Thursday, March 31, 2011

Formspring Question #124--Unique Animal Edition

A conservative christian scifi fan, who's also a huge baseball fanatic!?! I congratulate you, Mr. Jeffords. You truly are one of a kind. ;)
Thanks. I like what I like.

X-Files--"The Unnatural"

It is an incredibly fortunate circumstance for ‘The Unnatural” to come up on Opening Day. I am a baseball fanatic, and therefore very much in tune with the mysticism attached to the game. Win or lose, there is something magical about the game. In his rookie outing as a television writer and director, David Duchovny masterfully captures the lore of baseball with some tough social themes, all while tying it all into The X-Files mythology. That is not easy to do in 44 minutes of screen time.

On a random Saturday in his office, Mulder discovers an old photo of the alien bounty Hunter alongside Authur Dales in 1948 New Mexico. Mulder visit’s the man who turns out to be the brother of the dales we know--Darren McGavin was ill and could not reprise his role--and learns the story of how he, as a cop in Roswell, New Mexico, was assigned to protect a Negro League player named Josh Exley.

Exley is secretly one of the gray aliens from the Roswell crash of 1947. At some point after the crash, he watched a baseball game and fell in love with it. He assumed the form of a black man in order to play, believing the color of his skin would keep him out of the big leagues. He was such a success, he attracted the attention of the KKK. (In New Mexico? Eh, maybe.) dales was assigned to be his body guard. The two form a fast friendship in spite of the color barrier and eventually, when Dales discovers what Exley truly is, the planetary barrier, as well.

All the while, the Alien Bounty Hunter hunted for Exley out of fear he might expose the colonization project. He nearly does when he bleeds acid after being beaned by a pitch. The Alien Bounty Hunter discovers Exley. He demands exley change into his true form, but Exley refuses, choosing to die as a man.

I remember back in the day being fearful over how this episode would turn out. Allowing Duchovny to write and direct an episode was a concession to his ever louder grumbling about being stuck on the series. One feared, with his well known overblown ego, this could turn out embarrassingly self-indulgent. Imagine my surprise to find out how well done “The Unnatural” turned out to be.

The script carries the central theme of racism without being preachy. You will have to excuse my shock a white liberal from Hollywood can manage to do a story in which an alien is hated by his own people for abandoning them for a game decides to take on the form of a black man whites hate for his potential to be the next Jackie Robinson all while not getting bogged down in a new writer’s compulsion to Say Something Really Important. The script never gets preachy, nor does the fate of Exley suffer from maudlin overtones. Duchovny decides to contrast the scene of Exley’s death with the famous baseball lesson he gives Scully. Yes, shippers. This is the episode.

Speaking of Scully, “The Unnatural” features the best interpretation of her we have seen in years. She is fun and funny. Confident with being witchy. A very appealing person after many episodes of her either aggressively contrary, or pitifully lonely and ready to fall for the attentions of even the most unappealing men. I am including Mulder in that, as he is often a royal jer--though not here. I once read Ken Levine, a writer for MASH and Cheers, once say it was impossible to writer or direct actors after the fifth season of a series because they swear they know their characters better than anyone. “The Unnatural” confirms theory. Duchovny certainly has a grasp on how to make Mulder and Scully fun, likable characters after a string of some tough episodes.

But what makes ’The Unnatural” great is not all Duchovny. He surrounded himself with a great cast. M. Emmet Walsh plays his usual grumpy old man routine which believably dissolves when recalling the death of his friend Exley. Jesse L. Martin plays the humble Exley, an alien/man rejected by all parties, but thrives through his love of the game. Daniel Duchovny, David’s brother, stars as an opposing team player. Mark Snow turns in a wonderfully low key score full of acoustic guitars to compliment the lazt feel of a minor league baseball game and some soulful gospel twinged numbers. Good stuff.

I like ’The Unnatural” for far more reasons that fondness for baseball. I am not certain the concept fits in well with what we know of the series mythology, but even nitpicky me does not care. “The Unnatural‘ is a wonderful story done fantastically well for a first time writer/director.

Shippers would be upset if I did not include mulder teaching Scully to hit a baseball, so here you go, folks:.Rating: **** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

A new episode of The Big Bang Theory means it is Kaley Cuoco Day!

It is Opening Day!

Are you as excited for a new season of baseball as I am?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Forest for the Trees

Think saving the rainforests is paramount? Think again:
These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster."
A fifty to one ratio? Sounds like the rainforests are doing quite well without environmentalist intervention.

(Via: American Digest)

Doctor Who Series Six Trailer

Is that Lily Cole 40 seconds in? I believe so.

X-Files--"Milagro"

When asked to list one’s favorite episodes of The X-Files, “Milagro” 9Spanish for “miracle’) is inevitably near the top of the list. It is, by the way, the only sixth season on episode to be so honored. We are on the slow decline towards the end of the series already, folks, with only a few truly bright spots left. The cynic in me believes “Milageo” is highly regarded because it “reveals” for the first time scully is in love with Mulder. It is also one of the few episodes to sex her up. But I would like to think there is a better reason.

“Milagro” is a novel--pardon the pun-- piece of television. We just do not get much in the medium quite so creative and existential. A writer who moves next door to Mulder is working on a murder mystery novel in which a killer removes his victims hearts with his bare hand. Somehow, the writer has managed to resurrect a Brazilian psychic surgeon--the kind who allegedly removed illness from people, but is actually removing bloody chicken entrails or some such.--who is committing for real the murders he is writing about.

The writer is on the periphery of the murder investigation when he meets Scully in the apartment building’s elevator. He immediately becomes enamored with her. She seems strangely drawn to him as well because he has such a skill at sizing her up. As with Eddie van Blundt as Faux Nulder, scully’s profound loneliness draws her to anyone who seeks to understand her. She is added to the novel as a character, which puts her on a collision course with the killer.

She is saved from death at the last minute by the writer destroying his manuscript before the surgeon can rip her heart out. Or does he do all the right things, but she survives because clyde bruckman once told her she would never die? It is not made clear, but it is also irrelevant. The issue is lost in the tearful embrace she and Mulder share when he discovers her alive, and the suicide of the writer near the building’s incinerator by the removal of his own heart.

The above summary does not do the episode justice. It is a story within a story, where the writer’s imagination tragically comes to life with the resurrection of the Brazilian psychic surgeon, but still demonstrates the often fat separation between life as we dream it--he is in love with Scully--and how we are forced to live it--she is in love with someone else. Sometimes even our fantasies betray us, so as when the psychic surgeon goes after Scully. The writers destroys his work and then himself to prevent her murder.

It is easy to get a Fight Club vibe from “Milagro,‘ sans any of the film’s whiny theme that modern men cannot all be rock stars, so they must destroy society in revenge. “Milagro” takes the best elements--the existential bits about creating a person to allow one’s id to ru unrestrained--and plays it out in a fascinating manner.

I rate ‘Milagro’ highly because of its uniqueness. One suspects a television executive would scratch his head if such an existential concept were pitched today as a regular episode of a television series. Further proof television is rapidly going downhill. There is very little this daring on the idiot box these days.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Vida Guerra

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Formspring Question #123--Reese Withernewhusband Edition

Are you in mourning now that Reese Witherspoon is hitched again?
Nah. The whole "stalking Reese Witherspoon" bit has run its course. Even I do not enjoy joking about it any longer. She is still hot, though.

Brett Favre May Join Carolina Panthers

Even a headshot will not stop this guy from playing in the NFL:
Don’t discount the possibility of Brett Favre, who turns 42 in October, returning next season, but not with the Vikings. Maybe Carolina."
It is not like the Carolina Panthers could become an even bigger humiliation on the field, anyway. off the field, too. is there another team in the NFL with as many murders, spousal abusers, and drug users among their ranks as Carolina? I think not. What is one creaky old fart in that motley crew?

