Saturday, June 30, 2012

Formspring Question #430-The Anatomy of an Attack Edition

Love reading your attacks on John Roberts regarding the ACA. Do you still consider him to be "one of the greatest legal minds we have"?
The only person I have ever encountered online who has gone through seven years worth of blogging in order to find a quote to bring up for contemporary times is Project Savior. He did it last year when he went all the way back to February 2005 to find a positive quote regarding Star Trek: Enterprise in order to whine about me not reviewing the series. A couple weeks later, he made a complete jackass out of himself in the comments section of a post regarding the I-beam cross being allowed at the 9/11 memorial and vowed he would never return since I was not going to review ENT. You can check out that post for his long trolling history with me.

This question certainly fits his motif who else could pull out quotes from a blog post regarding John Roberts’ confirmation hearings seven years ago? Project Savior appears to have dumped his old blog for some new digs.. With it stellar Technorati rating standing at a whopping #1, it looks like his satirical look at the world, religion, politics, and life is going about as well as it ever has.

At least I hope it is Project Savior. Dear Lord, I do not need another obsessive online stalker. Have mercy.

Whoever my inquisitor is, he has no clue what constitutes an attack, particularly not in an adversarial system like law. I have written two posts regarding the Supreme court’s ruling on ObamaCare. In the first, I mention Chief Justice John Roberts once in an addendum, saying that he has “stretched his definition of the mandate to interpret it as a tax.. the second post does not mention Roberts at all. I only call the ObamaCare ruling dubious.

How anyone can consider “stretched the definition” and ’dubious’ to be attacks is beyond me. Even the most hypersensitive of souls would have a hard time taking offense. I am quite confident a grown man and jurist at the pinnacle of his career like Roberts can handle it. If you want to see an actual attack, look no further than Michael Savage’s accusation Roberts’ epilepsy medication affects his cognitive thinking skills. Now that is an attack on Roberts.

Do I still think Roberts is one of the finest legal minds we have? Of course, I do. Jusyices, judges, and lawyers get it wrong all the time. It does not mean they are idiots because I do not agree on a particular issue. You have an embarrassingly shallow grasp of how I operate if you believe I would change my mind about a man’s intelligence and/or skill over one incident. Get real.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #157

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

Proof Positive links to Eliza Dushku, Lucy Collett, Sarah Shahi, and Callie Thorne.
Say Anything links to Eliza Dushku, Lucy Collett, Sarah Shahi, and Callie Thorne.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #156, Blogroll Spotlight #151, and Hayden Panettiere.
Sentry Journal links to The Imperial President Really Gets Us.
Classic Liberal links to Kaley Cuoco, Callie Thorne, Summer Glau, Sarah Shahi, Hayden Panettiere, Claudia Black, and Zooey Deschanel.
Motor City Times links to The Imperial President Really Gets Us.
Randy's Roundtable links Joanna Levesque and Mila Kunis.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.
Dust of the Balance added The Eye to its blogroll.

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--"Babylon"

“Babylon” is described by fans as The Last Samurai meets TOS’ “Amok Time.” The timely reference to Tom Cruise--Katie Holmes has recently filed to divorce him--is apt not only for the similarities between the Japanese samurai in his aforementioned film and the Sodan Jaffa in “Babylon,“ but the dangerous religion presented by the false belief of scientology and that of Origin being spread to the Sodan. Somewhere in the mix is a Cam-centric story elaborating on his character.

The SG-1 team goes looking for a group of rebel Jaffa called the Sodan, whose defection predates Teal’c’s by thousands of years. They are ambushed by the Sodan. In the skirmish, Cam appears to kill one in self-defense. The Sodan flee using Ancient technology in order to disappear out of thin air. They take cam with them. The Sodan he supposed killed is revived by the surgical work of Dr. Lam. The Sgc spend a couple weeks interrogating him on about where to find Cam and, when they discover a Prior has visited the Sodan, tryin to convince him not to follow the Ori.

Simultaneously, Cam is in the Sodan village being trained for a ritualistic fighting match to the death in order to pay for the blood he shed. During his grueling training, Cam bonds with his trainer enough to convince hi m to question the Ori. Cam eventually learns his trainer is the brother of the Sodan he killed. Well, that is kind of hokey. It gets worse when the trainer helps poison cam during the duel so that he appears dead, thereby satisfying the rules of the match. He helps cam escape back to the stargate without knowing his brother is still alive until cam is back in touch with SGC.

William B. Davies, of Cigarette Smoking Man fame, makes his first appearance as a prior. He is given no dialogue, so one wonders if we are not just supposed to be surprised to see Davis in the role. I do not recall “Babylon” in first run, but I cannot imagine Davis was not in the promo Sci Fi used to run the heck out of during the week of a new episode. Oh, well. Davis’ sudden appearance is a neat surprise when one is relatively spoiler free.

The first appearance of the Sodan this late in the series is hihly awkward. Does it not seem strange of a group of rebel Jaffa that has existed for thousands of years might might have inspired Jaffa rebellion for a long time? Why did no one ever seek them out before now? The Sodan would have been invaluable in the final battle against the Goa’uld? Why seek them out now? Teal’c says he knew about the Sondan as a child. I understand the Sodan have just be created for the series, but their existence causes some retroactive issues.

I was not expecting much out of “Babylon.” The Sodan sounded like a bunch of Klingons, and that is pretty much what they wound up being. One of them was even played by TNG/DS9’s Kurn actor Tony Todd. Call me jaded, but this warrior code, fight to the death to honor a blood debt out of honor thing has become awfully cliché. There has not been anything new or exciting added to the concept within science fiction since the Klingons were converted from Soviet allegory to Japanese shoguns in the late ’80’s-early ’90’s. The “Amk Time” ending, complete with Star Trek joke, does not help “Babylon”’s lack of originality.

Cam needed an episode all about him, but they could have done much better than this. Some flashbacks to his injury rehab after the Battle of Antarctica would have been more interesting. Still, I cannot fauly “Babylon” for much more than it lack of originality. It is not a bad episode, but just abour anyone could have written it oif given nothing but the general plot with which to work.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Katie Holmes Divorcing Tom Cruise

Katie Holmes has finally had enough of weirdo Tom cruise and filed for divorce to the surprise of absolutely no one. Scientology kookiness finally drive her to leave. There is another point that should shock absolutely no one. Holmes is seeking full custody of Suri to avoid any further indoctrination into Scientology for her daughter.

Interesting fact--all three of Rom Cruise’s divorces came when his wife was 33. Thirty-three must be the magic number for clarity regarding Scientology fanatics.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Poll: Voters Dislike ObamaCare Ruling

Voters disapprove of the Supreme Court's euling on ObamaCare 50%-45%. Respondents believe politics played a role in the decision, and their belief is only going to be solidified between now and November as the Obama administration works to downplay the "tax" label in favor of "penalty." not only is that a silly game of semantics, penalty is not exactly a more pleasant concept than tax.

No matter. ObamaCare has been declared a tax. The term tax is going to stick in voters minds no matter what alternative progressive offer up. While I still question the legal interpretation of the mandate as a tax, as far as the political aspect of the ruling goes, ObamaCare opponents have it about the best they could short of complete repeal.

Of course, if a large chunk of voters hate the ruling because it was politically motivated, then they probably also hate how the ruling has set up the 2012 election as a referendum on ObamaCare. The sword cuts both ways. let the struggle begin anew regardless!

Morpheus on the ObamaCare Ruling

Which color pill do I take in order to forget about all this? Can I still get the pill through my preferred insurance provider?

Stargate SG-1--"Ex Deus Machina"

The title is not a typo. “Ex Deus Machina” is a play on deus ex machina, or “god in the machine.” The reordering of words is a reference to Ba’al’s new staus as an ex-god hiding out on Earth. I quipped after yesterday’s big budget special effects heavy episodes we were bound to see some low key earthbound adventures. I was bracing myself to be disappointed as my prediction appeared to be coming true sooner rather than later. But I am pleasantly surprised with the episode. It does not feel small at all, mostly due to some key moments.

