was watching. I kept up with the show because I had a hunch Leno is trying to emulate Dick Cavett.

The Dick Cavett Show was way before my time, but VH1 used to run selected episodes during the early part of the 00’s when it was making the transition from music videos to celebreality--mercy, I hate that made up word--format it has now. I remember specifically watching the interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Robert Mitchum, and the infamous Lester Maddox interview in which the segregationist Georgia governor stormed off after football star Jim Brown referred to his constituents as bigots.

Dick Cavett interviewed his guests with no desk between them, just like old friends sitting around the living room. The casual atmosphere usually prompted the at ease guests to open up more than usual. Lennon and Ono, for instance, discussed Ono’s custody battle and Lennon’s legal battle with the INS. That battle was started by South Carolina’s own Strom Thurmond, by the way. The interview was extended to more than one installment because it was going so well. Cavett was convincing cultural icons to talk about their lives in ways they had not done before publicly.

That is what leno is trying to do. He has the standard celebrity guests with their typical pitching of current projects, but he has had a relatively serious discussion of capitalism with Michael Moore and a health care debate with Rush Limbaugh. He has tried to raise the rhetoric beyond anything you would see on another talk show. But it is not working for him. Leno has a lot going for him, but the ability to be the new Cavett is not one of his virtues.

I have slowly but surely gone back to my usual pattern of flipping on the leno show only when there is a guest I would like to see. Lastly, that was Pee Wee Herman. I remember Pee Wee’s Big Adventure fondly as a child of the ‘80’s, but have become wary of him since, particularly after his child pornography case was thrown out because the photos were made before the statute he was arrested under was enacted. Herman talked about how his desire to go into show business started when he was in kindergarten and watched the six grade class put on a play about Indians with kids wearing loincloths and such. He described it in such an excited way. I guess it was innocent, but under the circumstances, he creeped me out. I cannot hold that against leno, but stigmas are stigmas.

I do not think I am the only one not enamored with Leno’s new show. The ratings are abysmal, but NBC is still satisfied with them. This leads me to think Universal is prepping for a fire sale to get rid of the fourth place network. Leno has afforded the opportunity to drastically trim production budgets while giving himself the opportunity to become something he is clearly not meant to be. I suppose that is a win-win situation for everyone except the viewing audience.

Blogroll Spotlight XIII

For this week, I am going to spotlight the best 9/11 tributes from my blogroll. As usual, they are not ranked, but are listed alphabetically by blog name.

American Digest tells how Qaddafi's translator gave up on him in mid-speech.

The Big Feed Blog has more children singing hymns to Barack Obama.

The Classic Liberal chronicles obama's indoctrination scheme.

The Daley Gator asks, "Obama has a safe School czar?"

Interesting Stories notes United nations parking tickets fight global warming. These guys are better than The Onion.

A Large Regular has The 100 Worst Movies of the Last Decade.

MAinfo notes what the MSm media will not--Sarkozy ripped obama at the United nations.

Piece of Work in Progress says community organizing and foreign policy are not a good mix.

Self-Evident Truths talks about gay marriage.

The Troglopundit wonders why Rick Perry is not a 2012 favorite. I imagine it is because he is associated with Bush 43 and occasionally advocates seceding from the United States, NTTAWWT.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Sarek"

One thing TNG has done badly thus far is connect with the best aspects of TOS. Outside of the guest appearance of DeForest Kelly as McCoy in “Encounter at Farpoint,” the only other major connection has been the drunk disease from ’The Naked Time’ infecting our heroes. While that might have been a fine idea, it was ruined by making it the plot of the second episode. While would you have a plot in which your main characters act out of character when we are not familiar with them in the first place?

I will give credit for effort. The original plan for “Too Short a Season” was to feature William Shatner returning to resolve the aftermath of his actions in “A Private Little War.” Shatner was either unwilling or unable to reprise his role, so the idea was scrapped. So apparently were any other attempts to connect with TOS until “Sarek.”

“Sarek” is a worthy effort. the character is one of the most venerable in trek history, which is amazing considering his relatively short screen time over the years. Call it the Boba Fett Effect--we fill in the many gaps we do not know about the character with our imagination, thereby making him much cooler than he actually is. He becomes even more poignant as all that we know about him is now being stripped away by the Vulcan equivalent of Alzheimer’s. anyone who has had a relative waste away from the disease as I have can appreciate the living death it is. The loss is crippling emotionally and physically.

The most pivotal part of the episode is the aftermath of Sarek’s mind meld with Picard in order to pass his emotions unto the captain so he can pull off one last diplomatic mission. Patrick Stewart plays the violent mudsling perfectly, going from babbling nonsense, to insane laughter, to suicidal distraught all in one take. It is difficult to watch because it is such a raw and undignified sequence.