(Via: Troglopundit)

X-Files--"Trevor"

I have complained about the post-Vancouver episodes shift away from dark horror and weird science towards a lighter, more relationship oriented tone. Overall, that has been prominent in the sixth season, but the back half has made an effort to slide in some classic themes. “Trevor” is a case in point. The episode is an obvious effort to create a memorable villain in the mode of Robert “Pusher” Modell. Pinker rawls does not quite measure up to Modell, but I will give the writers a ’B” for effort. Emotional impact trumps science, but it is not done well enough to elevate “Trevor” to the top tier of The X-Files.

Pinker Rawls is a prone to violence prisoner in Mississippi serving time for stealing $90,000. He assaults another inmate while they are preparing the prison grounds for an oncoming tornado. He gets put in the hot box for the duration of the storm. He gets struck by lighting, which grants him the power to walk through solid objects. The hot box is blown away by the tornado, and Rawls is assumed dead. No one can explain how the warden who put him in the hot box wound up subsequently split in half.

Mulder and Scully investigate, and quickly decide pinker is still alive, but now has the ability to pass through objects, though he changes their composition by doing so. The agents assume, by following a trail of horribly mangled bodies, Rawls is looking for his ex-girlfriend under the assumption she has the stolen money. In fact, she gave birth to his son shortly after he went to prison, but did not tell him. She gave the kid to her sister so she could start a new life. Rawls goes looking for his kid.

Fortunately, the agents find him first. Surmising rawls cannot pass through glass since his abilities are based on electricity, Scully hides with Trevor in a phone booth. Desperate, no? they are saved by Trevor’s mother, who runs Rawls over with her car. He passes through the car, but not the windshield. In other words, he gets chopped in half.

The major flaw of “Trevor” is poor writing. The script wants us to sympathize with the characters, but throws too much at us. Rawls is a psychopath we could not care less about at any point, even in the brief moment he attempts an emotional connection with his son. We have a tough time caring about trevor, too. He is not introduced until the final act, and is therefore on screen for less than seven minutes. It is bad form to introduce a major character out of the blue so late in the story. His mother is the worst. She abandons her son entirely, takes rawls’ stolen money to build a new life, and then loses her new husband in a flash when he discovers what she really is. Exactly who is it we are supposed to feel for here? They are all hard luck cases to the point of absurdity.

“Trevor” has some logical problems, too. Rawls visits his ex-girlfriend’s sister at a time when we still think he is looking for the money. At no point in the confrontation is any indication given he is looking for anything but the money. He is there late at night, however. Why would a seven year old boy not be home at that time? The revelation should have come then. On a scientific note, there is inconsistency on exactly how Rawls’ abilities work. Supposedly, his clothes cannot go through solid objects with him, but at one point, scalding soup thrown at him passes through his shirt. He also chases Scully and Trevor in his boxers. I guess that is a disturbing enough image as it is without him being nude as he should be.

“Trevor” has flaws, but it is still an entertaining episode. I probably appreciate it because it reminds me of older episodes. The script does not resonate with all the emotion obviously intended. There are some serious logical problems, too. But if you can mindlessly be entertained, it is a decent view.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Candice Swanepoel

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Case for War in Libya: Nine Days Late and a Case for War Short

I skipped over Barack Obama's actual speech because I had a hamburger with my name on it waiting in the dining room, but I have since read the text. One safely assumes I have the substance down, but if I have missed anything by not watching Obam-uh live, blame the hamburger. It was tasty.

The main thing I notice is how similar the argument for Obama’s fighting Muammar Qaddafi are to Bush 43’s mission to oust Saddam Hussein, save for Obama’s false comparison that we are not going it alone in Libya like Iraq. Progressives have repeated that “going it alone” line about Iraq so often, they genuinely believe it. The coalition for libya is smaller than that of Operation Iraqi Freedom with no clear leadership. Obama essentially said in his speech that America was leading by following. At least we have finally settled on following the Canadians into war.

There are a few other differences with Libya besides a smaller coalition and a game of hot potato for which country is going to take responsibility. Most notably, there was not months of lead up to convince the American people the war was a good idea, Congress was not consulted before the attack, and Obama fumbled around for nine days before addressing the nation in this lackluster, clear as mud speech.

Oh, and Europe is far more heavily dependent on Libyan oil than the United States, so this really is a war for oil--on behalf of European people who are protesting war mongering Americans for fighting it. As an added bonus, many of the Libyan rebels are al Qaeda operatives, so at least European peacenikds can take some solace we have found common cause with the enemy, even if it is due to Obama’s profound lack of leadership skills and savvy in international affairs. Maybe he is creating another junior year abroad for radical Muslim freedom fighters like Afghanistan in the ‘80’s. That eventually worked out swell for us, did it not?

The administration cannot even decide if there are American interests at stake. Clinton says there are; Gates retorts no, there are not. You can debate whether the free flow of oil from Libya to Europe is in America’s best interest as adamantly as you can debate whether france blowing up tanks ought to be part of a no fly zone mission. What you cannot debate is Obama’s one track mind. In his speech, he used the word ’hope” four times and “change’ a whopping nine. You see how well that turned out for the united States. Maybe Libya will fare better with it.

Let us not even get started on what kind of regime may replace Qaddafi when he is finally dislodged. Since Obama has set forth no discernable goals for the kinetic military action which looks suspiciously like a war to force regime change, much less a timeline to achieve said goals, I think we are playing this one by ear. Or waiting for the Canadians to come up with something. I am not really sure.

The sad bottom line here is that elitist progressives, generally deadest against military campaigns and incompetent in how to either sell or fight them, start them, anyway. No leadership. No clue objectives. No interest in the American peopled approval. Really no interest in fighting it at all. What is this, then? You cannot be a real president, even the most progressive one in history, without launching a war of your own? Hope and change for Libya, indeed.

Formspring Question #122--Sophie's Choice in Reverse Edition

Reverse Sophie's Choice- Who do you send to the death camp, your Mom or Dad?
Congratulations for asking the most tasteless question thus far. You must be proud.

It is no choice, really. My father was a habitual drunk and adulterer who walked out on his family when I was fourteen. His behavior screams, "Pick me! Pick me!"

Regardless, my mother has been dead for eight years last Friday. my worthless father wins by default.

X-Files--"Alpha"

“Alpha" demonstrates two consistent points regarding The X-Files. One, when a filler episode is done by a freelance writer and a new director, the episode never captures the feel of the series quite right. Both the characters and general tone are usually off. Two, when the series attempt a variation on a common horror theme--in this case, Chinese werewolf legend--it is often too unfamiliar for the audience to immerse themselves in. On a personal level, I am not a fan of dogs, so not even Andrew Robinson in a guest role saves the episode.

Mulder is lured to California by a lonely, emotionally crippled dog whisperer named Karin Berquist whom he has chatted with online. She calls his attention to two murders which appear to have been committed by a dog with human intelligence. Upon arriving, the agents encounter a crypto zoologist named Ian Detweiler who claims the animal responsible is a supposed extinct breed of dog he captured in China. He is adamant the dog must be captured, but not killed, regardless of the damage the animal causes.

Mulder seeks out Berquist’s expertise as a canine expert. Scully is immediately suspicious--some say jealous, but I think that is an unfair assumption--of Berquist. She suspects berquist is enamored with Mulder because she sees him as about the only person who understands her. Mulder denies the accusation in spite of the ’I Want to Believe” poster hanging on her wall. Regardless, they barely know each other.