One of Yu’s former Jaffa, now loyal to Gerak, is found dead of a hit and run accident in Virginia. I lived in Virginia for three years. It was probably suicide just to get away from the place. When teal’c and Cam go to Dakara to uncover why Gerak has Jaffa on Earth, it becomes apparent that Ba’al has escaped to earth and is hiding out there. Gerak plans to capture and execute Ba’al in order to solidify his political position. Cam reassembles the SG-1 team in order to find Ba’al first.

The task turns out to be quite easy. Ba’al has assumed control of Hammel Technologies, a corporation that fell under Goa’uld control when they forced symbiotes upon the Trust. Ba’al is noe a public figure. He sends a warning to SGC that he wishes to be left alone to live out his days in peace. In he is not, he plans to detonate a naquadah bomb in a major US city if anyone attempts to capture him. Allowing him to go free is not an option, so both the SG-1 team and Gerak’s Jaffa are in a race to capture him.

Scans cannot find the naquadah bomb, so SGC decides to use the symbiote poison developed by the Tok’ra and hope it takes effect before ba’al can set off the bomb. Unfortunately, the Jaffa raid his headquarters, so Ba’al reveals he is going to set off the bomb in downtown Seattle. It is a bit convenient Ba’al tells our heroes exactly where the bomb is, but that is Goa’uld arrogance for you. It turns out the bomb is not in Hammel’s corporate headquarters, but is Hammel’s corporate headquarters. The building was constructed using naquadah as the main building material. Prometheus beams the entire building into space where it can explode safely.

On Dakara, Ba’al is brought before the Jaffa High Council by Gerak and executed right there. As expected, the capture and execution of Ba’al solidifies his position as leader of the Free Jaffa Nation. A Dejected teal’c travels back to earth only to learn Ba’al has been using Hammel to research cloning technology. He has cloned himself any number of times. Geral most likely executed a Ba’al clone. The damage has been done. Gerak, a hardliner with no regard for non-Jaffa,, is in power and ba’al is free to roam as he pleases, secure in the knowledge no one can be sure they have caught or killed the real McCoy.

There are some really nifty moments in “Ex Deus Machina.” The biggest is when Cam offers SG-1 patches to Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c before they go off hunting Ba’al, and each of them accepts. It took seven episodes to reassemble the SG-1 team, but they are back. For the shippers, there is the moment when NID Agent Barrett asks Sam if she is single. She implies that she is not married, but is dating someone. Most likely Jack. For the more eagle-eyed, the reporter covering the disappearance of hammel headquarters is Julia Donnovan. I do not believe we have seen her since the sixth season.

“Ex Deus Machina” is a far better episode than you might think at first glance. It does not look like a budget saving filler episode. In fact, the shot of Hammel hadquarters floating in space, then exploding with Prometheus is the foreground is impressive. Ba’al winding up the CEO of a technology company than him in hiding on some backwater planet. Heck, Louis Gossett, Jr. can even make the Jaffa interesting. “Ex Deus Machina” is not divine, but it is a winner.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Olivia Wilde

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ObamaCare Mandate Upheld As a Tax

I would like to offer up a comprehensive legal analysis of today’s United States Supreme Court , but there are more scholarly places for you to look for that right now. Perhaps after I have digested the ruling more, I can offer up something more solid. For now, let me say I am not exactly stunned. As far back as March 2010, it was clear it was clear in South Carolina’s suit against ObamaCare Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause were tenuous, but the ObamaCare had the language that would allow the mandate to survive as a tax. Barack Obama’s claim that the healthcare law was not a tax was playing politics. So I was not completely caught off guard.

Do take a moment to appreciate how South Carolina, a generally despised state among the fifty, was, is, and forever shall be, the first in battle against the expansion of federal power. I love being from the Palmetto State!

Also take more than a few moments to appreciate what has happened today. The SCOTUS has essentially handed Congress the power to compel citizens to do anything by way of its powers of taxation. I assume failure to comply is tax evasion and subject to the applicable penalties for tax evasion-including prison sentences. The ruling is not just a matter of healthcare reform. Congress has been given an expansive power over citizens. Today, congress can force you to buy health insurance. What will congress force you to do tomorrow?

By ruling the mandate is a tax, ObamaCare becomes the biggest tax hike in American history. Obama owns it lock, stock, and barrel. There will not be any escaping from it come November. ObamaCare is the only “victory” Obama has managed during his disastrous time in office. He may find it Pyrrhic. In spite of how bad this ruling looks right now, it is a gift to mitt Romney with a big, wet kiss as long as he does not blow it by taking the ruling as a sign ObamaCare is something the American people will grow to like. Public opinion is likely to revert back to the anti-ObamaCare mood that erupted prior to the 2010 election. Any Republican who does not dead set against ObamaCare at this point deserves t lose.

More later, if more comes to mind….

UPDATE: Here is the money quote from Chief Justice John Roberts' decision:
"The Federal Government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. Section 5000A would therefore be unconstitutional if read as a command. The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because it can reasonably be read as a tax."
Roberts stretched his interpretation of the mandate in order to allow it as a tax.

Stargate SG-1--"Beachhead"

“Beachhead” is an exciting, special effects laden battle against the Ori which also swaps Claudia Black for Amanda Tapping as the female lead. I expect to see some low budget, Earthbound episodes down the pike, because it looks like they busted the budget on this one. No complaints, mind you. In fact, the impressive effects have me anticipating Stargate Atlantis a little more. I have been told there are some impressive space battles and such to be found on the show.

A Prior, ironically played by an actor named Ian Butcher, returns to the Jaffa planet Kallana to make good on his origin or sword threat. The Jaffa choose sword, so the prior kills them all, then establishes a force field around Kallana’s stargate. A minor Goa’uld named Nerus approaches Sgc with word of what has happened. He offers to aid them in preventing the Ori from gaining a foothold in the Milky Way. Nerus is adamant Kallana needs to be nuked, but Kandry chalks that up to his Goa’uld sensibilities and hopes for a a more peaceful solution. Prometheus packs a nuke, anyway.

Cam gets his wish to have the SG-1 team assembled again when Sam joins the mission. The director does all sorts of tricks to hide her baby weight. There are weird camera angles. She wears an oversized uniform. She is often sitting down or block by a computer console. Nevertheless, it is still obvious she recently gave birth. It is all right. I am just glad to have her back. It is surprising how much I have grown to like her character. For the longest time, Sam was the weak link who had nothing interesting to do other than serve as the token female. Blow up a sun, and all that changes.

The remainder of the episode is a fantastic mix of atmosphere and action. A personal favorite is the scene in which the SG-1 team has beamed onto the planet through a weak point in the expanding force field. The prior has altered Kallana’s environment to a toxic atmosphere, so they have to wear spacesuits. They set the nuke to thirty minutes, then warn the Prior the nuke will destroy everything in the force field when it detonates. The Prior shrugs and nonchalantly goes back to reading Origin while the SG-1 team stands around the nuke chatting nervously about the impending kaboom. Maybe it is the slow realization our heroes have just threatened to kill a religious fanatic who believes death means eternal enlightenment dwelling with the Ori that makes the scene so absurdly funny.

Gerac and the Free Jaffa show up to attack the force field, which gives our heroes a chance to escape. The nuke goes off, but it becomes quickly apparent that was the plan all along. Not for spiritual, eternal bliss reasons, but as a power source to expand the force field around the entire planet. Nerus, now a follower of origin, tricked them. Gerac is not much of a fan of humans anyway, so the established Ori stronghold thanks to an Earth nuke does not help matters. Things get even worse as the Ori establish a giant stargate capable of transporting an armada. Vala has an idea how to destroy it, but since no one is paying her any attention, she slinks off to put the plan in action herself. It works, but she disappears, most likely transported to the ori galaxy. At least she goes out a hero.

I have only a couple minor complaints about plot points that are a matter of convenience. One, Teal’c is staying at SGC as though he lives there. I am beginning to think there must have been an episode planned centering on Jaffa palace intrigue on Dakara that ultimately convinced Teal’c to return to Earth. It is obvious tensions with the Jaffa are increasing, and Teal’c does not appear to have much status within Gerac’s government. Could there have been an elaborating episode about the Jaffa that was scrapped in order to further utilize Claudia Black? If so, that might explain why the previous episode felt like a rush job. The other matter is how the bond between Vala and Daniel has conveniently worn off so her disappearance does not kill him. Nice timing.

