Friday, August 31, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"Runner"

“Runner” pays farewell to ford as a main cast member while welcoming Ronon Dex in to fill the void, both within the backdrop of an Androcles and the Lion fable. “Runner” may be another case of my lack of familiarity with SGA causing issues. I do not recall if there were any issues prompting the major cast change, nor any hype leading up to either change. I can only judge “Runner” based on its own merit with any lingering fan sentiments tainting.

When a science team investigates the effects on a planet of long term ozone depletion, they discover a dead Wraith. The Wraith was killed by a P-90, so Ford is the prime suspect. A team, lead by Sheppard heads to the planet in order to locate their ailing friend. Caldwell in particular is wary of Sheppard’s intentions in the matter. Caldwell believes ford is beyond help, but Sheppard will not bring himself to eliminate him over personal feelings rather than allow Atlantis to be compromised. The confrontation between Caldwell and Sheppard recalls the mercy killing of Sumner. Caldwell appears to ave the double whammy of resentment for Sumner’s death and doubt Sheppard can do what must be done to protect Atlantis’ secrets ford might reveal to the Wraith. Sheppard cannot win for losing.

Before anyone can find Ford, Sheppard and Teyla are captured by a man named Ronon Dax. Ronon is a Runner, which means one who has a tracker stuck in his back that allows the Wraith to track him. For seven years, he has been on the run while being hunted down for sport. In negotiation for their freedom, Sheppard says beckett can surgically remove the tracker. Beckett does so while being the one to allude to Androcles and the Lion onscreen. If the title does not ring a bell, it is the story of a roman named Androcles who removes a thorn from a lion’s paw. To thank him later, the lion refuses to eat Androcles later shen he is condemned later in the story. Ronon ultimately follows the lion’s lead.

Meanwhile, Rodney runs into Ford as he traipses through the forest like Rambo. The interaction between the two is more enjoyable than Ronon’s scenes. Ford suffers violent shifts from his old self to the Wraith influenced, paranoid psychopath and back again. Rainbow Sun Francks is not the best actor--perhaps why he is being written out-- but he does an impressive job here. His mood swings from youthful enthusiasm for the adventure of rescuing Sheppard and Teyla to deadly violence when he loses patience with Rodney and back again is incredibly scary. It is also great how Rodney, who really does not care about ford, has to fake it in order to save himself while still compelling the audience to sympathize with his plight. It is no easy task to pull off with such a normally obnoxious character.

Ford escapes capture by leaving with the Wraith who have come for Ronon. Although Sheppard shot him in the leg, doubts linger he has the nerve to do what must be done to stop Ford once and for all. Ronon travels back to Atlantis, but winds up stuck there when a recon mission shows his home planet has been razed by the Wraith with no apparent survivors.

“Runner’ is an entertaining episode that strikes a good balance between action and character moments. It serves the purpose of exiting Ford while introducing Ronon well. That is high praise coming from me. Neither character reaches out and grabs me, although I am going to be fair and wait awhile before passing final judgment on Ronon. My favorite parts of the episode involved Rodney.

There are a couple issues, as well. If it is relatively easy for the tracker to be surgically removed, why has no runner ever done it before, much less Ronon? Beckett performed the operation as a field medic might, and was still successful. The ease at which Ronon’s problem is resolved has to be overlooked in order for the episode to work. The other is much of the episode takes place at night, but is filmed during the day and digitally altered. This is certainly a matter of personal taste, but the results generally nag me. It is something about the shadows cast. I do not know. I am not going to count it against the episode. Just know that I am lightly grinding my ax over here about it. As with a few episodes back when Teyla fought the Genni woman, the dark is used to disguise the fact the ford v. Ronon knife fight is two stuntmen instead.

“Runner” is good, but not great. Perhaps if I had a stronger emotional connection with Ford or latched on immediately to Ronon, I would feel better about it. As it is, I appreciate the action scenes and the comic relief involving Rodney. Francks does a good job portraying the increasingly crazy Ford. One wonders if he had been able to act up a storm from the beginning, would his character have made it all the way to the end?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Rachel Weisz

The Bourne Legacy beauty.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Officially Nominated for President

Mitt Romney accepts the republican nomination for president. Now we send Barack Obama packing. The One--how long has it been since anyone called him that, even in jest?--prefers giving speeches and playing golf like an ex-president, anyway. He will probably be happier. With four years of practice under his belt, he will probably be good at it, too. Think of the crowds of broken-hearted idealists who believe he actually could roll back the tides and heal the planet lining up to relieve the 2008 campaign for the rest of his life. I will bet that fits someone’s definition of the American Dream.

In all seriousness, I have heard hundreds of speeches even in my relatively short time as a political/observer/operative. One takes these things with a huge grain of salt. But I must admit, I had doubts Romney had it in. Like most voters, I am motivated to vote because I do not agree with the Other Guy, not so much because I am enthusiastic for Our Guy. If==and it is likely--Romney becomes president, he will not go down as one with whom the American people feel connected. But it pulled off the emotionalism tonight far better than I could have anticipated.

Marco Rubio on the other hand…wow. I can see why so many conservatives wanted him as Romney’s running mate. I am happy with paul Ryan--happier than with Romney, in fact--but I am now anxious to see Rubio’s career be put on the fact track even though he missed out on the Veep slot. He is a dynamite speaker.

What can the democrats possibly put up to compete between now and November? Four years of economic failure? More promises of planet healing, and they promise to get it right this time? Some innovative ideas from Joe Biden? Sandra fluke taking a break from begging taxpayers to fund her brith control long enough to expose the alleged conservative war on women? Even Hillary Clinton is skipping the convention to avoid any association with the current administration that might rag down her 2016 bid for president.

It has been a good night for Republicans, conservatives, and all Americans.

Stargate Atlantis--"The Intruder"

What kind be said of “The Intruder” other than it is highly unoriginal? Not only is the plot a direct lift from SG-1’s “Entity,” but a character specifically mentions the incident from the episode in case you were under the mistaken impression this is something fresh and new. There are a few problems with the storytelling technique of flashbacks as well which damage the episode.

The Atlantis command staff is taking the Daeadalus on a return flight from Earth to Atlantis after a debriefing and gathering of new staff. This flight is the return trip to Atlantis daniel missed because of vala in “Avalon, Part I.” The action plot begins almost immediately when a crewmember is killed by what we soon learn is a Wraith virus designed to take over Daedalus and fly it towards a Hive ship. The rising action and resolution of the battle against the virus is identical to “Entity” save for the use of a X-302 instead of a MALP is the main hiding place for the virus. The conflict with the virus is broken up by black and white flashbacks from the command staff’s time on Earth done with varying degrees of success.

I do not want to sound terribly down on the virus story. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. The writers present it effectively as a mystery at first. Perhaps there is a saboteur on board. Even after the truth is discovered, there is a HAL homage afoot as the virus uses the ship’s systems to defend itself. The ending dogfight in which Sheppard’s F-302 destroys the one infected by the virus in time to save Daedalus from a lethal dose of radiation from the corona of a nearby sun is quite thrilling. But it has still been done beore. It does not feel quite right for a spin off to literally reuse a script from its parent series, acknowledge that is what they have done, and not have fans irritated that more effort was not put into making the spin off more unique. Call it ultimately disappointing over lack of effort.

The flashbacks are a bigger problem, mostly on a technical level. Why mwntion in the ’present” Sheppard has been promoted from major to colonel, then show in flashback the generals in command wanted to boot him out in favor of Caudwell, but weir insisted otherwise,, and got her way because she has the president’s ear? Maybe that is a moment exclusively for the shippers, since the emotional impact is Sheppard’s promotion is solely due to Weir going to bat for him, but it does not resonate with me to find out he has been promoted first, then learn why. I guess the whole Sheppard/Weir thing is not grabbing me like it is everyone else. As if Weir’s advocacy of Sheppard does not grab you, her engagement to Simon is called off, too, so no barriers left for you shippers. Sheppard visiting Ford’s family is a well done way of demonstrating his guilt over ford’s fate and his dedication to finding the missing officer. There is a bright spot there.