The crux of the plot is that Detweiler did not actually capture the supposedly extinct dog, but somehow got transformed into one. At night, he turns into a vicious dog to kill for sport. By vicious, I am referring to four brutal onscreen kills and fifth near miss. Highly gratuitous, but I must compliment to camera angle work. They are all done from the dog’s perspective. After we learn Detweiler is the dog in human form, we get a neat POV shot of the transformation from human to dog. It was probably a budget saving move to avoid costly CGI, but very effective.

Detweiler’s lycanthropy problem is secondary to Berquist’s emotional issues. She does have crush on Mulder, though she lacks the feminine wiles to woo him. So she did manipulate him to California in order to meet him. Yo make up for it--and arguably end her suffering from lupus, she sacrifices herself in order to stop Detweiler, but not before she mails mulder her “I Want to Believe” poster.

I really did not sympathize with Berquitz enough for her plight to resonate with me. I hate to sound cold, but she is one of those people who are so far gone emotionally, you cannot do anything for them. She lives with scores of dogs because she hates people. She found a kindred spirit in Mulder, so she tricked him into coming out to see her. He does not have any emotional connection with her because she is just someone he chatted with online. Feeling guilty, she sacrifices herself to make up for what she has done. Mulder feels guilty about her death because he did not realize how much he meant to her, though what could he have done? The way I look at it, she still manipulated him from beyond the grave. It is difficult o feel for someone like that no matter how much she suffered in life.

I will give "Alpha” this--the guest cast is a blast from the past. I already said Detweiler was played by Andrew Robinson. Robinson has been a popular character actor over the years. Notably for me, he played Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Berquitz was played by Melinda Culea, who played journalist Amy on The A-Team. I am confident they both appeared on that show, but I have not watched it in twenty years. Memory can be a funny thing. I could be wrong there.

I do not think I am wrong in saying “Alpha” is below average. Some of the camera work in terms of perspective and the guest cast save the episode from the cellar, but not by much. Its heart was in the right place with Berquist’s crush on Mulder, but the desired emotion just was not there. The characterizations of the agents were off. Perhaps it was because they were so secondary to the action and irrelevant in the resolution. Then again, Mulder seemed more aloof than usual and Scully meaner when dealing with him and his associates. I do not care about Chinese werewolf legends I have never heard of before, either. “Alpha” is a bad episode on many levels.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Amy Adams

I approve of the new Lois Lane.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Anti-Intellectual Hypocrisy of Earth Hour

Earth Hour, or as it is known around my house, the second and third acts of Mean Girls, was marked last night. At least, I assume it was perhaps in some circles of college town Columbia. Otherwise, any occasion not involving alcohol and fireworks goes unnoticed in South Carolina. It is not because we are dumb people in the Palmetto State. Quite the opposite. We are not going to participate in something so stupid, yet lays claim to being enlightened.

I am reminded of Southern comedian Jerry Clower, who once famously quipped that some people are educated far beyond their intelligence level. I would add many are educated beyond any level of common sense. As proof, note how many go along with such progressive ideas as Earth Hour without a lick of reasoned argument as to why, but count themselves among the intellectuals regardless.

The best way you can demonstrate the stupidly of shutting off the lights for an hour is by remembering this allusion to artists, cartoonists, and various pop culture creators: what has best symbolized a fictional character soundly having a flash of inspiration? That is right--a light bulb flashing on over his head. Remember that, Gaia worshippers, when fumbling around in the dark next year while texting your buddy to congratulate each other on your token gift to the Earth.

Yes, token. So you cut off your lights. Big deal. Your refrigerator was still running. Your washing machine might have been. Bet your computer was still on, too. You have to commit to these things, people. Give up keeping your food cold and fresh. Clean your clothes by hand in a bucket. Forget communicating via the internet. Let us see how committed you really are to this how environmentalism thing.

Cutting off your lights for an hour a year is nothing. I sleep eight hours a night with all mine off, and I would have every stick of furniture in my house made from rain forest wood if I had the option. The good Brazilian kind in which scuff marks from the chain some hippie used to tie himself to the tree had to be sanded off after it was cut down. No, you have to show a bigger commitment,

Alas, the logical suggestion--shut off the life support units at the local hospital--is one I am afraid to suggest. The environmental movement is full of hardcore abortionists and euthanasia enthusiasts who need very little encouragement in pushing their human extinction agenda. We are fast approaching a day when such will be the mainstream. Prediction: Infanticide will be part of the Democrat party platform by 2020. Maybe even 2016.

On second thought, you all should just sit in the dark for an hour a year. Munch on your granola bars, with visions of dancing, hairy arm-pitted lesbians and graying pony tailed hippies dancing by scores of Barack Obama inspired windmills in your head. You will still be hypocritical idiots, but at least you will be harming no one but yourselves that way.

Blogroll Spotlight #87

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 Perspective--Shakira: She-Wolf
American Power--American Progressives Endorse Anarchists in London Protest
Amusing Bunni's Musings--Remembering Knut and a Denver the Guilty Dog Video
Blazing Ct Fr--Gerrt Wilder on the Failure of Multiculturalism
Bluegrass Pundit--Liberal coffee Party Undergoing Civil War
Camp of the Saints--Rule 5--Marika Fruscio
Classic Liberal--Ditch the Planners with Emmy Rossum
Da Tech Guy--The Final Litmus Test for media
Daley Gator--Ah, ve Stories Like This One
Essential Mr. Bill--The Man I'll Never Be
Fishersville Mike--Virginia Loves Sweater Puppies
Gorge's Grouse--"Sawdust in Yer Blood"
In a Mad Mad Mad Mad World--Friday Pin Up: Elizabeth Taylor
Jaded Haven--Invoke
Left Coast Rebel--Libyan Rebels Have Links to al Qaeda
Mind Numbed Robot--SEIU Members Plotting Economic Terrorism?
Other McCain--Parenthood is Noble
Pirate's Cove--If All You See...
Proof Positive--Obama's Bridge to the Future
Randy's Roundtable--The Smartest woman in the World
Sentry Journal--Even a Pawn Can Checkmate a King
Sniper--Breast cup sizes of the World
Teresamerica--Rule 5: Mila Kunis
Troglopundit--This Week in Automotivators
Washington Rebel--I Will, I Am

Do you want a banana?

X-Files--"Arcadia"

“Arcadia” is the famous episode in which Mulder and Scully play. I will admit, shipper though I am not, those elements of the episode were quite humorous. But “Arcadia” is unfairly ignored for the other aspects of the episode, including a highly effective mix of tension and humor, to create a spooky atmosphere. I am a sucker for terror in the middle of peaceful suburbia stories.

The agents go undercover in a San Diego gated community called Arcadia. Three families have disappeared without a trace there in the last seven years. Local police have given up and handed the matter over to the FBI. The neighbors are ultra-friendly, though incredibly nervous and paranoid over Arcadia’s incredibly strict rules being enforced. Mulder tests the waters several times by messing with his mailbox, putting up a basketball hoop, and finally digging a reflecting pool. The neighbors scurry about cleaning up all traces of his alterations. In the meantime, one of their neighbors is attacked by a monster for allowing a light in his front yard to blow out.

What is going on here is that the president of the homeowner’s association, a man who travels extensively in the Far east on business, created a Tulpa, which is a creature that serves a similar purpose as a golem, to prtect the neighborhood. Unfortunately, he cannot control the tulpa as it enforces the community’s rules with extreme prejudice. He gets his in the end when Mulder handcuffs him to a mailbox in order to see if scully is okay. The tulpa kills him for presumably damaging the mailbox by being cuffed to it. No one in Arcadia admits to any knowledge of missing or dead former residents. It is still a top notch place to live--as long as you follow the rules.

