Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike Huckabee's Willie Horton Moment

I have already written about my misgivings over Mike Huckabee’s strange and RINO ways versus his prospects for the Republican nod for president in 2012. A few days ago, he announced it was ’less than likely” he would run anyway. Said announcement came after weeks of bitterly griping how Sarah Palin is attracting more attention than he is as a presidential prospect.

In one of those strange coincidences one could attribute to fate, it has now been revealed that Maurice Clemmons, the an sought for the murder of four Washington state police officers yesterday, was pardoned by Huckabee while he was governor of Arkansas.

Shades of Michael Dukakis here. Willie Horton’s release on a Massachusetts furlough program in spite of his serving a life sentence without parole for murder only to commit an assault and rape on his “vacation” weekend sank Dukakis’ presidential bid in 1988. Thatfact cannot be lost on Huckabeeas he thinks about Clemmons now. The death of three police officers will hang heavy over law and order conservative types.

My intention is not to make light of the situation, but to call attention to the potential lack of good judgment Huckabee possess. Man likeClemmons do not need a free pass. Look how they squander it.

Rock Song Quality v. US Oil Production

From the Department of Over Thinking Trends for which there is No Correlation comes the above graph coming the release of rock songs on Rolling Stone‘s 500 songs of All time list and domestic oil production in the United States.

Studying the graph makes it clear that lousy years for rock and roll equal lower oil output. Ergo, good rock and roll is not only vital to solving our country’s energy needs, but also decreasing dependency on terrorist funding petrodollars.

Of course, Rolling Stone is both written and read by gaining hippies, so the peaking of rock in the ’60’s is no surprise. I had that issue back in 2003. The list was practically a Baby Boomer’s lament for days gone by. Every song you are even vaguely familiar with from the late ’60’s was there while the compilers appeared to begrudgingly name only the most iconic songs of every other era just to give the list some legitimacy.

Not that you should not think music today sucks. Because it does. So does lower US oil production. Correlation or not, both problems need to be addressed. I suggest more drilling, build some refineries after all these years, cancel American Idol, and throw out all your children’s rap and dance CDs. Threaten to have them drawn and quartered if they buy any more.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "Man of the People"

It is well known I have not enjoyed episodes centered around Troi. She is the most inconvenient character because her sole ability is to read other people’s emotions without their permission. To me, that is a terribly unethical violation of privacy. The moral question has been addressed several times, but always dropped in order to keep the character pure-- or as pure as she can be when used secretly in negotiationsand interrogations.

I hate to be harsh about it, but in “Man of the People,” she uses her abilities to a completely evil measure, albeit under someone else’s influence. Yet they lay it out for you exactly how harsh the consequences of manipulating emotion is.

The episode isan homage to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. In the novel, Dorian isable to maintain his youthful appearance by projecting the consequences of his actions on a portait of himself. In “Man of the People,” Alkar does the same by projecting his darker side on other people.

Alkar isan ambassador famous for his cool demeanor. He is on his way to negotiate peace between two parties on a warring planet when it ship is attacked. It is rescued by the Enterprise, which is then assigned to escort Alkar to the peace conference. He beams aboard with a batty old woman he claims is in mother. She immediately screeches at troi that she cannot fall for Alkar even though she knows the little Betazoid hussy would like nothing better.

Troi later confides in Riker she senses pure evil out of the woman. He shrugs it off and assures her the old bag is just senile. The empath bows to his superior wisdom on the emotional health of people. It is probably just because she wants to hook up with Alkar like the woman said she would. The two start to bond when the old woman finally kicks the bucket.

Crusher would like to perform an autopsy, but Alkar claims his religious views forbid it. She whines to Picard there is something fshy about how fast the woman deteriorated, but unless there is a clear and present danger to the ship, Picard has to respect alkar’s cultural beliefs.

Alkar lures Troi into his influence by tricking her into performing a funeral ritual with him. Why she could not see through this when the recipient of all his dark thoughts is dead , especially in light of how quickly he himself dies once troi is freedand he is in between victims at the climax. But anyway, she is under his spell.

She ages slowly at first in order to allow her evil behavior to manifest itself without raising much suspicion. She seduces a young officer and chews out Vinnie’s girlfriend from Doogie Howser MD before clawing up Riker and stabbing Picard in a jealous rage.

The sequence where she, as an old woman, attacks Picard while demanding Alkar take her with him is the most poorly thought out segment of the episode. Alkar knows troi is going to suffer this kind of change and he cannot lie and claim she is his mother to cover it up. He should have had a better plan to cover up his actions.

Troi’s violent act prompts Picard to allow the autopsy to be performed. They learn Alkar’s 93 year old mother is actually a 40 year old stranger. Troi is suffering her fate.

Alkar refuses to leave the conference, so Picard beams down to havea word with him. He arrogantly admits everything he is doing. He considers Troi a tragic, but small price to pay in order to save lives. Under some circumstances, one might argue that is true. But Troi is dying solely so Alkar can purge his dark side. There is nothing ethical about that or necessarily for peace to be negotiated between warring parties.

The crew plans to let Troi die and strand Alkar between connecting with another person before reviving her. The plan works, even though they never let his intended next victim in on it. That is not very sporting. Alkar dies of extreme old age when he cannot get rid of his evil side.

Some fans are irritated Alkar has by his own admission developed this ability himself rather than it being a product of his species, similarly to Garth of Izar’s miraculous shape shifting abilities. It does not bother me. But I have been a fan of The Picture Dorian Gray since an English TA recommended it as her favorite novel in my sophomore year of college. It is one of the few ’modern’ classics that does not fall into overrated pseudo-intellectualism. (Hello, Catcher in the Rye) I can even forgive some of the laps in logic I described above. “Man of the People” is not the greatest, but it is very good for a Troi episode.

Rating: *** (ot of 5)

Starting with an End

But it is Kim Kardashian's end--and TV friendly side boob--so there is not much room to complain.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back to the Millstone

I appear to be somewhat back in business even if I cannot fit into my dancing shoes yet. My foot has changed from a goose egg sized purple blob into a puffy, Kermit the Frog sort of lump. I still have to elevate it more often than not, but I have been able to gingerly move about sans cross eyed stare, so that is progress.

I do not recommend injuring yourself in anyway or catching any sort of illness which requires bed rest unless your attending physician gives you plenty of drugs to sleep it off. Otherwise you might be stuck with the dreaded Boob Tube of Death for lack of anything else better to do. My word. Based on game shoes alone, western civilization is done for. Sane people do not consider Turtle Wax a consolation prize for losing a car. Notify the cockroaches we are ready to hand the reins back over.

I spent more time listening to music. Apparently, I have reached the age at which my ability to appreciate new music shuts off, leaving me pining for my youth. I discovered, through days of spinning my CD player, that I am stuck in the ’80’s, though I can crawl a decent ways into the mid-90’s before stopping and gropig for the occasional song right up until 2006. The music world stopped for me somewhere after Snow Patrol crossed the pond. Meh. I am getting old.

I am up for assorting pittering on the internet and blogging, so things ought to be back to normal. Hopefully, I have not killed it off. Even a mall hiatus can do that these days. I went ahead with my plan to change the header to an image file instead of the usual decorative font I have been using. It was going to be a New Year’s change, but what the heck. Something new and different will get me motivated to blog after this unintended break.

No Full Metal Jacket reach Around this week. while i still managed a couple links from last weekend, I am going to save them for next week's round up so it will not look so pitiful. No blogroll Spotlight, either. It is nothing personal. I was occupied. both will return next week in full glory.