“The Intruder” is unoriginal with some flaws. Is it really wise to show how vulnerable Daedalus is in its second appearance? Or establish a trip from Earth to Atlantis takes only 18 days, thereby removing the stranded in another galaxy aspect so soon? I do not know. A wait and see attitude is necessary. One thing I can say for certain is how much I like Hermiod. The Asgard have always been my favorite stargate aliens, and Hermiod jas thus far been the most colorful with his condescending snark. He is an inspired character. I hope he is frequently utilized, though I suspect he will be used as sparingly as his compatriots on SG-1. The best way to rate ’The Intruder” is mediocre. It has all been done before. The only aspect that saves it is very few character moments.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Naomi Watts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Siege, Part III"

Wait…have we finally reached the end of the Wraith invade Atlantis story? After something like seven episodes and a few months hiatus to boot? Yes! We have been dragged across the finish line! The interesting part about “The Siege, Part III” is how many foreshadowed plot elements from the set up, which has dragged out so long, I nearly forgot all of them until they showed up, are woven together for the conclusion. I will give major props for the ending, as well. Anytime a story ends with a mushroom cloud, all the stops have been pulled out.

As expected, Daedalus arrives in the nick of time to not only deliver the ZPM, but teleport Sheppard off the Puddle Jumper before the nuke goes off inside the Hive ship. The cavalry rescue is only the beginning of a breakneck speed first act which sees Daedalus teleport nukes onto other Hive ships, ground forces engage Wraith in Atlantis, and Rodney properly hook up the ZPM while still serving as comic relief. The guy is a multitasked, what can I tell you?

The shield works to defend Atlantis, but even after the Wraith fleet is destroyed, a dozen more are on the way. Our heroes go on the offense by ambushing the second wave, but they are going to face a similar continual bombardment that convinced the Lanteans to abandon the city millennia ago until they get the idea exploding a nuke over Atlantis while the shield is up, then cloaking the city to make it appear it has self-destructed. The plan works, and the Wraith leave under the assumption they now have no easy route to Earth.

Subplots resolved: Teyla is alive. She rushes in to save Rodney from a couple Wraith after his security detail is incapacitated and his Keystone Kops routine in his defense does nothing more than amuse the audience. Everett was not killed in the first season finale. He does, however, have half the life sucked out of him before one o the men under his command shoots the Wraith. The experience causes him to empathize with Sheppard’s decision to mercy kill Sumner, and he expresses the epiphany with Sheppard. One presumes Everett dies off screen shortly thereafter. Teyla uses her mental link with the Wraith to inform them of the ‘plan” to destroy Atlantis so they will stop their bombardment while the shield is down.

Subplots begun: Daedaluis arrives, expanding both the cast and firepower of SGA. I cannot decide if I am happier to see Mitch Phileggi have a recurring role, or that a smart aleck Asgard named Hermiod. Novak shows up, too. She was not a major player on the parent show, but memorable nevertheless. Shippers should take note of the warm reception weir offers Sheppard upon his return after fearing he was dead. Finally, in what I assume is at least part of the second season arc, ford is infected with Wraith enzyme which makes him some sort of psychotic hybrid. He escapes to menace our heroes another day.

It has been a long time coming, but “The Siege, Part III” is a fine ending of the Wraith invasion arc. I am inclined to think there was only enough material for about half as many episodes as the powers that be chose to use, but no matter. The conclusion wove in dangling plot threads from past episodes, introduced new characters, and concluded the storyline in exciting, slam bang fashion while introducing elements for the new running plot, and all without feeling cluttered. I even thought Rodney’s comic relief moments were well placed and less obnoxious than usual. He and Hermiod are presumably going to comedically spar with one another, no? “The Siege, Part III” has me cautiously optimistic about a season which I have heard is generally considered the weakest of the series. We shall see.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

The excitement for The Dark Knight Rises waned quickly, but that Catwoman costume should have gotten way more attention.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jamie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend

A number of well wishers and/or curiosity seekers have hit my Formspring asking about what happened over the weekend. I am going to throw it all out there to get it off my chest because I am angry at myself for inadvertently exasperating the problem. I rarely discuss personal issues like this any longer, so if anyone wants to skip the gory details of this out of place post, feel free with nary a hut feeling suffered.

This kind of blockage has happened to me four times since my colonectomy in 2004. The first was immediately after hernia surgery in 2006. The second was almost two years ago. The third was a near miss in which I managed to avert both the week long hospitalization and possible threat of surgery by a means that lured me into a false sense of security. Which leads us to the fourth incident in which false part of the sense of security comes in.

I was given the usual list of instructions on how to live post-colonectomy upon my release from the hospital in 2004, but I was 27, had just seen my law career slip away due to my detached retina, and all I could dwell on in my otherwise distraught mind was the assurance the procedure could be reversed in four months, so I paid next to no attention to anything said to me back then. It is a bad move for anyone to ignore. Bowel obstructions are a very common surgery because of American eating and health habits. They can also be difficult to treat surgery or no. Gerald Ford, who surely had access to the best healthcare in the world, died of a severely impacted bowel.

What I largely ignored back when receiving my care and maintenance instructions was the over the counter stuff is nott going to cut it when problems arise for someone in the shape I am in. One has to be flushed out by a GI specialist preferably, or in the emergency room if that is the best way it can be done.

The lesson get lost amid the realization later that year the colonectomy could not, as promised, be reversed due to scar tissue and spreading diverticulitis. It did not really matter until two years later when an obstruction happened as a result of hernia surgery. Anyone can have an increased risk after surgery because the bowels are among the last to awaken after anesthetic. It took six days to get all things squared away back then. That was six days of nothing by mouth. Just IV fluids. I can still remember the strange cravings and hallucinations I suffered that week. I even had to be sedated one night.

I learned a valuable lesson then. When the problem clearly arose again in 2010, I went to the emergency room fort a flushing. Said flushing promptly did not work, so I was admitted to the hospital to be bsck in the same spot I had been in last time, right down to the six day duration. I managed to avoid sedation this time around. I also managed to avoid a second flushing by the use of magnesium citrate, a nasty little drug that falls between flushing and surgery as a solution for obstructed bowels. The doctor gave me a bottle upon my release. I used it once in 2011 when I knew I was headed down the same path, and it worked perfectly. I thought I had learned the surefire way to dodge a bullet that was always going to be coming at me. I had not.

Here is the deal with magnesium citrate--it draws out all the water in your digestive system to flush it out naturally. Doctors order patients to take it before surgeries and procedures like colonoscopies. You do not even need a prescription for it. I got my second bottle back in 2011 after I used what the doctor gave me. It had worked well twice as long as I hydrated well before and after. I had an IV going the first time I took it, so no problem. The second time at home, I guess I drank enough water or had a stronger constitution. I do not know, but I had no problem. On Friday, I had a problem.

I took the proper amount of magnesium citrate, but got no results. Which is not to say it had no effect. All the water still drew out of my digestive system. The obstruction was just too much. Then I got too sick to hold down any fluids. By the time I crawled into the emergency room Saturday morning for a flushing, I was severely dehydrated on top of obstructed. Naturally, flushing did not work initially, ether, so I wound up admitted to the hospital to be treated for both ailments.

By some stroke of good fortune, medication easing the process in the days before I could be flushed out again solved the obstruction by yesterday morning. Even though this was the shortest duration of any obstruction requiring medical treatment, it took about as much of a toll as the hernia surgery did. Both the emergency room on call doctor and the upstairs doctor to whom I was assigned upon admittance said magnesium citrate was a bad idea, which leads me to wonder why I was given any even under a doctor’s care with an IV pumping fluids in my veins, much less for occasional at home use.

