Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blogroll Spotlight #164

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-Andrea Bocelli Tells a Story...
American Perspective-We've Heard It all before
American Power-Presidential Debates Will be Crucial
Amusing Bunni's Musings-We Need Some Relaxation
Bob's Blog--Is the Media Now the Enemy of the American People/
Call Me Stormy--Don't Try This at Home
Camp of the Saints-Obama Wisdom
Classic Liberal- Anti-Social Politics with Camila Alves
Conservative Hideout-Sunday Links
Daley Gator-DaleyBabe: Keenyah Hill
Diogenes' Middle Finger-America's Newest Trend
Fishersville Mike-Ketchop Ice Cream
Goldfish and Clowns-To Forgive
Gormogons-Doctor Chthulwho
In a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World--The Friday Pin Up
King Shamus--Foreign Policy Debacle Starts at the Top
Laughing Conservative--Barack Obama's Diary
Lazy Farmer-I Am Planting Wheat
Lonely Conservative-Don't Surrender Without a Fight
Maggie's Notebook-Sunday Chat About the Religion of Peace
Monkey in the Middle--Latest Muslim Outrage
Motor City Times-ObamaCare Needs Death Panels
My Daily Musing--Is This Conflict?
Nice Deb--Video: Absolutely Uncertain
Other McCain-Do You Believe the Ohio Polls?
Paco Enterprises-Sunday Funnies
Pirate's Cove-It All You See...
Proof Positive-The Replacement Ref
Pundit & Pundette-Freedom or Freebies?
Randy's Roundtable-Friday Nite Funnies
Reaganite Republican-Reanite's Sunday Funnies
Sentry Journal-When Terrorism Wins
Teresamerica-Am I Part of the 47%?
Troglopundit-Obama's Re-election Assured by Clinton Bump
We the People-Amen and Hallelujah!
Western Hero--Dying for an Education
Woodsterman--Rule 5 Woodsterman Style
Young American--1001 Barack Obama Lies Media Ignoree
Zilla of the Resistance-Vampire or Politician?

Stargate Atlantis--"Irresponsible"

Oh, no--not Lucius Lavin again! As if “Irresistible” was not bad enough. The effort by Sga to create its own Harry Mud has not gone so well, but I will confess the second effort is better than the first. That is not say much, however. “Irresistible” set the bar pitifully low.

The AR-1 team and Beckett travel to a planet to investigate rumors of a man with super powers having successfully fought off the Wraith. They arrive to discover it is lucius, who has an Ancient personal shield like Rodney used in “Hide and Seek.” The Wraith story was bogus, but Lucius had been an heroic incident, so the people are as hooked on him as the others before. Lucius secretly hires so genii mercenaries to “attack” the village so he can fight them off, but they double cross him. It is actually a plot by Kolya to lure Sheppard there.

If you do not see the climactic twist of Sheppard secretly using the personal shield with it suffering a short out before confronting Kolya, then you are not cynical enough. I do think the final showdown between Sheppard and Kolya playing out as an homage to A Fist Full of Dollars is cool, however. I can be an occasional hypocrite in my reactions to originality, right? If you are going to steal, steal from the greats.

It is strange to end an episode with a wild west style showdown if it is going to be set in what looks like a hamlet set in the European Low Countries. Surely with Vancouver’s large television filming industry there is some locations for filming westerns. The whole situation is out of place an claustrophobic given the style and small size of the shooing location. No pun intended with the word choice.

A few things do feel off outside of Lucius being such an awful character. Beckett tags along with AR-1 for no stated reason. I like Beckett, but it is strange for him to go along on this mission, but no others. The personal shield does not work the same as it did on Rodney. Lucius can eat and drink. He even gets a foot massage. If the shiel conforms to t a user, Sheppard should not have been able to operate it. I suppose these things are not a big deal unless you are a continuity nitpicker, but I am one. So There.

It is funny Batman is referenced several times throughout “Irresponsible” as Rodney’s favorite superhero considering how the plot closely resembles the classic story “Must There be a Superman?” by Elliot S! Maggin. (The exclamation mark is not a typo. Maggin is a shameless self-promoter. I am pretty sure he kept it during his brief run for congress in 2006. He is a Democrat, of course.) The story involves superman being lectured by the Guardians of the Universe over his heroics stunting the social growth o humanity. After suffering self-doubts about his purpose, he comes to realize some things are a job for Superman, but he has to be careful to not become a crutch for humanity. Lucius does not exactly learn that lesson, but he does encourage the townspeople to not rely on him just tis once. But, hey--Lucius is no Superman, right?

“Irresponsible” is a better episode than “Irresistible,” but that is manly because the plot does not rely as heavily on Lucius. I still think he is an obnoxious character so over the top as to not be amusing at all. It would appear I am not the only one to think so. Kucius never returns again. The return of Kolya makes the episode enjoyable. I am sorry to see the character meet his end so soon. He and Sheppard should have had a chance to build up even more animosity for an even larger showdown somewhere along the line. Oh, well. “Irresponsible” has a few strikes against it, but it is still moderately enjoyable. You cannot miss Kolya’s death, at any rate.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

LeAnn Rimes

Because it is the end of September.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doctor Who--"The Angels Take Manhattan"

“The Angels Take Manhattan” is the mid season finale--I have been saying that a lot lately--of Doctor Who seventh series. It is also the long anticipated swan song for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as Amy and Rory. Speaking of song, River Song also makes her return. The easiest way to describe ’The Angels Take Manhattan” is emotionally dark. Savor the first few moments of whimsy between the main characters, because they get put through the ringer afterwards.

I cannot underscore how important emotions over logic are in enjoying “The Angels Take Manhattan.” The plot is wafer thin--the Weeping Angels are taking over Manhattan by sending Rory repeatedly further back in time to feed off the energy. The doctor and Amy track him back to 1938 thanks to a noir detective novel which parallels events as they happen. It is later revealed the novel was written by Amy in the past after she and Rory become trapped in the late 19th century with an afterward by River, who guides TARDIS to 1938. The plot is filled out with our heroes suffering a very, very bad day.

Rory dies no less than three times, once by throwing himself in tandem with Amy off the roof of a hotel in order to create a paradox preventing the Weeping Angels from getting him the final time. Although it does not work…geez. Watching Amy agree to jump with her husband is tough viewing. River is forced to break her own wrist to escape a Weeping Angel. Ouch. The doctor stands helplessly watching virtually all of it. The most interesting aspect of the plot is how little of it features the doctor in control of the situation. The story is all in the hands of his companions.

There are several things we now know for certain about Steven Moffat due to “The Angels Take Manhattan.” . One, he is really proud of the weeping Angels. Two, he likes throwing people off buildings. (A little Sherlock nod, there.) And three, He believes whovians have a strong emotional attachment to Amy and Rory. The Weeping Angels were particularly disturbing here, so I must give judos for bringing them back to their original horror motif. The Baby Weeping Angel blowing out Rory’s candle before zapping him into the past us brilliantly. Ah…the jumping off buildings thing is a joke. As for Amy and Rory, I feel emotional at their departure. I had some fears one or both of them would die rather than have a lost to us, but relatively happy ending for them Their departure is done well, without maudlin, but best not dwelled upon considering if the book has an afterward, then River must have encountered her parents in the past. Why can the doctor not go back to them? Dramatic effect seems to be the answer. Best not to dwell. We have already had two consecutive episodes to say a long goodbye to Amy and Rory. Though one does wonder why river is not upset she will never see her parents again? She can be emotionally shallow, but surely not that cold?

