Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Predictions for 2012

Here is a list of my best guesses for what will happen in 2012:

1. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president.

2. Ron Paul will not run a third party campaign.

3. No Democrat will challenge Barack Obama for the nomination.

4. Obama will keep Joe Biden as his running mate. All this talk of Hillary Clinton joining the ticket is wishful thinking on Democrats’ part.

5. Herman Cain will become a contributor to FOX News in the same capacity as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

6. Palin will endorse Romney, thereby speeding up her journey into irrelevancy.

7. The Occupy movement will only be allowed to go on as long as it is convenient for Obama.

8. The United States Supreme Court will strike down ObamaCare in a 5-4 decision.

9. Romney will choose a battleground state governor as his running mate. Best guess? New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

10. The economy will be Obama’s worst enemy during the campaign.

11. Romney will narrowly defeat Obama in November in an electoral map that will look much like 2000 and 2004.

12. Republicans will keep the House, but with a slimmer majority

13. Republicans will gain a 51-53 seat majority in the senate even though Scott Brown will lose his reelection bid in Massachusetts.

14. There will be no armed conflict between the United states and Iran.

15. The Dark Knight Rises will be the biggest movie of the year.

16. The world will not end with the Mayan calendar.

Scorecard for 2011 Predictions

Last New Year's Eve, I put on my prognosticator's hat and took some educated guesses about what lay ahead in 2011. Let us see how well I did.

1. Although he lacks the political skills of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama will make a minor comeback solely on the basis of progressive hatred over the agenda of the Republican House.
It depends on how you define minor comeback. Barack Obama began the year at 45% approval and ends the year at 49%.
2. Much of nothing will come from the threats of ObamaCare repeal.
Elected officials are not even talking about repeal on the national scene save for longshot presidential candidates hoping to score a Hail Mary by declaring they will repeal it once elected. State level politicians like my Gov. Niiki Haley have been stalling implementation to the point a federal investigation has been suggested to look into her activities, but nothing much has come of it. The United States Supreme Court will heard the case early next year, but legal challenges have not done much thus far. Save for unworkable provisions being voluntarily canned, 2011 has been largely a waste for ObamaCare opponents.
3. The financial woes of states and cities will increase. Conservatives will blame them on unions. Democratic mayors will propose spending cuts and tax increases on business, but will ultimately seek federal bailouts.
Fed Barnanke ruled out state and local bailouts back in January, but Obama's proposed jobs bill amounted to a blue state bail out anyway.
4. Immigrant amnesty is not dead. The debate will focus on whether the children of illegal immigrants ought to be citizens. Those who say no will be demonized as racist.
Obama has not taken no for an answer on illegal immigrant amnesty.
5. There will be no significant economic recovery until late in the year, if at all.
I hit the nail on the head here.
6. The influence of the Tea Party is going to scare off a couple of potential GOP presidential candidates. Most surprising? Mitt Romney, whose time has likely passed, anyway.
If only I had not named a candidate, I could have cited Mitch Daniels or Mike Huckabee. Maybe even Sarah Palin. Who knows what her motivation for declining to run really is? I honestly figured last December Romney’s fifteen minutes were up. Tea Party types would never support him, nor would he legitimately try to court them. Looks like I was wrong.
7. Small acts of Islamic terrorism against the European infrastructure are going to increase.
With europe's devastating economic woes, who would notice?
8. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 will prompt some smaller terrorist act in the United States. They will be foiled.
There were "credible" threats prior to September 11th, 2011. No act occurred, thankfully
9. Bill Richardson will become Secretary of State.
I blew this one. I was thinking Hillary clinton would resign as Secretary of State to challenge Obama in the primaries.
10. Facebook’s popularity will peak after achieving mainstream status in 2010.
While still the number one social networking website, Facebook lost users in 2011.
11. Miley Cyrus will have an alcohol or drug related run in with authorities which will confirm her inevitable slide into Lindsay Lohan territory.
Billy Ray Cyrus did his best Michael Lohan in a magazine interview earlier this year when he blamed Disney for robbing his daughter of a normal childhood, then recanted when Miley Cyrus promised to throw him off the gravy train. Miley got a tattoo, dresses like a tramp, and allegedly smokes pot. While I was envisioning her drunkenly wrapping her car around a light pole, her behavior is still close enough to Lindsey Lohan’s to count this as ann accurate prediction.
12. The last Harry Potter will be the biggest movie hit of the year.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part Ii in the number one movie in the world for 2011 having earned $1.2 billion.
13. The Eye will hit 2 million visitors by New Year’s Eve. I can dream, yes?
As of this posting, The Eye is at 1,776,948 visitors, so i fell 224,000 short of my goal. This was still my best year ever. I topped the previous record by 200,000 visits. I have you ladies and gentlemen to thank for it. Thank you for all the visits and linkage. Way back when i started out in 2003, I used to get excited when my daily visit count hit the double digits. I never imagined what The Eye--then called Caviar for the Mind--would become.
There you have it. One of my better efforts of annual prognostication.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #131

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

Sentry Journal links to Sen. Harkin Calls for a Federal Investigation into Gov. Nikki Haley.
Proof Positive links to Emily Scott, Judy Greer, Dana Delaney, Mary Elizabeth Winestead, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Simpson.
Say Anything links to Emily Scott, Judy Greer, Dana Delaney, Mary Elizabeth winestead, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Simpson.
American Power links to Sara Underwood for Christmas Eve.
Pirate's Cove links to Peace on Earth.
Randy's Roundtable swipes borrows an idea and links to Eve Myles and Olivia Wilde.
Reaganite Republican links to Gillian Anderson and Kaley Cuoco.
Classic Liberal links to Jessica Simpson, Sara Underwood, Eve Myles, Gillian Anderson, Olivia Wilde, Tricia Helfer, and Mary Elizabeth Winestead.
Teresamerica links to Judy Greer.
The Other McCain links to Jessica Simpson.
American Perspective links to Olivia Munn.
Troglopundit wants me to show more enthusiasm while reviewing Firefly.

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.

Firefly--"Heart of Gold"

"Heart of Gold,” as in that hooker has one, is the most classically western themed episode to date. The bad guy is a local bigwig land owner who keeps everyone in town in grinding poverty. Like Miss Kitty, the local madam is the hero who stands up to him with the help of some wandering good Samaritans, in this case, the crew of Serenity. all that is needed is a quick draw contest in the center of town to hit just about every cliché there is.

The mustache twirling villain is Rance Burgess. He owns everything thing, including a high powered laser rifle, a mini-tank, and an alleged mandate from God. Did I say high powered laser rifle? It is actually a goofy looking Buck Rogers number with a red light for accurate targeting. It is not the goofiest thing he owns, either. That mini-tank of his is a cross between a four wheeler and a Prius. The climactic scene has mal chasing it down on horseback and jumping on board once the charge runs out on burgess’ gun. I gather this was an homage to the tank battle scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but it felt like more of a parody. I was amused by it, so if the whole sequence was meant to be tongue in cheek, bravo. But mal has strong emotions at this point I will get into in a moment, so playing the chase and brief scuffle for laughs would deflate the high emotions.

Burgess and some of his men ride up to a brothel run by Nandi, a former companion who did not like the rigorous requirements of the job, so she started her own, unlicensed broothel. Burgress demands to see a prostitute named Petaline. Several of his thugs drag the very pregnant Metaline out so he can perform a DNA test on the unborn child. If it is his, he will come back for it--cutting it out of her belly, if he has to. Nanda requests help from Inara, who offers to pay the Serenity crew to intervene. Mal agrees to do the job for free. The pro bono offer is one of several hints in the episode mal has romantic feelings for Inara.