I will grant you, on the surface, it is a dumb concept a creature on the loose attacks residents for violations of community guidelines. But the idea fits in so well with the absurd tone of the episode, I can overlook it. Arcadia is this wonderful gated community where rich people compare their belongings, yet they are prisoners there--literally trapped by their own need to conform. Watching them scurry about making certain everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be is more humorous than watching mulder make scully uncomfortable by forcing her to play the little woman for the neighbors. I am confident the latter is what most fans care about in the episode, but I think they are shortchanging “Arcadia” if that is true.

There is a big, logical flaw in the episode. Mulder and scully are posing as prospective homebuyers. This is presumably a way of cutting them some slack in breaking the community rules for the sake of humorously entertaining the audience. The actual homeowners in Arcadia are dealt with swiftly for violations. But how could prospective homebuyers have a mailbox with their name on it or dig up the front yard for a reflecting poll? There is no gated community who would allow non-homeowners to make extensive changes, much less a community in which the rules are enforced by a Tulpa.

It is not a big deal, however. “Arcadia” is fun viewing. It is much like a classic episode of the series in which a very normal setting has something very horrific dwelling within it. But ‘Arcadia” could not have fit in with early episodes because of the husband and wife motif the agents are using as their cover. Now is about the time it would only be funny, as we are in the midst of the do they/do they not have a thing for each other. You know, shippers, “Arcadia” shows most prominently they do not. Mulder continually teases Scully, in public and not, about being a couple. It is clear she cannot stand it. This is the way I prefer them to be--two people with a friendly working relationship in which one can poke fun at the other good naturedly. Elements of potential romance ruins that.

“Arcadia” is fun and moody. I would not call it a classic, but it is an above average episode well worth watching. It came at the right time. It is a throwback to older style episodes, yet really could not have had the undercover married couple aspect back then. The friendly tension between the agents while pretending to be married is a welcome change from the march towards couple-dom the sixth season has been engaged in. thus far.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Jaime Pressly

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Formspring Question #121--Almost Famous Edition

Have you ever met anyone famous?
A few: John Mellencamp, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, Jim DeMint, Pat Robertson, Lech Walesa, Ravi Zacharias, Ann coulter, and Richard Petty. I was once in the same restaurant in Florida with Ted Koppel, if that counts for anything. those were two chance encounters, some meetings through College Republicans at the university of south carolina, and some Regent University speakers I got to meet in person, thereby proving the school was good for something after all.

I attended a lot of comic book conventions in my youth and met many artists and writers in the industry. I have no clue how many you might recognize, but if anyone who worked in comics from the '60's through the mid-'90's come to the southeast, i met them and have the autographs to prove it.

Formspring Question #120--Five for Fighting Edition

The Earth is about to be destroyed by some sort of disaster from space. Choose five science fiction characters to save the planet.
1. James T. Kirk--he has leadership experience during this sort of thing. Remember, in Star Trek: the Motion Picture, he played chicken with V’Ger--and it was V’Ger that blinked.

2. Data--Data is the MacGyver of androids. Unlike spock, he can completely ignore emotions in a crisis in order to focus his encyclopedia brain on a solution.

3. Fourth Doctor--Out of the eleven, I trust him the most to get humans out of a major jam.

4. John Sheridan--he has proven he can make some tough choices for the greater good.

5. Superman--He is not a favorite, but I imagine he could pull something out of his cape if all else fails. It would add a sense of poetry, considering his father was unable to save Krypton from destruction.

Formspring Question #119--Big Spender Edition

Don't you think it is odd the Cogarrette Smoking Man shot Jeffrey Spender dead inside Mulder's office and no one ever noticed?
Bah. No one liked Jeffrey Spender.

But seriously, it has been generally accepted the rationale for being the character back for an episode in the final season was to clear up the matter you brought up. Otherwise, fans had to reconcile why the character’s ultimate fate seemingly had no aftermath.

Not that it is terribly difficult to reconcile. The whole point of the mythology arc was to demonstrate how well the Syndicate could cover up its tracks no matter how deep. They usually called on the Cigarette Smoking Man to do the clean up. It is reasonable to assume he had Spender’s corpse--for the three years we assumed he was dead--after shooting him. While it is never directly said Spender resigned from the FBI, he presumably did. No one would consider his disappearance anything unusual. Or the CSM curtailed any investigation into it if one was ever suggested. How the gunshot fired in the FBI building went unnoticed is anyone’s guess. The CSM did not use a silencer.

None of that rationalizing is particularly strong, but The X-Files had a notorious habit of abruptly getting back to normalcy in episodes immediately airing after monumental arcs with no lingering elements whatsoever. Personally, I thought some of the monster of the week stories coming right after Scully’s diagnosis of cancer which never mentioned she had only months to live were almost farcical in that respect. The show will drop inconvenient elements in a heartbeat if they might get in the way. At least we got some closure with “William” for however many fans were still around at the point.

Formspring Question #118--Whines in the Key of X Edition

I hate it when you blog about nothing but X-Files all week.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #91

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

Sentry Journal links to Barack Obama's Rationale for Reelection: His Middle Name is Hussein.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #90, Blogroll Spotlight #86, and Melanie Laurent.
American Power links to FMJRA #90.
Proof Positive links to Malin Akerman, Blake Lively, and Anne Hathaway.
Say Anything links to Malin akerman, Blake Lively, and Anne Hathaway.
MEJTYYY00 links to Anne Hathaway.
American Perspective links to Melanie Laurent.
Mind Numbed Robot links to Melanie Laurent.
Classic Liberal links to Nukes, Because So Much Wind Will Not Cut It Some roule 5 links; Abbie Cornish, Kaley Cuoco, and Minka Kelly
Fishersville Mike links to Kaley Cuoco.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. 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.

X-Files--"Monday"

“Monday" is the famous alleged homage to Groundhog Day. I say alleged because writers Vince Gilligan and John Shiban have said inspiration was due more to The Twilight Zone episode “Shadow Play.” If I may muddy the waters, I get a bigger Run Lola Run vibe, probably because of Carrie Hamilton’s bad dye job and the presence of a bomb. Yes, I know many include Stargate Sg-1‘s “Window of Opportunity.” I ignore those people.

While there are minor variations each go around, the basic premise is that Mulder’s waterbed springs a leak. The water damages his alarm clock, so he oversleeps. Oversleeping makes him late for a meeting, but he has no choice but to cash his paycheck at the bank across the street. Everyday, he interrupts a desperate man named Bernard’s attempt to rob the bank despite efforts to intervene by his girlfriend, Pam. (Played by Carrie Hamilton, daughter of Carol Burnett.) Scully always winds up in the bank, too. The day ends with Bernard blowing up the bank with a strip of dynamite strapped around his waist, killing everyone.

There are variations: Sometimes Mulder needs to cash the check to pay his rent. Others because his downstairs neighbor is angry at water damage from his leaking bed. Sometimes Mulder is shot by Bernard. Sometimes scully is in the bank already. Other times she interrupts the robbery in progress. Pam is the key to most variations. She tries various means to keep Bernard from carrying out his plan, or she makes contact with Mulder, Scully, or Skinner, but the result is always the same.

Pam assumes Mulder is the key. There is no overt explanation for this, but given that he has the most acute sense of déjà vu during however many cycles of the day Pam suffers through, that must the clue she hangs her theory on. He is the only one willing to listen during most cycles, but he always enters the bank regardless to end the day with the bomb going off. That is until Pam enters the bank, too. At one point, she jumps in front of Mulder as Bernard is about to shoot him. She takes the fatal bullet, remarking that had not happened in any variation before. Her death breaks the cycle.