“Beachhead” is the most interesting episode the ninth season has presented so far. There is an emotional satisfaction to seeing the cast reunited, too. The story is fast paced and action oriented. The special effects are extremely impressive. Not just in an eye candy sort of way, but properly establish atmosphere. The dark, poisoned atmosphere of Kallana, the expanding force field under attack, and the enormous ori stargate are all great. So id “Beachhead.” ,/p> Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is (occasionally) Kaley Cuoco Day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Powers That Be"

“The Powers That Be” is yet another Vala-centric episode. It takes a surprising turn from a light-hearted “It’s Good to Be King” clone with Vala in the Maybourne role to a dark ending in which the Ori have won a major victory. There is a strange, thrown together feel to the story which makes one suspect the writers were hoping for Amanda tapping back but had to come up with something quickly when they could not, but it is still an interesting effort.

The Prior have been appearing on numerous different worlds as missionaries for the Ori. Vala recognizes one planet as having inhabitants who trust her. Sensing they must have a serious gullibility problem, what now passes for the SG-1 team heads to the planet. They discover Vala once ruled over it as the Goa’uld Qetesh, the Chaldean sex goddess. It figures. She returned after her symbiote was removed and continued to be worshiped as Qetesh while robbing the villagers of their resources. It figures. Now she just tricked SG-1 into helping her take the treasure. Yes, it also figures. Daniel convinces her to come clean about not being a goddess in the hope her confession will make them skeptical of the Ori. Instead, the villagers arrest and put vala on trial for her crimes against them.

Vala’s trial is interrupted by a visit by a Prior. The affair turns into a debate between the Prior and Daniel, who was serving a Vala’s advocate. He and the prior retread much of the ground from the opening trilogy.; free will v. servitude, faith v. reason, and faith v. science. The debate is not as one-sided as you might think. If you were not aware the Ori were deceiving their followers, you could be convinced daniel is grasping at straws solely because he does not like Origin. In response, the ori cause a plague to befall the villagers. It kills many of them and Cam for good measure. The Prior returns to heal the sick and bring the dead back to life, so the villagers are convinced to practice origin.

“The Powers That Be” fells not so much like filler, but thrown together at the last minute for lack of anything better. Hemce, I quipped about Tapping’s maternity leave. At first it feels like a comedy episode similar to “It’s Good to Be King.” then it turns into another exposition heavy debate between Daniel and a Prior over whether the Ori are worthy of worshipful devotion because of their actions. Cam falls ill to the plague for no apparent reason other than the shock value of the audience realizing he is dead. Teal’c is inexplicably part of the team even though he left at the end of the previous episode. There is no explanation why. He is once again relegated to wallpaper. The strangest part is Dr. Carolyn Lam is given a major role in the off world adventure, but for the second time winds up with another patient dying and brought back to life through no actions of her own. Come on, guys. Lexa Doig is Michael Shanks’ wife. Throw her a bone!

Many of the villagers in “The Powers that Be” are named after characters in German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle. The play involves a dispute between a group of fruit growers and a group of goat herders in the post-World War II Soviet Union as how to best utilize a plot of land after Nazi occupiers have left. I do not see any deeper meaning than the Stargate SG-1 writers showing off they still remember The Caucasian Chalk Circle from a class back in college. Vala’s fate at the hands of the villagers is only marginally similar if you have to squeeze out a term paper for a Communications class.

“The Powers That Be’ has its flaws. Why do a fifth episode centered around Vala? She is still a guest star! I know Claudia Black is a fan favorite. I like her, too. But no television show does this sort of thing unless a big movie star has agreed to do a story arc. Even then, it is odd. We have already heard the Ori’s spiel and Daniel’s response before. We have already seen Maybourne play the Vala role, for that matter. The saving graces are the humorous first half and the ending with the mass conversion to show how dangerous the Ori can be. I am still going to award “The Powers That Be” a decent score, but there are no stars awarded for originality.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Joanna Levesque

Joanna Levesque is a pop singer who performs under the name JoJo. not one half of Kaci & JoJo, obviously. I am either too cool or not cool enough to have heard of her before searching Google. Take your pick.

She has a nice figure for a short girl.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Formspring Question #429--Not So Much That the Brain Falls Out Edition

Predestination? That's an open mind then.
I suspect I am more tolerant of other beliefs than you, so yes.

Formspring Question #428--Head Start Stalled at the Stsrting Line Edition

Do you like head start and the government helping to fund it?
No. It has been a $7.3 billion a year failure for fifty years. Acco0rding to this Health and Human Services sponsored study, kids who have taken part in Head Start are no better off than kids who have not been part of the program. even progressives like Joe Klein are now questioning the value of funding the failed program.

Head Start is a prime example of progressives missing the cultural root of a problem and proposing government take over to throw away mountains of tax payers dollars towards their solution. Head Start largely provides babysitting and very basic education for three and four year olds. Kids that age require nurturing in order to prepare them for success in school. Government workers are no substitute for parental guidance. The problem is that parents are not doing their job.

These parents are low income, probably on some social benefit program, probably unwed, probably in a squalid, crime ridden environment, and probably have not stopped at one kid, either. This is the root of the problem--young people who are not mature enough, nor financially stable enough to have children are having them anyway. It is not a problem the government can solve. Indeed, many expensive social benefits programs entrap these people and create generations of a poor underclass dependent on taxpayer money with no escape. Providing no encouragement to escape, either.

No, I do not think abortion is a fantastic solution to the problem, no matter what Ruth Bader Ginsburg believes about the merciful genocide of the unborn poor.. if we are trying to teach personal responsibility to adults and encourage kids to make something out of themselves, holding the right to kill unborn children as a virtuous option encourages neither.

Since this question is an obvious follow up to my support for vouchers, I will reiterate a voucher program will get parents more involved in their child’s education. At the very least, they will have the power to make the choice where their child earns his or her education. If a voucher system worked ideally, educational institutions would run on free market principles and therefore have to compete for voucher dollars. The competition would improve the quality of education for all, but I fear we are too brainwashed by progressivism to even consider the idea. Mitt Romney is not going to make any significant steps towards creating a wide-spread voucher system. I am cynical enough to think it is a pet issue conservatives are going to trot out every election cycle to entice social conservatives, then never do anything more with it.

Stargate SG-1--"The Ties That Bind"

Anyone else get the impression Stargate SG-1 is treading water until Amanda tapping is back from maternity leave? We certainly need a frivolous bather after the intense trilogy that began the ninth season. It is also a good idea to explore the status quo after the fall of the Goa’uld. Putting it all together in a Firefly homage centered around Vala would be a bit much if Claudia Black did not prominently cavort about in her underwear in one scene.

The emphasis is on the absurd comedy, the fred and Ethel relationship between Daniel and Vala, and loads of sexual innuendo, so the plot is straight ford--it is quest to recover items stolen by Vala from various individuals in order for the scientist she stole the connecting bracelets from to break the lingering bond between Daniel and Vala. Among those our heroes meet along the way are a ex-Jaffa soldier struggling as a salesman, a former smuggler hiding out as a monk, and the two pirates Daniel eencountered in Prometheus Unbound.” other than a slight detour before the senate Appropriations Committee where Vala implies the chairman wants to build weapons to compensate for his shortcomings, the adventure is done Firefly style complete with brown coats and side arms.

Scapers claim the weapon Vala was packing is a of the same design her character used on Farscape. I can neither confirm nor deny, but considering Cam, Daniel, and Teal’c allowed her to carry a weapon at all implies there must have been something special about it. Assuming it is a Farscape reference for the audience to catch makes more sense than out heroes sudden lapse in judgment of allowing someone like Vala to have a gun on her. Unless she swiped it from someone while they were not looking. If so, I did not catch that being the case.