By the way--if there was any doubt, the dog was not my idea.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving and a Hiatus Explanation

I want to wish everyone a likely belated Thanksgiving celebration. Hope you avoided a gastrointestinal rupture. Been there, done that. It sucked.

The current blogging hiatus was announced because it was unintentional. A couple weeks ago, a rotweiler puppy moved into the chateau. She has alternated between trying to rip off my Achilles tendons or break my neck. Monday night, she came as close to the latter as she ever will by tackling my right shin, causing me to face plant on a hard wood floor.

I have mentioned I am exclusively a cat person, right? Dogs are for bullies who want something they can dominate and childless spinsters who need something to baby. Otherwise, they are useless as pets. A cat will not put up with either. I respect that

My right foot caught the worst of it, although my knees are puffy and my jaw is sore, but unbroken. Said foot is a purple as Grimace from those old McDonald’s commercials. At best, it is the size of a goose egg. If it goes unelevated for more than fifteen minutes or so, it advances to dinosaur egg status. Daily tasks have been done seldom, quickly, and with crossed eyes.

I am currently at my computer spot with my foot propped up on a stool, watching y grape colored little piggies wiggle. Until I decide this is a comfortable alternative to laying in bed with my foot on a pillow, I shall not be blogging. Tomorrow may be the day, but I am not promising.

The holidays are tough for me for various and sundry reasons. I do not normally need much excuse to lay in bed and stare up at the ceiling for the duration. Now I not only have a excuse, but a good reason. Such good fortune should not go to waste.

So I will blog when I blog. Toodles.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Doctor Who--"The End of Time" Preview Clip

From the Children in Need fundraiser a few days ago.

Man in 23 Year Coma Awake the Entire Time

There is a reason Christians choose to defend life in bioethics cases. This is one of those reasons. This poor fellow was locked up within himself for 23 years without anyone knowing it.

Not that I have an easy time wrapping my mind around how one could or would want to survive such a thing. I can admit it. I cannot imagine a darker fate. What would one do for 23 years in such a state? Fall into hallucinations? Reach a sense of enlightenment? What would enlightenment matter for you at that point?

In this case, quitea bit. Presumably in many others, too. The concept of “perpetual vegetative state” is a nebulous medical term. Even researchers who have devoted their entire professional lives to the subject cannot come up with an all encompassing definition of what it entails. There are many more out there like this fellow right now. Certainly many like him have been dehydrated to death in the name of compassion or, as in Teri Schiavo’s case, insurance money. But, hey--only 555 of the country thought killing her was a good, merciful idea.

I would be negligent if I did not speculate on what ObamaCare would mean in cases like this. Surely people in perpetual vegetative states, well defined or not, would be considered drain and killed off as a cost saving measure. Do not dismiss the idea just because Ron Houben was cared for under socialized medicine. Our country is taking a dark turn in its view on the value of life, in many ways darker than the secularization that is currently plaguing Europe. I do not believe it is a coincidence we are learning of Houben’s plight right in the middle of our national healthcare debate.

UPDATE: In the name of full disclosure, this story appears to be untrue.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "Realm of Fear"

“Realm of Fear” is not remembered as fondly as it might. It does not live up to its intention of serving as a frightening experience of creatures attacking crew as they are beamed over distances. Instead, the emphasis was more on Barclay and his constant battle with multiple phobias.

It does not bother me, however. I am more fond of Barclay than most, perhaps out of nostalgia for Dwight Shultz’s portrayal of H. M. “Howling Mad” Murdock, but more so that he is such an unusually flawed character. Usually when a trek character is written with an exaggerated emotional issue, it is to obnoxiously make a point. Think of Ro’s role as the bitter, angry child who never grew up. She is insufferable. Barclay, for his annoying quirks, is still a good guy who tries to work through them for the good of everyone. I would certainly have rather seen more of him than roe.

Here Barclay deals with transporter phobia. Why not/ those things have proven to have some nasty consequences over the years. His fears are confirmed ashe believes he has been bitten by a giant worm while transporting from the derelict Yosemite. The emphasis switches away from whether the worms exist and what threat they may pose to whether Barclay is being a nut about the whole thing.

The matter is resolved when he transports again, grabs one of the worms, and materializes with it. It turns out to be one of the Yosemite crew. They escaped certain death by trapping their patterns for hopefully eventual rescue. So Barclay winds up being the hero by overcoming his fear.

“Realm of Fear’ was trying to be a classic horror film homage with strange, sinister creatures attacking attacking victims in a nightmarish scenario, but it does not work in that way. It is a Barclay character development episode. I like it anyway because of that, not in spite. Plus, “Schisms” a few episodes down the line will tackle a plot much along the intended lines of “Realm of Fear” and knock it out the park.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Now There is Two of Them!

How long before Andrew Sullivan uncovers this evil cloning plot?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Father of Michael Jackson's First Accuser Commits Suicide

Evan Chandler's apparent suicide does not appear to be the big news item you think it would, but there you go. Chandler was the father of Jordan, the first child Michael Jackson was accused of molesting. the case settled out of court for $ 22 million and admissions by jackson of "personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence." in return, Chandleragreed to never discuss the allegations further.

Some speculate Chandler had concocted the whole story because Jackson had severed ties with the family. This belief is based largely on an account by celebrity journalist Ian Halperin's accusation, by way of Chandler's ex wife joy's second husband, chandler wanted to both destroy Jackson's career and get sole custody of his son.

I obviously do not buy it. Back in 1993, Jordan gave them a roadmap to Jackson's below-the-waist geography, which, he said, includes distinctive "splotches" on his buttocks and one on his penis, "which is a light color similar to the color of his face." The boy's information was so precise, he even pinpointed where the splotch fell while Jackson's penis was erect, the length of the performer's pubic hair, and that he was circumcised.

How would Jordan know all that if he had not seen Jackson naked?

It was not long after law enforcement's photo session that Jackson agreed to settle Chandler's civil claim for north of $22 million. Jackson's lawyer would not advise him to pay that high a sum unless he was certain to be convicted at trial.

Take from it what you will. Chandler's subsequent troubles have been interpreted as either guilt for falsely accusing Jsckson, hounding by Jackson fans, some sense of cosmic justice. we are never going to know for certain in this life.

Nidal Hassan is Paralyzed and So is Our View on Islamic Terror

As was announced by John Galligan, Nidal Hassan’s defense attorney in an attempt to gain sympathy for his client. Prosecutors plan to hold Nidal in custody for trial. Galligan wishes for his client to remain in the hospital rather than jail.

I do not fault Galligan for going this route. He is the defense lawyer. If he could get the state to pay for Hassan’s pilgrimage to Mecca with full medical support staff traveling with him, he should. That is what defending the indefensible isall about. But what irks me is how this tug at the heartstrings fits in with the misguided interpretation of Hassan’s motivations.

Let us be clear: Hassan calmly, methodically opened fire on fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood, killing thirteen and wounding over thirty, while shouting praises to Allah after long periods of contact with radical Muslim imams. It is not a question of whether he committed the crime. It isa matter of whether he was insane or on a jihad.

The talking points by progressives before the wounded were even carried off id Pre-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Never mind no one has ever even heard of such a thing as a medical condition. What matters is the guy was being shipped off to Iraq, the Iraq War is evviiilll, so he flipped out totally justifiable. Forget that he is a Muslim or that he just destroyed forty some lives.