It is a great episode for continuity buffs, although since the only mention of Spock is Picard expressing embarrassment at Sarek’s love for his son, there is a gaping hole that will not be filled for another couple seasons when Spock finally shows up. But like I said above, TNG and TOS barely connected in its early seasons. Nevertheless, much of that oversight is made up for by “Sarek.”

Rating: *** *(out of 5)

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Forget the haters. I like her a lot.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around XVI

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

The Daley Gator links to Blogroll Spotlight XII

The Classic Liberal links to a week's worth of celebrity babes and obama's apology to the United Nations.

The Other McCain links to Jessica Simpson..

The Camp of the Saints weighs in on the Kim Kardashian v. Cardassian debate.

Eclectic Banana waves the white flag over a discussion on political irony.

Angry Planet links to the emmy In Memoriam omissions.

Macabre Drive-In Theater added me to its blogroll.

A sincere thank you to all who linked. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Most Toys"

I like data centered episodes. This one is no exception. In fact, there is the added bonus I have an obsessive collector’s personality somewhat like Fajo‘s. I was big into comic books at the time and was on the verge of trying my hand at baseball cards when ’The Most Toys” aired, so there is a certain nervous feeling I get at some of the thingsFajo says and does here. I am neither a thief, nor psycho, but I still cannot help feeling a bit of kinship with him. There are some upsetting aspects, too, which make this an unsettling episode and therefore not afan favorite. It has enough redeeming qualities to overcome the stigma for me.

Fajo, a collector of one of a king items, fakes Data’s death in a shuttlecraft explosion so he can add the android to his collection. Data joins near extinct species, the Mona Lisa, and a 1962 Roger Maris baseball card among other items. Data passively resists Fajo by refusing to wear the outfit fajo demands, sit in a certain chair, and show off for a rival collector. It is noted contrast to how his behavior will change as he eventually escapes.

Meanwhile, the crew mourns Data’s destruction. I think it is the weakest part of the episode because we already know data is alive. Had the scenes involving his memorial occurred before we knew of Fajo’s ruse and kidnapping, the emotional impact would have been higher. But it may also have wound up like “Captain’s Holiday’ with a firstact irrelevant to the rest of the story dragging the episode down. Since the former might have been the best way to handle the matter, I am not going to hold the storytelling technique against the episode.

It is largely because of the ending that I am not. Data bonds with Fajo’s assistant, Varria. There are strong hints Fajo has been brutally abusing her beyond threats to kill her if Data refuses to cooperate with him. Varria sides with Data and helps him escape. For her effort, Fajo murders her.

What follows is the second time Data breaks his program by making the decision to be judge, jury, and executioner. He decides Fajo ought to die for the murder. He fires his phaser at the same time the Enterprise, the crew of which have discovered he is alive, beam him out. Data subsequently lies to Riker, claiming the phaser must have discharged during transport.

It is supposedly ambiguous whether data fired or is correct about the accidental discharge, but as I have implied, I think he did shoot. He was about to do the same to Armus back in “Skin of Evil” when he realized the oil slick had no remorse for killing Tasha Yar. He made the same choice about Fajo’s ambivalence about killing Varria here. In an interesting comparison, it was Riker who stopped him from firing at Armus and Riker again who asked about the phaser discharge here. Did data purposefully lie to riker since he knew he would not approve of Data killing Fajo? I doubt it is an accident Riker isa part of both incidents.

Later, Fajo is being held in the brig. Data visits him and Fajo wonders if the android takes pleasure in the role reversal. Data echoes the line about him being just an android with no feelings Fajo had used to objectify him. Data has the slightest hint of a smile. There is plausible deniability, but Data did seem to enjoy Fajo getting his just desserts.

I said above there were stigmas to “The Most Toys.” The first is probably a personal one. The scenes in which Fajo reinforces the artificialness of Data are unsettling. Turning someone into an object is the way abusers absolve themselves of guilt for the cruelest of things. Recall in The Silence of the Lambs how Buffalo Bill kept referring to the kidnapped girl as “it.” It did so to make it easier to cut her up later. Obviously, TNG would not have such violence, but the idea Fajo did not care if Data walked around naked combined with the implied severe abuse of Varria was enough to make “The most toys’ stand out as one of the creepiest episodes of TNG.

The second stigma is more shared by all fans. Originally, David Rappaport was cast as Fajo. Rappaport wasa famous dwarf actor who had been in Time Bandits, The Bride, and the unfairly short lived television series The Wizard.. Rappaport filmed some scenes as Fajo, then on his son’s birthday, took out a pistol he had bought two weeks before and fatally shot himself. He had been struggling with depression for years. He finally just could not take it anymore. The scenes he had already filmed were scrapped and a new actor hastily brought in. although none of his scenes were used or even survive, as far as I know, a dark pall hangs over the episode regardless.