An interesting point of note is a discussion Mulder and Scully have in the second cycle of the episode. Mulder’s growing sense of déjà vu prompts a discussion between the two on free will versus fate. Mulder thinks déjà vu is repressed memories of things we have done before that bubble up while we are in the exact same situation, but making a new decision to affect a better outcome. Scully disagrees. She believes in fate. One is free to be whatever kind of person one wants to be, but there is an inevitable outcome.

They are having the age old free will v. fate debate. Although there are no theological aspects mentioned, Scully’s argument tacitly acknowledges the problem that free will cannot exist for a human created by an omniscient God who knows all the days of his life long before his existence. If God knows you future already, there is no way to change it. I have had this debate many times with Christians as to whether those are choices you still freely make or if it is just the illusion of free will because you do not know the outcome even though god does and always did. I have no interest in getting into it here. Suffice to say, I accept the latter argument, and am a TULIP Calvinist because of it. Ironic that Scully, a Catholic, argues the Calvinist theological point considering the animosity between Catholics and Calvinists which still lingers today.

Whether Mulder or Scully were ultimately correct is debatable. You could side with Mulder and say Pam was repeating the day until she made the right she of getting herself killed. You could side with Scully and say Pam was destined to die, and there was no way to avoid her death until she gave into her fate. Alas, the resolution does not fit into the theological debate in any appreciable manner, so all we can say David Duchovny is the star of the show, so Mulder is right. If anyone wants to argue the case for scully’s Calvinist theory is presented as the stronger, feel free.

What makes “Monday’ is the performance of Hamilton. We have not been given any indication of how many times she has been dragged through “Monday,’ but it is easy to tell it has been enough times to devastate her. She has an exhausted, heavy bags under her eyes look which is pulled off by--bravely, for certain--Hamilton wearing little make up. She deteriorates even further during the handful of cycles we get to watch, physically and mentally. When she is killed in the end, she almost posses a quiet glee when she realizes her death never happened before, so maybe it is over now. Her performance is haunting. Very powerful. Also sadly poignant considering Hamilton died in 2002 of brain and lung cancer at the young age of 38.

There are nitpicks about the episode which could be mentioned. Most notably that a waterbed would not spring a spraying leak that could drown an alarm clock. A waterbed leak would seep instead. The problem means the entire catalyst for Mulder being late to set events in motion could not happen. But “Monday” is such an engaging episode, I have to let it slide. I credit Hamilton’s performance for most of my enjoyment, but “Monday” is a highly emotional, thought provoking episode in general. The definite highlight of the all too often absurdly humorous sixth season.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Vanessa Hudgens

She is in the new film Suckerpunch. According to most reviews, that is exactly what audiences who shell out $9 to see it feel like they have gotten. Oh, well. Vanessa Hudgens is nice looking.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Formspring Question #117--Michele Bachmann Turner Overdrive Edition

What do you think about Michele Bachmann forming a presidential exploratory committee?
It will not get her anywhere, but she is making all the right people mad playing the game, so I am amused.

I would rather have her as president than Barack Obama.

X-Files--"Aqua Mala"

The worst part about sitting through a monumental mythology arc storyline is the next episode is always filler. Now that we are in the slow decline of the series, the filler episodes are going to be far worse than they ever have before. Case in point; “Aqua Mala” (Spanish for “bad water”0 which starts out as a promising homage to Kolchak the Night Stalker, complete with Darren McGavin as a guest star, buy quickly devolves into farce.

Darren McGavin makes his second appearance as retired FBI Special Agent Arthur Dales is what I lament as a wasted appearance. He should have been part of a much better monster of the week story, perhaps with Mulder and Scully investigating a decades old case of which still has some emotional resonance for him. Instead, he calls them down to Florida in the middle of a hurricane when a tentacled sea monster comes up through the plumbing and murders an entire family.

The X-Files utilizes two techniques to make up for a bad script. One, something horrible happens to a kid. Two, there is a lot of gore. In this case, we get a double whammy. The teaser involves a child being strangled to death by a tentacle coming up through the toilet. (potty training children should avoid ’aqua Mala.” Just sayin’.) The rest of the episode is full of blood and gore, not the least of which is Scully performing an emergency tracheotomy on the local deputy using a pocket knife and a ballpoint pen. Yeesh.

The problem with this is the episode’s heavy emphasis on humor instead of horror. The agents are trapped in a cheap condominium complex with a cast of goofy stereotypical characters, such as a trigger happy conspiracy nut who thinks Castro is about to invade any minute, an obnoxious pregnant Latina and her dumb, unemployed boyfriend,, and a looter pretending he actually lives there instead. Id you predicted the gun nut fires wildly periodically at shadows, the latina gives birth in the middle of it all, her husband is the butt of a myriad of stupid jokes, and the looter steals from the deputy while no one is looking because cannot talk with his makeshift stoma, then you, too, are ready to be a generic television writer.

The horror elements are bad, too. There is no real tension because there are too many attempts at humor. The usual less is more strategy of presenting a monster does not work here, either. All we ever see is a tentacle grabbing its victims from the toilet or bath tub. We are supposed to imagine some huge squid or octopus, but I cannot get passed the image of a rubber prop controlled by wires. The biggest problem with the creature is its destruction. It can live in the sewer system because the hurricane has pushed salt water into the pipes. But exposure to fresh water kills it. No lie, and bad science.

I am disappointed by the characterizations, particularly Scully. Mulder is his usual sardonic self, but Scully is unusually whiny. There are no circumstances in which I can see her abandoning mulder after he has been attacked by the creature, even if she assumes it’s a fatal attack, as she does here. There is too much loyalty between the two agents to give up that easily. Even I could not stand Scully in “Aqua Mala.”

Darin Morgan might have made this kind of episode work, but is long gone by this point. There is nothing to recommend “Aqua Mala.” The humor is so over the top, it does not work. The horror is cheap. The gore is a blatant attempt to cover up the episode’s shortcomings. The starwat that broke the camels back is early on in the episode when the agents find the murdered family’s cat safe and sound in the water of a half filled washing machine. So the cat figured out sitting in fresh water would save it from the monster hours before the FBI agents draw the same conclusion. The FBI should have put that cat in charge of the X-Files instead of Spender and Fowley. Skip “Aqua Mala” for your own good.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Jennifer Lopez

Thursday, March 24, 2011

X-Files--"One Son"

“One Son” marks the culmination of the mythology arc which has been running through the series since the second season. To remind us of this, the opening teaser is a montage of flashbacks from various arc episodes with a narration by Mulder of the coming Armageddon. In case you did not realize the episode was a big deal, every major character involved in the arc makes at least a cameo, and often a forced one that does not add to the story at all. But truth be told, the arc ends in about as big a splash as one could ask for. It is difficult to complain about anything other than how mulder and scully were not a party top much of any of the resolution.

The episode is also heavy on exposition, just like part one. Funnier still, the conspiracy is explained yet again by the Cigarette Smoking man in excruciating detail. This time around, it is not in a last minute narration addition so the audience will not get mired in the story, but an explanation of everything told to Mulder at gunpoint. The scene brings forth two points. One, I was reminded of the old Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Bugs is being held captive by Edward G. Robinson’s gang of crooks. He is goofing around with them, refusing to talk until Robinson pulls a gun on him, at which point bugs blabs a bunch of nonsense at a mile a minute. In ’One Son, Csm taunts Mulder that he did not have the nerve to shoot the last time the agent had him at gun point, but once Mulder cocks the hammer, CSM pulls a Bugs Bunny on him.The second point is that it is the exact same story he told Fowley in the previous episode. When there is a week gap between the two episodes like when originally aired, that is not a big deal, so I cannot criticize it much. But when you watch the episodes back to back, it strikes one as unnecessary overkill.

