Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Days Gone By

In honor of tonight's State of the Union address, I've decided to bring to your attention this web site which I have found endlessly fascinating. It shows all of the electoral maps for every presidential election in U.S. history. And it's a catalog of many interesting things that could never, ever happen in the modern U.S. political landscape.

Before the 12th Amendment was ratified, the top vote getter became president, and the runner up became vice president. Hence, John Adams and his vice president Thomas Jefferson were members of two different political parties.

1824: A presidential vote split four different ways.

1900: Role reversal, as Texas and the South all vote Democrat, while the Northeast and the West Coast all vote Republican.

1948: "Dixie-crats?"

1960: Nixon loses to Kennedy, and yet would later run again, and win. Does anyone seriously think a losing candidate would get to run again for the Democrats or the Republicans these days?

Food for thought.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Boy, You've Got a Lot of Nerve Gas

This week's random thoughts on 24:

Behold the demonstration of how deadly this new nerve gas is! The only way it could be more lethal is if it killed you before you even opened the container!

Now wait... you're circulating descriptions of the nerve gas containers, but not telling anyone what's inside to avoid a panic? Don't you think the big biohazard symbols on the top are going to tip anyone off? ("Ah, they're just... empty. They're... uh, movie props! Yeah, that's it! But still, just for fun, don't open them. No, seriously, do not open them.")

Dear God, Diane and Derek are still there? Somebody tell them they gotta get out of there before they wind up dead!

So, Martha Logan went to hide in a very ironic place -- the stables.

Ooo... Aaron Pierce has been around since year one. Is he finally going to get some significant action and/or drama tonight? (He did! He did!)

Wow, here's a twist: the mole confesses! Of course, he was already basically found out anyway, but I was expecting at least one episode of him fidgeting around trying to escape his impending caught-age before that plot came to a head.

Jack is manly enough to totally pull off the "man bag." (And when it's Jack Bauer carrying it, I believe it's a "man bag" and not a "man purse.") And it's a brilliant writing device cribbed from classic cartoon characters. If they're in a bind a few episodes down the road and have to suddenly equip Jack with some random item, he can just reach in the bag and "have had it all along."

Holy crap, Buchanan! Way to tell off that nassty hobbit!

How is Evelyn not fired at this point?

Man, an eye-ectomy would have been a really bitchin' way to earn that "graphic violence" warning this week. But then, I'd have totally caved, too.

When I saw that CTU team starting to raid the shipping container, conspicuously missing Curtis (or anyone else we know from CTU), I was pretty convinced that something was going to go horribly, horribly wrong for them. Another good bait-and-switch this week.

Weird... Diane and Derek get their own "box" at the end of this episode? Oh well, I guess at least now we know for sure that they finally made it out of CTU alive.

Tune in next week when we find out what consequences "Badger" (see that actor's appearances on Firefly) was referring to.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Double Standard

I find our society's views on sports fandom to be entirely hypocritical. And it's always at its worst during a playoff season.

Last Sunday, when the game in which the Broncos got pretty thoroughly destroyed was just beginning, I was out with some friends of mine at lunch. We were planning to go to a movie after we ate, and politely mentioned to our server that we were in a bit of a hurry because we had somewhere to be.

"Oh... you gotta get home to watch the Broncos, right?"

No, we told her. We couldn't care less. We were going to see Match Point.

Well, she looked at us like each of us had sprouted a second head. She really poked at us, too. "What? Are you serious?" She really could not believe it.

Do people get like that when... say, you tell them that you don't watch CSI: Miami?

When a big game day comes, if you walk out in public, every other person has some bit of sports memorabilia on: caps, t-shirts, some even official jerseys. And everybody is completely fine with this. But if just one person walked around in public in... say, a Starfleet uniform, everyone would be pointing and staring, and probably not making much of an effort to be polite and hide it, either.

I don't fault people their love of sports. Suits me fine. And I'm not saying I personally want to go around in a pair of Spock ears or whatever, either. I'm simply saying that we've got a vicious double standard at work when it comes to different aspects of the same phenomenon -- fandom.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Behind Closed Doors

Last weekend, the heater in my apartment stopped working right. Not a great thing for winter in Denver (though it has been a mild one so far). Still, the fireplace I have in my apartment kept things from being unbearable until maintenance could get up here to fix it (which they did promptly on Monday).

The heater is in the same utility closet as my water heater. You may recall me having mentioned it a while back, noting that the door was probably supposed to be locked, but wasn't. Well now, following the heater repair, it is.

Now, I wasn't storing anything in there. I've only had to get in there once in the whole time I've lived here, to relight the water heater. And I could have called maintenance to do that. So I suppose I don't actually need to get in there.

