Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Formspring Question #348--Rating Rothery Edition

Teryl Rothery: hot or not?
She is nice looking.So, yeah. Hot.

Florida Primary Predictions

I doubt the outcome of Florida's primary will be a surprise to anyone. The margin of victory is likely the only unsettled point;

Mitt Romney
Newt Gingrich
Rick Santorum
Ron Paul

i explained my rationale for Romney beating Gingrich yesterday, so there is no sense in repeating it here. I do not not fresee as big a blowout for Romney as some polls are predicting, but if he does win by a huge margin, Romney is going to have a lot of momentum heading into favorable primaries and caucuses next month. With no debates for three weeks, gingrich is not going to take advantage of his campaigning strength for a while. Considering that he did not set the woods on fire in the last debate, an upcoming lull in which he will likely appear weak may do his candidacy in.

Santorum will come in third. He had pretty much given up on florida even before his daughter was hospitalized in Pennsylvania. I do not expect a sympathy surge in voting, and I will just leave it at that.

Paul will finish last and probably in the single digits percentage-wise.

Stargate SG-1--"Secrets"

“Secrets” deals with the subject of family far better than the previous episode which was actually entitled “Family.” the episode has many interesting touches, among them Sam’s struggle that she can never please her father, Daniel’s willingness to risk everything in the near hopeless cause of recovering Sha’re, and talc’s loyalty to daniel being so strong, he will take the risks right along beside him. My inner X-Phile also appreciates the appearance and conspiratorial fate of Armin Selig, played by Jeffery Spender’s Chris Owens.

Exactly one year to the day Daniel promised to return to Abydos with the rescued Sha’re, he feels compelled to return anyway to explain to her father he has not given up the search. Teal’c agrees to go with him as back up. Jack and Sam are due in Washington to be awarded medals for their meroism in destroying Apophis’ ship, though the cover story is they are being awarded for research efforts. On Abydos, Daniel and teal’c discover sha’re has returned some time ago expecting apophis’ child. In Washington, sam is confronted with her cancer ridden father who is trying to guilt her into joining NASA so he can die knowing she is an astronaut. Jack is confronted by a journalist who knows all about Stargate Command and what has transpired there over the last year.

Two Goa’uld are forbidden from having a child together because the child would inherit the genetic memory of all Goa’uld, so Apophis incapacitated Sha’re’s symbiote in order for her to have a child. Apophis’ hid her away on Abydos to keep his rivals from taking the child. Daniel is devastated, but eventually comes to decide he should take Sha’re and the child back to Earth. Once Sha’re gives birth, she will revert back to Amaunet and have to be imprisoned so as not to harm anyone, but both she and her child will be free from Spophis’ grasp.

In Washington, Sam is surprised to see her major general father attending her ceremony. There is a definite vibe that he wanted a boy to be just like him, and nothing sam has ever accomplished has satisfied him. He reveals that he has pulled some strings to get her into the astronaut program, but she refuses. Her father drops the bomb on her that he is dying of cancer and wants to know she is going into space before he passes on. He leaves her with that guilt trip. The bitter part being if he knew what role she really played in top secret SG-1, he would think a career as an astronaut is child’s play. Or not. There probably is no real way to please him.

Meanwhile, jack encounters a journalist named Armin Selig who knows all about the stargate program. Selig is played by Chris Owens, who had been playing the young Cigarette smoking Man on The X-Files for a couple years and had just begun playing Jeffrey Spender a few months before “secrets.” Selig has shades of Fox Mulder. He is a guy who has stumbled across a government conspiracy involving aliens that he is determined to unravel even though no one would likely believe the truth. Selig is killed by a hit and run driver after confronting for the second time. It is unclear whether selig’s death was an accident or someone murdering him to keep the stargate a secret. Nifty homage there, but I cannot help but think it was thrown in for the sake of giving Jack something to do in the episode. He is the only main character who does not have emotionally difficult decisions to make regarding someone he cares about.

Sha’re gives birth. Her Goa’uld reemerges just as Heru’ur arrives to kidnap the child in order to spite Apophis. Daniel gives the child to Sha’re’s father to spirit away, and the rest of SG-1 arrive just in time to rescue Daniel and Teal’c from Heru’ur. Apophis arrives after his defeat to “learn” the child has been stolen by Heru’ur. She does not reveal SG-1 is hiding in the pyramid from Apophis, thereby proving she is fighting against Goa’uld control.

“Secrets’ is a solid episode. It is packed with great character moments which also further the overall story arc while including an action oriented ending. If there is any flaw, it is the inclusion of Selig feels forced. Either the threat of the stargate’s exposure is thrown in to give Jack a more pivotal role in the episode, which still does not exactly measure up, or it was meant to be an wink to The X-Files and nothing more, it is still the episode’s weak spot. But not weak enough to be considered a serious detriment.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Reese Witherspoon

Monday, January 30, 2012

Formspring Question #347--Palin Pandering Edition

What is Sarah Palin's game? Does she want to be Newt's vice-presidential pick?
No. When Newt Gingrich dropped her name as a potential running mate, he was pandering to Tea Partiers just as much as he was mentioning Marco Rubio as a possible veep choice to Florida Republicans in the last debate. Sarah Palin knows that. Her time as a serious candidate for any office, assuming she ever truly enjoyed one, has passed. I assume she knows that, too.

As for why she is so adamantly backing Gingrich, I assume she is trying to hold on to her conservative icon status. It I probably no coincidence she agreed to keynote the 2012 CPAC and began cheerleading for Gingrich shortly after there were no takers for her latest reality show idea. You know, the one featuring her husband snowmobiling that barely registered on anyone’s radar? Her punditry is the only thing she has left, so she has to keep her ultraconservative fan base on her side.

I would not necessarily discount the idea Palin and Gingrich have become friends since they both worked at FOX News. I suspect she is more motivated by self-interest than to help out a buddy, but just throwing it out there. Palin has a history of doing weird and impulsive things for reasons that are not often clear.

Formspring Question #346--Newt-ron Bomb Edition

Think Newt can rally in Florida like he did in SC w/o another debate?
No fair. You are going to make me preview my Florida primary predictions a day early. Spoilsport.

I am more skeptical Newt Gingrich can win Florida than I was a week ago. There was a genuine distaste for Mitt Romney in South Carolina, so much so we were willing to risk our 30 year streak of the eventual nominee always winning the South Carolina primary, because we did not like Romney. Gingrich became the beneficiary because he has staked his fortunes in conservative southern states and we liked his combativeness in the debates. Florida obviously has a different mood. The wealthy snowbirds appear to be more moderates down there.

I imagine the ’boosts” of the tea Party endorsement and Herman Cain’s support are probably things gingrich would have had going for him anyway. Rick Santorum does not generate much excitement among the Tea Partiers and cain voters are natural gingrich voters even without his blessing. If the Tea Partiers and the Cainiacs can be credited as a surprise factor that puts Gingrich over the top tomorrow rather than making up the base of support that still has him trailing Romney now, it would be a genuine surprise.

Nevertheless, I do not expect a huge blowout by Romney. I hate to sound conspiratorial, but I feel like any news about Romney is being presented in the best possible light light. The GOP establishment wants him as the nominee. For whatever reason, the Democrats do, too. Maybe they think conservatives will stay home on Election day rather than vote for another moderate like John McCain or Bob Dole. That only means that Gingrich is probably going to do better than is generally assumed. Winning Florida is another matter. I am just not sure how reliably conservative florida Republicans are.

Formspring Question #345--Weed Whacker Edition

Do you support legalizing pot?
I do not care enough to make it a big issue either way. If pot legalization was a ballot initiative, I would vote yes. It would not bother me if my elected officials voted in favor of legalizing pot. Nor would I much care if they took a moral stand against it. While I am confident pot would be less of a bane on society than alcohol consumption, it is just not that big a deal to me. There are more important things to work on first.