In an effort to end on a positive note, I said I got into baseball cards briefly after “The Most Toys” aired. It was more like a year later during the 1991 season when the Atlanta braves went from worst to first in the National League before losing to the Minnesota Twins in game seven of the world series. It was braves fever that prompted my interest, not Fajo’s Roger Maris card.

But there is something special about that card. It was the first to be commissioned by Topps after Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. he was honored by serving as the first card in the series. However, being the first card means it is more likely to have rubber band damage from kids putting rubber bands round their numerically ordered collections and tossing them in a shoe box. It is extremely rare to find that card without indentions on the sides from where rubber bands dug in. Fajo managed to find one in the 24th century, that lucky dog. I wound up with one myself, complete with indentures.

Drat.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Someone Give Kristin Chenoweth a Job

In her emotional acceptance speech after winning the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress on the now canceled Pushing Daisies, the lovely Kristin Chenoweth urged producers to hire her for another show, particularly Mad Men, The Office, or 24.

Come on, folks, give this lady a job! I have not gotten my much needed dose of Chenoweth since The West Wing rode off into the sunset.(Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Neve Campbell Returns for Scream IV

Cool news here. Evidently Neve Campbell, who only agree to sign on to Scream 3 nine years ago id her scenes could be filmed in a lump, has grown weary of starring in socially conscious cheapo movies and bit parts on television shows and decided to head back to her scream queen roots.

I liked Scream I had high hopes their success would lead to a revival of real horror films, but no such luck. All we got were two more Scream sequels and Jennifer Love Hewitt emoting while showing off her newly sprouted boobs in I know What You Did Last Summer. I wanted to see some really gritty horror films like they used to make in the 80’s, not a mix of half the kids from Dawson’s Creek, a couple from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and one of the Friends mixed in with a gimmicky killer all rolled into a PG rating.

Even the Freddy v. Jason film a few years ago was a watered down, silly mess. I had to wait for Saw and Hostel. Those two did little more thank make me wax nostalgic for the glory (Gory?) days of Freddy, Jason, and Pinhead. Those gents are up for remakes which I am certain will disappoint as much as Rob Zombie’s take on Michael Myers.

But I am all right, because one thing I do not mind waxing nostalgic about is Neve Campbell. She was my girl back in the day. I even willing sat through a chick flick or two just because she was in it. I have many fond memories of the late ’80’s. Reminders of the era are few and far between, but it is nice to know I will have at least one guaranteed in the near future, even if Scream IV is not likely to revive the genre I like so much.

I do note I am going in reverse here. Usually the old fogies like me complain that stuff is too brutal and violent these days, not like the good, clean fun of my youth. Well, forget that. Give me the blood, guts, maiming, and mutilation of dumb college kids, half of whom are sorority girls in their underwear. That is high quality intertainment.

Oh, and I want Neve Campbell, too.

What is the Penalty for Not Buying Insurance Under ObamaCare?

Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $ 200. So taxpayers are either going to pay for your health care forever or your housing for the next three to eight years. What a public option.


Nice to know the Democrats are giving us a choice, no?

Michael Jackson Could Have Changed Hitler

so Michael Jackson claims in somed taped interviews soon to be released. I mention this because, although there is some typical Wacko Jacko nuttiness involved, many of the headlines I have seen thus far are falsely implying Jackson admired Hitler as a genius. Presenting Jackson as some sort of Nazi sympathizer is grossly offensive. Here is what Jackson actually said in the interview:
"Hitler was a genius orator. To make that many people turn and change and hate, he had to be a showman and he was."
Which means Jackson agreed with the professor who taught my junior year class on propaganda back in college.

Ah, but if he had only stopped there:
The Rabbi is then heard asking Jackson, "You believe that if you had an hour with Hitler you could somehow touch something inside of him?"

The superstar replies, "Absolutely. I know I could. You have to help them, give them therapy, teach them that somewhere, something in their life went wrong."
What is worse about that statement, the naivete or the irony? While you are chewing on that, check this out:
In another bizarre taped conversation, the star explains he had argued with ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley after admitting he wanted to visit the notorious British child killers of Liverpudlian toddler James Bulger.

Jackson recalls, "She had a fight with me one time when two little boys in London (sic) killed this other kid and I was going to visit them 'cause the Queen gave them adult sentencing of life. These were like eleven and ten year old boys and I was going to go to the prison and visit them. She said, 'You idiot - you're just rewarding them for what they did.' I said, 'How dare you say that. I bet if you trace their life you can find they didn't have parents around, they didn't have any love, nobody there to hold them, look in their eyes and say I love you. I just want to say I love you and hold them.'"
That is just creepy, because, well...you know.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Hollow Pursuits"

There is one difference between TOS and TNG--when the latter has an episode focusing on a bit character we have never heard of before, said character does not usually windup dead. There is a glaring exception in “Lower Decks,” but the death there is poignant, unlike virtually every other instance. But that is a review for a later date. “Hollow Pursuits” is all about Reginald Barkley.