Someone is erasing record of the Doctor from history. Not only have the daleks forgotten him, but River is no longer imprisoned for murder because the man she killed--the doctor, of course--no longer exists. Interesting little plot twist, no? Foreshadowing for the 50th anniversary story, perhaps/

You are going to have to take “The Angels Take Manhattan’ as a character piece. The plot is awfully thin, and if you think too much about the book’s place in the story, all logic falls apart. But thankfully, it is a great character piece. It is intense in both its horrific elements and it sad ones. I imagine the episode will go down as a fondly remember classic in the pantheon regardless of it flaws. I am going to award it four stars solely because it took two hours after watching to decide what I could even say about it even though amy and rory are far from my favorite companions.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #169

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

Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #168, Blogroll Spotlight #163, and Karen Gillan.
Proof Positive links to Karen Gillan, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Gillian Anderson.
Say Anything links to Karen Gillan, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Gillian Anderson.
The Other mcCain links to Emma Stone.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.
Gossip Celebrity links to Katte Sackhoff and Friends.
Motor City Times links to Mitt Romney's Tax Returns
Conservative Hideout links to Doctor Who "The Power of Three."

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--"Echoes"

“Echoes” is a whale-centric episode. Knowing that, I braced myself for a heavy, Hollywood style environmental message. Thankfully, a preachy environmental message never comes. The episode is a fairly straightforward Rodent has to solve an impossible problem bottle show. It is nothing special, but not a waste of time, either.

Many of those whale creatures inhabiting the ocean around Atlantis begin converging on the city. With their appearance, our heroes begin experiencing hallucinations of Lanteans in the midst of dealing with a disaster of some sort in the distant past. As people begin falling deathly ill, Rodney figures out the whales are causing these hallucinations as a warning the sun is about to suffer a coronal mass ejection the same as it did 15,00years ago that will destroy the ecosystem. The Lanteans had three ZPM to power an extended ship. Our heroes have to improvise by enhancing the Daedalus shields to eflect the coronal mass ejection. The plan works, the planet is saved, and the whales are grateful.

The routine plot is elevated by a lot of humor, some o which might be a little too much, and some shoc value disturbing hallucinations. I am not going to be too much of a stick in the mud about all the jokes, but the bit about various characters having their ear drums punctured so they alternate between yelling at each other and mocking each other knowing they cannot be heard runs way too long. As for the disturbing hallucinations, the severely burned Lantean pilot who shows up periodically screaming in pain is extremely jarring.

Yes, there is a whale penis joke. Torri Higginson is involved. No wonder she decides to leave the series.

There are shipper moments galore. Sheppard gently carries weir to the infirmary after she passes out. Ronon keeps a bedside vigil for Teyla. Rodney names his favorite whale after Samantha Carter. Okay, that one is a combination of sweet and a little pathetic. You may judge in which proportion.

“Echoes” is pretty much bottle show filler, but it does not feel as small and budget-saving as many bottle shows do because of the emphasis on each character doing what he or she does best. I am kind of curious why the Lanteans never took further precautions before submerging Atlantis. Surely they had to figure the coronal mass ejection would happen again and destroy everything. You would think a heads up might have been in order. You know--a little Post It note on a bathroom mirror somewhere at least?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Karen Gillan and Alex Kingston

The midseason finale for Doctor Who airs tonight. “The Angels Take Manhattan” is not only the last Doctor Who episode to air until Christmas, it is also the final appearance of Amy and Rory as companions. I have largely avoided spoilers, so I have no idea what the final outcome will be. May anyone who blows the ending for me in the comment section or elsewhere suffer a plague of rashes on the inside.

One assumes with Karen Gillan departing the show, photos of her will become as rare as Billie Piper’s have at The Eye. That is not to say she will not show up every now and then, but if Gillan is going to flee science fiction for the relative safety of BBC drama, I doubt photos of her will show up often in the usual suspect places. We shall see, but enjoy her while you can in the perhaps long interim.

In case photos are not doing it for you--and with the Scottish accent to enjoy, who can blame you?--here is Gillan on Thursday night’s Conan He is not quite the fawning whovian as Craig Ferguson. "The Angels Take Manhattan" also features the return of Alex Kingston as River Song. Kingston looks very nice for a woman pushing fifty.
I will return later today with my thoughts on "The Angels Take Manhattan."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Formspring Question #458--Yes, Prime Minister Edition

Your Yulia Tymoshenko fetish is creepy.
It is not a fetish to think a woman is pretty. Besides, the post you are whining about is only the second one I have written in three years. I only wrote that one because I stumbled across the news se has been imprisoned under peculiar circumstances. The more I read about her situation, the weirder it becomes.

If you want to talk about a fetish over a European woman, how about all those scouring the web for uncensored, grainy and from a distance photos of Kate Middleton’s boobs. That more qualifies as a creepy fetish.
I am not wrong about her, folks. Timochenko is nice looking.

Formspring Question #457--Meet the 47% Edition

Why is Obama ahead in the polls?
Because Barack Obama has supporters who think like this. He does not even have to give them free phones for their vote. Something tells me this guy would hurt himself with any hardware you gave him, anyway.

Formspring Question #456--Shunning the Boob Tube Edition

Are you going to review any new television shows this season?
Nothing has piqued my interest as far as previews and spoilers go. Shows are cancelled so quickly these days I am reluctant to start reviewing anything that has not already been around at least a season even if I like it. Truth be told, there are not any series that qualify that way, either.

Most days, I watch an episode of whatever I am reviewing and te Atlanta Braves game. That is it for regular television viewing.

Formspring Question #455--Wild Cards Gone Wild Edition

Do you like the addition of another wild card team to the MLB postseason?
No. The only change that should have been made to the post season is extending the Division Series to a best of seven. Why the powers that be made it a five game series is beyond me. Then again, adding another one game round between non-division winners even before that series is more ridiculous.

Bud Selig needs to go while baseball is still recognizable.

Stargate Atlantis--"The Return, Part II"

“The Return, Part II” is the first episode of the third season’s back half. It is also the conclusion for the story begun the midseason finale. Chalk it up as an odd duck that is strangely satisfying in spite of time spent on questionable elements and a hurried, but happy ending.

The beginning of the episode finds Jack and Woolsey hiding in a part of Atlantis where the sensors are not working, so they are safe from the Asurans. Safe until Jack informs Woolsey Daedalus has orders to nuke the city in order to prevent a potential invasion of earth. It is just then that our heroes arrive to radio jack and Woolsey to sit tight while they put a plan to reprogram the Asurans to disintegrate into action, punctuated by a large explosion to cover the Puddle Jumper’s getaway.