Besides, legalizing pot would not be as great as its advocates believe. We are an absurdly judgmental country when it comes to personal habits. We outright ban smoking even in some bars. Smokers are segregated at from non-smokers even in places where smoking is accepted. Those who partake in alcohol have to qualify themselves as “occasional’ or ’social’ drinkers to avoid being labeled drunks. We even go after food. Vegetarians flip out over those who eat meat. health food nuts are on everyone’s case. You are not even supposed to buy your kids a happy meal these days because some lax parents do not care enough about their bratty young ones to keep them from scarfing down enough junk food to make them resemble the Michelin Man.

If pot were legalized, the stigma of pot smokers as dumb, lazy, and unreliable would persist. There would be even fewer places for pot smokers to partake than cigarette smokers. The end result would be as though pot had never been legalized in the first place.

It likely will not be, either. there is a growing private prison industry that has a vested interest in incarcerating as many as it can for as long as it can. This industry is one of the main reasons we have the highest percentage of citizens incarcerated than any other country. The private prison industry employs lobbyists all over the united states to promote three strikes laws and zero tolerance policies. Considering how many inmates are incarcerated on drug related crimes, one should not expect any slack in drug laws to be forthcoming.

Which is not to say you should buy into the drug legalization myth the majority of those incarcerated on drug related crimes are decent folk unfairly busted for simple possession. As this study shows, the vast majority incarcerated on drug related crimes are extremely violent and dangerous. Nevertheless, pot smokers are not likely to join the side of angels at any point as long as their is momeny to be made locking them up.

Stargate SG-1--"Family"

“Family” revisits Teal’c’s family situation back on Chulak while showing us the aftermath of Apophis’ failed attempt to conquer Earth. If you are a big teal’c fan, this is the episode for you. Or maybe not. He gets roughed up pretty badly on an emotional level.

Bra’tac comes through the stargate, something he is only supposed to do in an emergency, to warn Teal’c Apohis has kidnapped his son apophis’ army is now in tatters, so he is looking for a way to maintain his hold on Chulak. The theory is to use Rya’c to lure Teal’c to chulak and arrest him as a traitor. Knowing full well this is a trap, Teal’c opts to rescue his son anyway, with Bra’tac and SG-1 for back up.

When they arrive on Chulak, Teal’c discovers his wife Drey’ac has married one of his closest friends, Flo’tac. Faster than you can say kiss my grits, Teal’c disowns his wife and promise to kill Flo’tac once his son has been rescued.. Bra’tac convinces Teal’c his wife and child are better off now without being forced to live with his disgrace, and reluctantly agrees. But he gets another shock when the palace rescue attempt fails because rya’c is brainwashed into a loyal minion to Apophis.

Speaking of palace intrigue, Teal’c and Drey’ac rekindle their romance while flo’tac secretly watches. In response, he decides to turn Teal’c in to Apophis. Jack stops him from doing so, but has to kill him in the process. Drey’ac shrugs his death off like a trooper. When Rya’c appears on a televised speech with apophis in which he supposedly sends a coded message to Teal’c about where to rescue him tomorrow, he shrugs off his son’s earlier betrayal like a trooper, too. I am rather amused at drey’ac coming across as an opportunist throughout the episode while Teal’c has such a genuine love for his son, he is willing to believe anything. I will bet when they were married, Drey’ac chewed Teal’c up and spit him out on a regular basis. It does not matter how big you are, a woman can take you down.

Teal’c is being naïve, of course. Rya’c is not only brainwashed, but booby trapped with poison gas in two false teeth which is potent enough to kill all life on earth within a week. Even the incredibly easy rescue does not prove anything until Frasier discovers the false teeth back on Earth. But the whole human genocide thing is glossed over in favor of Teal’c attempting to reach his brainwashed son. Frasier gives up rather quickly on Teal’c trying to reach him and skips sending in a cult deprogrammer, which you would think should be the next idea, to head straight for Electro Convulsive Therapy. Look, I know the Cult Awareness network, the experts in cult deprogramming, were sued out of existence by the Church of Scientology over a decade ago, so now deprogrammers attached to CAN fret over Thetans, but should counseling really be skipped in favor of frying a kid with electrodes?

But wait, it gets worse. Teal’c decides that it is his responsibility to heal his son, so he opts to shoot him with a Goa’uld energy weapon rather than let Frasier sedate Rya’c and administer shocks medically. I suppose it turns out to be the right decision. Rya’c writhes in pain after being shot, but wakes up fine. A few brain cells friend, but otherwise fine. He and Drey’ac go live with the People of Light, who apparently do not hold a grudge over that whole Hassan are incredibly rude thing a few episodes back.

The choice to use ECT on Rya’c piqued my curiosity. Put aside for the moment Teal’c decided to perform ECT by shooting his son. We can chalk that one up to dramatic embellishment. The question is whether ETC is used as a treatment for brainwashing. I had to look it up. Needless to say, ECT is controversial. Only about 100,000 are performed each year and only in cases of mood disorders in which suicide is imminent. Within that criteria, there is sharp division as to whether ECT ought to be performedi have only taken a superficial scan of the issue from Google search results, but the bottom line appears to be ECT is as close to a reset button the brain has. Psychologists are not even certain why it works or are confident of the long term results. Nevertheless, it is considered a last resort under at best and a human rights violation at worst. I invite anyone interested to search the issue.

“Family’ is questionable up one side and down the other. It is scripted by Katharyn Powers, so what do I expect? All I can say is the decision was not only made to perform ECT on a child, but that was not good enough, so they opted to shoot him instead.--and it worked! Frasier must have graduated from the Katharyn Janeway School of Psychology.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Brooklyn Decker

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blogroll Spotlight #130

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.

Adrienne's Corner-Sarah Palin Calls GOP Establishment Cannibals
American Perspective-Kate Beckinsale-Rule 5
American Power-Australian Bikini Rule 5
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Security Stepped Up for Summer Olympics
And So It Goes in Shreveport-Loose Thoughts
Atlas Shrugs-CIA/DOD Reckless on Jihad: CIA Operative's Family speaks
Betsy's Page-Live by the Debates, Die by the Debates
Blazing Cat Fur-A Multicultural Moment: Shafia's Relatives Endorse Honour-Killings
Blog of the Nightfly-Pedantric
Bluegrass Pundit-Twitter Sellout: Twitter Planning to Allow Countries to Censor Tweets
Bride of Rove-Offer Me the Moon
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Saturday; Erica Durance
Classic Liberal-Rule 5 Tattoo
Conservative Hideout-Obamney's Healthcare?
Da Tech Guy-They Laughed at the Wright Brothers...Great countries do Great Things
Daley Gator-*VIDEO* Congressman Allen West Speaks At Palm Beach GOP Lincoln Day Dinner
Dell's Bottom Line-Reuters Hit Piece On Marco Rubio Requires FIVE Corrections!
Diogenes' Middle Finger-Obama Gots OSCAR Nod
Essential Mr. Bill-Kerry, Lemiuex, and Thomas: A Hockey Post
First Street Journal-Rule 5 Blogging: How Did She Cook This?
Fishersville Mike-cain Makes Plain He'll Endorse newt's Campaign
Gormogons-Bibles in Public Schools??!???
House of Eratosthemes-Twenty-Five soldiers Surprise Their Families
In a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-The Friday Pin Up
Jaded Haven-Conservative Kittens
Lazy Farmer-There Are No Atheists in the Foxholes
Left Coast Rebel-L.L. Bean Heiress Endorses Ron Paul
Legal Insurrection-Hope and Change Some Didn't Believe In
Lonely Conservative-Latest Story
Marco Rubio: Why Would We Want to Become Like the Countries Everyone Else Tries to Escape?