You know what/ It is working. Only 44% think Hassan’s rampage was a terrorist act. I was reminded last week when DC Sniper and Muslim John Mohhammed was executed last week no one wanted to make connection between his religious beliefs and propensity to kill the infidels way back in 2002when 9/11 wasstill fresh in the American mind.

Whatthe hec does it take for us to can the politically correct, rose colored glasses and lookat these violent jihadis honestly? How many people do they have to kill before they are no longer looked at as victims themselves? Sadly enough, I do not see it happening anytime soon. Call me cruel, but I think the idea Hassan has to spend the rest of his hopefully short life paralyzed rather than dying in his holy war immediately is poetic.

Blogroll Spotlight XXI

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. As usual, these are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title.

American Digest expose climate change as a conspiracy.

Audacity of Logic use a basketball analogy to explain the flaws of the public option.

Big Feed introduces us to Burka Barbie.

Book of Sarah recaps this pivotal week in the life of one Sarah Palin.

Camp of the Saints has questions we can no longer avoid.

Classic Liberal wonders what your Republican has done for you lately?

Daley Gator on SEIU bank fraud.

Five Feet of Fury details Glenn beck's 100 Years Plan.

Jaded Haven on taxpayer funded abortions.

KOOK's Manifesto rips claire McCaskill a new one.

Left Coast Rebel is a fan of John Stossel. I am, too.

Middle Finger Politics is not happy about KSM being tried in New York.

The Other McCain honors young Jackie Seal as an American hero.

Piece of Work in Progress says global warming causes prostitution. Well, duh. hot babes + global warming=less clothes.

Right-Wing Extreme has the Joke of the Week. No, not Harry Reid, but good guess.

Troglopundit is incredulous at Johnny Depp's lofty perch as the Sexiest Man Alive.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "Time's Arrow, Part II"

The second part of “Time’s Arrow” marks the beginning of TNG’s finest season. At the risk of sounding cruel, I think much of its virtue has to do with the lack of Gene Roddenberry’s influence. Many of the season’s plotlines vary widely from Roddenberry’s utopian idealism into the shadier aspects of morality. Picard and Troi take part in some subversive cloak and dagger operation against the Cardassians and Romulans, as a for instance. It is a breath of fresh air to see there is not always an easy way out for our heroes. It is also a preview of good things to come from DS9.

All that said, I am going to knock this episode a bit. It is not as good as its set up for a couple blatant problems.

First, the illogic of time travel. I like time travel stories in general. They do not stand up to a whole lot of scrutiny in terms of real science, but as long as there is consistency within how time travel works within the same story, I am cool with it. So here is my problem: when Picard is stranded in the 19th century, Riker angrily demands Guinan tell him how to rescue him. She refuses, saying it will change history. But at the same time, Samuel Clemons has traveled to the 24th century instead of Picard. So not only is Guinan’s argument moot since history has already been changed by Clemons’ disappearance seventeen years before his historical death, but his disappearance would surely have a bigger impact on history as a whole. He still has nearly two decades of living to do while Picard is going to die in the cavern without leaving any further mark. Yet there are no noticeable effects for Clemons’ presence in the future.

What is bothersome is both clemons’ and picard’s predicaments are happening simultaneously, making one wonder what is the big deal about changing history?

Second, Data spends the rest of his life with a five hundred year old head with no apparent effects. Yes, it was stated in the previous episode Data might exist indefinitely, but that presumes he stayed intact with proper maintenance, not having his head collecting dust in an old cavern for half a millennium it is possible la forge could have cleaned and brought the head up to spec, but that is merely assumption. It does not matter, I suppose, since no mention is ever made of it again.

It is a missed opportunity, honestly. An older, battered head could explain why the ageless Data was againg right along with Brent Spiner. Did no one ever think of that? The ancient head would have served asa ready made answer for the elephant in the room problem.

Finally, Picard and Guinan’s relationship. Ithas been forever hinted they share some wonderful bond. There are only two possibilities we know of at this point. One, they were in the Nexus together during StarTrek: Generations and two, he nursed her to health here. Neither of the two possibilities appears to merit the devotion Guinan and picard have for one another. It is disappointing.

I am not terribly down on this episode, however. It is an exciting story in spite of its flaws. They ran the risk of hitting into the goofier aspects of TOS--fighting evil alongside Abraham Lincoln is most apt--by featuring Clemons as a pivotal character. But it ultimately worked, save for the logical flaw of understating his importance in thetimestream.

I also liked his final exchange with Picard. He told Clemons the Enterprise Was a ship of exploration. Clemons says that is usually code for warship. Picarddenies it, because Starfleet never, ever, ever leaves anything buta positive impact on every alien culture it lectures in the ways of humanity. Clemons should have run into the genocidal Janeway instead. That would have been an interesting conversation.

Not a bad episode, but it does not quite measure up to the first.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Scarlett Johansson

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Healthcare Bill Moves to Senate Floor on 60-39 Party Vote

iit was pretty much assured after Reid bought off Landrieu with a $ 100 million worth of goodies just to vote to bring ObamaCare to the floor. They even wheeled in Byrd. Can he even identify what planet he is on these days? The vote fell 60- 39 along party lines with Voinovich not voting. What is his game?

This is not good, but it is not the end. It is just a motion for the bill to proceed to the floor. Under the senate’s arcane rules, debate could go on forever. Senators go home for thanksgiving to face their constituents, then come back after the holidays to debate and amend the bill.

The next sixty vote call will be to end debate entirely. That is when a lot of these things get killed. I am inclined to think ObamaCare will die then, too. While I cannot read Democrats minds--or the RINOs, for that matter--voting yes here is a relatively harmless thing that makes them look statesmen-like. It is a call for open debate whether they like the bill or not. I suspect many red state Democrats, particularly those up for election in 2010 or ’12 do not. Like I said above, it took $ 100 in pork just to get Landrieu to agree to further debate. I am not certain what convinced Lincoln, but she was shaky, too. There are bound to be others.

There is another point here that must be considered. Passing comprehensive healthcare reform is as damaging to the Democrats as racial harmony is to Jesse Jackson. It would takeaway a key talking point during election time. They need that notion of nebulous ’reform’ in order to lure voter support. The healthcare industry, with all its cash laden lobbyists, are going to take a hit, too. That means less dollars for democrats at election time. Finally, there isa lot of nasty stuff hidden in that monolithic bill that is not going to be hidden for long. The material would make for some fantastically brutal attack ads.

In short, Democrats are voting for further debate in order to look like serious, thoughtful policymakers concerned about the well being of their constituents. But they are just politicians obsessed with resonating talking poits, fundraising, and reelection. That is going to win out overall else or it is political suicide for the whole lot of them.

Rudy Giuliani May Run for the Senate in 2010, But So What?

I was an early Rudy Giuliani supporter in 2008. He is a disappointing RINO, buthe was competing against a lackluster field of candidates against which I felt his liberal social policies could be tolerated in light of his fiscal conservatism and get tough on terror attitude. Pundits say he ran an awful campaign, but I doubt even astellar one would have mattered. The only excitement he could elicit from the crowd at the RNC convention was by attacking Barack Obama and promoting a strong response to terrorism. Otherwise, Republicans just gave him polite applause.

I gather that most who supported him felt the same way I did; tolerating his faults because he is the best of the worst, then forgetting about him when he could not make anything out of it.