Sounds pretty cool, no? a few things are strange. First, part of the plan is to find Niam floating out in space in order to use him to spread the new programming. The plan to use him fails early on, so it is peculiar so much time is spent on the plot element. Second, the Puddle Jumper return to Atlantis bia a submerged jumper bay. They need Jack to swim into the flooded control room in order to open the hanger bay door. This takes up half an act of Jack swimming around in a set underwater. The scene reminded me of the long sequence in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only in which Bond and his Bond Beauty are dragged through underwater ruins for far longer than reasonable because the set was expensive, so the producers needed to get their money’s worth out of it. I do not know how much of the scene was done by Richard Dean Anderson, but the guy put himself through the ringer for one who wanted a lighter filming schedule. Finally, with the Niam plot having failed, our heroes run a con job to trick the asurans into thinking they are going to use C$ to blow up the shields protecting the city when in fact they have booby trapped the shields to emit the new programming which destroys all the Asurans at once. With the villains disposed of, our heroes move back in as if nothing ever happened.

Do not get me wrong. I enjoy “The Return, Part II.” it essential took the same plot as the first season’s take over of Atlantis by the Genii and made it different. That time around, the action was a straightforward, men on a mission shoot all the bad guys to save the day. The powers that be could not do the same here, and I am curious if some of the more awkward elements were rewrites in order to avoid a repeat. The underwater sequence with Jack, while nifty and quietly laden with humor as he takes three tries to get the door open, goes on way too long. The final plot, too, involves rolling back tp revious scenes and replaying them the way things actually went instead of the con job we thought was the true plan. Sure, it is cool to see we have been as hoodwinked as the Asurans, but reusing the same scenes we just saw with only a bit more elaboration gives the impression the powers that be ran out of material and just decided to repeat what they had already filmed with some stuff from the cutting room floor added in. The bottom line is I get the impression, right or wrong, the first part was written without a conclusion in mind, so the final product is struggling to resolve the cliffhanger.

What is the point of having the Genii show up to recruit Ronon and Teyla when they do not appear in this episode. The meeting is pointless filler since nothing comes out of it. Perhaps it is foreshadowing of something later, but still…a head scratching point to say the least. I was expecting the Genii to show up as backup against the Asurans. The whole affair reminds me of Anton Chekhov’s adage that if a gun is introduced in the first act, someone needs to have fired it by the end of the second or the writers has failed his task.

Anyone else find it bitterly funny the Lanteans are wiped out because of Rodney rewriting the Asuran program, but no one cares? They are all just glad to have Atlantis back. So glad, no one is going to becourtmartialedl or disobeying orders. Or arming Weir with a gun one assumes she has no ability to use. At the very least, some one should pay for the sorry fashion sense of the Asurans. They are wearing tan jump suit with red, ribbed padding on the abdomen that looks like they got off the operating table before a gastro-intestinal surgeon could so them back up. Like the Daleks, the Asurans have no concept of elegance.

The final verdict is “The Return, Part Ii” falls short of high expectations, but it still entertaining. It has peculiar elements that defy logic and padded scenes that elicit suspicions the powers that be were not sure where they were going with the story. Maybe they were hoping featuring Jack prominently would make up for it. They are right, in a lot of ways. The conclusion does not quite measure up to the first part, but I like it enough.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Blake Lively

Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stargate Atlantis--"The Return, Part I"

"The Return, Part I” wears two significant hats. One, it serves as the midseason finale for the third season. As such, it has to set up an exciting cliffhanger to compel the audience to come back for more. Two, if you count the pilot as two episodes, it is the halfway point for the entire series. Reaching the halfway point already does not say much other than we are rolling right along with these reviews. More relevant is the special guest stars, emotional moments, and a tense cliffhanger that make “The Return, Part I” one of the best episodes this season.

Our heroes are finally ready to test the McKay-Carter Intergalactic Gate Bridge which combines 34 stargates into a long chain which will cut travel from Atlantis to earth down to thirty minutes. While conducting the successful test, Daedalus encounters an Ancient with which they make contact. The Lanteans on board make their return to Atlantis, then promptly give our heroes 48 hours to leave. Only Jack, who has shown up as the representative for Earth, and Woolsey, who will be the International Oversight Committee ambassador, will remain.

Even though I know the departure will not be permanent, I still feel the air of sadness as our heroes are forced to leave Atlantis, splitting up under the likelihood many will never see each other, much less work together, again. It should not be a big secret to anyone who has read my reviews, but I am more much emotionally attached to Stargate SG-1. I am quite surprised our heroes splitting up feels like such a loss.

What really nails it is how the characters appear lost without each other. Sheppard leads an SG team, but finds it boring. Rodney is at Area 51. He amits in a phone call he misses Sheppard, but Sheppard hangs up rather than admit he feels the same way about Rodney. Beckett becomes the SGC doctor, which seems to suit him fine, but he becomes the one to pull Weir out of her hermitage by coaxing her to come to dinner with the rest of the main cast.

There is something interesting I have noticed about Torri Higginson’s portrayal of Weir in moments when she is suffering negative emotions. Weir tucks her knees under her chin and then locks her arms around her legs. It is a defensive, fetal position--a psychological method of protecting herself. The key point about the way she sits while under stress is that she has only done it out of uniform. She has always been in civilian clothes and once a hospital gown. Weir will sit that way in front of all sorts of different people she ought to want to project strength towards, so I doubt she avoids it while wearing her uniform in order to appear strong. Rather, the uniform provides her with the strength to deal with problems stoically. The dependency on her uniform might explain why she feels so weak without it here. It my even explain why she has shifted from a pacifist to a combat ready decision maker since becoming head of the Atlantis expedition.

The reunion dinner is spoile by news the Asurans have attacked Atlantis. Since Rodney rewrote their programming in the last encounter, the prohibition against harming Ancients is gone. Landry wants to know the best way to nuke the city before the Asurans decide to attack Earth, but our heroes decide to go rogue, reunite in Pegasus with Ronon and Teyla, and execute a plot to rewrite the Asuran programming again, thereby saving Atlantis while rescuing jack and Woolsey. Thus we have the to be continued in order to see if our heroes can pull out that off. Oh, and the Genii attempt to recruit ronon and Teyla, so I assume they will show up as reinforcements next episode.

“The Return, Part I” is really good for its personal touches and exciting cliffhanger. The return of the Ancients and the Asurans is done so quickly and in the background, the audience hardly has time to absorb it all. I suppose that is fortunate, since the asurans choosing a time shortly after the Ancients move back in to attack is a convenient plot point. Unless there is something else about it revealed in part two. I feel pangs of sorrow at our heroes got split up and a h8ll yeah notion when they all unquestionably decide to go rogue and save Atlantis. I am anxious to find out how they pull it off. The job of the first part of a multipart episode is to do just that, so mission accomplished. I rate “The Return, Part I’ as just behind “Sateda” as the best of the season so far.

