Saturday, October 31, 2009

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around XXI

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

The Third Edge of the Sword links to my review of Star Trek: the Next Generationepisode "We'll Always Have Paris" and compares Barack obama to the Klingon Toral. There was a question as to where toralwas born...

My Funny blog links to my my review of Star Trek: the Next Generation episide "Brothers."

Celebrity2Day links to my review of Star Trek: the next Generation episode "In Theory" and "Redemption II" for reasons that escape me. thanks anyway.

Project Savior celebrates his 200th post by calling me a bigot and whining about my view of Unitarians. do note the inherent hypocrisy of calling me a bigot for my Christian views, then says he is not anti-Christian. no, excuse me. he equates "anti-Christian" with "hating' Christians. He also inexplicably claims I am no longer a Star Trek fan because I am a greedy free market capitalist. The only reasonable response I have is:Keep trying, buddy. Maybe you will get it in the next 200.

Twitt Factory links to Scarlett Johansson.

Boxset spotlights my review of the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode Silicon Avatar"

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--"Disaster"

Call this one TNG’s homage to ’70’s disaster films, particularly The Poseidon Adventure. The Enterprise is hit by a quantum wave--just go with it--putting the crew in various predicaments within the now disabled ship.

There is a fair mix of comedy and drama which is generally done well. Picard is trapped in a turbo lift with several children, the saucer section is cut off from the rest of the ship, Keiko is going into labor in Ten Forward with Worf to deliver the baby, Riker and Data have to travel through Jeffries tubes, and La Forge and Crusher are blocked from escaping a cargo bay by a plasma fire.

I will address the comedic situations first. I have always been one to think worf’s impatience with Keiko giving birth was much funnier than his ’merry man” antics in ’QPid,’ but that is just me. The scene manages to be humorous without falling into sitcom trappings. It is also great when riker has to remove data’s head and take it with him. It is such an unexpected thing to have to do. I even liked the predictable problem of Picard being trapped with accursed children, especially when they are very small, scared, and crying. The character has softened up quite a bit by this point in the series. He is never tempted to pop the youngest one on the back of the head and snarl at him to straigh4en up like he probably would have in the first season.

I am split on the two more dramatic scenes. Crusher and La Frge have to open the cargo bay doors out into space in order to expel explosive canisters before the plasma fire works its magic on them. Their plan to do that without getting spaced is is harrowing and creative, if not a wee bit implausible. It is good to seea less comfortable solution to a problem than is usually seen on TNG.

The weaker dramatic scene involves the bridge crew. The tension is createdin earnest. Troi is in charge of the bridge even though she has no aptitude for command. The antimatter containment field is leaking, a problem which happens a lot in trek, and there is no way to fix it from the bridge. Ro wants to separate the saucer section before the the antimatter causes an explosion. Troi refuses because she believes people are still alive in engineering and can fix it. Ro thinks she is just incompetent.

Troi turns out to be right. It is a good thing she is, but I felt like Ro’s character was demeaned even further here after a bad inaugural appearance in “Ensign Ro.” Her insubordinate actions here do nothing but make her look like an ignorant hothead. Somehow, I suspect it was those character traits that got the away team killed and her sent to the stockade. Trek does character growth badly, but in Ro’s case, it is blatantly bad.

Aside for ro, it is a fun episode to watch. It does not reach the upper tier, but it is memorable regardless.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Halloween Hotties

Since it is Halloween, I thought we would go for an expanded addition of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Saturday and post some babes from horror films and television shows.I have to star with the queen herself, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. While I am certain the Oak Ridge Boys did not have her in mind when they released this song, the connection was inevitable:Next, we have another classic, Caroline Munro with the great Christopher Lee about to take a gentle nibble on her neck, I am sure:Here is a bettershot of the lovely Munro from Sinbad:Poor Heather Langenkamp's acting career began and ended with A Nightmare on Elm Street:Those '80's slasher flicks did not produce a whole lot of big scream queens, but by the '90's, up and coming young actresses hit the big time in horror roles, like Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Sarah Michelle Gellar:

Last, but not least, here is Lucy Lawless. She was never a scream queen, but she is hot and posing with a bat. Surely that counts for something:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Switzerland Cracks Down on Suicide Tourism

So is the current shift toward life in bioethics an international affair?

Moving Away from Embryonic Stem Cell Research

A small victory, but a victory nonetheless, for respecting human life. California is giving research grants for less controversial stem cells:
LOS ANGELES — In a tacit acknowledgment that the promise of human embryonic stem cells is still far in the future, California’s stem cell research program on Wednesday awarded grants intended to develop therapies using mainly other, less controversial cells….

The grants thus represent a departure from the program’s original mission. California voters approved the 10-year, $3 billion effort in 2004 largely to get around restrictions on embryonic stem cell research imposed by the administration of President George W. Bush.
Yet another vindication for Bush 43 and a well deserved jab at Barack Obama's science without conscience policy.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "Silicon Avatar"

I seriously considered calling “Silicon Avatar” the worst episode of TNG, but I am still going to bestow that dubious honor on another installment. But at least you know where I am coming from here. This is a terrible, terrible episode.

It is not the plot that kills it. Trek generally does revenge stories very well, particularly when they have Moby Dick overtones. They have done that motif so often you might think it has become a tired cliché, but it still works. I have no problem with Marr, the guest character, pursuing the Crystalline Entity in order to destroy it for killing her sixteen year old son along with thousands of other colonists.

What irks me is Picard’s attitude. The Entity has committed multiple acts of genocide because it has to in order to survive. Nothing indicates it is a particularly intelligent creature. It is essentially an animal acting on instinct. I will concede the implication in “Datalore” it was intelligent enough to communicate with Lore and had a malicious demeanor, but those points appear to have been tossed by the wayside here. It is a long shot the entity can be reasoned with, yet that is Picard’s only goal.

Most of the crew goes along with Picard, probably out of loyalty. Riker is a lone voice. He agrees with Marr the Entity is going to go on killing unless it is destroyed. Picard takes an unfair jab at Riker that his feelings over losing a young crewman are tainting his judgment. Because communicating and compromising with a genocidal creature is much more important than justice for the murdered or saving any additional lives. Picard is--and I hate to say this--being stereotypically French. Kirk would have put on boxing gloves and battled this entity himself. He has practically dome so several times in TOS and, in my view, justifiably so. Picard’s attitude goes to show the progressive avoidance of conflict is not always the best way to go.

Marr eventually gets the opportunity to destroy the Entity while supposedly communicating with it instead, so she takes it. Later, data dispassionately informs her that her murdered son, for whom he possess personal journals and such as he was a repository for the destroyed colony’s knowledge, would be disappointed in her for ruining her career by taking revenge. He might very well have that attitude, but I would be surprised if he did not think his murderer ought to be stopped before countless more children are killed. So the show ends on the idea Picard was right. We should feel bad the Entity was destroyed.