The big problem with Giuliani is that he still believed we were in a post-9/11 World. At the time, we were in an Iraq War world. Now we are in the Age of Obama, so we are even further removed from his mindset. I am afraid 9/11 just does not resonate like it used to. If Giuliani wanted to run for president based on his actions that day, 2008 was his last, best chance.

So frankly I am puzzled why he wants to run for the Senate. He has always been an executive, so being the junior guy in a among one hundred others would not sit well with him. If he is planning to use the Senate as a stepping stone to the white house, I do not see what that is going to do for him, either. Our current commander-in-chief notwithstanding, serving in the Senate is not really a clear path to the Oval Office. He would spend less time there than Obama did, too, as he would have to start campaigning right away with less charisma with which to work.

Maybe he has given up designs on the presidency and just needs to be in power. In that sense, I can understand it. the governor’s mansion would be more logical given his experience and personality, but losing to Andrew Cuomo is a very real possibility.

Whatever his game is, I am pretty much meh about him these days. I am not certain I even trust him to bea senator these days.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around XXIV

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

Twitt Factory links to the Jewel duet with Jessica Simpson

The Other McCain also links to the Jewel and Jessica Simpson duet.

The Classic Liberal links to Jewel, Jessica Simpson, and Black Cat.

The Camp of the Saints links to my take on dying in the apocalypse.

The Daley Gator links to my display of school spirit.

A Rage of Angels added me to his blogroll.

The Audacity of Logic also added me to his 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-- "Time's Arrow, Part I"

We have reached the season finale of what has been enormous highs and craterous lows, but more of the former than latter. After two season finales of epic battles, the powers that be wisely chose to make a more personal finale. They also decided at the last minute to use a cliffhanger because fan buzz about the upcoming DS9 was fueling rumors TNG was ending. The story was then expanded in order to prove the show had a bright future.

Indeed, it did. the sixth season is Tng’s high point. But I will start in on that tomorrow.

A big point I have to compliment on is the decision to not have data travel to contemporary times, although that was suggested early. Trek has done that a number of times, but so far, only TOS has done it well with “Return to Tomorrow” and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I am going to be generous and exclude the mediocre “Assignment Earth” since it was mostly a backdoor pilot for a proposed Gary Seven series that never materialized.

I like DS9’s “Past Tense, Part I/II,” but I thought pretty much everything about DS9 is top notch. I am not so fond of VOY’s “Future’s End, Part I/II” or Ent’s “Carpenter Street.”

It was an interesting touch to use 19th century San Francisco as the setting, although it does not stand up to a whole lot of scrutiny. If the logic of parasitic aliens traveling back in time during a cholera epidemic is so they can kill lot of humans undetected, then it would have been more logical to trvel back to medieval times when the Black plague would have for better cover. Doubly so because of the prevailing superstition of the time. If any of the aliens activities were exposed, they could be chalked up as witchcraft.

I bet this scenario was brought up, too. The idea may have been nixed because “QPid’ had already taken place in roughly the era, but the sixth season will have ’Thine Own Self,” an episode in which an amnesiac Data is marooned on a medieval level planet on which he wound up “dying.” All that certainly appears to be ideas which could have fit in here had “Time’s Arrow” been set during the Black plague but that is all speculation.

What we do get is still good. An archeological team in San Francisco discovers data‘s severed head along with evidence aliens had been there five hundred years ago. What I really enjoyed about the episode was how it dealt with mostly with personal issues while leaving the plot with the aliens for the conclusion. The main character all come to term with how they feel about Data, including himself. They all conclude, once and for all, he is more than a machine. They have concern for the life of their friend. Data experiences comfort in knowing he is now mortal, which makes him feel less artificial.

But you cannot change fate. Data winds up transported to the past through an energy blast. There he winds up trying to blend in until he can figure out his next move. Along the way, he encourages Jack London to take up writing and arouses the suspicion of Samuel Clemons.

Jerry Hardin, more meaningful to me as Deep Throat on The X-Files, is nevertheless delight here as the cynical Clemons Hardin became so enamored with playing the author in these two episodes, he wrote a one more show based on his life and toured with it for years. Hal Holbrook has a more famous reputation for portraying Clemons, but Hardin deserves much more accolades than he has received for it.

The cliffhanger involves data’s friend traveling back in time to rescue him and stop the aliens. Perhaps not in that order. It is a fantastically ending anticipatory of things to come.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

University of South Carolina Cheerleadrrs

next week, my beloved alma mater the University of South Carolina faces that accursed farmer college across state, Clemson University. We have stumbled in late season, but skinning a tiger would more than make up for it. Whatever happens, win or lose, one thing remains certain--we have the prettiest girls:(Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Miley Cyrus is on the Fastrack to Becoming Lindsay Lohan

A judge has thrown out the $ 4 billion--yes, billion--clsss action lawsuit filled by a Los Angeles Asian woan on behalf of all Asians for the inherent offense of this photo:It should come as no surprise the case was tossed. The sum requested was exorbitant, the Asian ethnicity suffered no measurable damages, and it was justa bunch of kids clowning around. That qualifies as a hat trick of frivolity.

So Miley Cyrus is officially not a racist. Well, good. She is, however, officially on her to be the next Lindsay Lohan.


First, she is on thecountdown towards legality and celebrating by pretending to bea hooker:
Miley Cyrus dressed as Julia Roberts’ “Pretty Woman” hooker character for an ’80s party to celebrate her 17th birthday Wednesday night. The teen star — recently criticized for pole dancing at the Teen Choice Awards — donned the sexy outfit and danced the night away at the Canal Room on West Broadway, where Constantine Maroulis and the cast of the Broadway hit “Rock of Ages” surprised Miley with a performance.
So she is getting the drunken whore motif down pat. How about the complete self-absorbed ambivalence towards others? will Cyrus cancel her next concert after her bus overturned Friday, killing one of her crewmembers?
TMZ spoke with an employee at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, NC who tells us they've been flooded with calls asking about Miley's concert. At this point, the employee tells us, "The show is going on as scheduled."
Well, there you go. This will not end well.

Who Really Cares About Oprah Winfrey?

Surely I am not the only one who could not care less that Oprah is ending her show in 2011. If I have watched more than a five minute segment of her show in fifteen years, I would be surprised to know it. Oprah appears to be exclusively a bored, liberal housewife phenomenon--one that cursed us with reading lists of fraudulent authors, Dr. Phil, and Barack Obama.

Talk about hitting the trifecta. Oprah had to humiliate herself apologizing for the heavy promotion of James Frey’s fake memoir of his days as a drug addict and alcoholic. Dr. Phil has been a huge embarrassment over the years, from practicing without a state license, to promoting dangerous diet pills, and worming his way into the spotlight offering therapy to Britney Spears during her emotional collapse a couple years ago. Admittedly, there is so consolation with obama since he has, as is his motif, thrown her under the bus now that he no longer needs her.

Tell me interviewing Sarah Palin about her new book was not motivated at least in part as a tweak at Obama.

While I do not personallycarefor Oprah or any of daytime television, I do have to note her departure is going to change the landscape immensely. This article analyzes the new business dynamics of daytime television. In short, it is getting too expensive to pay the syndication fees for shows like Oprah’s. Small stations were willing to payher fee anyway because she attracted a valuable demographic. No one else on the horizon does.