Oh, and yes--Weir becomes more assertive when she dons a black ops military uniform. I tell you, she becomes a new person in uniform. It gives her the backbone to make tough decisions.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday should become Kaley Cuoco Day more frequently now that The Big Bang Theory will begin airing its sixth season tonight. Photo pickings were a little slim over the summer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Word to the Daily Poll Watchers

I am not much of a poll watcher until after the debates when the candidates have had their last big shot at appealing to voters. The winner and loser does not usually become solidified until then. There is no point in paying much attention to polling prior to the debates accept to analyze the successes and failures of the respective campaigns. Even that is more of a concern for the campaigns themselves, but the polls around this time can show candidates’ supporters which way they need to prod their guy towards victory.

For whatever influence said supporters actually have. I am in deep red South Carolina where Mitt Romney cannot lose and Barack Obama cannot win. Neither one o them cares what anyone in the palmetto state thinks. Perhaps you are in the same bright red or blue situation. The circumstances do give you a certain distance from the election as a whole. The primaries are the last close up glimpse of the presidential race we get remember Newt Gingrich running away with South Carolina/ That was a long time ago. With that in mind, appreciate high emotions regarding the campaign have given way to detached observation of reality in everything else I am going to write here.

Embrace the fact that polls are largely accurate. Romney and Obama are virtually tied in the national polls. National polls are a soft indicator, however. It is the swing state polls that really matter in a relatively even matched election like this one, and those show Obama with an advantage. Stop claiming that the methodology is biased or looking at ’alternate polls that show who reallyis in the lead.. look at the facts instead.

Romney is not being aggressive enough. He appears to be under the impression the economy is so bad, no one in a zillion, kajillion years would reelect Obama, but he is wrong. Romny cannot rely on the media to hold Obama’s feet to the fire, either. The only serious grilling Obama has gotten since the Brett Bair interview years ago was the Spanish language Univision last week that virtually no one other than Hispanics voting for Obama regardless of his answers saw. But media bias is not as huge a factor as conservatives would like to believe. People know not to trust the media. No matter how much the press has pounded Romney over the last couple weeks, he is still competitive. But he needs to come out swinging. Poll watchers need to stop rationalizing why Romney appears to be behind, realize he is, and start encouraging him to take off the kid gloves.

The intellectual dance many conservatives are wasting their time with in rationalizing losing polls reminds me of the desperate way conservatives clung to the mythical Bradley Effect in 2008 that supposedly meant John McCain was really in the lead. It is just those being polled were saying Obama so as not to appear racist to some anonymous pollster who might--gasp--judge them otherwise. If conservatives keep wasting time with the fantasy of sinister, progressive forces attempting to demoralize republicans into staying home on Election Day with “fake” polls showing an Obama landslide, then an Obama landslide is going to happen with out any conspiracy afoot.

Stargate Atlantis--"Phantoms"

“Phantoms” is a nifty action piece with a few nods to “found footage” horror films. While the episode offers our first look at Sheppard’s black mark in his Afghanistan service record, there is not much monumental otherwise. It is a solid, entertaining action movie that allows Beckett to get more welcome field experience. For a regular cast member, Paul McGillon appears awfully irregularly.

When a team exploring a supposedly uninhabited planet fails to repot back in time, AR-1 and Beckett are sent to retrieve them. The recovery team discovers the corpses of a number of Genii who apparently killed each other month prior, several corpses from the missing team along with found video footage from the missing team requesting a rescue by Prometheus, and a bunker which houses a working Wraith generator. Sheppard decides to father up the dead and head back to Atlantis to investigate thins later, but the stargate has been booby trapped to explode. Now figuring that shutting off the Wraith device is their only way to call for help, they head back to the bunker.

Our heroes then begin feeling the effects of the Wraith device the generator is powering. It creates hallucinations those affected cannot distinguish from reality. Ronon suddenly believes he is chasing a Wraith through the forest. Sheppard believes he is back in Afghanistan saving a downed helicopter pilot from the Taliban. In reality, Ronon is hunting Sheppard, who believes the wounded Teyla is his air Force buddy and Ronon is a Taliban. Teyla is unaffected by the hallucination, presumably because of her Wraith gene, but still caught in the middle of the seppard as Wraith/Ronon as Taliban battle. Rodney imagines the Wraith evice is about to exploe. The creepiest of them all is Beckett. He continues to work on a wounded marine with the assistance of another Marine who is already dead. The sequence is short, but incredibly macabre.

Teyla save everyone by convincing Sheppard to hide her from Ronon/Taliban in the bunker where se can turn the device off. All parties return to normal, but not before Sheppard shoots Ronon and Rodney. Superficially, of course. He is in a esperate survival situation, but still does not shoot to kill. That is what happens when main cast members are the target.

The quick nod to Stargate SG-1 . The found footage from the missing team shows they believed each other to be Kill warriors. They were calling upon Prometheus for a rescue. They must have fought against Anubis’ forces at some point. When Sheppard encounters the crazed commanding officer, he believes Sheppard to be a Kull and uses a grenade as a suicide weapon in the hopes of taking out Sheppard/Kull as well in another gruesome scene.

I have to go back to that superficial wounds for main character bit for a moment. The phenomena is particularly blatant here. The Dial Home Device is rigged by the missing team to explode upon dialing. Sheppard dials the stargate, but is able to avoid being wouned in either the explosion or by flying shrapnel. But the two marines standing further away or both wounded, one fatally. When the CO blows himself up, Sheppard avoids any injury as well even though he can only jump a few feet away from the explosion with no cover to protect himself. It is also difficult to believe he would not shoot to kill Taliban soldiers stalking him when he is certain they would not return the courtesy. I understand the Taliban are actually Ronon an Rodney and they are main characters alon with Sheppard, so they cannot be permanently maimed or killed, but sometimes the situations they are put in stretch credibility when they escape from them relatively unscathed, especially wen the minor guest stars alongside them are picke off easily.

“Phantoms” is a notch above your average filler episode. The action is engaging. The hallucinations are a definite highlight. More specifically, it is neat how scenes switch from different characters’ perspective. We are in Afghanistan with Sheppard about to shoot a Taliban, then it is back to the forest where Ronon is about to kill a Wraith and then to Teyla who realizes Sheppard and Ronon are about to mistakenly shoot each other. The quick cuts are highly effective. They are well done especially considering how confusing the technique can be if done too quickly. Our heroes are impossibly lucky to escape with only the minor injuries they suffer, but overlook that and "Phantoms” is a good, mini-action films.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Alison Brie

I prefer Gillian Jacobs when it comes to Community girls, but to each his own.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yulia Timoshenko Has Fallen on Hard Times Since Her Last Appearance at the Eye

Shortly before I posted these photos of Yulia Timoshenko back in 2010, I had no idea who she was. She was only attracting minor attention in Western media because of the no confidence vote that ended her career as prime minister of Ukraine. I thought she was very pretty and was impressed she was a former economist, so she had brains, too. Shallow, I know, but even I am not enough of a political science junkie to delve into her political troubles. Presumably, her balancing act between wanting Ukraine to join the European Union and not antagonizing Russia did her in, and let it at that

Now I know what happened to her after drifting off my radar.. I have just discovered Timoshenko currently serving a seven year prison term after being convicted last October for abuse of power in office over signing a natural gas deal with Russia. The truth is sketchy as Timoshenko is still leader of the opposition to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Then there are the murder charges.