And yet... I can't help but be just slightly bothered. Well, bothered is far too strong a word. But I have this little tiny itch I can't scratch, just slightly annoying, because now there's this tiny nook in the place I live where I'm not allowed to go. I'm almost inclined to try to "credit card" my way past the lock (it's not too complicated) just to unlock the door on the inside so it will be open again.

Possibly this is some very tiny little voice in my head, speculating that if oh... say... my water heater were ever to burst into flames spontaneously, I'd be able to use my fire extinguisher to put it out before the whole place went up.

Or possibly this is just some bizarre strain of OCD, and I'm making way too much out of nothing at all.

Friday, January 27, 2006

This Week's Battlestar Thoughts

I'm not sure I was amazed or impressed by tonight's Battlestar Galactica episode, but I was still surprised. The show does continue to have a way of thwarting the conventions of the genre.

First, they played on the expectations of anyone familiar with the original series by having the Pegasus actually survive beyond the mid-season cliffhanger wrap-up. But now they turned around and rethwarted expectations by killing off her captain.

This episode sees the "fighter jock hero" character acting out a death wish, having a relationship with a prostitute, and sanctioning black market crime. We're a long way from conventional sci-fi at this point.

Baltar had some good scenes. The "mafia"-style head of the black market organization was compelling to watch. The scene where Lee Adama confronts Colonel Tigh was strong. It was fun to see Zarek back for a bit.

But still, I guess I felt that there weren't quite enough parts to make up a truly great whole. But then, even "less-than-average" for Battlestar Galactica is pretty damn amazing by the average standard of just about anything else on TV -- including several other shows I watch and enjoy regularly.

What a shame we only have six more to go now before we're on another break, waiting for season three.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

I think there are a few minor court judges out there who are trying to invent strange punishments just so they can get news coverage. Case in point: the sentencing of a football fan to spend Super Bowl weekend in jail. This feels just a little bit like it could have happened on an episode of some David Kelley Boston-centered legal drama. (You know... one of the three or four.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Week 9: Veronica Mars 6; Lost 3.

It's been almost two full months since a new Veronica Mars and a new Lost aired on the same night, but at last the time has come to revisit the "series" between the series.

The truth is, I'm not sure if either one of tonight's episode really floored me. Perhaps you can chalk it up to the return of Battlestar Galactica earlier this month; maybe it just takes a little more to impress me right now.

Lost brought an episode that felt pretty far out of left field. Charlie's suddenly having strange sleepwalking dreams and thinks Aaron needs to be baptized. Well, okay. Now he's a complete nutcase, until the episode down the road (I assume) where his fears are somehow vindicated. But for the moment, the episode didn't offer much but some sympathy for Charlie over his horrible diapers commercial. In retrospect, in a few more episodes, there might have been more here. For now, just plain strange.

Veronica Mars took the week off from the "bus crash" plot to advance the "Duncan's baby" and "Logan and Weevil Investigations" plots. Things didn't quite feel like they were popping as much as usual, though there were some fun moments with Lucy Lawless, and an emotional scene between Veronica and her heart-broken father.

Ultimately, I'm kicking this week's contest in favor of Veronica Mars for actually referencing Lost in its own episode. At the very end of the episode, Veronica is scene sticking a fortune from a fortune cookie on her mirror. The lucky numbers shown on that fortune? Why, "4-8-15-16-23-42," of course.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Get the Point

This past weekend, I went to see Match Point. It's the newest movie from Woody Allen. I think I've maybe seen one other Woody Allen movie -- not that I could tell you which. But his "style" is very much part of the public consciousness. Everybody pretty much knows what a Woody Allen movie is like.

Match Point isn't.

If you didn't have his name above the title, I'd defy you to guess that it was a Woody Allen movie. It feels like some strange British independent movie. Kind of like one of Eddie Izzard's "arranging matches" movies. At least for the majority of it.

I really enjoyed the film. But I don't think I can go into many details of why without spoiling things for any who might want to see it. Suffice it to say, I knew virtually nothing going into this film, and it was definitely one of those experiences where going in cold made the film vastly more enjoyable.

It's a very smartly written film. Well framed, in terms of plot and theme. The acting is quite good. It may or may not get an Oscar nomination, and it wouldn't be undeserved if it did. For my opinion though, I'd say it would need a bit of editing to be a truly Oscar-worthy film. It's a 2 hour movie, which isn't too long simply on principle, but in this case felt like it took a little too long getting where it was going. I believe that if about 10 or 15 minutes were cut from the first 90 minutes of the movie, you'd have a grade A+, Best Picture worthy film.

As it is, I'm going to give it a B+, and a hearty recommendation. To those with patience. Again, remember Eddie Izzard's "arranging matches" movie. This is not a movie where you'll be packing away buckets of popcorn. If you want that, wait for the "space monkey invasion" movie.