My one time success with it from last year is going to remain my lone success with it. It may very well be true the obstruction coincidentally made me sick to the point I could not rehydrate properly, but since the only reason I would take the medicine in the first place is if I was obstructed, what difference would it what causes the problem? Losing all your fluids an nutrients right before a possible week long hospital stay with nothing but IV fluids to sustain and possible surgery waiting in the end, you cannot afford to go into the ordeal sicker than necessary.

I am back, at least until some follow up visits to my GI specialist and regular doctor over the next week and a half, without any options other than an emergency room visit when an obstruction happens again. Four incidents in six years says it is going to happen periodically. Something is bound to make catching the problem earlier easier.

If you can take anything away from this, be wary of magnesium citrate if it is ordered for you to take prior to surgery or any other medical procedure. It would appear doctors are shying away from its use, but not all of them. I could not handle the seemingly simple task of drinking enough water along with to keep from getting sick without an IV present. My failure made for a nasty couple days the effects of which are going to linger for a couple weeks if not more.

So, how did your weekend go?

Stargate Atlantis--"The Siege, Part II"

“The Siege, Part II” is the first season finale. Amazingly enough, the story, while continuing the long, drawn out invasion of Atlantis story, does not conclude it. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, thereby promising at least another episode in the story arc. It may even have brought up fears the remainder of the series would be about this huge, single battle.

Okay, I exaggerate. But the powers that be have dragged out material for a trilogy into twice as many episodes. I fully understand now that it is all in the name of continuity. The ZPM SG-1 stole from Ra in “Moebius, Part II” needs eighteen days to reach Atlantis as its ultimate salvation, so the real story up to the cliffhanger becomes whether a battalion of freshly arrived Marines can hold off the Wraith for the remaining four days until the Daedalus rides in like the cavalry amid personal conflict. At least there is good no to continuity?

As preparations for the hopeless battle continue, Atlantis receives an incoming wormhole transporting marines under the command of brash Col. Dillon Everett. Their orders are to hold Atlantis at all costs until the Daedalus arrives with the ZPM. The predictable happens. Everett and weir clash over who is actually in charge. Sumner was a close friend of his, so Everett is not fond of Sheppard for his mercy killing on top of the general Sheppard does not follow orders animosity everyone in the military other than the fawning Ford has for him. Everett also has strong misgivings about Teyla, even when she an her people volunteer to join his forces.

What is really amusing about the set ups I just described are that only weir and Teyla win Everett’s respect during the episode’s events. Weir riskes her life to acquire nuclear bombs from the Genii. They turn out to be the only real offensive capabilities Atlantis has against the Wraith. Teyla uses her abilities to sense the wraith to warn that a group of them are already in Atlantis in preparation for an ambush. Alas, poor Sheppard’s act of heroism--a suicide mission to plant a nuke on a hive ship--is lost on Everett, as he may or may not have been killed by a Wraith. Sheppard cannot win for losing, folks.

If I sound a bit snaky about "The Siege, Part II,” it is almost entirely because the story has been dragged out too long. Certainly, it is also predictable Everett is going to clash with the powers that be on Atlantis. I am also unclear why the whole sequence with the Genii planning to hold weir hostage in exchange for C$ until she convinces the morons they can test their nukes safely on the Wraith if they stick with the original deal had to be put in there for anything other than filler. But besides those two points, “Te Siege, Part, II” is an exciting start to the battle against the Wraith. The CGI of the initial attack from the air are impressive for a cable show. They also forgo the George Lucas urge to fill every inch of the screen with explosions for as long as the money holds out. That has been a pet peeve of mine post Prequel Trilogy, so your mileage may vary.

But the thing that really sells "The Siege, Part II” is the legitimate fear certain characters may not survive. It is tough to pull that dreaded feeling off for a show, and while I know Teyla and Ford--the two characters I mostly have in mind--do survive, I could see it not happening on a show with such an extensive and growing ensemble cast. You cannot oversell it when a series can pull that feeling off with the audience.

The bottom line for a season finale is whether it convinces you to come back for more. “The Siege, Part II” does for me. Sure, we already know Sheppard is not going to die. We already know Daedalus is going to swoop in the nick of time to save the day. Yet I still want to see it all unfold. If for no other reason than to justify all the grey hairs I have grown waiting for the resolution to come. Not grey hairs because of stress, but because it has taken that freaking long to come around.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Hope Solo

I have had fourteen hours of sleep and a couple meals to make up some ground from my “lost weekend.” my form spring box has been inundated with concerns and well wishes, all of which are much appreciated, so I will be back later with a post elaborating on events for those interested. In the interim, how about some regular posts to see if I still have my mojo intact.

What does Hope Solo naked demonstrate in that regard?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hiatus Explanation

Long story short: a Friday when I was not feeling well turned into a seven hour stay in the emergency room on Saturday and admittance to the hospital up until about two hours ago. It was an issue wit my ailing colon that could have been a lot worse than it turned out to be. Dehydration turned out to be the worst of it.

Short story long: Ouch. My colon stopped working again with a possible obstruction. That means no food, no liquids, and a lot of upchucking while a bunch of medical professionals try to figure out what to do next. Factor in air pockets caught between the obstructions which hurt like the Dickens, and you can figure out how my weekend went. Collapsed veins due to dehydration killed three--count ’em, three--IVs, so keeping any fluids in me was tough.

It has been two years since I had a similar incident.. Back then, it took a week to get my colon started again, so I got off easy this time. So not only did I avoid surgery this time, too, the problem was remedied faster. I am very happy about that. The memory of how tough 2010 was still sting.

I am few pounds lighter, but none the worse for wear. I have two appointments with a GI specialist and my regular doctor over the next weeks, so I am in good hands. Carry on as normal, folks. It is all we can do.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Siege, Part I"

“The Siege, Part I” is the penultimate episode of the first season. It continues the often glacially slow slide towards doomsday at the hands of the Wraith. As sch, the episode features reams of dialogue up until the final act. The final act manages to elevate the story beyond the point at which I wondered why the powers that be decided to draw such a thin story out over so many episodes. Of course, that simply means the action is a distraction from dwelling on that question, but does not eliminate the question altogether.

Rodney gets the idea to use the Ancient weapons platform discovered in “The Defiant One.”. Conveniently, weapons platform can be powered by a naquadah generator instead of a ZPM even though other Ancient technology of that magnitude requires a ZPM. Speaking of, there are two other ZPM out there according to the list Old weir left behind, but Our heroes have not bothered to look for them even though one of them will offer a necessary defense. Are we just supposed to forget this fact and go with the inevitable doomsday scenario? I suppose so. Rodney and Peter Grodin travel to the platform to hotwire it while Atlantis discovers the Wraith pilot of the recon ship is still alive somewhere in the city.

Such is the plit in the two stories that comprise “The Siege, Part I.” Rodney an grodin’s expedition involves a lot of techno babble and humor at the expense of Rodney’s extreme arrogance interrupted by a spacewalk that counts as an action sequence. On Atlantis, the tension between Teyla and bates escalates when he continues to believe she is an inadvertent traitor thanks to her psychic link to the Wraith. When Bates is found severely beaten, Teyla is the natural suspect, but suspicion evaporates immediately when Bob the Wraith is discovered.

The weapons platform story is slow an fairly boring. The Teyla/Bob story has a couple issues that kill it. For one, how does Bob resist sucking the life out of Bates? It could be because he does not want to be discovered yet, but he could have done the deed and hidden the body. The only reasons bates is left alive is to create some drama with Teyla and allow bates to continue on as a character. I dwelled on those two points the entire time rather than accept them as a logical part of the story. Frankly, the idea teyla is suspected of being under the control of the Qraith while an actual Wraith is responsible for the incidents of which she is being accused could have/should have been an episode in itself rather than falling in the middle of a larger, more important arc, but whatever. This is what the powers that be decided to run with, so okay.