What you are going to see as a result is shows like Judge Judy and The Ellen DeGeneres Show either lowering their fees or heading off to cable like oprah is planning, albeit on a much smaller scale. Oprah may very well be the first nail in the coffin of daytime broadcast television. Then housewives will actually have to like, take care of the kids and stuff instead of sucking in some old phosphor dots.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "The Inner Light"

“The Inner Light” does not need much introduction, does it? It is the most personal episode since TOS’ “The City on the Edge of Forever.” not surprisingly, those are two of only four trek episodes to win Hugo awards for Best Dramatic Presentation. It is such a uniquely fascinating, poignant episode.

The Enterprise encounters a probe which takes over Picard’s mind. As the crew struggles to revive him on the bridge, he lives the life of Kamin as he and his family live through the dying days of his home world, Kataan. Picard experience as Kamin spans decades. At first, he has a tough time adjusting. He has a wife, a best friend, and hobbies which are all brand new to him. As he acclimates, he learns a severe drought is ravaging Kataan and suggests a solution which is ignored.

As time goes on, Picard falls in love with his wife. They have two children, one name dafter his long since dead best friend. The drought continues until the point everyone realizes the soil is irreparably damaged. The planet will be unable to support life soon. The leadership decides to assemble the history and experiences of the people of Kataan into a probe to be sent out into space. As an elderly widower, “Kamin” watches it go.

“The Inner Light” is profoundly touching. I consider it an unspoken bit of wish fulfillment for Picard. By his nature, he does not seem to be a family man, although as Star Trek: Generations showed, he would like to be. It is one of those cases in which the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Close relationships are beyond his ability to handle.

I imagine that is why he joined Starfleet. As an officer, he is afforded the opportunity to bea hero, the save people and to make peace all while never sticking around too long to get attached. He can fill the emotion void of no close relationships with the knowledge he has positively impacted people without any deep impact on him. He is a psychologically damaged man, which may just be the result of poor writing in the early going of the series, but it definitely there.

Here he has been thrust into an uncomfortable situation which probably does take him every minute of the early years to which to acclimate. We he eventually does, we see Picard’s full potential as a warm, personable family man. Attempting to solve the drought problem is the old Picard. Tackle a problem without much emotional investment. The family life/ that is Kamin. Kamin shows how an emotionally undamaged Picard could bea complete package.

“The Inner Light” leaves a lasting impression on Picard. He gives his daughter the same seize the day advice he offers Riker in Generations. I am inclined to think the relatively peaceful domestic life probably healed most of the scars from his time as Locutus. It certainly is not like we saw much else that would have done so.

In a fine final touch, Patrick Stewart’s real son Daniel played Kamin’s son.

I would like to segue into something personal. I did not get to see “The Inner Light” until it was repeated in the late summer. I had missed first run episodes in the past, so it was not too odd even though my cable system ran new episodes on three different occasions over the weekend. (Okay, that is actually unusual, too. I am from the sticks. Weekends on television were football NASCAR, fishing shows, and Hee Haw. How I was blessed with TNG and DS9 is a miracle.) Anyway, the point is missing out on “The Inner Light’ sticks out in my mind because of what was going on in my life at the time.

This was the spring of 1992. I was fifteen. My parents were just wrapping up their knockdown, drag out divorce, although they were going to continue a petty battle over furniture on other assorted bric a brac for another solid year. My father was under court order to buy my motherand me a house. We were set to move in the first week of June.

Life goes on even when your parents areacting like spoiled brat teenagers, so during all this I was scheduled to have a double hip replacement done the last week of June. This surgery was entirey voluntary. It was designed to alter my gait in order to increase y stamina. I am not interested in escribing what I was like before, but just know that I could walk short distances on awkwardly bent legs, but neededawhellchair for long distances. I needed to wait for surgery until I stopped growing, but I would not stop growing until too close to college. So hey, let us do this in the summer of my fifteenth year in the middle of a messy divorce. That is the way I like it. Nothing easy.

The plan was for meto finish ninth grade, move into my new house, and havea bit of a break before surgery. The surgery would eventually be a vast improvement, but it promised to be--and delivered on the promise--a hellish rehab and recovery that I did not completely bounce back from for a year.

Everything was thrown for a loop when the surgeon rescheduled me for the middle of may unexpectedly. He was an expert in this hip replacement procedure and was set to address a professional conference in Italy about it. Well, I cannot compete with that, so everything was thrown for a loop as I had to forgo the planned schedule to accommodate the surgeon.

I had faced many, many surgeries by this point in life, both orthopedic and a couple kidney stones which cause some surprisingly nasty problems. Ithad been many years since I had done so by this point. We always had traditions about it. One was to visit my greatgrandmother for prayer. She was practically immobilized andeaten away with cancer for years before she finally passed on. She never lost her christian devotion through it all. We figured if god listened to anyone, He would listen to her. Shewas long gone by this point. The other tradition was to havea treat weekend prior to surgery.

In a lot of ways, both of those were aimed at assuaging achild’s fear. As you get older, they seem less necessary because the older you get, the less people care. you are just expected to deal with things. If you annot, the world will leave you behind. Life was certainly in flux at the tie. I had already been left behind by much of what I knew. I was not a kid anymore, either. I fully expected the next few months were going to be one of those experiences where I just had to deal with it.

I still got my treat weekend. It was just my mother and me now, as it would be for the rest of her life. It wasscaled back to acouple movies and some very nice restaurants, but it was the last one I ever got. From that point on, I was a full fledged member of the Darwinian society of deal with stuff as it comes or else. Sometimes survival is the only reward.

I missed “The Inner Loght” the first time around because of all that. But I remember sitting in acushy easy chair in my new house with my knew, aching hips near the end of summer watching it for the first time and drawing so many connections about change, family, growing older with all the inherent gains and losses. It came aroundthefirst time in months that I had been able to takea breath and reflect instead of facing a constant barrage of drama. As you can imagine, it took on a special meaning. I would give it fivestars just for that.

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

Linda Vojtova

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chronicling the Apocalypse

It looks like Roland Emmerich has completed his diaster trilogy of Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and now 2012 with the same motif: overwhelming special effects that bring audience in droves the first few nights until word of mouth spreads there is no substance to any of them.

Let me specify that. Independence Day had aliens attacking for no compelling reason anyone could decipher. The Day After Tomorrow was a global warming screed Al Gore would be embarrassed to sit through. Now 2012 plays on end of the world anxieties that are not actually here--yet, at any rate. The millennial anxiety a decade ago resonated with people because of a latent fear of god’s wrath.

(Do not tell me otherwise. I drove two hours across state on New Year’s Eve 1999 in order to get to a friend‘s party. Every church parking lot along the way was full. Yes, I live in the Bible Belt, but I am a devout Calvinist. I know there is an inherent pull the elect feel.)

I would like to chalk the lack of anxiety to a cannot fool me twice mentality, but I know it is mostly because no one has any clue who the Mayans are. Something about caged birds singing, right?

So the world is not going to end in 2012. At least not by any way the Mayans may have thought, assuming they ever did. It got me to thinking, though. Thestories we would have to tell if we are killed in the apocalypse. It would go something like this:
GUY IN HEAVEN: Hey, bro. How did you die?

ME: In the freakin’ apocalypse, dude! It was awesome! The oceans started to boil. A seven headed dragon emerged from the water and ate New Jersey! The Earth cracked open, spewing fire and brimstone into the sky! Then these winged demons poured out and started poking me in the butt with a trident!

How did you die?

GUY IN HEAVEN: I ate some bad shellfish.
The whole point of life is to have cool stories to tell at the end.