I am not certain what to make of all this, but applying the ol adage of run it up the flag pole and see who salutes, western governments have largely ignored Timoshenko. Only the Green Party members of the European Parliament have been calling for her release. Vladimir Putin has offered to house Timoshenko in Russia for the remainder of her prison sentence, so there is another bit you have to wonder about. Putin does not strike me as one who does anything out of the goodness of his heart.

The following photo from April shows bruises from an alleged beating Timoshenko suffered from prison guards:
It is difficult not to sympathize with images like this more recent one of Timoshenko holding the hand of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite while severely weakened by a hunger strike in prison.
If Timoshenko truly is a crooked, unscrupulous woman capable of being an accessory to murder, she is hiding it by playing the sympathy card beautifully.
Beautifully indeed.

Stargate Atlantis--"McKay and Mrs. Miller

“McKay and Mrs. Miller” makes good on David Hewlett’s to have his real sister, Kate, play Rodney’s sister on the series. The episode also is, intentionally or not-- a nod to Ace Rimmer from Red Dwarf as a more charismatic version of an obnoxious character for a parallel reality makes an appearance. The overall plot of two universes nearly being destroyed takes a backseat to some sweet sibling moments. That is quite an accomplishment when placed in perspective.

Rodney’s sister, Jeanie Miller, is a brilliant theoretical physicist who gave up her career for a husband and daughter. One days, she has a flash of inspiration watching her daughter play and comes up with some calculation that, once published, attract the attention of Sam. She wants Jeanie to work for Stargate Command, but Jeanie resents the idea of commercial use for theoretical physics and refuses to work for the US military. She is definitely Canadian. Sam asks Rodney to return to Earth to change Jeanie’s mind. He is reluctant to bring her in because they are estranged, but after he tricks her into beaming aboard Daedalus, her interest is pique.

The two begin work on a project to draw unlimited energy from a parallel universe under the assumption the odds of the universe being inhabited are infinitesimal. Unfortunately, the other universe is inhabited an they send their version of Rodney, whom we shall call Rod, to stop the experiment before rod’s universe is destroyed.

Rod is the complete opposite of Rodney. He is humble about his intelligence, friendly, and fun. He hits it off with everyone, but especially Jeanie. Rodney quickly feels alienated as rod takes his plsce professionally and personally. It reaches the point that when a plan is devised to save both universes by sending Rod back to his, roney cannot believe he wants to go because of what a fit he is in the ’real” universe. Rod goes anyway, claiming that his universe is ot perfect, but it is his. The ZPM is completely depleted in the effort to stop the experiment and ensure rod gets home.

The best part of the episode is Rodney does not have a sitcom-esque complete turn around because of what he learns from rod. He does resolve his differences with jeanie, but it is an a sweetly awkward manner that shows he is trying, but does not really know how. He is aided along by Sheppard, who secretly shows her the recording Rodney made to her back in “Letters from Pegasus.” when it is all said and done, Rodney uncharacteristically joins AR-1 hanging out in the mess hall where they tell him, perhaps not in all honesty, they did not like Rod all that much, but Rodney is welcome to hang out with them.

Everyone acts rather casual about the universe possibly being destroyed, but aside from that, “McKay and Mrs. Miller” is a great episode. I have complained in the past that Rodney-centric episodes often go too far over the top is order to place the character in comedic situations. I feared with an Ace Rimmer Rodney running around, this episode might be the worst yet. Instead, it is one of the best. The powers that be dialed it back from absurd comey to a personal story about Rodney’s fumbling at maintaining relationships, but his family and friends stick with him anyway. Oh, and two universes are nearly destroyed. But the latter is not as big a deal as the former.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

January Jones

January Jones is very hot. Perhaps that is why she had a difficult time playing a woman named Emma Frost.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Formspring Question #454--Mitt Romney's Taxes Edition

Do you agree with Mitt Romney that he is unqualified to be President because he paid more in taxes than he was legally required to pay?
So the latest attack on Mitt Romney is he pays too much in taxes? I marvel at the talking points progressives come up with while maintaining a straight face. Seriously, do you have any idea the sheer stupidity of the idea Romney ought not be president because he paid more taxes than legally required?

To avoid being accused of hiding anything, here is Romney's quote regarding not paying more taxes than legally required:
“I don’t pay more than are legally due, and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.”
Here is Barack Obama adviser David Axelrod--yes, this is an Obama campaign talking point--explaining why Romney is unqualified to be president by his own admission:
Right. Last -- two months ago on your own air, he said that anybody who didn't take the deductions they were owed wasn't qualified to be president. Well, I guess he's not qualified, because that's exactly what he did last week to try and get his number up from 9 percent or 10 percent to 14 percent."
Tit for tat, here is the Romney campaign rebuttal before i throw in my two pennies worth:
“He has been clear that no American need pay more than he or she owes under the law. At the same time, he was in the unique position of having made a commitment to the public that his tax rate would be above 13 percent,” Davis said, in response ABC’s email request for more information about Romney’s decision. ”He directed his preparers to ensure that he is consistent with that statement.”
Now that we have all the facts out on the table, everything else that follows is from me.

First and foremost, take anything a politician or political advisor says with a pinch of salt. They are saying whatever will help them achieve an immediate goal. If next week demands a reversal, thn so be it. Thanks to the short attention span of the average American, they usually get away with it. Romney does not seriously believe someone who pays more in taxes than he ought to is unqualified for president. Axelrod knows how dumb it is to take Romney’s statement seriously. But they both have a professional goal to achieve, so that is how they are playing it. I take neither one of them talking points seriously.

Second, I have a hunch you are the same guy who has asked half a dozen Formspring questions over the last couple weeks if Romney is going to resign over any and all issues that put him in the news. I have ignored them all up until now because I thought--and still think--even the biggest Obama shill cannot possiblt believe one of the two party nominees will resign less than fifty days out from the election over issues like criticism of the administration over its response to the consulate attack in Libya or the 475 comments that were caught on tape. I was so amused by this tax question, I could not let it pass like the others.

Nothing short of the proverbial discovery of a dead woman ot live man in Romney’s bed will cause him to resign. Furthermore, you should never take anything you hear a candidate or his advisors tell the media with any degree of serious consideration. One of the reasons Romney’s 47% comments were latched onto was because it was an actual honest moment from a politician because he did not believe the general public was going to here about it. Electoral politics is a pageant for the masses. If candidates actually discussed affairs of state honestly with people, we would all tune out in boredom. How many political science lectures do you aspire to sit through? Yes, none is the general answer.

I am not asking you to stay out of my form spring box, but if you cannot make the differentiation between a real political issue an kabuki theater, you are wasting your time. I have all but decided to can the Formspring application, anyway. There is about a five to one troll to actual inquiry ratio these days. The dreck not make for the best blog content.

Stargate Atlantis--"Common Ground"

I have learned to be wary of a script from a first time Stargate franchise writer. Freelancers have always seemed to not get the characters quite right on top of their episodes generally serving as filler. Ken Cuperus has broken out of the mold with a story that makes the Wraith a more sympathetic villain. It is a change that needed to be done in consideration of not only the stereotypical beyond redemption animals they have become, but how callously how heroes have dealt with many moral issues surrounding them.