“The Ties That Bind” is the type o fun, off world adventure I had expressed desire to see this season. It is mostly devoid of any overall story arc bogging down the action. The story has its plot holes. Why was Vala armed or allowed into the Senate Committee meeting? Given her reputation, neither of tjose should happen. There is also the feeling the show it dragging its feet until the real story starts. Cam has not yet chosen his team. We know he is eventually going to get the band back together, but we are getting tired of waiting. there are plenty of scenes in which our heroes are together, but they are not really a team. It is becoming frustrating. Nevertheless, “The Ties That Bind” is funny enough to overcome these issues, as well as offer an enjoyable breather after the hellfire and brimstone introduction of the Ori. But they really, really, need to get the show on the road.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Mila Kunis

Monday, June 25, 2012

Formspring Question #427--I'll Vouch for That Edition

Do you support Mitt Romney’s push for expanding availability of publicly funded school vouchers for low income kids? Do you believe that, assuming equal pay and available resources, a private school teacher is in general better than a public?
I attended a Christian school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, so I am biased. I support vouches for every child regardless of income level. The public school system in america is an abomination. Public schools are not out to educate kids. All you have to do is look at test scores to figure that out. Public schools are for training kids to accept authority, conform to a certain social standard, and dutifully accept whatever menial job their poor math and illiterate reading skill can land.

At least with a voucher system, parents can choose a school with a philosophy towards their liking rather than indoctrination by the government. There is something to be said for that, at least. I am happy with my bible based education. It served me well in college and law school.

The question of whether a private school teacher is better than a public one is too broad to have a decent answer. Along with my private elementary and high school education, I graduated from a public university and a private law school. All tolled, I have had about 140 different teachers. Some were dedicated folks who had a genuine gift for molding young minds. Others probably could not have held down a job at McDonald’s . Thanks to smart graduates not wanting to baby sit barbarian children for $22,000/year, those incompetent souls can teach rather than work the milkshake machine.

I would trust a private school teacher to give my child a better education in general even though I havew run into some very bad private school teachers in my day. Chalk it up to my general aversion to allowing the government to run anything, much less educating kids.

Blogroll Spotlight #151

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-Notable comment from previous post on Mayor Bloomberg's retreat from reality......
American Perspective-My Dad Passed Last Night.
American Power-In the Mail: What the (Bleep) Just Happened?: The Happy Warrior's Guide to the Great American Comeback
Amusing Bunni's Musings-WTF Here's some Luck!
Blog of the Nightfly-Falling off the edge of the world
Bluegrass Pundit-New Poll: 56% disapprove of Obama's 'Fast and Furious' Executive Privilege
Bride of Rove-The road to hell is paved with good intentions
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Forever
Colossus of Rhodey--Acceptable bigotry
Conservative Hideout-Regressive Propaganda Debunked
Da Tech Guy-Worthing 1 Kimberlin 1 the tie breaker coming July 5th: Update on Federal case
Daley Gator-Your Daley Gator Funny Line O’ The Day
Diogenes' Middle Finger-The Media Quietly Awaits Its Daily Talking Points
Fishersville Mike-Paranoia will destroy ya
Goldfish and Clowns-Offend One And You Offend Them All
Gormogons-9-0 - That's got to hurt...
Laughing Conservative--Barack Obama's Diary
Lazy Farmer-Ashes Cafe, Krazy Ikes Plastic Pieces, Wine Country follies, whatever...
Legal Insurrection-Faculty, alumni firestorm as U. Chicago courts future Obama Library
Lonely Conservative-ry Homeland Security Cancels Arizona Immigration Enforcement Agreements
Maggie's Notebook-Last Monday And No Decision About Obamacare
Motor City Times-Brian Setzer Unplugged: Be Bop A Lula
Mew Atlantean--From the Host to the Parasites that Invade It
Other McCain-Insanity as an Ideology
Paco Enterprises-The physics of the knuckleball
Pirate's Cove-Strangely, Hispanics Not That Concerned Over Illegal Immigration Fixes
Proof Positive-Will I Vouch That Adolf Hitler is a Registered Voter here? You Betcha!
Randy's Roundtable-Over-Reach Again By Obama
Reaganite Republican-Wackjob Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Seeks 'Closer Relations with Iran'
Riehl World View-Where was DOJ? Will recount give GOP the Wisconsin Senate based on ballot recall mistake?
Sentry Journal-Teeing it up: A Round at the LINKs (Role of government edition)
Teresamerica-Is the HHS Targeting Babies With Down Syndrome? Link Between Prenatal Testing & an Increase in Abortions?
Troglopundit-This Week in Automotivators, June 18-24
We the People-Gonna Be Busy for a Week
Woodsterman--Great Photos from Mars
WyBlog- Send the bill to La Raza: Mom charged $50 to clean street after son killed by drunk illegal alien
Zilla of the Resistance-It’s Just How I Am

Stargate SG-1--"Origin"

I may have to reassess my previous notion the Ori are carbon copies of the Goa’uld. There appears to be a genuine hellfire and brimstone aspect to the ori rather than the thugs with symbiotes the Goa’uld were. “Origin” is genuinely chilling in its spelling out who the ori are and what they have planned. I mean, geez--the ori choose Julian sands and a bunch of albinos to spread the word. How disturbing is that?

“Origin” relies even more heavily on exposition than the previous episode, but thr origins and intentions of the Ori are spelled out in such ominous tones, none of it feels like a lecture. The Ori believe lower beings should worship them because of their power. They genuinely believe the Ancients are evil for not sharing their enlightenment with lower races even if they do not see their methods as enslavement. The Ancients have been protecting the people of our galaxy against the power of the Ori, but they will not do anything about the ori’s followers with heir origin or sword technique of evangelism. Now that they are aware of the Milky way thanks to Daniel and Vala, it is only a matter of time before the true believers begin an allout effort to convert or destroy.

“Origin” is all about atmosphere. The Ori’s priors are creepy as all get out. Julian Sands as their leader, Doci, is inspired casting. He is able to deliver over the top super villain dialogue without making it sound hammy. The ori themselves are eternal dlames from a pit meant to resemble hell. Quite effective, as is the Gregorian chant background music whenever a prior appears on screen to do his thing. The ori have definitely been set up as intriguing villains. Perhaps the final two seasons dealing with them will not feel as tacked on to the rest of the series as I once feared.

Does anyone else think it was a bit much for daniel and vala to escape back to earth leaving their two hosts to be burned at the stake? There certainly needed to be a dramatic moment for their escape, and leaving ijust before being engulfed in flames is definitely as narrow an escape as it gets, but their poor hosts have no chance. One can only hope their going up in smoke is too quick to be very painful. What a cruel twist of fate.

Jack showing up at the end is a real surprise. I figured Richard dean Anderson would have headed for the hills as soon as possible. Of course, his three scenes over these episode were probably all filmed on the same day with his car running outside.

‘Origin’ is a very scary beginning to the Ori story arc. I have more faith in it now than ever before even if I am still wary of the Arthurian legend aspect and the anti-Christian overtones. While the Ori and Priors have take their controlling methods from the dark Ages, there is still a hint modern Christianity is going to take some hits as the arc progresses. The feeling brings me back to my apologetics days encountering angry atheists who believe the dark Ages have not ended yet. Heh.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Scarlett Johansson

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Avalon, Part II"

“Avalon, Part II” is the bridging episode of a trilogy introducing the Ori. It is a strange, but often compelling animal. The story switches from a goofy swordfight between cam and a holographic night to Vala literally being burnt to a cinder on a altar to purge her “possession.” In between, there is plenty of exposition explaining the Ori which sounds uncreative similar to the Goa’uld. Regardless of the here we go again similarities between the Ori and the Goa’uld, it is difficult to find much disappointing.

Even the cliffhanger is resolved well. Stargate SG-1 has a frequent habit of a bait and switch in such resolutions. Remember the last season premiere when a Goa’uld ship was headed to earth at the to be continued mark, then nothing happened? Ouch. Here, Daniel and cam figure out the puzzles before the lowering ceiling turns them into pancakes. I could be nitpicker here and point out the heavy stone blocks upon which the puzzles are situated are high and sturdy enough to brace the falling ceiling and that cam’s puzzle--arranging mirror images of Arabic numbers--would have been set up four hundred years before those numbers arrived in England, but what the heck. They would still be trapped even if becoming grease stains and who else but a major history nerd would know about the number system’s age?

The end of the discovery of the hidden treasure involves cam playing action hero by crossing swords with a holographic knight. You just have to roll with something so odd. Among the treasure is a book that explains some ascended beings built a home for themselves on a planet called Avalon. Using a device that works with the communication stones taken from Joe spencer, Daniel and vala inhabit the bodies of two people on Avalon in order to explore the place.