Barclay is the series second shot at creating an excitable, nebbish character who can periodically save the day regardless in contrast to the always right, near perfect main cast. The first shot was Gomez back in the second season episode “Q Who?” Her auspicious beginning was to dump hot cocoa on Picard, then be placed in charge of getting the shields back online before the Borg could blow the ship into atoms. She never caught on and disappeared after two appearances.

But you can see hints of her character in Barkley. Gomez was obviously a brilliant engineer, but socially inept. Barkley is both those things, but far less annoying. Chalk it up to better writing or my fondness for Dwight Shultz’s epic role as H. M. “Howling Mad” Murduck on The A-Tram or the conservative column he writes for Big Hollywood. Whether Barclay is a good character or I just have a personal affinity, I generally like episodes centered around him.

Some are better than others, mind you. “Hollow Pursuits” is average. It suffers from the usual complaint about stories featuring the holodeck--why, on a ship that can travel anywhere and run into any conceivable thing, are the writers relying on the holodeck for stories? I will grant you they are making better than usual use of it here. It is perfectly reasonable to assume many people get addicted to playing on the holodeck. That is most certainly a problem worth addressing, as are Barclay’s personal issues in dealing with social anxiety. The problem is how much his holodeck fantasies were played for laughs.

What bugged me is how his programs look like they were written by a thirteen year old with a somewhat warped view of the adult world. His heroics fall on the level of comic books and his sexual fantasies are less exciting than perusing the women’s underwear section of the J. C. Penny catalogue. Certainly content had to be toned down for television, but what we got made Barclay look less like a good natured innocent than a child who should have been weeded out by Starfleet long ago.

He saves the day and grows out of his need for his holodeck fantasies, so I cannot complain much. For the rest of the series, the emphasis is on his scientific know how and social adjustment. I appreciate him much more down the line, but he had to start somewhere. It is not as auspicious a start as one would hope for, but it is not terrible.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Eliza Dushku

Because multitudes will hit Google tonight after Dollhouse airs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Emmy In Memoriam Omissions Redux

We both forgot Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the Emmys in the telecast and me in my post on those who left us this year. She was not a great actress or particularly well known outside of Star Trek, but that is still enough to make merit a mention.

Mea culpa for however much blame I deserve.

Barack Obama to Rid World of Nuclear Weapons?

Where have we heard that before?Sadly enough, I could see Obama giving that speech practically verbatim.

Gateway Pundit is less snarky about Obama's call for the United Nations to disarm the planet. He obviously has not read enough comic books.

Children Sing Hymns to Barack Obama

If you blasted parents for not wanting Barack Obama to address their children on the first day of the school year, take a gander at how a new jersey elementary school is reinforcing the concept that Obama knows best what is good for the children:The first song is "Jesus Loves Me." They substituted Obama. That not only plays into the messianic meme surrounding Obama, but is gross because I imagine no child would be allowed to sing "Jesus Loves Me" at any point in the school day. The public school system has its own secular deities who would be offended by the sacrilege.

The second song is "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." They also substituted Obama. Obama's truth is marching on, I suppose.

I have said it before and I am sure I will sadly have to say it again--sending your children to public school is a form of child abuse.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Tin Man"

The worst episodes of Tng generally focus on children, animal-like aliens, and Betazoids. “Tin Man’ essentially combines all three, although the Betazois in question only acts like a child. In spite of slightly missing the trifecta, it is still an awful episode.

Starfleet assigns a Betazoid named Tam Elbrun to the Enterprise for a first contact mission with a powerful space oyster. Tam has a reputation for making first contacts, which is odd considering how many personal dislike him because one of his first contact situations got 47 Starfleet crew killed. He has a gift, you see. He cannot tune out anyone’s emotions. Said “gift” has driven him to such a fragile emotional state, troi hints he was once institutionalized.

Can you see yet why this episode is a real winner?

Tam causes exactly the kind of strife you would expect. But when the space oyster destroys a Romulan ship which tries to make contact, it becomes clear tam is the only guy to trust in the situation. He beams over to the oyster with Data, whom he likes since there are no emotions in him to read. Tam likes the solitude on the oyster, so he decides to stay so the two can learn from one another. Data and troi boo hoo over his decisio. Everyone else says good riddance.

So do I. I never have liked this one. Tam is not the sympathetic character the writers tried to make him out to be. The space oyster was not an interesting concept. It reminded too much of the giant jellyfish from “Encounter at far point.” I did not see the point of tossing the Romulans into the mix, either. The destruction of their ship added another humiliating defeat to their record thus far, thereby unnecessarily diminishing them as villains. Villains could have been left out altogether to leave space for developing Tam’s character more, but if some aliens had to be added, it should have been someone other than the Romulans.