The final act saves bth stories from the doldrums. The weapons platform becomes operational long enough to destroy a Wraith ship, but then overloads so it cannot fire again. The other Wraith ships destroy the platform with Grodin inside. While he was not a majorly active character, Grodin had been there from the beginning and was in practically every episode in some minor capacity, so his death is more meaningful than a typical red shirt. In the other story, Bob the Wraith is captured and does his usual threats before Sheppard shoots him to death in his cell. Sheppard’s brutal act shocks the rest of AR-1, but I assume the matter will not be heard from again. The episode ends, like every episode since the Wraith began advancing towards Atlantis, with a threat against Earth. A little on the redundant side.

The biggest problem with ’The Siege, Part I” is how much the invasion story arc is being dragged out. The tension has been maximized to the point it has already peaked and gone down some. I can imagine how ineffective the storytelling method would be if I was waiting a week between episodes. I would have made the arc much shorter. Three episodes tops,. The way things are now, I have time to poke holes in the plot, such as why our heroes are not seeking out the other two ZPM or the convenience of the naquadah generator being useful or Teyla’s subplot slowing proceedings down. Some of Rodney’s bits are funny, and watching Bates get his rear end kicked is satisfying in consideration of his attitude, but most of the episode is just kind of there. Not bad, necessarily, but distracting from the overall gloom and doom purpose.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Natalie Portman

Here is a photo from Dior's new ad campaign with Natalie Portman.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Formspring Question #451--Akin for a Breakin' Edition

What's your take on Todd Akin's comments on rape and abortion? Do you think he should be forced out as a candidate? What would happen if he was?
What Todd Akin said about “legitimate rape” was incredibly stupid. It is as though he believes a woman’s body has some sort of biological filter that can tell when semen is non-consensual and rejects it. Akin sites on the House Science and Technology Committee, too, which is further evidence of way Congress is such a failure. Aikin is not exactly the guy the GOP wants front and center. The establishment has apparently never been big on him, so one guesses he has probably said things like this before but managed to fly under the radar with it.

Should he quit? Not really. If we dumped every politician who said something stupid, we would all have to become anarchists. I tend to think nominating a candidate is like the you break it, you buy it policy at many stores. The last election cycle had Christine O’Donnell easing the Delaware voters’ concerns she might be a witch and mentally ill, shortly thereafter Alvin Greene swiped the Democrat nomination for Senate in South Carolina against everyone’s better judgment. Yes, they both lost in the general election, so there was a price to pay for not switching horses in midstream. But is it really a good idea to dump legitimately nominated candidates when you suddenly discover they have opinions you do not like?

I have no idea what would happen if Akin was forced to quit the race. There was supposedly an optimal deadline for him to do so 5 PM Tuesday, but he obviously did not honor it by quitting. Whether that deadline meant someone else coul be placed on the ballot if akin resigned or something else along those lines, I do not know. Considering the party’s adamancy in dumping him, I am certain they would have some plan in place to put a candidate up against McCaskill. They certainly would not let her walk away with the election, particularly since GOP control of the Senate might hinge on her defeat.

I do not know how sincere he is, but Akin did say he would drop out if his support fell because of his remarks. His base mayy very well not be bothered by in his remarks in the first place, or genuinely forgive him, or hate Claire McCaskill enough to overlook the matter. Whatever happens, the whole bruhaha is going to blow over, probably by coverage of Tropical Storm Isaac. People have short attention spans about the length of a news cycle.

If the Democrats truly plan to make their entire convention an effort to Akinize the GOP as conducting a war on women, it will backfire. The economy is so deep in the tank, one cannot see how we can dig out of it in the foreseeable future. Harping on social issues may fire up those Democratic women who assume the only way to identify as a female is to espouse abortion rights, but they are already fired up. Everyone else has economic concerns. Again, the akin controversy will blow over even if his critics keep hammering him on it.

Formsping Question #450--Paul Ryan Rah Rah Edition

What are your thoughts on Paul Ryan as the VP pick? Are you disappointed Nikki Haley was not chosen?
Photobucket
Tina Fey here about sums up my reaction to the Paul Ryan pick.

No, I am not upset about Nikki Haley being passed over. She was a third tier choice at best. Mitt Romney is not going to have any problems winning South Carolina. I am quite confident there would have been many unfair comparisons with Sarah Palin if Haley had been chosen. The left is already made efforts to Palinize Ryan, for heaven’s sake, but he is too sharp a cookie for any of that to stick.

Scuttlebutt is haley wants to win reelection to governor in 2014, then replace Jim DeMint when he leaves the senate in 2016. For now, that is a plan with which I am satisfied. There is no other conservative candidate like her emerging to replace DeMint. One guesses Andre Bauer, who has a history of choosing offices his daddy cannot always buy for him, might go for it, but Haley is a much better choice.

Formspring Question #449--"Our Heroes" for Short Edition

The main expedition team in Stargate Atlantis is called AR-1 just like the flagship team of Stargate SG-1 is SG-1.
Okay. If Sheppard’s team has been called anything on air, I have missed it. According to some on the Gateworld Forum, the team is called the First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. I figured they were joking because the acronym would be FART. The sad part is, according to Stargate Wiki, they are right. Slightly more vulgar than SG-1, no?

The Wiki article confirms the AR-1 moniker, too, so if it will put Gaters at ease, I will begin referring to the team as AR-1 instead of our heroes. Or FART.

Stargate Atlantis--"The Gift"

I was apprehensive when the Wraith invasion storyline was introduced halfway through the midseason events would be dragged out to the point the tension would break. It may not be fair to say such has happened yet, but “The Gift” feels like it is misplaced in the episode order. Teyla certainly deserves an episode centering on her, but now is a strange time for it. Not only that, but there is an awful loyt of padding as well.

Teyla is suffering nightmares in which she imagines she is a Wraith. Upon consulting with a psychologist who is overworked thanks to the impending invasion, Teyal tries coming to terms with her “gift.” Like only a few Athosians, she can sense the Wraith coming. Following a hunch from an old family friend, she and her teammates visit a long abandoned planet upon which some of her family members lived. There she stumbles upon an lab in which a rogue Wraith had been performing experiment on humans to expedite the feeding process. He inadvertently created the ability in humans to telepathically connect with Wraith. The Wraith attempted to wipe out the indigenous population to avoid the trait spreading, but some escaped.

The psychologist uses hypnosis to remove a suspected mental block on Teyla so she can utilize the telepathic abilities to gather intelligence. She does this not once, not twice, but three times, with each attempt ending more dramatically than the last. These attempts are what I consider filler. The writers seem to run out of material, so they repeat the same sequence with a different result for the entire penultimate act. All that is for a payoff we already knew--the wraith want to attack Earth. We knew that from sumner’s interrogation in the first episode. I suppose it is new information that there are too many awaken Wraith and too few humans to feed upon, but did we need to waste a whole episode waiting on that revelation?

We do learn more about the Wraith’s origin. They evolved from those insects from “Thirty-Eight Minutes” when the Ancients allowed humans to settle on a planet infested with them. Eventually, bug and human DNA became mixed. Thus, the Wraith were born. The exposition regarding the Wraith’s beginnings had to go somewhere. “The gift” is as ood a spot as any, I guess.