Mal sizes up Burgess at a big party he has thrown and decides they need to split. The gun, the tank, and the mandate from God are a bit too much for him. Not that his fear makes any sense. Mal has faced down the Alliance, Reavers, and Niska. Why is he so afraid of a forgettable A-team villain? Regardless, he offers to relocate the hookers to another planet, but Nanda refuses to leave. She has built this place up and created a “family’ for her girls. Mal admires her determination, so he changes his mind. The crew will face the nearly impossible odds of defending the brothel.

There is a lot of set up time before the siege begins. Simon tends to the about to give birth Petaline. Jayne takes early payment from one of the girls, if you know what I mean. Zoe and Wash talk about having a baby of their own. Shepherd offers spiritual counsel to several girls. But the biggest story is Mal. He begins talking to nanda as he sets up a defense. Their relationship quickly moves to sex. Just before they do, she tells him, ’I’m not her,” which is another hint mal has a thing for Inara. When Inara discovers mal and Nanda slept together, she puts on a brave face, but bursts into tears in private.

The brothel is betrayed by one of the girls who is, in a terribly degrading scene, forced to perform oral sex on burgess as proof she knows where a coman’s place is. Burgess and his men attackk early and manage to break their way into Petaline’s room after she has just has just given birth. In the ensuing shoot out, Nanda is fatally wounded. Enraged, mal goes after the escaping burgress in the tank chase I described above. When mal hauls Burgess back to the brothel, petalone shoots him dead personally, thereby freeing the town as well as her f”amily” and baby.

Back on Serenity, Mal expresses regret he could not save Nanda. Inara says she is grateful he could comfort her in her final night and remarks how closeknit a family atmosphere she had created at the brothel. Mal wants to talk about the romantic notions they have for each other, but Inara interrupts with the news she is leaving Serenity.

I have three bones to pick with “Heart of Gold.” Yhe first has already been addressed--burgess’ weapn and mini-tank are hard to take seriously. He is a worthy adversary, mind you. He is sadistic and crazy. But more effort should have been put into the weapons he weilds in order to maintain power over the people. An armored golf cart is not all that intimidating. Second, I can understand mal has feelings for inara. He risked his life to defend her honor in a fencing match and has come to her for counsel at times, but she has has never hinted at feelings for him. Why was she not upset about saffron marrying him or leaving him behind when Serenity was running out of oxygen or more fearful when niska held him prisoner? Certainly, as a Companion she can control her emotions well, but her reaction to Mal sleeping with nanda was out of the blue. Final point, the episode ended with the funeral for a friend of mal’s just like the previous. The repetition loses its impact.

I can cut “Heart of Gold” some slack, however. It is mostly action oriented. In that regard, it is highly entertaining. The script was written by Brett Matthews, who was an assistant to Joss Whedon three years out of college when he wrote it. There is a sense of, ’What he heck? We’re cancelled anyway. Let the kid write an episode.” “Heart of gold” was also nominated for a 2004 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, so it must have something going for it, no? Of course, it lost to Gollum’s Acceptance speech at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards, so take that for whatever it’s worth.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Jewel Staite

I have been posting geek girls all week long, so why stop now?

Friday, December 30, 2011

There Will Come Soft Rains

For those who thought 2011 was awful, things could be worse.

This animated short is based on Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains." Interestingly enough considering the subject matter, it was produced in 1984 by a Soviet animation studio called Uzbekfilm. The dialogue is in Russian with English subtitles. do not let the subtitles turn you off from watching. In fact, you will understand when you watch the creepy impact the spoken words being in Russian have.

Firefly--"The Message"

“The Message” is a significant episode of Firefly in three ways. One, it was the final episode filmed, though not the last to air. The cast knew during filming the show had been cancelled, so the funeral scene which ends the episode has a double meaning. Two, creator Joss Whedon makes a cameo as one of the mourners. Finally, “The Message” was nominated for a 2004 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, short Form. Insult to injury--it not only lost, but lost to Gollum’s acceptance speech at the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. No wonder hardly anyone in science fiction cares about winning a Hugo these days.

The message begins with the crew on a space station gathering their mail. Among the bric a brac is a crate addressed to Mal and Zoe. They open it up to discover the well-preserved corpse of one of their old comrades from the war, Tracey. In a recorded message alongside the body, Tracey requests mal and zoe take him home, something he often longed for during the war. They set course for st. Albans to honor their fallen comrades’ final request.

Tracey is being pursued by a sadistic alliance officer named Womack. He threatens the postmaster until he reveals Serenity took Tracey’s corpse. Womack catches up with Serenity and fires upon it. The crew pleads ignorance, but has simon autopsy Tracey to find out why his body is so important. Tracey sits bolt upright and screams when the scalpel slices into his skin. He had been put into a deep coma as part of a black market organ smuggling scheme he was to deliver the organs to Ariel, but found a higher bidder. Now Womack is after him.

Womack pursues Serenity over the snowy mountains of St. Albans in some impressive special effects shots. Serenity manages to lose Womack in a cave, so they have some time to plot out their next move. Shepherd suggest there is something unusual about Womack and thinks they should let him onboard. Tracey, who had been hiding out of sight, overhears and thinks the crew is going to surrender him. He swipes a gun and shoots Wash. In response, Zoe shoots him. Wounded, but not out, he takes Kaylee hostage and heads for a shuttle. Added poignancy here, because Kaylee has clearly been infatuated with Tracey. Mal shoots Tracey once Kayleee is safely out of the way. They allow Womack onboard. Shepherd notes Womack is parsecs out of his jurisdiction and correctly guesses he is the mastermind of the organ smuggling operation. He leaves, noting Tracey is mortally wounded.

Indeed, he is. Tracey expresses regret his impulsiveness not only betrayed his former comrades, but that they were forced to kill him in order to save current comrades Wash and Kaylee. He requests they take him home to his family, which they do, and remain for the somber funeral. As the noted, the funeral marks the end of filming for Firefly, so it really is a sad occasion for fans.

Kaylee and Simon finally hook up after a strained beginning in which Simon falls awkwardly all over himself telling her how he feels, but in adversity insulting her instead. The running joke of Jayne proudly wearing an orange wool hat his mother knit for him is also a fan favorite.

“the Message” is a decent episode that would probably be more poignant if I had watched it in 2003 with melancholy over Firefly’s cancellation. As it is, I can only appreciate how it must have tugged browncoat heartstrings way back then. The powers that be certainly pulled out all the stops. The sets are more elaborate than usual, there is a big flashback to a battle sequence during the war, and the CGI chase between Serenity and Womack’s ship is impressive for television. Usually, a show will phone in the final filmed episode when it has been ingloriously cancelled. Firefly goes out in style instead.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Top 5 of 2011 #1--Kaley Cuoco

There were no complaints about yesterday not being the usual Kaley Cuoco Day, so you all must have known this was coming. Post a photo of The Big Bang Theory beauty every week for over a year, and she will bring many, many visitors.

Five photos--this white shirt photo, this tank top photo, this photo with Melissa Rauch, this Wonder Woman costume photo, and this bare midriff photo--bring visitors to The eye on a daily basis with a usual spike on Thursdays when new episodes air. Now with The Big Bang Theory in wide syndication, the daily hits have increased, too.

Two of the above photos may share Melissa Rauch as a search term. There is no way to know how many. To be fair, I must credit her for some of the attention, so here is an honorable mention:Geek girls rock!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Formspring Question #324--Yay for Self-Awareness Edition

As a DC
Seriously, folks. People send this stuff in.