Well, I do not. The moral lesson is a wash.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Naomi Watts

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Ensign Ro"

As you can guess, this is the episode which introduces Ro Laren to the cast. I have mixed emotions about her. While adding an additional, edgy character with some sex appeal was a good idea, I do not believe it was executed well. Ro’s is angry and troubled for reasons which are only hinted. We know she watched her father tortured to death, so she has issues there, but the main conflict she has with the other characters is some ambiguous mistake on her part that killed an away team years ago. Riker in particular hassles her, choosing to berate her for wearing a religiously symbolic earring when other members of Starfleet have been shown to wear culturally significant items on their uniforms. As for her sex appeal, all right. Personally, I do not go for women who fly off the handle in between pouting sessions, but to each his own.

The episode also introduces the Bajorans and their conflict with the Cardassians. The story will be a focal point of the early DS9 episodes. It is only touched on here and in a couple other TNG episodes. I am just as much a fan of the pre-Dominion War DS9 episodes as when the main storyline took over the series, so I have to give credit to “Ensign Ro” for laying the groundwork. There is a lot of speculation who the Bajorans represent: Jews in the ’40’s, Palestinians, Kurds, or even gypsies. Their status in historical context is not the main focus of the episode, so the social commentary is not as heavy-handed as one might expect Trek to indulge in.

For the record, I think DS9 did well by not directly correlating the Bajorans with a specific ethnic group. There is a bit of French resistance from world War Ii in them, or at least the myth surrounding the resistance. Charles De Gaulle was propped up by the Allies in order to legitimize his claim to power for the post-war world. But that is an ax I have to grind about history books. There is also a quiet sense of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. By that, I mean that the Bajorans, once spiritual artisans, have sacrificed everything in order to survive. Israel has sacrificed just about everything that made the jews great in order to survive as well.

There are many parallels between the Israel of the Old Testament seeking deliverance from captivity through prophets and judges. Interesting stuff, but beyond the scope of ’Ensign Ro.” I really am going to have to cover DS9, no?

The plot of “Ensign Ro” has yet another high ranking Starfleet official going rogue. There is something bout becoming an admiral that seems to corrupt. You would think Gene Roddenberry would be against the idea of power corrupting near perfect 24th century humans, but trek often goes to extremes in the opposite direction. It has become cliché, really.

This admiral plans to use Ro in order to track down a Bajoran terrorist/freedom fighter accused of destroying a federation colony near the Cardassian border. It was actually a Cardassian plot to get the Federation to deal with their ’Bajoran problem.” The Cardassians are the ones who destroyed the colony and then pinned it on orta and his merry band of whatever you consider them.

Ro comes clean with the help of Guinan, further proving who utterly useless Troi is. It is the bar tender, not the ship’s counselor, who helps sort through Ro’s emotional turmoil. Even though picard is suspicious of Ro, he trusts Guinan’s judgment. He works with ro to expose the conspiracy. He requests she remain on the Enterprise after her mission is complete. She agrees, but only if she can wear the religious jewelry riker scolded her having. Picard consents, so eat it, Riker.

I know this will sound like an odd complaint considering how much of TOS and early TNG sets appeared to be paper mache and Styrofoam, but the outdoor setting used for the Bajoran refugee camp is the same area that Picard and Darthon battled the invisible monster in the previous episode. The setting will be used several more times, too, but it is particularly conspicuous when it come back-to-back. A lot of planets resemble the Southern California countryside.

A number of fans have complained about the Cardassian penchant for torture which is introduced here and used many times subsequently. I am not certain if “torture porn” was a term in use back then, but that is the idea. The Cardassians were shallow, brutal, and known pretty much only for that. I will grant that is true for most of TNG. However, the use of torture in “Chain of Command’ is not exploitive at all and “Lower Decks” shows a never before mentioned and never again addressed movement within the Cardassian Union to change their warlike ways. I will grant Cardassian will not be fleshed out well until DS9, but I cannot count the treatment of the Cardassians too much against TNG. They were never the main villains of the show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Isla Fisher

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Because Neither of Them Could Fit in a Balloon

Jon Gosselin and Nadya "Octomom" Suleman are going out on a date for a reality television show.

The World Series

Game 1 of the World Series is tonight. Alex Rodriguez grabs Derek jeter’s butt for good luck. Thank goodness. I can now add “gay” to the list of insults I can apply to the New York Yankees. Woo hoo!

I have not been this unenthusiastic about the World Series since the Yankees played the New York Mets in 2000’s Subway Series. My disdain for the accursed Yankees is well established, but they are facing the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are not only also from the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line, but are the worst team in professional sports after having dropped well over 10,000 games in franchise history.

Choosing which team I would like to win is like deciding between being burned at the stake or drawn and quartered. Why, oh why has baseball betrayed me so badly this postseason?

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Darmok"

“Darmok” is legendary in Trek lore because of its success in spite of taking two years to make it from concept to screen. Usually when a project languishes in development hell that long, the result is less than spectacular. “Darmok’ is based on the high concept of an alien race which speaks in metaphors and allusions, requiring one to be well versed in the species history and literature in order to communicate.

Michael Piller was excited from the beginning, but Rick Berman balked at the idea. Berman will also be the one naysayer in regards to the Dominion War storyline dominating DS9. Those two facts should tell you much about why VOY and ENT, for which Berman and Brannon Braga had total creative control, were so lackluster.

When the Enterprise makes first contact with a race, Picard and the other ship’s captain, Darthon, are transported down to a nearby planet. They must overcome their communication barrier in order to survive a battle with an invisible beast which keeps attacking them at random. Needless to say, they do so, and bond along the way.

The simple sounding plot does not do justice to what shows up on screen. It is a high concept episode like many written by Joe Menosky that some may find difficult to get into. The viewer is richly rewarded if can. Darthon’s way of communicating is so unique and alien. It is the kind of thing I wish trek did more of instead of arrogantly moralizing over contemporary issues.

According to the production staff, it is pure coincidence “Darmok” spelled backwards is “komrad.” hard to believe, all things considered.

Darthon is played by the late, great Paul Winfield. It takes a fine actor to make you care about a character who is not only buried under heavy make up, but has a nearly impenetrable way of speaking. He character fares much better here than the doomed Terrell in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

The episode introduces a couple elements to TNG. First, Picard now wears a grey undershirt with a red jacket. Yes, he becomes Starfleet’s version of The Fonz. Fortunately, trek will not fully jump the shark until the seventh season. Second, Ashley Judd joins the cast as Robin Lefler. She will only be prominent in one other episode, the truly awful “The Game,” but she has done all right for herself since.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Scarlett Johansson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

I was wary when I heard the intention of The Plan was to show the story behind the story so that the series would be viewed in a different light. Comic books do that a lot with retroactive continuity and the fad in the early ’90’s of “untold stories.” it is one of the few fads in comics I never could find anything positive about. It works even worse in television.

I am pleased to say my concern in that regard was for naught. However, I was nearly blindsided by what the problem actually turned out to be. The Plan is a manic series of clips one has to have nearly memorized BSG’s first two seasons to get. I am good, but I am not that good.

The movie’s heart is in the right place, mind you. I just think it tried to cram too much into ninety minutes.