“Good” being a relative term. While I am far more interested in Teyla than I was with Teal’c--they are essentially the same character--and Rachel Luttrell’s smoky voice calls up fond memories of Michele Carey, I do not think “The Gift” is a good showcase for her. There is not much material, hence the repeat hypnosis sessions when when one extended would have sufficed. “The Gift” appears to be largely an exposition dump for everything you ever wanted to know about the Wraith, but wree afraid to ask. Why such a dump should come in the middle of an invasion storyline is anyone’s guess. The effect is a near derailment. One wonders not only why that is thought to be a good idea, but why ford jabbing Rodney with innuendo regarding his manhood is necessary. A penis joke? Seriously?The joke does not downgrade “The Gift” to the cellar, but there is not much lifting the episode out, either.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

January Jones

January Jones has has signed on for two more seasons of Mad Men. Thankfully, she has not signed on to anymore X-Men projects.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Never Insult a Canadian's Pet

A funny commercial for Molson Coors.

Stargate Atlantis--"Letters from Pegasus"

“Letters from Pegasus’ is the first clip show for SGA. As such, I was apprehensive about watching, particularly considering the running storyline has established a ticking clock with them impending Wraith invasion. Stopping to look over the events of the past fifteen episodes could potentially destroy the tension. But I am happy to say the episode does the exact opposite. By offering our heroes to send what may be their last words to loved ones back home, one barely notices the reuse of old clips among the personal feelings among our heroes this is the end.

While out heroes are brainstorming options against what is almost certainly a hopeless battle against the Wraith invasion, Rodney proposes a risky idea to send all the information they have gathered, along with personal messages, back to SGC in the event they are all killed. Ford sets about recording everyone’s messages to home while Sheppard and Teyla go on a recon mission to assess the Wraith fleet.

It is the letter to home which utilize the clips, but as I said, one hardly notices because the emphasis is on the individual character’s message to family, friends, and colleagues back home. We have the funny, such as Rodney sending an hour long, rambling message imparting his wisdom to all humanity and Zedenka chattering away excitedly in Czech about Atlantis rising from the ocean only to have it scuttled because his family lacks security clearance, and the poignant, such as Beckett unable to talk to his mother without breaking down and Weir offering condolences to the family of crew who died in the line of duty and cutting her fiance loose to live the rest of his life. The way the messages toy with your emotions from the funny to the sad and back again is masterfully done. Carl Binder may wind up my favorite SGA writer.

The majority of new scenes take place on the recon mission, which is equally emotionally raining. The Wraith are stopping periodically to feed on populations on their way to Atlantis. In order to gather intel, Sheppard and Teyla stake out a planet with which she is familiar because a family friend, Orin, lives there. Against Sheppard’s wishes, she promises to save orin and his family before the Wraith attack. Her promise leads to a conflict between her and Sheppard. Teyla is motivated by saving her loved ones at all costs. Sheppard is a military man who knows you cannot save everyone. In desperate times, the situation calls for sacrifices for the greatest number of survivors.

When the two become stranding for the culling because the stargate is blocked, Sheppard reassess the situation to save as many as possible, but is only convinced to wait for Orin himself when Teyla opts to stay behind for him otherwise. Sheppard and Teyla’s conflict is a microcosm of the show’s conflict as a whole. You have both military and non-military personnel throw into a hopeless combat situation with opposing philosophies on what sacrifices ought to be made in the name of survival. “Letters from Pegasus” deals with the importance of family. The letters to home significance is obvious, but it is also a matter of Teyla considering Orin family. She is willing to lose her own life in an effort to save his. Her intention is a small issue in a grand tragedy, but that makes it all the more poignant.

“Letters from Pegasus” is inspired by the documentary Dear America: Letters from Vietnam (YouTube link) which featured the letters American soldiers wrote home during the Vietnam War. The letters range from idealistic to mundane to sad and back again as the young men and women reveal their perspectives on life in a war zone. It has been years since I have seen it, but I am now inspired to watch it again because of “Letters from Pegasus.” I provided the link above in case you are inspired, too.

Do I really need to say how much I enjoyed “Letters from Pegasus?” This episode is about the best one can make of a budget saving clip show. We get to know the characters on a personal level so that we care even more about the devastating battle they face in the coming days. The balance between drama and comic relief is near perfect. There are some blatant issues, such as it being a bi deal no classified information can be revealed, yet mission patches are clearly visible in the video recordings as well as alien equipment, but no matter. “Letters from Pegasus’ is too good to nitpick harshly.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Abbie Cornish

Ryan Philippe left Reese Witherspoon and his two kids for Abbie Cornish. Cornish is hot, but I am still baffled over the trade off. The Australian beauty is starring in the latest Pulp Fiction clone, Seven Psychopaths.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Brotherhood"

“The Brotherhood’ is a cross somewhere between a small scale Indiana Jones adventure and a Dan Brown novel. Throw in a dash of continuity with the search for a ZPM identified by Old weir and foreshadowing of a dreaded Wraith attack to come, and you have an episode that overcomes that aforementioned dan brown influence to become a decent story.

Our heroes chase down the location of one of the ZPM to a long extinct group of monks known as the Brotherhood of Fifteen. The Ancients entrusted the Brotherhood with the ZPM with the idea they will get it back once the Ancients returned. One of the planet’s inhabitants of the planet, Allina, offers to help them find the ZPM under the assumption they are the Lanteans. Unfortunately, Kolya discovers the expedition and intervenes in order to take the ZPM for himself.

The Indiana jones homage ought to be obvious. There is a treasure hunt for an Ancient artifact with religious significance to the indigenous population. There are deadly puzzles to be solved in an underground chamber. Kolya and the Genii take the place of Nazis pursuing the artifact in order to power their war machine. The Dan Brown influence is a little less obvious. The main obstacle to finding the ZPM is a Magic Squares puzzle. Magic Square games have been a part of mysticism for thousands of years, but Brown’s use of one has brought them back into pop culture. Well, brown and Sudoku, which is pretty much the same concept.

Allina double crosses our heroes once they have the ZPM after defeating Kolya. She is part of the New Brotherhood. They are charged with keeping the ZPM for the Ancients return. Since Rodney let it slip earlier in a conversation with her they are from Earth, not originally Atlantis, she will not let them have it. Which is a bad thing, because the b-plot reveals the Wraith have discovered Atlantis. Three Hive ships are on their way to attack.

“The Brotherhood” is an amusing episode, although it feels much like an excuse to bring Kolya back and little else. I have it on good authority our heroes make no effort to track down the other two ZPM even though Old Weir left clues to find them, also. I guess the search for ZPM is not as desperate as it appears to be in this episode. Or maybe they have their hands full with the wraith. I do not know. We shall see. Whatever the case, ’The brotherhood” is fun to watch on its own merit. Kolya is a cool recurring villain thanks to Robett Davi’s portrayal. Treasure hunts are always a nifty plot idea, too. I dig it, even if the foreshadowing is the only aspect that keeps “The Brotherhood” from being considered filler.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Lea Michele

How about one of the Glee girls to celebrate the first day of school?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blogroll Spotlight #159

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-Paul Ryan in Florida (Full Speech)
American Perspective-Me Likee Paul Ryan
American Power-Britney Spears in White Bikini
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Attack of the Killer Tigers!
Born Again Americans--Just in Time
Call Me Stormy--Pragmatism v. Purity
Camp of the Saints-Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Classic Liberal- Cheryl Tiegs ‘You Didn’t Build It’
Conservative Hideout-Is Yourt City Going Bankrupt?
Daley Gator-DaleyBabe: Sivan Krispin
Diogenes' Middle Finger-I'm Still Here...
Edge of the Sandbox--You Didn't Grow That
Goldfish and Clowns-The Only Unforgivable Thing
Gormogons-Gotham Class Reunion
King Shamus--Ladies of The Expendables 2
Last Refuge--Mailboxes and Old Barns
Last Tradition--Rule 5 Sunday
Laughing Conservative--Cartoon: John Cole
Lazy Farmer-Links and Rants on a Friday
Lonely Conservative-Halperin: The Press Does Obama’s Bidding
Maggie's Notebook-Rebecca Carey Killed By Her Rescue Dogs
Monkey in the Middle--The View from Our Windows
Motor City Times-NPR Behind the MCT Curve
My Daily Musing--I Timothy 1: 5-10
New Atlantean--Wednesday Wenches
Other McCain-When the Truth Goes Viral
Paco Enterprises-Paul Ryan, Rock Star
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Quote du Jour
Pundit & Pundette-In My Absence
Randy's Roundtable-Kelly Brook
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Sentry Journal-Electoral Fun
Teresamerica-Star Trek Fun
Troglopundit-The Week in Automotivators
We the People-No Outrage for FRC Shooting?
Western Hero--Too Many Salomes
Woodsterman--The Blomd, or Rule 5 Woodsterman Style
Young American--The Ryan Factor
Zilla of the Resistance-Post Health Scare Follow-Up

Stargate Atlantis--"Before I Sleep"

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening--Robert Frost

I am a sucker for the science fiction concepts of time travel and alternate realities., so ni was looking forward to “Before I Sleep.” the episode exceeded all expectations. First time franchise writer Carl Binder weaves a story that is both wide in scope and deeply personal revolving around the as yet underutilized Weir in what is so far my favorite episode of the young series.