Monday, January 23, 2006

11:00AM - 12:00PM

By 24's standards, tonight was an almost sedate hour of television. It still had plenty of entertaining moments, it just wasn't up to the usual breakneck pace of 24. Speaking of those entertaining moments:

Think of all the precious seconds Curtis saved by not actually getting into the car, but instead grabbing on and riding on the outside.

At last, some CTU employee with a super-specialized skill set actually got to perform a "ratopsy."

The nice thing about getting into the Office of the President through succession is because you don't have to campaign, your crazy, formerly institutionalized wife isn't a big drag on your aspirations.

Lynn to Audrey (paraphrased for fanboy humor value): "I'd like you to debrief Jack's new love interest. I hope it won't be a burden."

Another mole in CTU? I may shoot myself. (At least they didn't let this one run for more than an episode.)

I can't believe the security guys at CTU actually wear red shirts.

Man, Martha Logan's aide has been having a really bad day. The First Lady has skipped out on her twice in four hours, and she's been chewed out by a staff member once already. (And you know another one's coming.)

Derek to Jack: "I thought you were just another loser trying to take advantage of my mom." Subtext: "But now I know you're a freakin' sweet super-spy trying to take advantage of my mom!"

Ooo! Scissors in the throat! Way to earn that "viewer discretion" warning!

That's all for this week. Join me next week for more scattered thoughts.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary

I don't generally consider myself a superstitious person. But I must admit I have a bit of a creepy feeling as I begin this week.

It was one year ago this week that I was laid off from The Company.

Now, I realize that (long distance separation from many friends notwithstanding) the end of my time there turned out to be a truly Good Thing for me. Still, it hurt like hell at the time. And the exact date will probably be etched into my brain for the rest of my days, because of the coincidental news story that circulated that day, that a psychologist had used a formula to determine that January 24th is the most depressing day of the year.

The 24th was a Monday last year, so I honestly don't know if I should be dreading the Monday or the Tuesday this week. Or neither... because the Earth's similar position in its orbit around the sun doesn't make much of a difference on events in my life.

Still, I might be just a little skittish for the next 48 hours.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Presidential Tale

This is a story with anguish and triumph. This is the story of The American President. I mean the movie, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening.

I've been a fan of this movie for a long time. It's #76 on my top 100 list. It's sort of a "prologue" to The West Wing TV series, in that it was written by Aaron Sorkin, and featured a few of the same cast members (Martin Sheen and Joshua Malina), albeit in different roles.

It's a movie that, strangely, I did not own on DVD. I was at the store Tuesday night and noticed it on the shelf for $10. I decided to fill that rather signifcant hole in my collection, and picked it up.

On the drive home, I'm sort of wondering to myself, was there ever actually an unmarried president of the United States? I got home and Googled that, and came up with the answer: yes. One. (The answer I'll give in a moment. For now, you can think on this as a bit of trivia and see how you do.)

The next day, I'm browsing some of the web sites I usually frequent. I'm talking literally the next day. And I came across an announcement that a new edition of The American President is due on DVD in April.

Dammit! My $10 was spent just 24 hours too soon. I was still stinging a bit from this on the next night as I attended the weekly Thursday night trivia with my friends.

We get about halfway through the game, when up comes a history question: "In 1812, as the White House was burning, who saved the presidential potrait of George Washington from the fire?"

We came up with the right answer rather quickly: Dolly Madison. After we'd run that up, we had a little time waiting for the next question. So I decided to quiz the table: "Do you know which president is the only one who wasn't married?"

One person in our group in particular went to the trouble of learning all the presidents not long ago. She noticed that presidential trivia was coming up fairly frequently, and so committed the order to memory, along with a few scattered factoids such as "assassinations," "died in office," "political party affiliation," and so forth. But even she didn't know this one.

"James Buchanan," I informed them. And on we went with the trivia.

And then, the second-to-last question of the evening came up. Worth big points. The trivia master spoke over the microphone:

"The category is U.S. Presidents."

The aforementioned presidential trivia junkie smiled.

"Who is the only unmarried U.S. President?"

And we all bust up laughing. We can hardly believe the coincidence. But it doesn't keep us from hastily scribbling Buchanan and running it up.

It turned out that our team was the only team to come up with the right answer. That, combined with a Reservoir Dogs-themed final question that we aced, gave us the win. The prize, as always, $25 off your bill.

So, I'm out $10 for buying The American President too soon (assuming the new version seems sufficiently loaded for me to want it), but the group is up $25 because the fact I'd bought it is the only reason I'd happened to look up this particular bit of trivia during the week.

Crazy, huh?

Oh... as a bonus... for those of you who are fans and just dying to know the Reservoir Dogs question: Which actors played the characters of Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Blonde? Answers here.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Only Mostly Dead

I'm not altogether certain what I thought of tonight's Battlestar Galactica.