Maggie's Notebook-Rule 5 Saturday Night: Elsa Benitez
Mind Numbed Robot-Why I Love Texas
Motor City Times-Obama Demands Taxpayers Increase Funding For Overpriced Universities
Nice Deb-Gingrich, Romney in Dead Heat In Latest FL Poll! + Videos
No Runny Eggs-The "Who's the Reagan Protege" Debate
Other McCain-Herman Cain Endorses Newt Gingrich
Paco Enterprises-sunday Funnies
Pirate's Cove-FBI Shuts Down File Sharing Site Megaupload – We Need SOPA And PIPA Why?
Proof Positive-Obama's state of Confusion Address
Pundit & Pundette-"audacity of Despair"
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Riehl World View-Conservatives Opposed to Mitt Romney in the General Election
Right Klik-Hugo Chavez' daughter's Fistful of American Dollars
Sentry Journal-How Will History Judge This Generation If We Let Our Republic Slip Away?
Teresamerica-Lea Michele New Candies Girl Rule 5
Troglopundit-Why Do Environmentalists Hate Plants?
Virtual Mirage-Will the Chinese Trump the US Intel Initiative
Vodkapundit-Falling Up
Washington Rebel-Flying Blind
We the People-Video of the Day: "A Brief History" Edition
WyBlog-My Weekly Obama Jobs Report, the Obamanomics Sets New Records Edition
Zilla of the Resistance-Let's Make a Miracle Happen

Stargate SG-1--"Message in a Bottle"

“Message in a Bottle,’ an ironically titled bottle show, can also justifiably be called Sttargate Meets The Andromeda Strain. I will be generous and call it an homage, but one wonders if writer Brad Wright was hoping no one watching the episode has ever seen the movie or read the novel. I will grant some originality in the episode and a creative, non-violent resolution, so thumbs up for SG-1 not shooting its way out of a problem.

The SG-1 team encounters an orb on a dead planet resembling Earth’s moon. They find an orb that dates back from an advanced civilization 100,000 years ago. They debate whether it is dangerous to take the orb back to earth, but conclude any power source than can keep it running for such a long period of time must be studied and hopefully utilized. Back at SGC, Daniel and Sam attempt to decipher microscopic writings on the ord to no avail. When it begins emitting high levels of radiation, Jack orders the stargate opened to send the orb back to the planet. The orb instead locks itself in place with extended “arms,” one of which spears Jack through his left shoulder.

The arm infects Jack with a glowing pathogen that soon infects everyone and everything else in SGC. The whole facility is put on lockdown quarantine and an auto-self-destruct countdown called Wildfire is begun to destroy the pathogen rather than allow it to spread beyond SGC. Efforts to destroy the orb by shooting it with Teal’c’s staff weapon and depriving it off oxygen fail until it dawns on Daniel they have been going about this all wrong. They have been treating it like a disease when it is actually an intelligent alien that trying to communicate. Once they feed it more energy, the alien reveals through Jack that it has no desire to harm anyone, but will not go back to the dead world on which iyt was found. Hammond compromises with the aliens, because when SGC blows, it will release enough energy to cause infection across the entire planet, to send the aliens to a primordial world in exchange for regaining control of SGC. It is a deal folks.

“Message in a Bottle” is pretty much The Andromeda Strain. In the novel/film, there is an alien pathogen that feeds off energy introduced to earth. There is a quarantine similar ro Wildfire. The heroes have to prevent a nuclear explosion that will give off enough energy for the pathogen to infect the entire Earth. I have never read the novel, and I could take or leave the film, so I am not all that bothered by the similarities with “Message in a Bottle.” If there are fans out there who consider the episode a rip off, so be it. On its own merit, it is an exciting episode that creatively gets around what could feel like a throwaway budget-saving story. The story instead emphasizes the skills of the main characters to resolve the conflict. Of note is the loyalty teal’c demonstrates to jack as he spends the entire episode pinned to the wall through his shoulder. Ouch. If there is any real detriment, it is the self-destruct sequence being stopped with exactly one second left to go. Come on--is that not a little too cliché at this point?

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Susan Coffey

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #135

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

Proof Positive links to Jessica Alba, Olivia Munn, and Elizabeth Hurley.
Say Anything links to Jessica Alba, Olivia Munn, and Elizabeth Hurley.
Motor City Times links to Rightward Ho An Electoral No?
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA # 134, Blogroll Spotlight #129, and Sandra Bullock.
Sentry Journal links to South Carolina Primary Wrap Up.
Randy's Roundtable links to Adriana Lima and Rose Byrne.
Classic Liberal links to Blake Lively, Elizabeth Hurley, and Olivia Munn.
American Perspective links to Olivia Munn.
The Other McCain links to Blake Lively.
Teresamerica links to Olivia Munn.
Maggie's Notebook links to Blake Lively.
Reaganite Republican links to Emma Stone.

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.

Stargate SG-1--"Thor's Chariot"

I had mixed emotions going into “Thor’s Chariot." The Asgard are my favorite alien race. I am a devoted X-Phile, so how can I not appreciate the Roswell aliens? Any episode I have not seen yet which features the Asgard perks me up. But oh, no--the episode is written by Katharyn Powers, aka the Lisa Klink of Stargate SG-1. My fears were put to rest almost immediately. “Thor’s Chariot” is a solid arc episode.

Stargate Command receives the ’message’ of an object coming through the stargate without opening the iris. An analysis raises speculation it was the box from the Sagan Institute left behind on Cimmeria to be given to the Asgard should they ever return. Assuming the Asgard have returned, SGC sends a probe through the stargate to Cimmeria only to discover the people are being slaughtered by the Jaffa. With their only defense, Thor’s Hammer, having been destroyed in order to save Teal ’c on SG-1’s first visit, the team feels responsible for the slaughter and go to help.

What is interesting about “Thor’s Chariot’ is how the SG-1 team splits up in order to maximize their particular talents. Jack and Teal’c engage in a guerilla war with the Jaffa in order to keep them away from the cave in which the Cimmerian survivors are hiding. The battle is classic firefights, and explosions on a surprisingly grand scale for a cable series. On the other hand, Daniel, Sam, and Girwyn, who we met on the last trip to cimmeria, go off in search of the perhaps mythical Thor’s Hall of Might to see if it has any useful weapons. The three of them are caught up in some Indiana Jones’esque traps which test their spirits and minds more than anything else. So the main cast members are utilized perfectly.

The two tests, by the way, involve crossing a narrow bridge which is intended to set up the opportunity for one waking on the bridge to risk his life to save another as a test of character. The other is to identify pi from markings on separate walls in order to figure out to press a circle on a far wall to make Thor appear in his true grey alien form. One point I liked about the latter is Daniel, brilliant archeologist though he is, needs Sam to point out that pi is the solution and relate it to the circle on the wall. Daniel is not the Sam Beckett uber-genius who knows every minute detail of every intellectual subject. He--and all the characters--are real people who need help when backed into a corner, either physically or mentally. I will admit this is a personal appreciation. My experience in law school was the more expertise a law professor had in his subject, and I am talking brilliant men and women here, the less likely they could pull out a simple fist year concept from another subject. That sort of thing happens, and it is neat to see it on television after all this time of every character on Star Trek knowing absolutely everything they need to know for every conceivable situation. Your mileage may vary.

The two teams rendesvous with each other in disappointment. Jack and teal’c do not have the firepower to defeat the Jaffa. The Asgards had no weapons in thor’s Hall of might, either. Solving the tests was to prove maturity of the Cimmerians. The SG-1 team is forced to surrender in order to prevent the Cimmerians from being slaughtered, but the Asgards intervene in a huge spaceship--the real Thor’s chariot--and put an end to the Jaffa threat.