Sarah Palin Sold 300,000 Copies of Going Rogue on the First Day

She has been dubbed a one woman stimulus package. I think she is a stimulus in quite a few ways, but if she can boost the economy, too, so much the better.

the funny thing is how her leftist haters have given Going Rogue the most publicity. The Associated Press has assigned no less than eleven journalists to fact check the book. Because journalists do not have anything better to cover at the moment, I suppose.

Andrew Sullivan was so excited, he announced a brief hiatus from blogging her uterus or anything else until he poured over it like a Talmudic scholar. he is a little dedicated trooper. Or is that Trig Truther? Meh. He would probably consider both complimentary.

Congratulations, Palin. In the ever shrinking world of publishing, 300,000 copies is quite an accomplishment.

Lindsey Graham Rips Eric Holder Over Military v. Civilian Capture of Terrorists

South Carolina’s own Lindsey Graham can be a wishy washy RINO more often than not, but every now and then, he comes through for us. Watch him turn Eric "nation of cowards" Holder into a blubbering mess over questions a second year law student could breeze through: Graham in less than five minutes, has proven the painfully obvious--the Obama administration is making their legal policy towards terrorism up as they go along without the slightest respect to history or legal precedent. What they are doing is causing a mess of contradicting requirements that are going to stmyie military, intelligence and law enforcement officials which will eventually have to be sorted out by the courts. That will take years and most certainly involve overturned convictions. Given the immediate and brutal nature of terrorism and counter-terrorism methods, we cannot spare the time it would take to untangle the morass.

In a more specific sense, you are going to have military personnel with a chance to capture a high value terrorist target, perhaps even bin laden himself, have to delay the capture while they consult a JAG for legal advice. If he does get captured, he can clam up until he is granted a lawyer even if he has information we have avital need to know now, such as the location of a dirty bomb set to go off in a major metropolitan area. If all that is not bad enough, we have no idea where the terrorist can be tried when it is all said and done.

The problem boils down to military captures ought not to be civilian arrests no matter how much the Obama administration wants them to be. I do not know if the problem is the typical contempt progressives have for the military or if, as Graham all but comes right out and says, holder is too dumb to be in charge of establishing the policy on prosecuting terrorists, but the decision to take the matter away from the military is going to have dire consequences.

The policymakers cannot even offer a defense for the change in the first place!

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

“The Next phase’ is an ironic entry in the fifth season. It was intended to bea budget saving bottle show--a highly necessary one, considering other episode had gone over budget--but wound up being one of the most expensive of the series because of the phasing special effect used throughout. Like most bottle episodes, it is just sort of there. It has a neat hook, but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about it.

The Enterprise is called to assist a crippled Romulan vessel. One assumes bygones are bygones over the whole brainwashing la Forge to be an assassin, attempting to overthrow the Klingon Empire, and the aborted invasion of Vulcan. The Federation is chock full of forgiving souls, no? la Forge and Ro beam from the Romulan ship to the Enterprise, but their patterns are lost due to some romulan doohickey. They are presumed dead.

They presume themselves dead for a while there, too, as they cavort about as corporeal beings like Nicolas cage and Andre Brauer in City of Angels. Ro in particular cotemplates her people’s religious beliefs about life after death. She had previously held such “superstitions” in contempt. The two battle dastardly Romulans as they figure out away to convince data theyare still alive. They succeed and data arrages some other thingamabob to under what the first thingamjiggy did and recover the two.

I hope I am not getting too technical here. Much of this episode previews some of the worst pseudoscience terminology, effects, and solutions of VOY. That ain’t a good thing.

I do not dislike “The Next Phase.” It just brings bac memories of being taught by some of the more paranoid elements of Bob Jones University fundamentalists that demons andangels are constantly battling one another around us on somespirtual plane we as natural, sinful people cannot see. Talk about spooking a little kid out, no?

It is true I am no fan of Ro, either. While she does appear to be a fan favorite, I think her character was annoying undeveloped. She is completely unsympathetic because she causes friction just to be doing it. Even here, the crew missed la forge, but gave nary a thought to her. When I think she almost became the Bajoran lead on DS9, thereby removing the possibility of the miles better Nana visitor as Kira Nerys, I cringe and thank the heavens Michelle Forbes thought a career in straight to video b-movies was a better idea than sticking with Trek.

Your mileage may vary with it, but I cannot see how one could find anything to elevate “The Next Phase” beyond run of the mill.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Emily Scott

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "I, Borg"

It has been a long string of mediocre episodes. Thank goodness we finally get to one. While I enjoy “I, Borg” for the most part, my fondness for it has diminished because of subsequent Trek, notably Star Trek: First: Contact. Many fans do not appear to pay much attention to the fact events in “I, Borg” and the “Descent” two part episode which serves as the Borg’s final televised appearances for TNG are ignored. I am glad they are, mind you. First Contact is my favorite of all the trek movies because it recaptures the ominous, unstoppable dread of a Borg invasion not felt since “Best of Both Worlds” with the personal wounds of Picard. Keeping “I, Borg” in honest continuity would have ruined it.

There is an inherent problem with using the Borg repeatedly as will eventually be demonstrated by VOY; if they are an unstoppable menace, how come our heroes are constantly able to stop them? It is doubly difficult because the Borg were presented as a force of nature, perpetually devouring every civilization in its path. There is not much room for variation there. These guys area tsunami. Or at least they were. Half the Delta Quadrant had never heard of them while the other half lived in mortal terror. But that is one of many, many gripes about VOY with no place here. The point is their return has to involve a unique twist to preserve their menace. In that regard, “I, Borg” succeeds.

The Enterprise encounters a downed Borg scout ship with one survivor who is cut off from the Collective. They take it on board the ship to study, hoping to find some effective way of fighting the Borg. A contrast develops between Picard and La Forge as the Borg is nursed back to health and studied. Picard still suffers from the emotional scars of his assimilation. He initially has no problem searching for a way to wipe them out. La Forge, always one to enter doomed relationships, befriends the Borg and names it Hugh.

As Hugh reasserts his individuality, it becomes more difficult to consider using him as a weapon, even when they develop a way to interject a virus into the Collective which would theoretically stymie them. Picard eventually heeds la forge’s advice, meets with Hugh, and decides he is a person--homesick, no less--who ought to be released. So that is what they do. It is this personal conflict that made the episode enjoyable back then. Viewing the situation in hindsight, Picard made a truly bad moral decision.

Before getting existential, let us talk about this in practical terms. Picard was assimilated, which is most certainly the most traumatic experience of his life. No one at Starfleet knows what kind of long term effects assimilation has, but they do know while assimilated, Picard was intent on invading Earth and killed 11,000 people in the process. Even though he was allowed back into command with no apparent strings attached, Starfleet brass has to be wary. So when he finds a Borg and opts to nurse it back to health and let it go rather than hand it over to Starfleet for study or even notify them of it , why does no admiral jerk him back as a potential traitor? He does eventually get scolded, but is a full season later. Too little too late.

On a related note, I am going to concede Hugh is like one of those babies born in an incubator from “Q Who?” rather than someone assimilated into the collective like Picard since he had no sense of self to assert. Conceding the point rationalizes why there was no effort to remove Hugh’s implants as was a priority for Picard. They would not have been freeing a prisoner of cybernetic implants but mutilating a Borg. Such would have been an immoral act.