Firefly--"Trash"

“Trash” features the return of Christina Hendricks as Saffron. She has a heist for the Serenity crew they reluctantly take on, but all is not as it seems. The episode is played mostly for laughs. In fact, the threadbare story seems to exist solely to get to the scene that bookends the episode--that of Mal, sitting naked on a rock in the middle of the desert, saying to himself, “Yeah, that went well.” The same scene does appear twice, in case you did not get enough of it the first time.

Mal meets up with a fellow ex-soldier and current smuggler named Monty. He is delivering stolen cargo to Mal and wants to introduce his new wife, Bridgette. Bridgette turns out to be Saffron. When she lets it slip she knows Mal’s name even though monty has not told her, he believes mal’s claim she is a con artist who also married him. Monty strands her with mal, who plans to strand her, too, but she offers him a job to buy her way off the planet. Mal refuses to listen.

Back on Serenity, Inara complains to Mal he has been obstructing her companion business as of late. The subsequent argument soon descends into personal insults in which inara calls Mal a petty thief. The insult inspires him to retrieve Saffron, who has been stuffed into one of the cargo boxes, to find out what her big heist is all about. The crew does not initially want to go along with anything saffron has planned, but once zoe punches her across the chin, it all works out. Sorta.

The plan is to steal a gun from the estate of a wealthy Earth as it was antique collector. It is a priceless artifect, but it will be complicated to get in and out of the estate withit. The plan is for Mal and Saffron to sneak in as party guests, steal the gun, and stuff it in the trash. Kaylee will then reprogram the garbage scow to fly to a remote location where they can retrieve the gun at their leisyre. It is a doublecross, however. Saffron was once married to the collector, and plays along with the idea Mal has rescued her after six years and returned her to him. Durran, Haymer, the happy hubby, calls the authorities unbeknownst to the two of them, and they barely get away before dumping the gun. Saffron double crosses mal yet again by stranding him naked in the desert and sabotaging Serenity so she can search the garbage scow herself. What she does not realize is the crew was ready for her. Inara was in on the caper the whole time. She has already found the gun, locks Saffron in the garbage scow for the authoritie to find, and rescues Mal.

There is a subplot in which River’s psychic abilities reveal Jayne’s betrayal from a couple episodes back. When he is injured helping Kaylee reprogram the garbage scow, Simon medically induces paralysis to rest his spine, then reveals he knows about the betrayal to the Alliance. Simon assures him he has taken an oath to do no harm, but river has not. She wryly tells Jayne she can kill him with her mind.

“Trash” is a frivolous, joke-laden romp. I am convinced someone came up with the idea of stranding mal in the desert naked and then wrote a script around it. No matter, though. The result is a fun episode. Young Christina Hendricks is hot, too. I am curious how much of her fight scenes are a stunt woman, however. A couple scenes from a distance obviously are, but some of the close ups look like her. She might be a tough little spitfire.

Rating: *** (out of 5)For those to whom it may appeal, Christina Hendricks knows how to use a gun.

Top 5 of 2011 #2--Karen Gillan

For the second year running, the current Doctor Who companion is a top draw for The Eye. Five photos--This bikini photo, this underwear photo, the bottom candid photo, this lingerie photo, and this Photoshop in PVC bring hits daily with large spikes when new episodes of Doctor Who air. I started posting photos the minute Gillan was cast as Amy Pond. In so doing, I cornered the internet image search market for her.

Unfortunately, both Gillan and Arthur Darvill have announced their intentions to leave Doctor Who midway through the next series. Since the next series will be split in half between 2012 and 2013, Gillan will not only miss out on the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, but will likely fade off as a major search engine draw for The Eye quite soon. The former is a loss for all, but feel free to offer condolences for the personal impact of the latter.

Here is another photo I recently stumbled acroos and include because it is a neat Christmas card:Even the Cybermen get in the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tim Tebow Named Most Desirable Celebrity Neighbor for 2012

Not a surprise, though I assume classless Bill Maher was not surveyed.

Formspring Question #323--Romney's Running Mate

Assuming Mitt Romney wins the GOP nomination, should have a more conservative running mate, like McCain did, and shore up GOP support, or pick a moderate in order to win over Democrats and Independents? If Romney picks a Palin-like VP, isn't that basical [sic]
The rest of your question was cut off. There is a character limit on Formspring.

Has anyone ever voted for or against a candidate because of the Veep choice? I do not think so. The question of choosing a Veep yo broaden appeal is overrated intellectual exercise. Sarah palin did not bring out the evangelical social conservatives in droves for John McCain. Joe Bien did not provide an elder statesman for Barack Obama. Dick Cheney’s conservatism did not broaden Bush 43’s base, though maybe his elder statesmanship might have been a factor. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were not all that different from each other. Did Dan Quayle do much for Bush 41 back in 1988? If so, it is not obvious right now.

Unless Mitt Romney makes a really bad choice like kooku Ron Paul or a scandal plagued or terribly inexperienced choice like Herman Cain, I do not think it will really matter and even then, it would be more a reflection of his poor judgment than the Veep. Have you ever refused to vote for a candidate because of his Veep choice? Some have said they refused to vote McCain because of Palin, but I chalk that up to McCain’s poor judgment more than Palin’s politics. There were fears over his advancing age versus her ability to ascend to the presidency if he became incapacitated. He brought that issue on himself by choosing an inexperienced running mate.

If I were to read the tea leaves--no tea party pun intended--I think Romney is inclined to choose a solid conservative governor from outside the South. One that would be palatable to evangelicals. Chris Christie comes to mind. If a conservative evangelical like Rick Perry performs stronger than expected, I would not be surprised to see him as Veep. Of course, all this assumes Romney will be the nominee. That is the likely outcome, but not guaranteed.

Firefly--"War Stories"

I am not entirely certain how to classify “War Stories.” It starts out as a Wash-centric character study, then becomes a gruesome philosophical exploration of torture, and finally ends with a big shoot ‘em up in which the most unlikely characters are the toughest. It is by no means a bad mix. It is merely packed.

Wash is upset with the long history between Mal and Zoe. Their war experiences have forged a bond which makes Wash feel jeaoulous of and inadequate to Mal. He insists on going on a field assignment to prove himself, even suggesting a plan alteration. Zoe approaches mal with the idea, but he nixes it. Zoe later lies to Wash to spare his feelings. Under the circumstances, that is even worse. He sabotages the shuttle mal and zoe plan to use on a trip to sell the drugs they stole in the previous episode. The actual exchange is broken up when Niska’s men intervene. They kidnap Mal and Wash in revenge for cheating him out of money from the money from the drugs they were supposed to steal for him earlier.

Mal and Wash are tortured by Niska with electric shock, but the sequence is only a continuation of the torture theme. In the very first scene, simon examines River’s brain scans with Shepherd looking over his shoulder. Shepherd quotes from Chinese warrior/poet Xiang You, who said if you really want to know a man, torture him. Shepherd is implying River’s brain surgeries were a way of determining the real her. The scene cuts to Niska also citing Xiang Yu while torturing a disloyal subordinate. Later still, Niska alludes to Xiang ago when torturing Mal and wash.

Xiang Yu’s theory of personal discovery through torture is questionable. Certainly, in moments of desperation people will show you who they really are. But one cannot discount the fact people under extreme duress will say anything to earn relief. For every point, there is a counter point. Interesting that “War Stories” aired in December 2002 when the national debate over interrogating captured terrorists was just starting to get underway. Many yerrorists were being handed over to other countries likely to use torture as an interrogation technique. The famous Justice Department memo defining advanced interrogation techniques had been made public the previous August.