Regardless, it certainly had some great moments. Adama telling Baltar to start acting like he's ready to be president. Tigh's little hint of enjoyment in watching Adama choke the protester. Sharon's shocking rage when Helo informed her of the plans for their child.

But... I think this may have been my least favorite episode of the season so far. Possibly even the series.

Here's the problem. On the one hand, I think Mary McDonnell's acting is pretty incredible. I have loved watching her on the show. I was not at all looking forward to the prospect of cancer killing off her character. I did not want her to die.

However... every step of the way, this incarnation of Battlestar Galactica has brought us harsh, often gruesome truth. It has seldom taken the easy way out of anything. So the notion that they would suddenly find a "miracle cure" for her cancer frankly feels to me like it has undermined the entire reality and tone of the series. And doubly so for them finding it and employing it all within the span of a single episode. There were no hints leading up to this revelation. It was a completely unearned reprieve for Roslin's terminal disease.

And, it would appear to have had no consequences. Dr. Cottle said she'd make a full recovery. She's not going to be weakened, crippled, or in any way compromised by her bout with cancer. She's just going to be up and at 'em again within a few episodes. Boo.

Now, I'm willing to cut a little slack here, for the writers have rarely slipped in the past, and I would hope that there in fact will be some consequences to this cure that we have not seen. A friend of mine opined that just as Adama's opinions of Cylons changed after his brush with death, the same might happen for Roslin. Perhaps there will be political side effects to her cure. Perhaps this will damage her credibility as a "religious-mythic" figure. There ought to be something.

So, like I said... I didn't want Roslin to die, in my heart of hearts. But the fact that she didn't felt like a cop-out, a sad moment in which Battlestar Galactica became like a standard episode of any other sci-fi show on television where "everything works out right in the end."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Hope the Others Eat You

I didn't post about Lost last night -- I figured I'd already done two TV posts this week (thanks to the premiere of 24), and that I'd be likely doing another for Battlestar Galactica tomorrow. But then I realized I had something I really had to get off my chest.

I hate Michael.

I know there are people out there who hate Ana Lucia. Sure, she's a real hardass. But I found her backstory episode painted in enough of her character to make her understandable, if not completely sympathtic.

I know a lot of people hated Shannon. She was quite annoying, I'll agree. But there again, there was just enough shading in her backstory to redeem her as a character.

But then there's Michael. We've seen two episodes of his backstory now, one virtually a rerun of the other, but I don't like him at all. And it's not because he's pig-headed, I've decided. After all, Jack can be an unreasonably stubborn character too, but I have no quarrel there.

I've decided that what's at work here is the opposite of something I heard Joss Whedon speak of on one of his DVD commentaries. (For a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, I believe.) He talked about the challenges of introducing a new character into an established series, and noted that a great "writer's trick" is to make one of the most beloved characters in the cast love the new character. If our old favorite accepts New Guy, then we the audience will accept him too.

A great example of the opposite of this theory is when they brought on Dr. Pulaski for one season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. About all we knew of her character was that she looked down her nose at Data -- the favorite character of nearly every fan of the show. The ribbing didn't come across like the old good-natured Spock/McCoy banter, and consequently everyone hated Pulaski.

Well, I believe Michael on Lost displays this writing issue to the worst possible extreme. He fights and bickers with nearly all the likeable characters on the show.

For many fans, Locke is a favorite character. Michael spent half of season one ripping Locke a new one for trying to be friends with Walt.

For some other fans, Sawyer is a favorite character. Michael spent most of the "raft" storyline (from construction to sailing to journeying back to camp) yelling at Sawyer for one reason or another.

For still other fans, Jack is a favorite character. Last night, Michael's threatening him at gunpoint and locking him in the vault.

Assuming Michael makes it back from his latest foolish sojourn into the jungle, I predict we'll next see Michael getting pissy with Hurley for no good reason. After all, everybody loves Hurley.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

And Nothing But the Truthiness

I'm not sure how many of you watch The Colbert Report. It's not as funny as The Daily Show, on average, but can still be worth some good laughs.

For the last week or so, Stephen Colbert has been getting lots of mileage out of the fact that the American Dialect Society named "truthiness" the 2005 Word of the Year -- a word he himself coined in the show's first broadcast in October.

Now maybe I'm hanging in the wrong circles, but outside of that original broadcast, I have never heard anyone use the word "truthiness." Honestly, however funny the joke might have been at the time, I had most certainly forgotten about it completely until it was brought up again last week. So where exactly are these throngs of people using "truthiness" so much that it merits being the Word of the Year? You'd think they'd really be working overtime, considering the word didn't even exist but for less than a quarter of the year.