‘Thor’s Chariot” is a highly entertaining episode. As I noted above, it is well split between action and clever brain teasers. It is also monumental for the overall story arc. We meet Heru’ur, son of Ra and Hathor, for the first time. We get a glimpse of Thor in his true form and discover how powerful the Asgard are. Finally, we learn, thanks to her connection with Jolinar, Sam can operate Goa’uld technology with concentration. Powers has surprised me here with an impressive script. Do I need to cut her more slack for the future?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Katee Sackhoff and Mary McDonnell

A blast from the Battlestar Galactica past.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Need"

“Need” is a peculiar critter. In an episode that would otherwise be often poorly conceived filler, two major plot points are dropped in. One, Sam does have the permanent ability to sense goa’uld symbiotes, which makes the previous episode’s revelation her bonding with Jolinar affected her body chemistry not one of those typical comic book continuity glitches of a never before mentioned and hereafter ignored convenient plot device. Two, it is revealed continued use of a sarcophagus when healthy, such as the Goa’uld use for extension of their lives, causes psychosis. The psychosis explains why the Goa’uld are so evil. It also explains why the Tok’ra are not. They do not use a sarcophagus to extend their lives. Important points, but otherwise “.meh” on “Need.”

The SG-1 team is observing Jaffa deliver naquadah, a mined metal, through a stargate. They decide to swipe some to research its possible military applications. In the midst of recon, Daniel spots a woman heading off alone. He follows her only to discover she is planning to jump from a cliff to her death. Daniel stops here, but she screams for the Jaffa to help. The SG-1 team is captured. Unable to tell her father, Pyrus, she was trying to kill herself and SG-1 saved her, Shyla allows him to believe they are Goa’uld spies and sends them to work in the mines.

Daniel is gravely wounded in a failed escape attempt from the mine, but shyla uses a sarcophagus to revive him up proper. She has developed a thing for him because she believes his rescuing her from death was destiny. Daniel works to gain both her and her father’s trust in order to free the rest of SG-1. In order to secure her trust, Daniel agrees to use the sarcophagus again even though he is perfectly fine. Using the sarcophagus under such circumstances has a narcotic effect on the user. Daniel becomes more deranged as time goes on.

His agreement to marry Shyla allows SG-1 to go free. Daniel returns with them to Earth, but promises to return to marry Shyla. Back on Earth, Daniel begins suffering withdrawal symptoms. He is held against his will while working it out of his system. He escapes at one point, determined to return to Shyla, but when it would be necessary to shoot Jack in order to get away, Daniel cannot bring himself to do it. He breaks down in tears.

After his recovery, he returns to the planet to find Pyrus has died. Shyla is now in charge of her people. Daniel convinces her to destroy the sarcophagus, end the slavery in the mines, and open peaceful relations with Earth. Oh, and call off the wedding. Shyla agrees.

At the risk of alienating devout Gaters, I am disappointed to learn the Goa’uld are evil because of artificial mind altering techniques. If the running theme of the series is what makes a god worthy of worship, then it is more poignant for those gods to be struggling with the issue of power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely. If the drug addiction allegory is not glossed over in the long run in favor of the moral argument of the power corruption, I am going to be disappointed.

As for the episode itself, I am not all that impressed. It feels way too much like filler, and it is way too early in the season for something like that. The story is rather frivolous. Pyrus is a senile old man putting up the appearance the Goa’uld still rule the planet in order to keep himself in control. Shyla just happens to decide to off herself right when SG-1 arrives. Her falling for Daniel is as convenient as his injury setting up the opportunity for them to hook up. The moral lesson drugs are bad does not much resonate for whatever reason. Poor execution, I guess. Poor acting, too. There is a scene in which Daniel, completely out of his mind, pounds a guard with his fists, but obviously never lands a single blow. It is an unintentionally funny scene that takes me right out of the upcoming dramatic moment in which he pulls the guard’s gun on Jack. I do, however, enjoy the joke in which Shyla takes daniel out to admire the forest. She believes trees are so beautiful, hers must be the only planet that looks like the forest outside Vancouver. Heh. Not quite, honey.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Emma Stone


Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Gamekeeper"

Those of you suffering from Star tTek withdrawal should rejoice. Dwight Shultz plays the title character in “The Gamekeeper,” the caretaker of a virtual reality world which serves as a velvet cage for the inhabitants of the planet until SG-1 comes along to disrupt the status quo. The plot is reminiscent of several Reginald Barclay episodes of Star Trek spin offs which deal with his addiction to holodeck recreations. I imagine the similarity is why he was cast.

The SG-1 team arrives in a beautiful garden after a recon operation shows people are strapped into some sorts of machinery. Teal’c does not think it is Goa’uld, but the team checks it out anyway. Naturally, they become stuck in the machines themselves. Said machines turn out to be virtual reality devices.

Jack and Teal’c find themselves in 1982 East Germany on the most botched black ops mission Jack in which Jack ever took park. (Hmm...maybe he was not part Operation Eagle Claw after all.) Charles Kowalski, who died last season, and John Michaels, who is going to die on the mission they are about to undertake are alive and well. The two seem to believe teal’c is a regular member of the team named Thomas. Thinking they may have traveled through time--hey, it happens--Jack and teal’c go along with the mission. It turns out to be the same ambush in which Michaels is killed. Jack and teal’c find themselves repeating the scenario immediately, but are unable to change the outcome. Daniel and Sam wind up in the New York Museum of Art sometime in the mid-70’s. Daniel quickly realizes this is the day his parents, Melburn and Claire, die when a large stone collapses on them. As with Jack and Teal’c, he and sam relive the event over and over and are unable to stop Daniels parents from being killed.

The SG-1 team refuses to continue going through the scenarios, which prompts the Gamekeeper to appear and explain things. He has created a virtual world for his people, who have been casually observing both scenarios while wearing black veils for the proper somber effect, one assumes. The Gamekeeper says their world was environmentally damaged beyond habitability a thousand years ago, so they now exist in this artificial world that can create scenarios from their minds. After a thousand years, they have gotten bored with what they have to work with and need SG-1 to stay and share their experiences. The SG-1 team not only refuses, but lets the cat out of the bag the world outside is a paradise. The gamekeeper is lying to the inhabitants in order to keep them there.

Rather than allow SG-1 to spoil what he has going, the Gamekeeper lets them believe they have escaped the virtual reality world and gone back to Earth. But when Hammond orders them back to the planet to further investigate the virtual reality world, they realize they are still trapped. They manage to chase the Gamekeeper through the exit to the garden. The people follow them out, whereupon they realize their world is perfectly fine. The gamekeeper just wanted to keep his garden pristine. No such luck any longer.

I have mixed emotions about ’The Gamekeeper.” It is a neat idea which is in many ways well-executed, but in other ways, not so. There are some small touches which are really good. Kowalski is included on the Eat German mission instead of a guest star to show how far back his friendship with Jack goes. Daniel is dressed in children’s clothes. Not so much to be laughably silly, but enough for you to know he was a young boy when he watched his parents die. Then some other aspects shake you out of the mood. Teal’c is wearing a hairpiece that looks like Charlie Murphy’s in the rick James skits for The Dave Chapelle Show. In order to plausibly only have two person’s memories to deal with, it is explained that Goa’uld symbiotes can resist the mind probing. That explains Teal’c easily, but Sam cannot be probed because Jolinar altered her mind. Still/ Is that not something she should have some lingering concerns about rather than a convenient plot device?