With that in mind, I will direct you to my review for ”Two Fathers” if you need a refreshed on the last five years of continuity. I spelled it all out in a couple paragraphs there.

There are some strange points to “One Son.” The first is, like yesterday, the near irrelevance of Mulder and Scully to the story. The cliffhanger of Mulder about to honor Cassandra spender’s request to kill her is broken up by the Center for Disease Control which takes them all into custody because they are allegedly exposed to a contagion carried by Cassandra. This leads to the famous shower scene, for which you will all be angry if I do not do this:You are welcome, shippers and perverts alike.

From there, Scully actually disappears for a solid thirty minutes because Mulder will not believe Fowley is part of the conspiracy, so she will not associate with him anymore. Mulder is reduced to a convenient sounding board for the CSM’s Bugs Bunny act because soliloquy is a passe method of exposition in today’s filmed drama. Otherwise, we have secondary characters at the forefront. Jeffrey takes up Mulder’s cause to save his mother. The lone Gunman research fowley’s activities on behalf of Scully, who presumably batted her eyelashes just right to convince them to do so behind Mulder’s back. (I blame them not. I would skinny dip in a lake infested with snapping turtles if scully batted her eyelashes at me.) Krycek shows up to discover Maria Cavarrubias is still being held by the Syndicate after they tested the black oil vaccine on her a year prior. Fowley kinda sorta convinces Mulder, who is thinking with his penis, that she is on the up and up. The funny thing is, in spite of no resolution between the two agents over Fowley’s status, they hook back up to attempt rescuing Cassandra, though they fail. Skinner shows up during the rescue attempt, has two lines, and promptly disappears. His cameo is laughable.

The real heroes among all this strange drama are the faceless rebels. When the syndicate gathers with their families to meet with the alien colonists now that Cassandra is a successful human/alien hybrid, they torch everyone as they have in every episode related to the rebel arc. A few things seem really convenient. For one, the CSM is not there even though he is in charge of the hybrid program. We need him as a villain for the future, so there. Two, I find it odd that Samantha Mulder, in whatever form, was left out of the family members going to meet up with the aliens. Maybe I am reading it wrong, but like the CSM’s absence from the massacre, they needed her for future storylines, so she was spared.

In the end, a guilt ridden Jeffrey Spender requests Mulder and Scully be placed back on the X-Files because he believes the two of them could have saved his mother even though they tried and failed to do so. (In his defense, I am not sure he knew of their efforts there at the last minute.) Exactly why kersh would reinstate two suspended agents and assign them to a special section based on the request of a young, relatively inexperienced agent is a mystery, but that is television for you. In the end, Jeffrey spender is shot and supposed killed by his father for not living up to his legacy like Mulder has.

I have been snaky, but ‘One Son” is as good as resolution to the original mythology arc as one could wish. Subsequent seasons rendered most every bit of the mythology irrelevant, but I cannot fault ‘One Son’ for that. There are some logical flaws, such as Scully’s change of heart for no reason after storming off, characters who need to appear later for no good reason not being a Part of the meeting with the aliens even though they should have been, and the appearance of various supporting characters for no good reason other than than a rousing chorus of “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here,’ but I am still going to give this one four stars because it wraps up a five year arc without any serious gaps, all things considered.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

There is not a new episode of The Big Bang Theory tonight, but I have more photos of Kaley Cuoco than there are new episodes left, so it is Kaley Cuoco Day anyway.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

X-Files--"Two Fathers"

While there is some debate among fans when the ‘five year plan” began, the most popular theory is the mythology arc for The X-Files was crafted after Gillian Anderson got pregnant. In order to explain her maternity leave, she was to be abducted as part of a grand conspiracy to create human/alien hybrids. Assuming that is true, the story arc began in 1994. “Two Fathers,” set in 1999, brings the original mythology to a head. Math is not my strong suit, but I am confident 1994-1999 is five years. So here we go crashing towards the end.

As with many long television story arcs, it feels like the conclusion was not there from the beginning. (I am looking at you, Lost) The original mythology for The X-Files hinges on Cassandra Spender, a character introduced last season for two appearances, then *poof.* She vanished. Now she returns as the most pivotal character in the series.

Not that I fault Veronica Cartwright in the slightest for the let down. She earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a drama Series for ’Two fathers’ and I clearly see why. Her character goes from the euphoria of being rescued from Syndicate doctors and the realization she is not longer wheelchair bound to the horror of discovering it is because she is the first successful human/alien hybrid and therefore, signals the beginning of alien colonization of Earth. For a character we hardly know, we feel sympathy for her in a hurry.

One wonders if it was originally meant to be Scully who was the first successful hybrid. Her experience was the same as Cassandra’s, but one might think it would be going overboard to put Scully front and center so much in the conspiracy, particularly considering she does not believe any of it. Maybe it would have been a bit much, which is another reason I am going easy on the mythology’s conclusion hinging on a relatively new character. Further reasons come down the road a bit when Scully becomes prominent in the second mythology arc that seems like a bit much to have her mired.

Since ’Two Fathers” is the beginning of the end, there is an unusually large amount of exposition to explain the situation. A great deal of it was famously after initial filming when it was decided the Cigarette smoking Man should narrate the episode to Diane Fowley because so much needed to be explained beyond the story filmed. What did the narration reveal/ Take a deep breath….

The conspiracy began with Roswell in 1947 when a cabal of State department officials discovered a plan for aliens to reclaim the Earth. This is the first time the term ’reclaim’ is used, which hints at the blink and you will miss it story arc that life on Earth originated from outer space. The aliens plan to use the black oil, which is their life’s blood, to wipe out humanity. The State Department officials, who eventually become an international cabal of other diplomats, agree to work on creating human/alien hybrids. Once they are successful, colonization can begin. The Syndicate, as they are now called, works on the long term project, but drags its feet in hopes of finding a way to stop colonization. They almost had it with the black oil vaccine, but unfortunately, they were successful with Cassandra as a hybrid faster than hoped for. Luckily, faceless alien rebels have begun attacking the Syndicate’s resources in an effort to stop colonization.

Samantha Mulder was taken as punishment for Bill Mulder’s desire to resist colonization in the first place. Fox Mulder has been inadvertently carrying on his legacy by piecing together the syndicate’s plan with The X-Files. The Cigarette Smoking man arranged for his son, Jeffrey Spender, to take over the X-Files in order to stall investigation into the conspiracy as a legacy to him. Hence, the fathers and sons theme.

The Cigarette Smoking Man winds up highly disappointed in Jeffrey for paling in comparison to Mulder. The disappointment is particularly poignant considering the cliffhanger has Jeffrey murdering a rebel alien and Mulder about to shoot Cassandra, upon her desperate request, so the two of them have the nerve to commit an evil act for what they both see as the greater good. Looking back on it with the knowledge they are half-brothers makes them appear much more equal, though perhaps in a warped way.

“Two Fathers” is an interesting episode. For one who has followed the mythology story from its beginning, there is not much new to learn. There is so much exposition and Spender family drama, Mulder and Scully are not particularly prominent. As often happens, they are more buffeted by events around them than anything else. Anticipation of the conclusion of the mythology arc and the performance by Veronica Cartwright make ’Two Fathers” a worthy episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Natalie Portman

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Formspring Question #116--Nukes, Because So Much Wind Will Not Cut It Edition

When you blogged about Obama's BP oil spill speech last year, you mocked him for suggesting alternate energy sources while advocating nuclear power. Has the current situation in Japan changed your mind?
No. Nuclear power is still the safest, cleanest, and most efficient form of energy. Japan's problems have to do with safety inspection failures, not nuclear power use in general.

A lot of critics have trotted out Chernobyl in recent days. There is not much chance of safety inspection failures in the United States. There is absolutely no chance of inferior soviet technology and know how causing a major disaster in the United States. Even Three Mile Island only released the radiation equivalent of three x-rays.