Kolya secretly tricks the AR-1 team into an ambush where upon he captures Sheppard. He plans to hold Sheppard hostage in exchange for Ladon The scheme is a way of cleaning up the problem of Robert Davi being unable to reprise the role of Kolya for last season’s ”Coup D’etat.” Originally, Kolya was supposed to murder Cowen and take over the Genii, but the mastermind was switched to Ladon instead when Davi bowed out. Admittedly, the fix is odd--kolya was planning a coup, but ladon decided he would make a better leader and ditched his boss to conduct one himself--but what can you do?

Sheppard is imprisoned along with a Wraith dubbed Todd. Every three hours, Kolya sends a live transmission to Atlantis which shows Todd feeding on Sheppard with the threat this will continue until ladon is handed over. No one on Atlantis cares what happens to Ladon, but they maintain both the never negotiate with terrorists policy and Sheppard’s orders to maintain the alliance with the Genii. Aside from a failed attempt to find the safe house where Sheppard is being held, our heroes cannot do much of anything but watch as Sheppard rapidly ages with each feeding.

Slowly but surely, Sheppard and tod form an uneasy alliance to facilitate their own escape. They are certainly still enemies who do not trust one another, but they come to a tense understanding that each does what they need to do in order to survive. They successfully escape and are recovered by a rescue team from Atlantis after it is strongly implied Ladon tortures the safe house location out of two traitors still loyal to Kolya.

We have a Star Trek: Voyager Magic Reset Button for Sheppard’s rapid aging as his life force is drawn from him throughout the episode. Todd saps the life out of two Genii soldiers, then transfers those lives into Sheppard when he appears to be somewhere in his nineties. Kudos to hiring a shorter, skinnier actor than joe Flanigan to portray Sheppard at his oldest to emphasize is depletion after several feedings. I do not think Sheppard’s restoration is a cop out. Todd says extended life is the reward for trusted human slaves, so there is the explanation for why some humans ally with the Wraith . It also demonstrates Todd is willing to go an extra step to honor his agreement to cooperate with Sheppard in their escape if they can go their separate ways unharmed afterwards. Todd even acts with surprise when Sheppard goes through with his end of the bargain, implying Todd restored his life without expecting a reward for doing so.

I am not sure how well the background plot stands up to scurrility. Kolya has two loyalists in Ladon’s inner circle who arrange for the ambush in which Sheppard is captured. But if Kolya has men in Ladon’s inner circle, why not have them kidnap or kill Ladon kolya goes so far as to tell Sheppard his kidnapping is nothing personal. He would just as soon have Rodney as a prisoner as anyone else. If revenge against Atlantis is not a factor, why go to all the trouble to involve them? It does not make any sense to go to all this trouble when Kolya already has people in ladon’s inner circle. Kolya has demonstrated strong strategic instincts. It does not feel right for him to devise such a wacky, unnecessarily complicated plan.

The strangeness of Kolya’s plot can be overlooked. It is merely an excuse to ho our heroes involved in the matter, and that has to be done somehow. Broadening the Wraith as characters is worth any questionable steps to get us there. I am even excusing the Magic Reset Button even though I figure the Wraith ability to restore sapped life will never be mentioned again, much less used to save anyone. Yikes1 I am feeling uncharacteristically generous today.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Scarlett Johansson Bikini Pics

Scarlett Johansson frolicking about in a blue bikini.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blogroll Spotlight #163

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-How About Some Positive Stuff?
American Perspective-Mitt Romney's Missing Tape
American Power-Mitt Romney Can Win
Amusing Bunni's Musings-We Need Some Relaxation (Videos)
Bob's Blog--What is America? Who is Obama?
Born Again Americans--You Can't Make This Stuff Up
Call Me Stormy--World of Beers XLII
Camp of the Saints-Thought for the Day
Classic Liberal-Anticapitalist Nonsense with Jennifer Swift
Conservative Hideout-Sunday Links
Daley Gator-DaleyBabe: Krystal Forscutt
Diogenes' Middle Finger-Romney Must Win to Save the SCOTUS
Edge of the Sandbox--Blame Computers
Goldfish and Clowns-Saturday Night Sniffles
Gormogons-Because Time Travel Has Consequences
King Shamus--The US Doesn't Have to Fix the Middle East
Last Refuge--The Ongoing CNN/State Depart. Fiasco
Last Tradition--Don't Look for Reassurance from Conservative Pundits
Laughing Conservative--The Ego Has Landed
Lazy Farmer-Tactical Errors in Judgment
Lonely Conservative-AP Notices the Power Has Shifted to Chicago
Maggie's Notebook- France Bans Muslim Protests Against Cartoons
Monkey in the Middle--A Word to Rioting Muslims
Motor City Times-"U Didn't Build That"--MC 'bama
My Daily Musings--Obamation
Other McCain-Topless @MsAlisonPill? Meh.
Paco Enterprises-Sunday Funnies
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Nission Accomplished, Mr. Eastwood
Pundit & Pundette-Your Saturday Steyn
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart: Andi Muise
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Sentry Journal-Redistribution of Poverty
Teresamerica-You're Not Going to Believe This
Troglopundit-A Question for Our President
We the People-It's Stolen and I Know It
Western Hero--Apologia
Woodsterman--Football or Rule 5 Woodsterman Style
Young American--Americans against America: The Obama Agenda
Zilla of the Resistance-Obama’s Presidency: “Corrupt, Racialist, Dangerous, Insulting, Embarrassing, Undermining, Disdainful, Feckless, Outrageous, Pitiful, Idiotic, Scheming, Incompetent, Abusive, Degrading, and Disastrous”

Stargate Atlantis--"The Real World"

“The Real World” is a Weir-centric direct sequel to ”Progeny.” The general feel of the episode is a surrealistic nightmare in weir’s mind, but one that does not tip its hand too soon. A highlight is the prominence of Richard Dean Anderson as Jack, albeit as an hallucination.

The episode begins with Weir waking up in a mental hospital to be told she is being treated for temporary psychosis after being involved in a car accident which killed her fiance, Simon. Shortly after his funeral, she suffered a complete mental breakdown. She is told that her experiences with Atlantis over the last two years are a fantasy created by her mind in order to cope. There is no Atlantis or even a Stargate program.

It is obvious to the audience that something is up, particularly when jack shows up to confirm there is no stargate, but the story continues to go along as if the last two seasons have been a creation of weir’s mind for another three acts. I am oddly impressed by this. Knowing full well what weir is experiencing is an hallucination, the writers are iven the opportunity to go completely insane with imagery and circumstances, yet resists until nearly the final act Weir, dying in the Atlantis infirmary, takes matters into her own hands in the struggle against the illusionary world in which she is trapped. I like that the writers took a realistic approach rather than go into fevered dream mode too early. The temptation had to be strong.

The situation is that Weir has been infected by Asuran nanites from Niam attacking her at the end of ’Progeny.” the nanites are taking over her body and mind. Beckett comes up with a medical procedure to inject wraith cells into her in order to induce the nanites to converge on it in an attack so a EM pulse can kill them, but it is only partially successful. Weir has to conquer than remaining nanites herself. With bedside encouragement from Sheppard, she escapes the mental hospital for the stargate in Cheyenne Mountain and regains conscious in the real world when she steps through in her hallucination.