A bad episode all around.

Rating: * (ourt of 5)

Blake Lively

Just because.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Barack Obama's Apology to the United Nations

An apology is the only thing you can call Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations. He expressed regret for the united states “acting alone” in its own interests, implying the Iraq invasion. When can we expect France to apologize for unilaterally attacking the Ivory Coast a few years ago? Is the united states the only country that has to go to the international community, hat in hand, seeking approval for pursuing our interests?

Apparently so, since Obama further pledged the United States would sacrifice of itself for the good of the rest of the planet. Presumably, that means destroying our standard of living to alleviate the guilt of our success.

At least he added in that he would never apologize for acting in the interest of America. Too bad he spent several paragraphs previously doing just that.

So what is Obama up to? He is embracing the new isolationism of the left. For the longest time, isolationism was a policy of conservatives under the premise America is too good for the world. The left has usurped isolationism under the rationale the world is too goos for America. The rest of the world appreciates a meek, apologetic America that of which can be taken advantage, no?

Example: Obama sat idly by while the Iranian regime, which just stole an election, murdered protesters in the streets of Tehran. Then, he actively sought to restore a leftists dictator and Hugo Chavez stooge in Honduras. The United States was on the wrong side of both those matters, but since it let thugs dictate foreign policy, the world breathed a sigh of relief.

Obama’s foreign policy has thus far involved apologizing for America’s moral failings, real and imagined, for the last sixty years, unilaterally disarming, and legitimizing United nations members, many of whom hold starkly contrary values to the United States, to dictate our foreign policy. It is an absolute travesty.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Captain's Holiday"

Word has it Patrick Stewart, contemplating leaving the show, asked to be featured in a more adventurous story with sex and guns. What he got for his request was “Captain’s Holiday,” as anemic an episode of TNG as one can imagine. No wonder he almost left after this season.

I can see hints “Captain’s holiday” was supposed to have an Indiana Jones treasure hunt feel to it, but it winds up more like when the Brady’s found that bad luck idol. Throw in a lot of cheap sexual humor and a plot that lacks any sense of scope or danger and you have a mess.

There is a lot wrong with this episode, but one of the most glaring problems is the pacing. The entire first act is nothing but an even more ornery than usual Picard being annoyed into going on vacation by his crew because he has been ornery lately. Bear in mind in the previous episode they knew something was wrong with him because he was too relaxed, friendly, and pleasant. You just cannot satisfy these people.

Riker makes it a point to trick Picard into unknowingly displaying an aphrodisiac while on vacation at Risa. Yes, the first officer tried to trick his captain into getting laid. I really cannot add anything more to that.

Painfully slowly, the plot comes together. In pure sitcom fashion, Picard is continually interrupted while trying to read his book by hot women wanting to have sexwith him, a ferengi low level criminal, a mercenary former professor’s assistant named Vosh, and two Vorgons from the 27th century. That describes pretty much every long weekend I ever spent in Myrtle Beach.

I have already explained about the aphrodisiac, so no need for that. The ferengi is Sovak, played by Michael Grodenchik. Gordenchik will eventually go on to play Rom in DS9. Here his character is an even bigger idiot than Rom, if that can be believed. Still, I have to give some credit. This is the first attempt to shift the ferengi from being a true menace, which they laughably were not, to the money grubbing con artists and comic relief they would eventually become. It is not an auspicious start, but it is a beginning.

Now Vash. I appreciate there was an attempt to create a real person on TNG. By that I mean Vash is mercenary, amoral, diahonest--all the thing 24th century humans are not supposed to be. The writers take her way over the top to the point she is a cartoon character, but at least we now have confirmation this high minded arrogance about humans having evolved beyond human nature by the 24th century is a load of crap.

As is the attempt to hook her up with Picard. It is hard to believe Picard was supposedly such a ladies man in his younger days considering how dry and inept he is with Vash. Even when they do share a kiss while stuffed in a sleeping bag in a cold , dark cave, it is about as thrilling as kissing your Aunt Gertrude on the cheek at Thanksgiving. There is probably more emoton with Gretrude, too.

As for the Vorgons from the future, they are the worst element. They tell picard they are looking for a weapon hidden in the 24th century which can be used to destroy a star in the 27th. Umm…who cares? It is like when you keep hearing the sun is going to burn out in five billion years. Yes, it will mean the end of the human race, but you and everything you care about will be not only long gone by then, but it will be as though none of it ever existed in the first place. There is no tension in the search for the weapon because you just do not care who gets it. Picard winds up destroying the thing rather than worrying with whether any party has good intentions.