The biggest problem is the premise. The inhabitants are bored because they have been experiencing the same memories over and over again for a thousand years. That would sound reasonable if the gamekeeper did not tell SG-1 they can create anyt environment in which they can imagine from their memories while in the virtual reality world. If som then the minds of an entire plantary population ought to be able to create a infinite number of possible worlds to play in forever. How could they run out in a thousand years? Unless they are just dull people. That may be the case, since they appear most entertained by the strong emotions involved in observing people watch their friends and families die. Or perhaps the gamekeeper was lying to SG-1 about the infinite possibilities that can be created in order to convince them to stay. He does tell them they can change the scenarios if they try, but SG-1 has been unable to thus far. At which point is he telling the truth? I am not particularly certain which is the case.

I have to bring up the same point as I did back when I reviewed “Better Than Life” for Red Dwarf. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, speculated that if you could create a fantasy world, there will be no further inventions. What would be the point? You could just imagine whatever you want. Since hearing that, I have had a difficult time with the idea very many people, much less everyone, would be satisfied to remain in reality if they no longer had to do so. Perhaps that is a choice one has to actually face in order to understand the value of living reality versus living your dreams come true. It is a theoretical question with no definite answer otherwise.

I am not certain I can count that confusion against the episode, because I still enjoy it. As I said above, it is a good idea with some care takern for subtle aspects to tug at the emotions just right. One should--ironically--accept the plot at face value rather than analyzing it too much. There is an added entertainment value if you are familiar with Barclay and his feelings towards the holodeck. “The Gamekeeper’ is worth a view. Just do not analyze it too much.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is Kaley Cuoco Day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich Promises a Moon Base by the End of His Second Term

Newt Gingrich is pandering to the Florida aerospace industry hit hard by the curtailing of the space program, but come on. A moon base would be cool.

Maybe we could even establish a colony there. Send Ron Paul in a rocket and he and his followers can finally have somewhere safe when civilization crumbles for them to do their thing. You cannot get more isolated than the Sea of Tranquility.

See What Google Thinks It Knows About You

Find out why you get the Google ads you do.

For the record, google thinks i am am a 65+ year old man with an interest in politics and celebrity women far too young for me to be ogling. I am disappointed. While I am certainly not a wild child, I cannot believe I am boring enough to be considered elderly. Google is counting my browsing habits, not that I virtually have one foot in the grave.

Yeesh!

Stargate SG-1--"Prisoners"

“Prisoners” takes a subtle jab at the zero tolerance mindset of justice and a not so subtle jab at the wisdom of trusting people you do not know simplu because they look like they should be baking cookies for their grandchildren rather than creating a plague to wipe out an entire population of people for the sake of scientific curiosity. Also, Hammond gets to take his first journey through the stargate.

On uey another planet that looks far too much like the forests outside Vancouver--I note it this time because jack Jokes about it--SG-1 aids a panicked man running from Taldor. Taldor turns out to be justice. The man is a fugitive. The SG-1 team is immediately sentenced to life on the prison planet Hadante. They arrive in the underground prison via a stargate with no dial home device.

Sam is immediately attacked by a couple men, but the fight is broken up my the arrival of an elderly woman named Linnea. It is quickly established that even though she is an old woman, she is at the top of the pecking order. Even the burliest men fear her. Jack surmises they need to get on her good side if they are to find a power source to get the stargate working and use the outer ring to travel to the planet SG-3 is currently surveying.

LLinea empathizes with Sam as a woman trapped forever with a bunch of criminally minded men, so it is natural for the two to bond. As it turns out, linea is a scientist, too, and she has conveniently created a power source that can run the stargate. Daniel is not too thrilled with the idea o working with linea since thery do not know why she is in prison. Keep this in mind, because it is the only wise thing said about Linea the entire episode. Jack assures Daniel it is fine to trust her. The justice system probably screwed that sweet old lady over just like it did them. Sam even buys linea’s story that she was a doctor who tried to cure a plague, but wound up making it worse. The power source works. The SG-1 team and Linea escape to the planet SG-3 is surveying. Another inmate, Simeon, hitches a ride before the stargate closes.

All right, here is where it all gets blown to smithereens. Sam, thinking that Linea is a brilliant scientist who can help Earth utilize her clean energy power source, grants her access to the main computer, the stargate controls, and all known addresses to thousands of worlds. She knocks sam out and heads for the stargate. Simultaneously, SG-3 captures simeon, but he reveals Linea is not a doctor who was trying to cure a plague, but a researcher creating one just to see what effects it would have on people. Yes, she is quite insane. She escapes through the stargate before anyone can catch her. She has also sabotaged the controls to keep anyone from immediately coming after her. Well, crap.

I think the truth about Linea and her clever escape from Hadante is a neat twist, but I really hate that Sam yet again looks like a rube for being conned. Sy least she is not alone this time. Jack fell for the sweet granny routine, too. You still have to wonder why no one thought the fear she caused in the entire inmate population did not raise SG-1’s suspicions. She is a famous mass murderer. You would think they could ask any prisoner at all who she was and why she was imprisoned. But that would have eliminated the climactic twist, so no go.

That is a minor gripe. While the episode is not particularly thrilling, there is not much to complain about, either. The SG-1 team has to think its way out of a dilemma rather than shooting their way out. Hammond sees some action by negotiating futilely with the planet’s leadership, though he thankfully does not get as preachy as Picard with his absolutes cannot be just argument. Even in some sense, the fact SG-1 was duped is good, as it shows they can be as flawed as anyone else. In all, a decent, but not great episode.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Adriana Lima

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"In the Line of Duty"

“In the Line of Duty” manages to take the frequently emotionally manipulative plot of putting a pretty woman in danger while hinting the male lead has a more than just friendly concern for her well-being and turn it into something unexpected. In this case, sam is possessed by a Goa’uld and Jack appears to take it personally. But all is not as it seems. The episode introduces us to new allies known as the Tok’ra, hints Sha’re’s fate will soon be known, and an even larger Goa’uld plot against earth is afoot.

The episode opens on an impressive action scene as SG-1 is aiding the Nasya from a Goa’uld onslaught. While the rest of the team evacuates refugees through the stargate while under fire, Sam is performing CPR on a fallen Nasya. During mouth to mouth, a symbiote enters her. (yake a minute to go “Edew.”) The symbiote takes her over in order to hitch a ride to earth and eventually somewhere else.

Sam’s remains a secret back on earth, although those around her think she is acting strangely, but not enough to suspect anything but shellshock. Dr. Frasier invites sam to visit the Nasya patients at the air Force Academy Hospital and to see Cassandra again. Cassandra somehow senses Sam is possessed and locks herself in Frasier‘s office. She refuses to come out until she can see Jack. How Cassandra can sense a Goa‘uld symbiote but no one else, particularly Teal‘c, is an interesting question. Is this supposed to be one of those silly you cannot lie to a child things that popular entertainment likes to push on us? I half expected to see dogs growling or a cat hissing at sam as she left. Cassandra convinces Jack, which means she has one up on her namesake, and he helps capture Sam before she can go through escape through the stargate.

While under arrest, the possessed sam reveals herself to be Jolinar, a member of a rogue group of Goa’uld called the Tok’ra who oppose the evil ways of the System Lords. Teal’c has heard of the Tok’ra. They are hunted dwn by the goa’uld with extreme prejudice because of their opposition. The Goa’uld were attempting to wipe out the population of Nasya in order to kill Jolinar. Without proof Jolinar is who he says or that he can safely release Sam, SG-1 cannot let him leave Earth.

Meanwhile, Ashrak assassin posing as one of the wounded Nysa makes his way to SGC in order to kill Jolinar. He manages to make it to his holing cell, assault Sam, and nearly get away through the stargate before being killed by teal’c. Sam recovers from the Ashrak attack, but only because Jolinar sacrificed his life to save her. She knew along along Jolinar was genuine. At one point, he even let her take over her body again to convince Jack to allow him access to the stargate, but he was convinced it was a trick. The bitter tragedy of it all is too much for sam to take. She is only brought out of a near catatonic depression by Cassandra.