I am not a serious student of cinema or television, but I have generally noticed I can tell within the first ten minutes of anything I start watching whether I am going to like it or not. But The Plan through me off the theory that is a hard and fast rule. The movie started just before the Cylon nuclear attack on Caprica. The build up was tense and the execution of the attack and its aftermath were done well for a relatively low budget production. A lot has changed in special effects since Sarah Connor’s flaming skeleton clung desperately to a chainlink fence eighteen years ago. Both were better than the Xindi attack on Florida in Enterprise. Then again what is not?

The story quickly shifts to parallel thestory of two Cavils. One is stuck on Caprica. The other on the Galactica. Neither expected any humans to survive the nuclear attack, which is a bit shortsighted, but there you go. The plan is to facilitate the genocide of the remaining humns. Caprica Cavil infiltrates the human resistance lead by Anders. Galactica Cavil plots against the fleet.

What ensues is an intertwining of original clips and scenes from the show of key events such as Starbuck traveling to Caprica post-nuking and Sharon attempting to kill Adama. The clips often come fast and furious. Sometimes it was tough for me to remember the context of the original episodes. There is new stuff to explain the motivations behind certain famous acts, but nothing too shocking. It is like watching a bonus Dvd of deleted scenes. They are interesting, but theydo not really add anything that make the story better.

Nevertheless, it was interesting to see the contrast between the two Cavils. Capricacavil slowly begins to see the mistake the Cylons made by trying to annihilate the humans after watching Anders lead his resistance fighters, mourn his losses, and fall in love with Starbuck. Contrast that with Galactica Cavil who goes to his grave believing humans need to be wiped out. Most of the other seven Cylons hidden in the fleet waver at one point or another while helping him pull off the genocide. I never much got that impression during the series.

The final contrast between the two was fascinating. Caprica Cavil has a chance to kill Starbuck at the same time Galactic Cavil is reluctantly befriending an orphaned boy. Caprica Cavil decides he cannot go through with it after watching Anders interact with her. Galactic Cavil has no such qualms. He stabs the boy dead just as Caprica Cavil puts down his gun.

Cavil is a great character and he almost saves The Plan, but not quite. It did not need to be so fast paced. The movie was way too ambitious for its own good. A saller story would have been much better.

I am sue everyone will be happy to know there is asurprising amount of incidental nudity which is going to be cut out of the television broadcast, but is in its full glory here. It serves absolutely no purpose other than prompting you to buy the DVD. I am all for boobs and behinds when the curves are right--they are in several scenes, by the way--but it was awfully gratuitous. If you wait for the television broadcast, you will still getto see Tricia Helfer in her underwear. Unfortunately, she is sleeping with Galactica Cavil at the time.

Should you wait? I do not see why not. I am as big a BSG fan as there is, but I do not feel all that fulfilled after watching. I would not skip it altogether, but it is not anything special. I have to confess it does have me a bit wary of Jane Espernson’s work on the upcoming Caprica. Fingers crossed, folks.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Redemption II"

The fifth season premiere, while still enjoyable, is a bit of a let down from the palace intrigue of the fourth season finale. It is widely known the episode had not been written along with part one the same way “Best of Both Worlds, Part II’ was up in the air after the first part had been filmed. Fortunately, the reasons were less dramatic than the possible departure of Patrick Stewart.

But it was likely due to a casting change. While Denise Crosby had made a cameo in the season ending cliffhanger, Ron D. Moore has gone on the record as saying it was a tough fit to create her origin and slide her into the story. It is difficult to get the truth out of the powers that be at Trek, but by statements from Moore and Crosby, it sounds like Michael Piller wanted to milk the popularity of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” Crosby wanted back on the show because her movie career never took off, and Moore was stuck trying to make it all work.

It does, in all honesty, but Sela’s appearance does have a tacked on vibe. She was thrown in at the last minute in part one for dramatic effect. Recall Crosby did not play Sela in the shadows back in ’The Mind’s Eye.” Perhaps it would have been best to give Sela her own episode rather than add her to the Klingon-Duras mix. Alas, she gets lost in the shuffle further down the line when Leonard Nimoy reprises his role as Spock in “Unification.” she never shows up again, even though the Romulans will be prominent throughout the rest of the series, Star Trek: Nemesis, and DS9. It is just as well. I always preferred Andreas Katsulas as Tomalok instead.

Another oddity is that Worf shares the spotlight with Data. You would not think data should be the hero of the day in a klingon civil war, but it happens.

A civil war does break out. Worf is serving on his brother’s ship instead of Gowron’s as was announced he would last episode. I f the continuity glitch was ever explained, I missed it. The war is not going well for Gowron. His allies are drinking ad rowdily partying with fatalistic flair. Meanwhile, picard is urging Starfleet to conduct a blockade between the Klingon-Romulan border because he suspects Duras’ side’s advantage is cloaked Romulan vessels shipping war materiel. It is a brilliant move that would only be considered provocative if the Romulans admitted they were involved in the war.

Here is where the story spins towards Data. The blockade is going to be made up of quite a few clunkers. The Enterprise crew is split up among the ships in order to have them all properly manned. It is not said, but the fleet is still suffering from loss of ships and personnel after the Borg invasion. Data approaches Picard clearly surprised he has not been placed in command of a ship. Picard accommodates him

Was that Picard’s plan all along? Probably, but it sets up doubts about data’s ability to command even though he has been in charge of the Enterprise many times before. His new first officer requests a transfer because he does not want to serve underData. He does not believe androids out to command living beings. His attitude, while a refreshing change from the usual perfect Starfleet officer’s, is heavy-handed atfirst glance. At second, he has a point. Data has had a difficult time dealing with people over the years. Maybe he ought not be in command. It is another one of those questions like whether Troi’s job to read other people’s emotions without their permission in order to manipulate them is ethical. It can be troubling to look honestly at some of these characters and assess their roles.

Data saves the day by exposing the cloaked Romulan ships. There is at least a hin the has changed his first officer’s mind about his fitness to command, but doubt still reains, as I think it should.

Sela is exposed, too, with her origin quickly told. It is weird, but I have read enough comic books to appreciate it.

Now back to Worf. He is captured by Lursa and B’Etor after they first try to win him overwith honey. Hedoes not go for it. When the Romulans are discovered, doras’ supporters begin dispersing and worf is freed before he suffers anything more than a beating. I find it odd the Romulan revelation was enough to halt support for Duaras. The spy in “The Drumhead’ knew the Romulans were part of the attempted coup. There could not have been that many of Duras’ supporters who were unaware.

Toral is captured. Gowron offers to let Worf kill him, as is Klingon custom. True to form, Worf abandons his Klingon nature for human custom, as all filthy aliens in Trek are supposed to do, and spares him. Rejoins the Enterprise. TheRomulans get away with impunity, because, you know, Klingons do not take just any old excuse to go to war with their sworn enemy. No sireee.

I like the episode, but it is not as good as the first part. It feels cluttered and trite in places. I have already said thesela bit should have been taken out for use elsewhere. I think thewar should have lasted longer to boot. Thestory probably merited three parts instead of two. Just my $ .02.