While exploring more of Atlantis, Sheppard’s team discovers a laboratory with an old woman in stasis. Rodney estimates she has been in stasis for 10,000 years, so she must be an Ancient. He urges her revival so they can find out what she knows about the city. Against medical advice, weir allows the stasis to be turned off. The old woman turns out not to be an ancient, but Weir herself having time traveled back 10,000 years ago.

Old weir begins telling the story, with both clips from “Rising” and new footage seamlessly added, of how the expedition’s original arrival triggered an energy surge that caused the shield surrounding the submerged city to fail. Everyone except Weir, Sheppard, and Zalenka drowned. The three escaped in what is revealed to be a Time Jumper which takes them into the distant past. The time Jumper is immediately attacked by Wraith. Only Weir survives the attack.

She awakens to find the Lanteans around her. Janus, the inventor of the Time Jumper and presumably a two-faced sort of fellow, is thrilled to know his ship works and Atlantis survives far into the future. Weir wants to return to the future, but the city leadership does not want the timeline polluted any further. They are on the verge of evacuating ahead of imminent Wraith attack. They offer to allow weir to go to earth with them. She refuses, and Janus helps her instead arrange for a way to keep the shield going when her team arrives in the future. The catch is she will have to remain behind in stasis, waking up every 3,300 years in order to adjust the ZPM power source. In the event this plan fails, he plans a failsafe in which the city will surface itself in the event of shield failure, which is why the city inexplicably surfaces in the first episode when the shield fails.

Old weir is thrilled her sacrifice has given her younger self and colleagues a second chance to explore Pegasus. She leaves them the addresses of several ancient outposts with ZPM and dies in a hospital bed with her younger self holding her hand. The episode ends with Weir spreading the ashes of Old weir into the ocean.

As noted above, the title “Before I Sleep’ comes from the famous 1923 Robert Frost poem about a traveler riding through the woods as the snowfall becomes heavier and heavier. He is riding towards the forest owner’s house and cannot stop to rest until he arrives there. The same could be said of old weir’s lonely watch over Atlantis as she slowly ages in anticipation her actions will keep her alternate self and friends alive when they finally arrive.

“Before I Sleep” is a fantastically poignant episode. It is difficult to believe carl Binder is a newcomer to writing for the franchise. He weaves so many things perfectly into the mythos. It is Janus who invented the Time Jumper discovered in Stargate SG-1’s “It’s good to be King.”, the time Jumper is used by SG-1 to retrieve a ZPM from Ra, and Moros, the leader of the Council of Atlantis, is the Merlin featured prominently in the Ori story arc, etc. pretty cool continuity, there. Flashbacks and new scenes are fit together perfectly, including some impressive flooding effects when Atlantis is overtaken after the shield fails.

The best part is how Weir interacts with her old self. Torri Higginson plays both roles, which has to be tough considering how often they share screen time during some powerful moments. What would it be like to find out you have it within yourself to slowly sacrifice your life over 10,000 years in order to save other people, then watch yourself die of extreme ld age? It is difficult to imagine. The make up job done on old weir is great, too. It is far less fake and rubbery than the work used to age the SG-1 cast in “Unending". The difference in quality is strange, since “Before I Sleep” was made two years prior by the same make up team. The artists regressed, folks!

I cannot say at this point where “Before I Sleep” will wind up among my favorites, but it is at the top of the handful of episodes I have seen thus far. There are some of the usual issues with time travel stories. A couple matters like how weir survives the Time Jumper attack are ignored. There is even a blatant technical error when weir refers to Sumner as general rather than colonel. But I enjoy the episode too much to quibble over such matters.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci can be really hot when she casts off the goth chick motif.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #164

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

Proof Positive links to Gillian Anderson and Emma Stone.
Say Anything links to Gillian Anderson and Emma Stone.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #163, Blogroll Spotlight #158, and Sofia Vergara.
Motor City Times links to Voter Apathy.
Sentry Journal links to Voter Apathy.
Randy's Roundtable declares the Eye is the place for hot babes and sci fi while also linking to Elizabeth Banks and Roxanne Pallett.
Conservative Hideout links to Stargate Atlantis--"Hot Zone."
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.
Call Me Stormy adds the eye to its blogroll.
My Daily Musing adds 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 Atlantis--"Sanctuary"

Any streak of good fortune has to end sometime. A stretch of thirteen episodes is quite good for a series. If I was a superstitious soul, I would point out unlucky number thirteen is the end of the streak. “Sanctuary” is just kind of there. I suppose if one is into Sheppard shipping, the episode might mean more, but I am skeptical even about that for reasons Rodney keeps pointing out. More on that in a moment.

Our heroes’ puddle Jumper is being attacked by a Wraith ship while they are out on some exploration mission. Over the planet Proculus, the Wraith have the Puddle Jumper dead to rights, but a beam of energy destroys it. Believing they can find a weapon against the Wraith or the ZPM that powers it, our heroes go down to investigate. They find a race of primitives who worship a goddess named Athar. The people claim no knowledge of the wraith or any weapon, but direct them to Athar’s hih priestess for further guidance.

The high priestess, Chaya, is a hot babe played by Leonor Varela. She and Sheppard quickly develop the hots for one another, causing Rodney and me to make James T. Kirk jokes. The remainder of their relationship development does not help the case for taking it any more seriously than Kirk hustling to get in the loincloth of a green Orion slave girl. Geez, the last line of the episode is Sheppard remarking, ’This is cool’ about bonding with an Ancient about the same way a frat boy would say the same when the head cheerleader takes off her bra in his dorm room.

Yes, I have just blown the only plot point in the episode, but the fact Chaya is an Ancient is painfully obvious to anyone who has been following the Stargate franchise. Chaya is pretty much Orlin. She helped protect these primitives from the Wraith in the last culling. As her punishment, she is stuck on Proclus as their protector forever even though she is not allowed to intervene in the affairs of the unascended. There is a rule she follows rather adamantly, no?

Sheppard asks for the planet to be used as sanctuary for other people devastated by the Wraith. Chaya/Athar--they have a good scam going here--refuses, but accepts Sheppard’s invitation to come back with him to Atlantis. Rodney alternate between mocking the religious belief in Athar and Sheppard’s Kirk routine. We are back to the old, unpleasantly obnoxious Rodney of SG-1 rather than the one who has grown more well rounded of SGA. His hostility towards and suspicion of Chaya puts him at daggers drawn with Sheppard, but even he cannot figure out chaya is an Ancient until the final act in which she leaves to defend Proclus from a Wraith invasion.

“Sanctuary’ is pretty well pointless. It is no mystery that Chaya is an Ancient, so that is wash. We know she can easily defeat the Wraith, so their attack is no threat. Sheppard really is going after Chaya like a frat boy. No matter how deep you dig, you cannot find any emotion within their relationship. I am thinking about the Kirk parallels the entire time just as Rodney is, but I am disturbed to do so because he is being such an unpleasant jerk the entire time. Even Weir hangs her head in her final scene as if Torri Higginson herself is upset over the bad script.