Look, I am all for seeking out alternate energy sources. If we can come up with something clearner, safer, and more efficient than nuclear energy, I am all for it. But this pie in the sky notion progressives have that if we just throw billions of dollars into theoretical projects, we will eventually hit on something, which is essentially what obama said back then in his speech. As I recall, that is what he did for the majority of his speech, rather than discuss any specifics on the oil spill clean up.

Obama suggested solar panels and windmills to power the most industrialized nation on earth, population 300 million +. Is anyone other than a spaced out progressive dumb enough to think that is going to work? I certainly hope not.

My biggest fear is that the nuclear plants in Japan, the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and various mining accidents in recent years are going to fire up progressives even more against nuclear, oil, and coal to the point talk of solar panels and windmills will dominate energy policy. The fact they will not work in the united states has not stopped progessives from their fascination with blowing money on high speed rail. Progressives always maintain a death grip on bad ideas.

Odyssey Dawn: Imperialism, Fiasco, or Have You Seen the President's NCAA Bracket?

I do not know exactly how I feel about the current military operation in Libya is a good idea. My reluctance to blog about the matter is twofold. One, cannot do anything to suit me. I criticize his inaction on important matters, then I do not like what he decides to do once he quits dragging his feet. So what is the point of me saying anything/ The other reason may irritate some readers, but I am wary of neocons and their grandiose schemes for Pax Americana. I agree with Pat Buchanan that engaging in small, perpetual conflicts without clear national interests at stake marches the united States towards its decline. Look at the fall of the united Kingdom over the last century or so as proof. But I have been amused by a few points of interest.

First, Muammar Qadhafi 9no, I do not know how to spell it properly, either, but I am consistent. There is something to be said for that.) is responsible for the bombing of a German disco and pan Am flight 103, killing some 200 Americans. That is more than enough justification to remove him from the Earth, much less power. Why does that argument take as much of a backseat as the gassing of the Kurds or the assassination attempt on George Bush during the build up to the Iraq War? Is it the progressive notion imperialist Americans deserve what they get? The current attacks on Libya have been called imperialist by the far left.

Second, I will bet part of the reason Michelle Obama said she was never proud of her country is because of its perceived imperialism. I wonder how she personally feels about bombing Libya/ considering her actual statement is she was never proud of her country until Obama looked like a shoo in to take power, I suspect the Queen Michelle persona has usurped Black Liberation Theology Michelle, so it is probably all right.

Third, speaking of blacks, you would think Obama would be more sensitive to the anti-war left considering how progressives have taken the black vote for granted for decades. How many times has he heard the sentiment, ‘Who else ya gonna vote for, suckers? Republicans?” But no, he know knows the Code Pink types have no one else to vote for, so they have to accept whatever he does. He is kind of like an abused kid who grew up to act out the past abuse on others now that he has the power to do so.

Fourth,, I am not thrilled, no matter what the conflict, to hear the president say someone else needs to take the leadership role. He has always been quick to pass the blame for failure, potential and realized, onto someone else. I suspect the operation in libya is too little, too late, but does he have to announce he is going to lay the responsibility for failure on our allies while the mission is still in its beginnings?

Finally, I am also not thrilled with reinforcing the notion the international community has to approve of our foreign policy pursuits. Granted, I am not certain we ought to care a whole lot about a Libyan civil war. But if we are going to go for it, the notion that Europe needs to rubber stamp policy is bunk. I am all for like-minded allies battling evil tyrants together, but that is not what this is. This is a committee of nations conducting target practice while trying to decide what their mission is. While the leader of the freed world crows over his successful NCAA bracket in Rio. You what the bottom line comes to there? Why should we as americans care when the people running the show do not?

X-Files--"Tithonus"

"Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man--
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem'd
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask'd thee, "Give me immortality."
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,
Like wealthy men who care not how they give."
--"Tithonus" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Tithonus” is named after a character from Greek mythology. He feel in love with a goddess Aurora. She begged Zeus to give him eternal life so he could be with her forever. Zeus granted her request, but since she forgot to also ask for eternal youth, Tithonus grew older and more feeble, suffering all the infirmities of old age. The Greek gods tended to be real jerks that way.

The episode runs along a similar theme. Scully is paired with another agent, Peyton Ritter, in an attempt to split her and Mulder up. Peyton leads Scully a possible murder case in which a certain photographer has an unnatural skill at discovering dead bodies before the police do. The photographer is Alfred Fellig, a man they cannot peg any murder on, much to Ritter’s consternation.

Scully develops a fascination with Fellig. With the secret assistance of Mulder, she discovers she is actually working on an X-File. Using any number of aliases, Fellif has been living for over 149 years. Scully does not believe that, of course, but she still trails him in order to discover how he knows when people are about to die.

The matter gets up close and personal when he takes her along on one of his trips. He is going to photograph the murder of a prostitute. Scully is skeptical, but as an argument between a hooker and her pimp heats up, she intervenes. The potential murder is stopped, but the hooker steps out into the street only to be struck by a bus.

Curiosity piqued and grossly offended by Fellig’s disregard for human life, Scully confronts him over his behavior. For unknown reasons, Fellig cannot die, though he is obsessed with the idea of it. He is a battle-scarred, world weary man who sees no point in living further. He has some connection with Death, however. He has been photographing the living embodiment of death for decades. . Fellig explains that he was once supposed to die of yellow fever, but he refused to look death in the eyes, so his nurse was killed instead.

Fellig tells Sculy she is about to die, so he gets his camera out to record Death coming for her.

Meanwhile, Mulder determines Fellig did commit a murder back in 1929. Unable to warn Scully, he contacts Ritter. Ritter is on his way to Fellig’s apartment after the warning. Being the gung ho young agent that he is, Ritter breaks down the door. Feelig’s camera flashes in his eyes as he fires. The bullet goes through fellig ansd into Scully. With his final breath, he asks her if she sees Death. She will not look him in the eye. Poetically, seeing someone refuse to die allows fellig to pass on, while scully miraculously recovers from her bullet wound.

Anyone remember Clyde Bruckman telling Scully she would never die? Has her refusal to look death in the eyes as Fellig once did rendered her immortal? We are meant to think that, I believe. Immortality is presented as a truly awful thing here, however. It is mostly because love is not forever. Fellig’s wife has been dead for decades. Without ever being able to confront the mystery of their being an afterlife, there is no possibility he will ever see her again. It is a very sad concept. Fellig is played perfectly by veteran actor Geoffrey Lewis. He is a haunted character whom you do not sympathize with for his plight so much as wish he could die just so the rest of us could be spared such a miserable creature.

So many Scully-centric stories deal with mortal peril for her or a loved one that it has almost become cliché, but when the subject is dealt with well, the stories are still enthralling. “Tithonus” is a fine example.

There is a lot packed into ’Tithonus.” I have emphasized the philosophy of eternal life not being as glorious as one might think, but there is also a prominent running sadness about splitting up the Mulder/Scully team. That is obviously Krrsh’s plan. It is made clear if she does well on this case, she will resume field agent status, but leave Mulder behind to do background checks. While she assures Mulder this is a one time deal, she knows its her chance to resume her career and takes it without hesitation.

Mulder comes across as a lonely schoolboy, once even making a joke over the phone that they used to sit next to each other at the FBI, as he watches her go. He continues to do research in order to guide her in the right direction on Fellig. It feels like a desperate way of holding onto his connection with her. It is doubly poignant considering Ritter is an ambitious prick more interested in making a name for himself with a big collar than discovering the truth. He treats her like garbage for playing the same role that Mulder ultimately appreciates. When he stupidly gets her shot, that is last straw. I want the band back together!