I'm not saying I'm totally cutting edge or anything. I'm not "hip" to the new-fangled "lingo" the young "hipsters" are using these days. Still, I feel fairly confident in assuming the folks at the American Dialect Society are far less cool than I. How can they have heard of this if I hadn't?

So I decided to dig a little (it wasn't hard, thanks to Wikipedia taking over the internet) and find out some of the other words to have been named "Word of the Year" in the past.

Okay, some of these make sense. 1992: "Not!" 1993: "Information Superhighway." 2003: "Metrosexual." Hell, you still hear these words. 1999: "Y2K." I'm not sure that's really a word, but you can't deny that in 1999, you couldn't go two minutes without hearing it.

But then things start to get a little bizarre. 1996: "Mom (as in Soccer Mom)." Why not just "Soccer Mom?" Clearly, you'd already bent the rules in 1993 with "Information Superhighway," allowing more than one word to be declared the Word (singular) of the Year. Why not just do that again?

1998: "e-" Come on. That's not even a word, it's a prefix.

2004: "Red state, blue state, purple state." Now you're just picking a bunch of phrases. This could maybe be a line from some Dr. Seuss book I've never read, but it's definitely nowhere near a "word." And seriously, did you know anyone who said "purple state?"

But arguably, none are worse than where it all started, 1990: "Bushlips." Alright, granted I was a teenager at the time and therefore totally self-absorbed and not paying much attention to society's use of language, but I'd never even heard of the phrase "Bushlips." I would think if it had ever received any serious play then, we'd have been seeing a replay of it by now, as we begin our sixth year of Bush the Younger.

Nope. Sorry. I can't give the American Dialect Society any credit. Even if they apparently find Stephen Colbert amusing as I do.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lasso of Truth

Here's a man who lived an ecclectic life: Dr. William Moulton Marston. The same man who invented the polygraph also created Wonder Woman? Huh?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jack Is Back, Part II

Night two of the big 24 premiere, and plenty of new developments.

Every season has to have some pain-in-the-ass supervisor at CTU. And throughout seasons 1-3, when that pain-in-the-ass was George Mason and Ryan Chapelle, it didn't seem like quite such a thankless role. But then, whether it was acting or writing, I can't quite say, Erin Driscoll in season 4 broke that trend. She was an unsympathic character, unredeemed, and unfun to watch.

Now we have Sean Astin stepping into the job. In one hour, we've learned that Lynn McGill gets high marks in pain-in-the-assery, but that he's also quite capable and skilled. We'll see how he fares in the episodes ahead.

The strange kind-of-a-love-triangle between Chloe, Spenser, and Edgar got a little more play. It's possibly the most bizarre thing to happen in CTU since Kim had to watch a baby in season 3. Much more entertaining, at least.

Two hours with no mention of poor Tony. Sure, it looked like half his skin must have been fried off in that blast, but in season 3 we saw him bounce right back from being shot in the neck. So I assume that sooner or later, we'll get to see him back in action.

Once before, in season 4, it was implied that a character was actually stopping to pee off camera. Now, in season 5, we've actually seen a character doing it on screen. Of course, it's not a main character, but... seriously... you wanna see Jack Bauer use the toilet? Anyway, the bathroom scene did showcase the First Lady's wonderful handling of that poor man with the keycard.

The big kickoff bash is over, and now we'll have to make do with just one a week. But hey... Jack is back!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jack Is Back

Well, I was riveted to see the adventures of Frank Flynn as he transformed back into Jack Bauer and picked up kicking ass like no time had gone by at all.

We're only two episodes in so far, of course, but I'm already hooked into this season of 24 more so than any since year two. I chalk it up to the fact that the stakes are so incredibly personal this time. Palmer and Michelle both?! Holy crap!

After the big clearing of the decks between year three and four, I'm somewhat surprised to see so many characters from season four return this year. (Although I suppose some of them sure didn't return for very long!)

Two more hours tomorrow night. Can't wait!



As a service to all you unfortunate folks in the East who suffered audio problems at the conclusion of the episode, here's a synopsis of the last act.

Jack drops off Derek with his mother at the airport. Jack apologizes once more to Derek, tells "Mom" his real name, and tells them to go straight to CTU and contact Bill Buchanan. They should tell CTU "the truth," and explain everything that happened. Then he's off into the airport terminal to confront the man whose name he got off Palmer's computer.

The Russian president lands, and everybody braces, waiting for the expected attack... that does not come.

As Derek and his mother are pulling out of the airport, he notices a van of thugs with suspicious duffel bags getting off near the baggage claim. "Isn't that where Jack went? I have to warn him." He jumps out. Mom tries to follow/stop him, but the airport parking Nazis shoo her back to her car.

Jack finds his man, and is getting ready to torture him...