“In the Line of Duty” is an interesting episode. It features a lot of exposition about new allies in the battle against the Goa’uld with plenty of foreshadowing interrupted by some over the top drama. One suspects Jolinar could have been less obtuse and aggressive. He might have been able to escape with both his life and new allies with SG-1. Then again, the distrust of the Goa’uld from SG-1 contributed to the impasse. There is a lesson there somewhere, I suppose.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Rose Byrne

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Snoozer of a Debate in Florida

It is just my luck to sit through the entirety of a Republican debate for thwe first time in months and it winds up being more tedious than matching socks straight out the dryer. Big media types should not be the moderators of these debates. Viewers are not going to tune in because Brian Williams is asking the questions. They are tuning in to hear what the candidates have to say about the issues. Get some elder statesmen or academic types out there to run these things. Take questions from viwers more often, too, rather than the moderator pulling them out of thin air. Seriously…sugar subsidies/ Missions to Mars? Teri Schiavo? Is her case still big in florida or has the media lost touch with the state in the last seven years?

It is my blog, so I am going to pile on Mitt Romney. The guy reluctantly participated in the debate in the first place because of his drubbing in South Carolina. I assume he got the message with Newt Gingrich’s surge in the Palmetto State to be more aggressive himself. It did not work. Even when going after Newt Gggingrich on his ethics investigations and lobbying past, he still comes across as a boring wimp. Romney is the epitome of a Beta male. His money has allowed him to coast through life and it shows. The whole idea of self-deportation as an immigration policy is…wow. We are going to trust illegal immigrants to leave based on the honor system, I suppose. Romney did nothing tonight that proves he ought to be president. I would not be surprised if his numbers slipped, actually. He had best hope no one watched the debate. I imagine few did. They were the lucky ones.

Gingrich was far more subdued than in South Carolina. Dialing it down a few notches made him appear more presidential. Yet he still managed the occasional red meat. The Fidel Castro is going to hell deal was throwing a bone to the Cuban community. I hate to admit it, but Ron Paul has it right. We ought to lift the embargo on Cuiba and let american culture seep in. that is how to export freedom. Of course, paul is writing off the Cuban vote. Not that it was going to go for him, anyway. Rick Santorum drew the distinction that Cuba is an enemy 90 miles away, so that is why it is a not a diplomatic and trading partner like China. I have doubts, but okay. I do not want to get into it now. Back on subject, gingrich looks very presidential.

I will give props to Santorum. This was his best performance. Too little, too late, but it was his best performance. I do not have much to say about paul, either, although I did like his line about not daydreaming about being president like the other candidates do. He comes up with some gold nuggets from time to time. Too bad he is also hoarding the real deal in anticipation of the apocalypse. Otherwise, I was not all that amused.

Formspring Question #344--Newt-ering the Sunshine Boys Edition

I know it’s next to impossible for Newt to win in Florida, but if he can is that Game Over for Romney? And if Romney wins, is Newt realistically out of the running?
I do not see why it is next to impossible for Newt Gingrich to win Florida. He currently enjoys an eight point lead. The latest Rasmussen poll has Gingrich topping 41%. Polls indicate Gingrich is not only a contender, but the heavy favorite to win.

I do not see why that is not the case. It is so uncertain Mitt Romney can win Florida that Jeb Bush is not willing to risk his credibility by backing him. Romney himself has changed his tactic and come out swinging against Gingrich with a palpable frustration that reminds me of Bob dole’s irritation he could never lay a glove on Bill Clinton back in 1996. Not that I blame him for being irritated. There is not much more one can blast Gingrich for. He has been attacked by the media, the left, and the right for ethics issues during his time in politics, his consulting connections outside of politics, and his family issues, yet he won South Carolina and is entering Florida in a strong position. Exactly what more can Romney say about his character to change voters’ minds?

What is Romney’s base of strength in Florida/ Retired yankee snowbirds? They did not come out for Rudy Giuliani like he had hoped. Like he had staked his entire campaign on, truth be told. South Carolina indicated social conservatives, eager to beat Barack Obama, consider Gingrich their man. Evangelicals went for Gingrich, too. Even hardcore Rick Santorum fans are advocating he give up on Florida to concentrate on the evangelical voters in Michigan. I imagine the significant Cuban vote appreciates Gingrich hard line stance against communism over what Romney has to offer.

The only ’advantage” I hear any pundit offering Romney is that he has spent $7 million on an early voting campaign. Here are three problems with that. One, early voters are usually eager to cast their ballot for a certain candidate. Who is excited at the prosect of voting for Romney? Two, Gingrich had a long, high surge in Florida for a while there. Who is to say early voting does not break in his direction instead? Finally, early voting means Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Michele Bachmann are possible choices. How many of those ballots there are is a mystery. Not many, I would guess, but still a factor.

The bottom line is Romney does not have any obvious advantage in Florida. In fact, he looks weak overall. He is swinging wildly at Gingrich. He had to change his mind about appearing in the debates after he arrogantly assumed he would cruise to victory anyway. Now he has caved on releasing his tax returns. Romney is not in a position of strength right now. It amuses the heck out of me, by the way. How can he be president if he cannot control the flow of his own primary campaign?

But I will go along with the gag. If Romney loses Florida, it is not the end for him. At least not yet. Nevada, Maine, and Michigan are his for the taking. Those victories would be enough for him to keep on running. His advocates would probably count those victories versus his losses as confirmation of what they already thought--Romney is weak in the South, but choosing a southern running mate will miraculously fix that. If Romney wins Florida, the message will be that South Carolina is full of ignorant, racist bible thumpers who gave Gingrich his only victory. Surely the rest of the country does not want to be idiots like them? That liner of reasoning, combined with the media and GOP establishment claiming Romney’s victory confirms his champion status, would kill Gingrich’s campaign. He may not quit right away, but his momentum would evaporate. I doubt either one would drop out before Super Tuesday regardless.

Stargate SG-1--"The Serpent's Lair"

“The Serpent’s Lair” is the second season premiere of Stargate SG-1. Quite a strong start to the second season it is, too. The resolution to the first season ending cliffhanger is more engrossing than its build up. I have noted in my television reviewing experience that is a rare thing. How do you top saving the world in the very first episode?

The episode begins right where we left off previously, with SG-1 on the flagship of a Goa’uld invasion fleet about to strike Earth. The only thing they can do is set off the explosives Sam set, killing themselves in the process, and hope the explosion is big enough to halt the attack. Even that is not guaranteed as Apophis’ well-shielded ship arrives. Before they can set off the explosives, they are captured and imprisoned Jaffa. The explosives are still set on a timer, but there are 24 hours left to go before the big boom. Fortunately for SG-1, Bra’tac is on this mission. He frees them from their cell to assist him and several free Jaffa in thwarting the attack on Earth.

Meanwhile, Col. Bert Samuels, Sen. Robert Kinsey’s right hand man in closing down the stargate program, arrives at Stargate Command with news the pentagon has developed a missile made of sleath bomber material to destroy the Goa’uld ships. As you might expect if you have ever seen a plot like this before, the missiles do not do the job. If that was not cliché enough for you, there is another scene set to break up the action on the Goa’uld ship where Hammond sends a group of ’foremost experts in their fields” through the stargate in order to establish a colony that will preserve humanity. One wonders if these intrepid souls really are the best or just whatever could be scrounged up on short notice. Okay, I mock it, but the scene is intended to show the direness of the situation and in that regard, it is effective.