There we learn about the Ori. Their story is pretty much the Goa’uld’s. The Ori set themselves up as gods to be worshiped. They forbid any of their subjects from researching true history. Every now and then, they perform a “miracle” to prove their divinity. In this case, it is returning Vala rom the dead in the public square after she has been burned at the stake for demon possession.

Speaking of Vala burned at the stake, it is the most gruesome scene in the series since daniel died from radiation poisoning. In many ways, it is worse. We see the whole deal, from the lighting of the fire to the flames consuming Vala to daniel cradling her charred corpse afterwards. I am a jaded soul nearly impervious to shock from anthing in popular entertainment, but Vala’s excruciating graphic death pushes the envelop for a relatively family friendly show. It is also a stark contrast to the beginning high adventure and Cam’s swordsmanship.

A few scenes cut away to Dakara where the Jaffa are creating a new government not as open to their hard fought freedom as Teal’c would like. Teal’c is given some really good, highly emotional scenes in an episode in which he would otherwise play very little part if history is any indication. Is the series finally going to step up and make him a major player after all this time? Except for episodes written by Christopher judge himself, Teal’c blends in with the scenery except for the moments in which he speaks irrelevant dialogue that could have come from anyone.

‘Avalon, Part II” runs the gamut from funny and weird to cringingly painful. I am a bit disappointed by the unoriginality of the ori and their similarity to stereotypically oppressive medieval Christianity. Avaon and its people are right out of the European Dark Ages. It is also strange to split the team up in the second episode when the working dynamic ought to be established instead. It is not a big distraction, however, from an otherwise entertaining episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

April Macie

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Formspring Question #426--True Calling Edition

Could you do without God, do you think?
I am a devout Calvinist. Predestination pretty much settles the question of whether I can get along without God. I cannot.

Formspring Question #425--Across the Universe II Edition

Following up on the SGU thing: Is not at least a good idea to just watch the pilot of Universe (Air, pt 1-3), so that you have the chance of at least judging it on your own, instead of dismissing it because of the opinions of others?
It would be a good idea if I had any interest in watching Stargate Universe. Since I possess no such interest, it is difficult to classify any any attention paid to Stargate Universe as a good idea. I guarantee I am not alone in my lack of interest. If I put up a poll asking if readers would like Stargate Universe reviews next instead of Farscape or Babylon 5, Stargate Universe would lose in a landslide.

Come on. Even your sales pitch for Stargate Universe apologetically said 3/4 of the episodes were meandering. The show's peoblems were bad enough even devout fans fled. I cannot see deboting a month and a half to this. I just cannot see how spending five or six weeks reviewing a show virtually no one cares about would be worthwhile.

I can still hear the crickets chirping from my Red Dwarf reviews last year. There have been a couple murder/suicide incidents among them since. Do you want that on your conscience?

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #156

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

Proof Positive links to Diora Baird.
Say Anything links to Diora Baird.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #155, Blogroll Spotlight #150, and Eliza Dusku.
Sentry Journal links to No Dungeon Mastery.
Randy's Roundtable links to Kaley Cuoco and Callie Thorne.
Motor City Times links to Count your many blessings the Photoshop of a half-naked pretty girl on some random blog is the biggest thing you have to complain about.
Teresamerica links to Sarah Shahi.

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--"Avalon, Part I"

“Avalon, Part I” is the ninth season premiere. We have many changes to which we must adjust. Cast changes are the most prominent. Ben Browder, Beau Bridges, and Claudia Black join as Cam, Landry, and Vala respectively. Vala is only a recurring character for now in order to fill the gap left by Amanda Tapping maternity leave. Disappointing if you ask me. I have been looking forward to writing Cam and Sam in the same sentence. The changes all add up to the feeling this is a completely different show from what has gone before.

I have only seen four or five scattered episodes of Farscape. a couple of those have been on one of those daily rerun marathons SyFy aired years after the series ended. Browder and black are pretty much a mystery to me. Their stint on Stargate SG-1 will be my first major impression of them. I have already sensed an in joke from when vala first sees cam and remarks she has never met him before. She would remember that. Presumably there is going to be quite a few of those that pass me by. Their addition to the cast also makes me wonder if the proverbial knife in the back left by SyFy’s cancellation of Farscape to allegedly free up production cash for more Stargate SG-1 burns Scapers in any way. Just a thought.

Gen. Henry Landry has been placed in charge of SGC. Jack, who has been promoted to Hammond’s job in Washington, has not appointed him, but given lt. Col. Cameron “Cam” Mitchell command of the SG-1 team. Cam lead the defense of the SG-1 team at the Battle of Antarctica. His ship went down, severely wounding him. In flashbacks, we see the battle and Cam’s Cam’s crash, as well as his apparently long stint recovering in the hospital. The battle itself is one long homage to the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. His valor earns him his choice of post upon his recovery, so he winds up with the SG-1 team.

The thrill is shot lived. The team has disbanded. Jack is in Washington, Sam works at Area 51, Teal’c is aiding the free Jaffa Nation on Dakara, and Daniel plans to go to Atlantis. Cam cannot convince the band to get back together even when he claims to be on a mission from God. Yes, two Blues Brothers references. We are going to hit the film geek trifecta when the Indians Jones and the Last Crusade stuff emerges in a moment.

Everything changes when Vala shows up, escorted by SG-7, with an Ancient table which allegedly shows the location of ancient treasure. She traps Daniel with a Goa’uld bracelet that will keep them from separating to ensure he helps her find it. Poor Daniel. There is always something in the way of his trip to Atlantis. Teal’c shows up to offer his expertise on the bracelets, which is none. So Cam, Teal’c, Daniel, and Vala all wind up in a cave deep underground in merry old England chasing after a treasure left by Merlin after he fled Atlantis during a Wraith attack centuries ago. The treasure may be the Holy Grail. The team splits up only too find themselves trapped in rooms with a puzzle to solve and a very tight time limit when the ceilings begin lowering. To be continued..

I have mixed emotions about the numerous changes introduced. I am cautiously optimistic about Browder and Black. They have enough devout fans for me to have faith I will enjoy their characters. Arthurian legend has been done to death in science fiction and fantasy. I have already mentioned numerous times my aversion to fantasy, but even at its best, a Holy Grail quest with Sword in the stone bits and some semi-Christian overtones is not treading new ground. I also note a heavier reliance on the comedy factor. Daniel and Vala’s sexual tension banter in particular reminds me of how the writer’s try way to hard to make Rodney McKay a fan favorite by going overboard with his obnoxious behavior. I will concede Browder is a natural comedic actor, though. Perhaps he ought to consider a sitcom role. We shall see how it all plays on.

Speaking of Daniel and Vala’s sexual tension, I will let your dirty minds dwell on this photo: Make of it what you will.

“Avalon, Part I” does not feel like a very epic beginning to a new era of the series, but it is enjoyable if you are willing to give the changes a chance. In spite of some skepticism, I am. Frankly, there is a feeling of patched together material that screams the creative team was caught by surprise over the show’s renewal and had to come up with something fast. If that is the case, one hopes for a quick adjustment. I would like to see some old fashioned through the stargate adventure without a lot of bogging down in a massive story arc as has happened in the last few seasons.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Hayden Panettiere

Friday, June 22, 2012

Formspring Question #424--In the Black Edition

Are you going to start posting photos of Claudia Black now that she is on SG1?
Perhaps. Posting Claudia Black photos sounds more appropriate for Farscape reviews. I should--hopefully--have more of her fans' attention at that point. It is weird enough my first real impressions of her and Ben Browder are going to come from Stargate SG-1 instead of their most famous series.

I would rather not encourage my Formspring box to become a celebrity request line, but what he heck. This is what you are fishing for:

Will that tide you over for a while?

Formspring Question #423--Too Animated Edition

Would you ever consider reviewing an animated series?
I would consider it, but am concerned how well it would go over. Something like Clone Wars would probably fly. Perhaps some of the Paul Dini series featuring DC Comics characters, too. There are enough comic book buffs around to probably enjoy those. Someone told me I would probably like Gargoyles since it is allegedly not your typical kid’s fare. I do not have much noststalgia for the ’80’s cartoons I grew up on. They are probably not as enthralling now as they were when I was ten, anyway.