Let me throw in anote on the season as a whole. The show isstill in an upward tred that began in the third season, but there aresome polar opposite episodes in it. The highs soar, but the lows plumb the depths of sciece fiction hell. Some of my favorite episode appear, but at least three of the worst do, too. The interesting part ishow much of that unevenness is due to Jeri Taylor. She has that Russell T. Davies quality of being fantastic when she only hast o write one or two episodes, but awful when forced to produce more. At least Q does not appear anywhere.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Rosie Huntington Whiteley

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Man

I am not a rock and roller, but the pen has pretty much the same effect of sticking it to the man. Consider this a battle cry against the dark, sinister forces eating away at our souls.

Or something.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Redemption I"

I started writing a review for “Redemption, Part I” earlier today. As I was wrapping it up, word crashed. For whatever reason, it ate the whole document. I could not even bring it up as a Tmp file in order to salvage something that is the way my luck is going as of late.

True to form, I said screw it and went on to other things. I do not have a heck of a lot of enthusiasm to rettread everything I wrote this morning, so here is a punchier version. Perhaps I will be able to clean up some points when I review part two. If not, well, we already know I have a habit of saying screw it.

“Redemption, Part I” is not only the fourth season finale, but the 100th episode altogether. Latter point mean we are well over the hump towards completing my reviews for TNG. The former means it is going to be hard to top the third season finale, particular when both episodes were promising a devastating war. The powers that be managed to pull it off by ending on a surprise they would be unable to keep under wraps today with internet spoilers everywhere. Savor the simpler time when cliffhangers were actually exciting because you had no clue what was going to happen. Even Lost, the current king of internet misdirection, has a mediocre batting average in this regard.

The episode is the penultimate story in the season long theme of the Romulan-Duras conspiracy to take over the Klingon Empire. It began with the selection of Picard as Arbiter of succession, the murder of the current chancellor, Worf’s discommendation under false pretenses, the murder of K’Ehlyer, and Worf killing Duras in revenge, Now is the time for worf to expose Duras’ father as the traitor and for Picard tp select the new leader.

As a side note, was it not odd for none of this to be mentioned in “The Drumead” during Picard’s inquisition? It was mentioned that Worf was the son of a traitor to the Romulans, but no one pointed out Picard was, in violation of the prime Directive, no less, the new Klingon leader after Worf killed one of the two main candidates for the job? Picard’s loyalty was questioned because of his time as Locutus, but not about his role as Arbiter of Succession. Doubly odd since the catalyst for the drumhead was catching a Klingon spy for the Romulans on board the Enterprise. You would think that might merit a mention at some point.

What is worse, Picard is tacitly manipulating Worf in order to make his job easier. He urges Worf to reveal Duras’ father was a traitor so the family shame will prevent any Duras from eligibility to be serve as chancellor. He even hypocritically blasts Worf for using data from the ship’s computer to clear his father’s name because that would be a violation of the prime directive, then stops himself when it dawns on him affecting political change will be a side result of Woef’s action. He will be actively changing a government. D’oh.

So Picard looks the other way while Worf hands off the exculpatory evidence to Gowron, the man picard is most likely to choose as the new chancellor. Worf pledges his brother and his squadron’s support in exchange for clearing his family name.

We are introduced to Luras and B’Ehtor Duras, the closest thing to big boobed sex symbols the Klngon Empire has to offer. They claim Suras had a son, Toral, who ought to be chosen chancellor. Toral is a snot nosed teenager who gets slapped around a lot, so he would be the perfect puppet for the Romulans. Lursa and B’Ehtor make sexual advances towards Picard to persuade him to choose toral. Surprisingly enough, it does not work. Neither would offering anything other than a stern, middle-aged school marm and I would not put too much confidence in that, either.

Picard chooses Gowron because Toral is too inexperienced. If only Lursa and B’Ehtor had selected a platform of hope and change, the result might have been different. The military is split on its support between Gowron and Toral, sothe empire plunges into civil war.

After doing all the damage he could, Picard takes heed of Starfleet’s orders to retreat. Worf requests an extended leave of absence. When he is refused, he resigns his commission in order to fight for Gowron. Ironic, considering what will happen between the two in DS9. The scene where al of Worf’s shipmates line the hallway to see him off is quite touching. Better still, it is the only time in the episode we have to see troi. Even more of a bonus--she has no dialogue. Woo hoo!

Like I mentioned above, we will never be caught unaware of a cliffhanger like this again. There is no way an actor could return to a series without every geek with a computer knowing it. It was completely out of left field, too/ was Tasha Yar resurrected? Cloned/ something else? It made for an interesting summer. Not as anticipatory as the Picard as Locutus bit from season three, but close.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Kristen Bell

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blogroll Spotlight XVII

Here are the best posts fro my blogroll this week. As usual, they are not ranked, but are listed alphabetically by blog name.

American Digest says Peggy Noonan still does not get it. so what else is new?

Audacity of Logic talks morality in Hollywood.

Big Feed has the list of Gitmo torture songs.

Camp of the Saints features Jane Mansfield.

Classic Liberal notes the Flight 93 memorial crescent points to Mecca.

Daley Gator shows how Barack Obama has failed to marginalize FOX news.

In a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World inroduces us to the Ditherer in Chief.

A Large Regular has the religious affiliations of super-heroes.

Left Coast Rebel notes George Will's column on Michele Bachmann. Iswill becoming more amenable to grassroots conservative types?

MAinfo reminds Obama we are at war. Act like it, Mr. President!

No Sheeples Here! talks about Project Valor.

Piece of Work in Progress notes the CDC's fudging on the number of swine flu cases during our time of national emergecy.

Right Klik demonstrates the Power of Palin on Doug Goffman's fundraising in NY-23.

Self-Evident Truths talks gay marriage smoke and mirrors in Maine.

Sniper previews government run health care.

Troglopundit wonders if there is a backlash in the MSM against Rio de Janeiro for winning out over Chicago for the 2016 Olympics.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"In Theory"

I think this is a first--a Data centric episode I do not particularly like. The show goes to great pains to make Data/Pinocchio “I want to be a real boy” parallels as possible, then every now and the gouges our eyes out with emphasis on his artificialness. “Data’s Day’ went a long way towards that end by featuring his awkwardness in understanding the nuances of sarcasm and put down humor. “In Theory” shows much more bluntly Data’s failure to understand romance.

One of his subordinates, Jenna, is on the rebound. She is using him as a confidant, although that appears lost on him. He is helping build her back up after a bad relationship without realizing, until she kisses him, that she is falling for him. Data decides to use the opportunity to study romantic relationships.

Here is what baffles me--none of his friends warn him he has no business conducting a relationship like any other experiment in human interaction he has done before. Heck, no one even tells him getting involved with a junior officer is a bad idea. La forge hasno advice to offer, which makes sense as he has been an absolute failure at romance. Troi, the ship’s counselor, inexplicably says go for it. So does Riker in one of his more sexual predator moments. Worf suggests conquering Jenna. He comes across as suggesting data bash her over the head with a club and drag her back to his cave. Picard, the alleged ladies man in his youth, professes an ignorance of women that seems like gynophobia.

Data decides to go for it by creating a program straight out of one of those ‘50’s instructional films. He is a stereotypical sitcom date, which I suppose is better than the drunken Pe Pe LePew he was in “The Naked Now.” It is difficult to watch because it is so over the top fake, but even worse so because Jenna, in her vulnerable emotional sate, buys into it much longer than any reasonable person would.