In the interim, Bra’tac bought enough time for the military to attack by placing Klorel in a sarcophagus to be brought back to life. He knew Apophis would wait until Klorel was back among the living before attacking Earth. Bra’tac originally intended to attack apohis’ ship in Klorel’s name in the hopes they would destroy each other in the confusion of the rebellion. Instead, they plan to sneak aboard apophis’ ship and find a way to destroy it along with the ship rigged with explosives they are currently on.

Daniel is mortally wounded and opts to stay behind to cover the others. It is a suicide mission, anyway, so what difference does it make if he dies on the same ship as the others? Proving he is the Rory Williams of Stargate SG-1, Daniel crawls to the sarcophagus and is fully healed. He leaves through the stargate just as apohis’ ship, which has had its control systems destroyed by SG-1 and Bra’tac, collides with the other just before the explosives go off. Ye olde earth is saved.

There are quite a few nifty points of interest in “The Serpent’s Lair.” For one Klorel not only recovers from being fatally shot by Jack, but escapes with Apophis before the ship collision. It looks like the powers that be course corrected after fans expressed displeasure over Klorel/Skaara’s fate. Two, whrn things looked at the bleakest, Samuels suggested sending a nuke through the stargate to Chulak as an eff you to the Goa’uld. Hammond nixes the idea. In the alternate universe daniel visited, that universe’s jack decided to go through with nuking Chulak with disastrous results for Earth. Finally, the episode name drops the real space shuttle Endeavour as the ship which rescues SG-1 and Bra’tac after they flee the explosions in small gliders. I also note Jack is a hero in the Robert A. Heilein mode. Rather than wait for apophis’ ship to be destroyed with them on it, he suggests taking the gliders to escape. He and his team will then be stranded in space to either suffocate or burn up in orbit. He has traded one certain death for another, but his buys them a few more minutes. You have to appreciate the tenacity of cheating certain death as long as possible.

You also have to appreciate “The Serpent’s Lair.” Highly tense and action oriented, it is a slam bang way to begin the sophomore season.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Ashley Greene

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Formspring Question #343--We Do Not Owe Bill Clinton Squat Edition

Your stated support of Newt makes me wonder. Has American politics reached a point where marital infidelity should no longer be an issue as to whether a man is suited to be President? Do we owe Clinton an apology?
Absolutely not. Bill Clinton getting away with his extramarital affair, not to mention perjuring himself to a grand jury and manipulating a naïve intern for sex, makes it difficult to hold any politician to a high moral standard nowadays. That is our own fault. The economy was booming at the time. Americans were fat, dumb, and happy, so we did not care what Clinton was up to. If things had been going badly, Clinton might very well have been driven out of office for his transgressions.

The situation with Gingrich is quite similar. Rank and file republicans want someone who is ready to take the fight to Barack Obama, but realize that candidate is not the wimpy, out of touch moderate Mitt Romney. Like Clinton with Clinton back in the days when he dodged impeachment because other circumstance were favorable for Americans, Gingrich gts a free pass on his character issues because circumstances are unfavorable as far as conservatives are concerned. We have a disastrous president undeserving of reelection and the party elites are trying to force a candidate on us who does not what to play the opposition to Obama. I am not entirely thrilled with Gingrich, either, but I have to play the game with the cards I am dealt.

Regardless, I issue no apologies to Clinton. Has he demonstrated an ounce of remorse for his actions? I have missed it if so. Gingrich has at least spoken of his conversion to Catholicism ands the positive effects it has had on him. He may very well be feeding a line to evangelical voters, but I will take him at face value. At least he is putting forth an effort to look redeemed.

Formspring Question #342--X-Tra X-Files Edition

Hey Jamie- I don't know if anyone checks this site anymore, but, fan-to-fan, would you have an interest in a third X-Files movie?
If another film would resolve the dangling mythology issue, I would be open to seeing it.

Blogroll Spotlight #129

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.

Adrienne's Corner-March for Life Washington, DC
American Perspective-The Most Effective Anti-american President Ever
American Power-The Worst People in Politics Aren't Racists
Amusing Bunni's Musings-I Need to RANT!
And So It Goes in Shreveport-The Spin Begins
Atlas Shrugs-Government Sponsored Silicon Valley Stealth Jihad
Betsy's Page-Cruising the Web
Blazing Cat Fur-Occupy Protestors Use Bibles as Weapons..Literally
Blog of the Nightfly-Adventures in Cable-Shifting
Bluegrass Pundit-Hero: Gingrich Called Obama "Food Stamp President' Again
Bride of Rove-Dopey Goes to Disney World
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Saturday; Laura Harring
Classic Liberal-Defending Kim Kardashian
Conservative Hideout-Joe Paterno (1926-2012)
Da Tech Guy-Meanwhile, Back in Egypt
Daley Gator-DaleyBabe: Katrina Bowden
Dell's Bottom Line-Detective School Enrollment Exam
Diogenes' Middle Finger-Romney Campaign's Juvenile Stubt
Essential Mr. Bil-Crash and Burn and Other Notes
First Street Journal-The Decisions Not Taken
Fishersville Mike-Who Do You Like?
Gormogons-Punk Rock Girl
House of Eratosthemes-"Stuff Liberals Say"
Jaded Haven-Goblin Time
Lazy Farmer-My Hero!!!
Legal Insurrection-Not Hoax
Lonely Conservative-Mark Steyn on the Costa Concordia, Chivalry and the Decline of the West
Maggie's Notebook-Raising the Debt Limit – The Reality Video – Send it Viral
Motor City Times-Obama Goes to Disney World and Shuts Down Main Street USA
Nice Deb-Obama Set To Defy Order To Appear Before Atlanta Judge
Other McCain-Is It Really Just Mitt, Or Is The Entire GOP Necropolis Facing Rejection?
Paco Enterprises-sunday Funny
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Obama's Keystone Decision Devastatingly Deconstructed
Pundit & Pundette-Call Off the Coronation
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart: Jessica Perez
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's sunday Funnies
Riehl World View-Newt, The Tea Party, Palin, Perry, Reform Evangelicals, Etc ...
Right Klik-Rick 1, Mitt 1, Newt 1
Sentry Journal-New Forum Political Scraps
Teresamerica-Rule 5 Vicky Kay
Troglopundit-This Week in Automotivators
Virtual Mirage-american Politics
Vodkapundit-And the Confusion of Me Agreeing with Bill Maher
Washington Rebel-God-Like Powers
We the People-Mitt romney or More to the Point, Why You Shouldn't Vote for Him
WyBlog-My Weekly Obama Jobs Report, the Pipeline Dreams Busted By Green Schemes Edition
Zilla of the Resistance-Quick Register Update

Stargate SG-1--"Within the Serpent's Grasp"

“Within the Serpent’s Grasp” serves as the first season finale. It is a direct continuation of the previous two episodes and ends with a cliffhanger. As such, its main purpose is to build up enough tension to convince us to come back next year. As far as I am concerned, it does its job.

Stargate command is only the verge of being shut down by order of Sen. Kinsey. The Sg-1 team, while desperately trying to find some way to convince Kinsey the value of keeping SGC going, finally decide to try out the coordinates of the alleged attack fleet daniel discovered in the alternate universe. They will be AWOl once they make the unauthorized trip through the stargate, but they are willing to risk court martial. Assuming they survive, that is.

The coordinates take them to the lead attack vessel of the Goa’uld known as a Death Glider. (Seriously/ Death Glider? Is that the best name the writers could brainstorm?) The death Glider is leading a fleet towards Earth. Apophis has placed his son, who turns out to be Skaara possessed by a Goa’uld symbiote. He is now called Klorel and looks even more like Lenny Kravitz than before. What is up with that? Death to all humans--except Lisa Bonet!