When you say animated series, something like Futurama does not come to mind. The show is a prime time series that happens to be animated. Not much of a distinction, but there you go. I have considered Futurama as an eventual possibility. A pretty far down the road possibility.

You sound like you want to suggest an animated series, but are testing the waters first. Feel free to do with two caveats. One, I have never gotten into anime. I cannot imagine diving into any now, Two, I really, really, really do not want to bring up any more Star Trek related material. There is a small army of Enterprise fans--yes, those poor souls do exist--are lying in wait to pounce on any opportunity to promote the show for review. If I review Star Trek: The Animated Series, the ENT would be the only thing left not reviewed. I could never got the demons back in Pandora’s box.

Does anyone else have anything to say about the issue? Do not say you do not like cartoons, either. I know all of you do. Denying it just means you are probably one of those My Little Pony fanatics.

Formspring Question #422--Across the Universe Edition

Are you going to watch SGU after finishing with SG1 and SGA? It is no doubt a very controversial show, but IMO, it was pretty good even though it took 1 or 1 1/2 seasons for it to truly find its legs, which I think is mostly to blame for its early demise.
It is highly doubtful. The kindest thing I have heard about Stargate Universe is that it is a low rent Battlestar Galactca clone. Descriptions of the series degrade from there. You are the first to speak well of it to me, and your praise is apologetic. It took a season and a half for series that only lasted two seasons to find its groove? It does not sound like promising reviewing material.

It pays to reiterate I am only cautiously optimistic about Stargate Atlantis being reviewed immediately after Stargate SG-1. I have been reviewing the series since January and I still have forty episodes to go. The final two seasons are said to be vastly different than the first eighth. If they are a chore to get through, I am likely to move away from the franchise for Farscape or Babylon 5 and come back to Stargate Atlantis later. Of course, if I really get into the changes on Stargate SG-1, then I doubt burn out will be a problem. Whether I like Stargate Atlantis might be, but that is a whole other issue.

Just to throw in a related issue that item that is bound to come up, I have The Ark of Truthand Continuum laying here ready to be watched and reviewed when the time comes. The classification “straight to DVD” does not inspire confidence, but there are going in with the other reviews for the sake of completion.

Stargate SG-1--"Moebius, Part II"

“Moebius, Part II” is not only the eighth season finale, but the end of a era. It is the last time we will ever seen the Fab Four in action in the series. I definitely want to like it for sentimental reasons. It is fortunate part II is faster paced and more enjoyable than “Moebius, Part I“, but it is unfortunate the execution does not feel as epic as one would hope.

If there is one really good aspect to “Moebius, Part II,” it is the nod to fans who have hung with the series from the beginning. Maybe even fans who have been there since the original film. There has to be a few. There is the return of old characters like Kowalski, whose participation in traveling through th stargate for the first time is the plausible reason a reluctant Jack decides to give up his Jimmy Buffett routine and join the mission. Kowalski is killed on Chulak, in a nod to his Goa’uld implantation in the premiere episode. Apophis returns as the major villain for the first time since he was killed a few seasons ago. There are nods to running gags, such as Alternate Daniel being killed on Chulak, but the real Daniel being the only surviving member of the SG-1 team in 3000 BC. Alt Sam and Alt Jack make the beast with two backs at the star of the rebellion that overthrows Ra, so the shippers get their moment. In a nod to new fans, Rodney McKay makes an appearance as his usual obnoxious self.

There is one bit that has me puzzled. Alt Jack expresses surprise upon hearing Alt Sam speak technical jargon because he is not used to hearing such things from someone so hot. She blushes and says guys like Alt Daniel are more her type. That I understand. Daniel/Sam shipping is not as popular as Jack/Sam, but it has been around. Even I am inclined to think the knots in Daniel’s head fit the grooves in Sam’s. Alt Jack’s response is to insinuate Alt Daniel is gay. Maybe that is just the quick response of a guy trying to get into Alt Sam’s pants, but considering the winks to themes from the show’s past, is there a segment of the fan base who think Daniel is gay? If so, I have missed it beyond the occasional stay Jack/Daniel shipper on one of websites, blogs, and forums I have visited since beginning these reviews. Danirl has frequently brought bad luck to the women he has fallen for, but I do not think that makes him gay.

The story itself is fairly straightforward. Alt Jack returns to lead a team through the stargate to Chulak. He is convinced to allow alt Daniel and Alt Sam go along out of an unexplained sense of destiny. They are captured by Apophis. While imprisoned, Daniel is secretly implanted with a symbiote and the rest are about to convince teal’c to help them escape by showing him the video in which his true self reveals the Jaffa are free in the real timeline. As mentioned above, both Daniel and Kowalski are killed. In order to escape recapture, our alt heroes use the time travel mode to go back to 3000BC Egypt. There they discover Jack and Teal’c plotted a rebellion against ra which failed. Daniel is the only one to survive. He is plotting another rebellion--the one that will succeed--but Ra will take the stargate with him when he flees. Alt SG-1’s arrival makes a difference in the timeline, causing the rebellion to succeed, but Ra leaving the stargate behind.

If there is any big issue with “Moebius, Part II,” aside from why the Alt SG-1 team left through the Antarctica stargate, but returned to Earth through the Giza stargate, is how abruptly the episode ends. The rebellion begins earlier than originally planned in order to save Alt Jack and Alt Sam from the Jaffa . Once they are safe and safely nodding and gendering like frogs in a cistern while the slaves rise up, we cut to the present day wherein we learn everything just turned out all right. The real Daniel packed away the ZPM, so they never had to travel to the past in the first place--*cough* Grandfather Paradox *cough*--so none of these events should have actually happened, but apparently they did since Jack’s pond now has fish in it. What is worse, the final scene is a repeat, dialogue and all, of the ending to “Threads,” which makes one wonder if that really happened before. What is the point to casting doubt on pivotal events in the series’ history?

Th bottom line is the episode has many issues, both in logic and scope. Considering the episode is the major send off for the team as it has been for years, the latter is more disappointing. Nevertheless, sentimentality wins out over problems. We are never going to se the original team in action again in a good or bad story, so this adventure has to be graded on a curve. The curve is still not enough to merit four or five stars, but “Moebius, Part II’ is still a cannot miss. It constitutes the end of an era. The episodes from here on out feel more like a spin off than part of the series as it has been for the last eight years.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel is not one to show off a lot of skin often, so take what you can get.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Moebius, Part I"


Two things come to mind upon watching “Moebius, Part I.” The first is a sense fans are correct in claiming the preceding trilogy is would be a more fitting end for the reign of the original four SG-1 members. The second is the finale should have been two hours. I am not certain without having seen the conclusion yet, but the payoff could even be an average episode and still elevate the anemic first part. There ain’t much going on here, folks, other than the main cast hamming it up either sneaking around ancient Egypt incognito or playing alternate versions of themselves.

Daniel gets word that Catherine Langford has died. He is approached at the funeral by Catherine’s niece, whom he appears to develop a quick crush on. While it is a cad for taking an obvious shine to her before her aunt’s body is even in the ground, she resembles Sarah Gardner. The similarity is a nice touch, not to mention a reminder Sarah was supposedly someone Daniel deeply cared for before she was dropped from the series like a bad habit. Langford left Daniel her entire archeological collection. As Daniel shifts through it, he makes an incredible discovery. There is a ZPM in Ra’s old temple in 3,000BC. This ZPM can power earth’s defenses, contact Atlantis, and probably get free HBO. The SG-1 team needs to recover it.

Efforts to find it now come up short. Ra took his digs with him, so the ZPM could be anywhere. But they know the ZPM was there in 3000BC. With the ancient time machine, they can retrieve it strangely enough, Sam thinks traveling back through time is worth the risk if they can keep a low profile. Since the ZPM remained a secret, taking it should not cause any problems. This what could go wrong attitude ought to give you pause, particularly when Sam herself makes reference to Ray Bradbury’s short story ’A Sound of Thunder” in which a man travels to prehistoric times and alters the future by stepping on a butterfly. Small changes can have huge, unpredictable consequences. Sure enough, something bad happens. Our heroes snatch the ZPM without any problems, but Ra’s Jaffa capture the Ancient time ship. They become stranded in 3,000 BC.

