Wednesday, May 31, 2006


This is not an original photo taken by yours truly, but it was too great not to share:
I know I'm lovin' it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You Liquor, You Brought 'Er!

At work last week, the lawyer who works alone in the offices down the hall received a midday delivery and wasn't around for it. That's not too odd -- we have accepted packages for him and held on to them on occasion. But on this particular occasion, it seemed that he'd ordered a few bottles of wine or some such. And the box was stamped with this message.
So, FYI, don't be drunk when you're expecting alcohol to be delivered. They won't give it to you.

Not that you'd want to wait on the UPS Guy to keep your buzz going anyway.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Back to School

Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon was a two-day reunion event going on at my high school here in town. I opted to attend the second half of the double-header, checking in on Sunday in the hopes of running into a few old faces.

First, some background. The school I attended was a rather different curriculum. (I could go on a lengthy tangent about that some time, but for now... focus.) It was K-12 inclusive under one roof, which means that my actual senior graduating class was about 35 students. So this was not a "class of '94" reunion. This was a reunion hoping to pull in as many graduates as possible from every year of the school's more than 30 years in operation.

(And... on a tangent that I won't avoid, I know most of my friends in high school -- both those I stayed in touch with and those I didn't -- did not all graduate the same year I did. It's not like seniors couldn't have friends who were juniors, sophomores, or freshman, or couldn't have made friends who graduated before them. Point being, I would think that the "average" high school reunion, consisting of only people from your year, would leave out many of the people you'd want to go to a reunion to see. Weak! Anyway...)

So, it was a pretty good time. Now, of my high school friends I did keep contact with, none attended this reunion. They're all out of state, or out of the country, or just plain decided not to come. But that's no issue for me of course, which is what this story is all about.

The school's been remodeled a lot since I graduated. Partly this was by design, and partly because a fire two years after I graduated burned down the theater I did all my high school plays in. But I knew all this... I'd dropped in at the school a few times over the years. Plus, three of my younger siblings have gone/are going to the same school.

Sure enough, I did bump into maybe a handful of people I really did enjoy seeing, and another dozen or so that were more of the "I remember you!" vein. Naturally, we all had to tell our stories of the intervening years a bazillion times. If you hung around the same people for a while, it quickly got to the point where you could tell their stories to the next people to ask.

A couple in particular are still here in town, and I'm gonna give it a try to stay in touch with them now. Hard to tell from fleeting conversation in one afternoon if our interests are still the same or if they've drifted apart over time, but hey... these people once meant a lot to me. And on this particular day (when more people who mean a lot to me, but that I don't get to see regularly, got together for a holiday cookout at the old stomping grounds in Virginia), the importance of not letting a meaningful connection go easily strikes me as particularly important.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Outdoor Dining

Along the outdoor mall in downtown Denver (near my work), there are a number of restaurants where you can get a table out on the sidewalk. Whenever I'm walking by one, I'm almost overwhelmed by the urge to reach over and snatch some food off someone's plate. I have no idea why. Maybe it was the Chinese restaurant episode of Seinfeld (where Elaine is offered a bet to walk over and eat off a stranger's plate). Whatever the source, I've not yet given in.

Should that change, I'll of course let you all know.

Friday, May 26, 2006

X Communication

I caught the new X-Men movie tonight, and I ended up liking it far better than I expected. I'd rate it a B-. I know I usually pontificate first and grade last, but in this case, a lot of my pontification goes into explaining my point of view coming into this movie. So here goes...

I am not a fan of the X-Men comic book series(es). I read some of the recent series written by Joss Whedon because, duh, it was written by Joss Whedon. But not even he could pull me all the way through his full 12-issue cycle. Comics in general just don't do it for me. I don't get that into looking at the pictures, and I feel like the slim page count of a single issue doesn't give enough time to get engaged in the story unless you read huge numbers of issues all in one sitting. (Now I know there are plenty out there who find my statements heretical. Please understand, I'm not saying those who do like comics shouldn't. I'm saying this is a Coke/Pepsi kind of thing. You either like them or you don't, and I think either way is fine.)