But in the main terminal, the thugs show up, fire a bunch of bullets into the air, and take everybody hostage -- including Derek.

Jack is distracted by the shots for just a moment, but it's enough for his man to pop a suicide pill before he gives up any information.

Some dialogue between the hostage takers makes it clear that they'll be making demands of the U.S. President soon.

Meanwhile, the shadowy figure that may or may not be at the head of the bad guy plot makes a phone call to President Logan's aide, who is revealed to be in on the plot. He's tampered with the First Lady's phone call with Palmer before Logan could hear it, so "she won't be a problem anymore."





Saturday, January 14, 2006

It's Lovely in New Hampshire

I found out about this from a co-worker a while back. (Actually... his last day at the office was yesterday, so I suppose this post is sort of a "goodbye" tribute.)

The Free State Project is a group trying to recruit 20,000 Libertarians to move en masse to New Hampshire, where they will represent such a significant portion of the population that they can stage a bloodless coup on the state government in the next major election and thus establish, essentially, a libertarian paradise in which to live.

At their current enrollment of just under 7,000, they still have a way to go.

Are you ready to answer their call?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Battlestar Feedback-tica

Now that the three-part story of Cain and the Pegasus has essentially been concluded (the ship and its crew notwithstanding), I look back on it all and feel like each part dropped just a bit in quality from the one before. Each episode was still very good, I thought... but each also had a few less stunning, emotional moments than the one prior.

It was still surprising to see Cain back down from her assassination plans (after Adama backed down from his). The subtext of the "don't flinch" scene between Cain and Starbuck was tense and perfect. And the fact that the Pegasus itself survived the episode was something of a surprise to anyone who expected this story to end in the same general place as the original series' take on the tale.

Where the story goes from here? Well, that's just ripe with possibilities. Will Adama make the Pegasus his actual flagship? Will he put "his crew" back together intact and take them with him? Will Cain's second-in-command be the commander of either of the new vessels? If so, that may not sit well with Tigh... well, certainly not with Tigh's ambitious Lady Macbeth-y wife. Will we ever see the hard-assed, demoted former CAG of the Pegasus again? How about the Pegasus' old deck chief? Just where did Gina (Number Six) escape to? (Some place Baltar knows about, it would seem.) Is the door closing on Roslin as rapidly as it appears? Will it close for good?

I worry that the next eight weeks until the true season two finale are going to go by all too quickly.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

But Where Is Steve Guttenberg?

I was never very good with Legos... excuse me, that's LEGOS. But I have plenty of friends who are, and were quite excited to share with me the news of the latest "Mindstorms" product, coming later this year. Apparently, the robot LEGOS are being updated with all kinds of new features that are supercool, if you're into that sort of thing.

Me, I latched onto the second picture on the right side of the page.

Rip off those legs and slap on a couple treads instead, and I swear you have the spitting image of "Number Five" from the movie Short Circuit.

"No disassemble LEGO Mindstorms!!!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Revoking NBC's Hyperbole License

So, that movie I saw last weekend has been a veritable font of things to blog about. And it keeps on coming.

I mentioned the stupid, mindless programming they run before a movie. You know, basically the twenty-minute-long block of commercials-in-a-slight-disguise? Well, they had one extended ad for NBC's new Thursday night lineup, which includes (among others) My Name is Earl and The Office. The "NBC voiceover guy" billed these two as the "most original comedies on television."

Now, I like The Office. But how can anyone call an American reinterpretation of a British sitcom one of the "most original comedies on television?" It is by definition almost completely unoriginal! Okay, so they made a few minor changes. And yeah, give them credit for coming up with new episodes and storylines, and having decent success at American-izing the show without totally gutting the spirit of the Brit version. But "most original?"

Sorry, but do you know why I pulled you over? Do you know how much you were exaggerating?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The War on Christmas Terror

GiromiDe found the following link, but I figure since he didn't blog about it for a few days after sending it to me, it has become "fair game." In any case, it's just too damn funny not to share.

I bring you, courtesy of the Defamer, the incredible tale of Drunken Kiefer Sutherland vs. That Fucking Christmas Tree.

This is certainly not the first tabloid tale of Kiefer Sutherland's strange behavior under the influence of alcohol. But it's one of the funniest, as I think it's showing a sad decline in the edginess of our favorite "hero fighting to save the world."

First of all, there have been tales before of this man getting into major fistfights in bars. But now, he's only willing to take on a poor, defenseless Christmas tree.

Secondly, he doesn't just freak out and rip the thing apart, as any self-respecting celebrity bad boy in a drunken stupor would do. No, he asks permission to tear apart the tree, offering in advance to pay for it.

Come on, Kiefer. WWJBD?