But introducing an element through Hugh that would have destroyed the Borg is not an immoral act at all. I think Picard made the wrong decision. Yes, he would have been committing genocide, but by his inaction, he has allowed a bigger genocide to continue as the Borg continue to assimilate other species. The act could have been justified by a simple question--would the outcome have be better if the Borg win/ The answer is obviously no. it is the same train of thought justifying the firebombing of Dresden or dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagazsaki. All three are arguably immotal acts, but it would have been more immoral to allow the Nazis and Japanese to continue their atrocities.

It would have been more interesting a had that been the moral conflict. Instead, the conflict was moot. Hugh was not an individual prior to his capture. He was an individual for only a short time in which it seemed cruel to use him, but he is destinedti lose that individuality as far as anyone knows, so the condition on which picard made his decision was temporary. You cannot make lasting decisions based on temporary circumstances. There isa big picture involved. Picard blew it.

But I can only knock off onestar for that. It is exciting tosee the Borg again. There was more potential in the story than we got ot of it, but it is still one of the best episodes of the series if for no other reason than the subsequent borg appearance falls even further short. I have to take what I can get, you know?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Ashley Tisdale in a Bikini

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Left Goes Postal on Sarah Palin

Yes, I was tempted to use “going Muslim” instead of “going postal” in the title because I really want that meme to catch on. Help spread it, will you? I am not surprised it has happened, though the veracity is amazing, the left has attacked Sarah Palin in earnest since Going Rogue was released. The entire lefty photosphere is at code red. Andrew Sullivan, who seems enormously obsessed with Palin’s uterus for a gay man, live blogged her appearance on Oprah, for heaven’s sake! So why is the left going after private citizen Palin who has expressed no concrete desire to run for public office in the future?

The reason is--please pardon the upcoming pun--the elephant in the room no one wants to admit; Palin is the most obvious Republican candidate for president right now whether anyone wants her to be or not. The left has stepped up its attack in response. Seriously, do you really believe a CNN poll that finds less than one in four think a former governor is too inexperienced to be president, but Barack Obama, who has never run so much asa lemonade stand, is just fine has a legitimate methodology? To the right’s credit, even George F. Will has been warming up to her. The battle lines are clearly being drawn, but what is the path for Palin the politicos are seeing?

It is actually pretty easy to figure out. Palin could cruise to victory in the Iowa primary by courting the evangelical vote. I think she has a better shot at them than Mike Huckabee, particularly if she will be more open about her religious faith. She will besetting herself up for attack by secular leftist, but nothing rallies evangelicals more than that. Huckabee knows it, too. He has openly complained about the attention she has been getting versus him at a time when critics are lambasting her in order to influence opinion negatively while Huckabee has gotten afree pass thus far.

She will have to concede New Hampshire, but big deal. There are probably enough independent-minded voters there who like her libertarian inclinations to give her a respectable third place victory. Winning New Hampshire is not key to securing the nomination.

Then comes the promised land--South Carolina. You other 49 states may not like our sensibilities, but we have been instrumental in shaping the nomination process over the years. You would might have had John McCain as the nominee in 2000 if not for us The New York Times would have quickly forgotten he was their favorite Republican and remembered Al Gore was still running. Flas ahead to 9/11 when gore considers it a crime scene and does something dumb like tries the masterminds behind it in civilian court.

Oops.

South carolina has a unique blend of religious fervor and horse sense. We also like our republicans fiesty and Bob Jones University approved. Plus, Palin likes to talk about lipstick on pigs. Mark Sanford likes to carry pigs into the legislature in order to complain about pork spending. One is not too huge astep from the other.

If the anti-Palin RINOs are still hanging on, they might split the vote enough in Florida for Palin to win a plurality. It is a winner take all state that Charlie Crist unfortunately handed to McCain. We are owed for it to go in our favor next time around, no?

Granted, there are many ifs involved, especially if the GOP does something stupid like decide it owes the Bush family an apology and rams Jeb through to the nomination. But Palin would be in good standing for Super Tuesday as things look now. I can see her doing quite well in most red and purple states while the stragglers pick up blue states in moral victories or whatever they consider them.

Do not think this analysis is lost on the left. There is no one on the left or right who does not believe 2012 could be Palin’s year.

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "Imaginary Friend"

I tried to sit through this one again for a full review, but I just could not. ‘Imaginary Friend” is further proof trek does not do children well. It is a double disappointment because the idea of a child’s imaginary friend coming to life in a nightmarish way has uch potential. But the execution here is very poor. Writer Brannon Braga demonstrates why VOY and ENT will besuch mediocre efforts when he becomes responsible for their story directions.

The plot is a terribly contrived mess of elements of some of the worst TOS and TNG episodes. We have a troubled, lonely kid with an overactive imagination who causes trouble for the crew. I just more or less described “Charlie X,” “And the Children Shall Lead,” “The Bonding” “Hero Worship,” and now “Imaginary Friend.” too many of those episode I just listed have the specific plot of children becoming involved with malevolent aliens, so there is truly nothing new here.

I suggest skipping this one. You will not be missing anything, particularly if you have watched much trek in the past. If so it will not be difficult to figure out everything that happens anyway.

Rating; * (out of 5)

Bryce Dallas Howard

Monday, November 16, 2009

Edward Woodward (1930-2009)

The great British actor Edward Woodward passed on earlier today. He was 79. Like any child of the ‘80’s, Woodward was and forever shall be The Equalizer, but he had a long, celebrated career in British and American cinema which I have enjoyed for years.

Besides The Equalizer, Woodward had two other major roles I really liked. The first was in Breaker Morant as an Australian lieutenant being court-martialed by the British for alleged atrocities committed during the Boer War. Chalk that one up to my interests in law and history, but I have liked this film since it was in heavy rotation on various cable channels back in the early ’80’s. I recall Woodward has to defend his actions with the rationale he is fighting a new war for a new century. I should track the movie down again. It would probably resonate even louder now.

My second favorite Woodward film is The Wicker Man. If you have not seen it, do not let the awful Nicolas Cage remake from 2006 deter you. It is one of those terrifying British films of the ’70’s that calls upon the pagan tradition of that country in spooky ways American culture cannot quite muster. Bonus points for Woodward playing a devout Christian in way over his head investigating a modern day ritualistic cult.

Woodward was a singer, stage actor, war gaming hobbyist, and many other things. By all accounts, he wasa perfect gentlemen whom everyone liked. I am sorry to knowhe is gone.

Godspeed, Mr. Woodward.

Doctor Who-- "The Waters of Mars"

Up until this point, the Doctor Who seasonal specials have been lackluster. Last Christmas’ love song to steam punk was full of so many plot holes about the only fun aspect of the episode was counting them. The less said about the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang check out Michelle Ryan’s behind suffered through at Easter, the better. “The Waters of Mars” has made up for both of them.

The story features a lot of homage to past Who. There an air of claustrophobia with people trapped in aremotelocation by a seemingly unstoppable creature that harkens back to the peter trough ton years. Various other aspects bring back memories of “The Fires of Pompeii’ and “Journey’s End” with the sense of tragedy from “Doomsday.” it all melds together perfectly.

The doctor lands on mars in 2059 and is immediately captured by a group of international explorer who have established Earth’s first base on Mars. After defusing the tense situation of him being a trespasser, it dawns on the doctor hehasarrived at a key point in history. Everyone on the base is supposed to die today. Their deaths inspire future generations to continue exploring. It is one of the fixed points in time that cannot be altered. The Doctor hastily opts to leave before he affects events.