This was a truly bad episode. If they ever make an indianaJones sequel when Harrison Ford s in his nineties--and do not put it past them--it would still have more action than “Captain’s Holiday.” No gunplay, no sex. Picard did throw a punch there once. All the guest cast were shady characters who wanted the weapn for either profit or as a means of destruction, but it never mattered to me if any of them found it. There is not much of anything to recommend this episode unless you are curious to see Patrick Stewart appear to be smuggling plums in a pair of lime green shorts. If you feel compelled to see that, seek professional help.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Catherine Zeta Jones

Just because.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Congressional Democrat Doomsday in 2010?

ObamaCare is astoundingly unpopular in roughly 35 swing Congressional districts Joe Biden said would bring about doomsday if Republicans took them back in 2010. A lot of hyperbole there, such as the poll numbers being too high to be true and opposition to ObamaCare not necessarily translating to Republican support, but there are some bright spots.

The sitting president’s party virtually always loses Congressional seats in a sitting election. There are rare exceptions, such as when national security was a hot issue in 2002 and hardly anyone trusted the Democrats to kill the wolf at the door. But by and large, the midterm election is a referndum on the president. Even under the best of circumstances, enough voters are dissatisfied to unseat vulnerable congressmen.

Oftentimes, the ones most likely to be unseated are swing district Congressmen who road the winning presidential candidate’s coattails to victory. In 2008, there was a sharp, anti-Republican vibe within the electorate. There are a load of democrat house members who ran on a lark without really expecting to win, but did anyway. I am talking about city, county councilmen, and bored real estate developers--Washington novices who thought they would give it a shot.

Consider it emulating Barack Obama. He pretty much had the same mindset. It worked for him, but now he is overwhelmed by the job. So are the new House members. Throwing them in the middle of a ineptly handled economy, health care reform, and mass citizen protest is like being drafted for the Vietnam War just in time for the Tet Offensive. They cannot hack it.

Do not get me wrong, however. I have doubts the Republicans will take back the House. Make gains most certainly, but something disastrous is going to have to happen for the Democrats before they lose the House. I never underestimate the stupidity of Democrats, though. Nancy pelosi, Steny Hoyer, barney frank, et al, who have have safe seats their entire careers, have no clue how their extremely leftist ideas play on the BlueDog districts. They may very well shoot themselves in the foot between now and next November.

Glaring Emmy in Memoriam Omissions

It dawned on me reading a couple Emmy posts on other blogs several recognizable folks were glaringly left off the Emmy memoriam. I understand not everyone who died during the year can be included in the Emmy memoriam, but I thought Kim Manners, Robert Novak, and Billy mays were glaring omissions Sunday night.

Kim Manners was a longtime director and producer of many crime, adventure, and science fiction shows, including helming 52 episodes of The X-Files. I assume he was overlooked because of the general aversion to legitimizing science fiction by giving it any awards. Lost won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama in 2005. That is about it. Science fiction brings in the revenue, but heaven forbid anyone making a mint off it honor the folks who put it together.

Robert Novak had a long career in television news. He ought to have been up there since Walter Cronkite was included. I am certain older generations consider Cronkite an icon far above Novak, but as an observer of the history of broadcast journalism as a whole, I would say Novak’s contributions ought not be dismissed. The Emmys honored William F. Buckley last year, so Novak’s conservative ideals were not the problem. What was?

I can actually forgive the omission of Billy Mays He never hit the cultural icon status of Mr. Whipple, the Magtag Repairman, or the “Where’s the Beef/” lady. But he was colorful. Cocaine addled, apparently, but colorful. In our increasingly consumer society, surely commercials have reached art form status enough for its pitchmen to get their due recognition in death.

These are my choices for inclusion. Did I miss a deserving candidate, too?

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Allegiance"

A couple of advanced aliens performing unethical experiments on others? Boy, we rarely see that in Trek, no? At least “Allegiance” has a unique, albeit unintentional, aspect going for it--the two plots make Picard look like an absolute jerk.

Picard is kidnapped and replaced by a near perfect duplicate who inexplicably seems to possess all of his knowledge. Best not to dwell on how that is possible. The real Picard regains consciousness in a room with a Starfleet cadet and another alien who is such a wussy pacifist I was rooting for the fourth prisoner who eventually showed up when he thought about eating him. If standing up for your general principles means becoming lunch, bon a petit.

Both the experiments are in place to test the concept of response to authority. What is funny is the fake Picard is a pleasant, fun guy. He joins in the weekly poker game, sings a drinking song in Ten Forward, and romances Crusher. The crew hates every minute of it. Where is the arrogant jerk who shows them nothing but contempt? They want him back for whatever reason.

In the cell, Picard is the arrogant jerk who shows nothing but contempt with predictable results--his cellmates do not like him. Yet he is the one who orders them all around in various attempts to escape and keeps the grizzly monster thingy from eating the pacifist. He should have put that one to a vote instead.