They do it all short of sharing a malt with two straws. Jenna finally has enough after Data fakes an argument with the idea lovers fight at times. Jenna tells him to end his program because their relationahip is over. He doesso without missing a beat. Jenna storms off hurt more than she was from her first relationship. The end reinforces the idea someone among Data’s friends should have been more honest about how bad an idea pursuing a romantic relation was.

There is a side story about data and Jenna working to repair a techobabble anomaly that causes awful things like this to happen:But it is a throwaway to pad out the episode. Patrick Stewart made his directoral debut here and notes, without a hint of ego, naturally, that it is his favorite episode. It certainly is not mine. It is a attempt to make a charming version of dean Koontz's Demon Seed.. It fails.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Christina Applegate

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around XX

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

The Classic Liberal links to Jenna Fischer.

The Other McCain also links to Jenna Fischer.

The Daley Gator links to FMJRA IXX and some advice for RINOs.

The Camp of the Saints links to Jenna Fischer, Ashley Tisdale, and Amy Adams.

Planck's Constant credits The Eye for introducing him to E-Referrer.

The Book of Sarah links to my analysis of sarah palin's new policy group.

Squiddoo links to Jenna Fischer.

Dear Computer links to Leah Remini

Headline grabber links to Christina Applegate.

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 Mind's Eye"

“The Mind’s Eye” as The Manchurian Candidate episode. If you liked that movie, and I am not talking about the awful Denzel Washington remake, then it is a fantastic episode. I happen to bea big fan of The Manchurian Candidate, so “The Minds’ Eye” is right up my alley. It is different and incredibly disturbing.

Further proving he is the unluckiest man in Starfleet, La Forge is kidnapped and gruesomely conditioned by the Romulans to serve as an assassin. He is assigned to murder a Klingon governor in order to destabilize relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The mystery is unraveled before he can pull off the murder, but a holodeck test run by the Romulans in which la Forge happily kills O’Brien shows his unquestioning willingness to take a life.

The scene in which he kills O’Brien is both a direct homage to a scene in The Manchurian Candidate and doubly disturbing considering how much the perfect morality of the main cast--well, except for that unenlightened alien, Worf--is inherent.

Sela makes her first appearance, although she is played by an extra covered by shadows and only voiced by Denise Crosby. She is in charge of the whole operation. “The Mind’s Eye” is also the first episode directed by David Livingston. He will go on to direct many others over the remainder of the series.

I am a fan of ’The Mind’s Eye.” It is unique and genuinely creepy. A point of note is there is not a true reset button. La Forge may no longer beat risk of becoming an assassin, but the memories of his ordeal remain once it is all said and done. Naturally, it never again becomes afactor or is even mentioned in any future episodes, but it is made clear not everything has been made kosher once the assassination attempt was stopped.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Maggie Gyllenhaal

I got nuthin' to go with it today. Just admire the pretty girl.

(Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garth Brooks Ends His Retirement

Garth Brooks held a press conference yesterday in Nashville to announce an end to his nine year retirement. He has no particular plans what to do with himself, however, other than a sixteen week stint performing in Las Vegas. To which I have to wonder if I should be disappointed.

I like Brooks. A lot of people say he ruined country music by bringing in influences from rock. I can see older fans’ point about that, but it is not an issue for me. I like old school country, but I went a rock phase when I was developing my own musical tastes in the late ’80’s. Back then, I was all about hard rock like aero smith, Motley Crue, and Guns ’n Roses. When the decade changed, no one wanted to rock anymore. It was all about dance, pop, and rap. It sucked.

I do not think the decline of rock and the rise of a more a heavier, bluesy influenced country was a coincidence. Acts like brooks, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Shania Twain ruled the charts more than any country act since Kenny Rogers in the ‘70’s.

Granted, I grew up in South Carolina where they would have been popular anyway, save for among the old timers who wondered where George Jones and Merl Haggard went off to. I am talking about the period of time covering my yuppie high school years in a small southern town. Any social event you would care to name unaffiliated with the Bob Jones university espousing school administration involved country, beach music, and whatever rock acts survived frivolous and/or whiny crap like MC Hammer, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana. Brooks was the king. If you did not have Ropin’ the Wind in your car CD player, your cruising the Hardees parking lot privileges were revoked by the cool people.

I still enjoyed country music in college, but I was surrounded by a much more diverse crowd who had equally important experiences in high school listening to gansta rap with all its violent, misogynist trappings, dance with all its silliness, and grunge with all its…uh, grunge. Okay, multicultural I ain’t. the point is I lost connection with many old comforts because of the cultural shift.

Then an incredibly existential moment occurred. Brooks won an American Music Award in 1996. He went up on stage and, in dramatic fashion, left it there, insisting Hootie and the Blowfish should have won since they sold more albums that year. If you do not recall, Hootie and the Blowfish were founded at my alma mater, the University of South Carolina. They filmed an episode of MTV Unplugged during the spring semester of my freshman year. You had to at least pay lip service to being a fan just because they were so huge on campus. When Brooks bowed to them publicly, it was like he passed the baton in my own life.

Indeed, he did. Brooks only released one more country album after that. Sevens was released my junior year at a time when I had become more mature connections with friends regardless of their tastes in music, movies, television, and what not. It was the last albu that sounded anything like what I had come to know from Brooks. Refusing the American Music Award marked a turn for the weird for him. It happened to Twain, too, but I think she suddenly realized there was more money to be made by ditching the trappings of country. Brooks just seemed to go all nutty on us. After his big concert in Central Park, which a perplexed Rudy Giuliani put on a brave face and promoted anyway, Brooks disappeared for a while, then came back as Chris Gaines, a fictitious mop topped singer with a made up history. He spent some time playing with the New York mets and on Hollywood Squares.

Hollywood Squares is the last refuge of a has been performer. Hence my concern for this Las Vegas stint. Becoming a lounge act is what turned Elvis into a laughingstock. I would like to think Brooks can recapture his old self again. Presumably, he can. he was certainly awesome performing Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain?“ on the Katrina benefit telecast even though his rare public appearance was overshadowed by the first idiotic Kanye West outburst. He is not releasinga new album, either, so his set must consist of old favorites.

Good nostalgia trip to remind me of much better days than these.

A Warning to America from Pat Condell

iwind up watching just about every video pat Condell uploads to YouTube, even his obnoxious assaults on Christianity. I do not support his atheism or the way he goes about jabbing any religion, but I understand he is an entertainer first and a teacher second. He makes good points every now and then--I am no fan of fundamentalist Christianity myself--and this video is one of those rare times when he is being sincere rather than snaky.

Condell foregoes the usual atheist rhetoric that America is perpetually on the verge of becoming a theocracy to appreciate the truth--we have struck a fine balance between the secular and the sectarian, probably the best of any nation in history. That balance will be threatened by the appeasement of Islam’s baser elements if we are not careful.

I find it telling the emphasis of Condell’s warning to us Is Obama’s conciliatory tone at best, dishonest appeasement at worst, of Islam. He has bowed to the Saudi king, groveled in Cairo, and delayed decisions on Afghanistan and Iran because of his pending Nobel Peace Prize. Lord knows how much damage that thing is going to do in the next three years. Honestly, can you not hear the words “community cohesion” coming out the mouth of a the community organizer-in-chief? I can.