I was neutral about the first X-Men movie. I've seen it only the one time, when it was originally in theaters, and my recollection of it is pretty thin. But from what I remember now, I think I'd rate it about a C+. It had some big fun action that worked well, but I thought it was bogged down with far too many characters. I realize that's what the X-Men are all about, but seriously... did they really need all those characters? Hell, The Lord of the Rings didn't have this many characters! Could they not have left just a few out? If they had, maybe they would have had room to actually make me understand, sympathize, or care about the ones who were there.

On the basis of rather liking the action of movie one, I took a chance and saw movie two, again when it was in theaters. And here comes another heretical statement for all the comic lovers, because I hated it. We're talking D- here. The fun action I had at least been hoping to see just felt dumb to me. And the thin characterizations in the first film were even worse here. Comic fans told me I was wrong; that so many characters had been so perfectly captured in this movie. Captured, maybe -- that I'll take their word on. Actually built on screen, within the movie -- not a bit. I found the second film utterly impenetrable to anyone who wasn't steeped in the comics. Sitting in that theater was like being stuck in a room for 2 hours and 15 minutes trying to follow a conversation in Swahili.

So... you might ask... what on earth propelled me to see movie three? Well, put simply, the advance word coming from the comic fans. Over the last few weeks, some reviews had trickled out, and the word seemed to generally range from disappointment to disgust. My opinions had basically been running opposite to theirs all along, so I figured I'd take the plunge.

And I wasn't disappointed. This movie was focused. Where the first two felt like a mish-mash of plots going every which way, this film seemed to have a very specific plot actually comprehensible to a non-comic fan like myself. The action was engaging. And there were actually lots of character beats throughout.

It did still fall down in a few places. There were a couple of clearly Momentous Events in the film that should have carried some emotional weight to them, even to an "outsider" to me. After all, we're talking about a cast consisting of actors who have won an Oscar (Halle Berry), an Emmy (Kelsey Grammer), and a Tony (Hugh Jackman). They didn't quite get there. (Though as he did with The Da Vinci Code, Ian McKellen manages to be the best thing about the film, delivering a performance far better than anyone else in it.)

And, as with the previous films, there were a few mutants too many in places, that left me with a little confusion about just what some of them were supposed to do:

Beast was basically a main character in this movie, but I'm still not sure I know what his power is -- other than Conspicuousness, obviously. Yeah, I'm clear on the whole "Sasquatch Smurf" thing he's got going on.

Does anyone actually take that porcupine-faced guy seriously as a bad guy? Boy, don't cross him, or he'll... make faces at you. If you've got a gun, or hell, even a baseball bat, I'd say you've got nothing to fear.

And does that one evil mutant with the power to make sonic shock waves have a secondary power of androgyny? Because I'm serious not sure if it was a man or a woman.

If you do go to see "The Last Stand," stay until after the credits for one more good scene, that resonates well with a conversation earlier in the film (that at the time just appeared to be a throwaway). And unlike the Phoenix tease that ended X2, you don't actually have to know anything about the comics to get it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thinking of You

I have a Tale From Trivia from tonight, but not about the trivia itself.

At one point, one of the two regular trivia emcees came over to our table. She was asking about one of our players who had shown up late. The weird part? She came straight from the bathroom, walked up to him, and said: "This may sound a little strange, but I was just thinking about you in there."

A little strange?