Upon seeing Skaara/Klorel and learning of the attack plan, jack split’s the team up. Sam and Daniel are to set explosives all over the ship while he and Yeal’c capture Skaara/Klorel. The plan to capture him is rationalized weakly with the claim they can force him to call off the attack if Skaara can regain control over the symbiote. It is mostly Jack’s vain hope he can recover his friend.

Sam and Daniel are successful, but Jack and Teal’c are captured when the attempt to recover Skaara fails. Still, he does seem to reassert some control over the symbiote, as he refuses to carry out the execution of Jack and Teal’c when ordered by Apophis. The two are rescued by Sam and Daniel, but when Daniel is about to be killed by Skaara/Klorel, Jack is forced to fatally shoot him. I am aware the shooting is extremely unpopular with fans made all the more tragic because skaara had reasserted himself before, but not when it would have counted to save Daniel and himself.

The cliffhanger features the US military mobilizing its forces after the fleet is spotted by NASA flying passed Saturn and the SG-1 team looking on as the fleet descends towards Earth.

I think it is exciting to end the first season on a huge cliffhanger. The story is executed well by showing a massive invasion force from the perspective a small group of men (and one woman) on a mission. It is tough to do a massive alien invasion on a cable television budget. Some corners were definitely cut. In scenes in which SH-1 is sneaking around the ship while hiding from Jaffa, the same group of Jaffa passes by them every time in the same hallway, it is just that SG-1 switches sides to designate they have moved to another part of the ship. Hey, I am amused by it.

Maybe I am being cold here, but I think Jack being forced to kill Skaara/Klorel is a good piece of drama. Perhaps it should have come earlier in the episode instead of right before the attack on Earth so that we would have had time to better absorb it before being hit with something else, but it still works. I have no emotional attachments to the character. His death does not mean as much to me as Jack’s agony over the decision to pull the trigger. He had to kill a lost friend in order to save another who could recover. That is powerful. Whether Skaara got a good send off matters naught to me. That is my two cents worth for any fans upset over Skaara’s death.

“Within the Serpent’s Grasp’ successfully builds up tension. I am definitely eager to see the conclusion. I am not certain the dramatic moments all hit the proper mark, but I have no large complaints, either. Perhaps not as many future episodes will be, but a worthy end to a more solid first season than I expected after listening to fan buzz over it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sandra Bullock

Saturday, January 21, 2012

South Carolina Primary Wrap Up

I claimed to be shaky on predicting the results, but i did not do too badly. Newt Gingrich’s margin of victory was much larger than predicted, for which I am pleased, and Rick Santorum beat Ron Paul for third, which I do not care anything about. I would prefer to see Santorum drop out before Florida instead of after a sunshine state trouncing, but I do not see him doing that even though social conservative broke heavily for Gingrich. There is no where else for him to finish strong. I doubt even Pennsylvania, but no way he will stay in the race until April 24th

Gingrich trounced Mitt Romney in all but three counties: Richland, Charleston, and Beaufort. Richland is the center of state government and home of the University of South Carolina, therefore it is full of establishment types and academics. Charleston and Beaufort are snowbird retirement communities, particularly Beaufort’s Hilton Head Island. In other words, Romney’s supporters are exactly what you thought--moderate establishment types and self-appointed intellectuals who generally make over $100k a year. That was the only demographic with which Romney did well. Gingrich pulled in Florida is going to be very, very interesting now. everyone else--tea partiers, pro-lifers, women, and evangelicals.

I am less certain now of Romney’s inevitability. It is a telling sign that Jeb Bush, who was virtually a shoo in to endorse Romney, just declared he was going to stay neutral in the Florida primary. How can one beat so certain about Romney now? Romney is a candidate who has won only one primary in Massachusetts’ neighboring state of New Hampshire. He has fumbled around on his tax returns issue to the point people think he is hiding something. Gingrich’s win in South Carolina demonstrates his trouble in carrying the south definitely and the Heartland probably. All this when just a few days ago there was talk of Romney sewing the nomination up before Florida. Karl Rove and Britt Hume were talking about how the weather was going to help Romney win today, for crying out loud! They both looked heartbroken at the actual results. All the while, Romney gets a free pass from left-leaning media.

Predictions for the South Carolina Primary

Ironically, the outcome my home state’s primary is the most difficult thus far to predict. It has been a crazy week in which we have been inundated with political ads both by candidates and from special interests groups acting on their behalf 9for whatever that is worth) results changing in Iowa, candidates dropping out, big endorsements, and lots of weird issues coming up. It has been an embarrassing spectacle. Here are my best guesses how it will turn out:

1. Newt Gingrich
2. Mitt Romney
3. Ron Paul
4. Rick Santorum

Predicting the winner is a tough call, but I am giving the edge to Gingrich. If Gingrich wins, South Carolina will likely break a 32 year streak of always selecting the eventual Republican nominee. We have been so proud of that record, we even made John McCain the winner in 2008 after smacking him around so badly in the 200 primary he blasted evangelical voters all the way to Super Tuesday. Romney looks even more inevitable as the nominee in 2012 than did McCain in 2008, but Gingrich’s witty debate performances combined with his attacks on Obama resonate here. Truth be told, a Gingrich victory may propel him to nomination and keep the streak alive. You never know until all the votes are counted.

Romney has had problems in south carolina from the get go. Tea party darling Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed him in the middle of an ethics scandal for her to deflect attention, but it has wound up not doing much for either of them. A lot of advertisements have emphasized the similarities between ObamaCare and RomneyCare. ObamaCare is not only extremely unpopular here, but Haley’s ethics trouble involve an alleged cover up of her influencing an advisory board to reject implementation of healthcare reform. There is a general feel that Haley is ignoring Romney’s healthcare reform in order to make the short list for his running mate. Then we realize she is doing that because he is a boring, progressive yankee who needs an attractive woman on the ticket, which makes him look even worse.

His debate performance have gone badly for him. We like red meat, and what we have gotten is a lot of fumbling around over releasing his tax returns. We do not like candidates who look weak. His wavering on whether he will debate in florida will have the unintended consequence. Some will think he is arrogant, other chicken. The announcement Romney actually lost Iowa gives him an air of loser, too. The results will be closes because some blue blood ol guard hold onto the idea only he can beat Obama, but I do not think he can win South Carolina.

I have never expected Ron Paul to do well here, but I have him coming in third. It is not so much that Paul has virtues, but it is that Santorum will not do well. I know I have a lot of Santorum fans among my readers, but as Paul noted, he is very thin skinned and whiny. That does not resonate down here. I do not think the evangelical endorsement will do much, either. We are the buckle of the Bible Belt, but we go about it very much in our own way.

For the record, I am supporting Gingrich. I still believe Romney will be the nominee, if for no other reason than most of the post-South Carolina contests look more favorable to Romney. Gingrich is not even on the ballot in a half dozen or so. But I want to vote for someone more conservative than Romney so I can say I did not contribute to his nomination. I appreciate his grandiose ideas far more than Santorum’s wimpy attitude. My support for Gingrich has not influenced my prediction he will win the primary.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #134

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

American Perspective links to Judy Greer.
Proof Positive links to Anne Hathaway and Eliza Dushku.
Say Anything links to Anne Hathaway and Eliza Dushku.
Sentry Journal links to Romney Rah Rah
Pirate's Cove links to Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #133, Blogroll Spotlight #128, and Jessica Alba.
Motor City Times links to Romney Rah Rah.
Randy's Roundtable links to Mila Kunis and Lea Michele.
The Other McCain links to Gillian Jacobs.
Teresamerica links to Anne Hathaway.
Hefty Source links to Jewel Staite.
Maggie's notebook links to Gillian Jacobs and Adriana Lima.
Reaganite Republican links to Blake Lively.

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.