Things go predictably. Eventually, the real Picard figures out the cadet is associated with the aliens and is freed just in time to save the Enterprise from mutiny as his doppelganger is endangering the ship by straying too close to radiation. Picard teaches the filthy aliens the human concept of imprisoning terrorists--Gitno in the enlightened the 24th century, folks--and sends them on their way to never bother humans again.

“Allegiance” is fun to watch because of how the story reflects on Picard. It is humorous to ee that if he makes an effort to be friendly and warm, the crew become suspicious. Likewise, in a setting where no one is obligated to follow the chain of command, people find him insufferable. It reflects rather poorly on him not that this is the first time. His open contempt for children, his unwillingness to have anyone know about his heart surgery, and just his general orneriness have been well documented. Tomorrow, we will see it yet again when he takes a holiday to Risa after chewing out everyone who suggests he should and runs into Vash for the first time.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Anna Friel

Classy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hurricane Hugo Twenty Years Later

Hurricane Hugo hit the South Carolina coast twenty years ago today. I have already written everything I want to say about it last year, so if you are interested in a personal account, please follow the link.

I will offer up two YouTube videos. They are both from my local news outlet WPDE 15. The first is a compilation of reports as Hugo moved towards the coast. the second is the aftermath.

The NEA Scandal

I cannot get worked up over the scandal of the white House using the NEA to push its agenda because I do not think the government ought to fund the arts period. This is just the worst example of what can happen when the government sticks its nose in places it does not belong.

All I can say is, "I told you so."

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Sins of the Father"

I have always liked this episode. Although Worf is not really one of my favorite characters--how can you like a character whose first reaction to everything he does not understand is to destroy it?--the Klingon politics storyline that takes place through most of the fourth season is one of the highlights of TNG. The seeds of the story are sewn here. It is difficult to believe this is the first time we ever see the Klingon home world, but then again, we will not first see Romulus for another couple years, either.

The Enterprise accepts a Klingon officer in the exchange program Riker participated in back in the second season. Kurn serves as first officer and institutes harsh Klingon discipline with Picard’s approval. Picard has such contempt for his own people. The crew grumbles under the strain, but they whine mostly because Worf is getting a free pass.

Worf is assigned easy tasks and earning such patronizing praise for the slightest accomplishment, I wanted to pop Kurn in the jaw myself. It turns out Kurn is Worf’s younger brother. He wanted to test Worf for the fire inside him a Klingon should have. Satisfied Worf has not gone soft, the two set out to clear their father’s name of trwason.

Allegedly, their father wasa traitor to the Romulans who helped them commit the massacre at Kitimer. In reality, it was the patriarch of the Duras family, a powerful force within the Empire. To blame Duras would divide the Empire, so for the greater good, worf and Kurn accept discommendation forbeing the sons of a traitor.

Later on, we will learn the Duras family is working with the Romulans to take over the Empire. Worf and Kurn will be right in the middle of all that. But those circumstances come much later.

A lot of fans were bored with the machinations of Klingon politics. I was not. This was a good start to serialized storylines in TNG. It will not officially end until the final season of DS9 when the Empire finally gets a decent chancellor. I think Kurn ultimately gets the short end of the stick, which cheapens his character. But that is a gripebeyond thescope of TNG,

I have not been able to tie in any Christian themes in a while, so i must take the opportunity now. The title of this episode is a paraphrase of Isaiah 14: 21:
"Prepare a place to slaughter his sons for the sins of their forefathers; they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities."
And Isaiah 65: 7:
"Both your sins and the sins of your fathers," says the Lord . "Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds."
It is one of the few overt biblical references in TNG. There is still no sign Christianity even exists in the 24th century beyond the celebration of Christmas in Generations..

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Making the Distinction

As per a comment from this post, I offer a helpful public service announcement:

This is a Kardashian:This is a Cardassian:Knowing the difference could save your life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Eclectic Banana A-peel

Eclectic Banana has implied I am a hypocrite for criticizing Barack Obama for his breach of protocol in asking New York Gov. David Paterson to not run for reelection. Let us see how slippery this banana peel is.
Huge ego,amatuer...you do know the irony you speak after 8 years of Bush?
I dare say you will not find a politician who does not have a huge ego, so that is true of everyone. But there is plenty of evidence that points to Obama crossing the line from being egocentric to a full blown narcissist.

Do I note the irony of calling Obama an amateur when Democrats did the same to Bush 43? No, I do not. Bush 43 was from a political family that dates back to the early 20th century with his grandfather Prescott Bush serving as a US Senator. Bush 43 was tangentially involved with his father’s tenure as veep and as president, including making inroads in the Christian community. Before serving as president himself, Bush 43 served as governor of Texas, the second most populous state in the country, for six years.

What about Obama? He was a community organizer, state senator, and then a US Senator. That is no executive experience whatsoever. It is not much campaign experience, either. His State Senate seat was won because he pushed the current Senator, Alice Palmer, out of the way. He won his US Senate seat by defeated Alan Keyes. Do you have any clue how easy that task is? Obama only served four years in the US Senate. The last two of those years was almost exclusively running for president.