If there is a bright spot in “Sanctuary," it is this:
Leonor Varela is hot. But there is nothing else worth mentioning.

Rating: * (out of 5)

Evangeline Lilly

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"Hot Zone"

The plot of ‘Hot Zone,” as you might guess, is that of a contagion infecting Atlantis. I am wary of such episodes because I often fear the miraculous dr. McCoy miracle cure conveniently in the nick of time when real outbreaks cannot be handled so easily. But ’Hot zone” surprises me, both in its resolution and the addition of chain of command drama that elevate the episode beyond another episode, another escape from widespread doom.

While investigating remote parts of the city for hurricane damage, two members of the team die violently from a mysterious ailment. The team is quarantined over fears the ailment might be the plague that wiped out the Ancients. Weir requests every else to stay put while medical teams sort things out, but when a member of the quarantined group flips out and escapes, Sheppard undermines Weir’s authority by ordering bates to unlock the door to the room in which he is stranded in order to recapture the guy.

The ailment turns out to be a nanotech virus created by a mysterious source to kill humans. Only humans without the Ancient gene can be killed by it. Because the nanotech is machinery, a large enough EMP will disable them all. Sheppard jury rigs a naquadah generator to overload in a nuclear explosion in orbit in order to do the trick. It works. The day is saved. Woo hoo! The solution is a big explosion, too, rather than a miraculous medical cure just in the nick of time. That is definitely a bonus.

Another bonus is the scene in which Rodney, who believes he was infected at the same time of another man who just died, is going to pass on himself goes into a panicked soliloquy about his only family member, advice for everyone else on how to maximize efficiency, and his legacy before realizing the Ancient gene will protect him. His pushed last words make for one of the best Rodney moments thus far.

The real drama of “hot Zone” is the rift between Sheppard and Weir. It has been well established Sheppard is the reckless sort who does what he thinks is best even if it means disobeying orders. Bates, ironically, has had a tough time respecting Sheppard’s command because of it, yet follows his orders here over weir’s objection. It is true that ultimately Sheppard’s breach of conduct lead to the cure, but that is a matter of hindsight 20/20. The fact is there is a tension growing between weir and Sheppard over his general nonchalance regarding her authority. The problem is jarring considering the two reaffirmed their loyalty to one another professionally in ”Home” and personally in “The Eye.” but our heroes do not always act heroically, do they?

The personal conflict between Sheppard and Weir as well as some good character moments from Rodney save “Hot zone” from my usual aversion to contagion needing immediate cures or else stories. I am all for the nuke solution, too, even though it is grossly simplistic. There is also the foreshadowing of another villain out there bent on exterminating humans. The series can always use a widening rogue’s gallery. I do not think "Hot Zone” is all that great, but it is a notch above general filler.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Roxanne Pallett

Roxanne Pallett is a British soap opera actress.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Formspring Question #448--Krikey! I Knew Without Using Google Edition

What's the capitol of Australia?
Canberra.

Not to be confused with Ken Berry.
Apples and oranges.

Formspring Question #447--This is Not the End Edition

Does your negative view of humanity mean you believe there is no hope?
No. I may be skeptical of human nature due to my belief in Original Sin to the point I think utopia is an unreachable goal, but that does not mean the human race is doomed. I take some solace in knowing that human nature is now as it has always been. We are an ignorant, greedy, bigoted, and aggressive species, but we have still had the capacity to advance civilization regardless because we are not only capable of great things, but we will look back in horror at the depraved things we have done and make an effort to prevent them from happening again.

The future is going to be every bit like the past. We will endure the occasional setback, but we will suevive nonetheless.

Formspring Question #446--Further on Down the Road Edition

What is the next tv show you are going to review?
Probably Farscape. Is there a compelling reason you asked this question eleven times or does your OCD medication need to be upped in dosage?

Formspring Question #445--Voter Apathy II Edition

I think that apathy comes from citizens united. Money being speech, people don’t feel like their voice can be heard when George Soros and David Koch can legally “out-voice” them to the tune of millions of $, so they think “why bother?” Your thoughts?
The heart of your assertion is not too far off from my thoughts on voter apathy. People accept the cynical notion their vote does not matter as the intellectual thing to believe or they find participating in boycotts and the like as a more satisfying form of activism. Either one is better than standing in line on a cold day in November just to pull a lever, right?

What I would quibble with is the implied idea--and if I am misinterpreting you, sorry--that the free speech of those with resources to influence policy ought to be curtailed so the little guy’s vote can matter is not fair. In fact, it is class warfare. If you do not believe it is class warfare, tell me what kind of solution you would suggest other than get money--rich people--out of politics?

If I may wallow in the cynicism as intellectualism meme I mentioned, I also doubt anyone who is not interested enough to vote knows anything about Citizens United, George Soros, or the Koch brothers, so I am skeptical those are as much a factor as the desire to head home and watch television rather heading to the voting booth.

Stargate Atlantis--"The Defiant One"

"The Defiant One," like "The Eye," is another action oriented episode highlighted by good character moments. I was afraid judging by the title and the authorship of Peter DeLuise the story would be Sheppard and some Wraith handcuffed together after escaping an alien prison, but fortunately, the title merely refers to the featured Wraith's willingness to survive most anything thrown at it.

Sheppard and Rodney take two scientists, Gaul and Abrams, to the edge of the solar system in order to investigate a Wraith weapons platform the two have discovered. Upon arriving at the platform, they receive a distress call from a downed Wraith ship that has been stranded on the planet for 10,000 years. Thinking it has to be an automated signal because of the ship's advanced age, they go down to investigate. They soon discover they are wrong. One Wraith has survived all this time by way of cannibalism. The lone wraith kills abrams, drains half the life from Gaul, and duels with sheppard over the Puddle Jumper.

The bulk of the episode involves Sheppard battling the Wraith over control of the Puddle Jumper. There are several Star Trek jokes peppered about calling attention to Sheppard's possessiveness regarding the Puddle Jumper as James T. Kirk's attachment to the Enterprise. The Wraith survives 10,000 years of isolation, harsh elements, gunshot wounds, and a landmine before getting blown up from the sky by a rescue Puddle Jumper. Truth be told, there is a certain Wile E. Coyote vibe to this Wraith, but i much appreciate his much more feral personality in keeping with his living circumstances over the last few millennia.

But it is not just the Sheppard v. Wraith show. Rodney has many good scenes which demonstrate his character growth since the beginning of the series. Gaul is half eaten by the Wraith and must remain in the ship while Sheppard runs off to defeat the Wraith. Rodney stays with him because he is not an adventurer. Nor is he muxh of a nurse, but he stands by his colleague to encourage him while he is likely dying. the circumstances are even more poignant because gaul is much like rodney. e is an arrogant genius with no field training in way over his head, and look what has happened to him. He knows rodney wants to get out there and help Sheppard even if Rodney does not know it himself, and commits suicide in oter to allow Rodney to do so.

Gaul's suicide is a brutal moment for Rodney. not only is there the gruesome scene of a dead man, but the realization he was so much like Rodney that he could share the same fate if he does not develop more of an edge. Rodney goes after the Wraith, but is still out of his element. i liked the bit where he ran out of bullets and asked sheppard what to do now. "Reload!" is Sheppard's answer. Rodney is still largely the comic relief character, but he is growing on me as a vital member of the Atlantis team. He certainly does not have Daniel's scientist/swashbuckler combo going, but it is fun to watch his continuing journey to that point.