Oh, she tried to backpedal from/salvage the odd comment a bit by saying, "I'd just noticed you weren't here yet when I glanced over earlier, and I wondered if you were coming." Or at least, she said something like that, I think. My mind was pretty well frozen back at "I was thinking of you in the bathroom." Oh so very many ways to go with that.
  • You're a lot like running water, so thinking of you was helpful.
  • I was wondering if you were doing the same thing I was at that moment.
  • I was doing something unusual in the bathroom, and it reminded me of you.
  • I looked down in the bowl, and what I saw made me think of you.
I'm sure you can add your own to the list. Or perhaps you can think of an appropriate response to actually give, because all we had was "uh... um... Thank? You?"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sealing the Hatch

The book has closed on Lost, season two. (And, basically, on the television season -- so those of you readers who get a little bored when I talk about TV so much are probably in for a bit of a reprieve for the next few months.)

I've been saying for most of season two that while I'm still basically "pro" about the show, I also felt like there were a few episodes (particularly near the middle of the season) that just felt like repetitive restatements of information we already knew from season one. The show has still been good, but not as consistently so as season one.

So let me be just as quick to praise how great I thought tonight's season finale was. I found it vastly superior to the finale of season one. Last year, the finale seemed to be too much about walking you right up to the door (literally) of one single mystery: what's in the hatch? And then of course, getting it open only to not tell you. This season, the finale didn't seem to point toward any one single question to be answered, and I felt it was much stronger for that. Last summer, all anyone could ask in anticipation of the new season was "so what is in the hatch?" But this summer, there are all sorts of issues to discuss. Here's a (probably incomplete) list of things, more or less in order of how they're weighing on my mind in the immediate aftermath of watching the episode:

Did Locke, Eko, and/or Desmond survive? The destruction of the hatch was not an explosion, but rather an implosion. Charlie could not possibly have been very far away, but he survived unscathed. And we've basically been told it was all a massive discharge of electromagnetic energy. So, it's possible -- but not a given -- that Locke and Eko are alive. I'd even call it likely, since we still don't know how Locke ended up in the wheelchair. But you never know. Desmond was at ground zero, so his chances seem less likely. But again, you never know.

What are the Others going to do with Jack, Kate, and Sawyer? And, tied up in that question, Who are the Others, really? They're "the Good Guys," they say. What are they going to do to convince the trio of that?

What's up with all that business at the end? Yes, I realize this is fairly low on my list, given that it was the big final moment. But it was all just so strange that I'm not sure how deeply I'm invested in the mystery yet. Two guys in a Siberia-like place are scanning for electromagnetic anomalies on Earth. Why do they have to be in this Siberia-like place to do this? Do they know they're looking for this island in particular? They report to Desmond's old love. Did she hire them to look for Desmond in this way? If so, how did she know to employ this technique? Is any of this part of the Dharma Initiative? Like I said, I can't even begin to grasp enough of this to spend much time contemplating the possibilities.

Will I have to suffer through more of Michael next season? Finally, at last, Michael seemed to be leaving the show by way of boat on heading 325. But will it work? Will he actually leave? Unfortunately, signs sort of point to "no," I think. The problems are: 1) Michael now has a big, black mark on his soul for all the things he did to save Walt. And it's simply not like this show to let him go without addressing that more deeply than they have. 2) Walt's story is really not done. The Others said they "got more than they bargained for" with Walt, in a way that implied he has moved beyond messing up birds in flight, manifesting polar bears in the jungle, and appearing as a dripping wet spectre and talking backwards to people miles away from him. That demands more explanation. But if indeed these two reasons demand we see more Michael and/or Walt next season, how is their escape going to fail?

There are a few issues with Clancy Brown's former hatch buddy (prior to Desmond). Did he really shoot himself, or was he killed by Kelvin much as Kelvin was killed by Desmond? Perhaps this detail isn't especially important in the grand scheme of things. But this previous button pusher, we were told tonight, is also the one who spliced the orientation film. Why did he do that? And why did he then take the pieces halfway across the island to leave them in the tailies' hatch? That issue troubles me more.

What is the deal with the giant four-toed foot statue? 'Nuff said.

See? Lots more to speculate on during the four month wait, compared to last summer.

Let the games begin...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Farewell to Sydney

Shocho mentioned last night's Alias series finale in my 24 talkback. I've got some things to say about it myself, actually -- it's just that the double-length 24 post was all I had in me last night.