I also hear you, Mr. Condell, and concur. I hope enough of my fellow Americans do the same.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Host"

“The Host” introduces us to the Trill, the symbiotic species of humans plus a slug. That is the only significant aspect of the episode. The romance between the trill odan and Crusher is established solely to set up the awkward situation where the symbiotic is in Riker’s body and then another woman’s. The latter host, who still has feelings for Crusher, gives the first hints of homosexuality in the 24th century, but it is not explored any further.

While this is the first appearance of the Trill, they bear no resemblance to what we will eventually see when Trill become a regular part of DS9. I assume that is because they were not supposed to be a regularly featured species, so why flesh things out? I find it difficult to believe Crusher knew nothing of the symbiotic relationship many trill have, particularly considering they are a vital part of the Federation and Odan is an accomplished ambassador. As for other odd aspects presented here, but no where else, the symbiotic would be damaged by the transporter and Riker completely loses his personality to the symbiotic when they are joined.

In fairness, those two are made for plot points. Odan is sent to mediate a dispute between two moons. He refuses to beam down, so when he is launched in a shuttlecraft, it is attacked. The human part is mortally wounded while the symbiotic is fine. Crusher joins the symbiotic with Riker so the negotiations can continue. So odan had to get in a situation to be injured and the symbiotic had to have the sole personality to make his reunion with Crusher bittersweet.

I consider this one run of the mill. It is another deal in which one of the regular cast members has to somehow sacrifice of himself in order to help negotiate a disagreement we do not really care about. It was done better in “Sarek” and “Loud as a Whisper.” This is not the most illustrious introduction to the trill, either. Since they will be gien justice on DS9, I will offer a free pass here. There is no reason to skip “The Host,” but there is no reason to seek it out, either.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Christina Aguilera

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Half a Life"

I am confident I have only seen this episode in its initial run. It is not so much that it is a bad episode, although installments featuring Lwaxana Troi usually are, but the morality play is so muddled. The story is about ritualistic suicide in order to avoid burdening one’s children with caring for them in old age.. Events take some twists and turns, but eventually Timicin, the guest character, opts to kill himself rather than refuse and serve as a force for cultural change.

The plot reinforces the incredibly selfish attitude the baby boomer generation has developed since coming of age that nothing should stand in the way of living their lives. The baby boomers are the first generation to consider abortion a civil right (do not be burdened by a baby) and abandon their parents in nursing homes (let the professionals handle them) because they have better things to do.

It is true the episode presents the people arguing for Trinicin’s death as going to ridiculous extremes to force him to commit suicide. For instance, he is a renowned scientist on the Enterprise in order to find a solution to his planet’s decaying orbit. His work will prevent the genocide of his people. But he has reached the age he is supposed to kill himself. When he falls for the visiting Lwaxana, she convinces him temporarily that he is too important to kill himself. By surviving and saving his planet, he will prove the practice of enforced suicide is stupid.

But his people will not go for it. After he requests asylum on the Enterprise, they send warships to retrieve him. Even if he finds a solution to the decaying planetary orbit, they will refuse to implement it because of his blasphemy. The final blow is when his daughter comes on board to insist he die, hence the I made of the baby boomer urge for the next generation to get the heck out of their way.

Trinicin agrees to go through with the suicide. Lwaxana decides to be with him as hedoes so. It is a moment of rare maturity for the character.

I remember feeling enormously uncomfortable with “Half a Life.” My Christian beliefs make even signing a DNR a decision with eternal implications. Attempts to justify suicide period, much less for the sake of convenience, is an issue not for exploring. The matter is settled that you should not only not do it, but no one ought to suggest it is a good idea. I understand respecting other cultures in the spirit offree will, but mercy, how demented can a culture get?

On the bright side, David Ogden Stiers is fantastic as Trinicin. He brings a quiet dignity to the role, very much unlike the pompous Charles Winchester he played for so many years on MASH. I do not believe they could have chosen a better actor for the role.

I will also grant this is the best episode featuring Lwaxana. That really is not saying much, but at least here they have given her something else to do besides serve as an egocentric man hunter. She never really grows anymore beyond that, so savor it while you can. The comic relief of Picard’s extreme efforts to avoid her are a quite refreshing change from his usual self and much needed in the tense episode.

Michelle Forbes makes her first appearance here as the daughter. Her performance lead to her eventually being cast as Ro Laren next season. I am convinced Ro was brought on as an edgy character to introduce the kind of friction Shelby would have if Patrick Stewart had not returned for the fourth season, shifting the dynamics around. But that is an analysis for another time.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Just Like in Politics

This guy needs to move more to the right.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Ten Commandments of Star Trek

My inbox has been deluged--deluged, I say--by The Ten Commandments of Star Trek which appeared on Conservative Grapevine this morning. Considering how rough I have been on the obnoxious humanistic nature of Trek philosophy, I thought I would offer up this counter argument.

I do have to say many are a stretch. As much as I have tried to expel the Bob Jones/Regent University fundamentalism I was exposed to for way longer than is healthy, I am wary of making Christian theology more “palatable’ by twisting non-Christian ideas to conform to it. Most every Christian struggles with the admonition to be separate from the world. Injecting Christianity into places it most certainly does not exist sounds like asking for it.

Granted, talking about a television show may not be all that dangerous, but it is not to far to go from there to watering down Biblical principles because they are not accepted by modern cultural norms.

But regardless, it is a short, but interesting read. I cannot help but sense the author has many of the same concerns I do, as he has an apologetic tone about much of the examples he gives and has a tough time relating any nuggets to the actual Ten Commandments.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Drumhead"

When I decided to review TNG, I knew several episodes were going to take on a different meaning in the post-9/11 world they had not possessed in the decade or so prior. Considering the generally progressive viewpoint of Trek, I assumed writing about those episodes would put me in a bind. I have comfortably argued against the political, cultural, and religious philosophy presented in various trek episodes with no problem, largely because it has been an academic exercise. What happens when I have to talk about current policy for which there has not enough time has passed for history to judge?

I found out with “The Drumhead.” in fairness, the episode was written in 1991 as an it cannot happen here kind of story meant to show that events such as the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings can still happen in enlightened times. I doubt anyone took the possibility of such events happening again seriously. Who ever envisioned we would be at war with militant Islam after a devastating attack on our own soil in 1991? Or September 10th, 2001, for that matter? Well, it can happen here. It would be grossly unfair to judge the viewpoint of “The Drumhead” in light of today’s climate, so I am going to pull my punches, but I cannot ignore it, either.

The episode’s story ties in with the season arc of a Romulan-Duras conspiracy to take over the Klingon Empire. A Klingon spy is exposed to be a Romulan collaborator because he believes the Empire has grown weak by its alliance with the Federation. An overzealous Starfleet admiral takes the opportunity to root out other possible spies. First,she finds a crewman with a Romulan grandfather and finally vows to get Picard because of his various Prime Directive violations and assimilation by the Borg.