Let us just skip the fact a guy named Gaul, the ancient name of France, surrendered to pressure and shot himself, all right? We should also skip the fact Sheppard's pants change color four times during the episode from black to grey to green and back to black. There is no way he would change pants while battling the Wraith over the fifteen hour period, so the wardrobe malfunction is a really strange production error.

I am happy to see another environment besides the forests outside Vancouver, as well. "The Defiant One" takes place in the same sand dunes which have served as ancient Egypt, abydos, and Lantash, but I do not recognize any specific spots from the parents show. Or, worse yet, the spot where mulder found the buried railroad car full of alien hybrids, for instance. for that matter, this place must have doubled for Afghanistan back in the MacGyver episode, the name of which escapes me after 24 or so years.

"The Defiant One" is a highly entertaining episode that manages to put Sheppard and Rodney into predicaments to highlight their true natures. There is a lot of action, but it is not mindless violence by any streth. certain elements, such as this Wraiths incrreased healing abilities, seem to foreshadow discoveries about their trues powers, but we shall see if and when that pans out. Quite a good show, pants switching in the heat of battle notwithstaning.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Elizabeth Banks

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Eye"

With a title like ‘The Eye,” you would almost suspect the episode is tailored made for me. I am not that arrogant--no, really--but ’The Eye” is the most thrilling episode of SGA since “Rising.” It is a slam bang action oriented story that satisfactorily concludes all plot threads begun in ”The Storm“ by way of a nifty Die Hard homage. Interestingly, Kolya actor Robert Davi has a role in that film.

Rodney has a sudden flash of bravery and steps in front of Kolya’s gun in order to nake a compelling argument he cannot take over Atlantis without both Weir and him. Kolya relents, but radios Sheppard he has killed Weir in revenge. Sheppard vows to kill him, then goes off John McClane style to do as much damage as possible while evading Kolya’s men. Rodney and weir collude to delay repairs to the shield as long as possible to buy Sheppard time. Meanwhile, when the eye of the hurricane passes over the Puddle Jumper on the mainland, Teyla, ford, and Beckett take advantage of the calm to risk flying off to Atlantis as reinforcements.

You can likely fill in the blanks how all these events converge. The happenings are incredibly tense and exciting. You can tell because the accompanying music is the most over the top I have heard in a television episode in a while. Even when Sheppard is sneaking about as a covert saboteur, a time when quiet subtlety is called for, he might as well be guns blazing as far as the soundtrack is concerned. The mismatch is more humorous than anything else. I almost expect for Sheppard to break the fourth wall and say, ’would you all tone it down? I’m trying to sneak around here!”

What makes the episode good, besides the solid resolutions to eah cliffhanger, are the personal moments for virtually every character. Rodney is not a heroic man, and you can see how terrified he is in jumping in front of Kolya’s gun to save Weir. Ford’s gung ho loyalty to Sheppard causes him to recklessly fly inside a hurricane just to help his commanding officer. He and Beckett are at each other’s throats over the matter. Beckett is thrown into this assault on Atlantis even though he is fr out of his element and resents taking orders, especially for young Ford. Teyla and Sora finally confront each other over Tyus’ death. Sora is convinced to end the fight because her father would not want her to be killed seeking revenge. Teyla certainly kicked her tushie, too. The shippers must be excited over the revelation Sheppard has a deep emotional connection with Weir that emerges when he believes she is dead. There is a flash of recognition of it her after Sheppard takes out Kolya with sniper fire before he can escape with her through the stargate. I am aware Kolya survives the gunshot wound. I hope his recurring appearances as an arch villain are equally memorable.

“The Eye” is a fantastic way to conclude all issues established in the midseason finale and is a great start to the backend of the first season. The script is solid action without feeling like anything is dumbed down. I mean, pretty much every issue other than Rodney raising the shield in the nick of time to prevent a tidal wave from destroying the city is resolved by gun, knife, or a carefully timed stargate closing to kill sixty Genii reinforcements. The special effects regarding the tidal wave striking the shield are enormously impressive, too. Some of the musical accompaniment could have matched the scenes better. I am also amused how much of the fight between Teyla and Sora took place in the shadows so as to disguise the stuntwomen doing the action. But those are small quibbles in what is otherwise my favorite episode so far in the young series’ history.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich does not appear at the Eye often enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Storm"

“The Storm” serves as the midseason finale for SGA’s first season. The episode ends in a cliffhanger, so it is difficult to judge without seeing the whole story. For now, the first installment stands well on its own merit. The tension built up compels the viewer to come back for the conclusion. One cannot ask for more, no?

While flying to the mainland, Sheppard and Teyla discover two hurricanes have converged into a massive storm headed straight for Atlantis. Such a storm occurs every thirty years or so. The Ancients had shields to protect the city and it was sunk far enough beneath the ocean’s surface after they left for the storms to not be a problem. Neither of those defenses are available now. Atlantis run the risk of sinking until Rodney and Radek come up with the idea of harnessing lightning strikes to power the shields.

A skeleton crew will have to stay behind. Sheppard and ford arrange for all but a few to be evacuated to the home world of their trading partners, the Manarians. Once everyone has been evacuated, the Manarians betray Atlantis to the Genii. Cowen sends Kolya, one of his top commanders, the raid the city for weapons, supplies, and to eliminate Sheppard. Sora comes along with her own plan for revenge against Teyla, whom she mistakenly believes killed her father during the recon mission in “Underground.” Speaking of Teyla, she ford, and Beckett are forced to wait out the storm in a puddle jumper on the mainland when some evacuees take too long.

All this set up takes up about two-thirds of the episode. While it involves reams of dialogue with very little action to break it up--our heroes are literally boarding up the windows in preparation--the story never gets boring. You can chalk some of that up to personal experience. I have survived hurricanes Hugo, Floyd, and Isabelle. I am intimately familiar with the before, during, and after major storms, so I empathize with our heroes Another aspect that helps make the episode for me is Robert Davi‘s portrayal of Kolya. Davis plays a fantastic villain, particularly one like Kolya who is more than a snidely whiplash mustache twirler. Kolya is doing his job to protect his people. In fact, e even alters the plan to raid Atlantis into one to take it over instead because it will give the Genii a better position against the Wraith. His methods are warped, but you cannot argue with his motivation.

Plus Davi is a regular contributor to Big Hollywood.. One has to support the outspoken conservatives out there in Tinsel Town.

The best part about ’The Storm” is the cliffhanger. Sheppard beats the ambush set up for him. Kolya threatens to kill weir in revenge. There is no way weir is going to be killed, but it is difficult to see how she will be saved. We also have to wonder how Rodney is going to save the city from the hurricane, Sheppard is going to defeat the genii single-handed, and if Teyla, Ford, and Beckett can get off the mainland in time to be of any help. One just hopes the resolution is not a letdown.

There is not much to complain about in "The Storm.” Raedek’s Czech accent is not used for some recent. Has it not been established at this poin the is from the Czech Republic? There are many similarities between “The Storm” and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Invasive Procedures,” but the two are unique enough to not fret over. An interesting point to note is ’The Storm” aired nearly a year prior to Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans. The real life parallels--a storm nearly destroying the city, the military helping secure the place, evacuees refusing to leave, looters, etc--are starling enough to wonder if political correctness would have allowed “The Storm” to be made a year after Katrina rather than before.

As I said above, “The Storm” is dialogue intense and low on action until nearly the final act, but it still is never boring. The story keeps the tension up until the slam bang action of the final act. The personal moments are great as well. Weir attempts to appeal to Kolya’s military sensibilities in talking him out of seizing Atlantis. Ford shoots beckett a nasty look when he indicates he does not trust Teyla did not kill Tyrus because she has earned ford’s trust as a comrade-in-arms. Sheppard surrenders his military training to his personal feelings when he bargains with kolya to spare weir’s life in the cliffhanger. These points show how the dynamics of character relations have formed in such a short time together. It is all good. Now if the pay off is comparable.

Rating: *** (out of 5)