We can bypass all that, however. “War Stories” does not preach one way or the other. In fact, the first scenes of the electroshock torture are played for overt laughs, but with a serious undertone. Mal realizes wash is weak, so to keep him from breaking, he taunts him that his emotional bond with Zoe is far stronger than his. He even told Zoe not to marry wash. Perhaps she and mal she sleep together as the last logical step in their relationship. The anger keeps wash focused on something else so he does not break.

Realizing something is wrong, Zoe heads to the meeting site and discovers clues pointing to Niska having kidnapped Mal and Wash. She travels to his space station in order to pay off what he has lost. Niska says the money is only enough to win the freedom of one. He expects Zoe to be tortured with the moral dilemma of choosing, but she does not hesitate to pick Wash. Niska cuts off Mal’s left ear to take with them. They leave to the sounds of Mal’s screams of pain. The severed ear is the most graphic thing we have seen so far, but the torture does not end there. Further action sequences are interspersed with scenes of thin tendrils penetrating Mal’s torso and his being pinched with wire cutters. Not the most pleasant of viewing experience.

Zoe and Wash plan to rescue Mal by force. The rest of the crew joins them, albeit Jayne as the last straggler. The rescue is a big firefight in which mal is able to escape his torturers, who are so overconfident at his depleted condition, they do not restrain him. He cuts loose to show Niska the real him. We also learn the “real” selves of two other characters. Shepherd knows how to use a gun. So does River, who sneaks along and intervenes to save her new friend Kaylee by taking out three armed men with one well aimed shot. River is an expert killing machine, too.

If that was not enough, we have some hot lezbo action between Inara and a local politician. Inara reveals she rarely takes on same sex clients, but will when they can fill a need in her, too. I do not think the revelation is so much an admission of bisexuality so much as a cynicism regarding the men she has to serve. Her warning to the rest of the crew is not to ogle her client, as though mean’s obsession with the physical is growing tiresome for her. Jayne ogles her anyway, and begins the “I’ll be in my bunk” phrase that is still a popular euphemism for yanking it like a monkey in a mango tree.

There is a lot going on in “War Stories,” but it is all compelling enough to not get lost in. secondary characters get a shine to shine with some pretty interesting revelations thrown in, to boot. Wash mans up in a big hurry thanks to Mal, even if much of his efforts were tough love. “War Stories” is not an easy to episode to watch because of the torture scenes. It is true mosyt is implied or lightened up with dialogue, but there are some scenes I had to wince at--and I am a tough little cuss.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Top 5 of 2011 #3--Tricia Helfer

Tricia Helfer, like Gillian Anderson, has two photos constantly bringing visitors to The Eye. First, there is this bikini photo. The other is this underwear pic. The former is more populat than the latter, but by no means is it any less awesome as far as I am concerned.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Firefly--"Ariel"

“Ariel” is a pivotal episode in which we learn three important things. One, exactly what happened to river during the time she was institutionalized. Two, Jayne is a royal jackass. Finally, that the family ties of the crew are stronger than previously thought. These three points are dealt with as a nifty caper unfolds.

Serenity has two make a two day layover on an Alliance controlled medical facility on Ariel so that Inara can have a routine medical exam and be recertified as a Companion. Because she is a high class hooker and all. Shortly before the crew’s arrival on Ariel, there is a violent incident in which river takes offense to Jayne insulting her brother at the dinner table and slices him with a knife. Jayne demands Mal dump them off the ship, but Mal refuses to comply. He does, however, warn simon that he needs to get river under control. Simon concedes river is getting worse.

While Inara is gone, the crew twiddle their thumbs wondering when a new job may come along. Simon interrupts and says he has one for them. He wants them to help him smuggle river into a medical facility for a thorough scan. In exchange, he will give them a list of valuable drugs they can steal from the pharmacy. This is where the nifty caper aspect comes in. Kaylee and Wash paint an old shuttle to look like a flying ambulance. Mal, Zoe, and Jayne will pose as EMT transporting deceased patients to the morgue. Simon and river will be drugged into appearing dead. Once they are in a place where they can be safely revived, Simon will make scans of river while Jayne watches over the two. Mal and Zoe will raid the pharmacy.

The complication comes when Jayne, while Simon and river are still in la la land, to turn them in to the Alliance for the reward. Simon has time to scan river. He discovers she has had numerous brain surgeries. The result of these operations has been to remove River’s ability to control her emotions. As the three of them attempt to leave the hospital, the alliance marshals arrest of them. The marshal Jayne had contacted plans to charge him with aiding federal fugitives and keep the reward for himself. The three break free thanks largely to Jayne and are pursued by the Blue Hand Men making their second appearance. Mal and zoe, figuring something has gone wrong since the three missed the rendesvous time, rescue them at the last minute.

Back on Serenity, simon is grateful to Jayne for the rescue. He has no clue Jayne betrayed him and river, but Mal does. Mal knocks Jayne out with a wrench and throws him in the airlock. He considers the betrayal of any crewmember a personal one. Jayne begs for his life, but quickly resigns himself to being spaced. As his last request, he wants mal to lie about why he has been killed. Mal senses the request is a sign of remorse and spares him--this time.

“Ariel” is a good episode. The drug stealing caper is a McGuffin best ignored, especially considering the crew has already returned drugs they unknowingly stole in the first episode. One can rationale those were returned because they were meant for a poor community and these drugs were in a fancy hospittal in the midst of a big, wealthy city. You can also speculate the drugs do not matter to the crew in the first place. The theft is a way to “justify” helping Simon and River. Considering mal’s loyalty and Jayne’s remorse over his betrayal, I would not be too surprised if the family aspect of the crew’s relation made the latter the more plausible explanation. Whatever the case, Jayne is more humanized, mal comes across as more of a leader than ever before, and river’s arc is advanced. There are no disappointments with any of that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Top 5 of 2011 #4--Olivia Wilde

New episodes of House bring in a weekly spike of hits for this bikini photo of Olivia Wilde, who plays Dr. Remy 'Thirteen" Hadley on the series, but syndicated reruns leave a daily mark as well.

I can see why.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Firefly--"Out of Gas"

“Out of Gas” recounts the origin for Firefly. The story is told, occasionally awkwardly, in flashbacks from three different eras. Not all the first meetings will mal and/or Zoe are created equal, but fans get what they need to know. I suppose that is enough.

The episode begins with Serenity adrift in space, life support draining, and Mal all alone bleeding from an abdominal wound. How Mal got to that point is told in flashbacks to three different eras. One, how he and Zoe assembled the crew. Two, the disaster that caused Serenity to become adrift and its immediate aftermath. Three, what happens to mal after everyone else has escaped. Each era has its own tint so you can tell which is which. The distant pasty is somewhat dreamlike and bright, the disaster appears normal, and Mal’s plight is on a darkened, shadowy Serenity. it does take a moment to realize the time period a certain part of the episode is taking place in because the cuts are so rapid. A bit jarring there.

The flashbacks are not presented in chronological order. Instead, they are arranged in sometimes questionable sequence for dramatic effect. Think of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill to get what I mean. I am going to run through them from oldest to latest. Begin at the beginning, says I.

Mal is being shown around a used ship lot by a stereotypical used car salesman. The guy wants to sell him a modern, time of the line vessel, Mal the beat up Firefly-class transport abandoned on the edge of the lot catches his eye. Thus begins the same romance between Mal and Serenity that James Kirk enjoys with Enterprise. The emotional connection comes into play later. Zoe is Mot impressed when Mal gives her a tour, but she knows he is hooked on it. Mal hires wash as the pilot. Zoe does not like him at first because he is weird and immature. Mal hires and then fires bester, a surfer-dude mechanic who has not been able to make a simple repair in a week. His girlfriend, Kaylee, identifies the problem while having sex, so mal hires her on the spot to be the new mechanic. Inara rents shuttle space from Mal citing her good standing with the Alliance under the condition Mal never call her a whore again. That part of the agreement does not last long. Mal hires Jayne when he is being held up by him and his associates. Mal makes Jayne a better offer than they have, so he switches sides. This explains why Jayne says he would turn on mal for a better offer.