Comparing the two is no contest. Obama is an amateur. Bush 43 was a seasoned veteran.

But do not take my word for it. Look at Obama’s record so far. He has increased our budget deficit by $ 4 trillion, printed up so much money to pay for his grandiose schemes, we are not only on the verge of hyperinflation, but may lose our AAA credit rating. Our credit rating survived the great Depression, but not the Obama Administration? How about our nine percent and climbing unemployment? Starting a trade war over tires in the middle of a recession? What is Obama doing about this stuff? Floundering aimlessly is putting it kindly.

Ah, but that is all policy. How about his savvy in general/ I have already explained how dumb it was to call out Paterson, but how about insisting on returning the bust of Winston Churchill even after the united kingdom said he could keep it/ That is as stupid a diplomatic insult as handing over a cardboard box of unplayable DVDs to the freaking Prime Minister of Great Britain. How about saying at a live press conference James Crowley acted stupidly in arresting Henry Gates, thereby calling Crowey a racist even though he did not know any of the facts. how about snubbing the Sarkozies while in France?

If you would like to point out similar breaches of protocol due to Bush 43’s lack of political savvy, I would love to hear them. Face it, obama has no clue what he is doing. He cannot even give a passably decent speech without his teleprompter.
No i'm not name calling and whatever but being apolitical (i happen to think both sides are idiots and corrupt)
You will not be taken seriously when you make as broad a statement as "both sides are idiots and corrupt" will be taken seriously in any argument, particularly when you admit right off the bat you are uninterested in informing yourself about politics.
...you are saying the same things the otheri side said under Bush.
Yes, but I just backed it up with an argument with facts proving any accusations Bush 43 was an amateur were ignorant, but my claims about Obama's amateurism are valid. Challenge you or anyone else to offer a rebuttal. I do not edit comments or posts, so if I get my clock cleaned, it will remain for posterity. Have at it.
Look i know Obama can never do anything right in your eyes just like Bush couldn't in the eyes of Democrats.
Then why have I defended Obama against the birther claims on more than one occasion? Or against PETA?

Since you are also tacitly implying i think Bush 43 did not wrong, take a gander at some criticism of Bush 43 for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

You will find numerous other posts critical of Bush 43 and Dick Cheney if you desire to search for them. These are just to prove you are reading me wrong about my political criticism.
Saying stuff about him and Bush dosen't make it so.
Indeed, which is why I backed up my assertions with facts. Where are yours?
But it's your blog and opinion.
You noticed that, huh?
When both sides keep acting alike,this country will never move into the 21st Century.
If you say so. I always trust the self-proclaimed apolitical to accurately assess the state of politics.

Michael Emerson Wins Best Supporting Actor Emmy

It is about time he got some recognition for playing Ben Linus on Lost. He was robbed last year when "The Shape of Things to Come," one of my favorite episodes and his best performance, inexplicably failled to impress the powers that be. The problem has now been rectified.

Congratulations, Mr. Emerson.

Barack Obama Breaches Protocol Asking David Paterson Not to Run for Reelection

I cannot decide whether it was Barack Obama’s political ineptitude or his overblown ego that caused him to loudly call on David Paterson to not run for reelection as the governor of New York, but it was hilarious either way. Well, it is actually one of those laugh so you do not cry over the fact our president is either an incompetent political amateur or an ego maniac.

Please do not tell me it is both. I would not be able to stand it.

Here is the deal. Normally when a party leader has no faith in an elected official--Paterson is polling just ahead of cholera in the polls with the election a smidgeon over a year away--he quietly lets the candidate know out of the public eye so he can save face. Many times, he finds another job for him like an ambassadorship or a special envoy. What the party leader does not do is call him out publicly.

Unless said leader is Obama. For some reason, he thinks everyone will fall over themselves to do whatever he wants solely because he lets them know. Never mind that according to his polls, Obama could not sell sunscreen to a naked albino.

As a matter of general principle, I am happy Paterson has refused to step aside even if he is bad for the state. I think that way solely because of Obama’s behavior. Had Paterson stepped aside after Obama quietly urged him to, he would have look like a statesman. Now it would look like he is just taking marching orders from Obama. I do not blame him for not yielding.

of course, I suspect Hillary Clinton is going to resign as Secretary of State and seek the Democratic nomination for governor herself, subsequently cleaning his clock, but that would be a lesser assault on Paterson’s dignity. A possible Clinton run brings up an interesting question: is Obama adamant about Paterson moving aside so he can get Clinton out of Washington? If she wanted to use the governor’s mansion as a springboard to the White House, she really could not effectively do it until the 2016 election. Obama would never face a threat from her in 2012.

It is a thought.