Fortunately, starting this Sunday, we'll find out. Minus the Christmas tree, of course.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Gone to the Dogs

So there's some major dog show going on next week. Ordinarily, this would not only not be something I'd ever blog about... it wouldn't even be something I'd be aware of. But I'm at the movies this weekend, and watching one of those mindless things they run before a film. And on comes a commercial for this dog show.

We're still not to the point where this would be worthy of mention. Except at the end of this commercial, we're informed that this event is going to be simulcast on both Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. (A fact trumpeted in the second paragraph of the press release I linked to.)

So that's the part that gets me. Apparently, this dog show is such a big deal that two cable networks both wanted to show it, and had to come to some sort of agreement to run it together. Or maybe the two channels are both owned by the same parent company... in which case, they think people want to see it so badly that they're going to put it on two of their channels.

Either way, can there really be this much interest in a dog show?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Saturday, January 07, 2006


I caught the movie Hostel today. This is the newest horror film from the director who made Cabin Fever, a film with both good and bad moments in it. Hostel, I have to say, is a movie with neither.

This is not a "chased by the bad guy" slasher movie. It's not really a psychological thriller -- perhaps it could have been, but the film does not delve much into the psychological aspects of its premise. Instead, it's basically mind-numbing blood and guts. It's sphincter-clenchingly violent and gross.

Truth is, it's not much of a movie. It's a "concept," really. It might have worked well as a short story. But once you've heard the premise, you've seen the movie. There's a place somewhere in Eastern Europe where you can pay money to be put in a room with a victim to torture, maim, and murder anonymously in whatever means you see fit. Watch what happens when our frat boy-like heroes get caught up in it.

More disturbing than the movie itself was an experience I had in the theater. I had been called by my friends who were meeting me at the movie, and told to just go on in and hold seats. I'm holding my seat and two others, one seat in from the end of a row.

In walks a woman in her late 40s, maybe early 50s. She looks about the theater for a moment, and her eyes fall near me. I enter "seat defense mode" and tell her I need these two other seats. She hesitates for a moment, then sits down right there at the end of the row. She could have had many other seats in the auditorium, but parked it right there.

So two things here:

1) Am I wrong, or doesn't "movie etiquette" (I know, "ha, like there is such a thing anymore") dictate that unless you're forced to sit next to a stranger due to a crowded theater, you should put at least a one-empty-seat buffer between you and any total stranger at the movies?

2) What the hell is a woman in her 40s/50s doing at a movie like this completely alone? I swear, I was starting to wonder just a bit if she was maybe there looking for pointers on how to run her own "hostel." Creepy!

Anyway... I give the movie a D, and really only that high on the strength of some phenomenally gruesome, well-realized makeup effects.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Battlestar Is Back-tica

(Nope... I'm not above the incredibly lame pun.)

It's been a long wait, but Battlestar Galactica finally returned tonight with another powerhouse episode. I could gush at length, but I'll leave room in the comments for some of you to do so, if you're so inclined.

I will make this observation: I was really struck by how surprising some of the character behavior was. Some of the things they were doing were completely consistent, believable, and in character, yet were not what I expected. Cain deciding to promote Starbuck instead of ripping her a new one after her mission on the Blackbird. Roslin being the first to propose that Cain must be killed.

Great stuff. At least the wait for the next one is only a week instead of many months.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Bigger Hosting Gig

Of course, the day after I post about how award shows tend to be too self-congratulating, an announcement is made that really gets me interested in this year's Academy Awards: Jon Stewart is hosting them. His bit at the Emmy Awards a few months back was the highlight of the show. He seems a great choice to me.

Of course, it probably means we'll have to go without new episodes of The Daily Show that week. So it's not all good.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Envelope, Please

What would a creative endeavor be without a self-congratulating award to go along with it? I learned today that even blogs have awards. If you want to nominate someone for a 2006 "Bloggie," you have until January 10th to get that in.

And let me be clear... I'm not fishing for a nomination here, not even in jest. I'm simply pointing out how odd I find the whole thing. (And somehow, they've been doing it five years already!!)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Revolution Will Indeed Be Televised

For those who weren't aware, the "rhythm game with prop" war has recently escalated. First we had Dance Dance Revolution. Then we had a Karaoke variant. Then we had the Donkey Konga bongos. Oh, and don't forget the maracas on the Dreamcast.

Well, now we have Guitar Hero, the game where you play guitar. I was pretty skeptical when I saw it, but after trying a copy that my friend picked up for Christmas, I became instantly addicted. I had to scour the city to find one of my own, but I think I managed to snatch up the last one for sale in all of Denver (until a restock happens, anyway).

So we've got guitar now. Seems like the prop is already there if "Guitar Hero 2" wants to add a bass line for a second player. We've got "percussion" with the bongos. We've got the singing. We're damn near the point of having a whole phony PS2 band you and your friends can play in. You can even have one of those dancers that just performs on stage and doesn't actually sing or play any instruments.