In the second set of flashbacks, the crew is settling down to celebrate simon’s birthday when an explosion in the engine room disables the ship. Zoe is severely injured in the blast. Serenity is adrift and now running out of oxygen. Wash is distraught over Zoe and Kaylee beats herself up in the belief the explosion was her fault. The distress signal is not likely strong enough to reach any help, so mal orders the crew to use the escape shuttles. They are to split into two groups and head in opposite directions to double their chances of finding help. Mal opts to stay behind with Serenity.

The final flashbacks occur with Mal alone on Serenity waiting for the oxygen to run out. After some time, Serenity is discovered by another ship. But rather than Mal’s salvation, they turn out to be thieves who want to steal Serenity. Mal fights them off, but is shot in the abdomen in the process. He goes back to waiting for the inevitable end, with a gratuitously gruesome self-administered shot of adrenaline to the heart to sustain. He manages to make the necessary engine repair before passing out.

In the end, zoe has regained conscious and ordered everyone to return to Serenity. They discover Mal in time for simon to patch up his wound. With everything back in order, Mal asks if everyone is still going to be there when he wakes up. They assure him they will. The ending demonstrates that Mal, who barked everyone around before they left out of a concern for his ship, has realized there are relationships which are more important.

Two points of note. The port compression coil is a running element through all three eras. It is the item Kaylee repairs in the past. It is the item which explodes. Mal remembers how to repair it by recalling how Kaylee did it years ago. I assume Bester is an homage to science fiction writer Alfred bester, the same as the Babylon 5 character. The real Bester is probably rolling over in his grave to know his Firefly namesake is a sand for brains surfer who cannot make the simplest of mechanical repairs even though he is supposed to be a mechanic.

I can appreciate what “Out of Gas” is supposed to be, but I do not think it resonates well. Granted, I am not the biggest Firefly fan, so I am not particularly interested in how it all began. Someone with more emotional attachment probably cites this episode as his favorite. Most of the first meetings between mal and the crew are more pedestrian than anything else. Bouncing among three flashback eras was a bit much, but I can handle it. Chalk this one up as good, but with obvious flaws.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Top 5 of 2011 #5--Gillian Anderson

All this week, I will be counting down the top five main Rule 5 attractions at The Rye during 2011. Calculating who brought in the most hits is not an exact science. I am going by who has been in the top entry pages most frequently according to Sitemeter. What the process lacks in mathematical accuracy, it makes up for with new photos of the most popular babes. Nothing to complain about there, folks.

Two photos wound up ranked high in Google searches beginning early this year. The top photo in this compilation post from 2010 has brought in a steady stream of visitors, as has this photo of Scully in her underwear. the underwear photo's popularity is a lucky break. It was posted in response to a Formspring question regarding whether anderson's tush looked good in baggy drawers. It does.

While those two images have provided a constant stream of visitors, frequent surges from photo dumps during my six month long reviewing of The X-Files and some popular screencaps to go along with said reviews helped give Anderson the edge over a couple close contenders.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Doctor Who--"The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe"

Let us start with the obvious, shall we? “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” is based loosely on C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Outside of a high school reading of The Screwtape Letters, I have not read anything by lewis in about 23 years, so I cannot vouch for how deep the homage goes. Regardless, this year’s Christmas special is one of the best yet.

The episode begins with the Doctor escaping from an exploding ship far above 1938 Earth. He falls to the ground hard and is discovered by Madge Harwell. She helps him search around town for his lost TARDIS. They successfully find it after a false start, and the Doctor makes a promise that he will do anything Madge needs in the future. All she has to do is make a wish.

Three years later, her husband, Reg, is an Raf pilot lost over the English channel because he is flying blind with no way to know which way is land. Madge gets the telegram announcing her husband’s death, but she does not have the heart to tell her children, Lilly and Cyril, about their father until after Christmas.

Madge moves the family out to a country estate for the holidays. The caretaker turns out to be the Doctor. He has set up the place to satisfy their every whim. The children are particularly transfixed by a large, blue present under the Christmas tree from which a sound similar to the TARDIS emanates. Cyril cannot sleep that night wondering what is inside, so sneaks downstairs to open it. Inside the box is a portal to a snowy forest. Cyril pulls what looks to be an egg off a tree. It cracks open when it falls. Something crawls out and wanders off. Cyril goes looking for it.

Lilly approaches the Doctor in the attic. Something warns him cyrus has opened his present too early, so he and Lilly enter the forest to look for him. Whaever hatched from the egg is growing larger as it moves along. Cyrus may be in danger because of it. Eventually, Madge enters the forest, too, when she finds herself alone in the house. She is accosted by three soldiers who inform her acid rain is about to burn the forest down into usable fuel. Her kids will not survive.

The doctor and Lilly find the tracks lead to a spaceship manned--so to speak--by wooden figures. They have Cyril strapped to a machine. He is not being harmed. The wooden people want to place the spirit of the forest inside him to preserve it from the impending acid rain. It will not work with him, but when Madge finally arrives, the wooden people can store the spirit of the forest in her mind. As thanks, the wooden people guide the spaceship back to Earth.

Madge is forced to reveal to her children their father is dead, but she is interrupted by the Doctor. The spaceship arrived on Earth earlier than the Arwelles left. The light from the space ship crossed Reg’s path while flying, so he no longer crashed into the English Channel. The Arwelles celebrate Christmas together. Madge invites the doctor, but he has to visir Rory and amy, who believe he is dead from the ship explosion that opened the episode. It has been two years as far as Rory and Amy are concerned, but they have always set a place for the doctor just in case he shows up.

“The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” has some peculiar plot twists and a contrived ending, but possess enough heart to make it highly enjoyable. So it is dangerous for Cyril to open the box and enter the forest before Christmas? Okay, but that danger does not include the planned acid rain. That is just the Doctor’s bad luck. It comes across as a little too convenient the wooden people’s ship just happens to save Reg, but we needed a happy ending, so there we go. I am just happy I did not get beat over the head with the subplot of a bumbling military taking over a planet just to exploit it for fuel. I was apprehensive there for a moment.

I still prefer last year’s inaugural effort by Steven Moffat, but “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” stacks up quite well. It is certainly more enjoyable than any of Russell T. Davies’ Christmas efforts.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Firefly--"Jaynestown"

“Jaynestown” is frequently cited as the best episode of Firefly, so I will go easy on it. Pulling punches will not be too difficult a task. While Firefly never rung my bell, “Jaynestown” is one of the more amusing episodes. Jayne has been a man of few words thus far, and what he has said has made him out to be amoral muscle for hire. “Jaynestown” shows a different side of him. Not a hero, per se, but a guy who has his own sense of how things really work and the kind of man that underatanding makes him out to be.

Serenity lands on the planet canton with plans to arrange a smuggling job. Canton is essentially a mill town. Workers, called mudders, are paid near slave wages to create the raw materials to make bricks as hard as steel for a wealthy businessman. Jayne was here four years ago and pulled off a major robbery for which he is certain he has not been forgiven. He disguises himself in order to join the crew in canton, but soon discovers by way of a statue built in his honor and a folk song written about him that he is a hero to the mudders.