Two of the base personnel drink water which is contaminated by parasites. They become zombie-like creatures by cheap special effects, but still effectively frightening. Anyone they splash with water becomes infected, too. The doctor realizes this must be how they all die and thereforedoeshis best to stay out of the way. Yet, it isclear his conscience bothers him. He is determined to leave anyway.

He hassome nice monentswith guest star Lindsay Duncan, who plays rare middle-aged companion capt. Adelaide Brooke. Brooke was inspired to becomean astronaut when she encounteredadalek during their conquest of Earth in “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.” it uncharacteristically spared her. The doctor replies that it is because her death is set in time. The revelation leads to her convincing him to confess they are all going to die today because they have to.

Brookedoesnot accept that. She rallies the rest of her people to escape as all of the infectedzombiescircle around. The doctor, clearly troubled, heads for the TARDIs and is nearly there before he changes his mind. He eventually rescues everyone by getting the TARDIS to the base before thezobiesbreak through.

All that is esciting andwell done. I even liked the robot that was Cleary a nod at Wall* E. usually, I think think Russell T.Davies isbeing too cutesy for his own good when hedoes stuff like that. It was welcome comic relief. All that said, it is the final moments that make the episode.

What changed the doctor’s mind is the realization the Time lords were the only obstacle to him altering any bit of history he wished. Now they are gone. Hecan do anything he wants. He is, for all intents and purposes, agod. When he takes the three survivors back to Earth, all but Brookeare terrified of him and run off. Brooke stays behind because she has suddenly realized the Doctor hasalrteredthefuture forever in away that was not meant to be.

I have to admit the sudden change in him was startling. Killing the daleks to end the Time War, and destroying Pompeii to preserve the timeline among other brutal acts have put Immanuel Kant’s theories on human nature into action. The doctor now feels hecan do anything because there is no one to tell him hisactsare immoral. He starts to boast of saving significant and “little people’ because, as the last, triumphant Time Lord, he sets the rules.

Brooke says no one should have that much power. The timeline should not have been changed. sheand the rest of her people should have died for subsequent generations to have their moment. She walks into her house, pulls out her gun, and commits suicide. Her actionsareenough to convince the Doctor there are still consequence to his actions. Ood sigma appears to remind him he is nearing the end of his life. The Doctor, distraught, heads off to parts unknown in the TARDIS.

“The Waters of Mars” is dark, particularly the end, but very good. I can even forgive the cheap special effects done on the water creatures because they wind up being incidental to thereal plot, which is how power without ultimate responsibility has ultimately corrupted the Doctor into believing the ends justify the means. I havea hunch it is aset up for the doctor taking on a humancompaion yet again to stay grounded. Catherine Tate returns in the next special as Donna Noble. It cannot be so obvious that he wants her guidance now, but something along those lines must be up. I am anxious to see. For the previous two specials, I did not care much. That is the mark of a good episode.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Star Trek: The Next Generation-- "The Perfect Mate"

This makes two episodes in a row featuring an ill advised wedding. It is definitely odd the installments were not spaced apart more wisely. “The Perfect Mate“ is not that great an episode, but I give it higher marks than I normally would because of its unintentional hilarity.

I am not talking about the laughable idea some hot little number played by Famke Janssen would go for a guy like Picard. I wasted all my amusement at the similar absurdity of of someone who looks like Ashley Judd not only having the hots for Wesley, but patient enough to lead him around because of his incompetence with women. It is actually because her actions here reveal about Picard the ex ladies man.

The Enterprise is escorting a delegation carrying a peace offering for a warring planet. Along the way, the crew is forced to rescue some Ferengi. Take heart, though. These Ferengi are more in line with the DS9 variety. Even though they are not there yet, they are more tolerable than the interpretive dancing toads they have been prior. Through their shenanigans, it is revealed the peace offering is a women set for a prearranged marriage.

Kamala is a genetically engineered empath who can sense whatever desires a man has and fulfill them completely. Think of her as an Orion slave girl with the same effect on men. Every male from riker on down to the Ferengi have trouble resisting her feminine charm. Every man that is except for Picard. His resistance attracts her to him instead.

To be honest, Picard does have a certain thing for her but he is able to cast it aside while all the other males have to get as far away from her as possible. So picard is just not that excited about women. Keep in mind what I wrote above. Kamala will fulfill every male fantasy, sexual or otherwise. Any guy who was set to spend the rest of his life with an attractive woman willing to do that would have her engaged in the most vile, hardcore adult movie action one could imagine. Even for one designed to do such things, her innate sense of free will has to make her repulsed at the prospect.

Along comes boring old Picard, who tells her he falls asleep every night with an old book in his hands. Surely that would bore her to tears? But considering she is facing a lifetime of waking up staring at a shirtless, chaps wearing midget dangling from the chandelier with a bullwhip coiled in his teeth when her husband walks in carrying whipped cream and a set of jumper cables, life with Picard sounds pretty good.

It is kid of pitiful, when you think about it. A woman would have to be incredibly unique to find a man like Picard exciting. I cannot even begin to picture woman who would thrill him. Some middle aged, childless spinster too ornery for anyone else, but devoted to Picard enough to satisfy his boring whims while knowing when to stay the heck out of his way, which, one assumes, is virtually every minute of his life. Seemingly, kamala can do that, but alas, it cannot happen. Picard laments what might have been ever so subtly, but I still think hereally does not care.

Tim O’Connor starred as Kamala’s escort. You may remember him as Dr. Huer from the campy Buck Rogers in the 25th Century back in the ’70’s. I remember being surprised to see him. He and David Soul are among a handful of actors I am perpetually surprised to find are still alive. Call me crazy if you must.

“The Perfect Mate” is not that great an episode, but it is amusing for what it says about Picard. somewhere down the line, he developed severe gynophobia. Perhaps it was because Jack Crusher’s death left him open t pursue Beverly, but his conscience would not let him. I do not know, but whatever his problem is, it is not normal.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Anne Hathaway

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Doctor Who "The End of Time" Trailer

David Tennant's swan song looks pretty cool.

Blogroll Spotlight XX

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. As usual, these are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title.

American Digest notes how Barack Obama and Mao Tse-Tung are a perfect fit.

Atlas Shrugged says Iran has dismissed Obama on the nuclear deal.

Audacity of Logic on the absurdity of jim Carrey's critque of capitalism.

Big Feed shows how other world leaders greet the Japanese Emperor. to save you some time--they do not bow.

Book of Sarah covers theweek that was for Sarah Palin.

Camp of the Saints chronicles our disloyal current administration.

Classic Liberal blasts the mainstream media.

Daley Gator is a fan of rick perry.

Free Speech Politics has an open letter to Obama.

In a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad has photos from Veteran's Day in Jacksonville.

Large Regular has Christopher Walken doing Larry Craig. not literally doing larry Craig. It is an interpretive reading. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Little Miss Attila has found a method to Obama's madness.

MAinfo wonders why terrorists have Constitutional rights. you and me both. Do they not despise them in the first place?

No Sheeples Here! writes of the DC sniper's rendevous with satan. Burn! Literally.

Other McCain hit 3 million visitors this week. congratulations!

Paco Enterprises does not want KSM tried in civilian court, either.

Right-Wing Extreme has the Joke of the Week.

Six Meat Buffet points out football players aredumb.

Troglopundit notices we are getting slack about chopping down the rainforest. Where is my chainsaw?We also have to save Jennifer Aniston from the restless natives.