Before talking about anything else, I have to note the show falls back to its usual motif of the alien always being wrong until scolded by an enlightened human. This time around, Worf goes all gung ho with the admiral to root out spies while everyone else on the Enterprise is wary. The situation is odder still since he is eventually brought up as a security risk for his father allegedy being a Romulan collaborator, too. Given the admiral’s attitude, he should have been a target of suspicion all along, but an alien has to be wrong, so worf is the only choice to play McCarthy. It is almost laughable.

I cannot say much about Simon Tarsus, the crewman who lied about his Romulan heritage. The moral lesson here is we should not judge him based on his family. For that, I agree. I recall the absurdity of many Bush 43 critics pointing out his grandfather did business with the Nazis as thought that is some smear against his character. So much for enlightened progressives. But tarsus is different. It is not that his grandfather wasa Romulan. It is that he lied about it andsaid he was Vulcan instead. It is not anti-Romulan prejudice that nailed him. It was his dishonesty. I cannot be terribly sympathetic his career is now ruined. Had he told the truth to begin with, things would have worked out much better for him. Considering ferengi eventually join Starfleet, guilt by association is not a Federation tenet.

The crux of the episode is accusations of treason against Picard. In all honesty, I have to wonder why this did not come sooner. Why was Picard, who was completely assimilated by the Borg, destroyed 38 ships, and killed 11,000 on his way to conquer Earth, allowed to go back to commanding the Federation flagship without so much as a hearing to determine his fitness? Presumably, he knows everything there is to know about the Borg, so even under the best of circumstances, he should have been reassigned to whatever branch of Starfleet is dedicated to dealing with future Borg incursions. At worst, he should have been put on trial for collaborating.

Am I being harsh? Maybe. Perhaps Picard’s smooth return to the captain’s chair is an indication of enlightened 24th century philosophy. They just know he is fit to return to duty. The skeptic in me does not buy it. It does not seem right for the issue to takeso long to come up and a double whammy that the person who brings it up is made out to be a loon. Add in that Picard will allow Hugh, a captured Borg, to return to the Collective on his next encounter with them and the circumstantial evidence maybe Picard ain’t all there screams at you. It is true Picard may be on the up and up about all this, but there is no way to know all this except in hindsight. Only in Star Trek: First Contact is Starfleet legitimately concerned about his past connection with the Borg.

All this adds up to me seeing the point of Starfleet’s concern with tarsus and Picard. The concern is completely dismissed by making worf overzealous and the admiral crazy. Otherwise, “The Drumhead” would have been more Judgment at Nuermeburg than The Crucible. I am not certain that would not have been a better idea. It is still a good episode, particularly for a bottle show. In fact, I am going to give it four stars for being thought provoking. But I think it might have merited five stars had it not been so over the top. There are legitimate concerns here that could have been dealt with maturely, but were dismissed with preachy moralizing instead.

I did say above I was not going to tie “The Drumhead” in with the post-9/11 world of the Patriot Act, is Barack Obamaa a secret Muslim, Gitmo, etc. Instead, he is a YouTube clip od Picard’s inquisition. He answers his accusations, which may or may not be lrgitimate concerns, and takes a moral stand based on a quote from the admiral’s father. It is actually a tawdry move, but youcan pass judgment on how apt his viewpoint his in today’s climate rather than have me rail on it one way or another.Rating: **** (out of 5)

Lucia Tovar

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Television Culture

I sat down on three separate occasions over the last couple days with the intention of writing an essay about the whole Balloon Boy hoax, the obsession with getting on television, and the declining quality of national media, but I came up short every time. A this point, Nancy Grace is the only television personality still devoting much airtime to the story. Lord knows, I do not want to be anything like her. Luckily for me, I encountered the above editorial cartoon which summed up just about everything I could possibly want to say.

We have reached the point at which a father will hide his son while claiming he is floating off on a balloon, at threat to life and limb, all as a misguided publicity stunt in order to land a reality show, and the MSM, eager to catch something macabre on live television, will go right along with it.

You know what? It is all our fault for watching such crap o television. The Heene family whet their appetite for fame on Wife Swap, a show that twists family dynamics in order to cause conflict. That is what passes for good television these days. Richard heene was willing to go to dangerously extreme measures on the far chance he could get back on television, even if it was some piddling TLC show.

the saddest part is Balloon Boy is not the most pathetic example of desperately attempting to land a regular spot in the public eye. Nadia Suleman, aka Octomom, has announced she would like to date Jon Gosselin. She believes she has a good shot at him since, as she told an interviewer recently, she hasa better figure than Kate Gosselin.

One has to think television culture is in its death throes when this sort of thing becomes the norm.

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"Qpid"

Out of all the episodes from which TNG could make a sequel, why choose the sub par “Captain’s Holiday?” it is like the powers that be decided to make things as bad as possible by throwing Q into the mix as well. Add in an homage to Animal House, an attempt to cash in on Kevin Costner’s .Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and a holodeck show without a holodeck, and you have a mess. Oh, and Vash is back, as if anyone was clamoring for her.

The plot revolves around Picard, who is about to give a speech to a group of archeologists, running into Vash again. She is still a mercenary grave robber, but for some reason, is hanging out with legitimate archeologists on the Enterprise. Before I go any further, does anyone think it is odd for an archeologist convention to be taking place on the flagship of the Federation with the captain as the keynote speaker? I guess every Holiday Inn was booked up and every professional archeologist has a phobia about speaking in front of crowds or something.

Vash roams about the ship getting to meet the crew, much to Picard’s discomfort. She discovers he never mentioned her to anyone. This does not surprise and it should not surprise her. They did not hit it off in their first encounter. He was adamant about maintaining his privacy throughout most of their association. I assume her negative reaction just one of those weird woman things guys are never meant to understand as opposed to any notion “Captain’s Holiday’ was meant to have successfully bonded the two.

This is the point when Q shows up. Q has decided he owes Picard adent for protecting him when he lost his powers last season’s “Deja Q’ The odd bit about the situation is Q does not like being indebted to Picard. He is not really grateful about his help. Meanwhile, Picard does not want anything from Q. this certainly is not the first time Picard has been adverse to Q using his powers for good. Recall he forbade Riker from reviving a dead little girl when he possessed Q powers in ’Hide and Q.” Picard did ask him to m ove the moon back into place in “Deja Q,” but that is neither the first, nor last time Picard will act hypocritically.

But at this point, Picard refuses to ask for anything in spite of the fact making a request will cause Q to go away. It does not have to be something so extravagant as universal peace. How about a new head of hair?

Q gets the idea to place Picard and his crew into the story of Robin Hood, with Vash captured by Sir Guy and in need of rescuing. It is every man’s fantast of saving his fair maiden true love from the evil clutches of the villain. It really does not work here, though. Robin Hood is not most famous for rescuing Maid Marian. It is a stretch to see why Q thought the scenario was appropriate. The situation is reminiscent of sillier TOS elements, such as Trelane’s obsession with Napoleon or Abraham Lincoln fighting alongside Kirk and Spock. The writers are also trying way too hard to play for laughs, with Worf protesting he is not a merry man and smashing la Forge’s lute, a la bluto in Animal House.