Four years ago, the robbery went bad. Jayne’s escape vehicle was shot. The money he had stolen showered down on all the mudders. They believe he gave them the stolen money own purpose because he saw how abused they were by their boss. He has become a robin Hood figure for them. When they realize he has come back, the whole town salutes him with wine, women, and song.

What is interesting here is Jayne’s reaction. He likes the attention even though he technically does not deserve it, but he does not take advantage of the mudders to rob them blind. He just enjoys what hey offer him, no more, no less. He is not being honest with them about what he has done, but he is not taking more than they are willing to freely give, either. He is motivated by sympathy for the mudders’ terrible lot in life. He does not even feel right about using the planned Jayne’s day celebration as cover for the smuggling job. As I said above, Jayne has a twisted moral code, but he does have one when pressed.

The local magistrate is not happy to see Jayne return. His inadvertent act of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor emboldened the mudders to stand up to authority for the first time. The magistrate releases Jayne’s incarcerated partner, Stitch, in crime, hands him a gun, and tells him Jayne is back on canton. Because of Jayne’s double-cross, stitch lost an eye and has spent the last four years in the hot box steaming--no pun intended--over the betrayal.

Stitch confronts Jayne at the celebration and reveals the truth about what happened with the money to all the mudders. In spite of now knowing Jayne is a thief and fraud, a mudder jumps in front of a bullet meant for Jayne. Incensed, Jayne beats stitch to death with his bare hands in an incredibly horrific scene in which the beating is out of the camera shot and left to the imagination. Jayne is confounded as to why a mudder would still sacrifice himself after learning Jayne did not give them the money on purpose all those years ago.

The issue at hand is that people need something to believe in. The idea of Jayne inspired the mudders to rise up. Whether Jayne the man is real is irrelevant. The theme also runs through the subplot wherein River rewrites parts a Shepherd’s holy book because it does not make sense to her. Shepherd tells her that truth is not as important as faith. It is faith in an idea, whether true or false, that changes people. I am not certain how much I buy into the concept--it is a subtle jab at the secularist notion Christians can still be “good’ people even though the Bible is myth--but given the eisode’s largely lighthearted tone, I will let it slide without much comment. “Jaynestown” does not offer much in the way of philosophy.

There are a couple other subplots involving simon and kaylee’s relationship heating up, only to sputter and Inara being hired to put some hair on the magistrate’s virginal son’s chest. The subplots tie in just loosely enough to the main story to not be extraneous elements just to give side characters something to do.

“Jaynestown” is mostly played for laughs. There are quite a few to be had. Adam Baldwin has not up until now been given a lot of room to do much with Jayne other than be gruff muscle. The character has not been anything but mercenary, either. The motif has gone so far as to establish Jayne would kill Mal if he could find someone who would pay him enough to make it worth his while. ‘Jaynestown” adds another dimension to the character. He still is not a hero, but he grows to appreciate the impact his actions can have on others.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Eve Myles for Christmas

Who would not want to find the Cardiff Cutie under the tree this year?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace on Earth

If you have been reading The Eye for any length of time, then you have noticed my odd sensibilities and penchant for apocalyptic science fiction. Call it rebellion from a Bob Jones university influenced early education and an overdose of cynicism. Or it could be because I saw Planet of the Apes and the animation short I have embedded below at a very early age.

“Peace on Earth” is a 1939 MGM animated short set at Christmas in the future when animals are the only species left. A grandfather squirrel explains to his three grandchildren what men are in the lyric ’Peace on Earth/good will to men.” The cartoon has a brutally poignant anti-war message. The two last men on earth kill each other in a face off, then animals discover the heart of the problem is they did not follow rules set forth in the Bible. The animals rebuild society based on the commandments of thou shall not kill and love they neighbor as thyself. A little more subtlety, they beat swords into plowshares by making homes out of abandoned war material, a fact which is clear if you look at the buildings from the beginning.

Animation lore claims "Peace on Earth’ was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but there is no official record of it being among the nominees. I tend to doubt it was dver nominated, but I do not discount the idea the Nobel Committee thought a cartoon, no matter what its message, was too far beneath them to officially count. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera remade and updated "Peace on Earth” in 1955. Retitled “Good Will to Men,” the animated short has more obvious Christian overtones and a much less personal annihilation of mankind--we all die in a nuclear holocaust. For whatever reason, the main characters are changed from squirrels to mice. Because of the change, one cannot help but note the similarities between the mice and one of Hanna-Barbera’s most famous creations, Jerry. I am not as fond of “Good Will to Men” as I am “Peace on Earth.” The Cold War alarmism does not resonate as much. Maybe it is because the organized anti-nuclear arms movement adopted the anti-Christian sign of the broken cross from the Roman era as its symbol. Hanna-barbera may not have been aware of that when they added stronger Christian themes in the short, but the irony kills it for me.

I prefer “Peace on Earth” because its images are based on World War I. Largely lost to history, but not to me, was a cultural anxiety regarding the end of the world at the turn of the 20th century which rivaled that of approaching 2000 landing the Left Behind series on the best seller lists. The Great War seemed like it may very well be the end to many true believers. (Some not so true. The Jehovah’s witnesses claim the apocalypse began on October 1st, 1914.) Woodrow Wilson, in his request for Congress to declare war, warned civilization hung in the balance. In that sense, "Peace on Earth” is an interesting historical novelty.

Blogroll Spotlight #125

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. These are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title. If you would like a specific post listed next week, you may email it to me and I will include it.

The Blogroll Spotlight comes a day early this week because of Christmas. Merry Christmas to all my readers, linkers, well-wishers, and haters, too!

Adrienne's Corner--I'm Here...
American Perspective--Muslim Textbooks betray Moderate Fallacy
American Power--Bikini Christmas
Amusing Bunni's Musings--It's a Foamy Christmas! Humbuggers!
Betsey's Page--Legislation to Seem Rather Than to Be
Blazing Cat Fur--An Open Letter from South Korea to North Korea
Blog of the Nightfly--A Psychological Observation
Bluegrass Pundit--The Obama Christmas Song for Liberals
Camp of the Saints--Rule 5 Christmas Countdown
Classic Liberal--The Death of American Freedom with Sofia Vergara
Conservative Hideout--Ideas Matter: bill Whittle on Natural Rights
Da Tech Guy--A Christmas Tradition Ends This Year
Daley Gator--A Bit of Caption Fun
Diogenes' Middle Finger--If Today's Media Had Been There
Eternity Road--Subjects, Objects, and Christmas Carols
Fishersville Mike--More Geniuses?
Gormogons--The Volgi's Castle Christmas Tree
House of Eratosthenes--Lie of the Year Backlash
In a Mad Mad Mad Mad World--The Friday Pin Up
Jaded Haven--Notes of Promise
Lazy Farmer--Something to Think About
Left Coast Rebel--Cheerleader for Statism
Legal Insurrection--Intolerant Anti-Israel Left Still Not Tolerant
Lonely Conservative--Random Ramblings Christmas Edition
Maggie's Notebook--Perry Bachmann Huntsman Santorum NOT On Virginia Ballot – Awaiting Newt News
Motor City Times--Changing Education Paradigm
Nice Deb--Friday Free for All
No Runny Eggs--How Will You Respond?
Other McCain--Yeah, That Was Pretty Quoteworthy
Paco Enterprises--Christmas Stories
Pirate's Cove--If All You See..
Proof Positive--Merry Christmas Eve
Randy's Roundtable--Holder and his DOJ Reject Voter ID Law
Reaganite Republican--Merry Christmas to All!
Sentry Journal--Leadership Without a Vision
Teresamerica--Do Palestinians Really See and Treat Jerusalem as Holy?
Troglopundit--Why Republicans Want to Protect the Voting Process
Vodkapundit--Required Viewing
We the People--"We're Americans."
Wyblog--Festivus Friday: I've Got a Lot of Problems with You People this Year
Zilla of the Resistance--Conservative Bloggers: The Chopped Liver of the Right

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #130

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

Fishersville Mike links to TIME's Person of the Year is the Protester.
Proof Positive links to Katy Perry and Olivia Munn.
Say Anything links to Katy Perry and Olivia Munn.
American Perspective links to Olivia Munn.
Pirate's Cove links FMJRA #129, Blogroll Spotlight #124, Mary Elizabeth Winestead, and Emily Scott.
Sentry Journal links to Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).
Motor City Times links to The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Rick Perry's Strong Ad.
Randy's Roundtable links to Mary Elizabeth Winestead and Dana Delaney.
The Other McCain links to Bar Refaeli.
Teresamerica links to Katy Perry.
Maggie's Notebook links to Bar Refaeli.
Reaganite Republican links to Jessica Simpson in a Santa Outfit.
Conservative Hideout links to Ron Paul's Doomsday Portfolio.