Traveling back in time and tip toeing through ancient Egypt trying to not screw up the timeline is one thing, but Daniel brings a camcorder with him in order to record a message in the hopes it will be recovered in the future. Otherwise, our heroes decide to live out the rest of their lives in ancient Egypt. Presumably because they really did not think this whole plan through. An alternate timeline is created in which the stargate is never discovered because ra took it with him after the human rebellion, so our heroes never come together. They are living their lives as different kinds of people.

Okay, let us get the Grandfather Paradox problem out of the way. If the SG-1 team travels to ancient Egypt and alters the future to where there is no SGC, then they could never have gone back to ancient Egypt in the first place. There is no starting point, so how can all this be happening? Any time travel story has to be taken with a certain grain of salt, but some problems with the concept are harder to tolerate than others.

The intention is for us to go with it unquestioned because of how absurdly the rest of the episode plays out. Daniel is a disgraced archeologist teaching English as a second language while wearing a hairpiece worse than Adam Sandler’s from The Wedding Singer . Sam is a secretary with a Ph D in astrophysics because she lacks moxy. Jack is Jimmy Buffett with a thic Minnesotan accent. Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping are clearly having a ball playing the nebbish alternate versions of their characters. I am all but certain they are lightly mocking some fans they have encountered at past conventions. Working together, sans Jack, they discover thet discover the location of the other stargate in Antarctica, but are not going to be allowed on the mission through it. Too be continued.

“Moebius, Part I” has its heart in the right place. It wants to be a bookend not juat for the series, but the original film that spawned it. It has been years since I have seen the original film, but I do not recall it being so…goofy. ’Moebius, Part I” is funny and entertaining, but it feels more like a two part episode that should have come in the middle of a random season, not as the sign off for the series as it has been for the last eight years. Maybe part Ii will surprise me. I already have a hint rom Jack’s renewed anger towards Ra that the SG-1 team probably plays a big part in the rebellion that topples Ra. If so, I may change my mind about the story. As it is, events do not feel all that epic.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is (occasionally) Kaley Cuoco Day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Imperial President Really Gets Us

A couple of interesting news items today reveal much about the current presidential administration and the American people’s attitude towards their leadership. The first is Barack Obama invoking Nixonian executive privilege in refusing to hand over Fast and Furious documents. The second item is the revelation Obama has an edge in the polls over Mitt Romney because Romney is seen as out of touch.

Granted, invoking executive privilege may change voter opinion against what I am about to say in a day or two, but is t not dismaying we would rather have an imperial president because we think he is more personable than Romney? Never mind that politicians are playing a role for the public in the first place. Does anyone really believe Obama is any more likely than Romney to stand in your backyard, sipping a beer and playing horseshoes while you grill steaks/ Not even if you live in a swing state, buddy. The whole idea of choosing a president under the same criteria as choosing a bowling partner is sad and scary considering what is at stake in this election in particular.

Invoking executive privilege is just the latest in Obama’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Yes, those Fast Furious documents are a smoking gun, if you will pardon the pun., but Obama has made circumventing Congress the matter of course, refused to enforce immigration laws, and ignored the War Powers Act among his official dereliction od duty, as well as alienated allies and fumbled around while the Gulf suffered under a massive oil spill on a personal level. But all is forgiven because the average American would rather have a beer summit with Obama than Romney?

Unreal, people. I understand a candidate’s personality plays a big part in elections. I have also been behind the scenes of campaigns enough to know the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of the public versus private persona of politicians. Cynicism rules the day when it comes to judging what nice guys anyone ambitious enough to want the power of running the free world is really like behind closed doors. Obama does not even bother to hide his true contempt behind those closed doors. His true nature is out there for the entire country to see, as are four years worth the of devastating consequences of a president who believes he can ignore laws inconvenient to his agenda, but we are going to ignore all that because he seems like such a nice, fun guy? If so, why not just re-dub the president entertainer-in-chief and freely admit our only concern as a nation is trying to amuse ourselves?

Stargate SG-1--"Threads"

Full disclosure; there are two versions of “Threads.” One is the 63 minute version originally aired on the Sci fi Channel. The othe is a 44 minute version edited down for syndication. The boxed DVD set that I am watching has the latter. By all accounts, the extended episode as originally aired is superior. I get the impression by how quickly events happen without much elaboration the deleted scenes help with the pacing of the story as well as filling in some gaps. There are some of these scenes on YouTube--Anubis berating Ba’al for betraying him, Bra’tac and Teal’c being knighted, more scenes with Pete and Sam, Sam waiting in the car outside Jack’s house, and the impression Jack and Kerry slept together--but watching these scenes after the fact do not enhance the narrative flow. I do not feel as though I have seen the 63 minute version properly even if all the deleted scenes are on YouTube, so this review is for the 44 minute version.

In Mny ways, “Threads” feels like an epilogue to the major defeat of a powerful enemy in the same way TNG’s “Family” deals with the aftermath of the Borg’s defeat. The emphasis is on personal issues even though it is set against the rather important backdrop of Anubis planning to destroy all life in the galaxy in order to reestablish it to his twisted liking. More specifically, we have Daniel involved in yet another existential debate with more powerful beings while everyone else come to terms with their futures. The combination is strange, yet compelling.

After RepliCarter’s ship is destroyed, Daniel finds himself in Der Waffle Haus on the set of Dead Like Me and sits at the Reapers’ favorite booth. I am only marginally familiar with Dead Like Me, but I think that is cool. By way of explanation, Daniel is viewing the Ascended Plane as something to which he can relate--the diner his grandfather took him to at after his parent’s funeral. Oma is the waitress serving Daniel and there is a friendly guy named Jim, but all the other customers ignore him completely. The dialogue between Daniel, Oma, and Jim runs towards the obtuse, but it eventually reveals that Jim is Anubis. He tricked Oma into believing he was good so she would help him ascend. As punishment for her mistake, her cohorts allowed Anubis to only half ascend so he could still wreak havoc on the galaxy. For higher beings, the ascended certainly are petty. Anubis is preparing to assault Dakara in order to take the Ancient weapon away from the Jaffa . He keeps reurning to the diner in order to gloat in front of Oma over his impending victory.

Anubis’ plan leads to one of the oddest points of the episode. The Jaffa have made Dakara the center of their new nation. They refose to destroy the Ancient weapon. Supposedly because it is a symbol of their newfound freedom, but it is really because of the power it affords them. Slaves overturn false gods in order to become gods themselves. I do not criticise the notion too much, but it would be better if Bra’tac and teal’c were not going along with the idea. I can better see the hubris of those who have been enslaved their entire lives and just now have the taste of power. What is worse is that Bra’tac and Teal’c also go along with the idea of killing Anubis, something no one is certain can even be done, so the Jaffa can safely keep the Ancient weapon. It is Anubis’ slaughtering of the Jaffa on Dakara that he keeps returning to the diner to brag about. At least the Jaffa sre learning a costly lesson about the cost of avarice.

Daniel attempts to destroy Anubis, but cannot. He is not powerful enough. Oma finally steps up with Anubis’ finger on the button of the Ancient weapon, ready to use it. The two are both equally powerful, but locked in combat for all eternity, Anubis cannot do anything else but battle her. The universe is safe, and Stargate SG-1 does a better job of two beings in an eternal battle to prevent the destruction of reality better than TOS’ “Alternative Factor.” the end makes one wonder if the ascended really were jerks for allowing Anubis to do his thing all this time, or if Oma was for not stepping up to take responsibility for her mistake in attempting to ascend him in the first place. Of course, they could just all be jackasses, Oma included.

The rest of ’Threads” has to do with Sam getting smacked around emotionally. Shippers should take note how the stars align. First, Sam sees jack hanging out with CIA agent Kerry Johnson and gets jealous. Pete cannot compete with old Jack. But taking a page from pete’s stalker handbook, she sits outside jack’s house for a while working up the nerve to tell him how she really feels about him. When she finally works up the nerve, she runs right into him and Kerry having a cookout. She has an out, though--her father is dying. His last words to her are a nudge to begin a relationship with Jack. She takes the advice to heart, because she dumps pete on the ront steps of the house he just pit a down payment on before her father’s corpse is even cold. Kerry comes into Jack’s office to dump him because she senses he has a thing for Sam,. Sam and jack do not really have a moment that can be interpreted as the beginning of a romance. They just sort of snap at each other as Anubis’ weapon fires up. Does that mean they are already an old married couple? Discuss amongst yourselves, shippers.