(Being one who enjoys picking nits, why does trio’s arrow penetrate Data’s chest here when he is bulletproof in Star Trek: First Contact? I believe he is also cautious about bullets in ’Time’s Arrow” as well. Continuity, people. That is what a story editor is for.)

Picard runs off to rescue Vash after ordering his crew to not follow him. I suppose he does want play the hero after all. He breaks into the castle castle, but is captured by Vash herself. Being the mercenary type, she has decided she would rather be married to Sir Guy than beheaded by him. Um…she could have chosen option C and been rescued by Picard, but whatever.

The crew violates the captain’s orders and follows him anyway to rescue the two in the proverbial nick of time. Interestingly enough, the men get swords to fight with while Troiand Crusher must tend with clay pots. Silly girls, you cannot handle weapons. Those are for men. Feel free to speculate on the Freudian connection between swords as phallic symbols, women’s penis envy, and male potency issues. I sense a doctoral dissertation tin English Lit there, folks.

In the climax, patric Stewart finally gets, more or less, his original request for an adventuresses and guns story, albeit with swords instead. Q is intrgued by Vash, so the two run off together. Picard asks q to guarantee her safety asthefavor to him and q agrees. That was easy enough.

‘Qpid” is often cited as a fan favorite, but I think it is overrated. It is essentially anotherholodeck simulation story even if Q created it with his powers rather than holodeck technology. I still think it is a silly move to rely on fake settings in order to tell stories when these people are in outer space where anything can happen. Why not have Vash kidnapped by a real alien and rescued? That is assuming we have to have Vash back. Or Q, either, for that matter. The Robin Hood setting just does not sing or dance. Lancelot and Guinevere would have made morse sense. Heck, The Perils of Pauline would have made more sense.

The only saving grace of “Qpid” is the action sequences. They stand out in a show that is often too much talk, not enough action. In spite of all my complaints, I cannot call ‘Q pid” one of the worst episodes of TNG. It is just average. Thereare too many aspects to begin with that I do not care for me to enjoy the episode. Your mileage may vary.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Carmen Electra

Monday, October 19, 2009

NFL Double Standard: Rush Limbaugh v. Keith Olbermann

Here is an interesting question for you: why is rush Limbaugh not fit to be an owner in the NFL because of his “divisive” comments, but Keith Olbermnn, who viciously attacks conservatives on a nightly basis, fit to call NFL games for NBC?

I already know the answer. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a big financial supporter of Democratic party. Olbermann gets a pass because he has the right opinions. I will let that scary thought sink in for a moment.

I neither watch Countdown, nor listen to Limbaugh’s radio show with any regular frequency, so I do not really have a dog in this fight. I do not see any reason why Limbaugh should have been excluded from buying the St. Louis Rams for any comments he has ever made. At the same time, Olbermann can be just as ravenous an idiot as he so chooses. He is hurting the cause of progressivism, which is a good thing, gives liberals something to do for an hour a night rather than bother the rest of us with their inanities. What I dislike here is the hypocrisy. Either can them both or give Limbaugh and Olbermann a free pass.

To make matters worse, Olbermann crosses the line virtually every time he opens his mouth He just referred to Michelle Malkin as a ’mashed up bag o’ meat’ on Countdown last week and made a joke that an NFL player who suffered a head injury on the field could ’see Russia from here,” a riff on Sarah Palin. The former is a tasteless, misogynistic insult, but the latter is fair game in the venue even though it tweaks a favorite of mind. But in the context of Goodell’s rationale for dumping Limbaugh, Olbermann ought to be dumped, too.

Eco-Friendly BDSM

I am risking some seriously demented Google searches in order to bring you this, but I frequently go where angels fear to tread in order to bring you progressive lunacy wherever i find it. Who knew there would be a discussion on sex toys in TIME? the magazine's sales must be horribly slumping.

Here are some suggestions for you to--please forgive me--screw your lover without screwing the Earth:
In many ways, choosing a sex toy is not unlike buying a car. Walk into most adult shops, and the new-car smell is undeniable. Salespeople tout motor speed and durability. And then there are emissions to consider.

That's carbon emissions, of course. As the green movement makes its way into the bedroom, low lighting is a must--to conserve electricity--but so are vegan condoms, organic lubricants and hand-cranked vibrators.
The BDSM comes in later. You can beat your lover all you want, just do not use leather whips. they are cruel to...the cows.
Nikki Walker, 35, an actress in New York City, stopped taking the Pill because of concerns about the effects of excess estrogen on her body and the environment. "I do yoga every day and eat vegetarian," she says. "Why wouldn't I go green in this area of my life?"

Walker recently attended her first Tupperware-style pleasure party, thrown by Oregon-based Earth Erotics, where the goods for sale included organic massage oils and whips made of recycled inner tubes. At a time when Americans are just getting used to prime-time ads for Trojan and K-Y, eco-consumers are learning that most of the personal lubricants in the U.S.--drugstores sold $82 million worth of them last year--contain chemicals found in oven cleaner and antifreeze.
You are probably asking yourself if I would dare punctuate this evidence of the decline of national journalism with a risque photo hinting at, shall we saw, adult games?

You are dog gone skimpy, I would:What can I say? I am entering a blue period. There is a tantalizing photo of Kitty Lea. She is woman, hear her roar.

I pilfered the photo from Eclectic Banana, so blame him for all offense suffered. i am not made of stone, folks!

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Nth Degree"

“The Nth Degree” is Barclay’s second episode after a year long hiatus. It just goes to show how little regard trek has for its secondary characters even when they are popular. Barclay is still the nebbish geek he was before, but this time around he gets to stretch his wings and play the self-confident scientist he has always wanted to be, albeit it is all temporary.

Barclay is hit by an electrical surge from a mysterious probe. When he regains consciousness, there is a slow, but steady change in him. He begins demonstrating increased knowledge on subjects he normally knows nothing about, such as chess. He spends an entire night debating theoretical physics with a holodeck recreation of albert Einstein. The changes in him climax when he builds a device in the holodeck which allows him to not only take over the ship, but send it to the center of the galaxy.

There the ship meets a disembodied head similar to the one who claimed to be God in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It is odd that when TNG wants to make an homage to TOS, it chooses the worst movie, one in which large parts have been declared non-canon, in order to do so. It works here for me. In the grand scheme of things, it means there was never any real danger involved in the plot, which annoys some fans, but I thought it was a nice change of pace. The emphasis was on the character development of Barclay.

Character pieces are rare for trek in general and lasting implications of character development even rarer. That is the only drawback to “The Nth Degree.” while it is understood Barclay was granted the intelligence to fly the ship to the center of the galaxy as a temporary measure by the alien explorers, the experience ought to have changed Barclay for the better. Subsequent episodes show that it does not. The memories of his increased self-confidence do not help much with his subsequent phobias and social anxieties. He is still an interesting character, but he should have been allowed to grow more.

I liked this one regardless of it flaws. The plot is a fine high concept plot that writer Joe Menosky, who has a background in technology journalism, is famous for writing. I even liked the 2001: A Space Odyssey homage in which riker asks the enhanced Barclay to stand down and he replies like HAL with “I’m afraid I can’t do that,” a subtle touch, but that sort of thing makes these episodes fun.

Rating: *** (out of 5)