I've decided that the next "rhythm game with prop" needs to be CBCBR -- Cowbell Cowbell Revolution. It comes with an actual cowbell controller you have to whack on with a drumstick in time to the rhythm. You can play songs like "Rock Lobster" by The B-52s, "Get This Party Started" by Pink, and "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael. And if you play all the way through all the challenges in the game, you unlock "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult.

The standard rhythm game voice-overs ("good job!" "you're amazing" etc.) are provided by Christopher Walken, of course.

This is my million dollar idea, by the way. I'm calling "dibs."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Art Imitates Life

I have to acknowledge tonight's episode of Arrested Development, one of the most brilliantly funny episodes they've ever done -- though the show is always brilliantly funny. They ran an entire episode completely winking at the fact that the show is on the brink of cancellation.

The characters were hosting a "Save Our Bluths" charity auction, complete with cheap stunts such as celebrity guests. They wondered if the Home Builders Organization (that is, "HBO") would bail them out. They speculated that their problems were that they just weren't "relatable" enough, and observed that they now found themselves in a complicated situation that couldn't easily be resolved in a short amount of time. There was a "Live" final moment. There were scenes in 3-D.

I wish Fox would just get on with it and officially cancel the show, as opposed to putting it in the "limbo" status it currently holds -- no new episodes being ordered, but no official cancellation notice either. Apparently, both Showtime and ABC have expressed an interest in picking up the show, but they can't do that until the axe actually falls.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

It's All Fun and Games

Thanks to BoardGameGeek, I was able to keep a log of every game I played in 2005. Not counting online poker sessions (they weren't face-to-face, so it didn't seem right), it totalled 240 individual games.

Looking over the list, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not a very "assertive" game player. While I did play a few of my favorites as much as I might have expected, many others came up really low in the count -- as low as games I'd probably choose never to play again. It seems as though most of the time, I'm content to just go along with the group.

Another funny thing about looking back over the list (which on BoardGameGeek, actually lists the dates played as well) was that in a few cases it triggered some surprisingly specific memories of where it happened, who was playing, and what it was like. I wouldn't have guessed I'd remember much about that Sleuth game on the coffee table the week before I departed Norfolk, or playing Spoons and Uno while waiting in the line to see the sneak preview of Serenity, or what was surely the longest single game of Carolus Magnus to ever be played... but one quick glance at the list and it all came rushing back.

And if you'd told me on January 1, 2005 that Ricochet Robot would be tied for my "most played game of the year" and Puerto Rico would be near the bottom of that list, I'd have thought you were completely crazy.

For those geeky enough to care, here's the full tally:

25 Words or Less (1)
Adel Verplichtet (3)
Apples to Apples (2)
Apples to Apples Junior (1)
Army of Darkness Card Game (1)
Attika (5)
Betrayal at House on the Hill (1)
Blokus (5)
Bootleggers (1)
Call of Cthulhu CCG (3)
Carcassonne (8)
Carcassonne - The City (1)
Carolus Magnus (3)
Cartagena (4)
Chinese Checkers (1)
Clans (3)
Colossal Arena (3)
Compatibility (1)
Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix (1)
Doge (1)
Domaine (1)
El Grande (3)
A Game of Thrones CCG (1)
Geschenkt (7)
Goa (4)
Guesstures (1)
Guillotine (1)
Hansa (1)
Hearts (1)
HeroScape (1)
Hidden Identities (1)
High Society (2)
Hispaniola (1)
Linie 1 (1)
Louis XIV (2)
Mad About Movies (1)
Mad Gab (1)
Memoir '44 (1)
Metro (4)
Mystery of the Abbey (1)
New England (2)
Odin's Ravens (1)
Perudo (5)
Poker (5)
The Princes of Florence (3)
Pueblo (1)
Puerto Rico (4)
Pyramidis (1)
Ra (3)
Ricochet Robot (26)
RoboRally (8)
San Marco (1)
Scene It? (1)
Scene It? TV Edition (1)
Scotland Yard (1)
The Seafarers of Catan (1)
Set (8)
The Settlers of Catan (1)
Shadows Over Camelot (1)
Sleuth (3)
Sorry! (1)
Speed Scrabble (2)
Spoons (1)
Spycraft CCG (1)
Taboo (4)
Ticket to Ride (9)
Time's Up (26)
Tongiaki (1)
Too Many Cooks (2)
Torres (1)
TransAmerica (6)
Union Pacific (2)
Uno (2)
Up and Down the River (4)
Der Untergang von Pompeji (9)
Virtual (1)
Werewolf (1)
WWE Raw Deal CCG (1)
Young Jedi CCG (1)