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.

Firefly--"Our Mrs. Reynolds"

It may be difficult to tell from the angle, but that is Christina Hendricks of Mad Men who is playing “Our Mrs. Reynolds.” The episode is played largely for laughs, sometimes to the point of absurdity, but it is an entertaining episode. I have to wonder if Joss Whedon has the same problem as George Lucas--no one is willing to suggest he rein it in a bit every now and then.

The episode begins with Jayne and mal posing as husband and “wife” while protecting a load of cargo from a band of thieves. That night, they take part in a celebration at which a beautiful young girl places a wreath on mal’s head, offers him wine, and takes him for a dance. The next morning, mal discovers the girl, named Staffron, is his new bride. Shepherd reads up on local customs as the rest of the crew mocks mal brutally for the pickle he is in. According to shepherd’s research, placing of a wreath on the head, drinking wine, and dancing is the local version of a marriage ceremony.

Saffron is a mousy, subservient woman. While Mal urges her to be more assertive, he allws her to cook for him and is seduced by her later in his room. Saffron is not what she seems, however. He lips are laced with a narcotic that knocks mal out. She attempts to kiss wash, too, but he resists because he respects her marriage and his romance with Zoe. She kicks him to knock him out, then sets Serenity on a different course and smashes the controls so the crew cannot alter it.

While attempting to get to a shuttle, Saffron encounters Inara and tries to kiss her, too. They do not lip lock long enough to be effective, but Saffron diverts Inara’s attention by referring to herself as Mal’s widow. She escapes as Inara discovers mal is merely unconscious in his room, not dead. The ship is on a collision course for a gisnt electric net. The purpose of the net is to catch the ship and electrocute everyone on board while leaving everything else intact. The crew cannot stop the ship, but Jayne is able to disable the electric net with an impressive shot from his rifle. Mal tracks down Saffron, but gets no answers from her. He punches her unconscious, but otherwise leaves her be. Because she is going to be a recurring character, of course.

The over the top humor is supposed to sustain the wafer thin plot, and does a good job overall. Some aspects are a bit much, such as how the crew stands around arguing over who got seduced versus who was punched out when they should have been worried more about getting the ship back on course. There also a completely manufactured cut to commercial cliffhanger which looks like Jayne is going to shoot Mal, but offers to trade his gun for Saffron post commercial. for heaven's sake! But that is television for you, right? “Our Mrs. Reynolds” is an amusing episode overall in spite of Whedon being just a little too cheeky.

Rating; *** (out of 5)If you require a better look at Christina Hendricks, here you go.

Sara Underwood for Christmas Eve

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ron Paul's Doomsday Portfolio

The analysis of Ron Paul's investment holdings speaks for itself, but that will not stop me from commenting after the quote:
“At our request, William Bernstein, an investment manager at Efficient Portfolio Advisors in Eastford, Conn., reviewed Rep. Paul’s portfolio as set out in the annual disclosure statement. Mr. Bernstein says he has never seen such an extreme bet on economic catastrophe. ‘This portfolio is a half-step away from a cellar-full of canned goods and nine-millimeter rounds,’ he says.”
Paul's preparations for the coming apocalypse may or may not also be motivated by the impending race war he envisions as much as the economic collapse of the United States. I have not read his newsletter, so I can only guess.

I have a lot of Paulistas who visit the Eye. I sympathize with you romantic notion Paul is a true classic liberal who can bring the country back to its founding principles. The Gospel of Paul has been preached to me on websites I have visited that have absolutely nothing to do with politics. He has an army of acolytes out there spreading the word everywhere. But have mercy, tell me you guys are taking these revelations into account.

I have heard secularists joke for decades now that Christian fundamentalist presidents with their finger on The Button would set it off just to bring about the Armageddon. In Paul, we would have a president who just might. At the very least, he is braced for a fancy retirement should society collapse, plunging the country into cannibalism.

I have in the past Paul has a messianic personality and is a senile old kook. Folks, he really is! Send him and his most ardent followers to establish that lunar colony newt Gringrich thinks we might one day have. Fulfill Robett Heinlein’s vision from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Whatever happens, this cannot win Iowa1 I am not nervous he will win the nomination. I just do not want to know anything more about his strange notions, nor do I want Paulistas any more encouraged than they already are.

(Via: Hot Air and The Other McCain.)

Donald Trump Switches Party Affiliation Form Republican to Independent

The attention whoring faux presidential campaign rolls on.

Formspring Question #322--Funny Books on Film Edition

Best comic book movie?
Batman Begins. I am supposed to saw The Dark Knight, but I think the movie is overrated due to the emotion over Heath Ledger's death.

Formspring Question #321--Alas, Babylon Edition

You probably have it planned already, but I vote B5 as your next show. Have been meaning to watch it and would love to follow along with you. :)
Patience is a virtue.

Firefly--"Safe"

As with the previous episode, “Safe” answers the question of why a group of thieves and smugglers keep extraneous crew along with them. In this case, it is Shepherd and the Tams rather than Inara. The plot deals with mal making a fateful choice between getting desperately needed medical treatment for Shepherd or finding the kidnapped tams. We learn Shepherd is considered a VIP by the Alliance and through flashbacks, the past life of the Tams before Simon rescued River.

Mal seeks to sell the cattle Serenity is smuggling on a backwater world. Mal, who is still showing an open animosity for the trouble harboring the Tams is causing, tells them to get scarce durinb the deal. Mal takes shepherd along with him and Jayne to make a deal with the cattlers rustlers. Local authorities intervene and there is a shootout during which shepherd is gravely wounded.

After a brief stint shopping with Inara and Kaylee in which Simon in adversity insults Kaylee, he takes River out of the store and subsequently loses her. He discovers her later at a square dance, smiling and having a good time. While distracted, some men throw a burlap sack over his head and drag him off. River follows and is kidnapped, too.

Back on Serenity Mal orders wash to find Simon while he performs field surgery. The operation is good enough to stabilize Shepherd, but not save him. Wash cannot find Simon. Mal declares he and river have likely been taken by hill people, who often kidnap professional types and force them into labor. He probably should have mentioned that to Simon beforehand. Mal leaves them behind to seek medical treatment for Shepherd.

The Tams are taken to a village in which Simon feels obligated to treat the many sick. River seems to be more at ease in the family oriented environment. The positive change in her makes simon lament the normal life they have lost because of being on the run. Things go sour when river’s mysterious mental powers allow her to read a mute girl’s mind. The villagers call her a witch who must be burned at the stake.