Speaking of hallucinations, it is interesting that, with the exception of the appearances of Jack and Daniel in the pilot, every appearance of an SG-1 character has been an illusion? Hammond was created by aliens. Sam was the product of Rodney’s concussion. Here Jack is created by Asuran nanites. Some of the real deals are going to appear throughout the remainder of the series--Sam even joins Atlantis--but it is strange that every appearance so far after the expedition lands in Pegasus is not the genuine article.

“The Real World” is an interesting critter. The series has done a number of episodes already which feature only one character for all intents and purposes. It is difficult to pull that off without feeling diminished. Even tougher is the minimalist setting of ’The Real World.” The bulk of the episoe takes place in two or three rooms of a hospital. Nevertheless, the episode never feels small. I must confess weir is not one of the most compelling characters in SGA, but I enjoy her here. It is also cool to see jack in full sardonic mode. I cannot call ’”he Real World” a favorite, but it makes me, but it makes me care about weir for a while. There is much to say for that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Katee Sackhoff and Friends

@TriciaHelfer tweeted the above photo of Katee Sackhoff playing with some rescue dogs at an animal shelter in Los Angeles. It looks like they are all having a good time.

Here is a photo of Sackhoff not smothered by puppies:
Oh, and here:
You all want to see Tricia Helfer, too, I assume.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Doctor Who--"The Power of Three"

I do not believe I am spoiling anything by mentioning next week’s episode will be the final appearance of Amy and Rory. “The Power of Three” feels very much likr a preemptive wake for their departure. The story is tol from their perspective more than any previous episode as they try to deal with their mundane, everyday lives versus their adventures with the Doctor in the midst of an alien invasion that feels much like a leftover from the Russell T. Davies era.

The alien invasion plor is quite secondary to character moments. One morning, small black cubes appear all over the earth, but do nothing. The Doctor advises everyone to observe the cubes for activity. The observation drags out for months before it is revealed the cubes were meant to attract human attention so they could observe and find human weakness. The cubes do, by attacking the hearts, before the doctor finds the alien space ship and defeats the plan. If that sounds like a thin plot, you have no earthly idea. The aliens plan is a lot of nothing paced glacially slowly over the course of the episode.

It is the character moments that redeem ’The Power of Three.” The doctor can only manage to hang out with Amy and Rory watching the cubes for four ays before he runs off in the TARDIS for nine months. While left behind, the couple resume their lives. Rory accepts a permanent nursing job. Amy agrees to serve as a bridesmaid weeks away. When the Doctor returns for their wedding anniversary and to deal with the cubes, there is some soul searching for all three. The universe is an exciting place the Doctor feels compelled to explore, but he likes Amy and Rory, so he keeps coming back to them. They finally decide, at Rory’s father’s insistence, to go off in the TARDIS again with the ominous reminder from the Doctor not all companions’ stories end happily.

I have mixed emotions about ’The Power of Three.” It reminds me--not in a good way--of some of Davies’ blander scripts. The entire earth is place in peril with every person knowing there is an alien threat. Millions of people die from cardiac arrest, but the doctor literally hit’s the reset button at the end. The worst part is that these happenings are in the background. The real story is about the companions’ decision to resume their Aventures with the Doctor. These character moments are great, mind you, but the bitter sweet nature will truly resonate only in hindsight when we learn exactly what fate awaits Amy and Rory.

I do enjoy the nods to the past. UNIT shows up headed by the Brigadier General’s daughter. I assume she will become at least a semi-recurring character. Brian Williams returns, too. He keeps a nearly year long vigil on a cube upon the doctor’s request, demonstrating where Rory earned his patient dedication in his Roman Centurion days. These points help boost “The Power of Three” to overcome the lackluster invasion plot.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #168

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

Proof Positive links to Lena Headey and Gillian Jacobs.
Say Anything links to Lena Headey and Gillian Jacobs.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #167, Blogroll Spotlight #162, and Gillian Anderson.
Motor City Times links to Romney's Response.
Adrienne's Corner links to Mitt Romney's Frank Assessment of Barack Obama Supporters.
The Other McCain links to Gillian Jacobs.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.
Conservative Hideout links to This Week at Apocalypse Cinema #14.
Classic Liberal links to Gemma Bissix, Lena Headey, Gillian Anderson, Karen Gillan, Sonja Bennett, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Gillian Jacobs, and Blake Lively.
Randy's Roundtable links to Kaley Cuoco and Gemma Bissex.

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--"Progeny"

Here we go…finally introducing a formidable enemy to go along with the Wraith. It would be the Replicators just liker with SGA’s parent show, but I am a fan of those buggers, so I am happy even with the unoriginality. Besides, David Ogden Stiers has played good villains ever since he was Maj. Charles Winchester. I assume this is a one off deal for him considering the ending. Too bad.

When our heroes discover an Ancient outpost, they make contact with the Asurans, a race they believe to be un-ascended Ancients. Weir joins AR-1 in traveling to the Asuran civilization it is a teeming city of millions identical to Atlantis. (Budget saving alert--set reuse.) Oberoth, played by Stiers, is the arrogant, uncooperative lerader of the Asurans. He is the one who ’confirms” the Asurans are brothers of the Ancients, but split off over a dispute about battling the Wraith. Oberoth announces they have a plan to defeat the Wraith in due time, but are uninterested in helping defend the rest of Pegasus against them.

With that being Oberoth’s final word, our heroes decide to leave, but are captured before they reach the stargate. The next act takes place only in Sheppard’s mind as he is--unbeknownst to the audience--imagining their escape and return to Atlantis only to find themselves under a massive, special effects-laden attack by the Wraith. Sheppard awakens as the city is about to be destroyed to reveal Oberoth has been probing his mind via intangible hand like the Replicators do. Armed with the knowledge the ancient city of Atlantis was not destroyed 10,000 years ago, Oberoth launches the city into space in order to destroy Atlantis now.

Our heroes find a sympathetic Asuran in Niam. Niam is interested in ascending, and believes Oberoth’s aggressive ways are preventing his people from doing so. Niam helps them escape. He further explains the Asurans’ origin. They were built as microscopic weapons--the Nan virus from ”Hot Zone”--but as they continued to evolve, the Ancients destroyed them. Or so they thought. The Asurans survived as ornery as ever and even more powerful. Our heroes convince the city has to be destroyed before it reaches Atlantis. He helps them do so, but winds up ejected into space when his aggressive programming kicks in and he tries to strangle weir.

I have high hopes for the Asurans as recurring villains. They were originally supposed to be the main villains when SGA was still on the drawing board. Atlantis was supposed to be on Earth with the Asuran Replicators threatening. However, SG-1 was renewed for an eighth season, so Atlantis was moved to Pegasus and the Wraith were created as antagonists instead. At least the powers that be managed to incorporate the Asurans into the series anyway. Hopefully, they will live up to their potential menace.