I appreciate the mood and way themes of death are dealt with in ‘Tithonus.” I am also a fan of Scully-centric episodes in general. This is the first really good one we have seen in a while. It is an underrated episode that is a throwback to the old, darker themed episodes I generally prefer. Hence, “Tithonus” earns high marks.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Abbie Cornish

Monday, March 21, 2011

X-Files--"SR 819"

“SR 819’ is an interesting change of pace. The episode is an homage to the 1950 Edmund O’Brien film DOA in which a man is poisoned and has 24 hours to find out who effectively murdered him. The X-Files makes the story its own by having skinner be poisoned in an effort to break him away even further from Mulder and Scully.

Skinner winds up in the emergency room after a friendly boxing match. It is presumed a punch knocked him flat, but when Mulder pays a social visit to him later that evening, his health has deteriorated. Mulder and scully surmise skinner was poisoned in a brief encounter that morning with a physicist in the hallway. Suspicions are confirmed when the physicist, Dr. Kenneth Orgel, signed into the FBI building as a guest of skinner.

As Skinner lands in the hospital, the agents split up into their usual roles, albeit refreshingly not contrary to one another. Mulder is the field agent attempting to locate orgel and discover his connection to the Senate Resolution 819 referred to in the episode title. Scully uses her medical knowledge to look for a cure in the lab. They are doing regular FBI duties here, yet it does not feel like a generic cop show. Kudos for that.

Why it feels like The X-Files is because the Senate resolution is funding nanotechnology as a bio-weapon rather than the humanitarian aid for the World Health Organization as advertised. Skinner was infected with the nanotechnology inadvertently by orgel, who has already died from a manufactured heart attack. Skinner is on the verge of death, too, but is mysteriously pulled back from the brink in what is considered nothing short of a miracle.

The agents want to investigate further, as all evidence is rapidly disappearing, including SR 819 from committee. Skinner curtly refuses. The two are only suppose to report to Kersh now. Reluctantly, they do not argue. That night, skinner is confronted by krycek, who is revealed to be behind the nanotech attack on him. Thus begins the running storyline of Krycek blackmailing skinner that will eventually end with a bang.

“SR 819” is a very good, serious episode after a string of some goofy stories. It is a reminder that The X-Files does not have to be the Moonlighting with Aliens the latter half of the series tried hard to be. Skinner is my favorite supporting character. He rarely gets a chance to shine. Surprisingly, he still comes across as a tough guy here even though he is near death for most of the episode and revealed to be blackmailed by the end. Mulder and Scully are competent professional without sparring over proof over the paranormal or sexual tension. We could use more episodes like this.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Minka Kelly

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blogroll Spotlight #86

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 Perspective--Glenn Beck Talks About the Fogel Family
Amusing Bunni's Musings--St. Patrick's Day Fun
Big Feed--The Bully Body Slam
Bluegrass Pundit--War Number 3
Camp of the Saints--The Fools on the Hill
Classic Liberal--Homeland Obedience Training
Da Tech Guy--Good Thing the Arab League is Behind Us...or Not
Daley Gator--Obama Understates Deficit by $2.4 trillion
Essential Mr. Bill--Meet the Reverent Odom
Fishersville Mike--If It's Good Enough for Obama
Gorge's Grouse--Heavens to Betsy!
In a Mad Mad Mad Mad World--As Freedom is Crushed
Jaded Haven--Pop Goes the Weasel
Lazy Farmer--Persecuted for Art's Sake
Left Coast Rebel-Obama Mission names
Mind Numbed Robot--The Return of the Sweater Puppies
Other McCain--Mises on Christian socialism
Paco Enterprises--Off the Rails
Pirate's Cove--How Awesome is Obama/ He Tells Us
Prrof Positive--Obama Launches Military Offensive; Anti-War LLeft, 'Look, Shiny!"
Randy's Roundtable--President WTF and His Deficits
Self-Evident Truths--Predicting the Weather, or How the Government Fails Us
Sentry Journal--From Extreme to the Other
Teresamerica--WI Public Sector Unions: Separating Fact from Fiction
Troglopundit--This Week in Automotivators
Washington Rebel--Ready, Fire, Aim

Obama is in Rio:

X-Files--"The Rain King"

The discrepancies between the production order and airing really skewered this season’s episode. Post-production on "Triangle” ran long, and “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” had to be rushed in order to get it in before the holiday season. The result was some strange continuity glitches. Some, like "The Rain King,” unintentionally revealed future storylines. The episode is set in august. The two agents are back on the X-Files after having been sent to Kansas to investigate a fraud case, but at this point, Spender and Fowley are still in charge of the x-Files while Mulder and Scully are stuck with menial tasks under the idea of forcing their resignations. At least we know the status quo will be restored fairly quickly, no?

The agents arrive in a small Kansas town where a severe drought has plagued farmers for months. There is an alleged con artist going about claiming he can make it rain for a fee. They soon discover the guy appears to be the real deal. Or, at the very least, the farmers he helps are happy with the results. It becomes apparent he is a fraud when Mulder discovers the weather is actually being affected by the emotions of the local meteorologist, Holman hardt, and his unrequited love for his co-worker, Sheila.

Sheila is not very excited about Holman. She is still after her ex-faince. Things get worse when she develops a thing for mulder, whom she considers far more interesting than anyone else in her small town. Feeling deeply rejected, Holman inadvertently cause heavy thunderstorms and flash flooding. Mulder decides to give him dating advice to soothe his jangled emotions , thereby calming the weather. Scully quips that is the blind leading the blind. She is right. It is girl talk between she and Sheila that resolves matters. Holman and Sheila eventually marry and have a child, according to the epilogue.

“The Rain King” continues the less than subtle theme that mulder and Scully are in love with each other, but denying it. Holman remarks how Mulder gazes at her. He cannot believe they have never hooked up. Sheila is just as surprised Scully denies any romantic interest in Mulder. They both assure the they are just friends. For good measure, Scully tells Sheila that the best romances grow out of friendship. Just because she has only seen Holman as a friend does not mean there is not a lasting love in there somewhere. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge to the audience there, though scully is oblivious. It is a joke that she is also the blind leading the blind.

‘The Rain King” is dumb, but sweet. Like much of the comedy in the second season, it is played for absurd laughs. At one point, Holman is so upset, he causes a tornado to drop a cow on Mulder’s motel room. It is still a touching episode in spite of the silliness. I chalk it up largely to Victoria Jackson. She brings a gentle, naïve nature to the character that often annoys my cynical ways in real people, but it is charming in her. I would like for her to take on more acting roles than she does. Alas, she is a Christian conservative in Hollywood, so not much chance of that. To bad. She makes the episode for non-shipper me.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

January Jones

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #90

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

Camp of the Saints links to Julianne Moore Cast as Sarah Palin.
The Other McCain links to Malin Akerman.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #89, Blogroll Spotlight #85, and Summer Glau.
Sentry Journal links to UK Atheists Warn Not to List Religion as Jedi.
Motor City Times links to UK atheists Warn Not to List Religion as Jedi.
Classic Liberal links to Malin Akerman, Blake Lively, and Kaley Cuoco. Classic Liberal also links to One Step Ahead of the Thought Police.
New Horizon links The X-Files "Mind's Eye," "The Pine Bluff Variant," "All Souls", Olivia Wilde, Summer Glau, and Kaley Cuoco.
Teresamerica links to Billie Piper.
Say Anything Blog links to Jolene Blalock and Kate Sajur.
Proof Positive links to Jolene Blalock and Kate Sajur.
Fishersville Mike laments the lack of Kaley Cuoco Day for the next couple weeks.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. 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.