Meanwhile, Serenity reluctantly docks at an Alliance base for Shepherd’s sake. The alliance staff do not want to treat Shepherd, especially when they realize he has a bullet wound. He shows them an identification card, and they immediately treat him as a VIP. He never reveals his past with the Alliance, even when pressed by Mal. With Shepherd healed, Serenity returns to rescue the Tams just in the nick of time.

“Safe’ plays heavily on the theme of family. The most obvious aspect is the sibling relationship between Simon and River. Their connection is told through flashbacks from the time they are children up until Simon defies his parents, who do not believe river is in trouble in the Alliance institution, in order to rescue her. In the end, he is unable to rescue her from being tied to the stake, so he opts to be executed right along with her. In another aspect, Shepherd is presented as less a moral compass for the crew than a father figure. Even the mercenary Jayne is upset at the prospect of losing him at the same time he is looting the apparently gone forever Simon’s room for valuables. Mal was both willing to risk capture by the alliance to save Shepherd and to come back for the troublesome Tams because they are part of a pseudo family. The episode ends with all of them eating together as a family.

You young whippersnappers should note Zac Efrom makes his acting debut as young Simon. Zefron is known for starring in High School Musical. I had to look him up to find out what the big deal is with him. Did High School Musical’s popularity start the fad that cursed us with Glee? It sounds like it. Boo, hiss1

“Safe” is an enjoyable, character oriented episode. Joss Whedon has said he likes to have creating a family as a running theme through his television shows. I cannot speak for much of his past endeavors, but he is certainly heavy-handed with it here. There is more less than subtle anti-Christian bias as well, but considering Shepherd is seen as a positively relious moral guide, I will chalk up the ignorant burn the witch villagers as a commentary on too strict fundamentalists only and leave it at that.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Jessica Simpson in a Santa Outfit

Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sen. Tom Harkin Calls for Federal Investigation of Gov. Nikki Haley

Forget deleted e-mails. Sen. Tom Harkin accuses South carolina Gov. Nikki haley of misusing federal funds by influencing the findings of a panel designed to implement healthcare reform in the state. Haley allegedly urged the panel to recommend not implementing Obamacare at all.

Two points here:

One, this is South Carolina. I repeat, because it bears repeated, Haley’s political mentor, Gov. Mark Sanford, abandoned the state for days so he could stroll with his mistress on on a beach in Argentina, and he not only finished out his term, but his endorsement of Haley helped her win a crowded primary and defeat a decent Democrat candidate in the general election. If Haley blew a $109,000 requesting a panel draw the same conclusion they were likely to draw anyway, we really do not care down here. South Carolina politics is strange, nasty, and not for Yankees to comment upon.

Two, why does Harkin want to spend who know how many millions on a federal investigation over $109,000? How about an investigation over the Obama administration spending billions on the green energy Solyndra boondoggle? Fast and Furious is not getting the attention it deserves, either. Of course, it is far more important to discredit a Tea Party favorite of a deeply red state who recently endorsed Mitt Romney, particularly when she, like half the governors in the country, is not keen on the healthcare takeover.

Haley’s actions are questionable, but Harkin’s desire to potentially spend millions in an investigation over $109,000 is a politically motivated waste of time and money.

Alec Baldwin Declines NYC Mayoral Run

A surprising decision considering Alec Baldwin's overblown ego, but not so much considering his fiery demeanor. The amusing part is the excuse Baldwin offers up. He believes his opponents are going to brutally criticize him and he would like to stay above the fray. He, after all, is not the kind of guy who would scream at airline attendants politely asking him to stop playing his cell phone game or leaving a phone message railing on his ten year old "thoughtless pig" daughter. Talk about projecting.

Not that there such acts are a barrier to running for mayor. Norman Mailer stabbed his wife at a party, critically wounding her, yet ran for mayor in 1969. At the request of radical feminist Gloria Steinem, no less. violence towards women can easily be forgiven by even the most ardent feminist if the attacker promises to be a faithful progressive in the future.

The only regret I have about an aborted Baldwin run for mayor is that I cannot steal the old joke from Night Court about the guy who voted for scuzz bucket Dan Fielding in a New York City Council race, then took his own life because living in the big city had ground him down. His suicide note explained his vote as his last act by writing in his suicide note the Big Apple deserves a worm like Fielding. I a, not too sure I do not share the same sentiment about Baldwin. Maybe it is the Southerner in me. Or I could just be disappointed the right Baldwin is not thinking about running.

Firefly--"Shindig"

I perked up quite a bit when I noticed Jane Esperson wrote “Shindig.” While I remain blissfully unaware of her previous work for Joss Whedon, I have enjoyed many of her scripts for Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and Torchwood: Miracle Day. I looked forward to watching “Shindig” and was not disappointed.

Serenity returns to Persephon, the planet they beat a hasty retreat from in the pilot. Inara plans to attend a formal ball and chooses an aristocratic client named Atherton Wing as her escort. grease monkey Kaylee is enthralled by the formal dresses the upper crust wears to these things, but Mal pops her bubble by insulting how she would look in one. She storms off very upset. The rest of the crew, sans the not so sensitive Jayne, follow suit in solidarity with her.

Mal and Jayne are accosted by Badger, whom we also met in the pilot. He has the opportunity to move some hot property off world for a big shot named Warwick Harrow, but harrow will not have anything to do with a lowlife like Badger. He wants mal to act as the middleman contact. Harrow happens to be the man throwing the formal ball, so mal kills two birds with one stone by escorting kaylee to the ball in order to get close to Harrow.

Inara is not thrilled to see Mal in attendance. He cuts in her dance with wing in order to tell her about the business proposition. She reveals she is considering building a life here with wing instead of continuing on Serenity. wing cuts back in under the rationale he has paid for Inara’s company. Incensed at the implication inara is a hooker--paid companion is a much classier term, I guess--Mal punches him. He winds up being challenged to a sword fight at dawn with master swordsman Wing. Oops.

Mal practices all night, but it is clear he has no skill with a sword. Inara is still angry at him for defending her honor when she did not ask for his help. She thinks he ought to escape to avoid being killed, but mal refuses to back down from the duel. In the morning, mal meets the challenge, and is outclassed as a swordsman by wing until he decides to punch him and steal his sword. Having won as far as harrow is concerned, mal is awarded the deal to move the hot cargo--a full head of cattle. While looking out over the cattle in the cargo bay, Inara thanks Mal for defending her and wonders why she ever thought about leaving such a glamorous life.

“Shindig” has some great character moments. Obviously, the main characters featured are mal and Inara. Mal’s roguish ways have been well established already, as has his warped sense of morality. He will brutally insult a young girl, then backhandedly make her dream come true while using her to line up an illegal operation, and then nearly blow it all risking his life to defend a prostitute’s honor when she refuses to do so herself. If nothing else, Mal’s actions towards her establish Inara as an important part of the crew. Kaylee is amusing. The low class tomboy in her keeps her from fitting in with the high society girls, but she finally finds her place talking shop with a crowd of mechanically inclined men.

River’s manic ways are on display yet again. In a down period, she frantically rips the blue sun labels off the can goods in the mess hall, which is a reference to the Blue Hand agents who sre looking for her. In a lucid moment, she provides a distraction for the crew who are being held captive by Badger to prevent them from interfering with the duel. There is no way she could have known they needed a distraction at that precise time, nor could she have known the details of Badger’s life in order to converse with him as she did. Emerging psychic powers, folks.

“Shindig” hovers close to sitcom territory in much of its tone and plot, but the jokes are funny and the characterizations are fun, so I have no complaints. Esperson apparently had a good time writing what is essentially a Jane Austen period piece. It shows in the finished product.

Rating; *** (out of 5)