“Progeny” is a promising start. In spite of my joke at the beginning about reusing the Atlantis set to save money, there are some impressive effects in the episode. The dreamed Wraith attack on Atlantis, the Ancient ann9hilation of the Asurans, the city flying through space, the morphing through walls ability of the Asurans-- is all extremely impressive. I will bet there are going to be some episodes later this season that will be practically virtually shadow puppets on the wall to balance out the expense. I am not even going to complain an entire act took place in Sheppard’s imagination. ‘Progeny’ is a nifty mix of exposition an action with a special effects spectacle every few minutes. Me likey.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Karen Gillan

The fourth episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who, "The Power of Three," airs tonight. Only a handful of episode featuring Karen Gillasn as companion Amy Pond remain, so enjoy the photos while you can. Gillan is likely to drop off the science fiction geek map in short order she departs the TARDIS.

I will return later tonight with a review for "The Power of Three."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mitt Romney's Tax Returns: $2 Million in Taxes, $4 Million to Charity

It is next to impossible to say Mitt Romney has not paid his fair share, but it will be fun to see his critics spin it that way.

What about Harry Reid's claim Romney has not paid taxes in ten years? The media already stopped talking about that a while back. One assumes journalist might have done something breathtakingly ethical like researching the matter and discovering the truth, but either way, Reid's false claim is going under the bus with due haste.

Another key point: Romney has given three times as much to charity as Barak Obama and thirty times more than Joe Biden donated. Yet Romney is the evil conservative who does not care about the less fortunate? He is the epitome of private citizens giving of themselves to help the less fortunate rather than insisting government take on the bulk of responsibility.

Stargate Atlantis--"Sateda"

“Sateda” is well known for having the largest budget of any SGA episode outside of the pilot. I was expecting something epic, but I still had misgivings. It is a Ronon-centric episode. Ronon is not one of the more compelling characters on the show. But my misgivings were put to rest almost immediately. “Sateda” turns out to be one of the best episodes of the series. It manages to make ronon a sympathetic character, even for me.

The AR-1 team is exploring a remote planet when they come across s village which Ronon visted while he was a Runner. The villagers immediately recognize him as someone who brought the Wraith upon them, so they capture AR-1, minus the wounded Rodney, who manages to escape, in order to offer Ronon to the Wraith in exchange for no further cullings. Ronon eventually convinces them he will surrender freely to the Wraith in atonement for the last culling if they let the rest of the team go. They agree. By the time AR-1 returns with reinforcements, the village has been wiped out and ronon taken by the Wraith.

Ronon becomes a runner yet again. He is dropped off on Sateda to be hunted by the best an orbiting hive ship has to offer. Being on Sateda again brings flashback memories of the population’s destruction, including a nurse named Merena with whom ronon had a romantic relationship. The memories fire up ronon to take on any and all Wraith in spite of being outmanned, outgunned, and eventually wounded. Even when AR-1 tracks him down through his runner homing beacon, Ronon refuses their help until he kills the hive King personally. He is outclassed in the match up, but Beckett saves him by killing the Hive king himself with a drone.

“Sateda” is definitely a spectacle. The first thing I notice is the awful Vancouver weather. There are some digital effects making the atmosphere far more dark and dreary than normal, but geez. The weather in that city in Biblical. More importantly are the massive sets and special effects. The setting is well depicted as a bombed out derelict of a city with flashbacks matching up perfectly in the city’s better days. The battle between Ronon and the Wraith is full of impressive explosions for a cable television series, and the action sequences are exciting without resorting to The Matrix style gravity defying moves so many shows and movies have copied these days. Kudos for avoiding them. “Sateda’ has all the action movie clich├ęs, such as the hero walking away in slow motion from explosions and performing an extreme medical procedure on himself sans anesthetic, but I do not feel like any of is stereotypical.

The main reason I do not think “Sateda” is a typical action piece is because it has humor and heart. Naturally, the humor comes at Rodney’s expense. He is shot in the rear end by an arrow during the teaser. But Rodney shows his human side, too. He is as adamant to go along on the rescue mission as anyone because he considers ronon family, although he does not verbalize his feelings about their relationship like Sheppard does. Ronon is far more humanized in “Sateda” than ever before, too. I have agree with Rodney prior to ’Sateda”--Ronon is practically a caveman--but he demonstrates a sense of honor in his willingness to sacrifice for others and a softer side in his romance with the doomed Merena.

Merena is show exclusively in flashbacks for obvious reasons. I like the unusual touch of the flashbacks being in bright color while the present action takes place during the miserable Biblical weather I joked about above. It is a contrast which shows the past was brighter for Ronon than the present, though he does come to realize the Atlantis crew are his family now.

“Sateda” is almost certainly going to go down as one of my most favorite episodes when it is all said and done. It is one of the most well-crafted episodes yet, with both the script and technical aspects being of the highest quality. Writer Robert C. Cooper only penned eight scripts for SGA, but he had a firm grasp on how to deal with the characters. Too often, they are written not as characters with flaws, but with flaws as their characterizations. (Weir is indecisive, Sheppard is reckless, Rodney is arrogant, Ronon is angry, etc.0 It is great to see them all as people working together without these exaggerated traits at the forefront. “Saeda” earns high marks all around.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Emma Stone

Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Thought Police v. Paris Hilton, Oddly Enough

Paris Hilton, the bimbo hotel heiress not known her social commentary, has run afoul of the thought police by claiming on an audio recording promiscuous homosexuals who engage in sexual relations with strangers are gross and probably have AIDS.

I have yet to see an article--I have stopped looking with no plans to star anew, so take this for what it is worth--that did not describe Hilton's statements as homophobic. But her statements regarding promiscuity are in regards to a behavior that could be applied to any sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the thought police have no time to examine such issues when issues of political correctness are on the line. One is not allowed to critique any sexual activity engaged in by adults here in the age of Sandra Fluke begging for taxpayer funded birth control and finding sympathetic ears.

One must acknowledge a couple points here. These two points are in addition to the fact the only reason Hilton is famous is because of a sex tape. Otherwise, you would not know her any more than you would say, the children of Capitol One’s CEO. Anyway==for one, Hilton has been photographed with herpes medication in her possession, so there is a wee bit of self-loathing projection going on here. Second, Hilton is in the famous for being famous category of being flashy in order to stay in the public spotlight. Being flashy is the regular domain of the homosexual, so one can only assume Hilton is a gay friendly. As she is only critiquing promiscuous homosexual for their behavior and the negative consequence of said promiscuous behavior, I will give her the benefit of the doubt.

Methinks the thought police will not be so considerate. They are not famous for distinguishing honest observations from personal attacks in any statement regarding a protected class of individuals. The fact Hilton is the furthest one can be from a MENSa candidate with being on life support--cause to laugh off anything she says, for certain--will be ignored. The thought police’s reaction to Hilton gives them far more of a black eye than her comments do her, but no one who could benefit from acknowledging that fact ever will.

I happen to have a Hilton photo in my stash. She is not someone I care much about. It is doubtful anyone would find her particularly attractive if not for the sex tape. Or her her money, if one is willing to hook up for that reason. Here you go:
She is the sort of thing you will like if you like that sort of thing.