The Ori are kinda sorta mention, though not by name, when jim reveals the Ancient weapon was built to recreate life in the galaxy after a plague. It was the same plague that infected jack back in the sixth season, so this is not really the first int of the Ori, but it is interesting nevertheless. Speaking of the Ori and their pseudo-Christian motif, when Jim re=enters the diner just before the Anubis version of himself is about to use the weapon, he is whistling “Amazing Grace.” The hymn is a strange choice of music. I have no theory why Jim choose it save for irony.

“Threads” is quite engaging even in its abbreviated 44 form. Events happen a bit too quickly without the extended scenes, but that is only a minor gripe. As I am not a Jack/sam shipper, I do not feel as though all things need to fall in line for the two of them to get together, so some things do not resonate for me as muh as are probably intended. Sam stomps all over pete’s heart, and we are supposed to cheer about it. Kerry ecides way too quickly tp punt Jack’s heart, too. Far be it from me to question how and why people fall in and out of relationships, but wow. That is some colf decision making there. There is some heady dialogue in the diner scenes, too. You have to be a geek to appreciate it. I do not think as highly of “Threads” as other fans appear to, but it is still a fine wrap up to the eighth season story arc.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Callie Thorne

I do not know if Necessary Roughness's Callie Thorne can compete with Fairly Legal's Sarah Shahi for blog hits, but we shall give it a shot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Formspring Question #421--Jack Ain't Back Edition

Is Jack still your favorite SG-1 character?
Yes, but I am basing my fondness for the character on the first five seasons or so more than the last few. Richard Dean Anderson’s lack of enthusiasm for playing the character has been coming through loud and clear in seasons six through eighth, and it is taking toll on my enjoyment. If his heart is not in it, the character suffers.

I completely understand Anderson’s attitude, mind you. His family was growing, so he wanted to spend time with them. He has both a bad back and bad knees. He had to endure a knee surgery and rehab after a fall just before the sixth season began filming. Playing a role in an action series with nagging injuries has to be difficult.

Frankly, as Stargate SG-1 has shifted focus away from the old dynamic of Jack holding the team together while philosophically sparring with Daniel and/or intellectually with Sam to each character coming into his or her own, the latter has filled the void Jack’s diminished role left. I am not saying jack should have just left the show rather than linger in a smaller role so the others could shine, but jack has become a far less compelling character in recent seasons.

Looking back on it, ”Menace” was a turning point for the character. That is the episode in which it is discovered the Replicators were created by a robot “child” named Reese as playthings that got out of hand. Jack destroyed Reese in order to stop the replicators from taking over earth the way they had Reese’s planet. There is debate among fans whether jack did the right thing or just killed her in cold blood. As much as one can kill a robot in cold blood. I think fans are adding an undue emotionalism to it because Reese was a pretty girl who acted like a naïve teenager. If the character had been played by a balding middle aged actor, no one would have thought twice about his destruction. But I digress. You can argue that jack may have felt he crossed a line there and began backing off from action, with few exceptions.

“Menace” is the turning point for the character for me. He has never been quite the same since. Most of my favorite jack moments come prior to that. Then again, the entire cohesive team dynamic ended around about that time, too. When was the last time the four SG-1 team members worked together all in one place in an adventure? “Revisions” would be my guess. The show shifted focus long before Ben Browder and Claudia black made it a “spin off’ in the final two seasons.

Formspring Question #420--Why Don't You Tell Me How You Really Feel? Edition

You should be embarrassed that you even try to claim to be a Christian and than post the pictures of women on here like this! On top of that you proceed to tear them apart and critique their bodies as if they are not even human beings! You are a disgusting excuse for a human being let alone a "Christian"! Toe jams like you are the reason so many girls end up killing themselves from starving themselves or getting implants! You are a waste of oxygen!!
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Stargate SG-1--"Reckoning, Part II"

“Reckoning, Part II’ is a worthy conclusion to all of the set up from the first part. I anticipated a letdown before watching, and while watching I further feared clutter from too many storylines running concurrently. But I am happy to say the episode turned out to be one of the best of the series.

Dakara continues to be the focal point of everyone’s plans, dastardly or otherwise. Ba’al, who is ostensibly still working for Anubis, is taking the scenic route there in order to give the Jaffa time to locate the Ancient weapon that can destroy every living thing other than the Ancients themselves. The Jaffa are bracing themselves for the likely hopeless battle with ba’al’s forces after they fail to locate the ancient weapon. Sam and Jacob/Selmak arrive, discover the weapon, and struggle with the reluctant help of Ba’al to reprogram it to destroy only Replicators. Speaking of, the Replicators invade SGC. Meanwhile, Daniel learns to use his dormant Ancient knowledge to peer into RepliCarter’s mind to look for a way to stop them as she probes his mind for secrets. The RepliCators begin an all out assault on every paryy but Daniel. He has his hands full, so he appreciates the small blessing.

There is still a prevalent doomsday feel to “Reckoning, Part Ii,” but there is far less Biblical allegory. My apprehensions fell more that the episode was going to make the George Lucas mistake of forcing the audience to keep track of four stories at the same time. Overkill is one of the many things that killed The Phantom Menace,. the audience had to keep track of the light saber duel with Darth Maul, the Gungan v. Battle droids, Amidala’s entourage taking the palace, and Anakin’s space battle. It is too much for a person to become immersed in all of it. ’Reckoning, Part Ii” comes eerily close. There is the daniel v. RepliCarter duel, Jack defending SGC against a Replicator siege, Sam and Jacob/Selmak adapting the Ancient weapon, and the Jaffa/Ba’al/Replicator space battle. It is not wise to attempt so much going on at once, but the episode pulls it off well by making the events very different, yet connected by the same resolution--Daniel uses secrets from RepliCarter’s mind to freeze the replicator’s long enough for Sam and Jacob/Selmak to set the weapon correctly, bit at the cost of his life. That is right. Daniel dies. Again.

A stand out point is right before the ancient weapon is fired. We get to see a no dialogue montage in which we get up close and personal with the SG-1 team member at the most desperate moment of his or her situation. Daniel lay dying on RepliCarter’s ship. Teal’c is stoi as his ship is being destroyed around him. Sam is at the temple door about to be overrun by Replicators. Jack is in the same spot, but he is on the verge of calling for a nuclear strike that will irradiate a large chunk of Colorado. The montage is very quick, but it is just enough to elicit the ominous feeling from each that this is the end. When the ancient weapon activates every stargate in the Milky Way in order to shatter every Replicator into powder, it is such a contrast the previous montage, you want to stand up and cheer.

I enjoy the humor interspersed within to break the tension. Sam gets needled to come up with a miracle because she once blew up a sun. The Ancient language on the temple wall is gibberish until the stones are turned upside down. Daniel’s sly smile when RepliCarter discovers he can read her mind. Ba’al’s arrogance. Jack’s sarcasm about placing two explosives on the blast door to a room Siler is trapped within because…it is a blast door. Even the Replicators have a moment. When Daniel manages to freeze them, we shoot to a scene with Jack at SGC commenting on their sudden dead stop. In the background, you can hear a Replicator fall off a wall to punctuate Jack’s statement of surprise. Of course, the coolest Replicator moment is them storming en masse out into the gate room.

If I have any criticism, it is the implausibility that every Jaffa switches allegiance to the rebellion once the Replicators are defeated. It is doubly strange since Ba’al is pivotal to getting the weapon to work. The expressed fear from part one is Ba’al will look like a god if he can destroy the Replicators--end the divine plague, as it were. The g Goa’uld have to be defeated somehow, so I am not complaining. I am too absorbed in the Replicator defeat to fret over the anticlimactic final defeat of the Goa’uld after eight years of fighting.

“Reckoning, Part Ii” has everything but Jonas Quinn and the Furlings. I do not miss either one. You will not, either. The episode is the best of the season so far, and if what little buzz I have heard is true about the wrap up story for the Old Guard, that makes it the best of the season period. I do not doubt it, but I still anxious to see the aftermath in tomorrow’s epilogue episode.

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