Alias went out decently. I was never expecting it to return to its early glory, and I hope no one else was either. But it did improve upon the mess that seasons three and four made of what was such a phenomenal show in seasons one and two. The back half of season five, in particular, was probably better than I expected the show to be once again before it ended.

Most of what happened in the finale really worked for me.

The opening sequence of all the team members gathering photos of Prophet 5 members from around the world was inspired. Getting to see everybody out in the field one last time was perfect for a final episode. And sending Sydney to Sydney, for the only time in five years. Necessary, if only to see the place name -- hers -- written large on the screen.

Bringing Marshall's wife back in for the first hour was unexpected, but welcome. I was a fan of the show Felicity back in its time, and so I was of course thrilled when this actress crossed over to Alias for a while. One of the many, many disappointments of seasons three and four was that she totally dropped off the radar. She may not have been readily obvious as a character deserving a "send-off" in the finale, but I'm glad the writers saw the opportunity.

And speaking of Marshall -- watching him stand up to Sloane was quite possibly my favorite moment of the entire finale.

I respected the efforts to try to give some closure to the entire Rambaldi storyline. The return to Mount Sebasio... the realization of his greatest work (apparently, eternal life)... I know some people weren't crazy about the Rambaldi stuff and thought it bogged the show down. But it was necessary to pay it off to conclude the saga, and I thought they did mostly pretty well there.

The flashbacks of the second hour were nice. Good way to bring back "the beginning" in the end. Nice to flesh out a few specific moments you knew had happened in the past. Particularly nice to find a way to bring Francie back for the finale (without resurrecting the Evil Francie yet again).

The deaths of most of the characters worked well. We were never really given time to invest in either Rachel or Tom, so it's hard to wish that Tom's death had carried a little more weight. But I figured going in we'd lose one or the other, and it was wise to frame the loss of one in terms of how the other felt.

Jack's death actually shocked me. Alias has -- under all the action, all the spy stuff, and all the Rambaldi plots -- always been a show about family. So I figured going in that Syd would have to end happily with her family for the show to have the "right" ending. I assumed that meant Vaughn and Isabel, and Jack. I suppose if I'd thought it through a little more, I'd have realized that her mother Irina was family too, and there was no way she'd be surviving the finale -- so that put Jack in jeopardy too. Having him take out Sloane was the right way for him to go. (Well, taking out Irina might have been better -- but you had to pair Irina and Sydney for one final showdown.)

And Sloane's fate. Perfect. I suppose you could argue it's not completely original, that it's cribbing Poe's "Cask of Amontillado" or some such, but it was absolutely the perfect ending for that character, to be forced to face horrifying consequences for his obsession. Death was not enough for Sloane; it was right that he endure a fate worse than death.

The flash forward at the end, showing Syd and Vaughn happily moved away from the spy life (but not entirely) and living with their children. Again, perfect. The only correct ending for the show, really. And having young Isabel showing signs of taking after her mother? The perfect grace note to end with.

But now, on the down side...

I'm not sure what to make of Sloane being haunted by the ghost of his daughter. On the one hand, I suppose they had to have that actress and character in the final episodes, even though they killed her off a few weeks ago. But I sort of felt too many shades of Baltar and Six in the whole set-up. I know, Battlestar Galactica was not the first to feature a morally murky character being haunted by someone he is hallucinating. But they've done it so prominently and effectively on Galactica that Alias' attempt to tread the same ground came up short.

All the past characters they managed to include -- even Francie!! -- but no Will Tippin or Eric Weiss? Sniff.

The Rambaldi pay-off, while generally good (as I mentioned above), seemed to be missing a critical piece or two. How did this man make all his predictions? We'll never know. And if he discovered eternal life, why/how did he die and end up in a sarcophagus in Mongolia? Or did he? Was that supposed to be him in the prison last week? I guess I just always assumed that the ultimate answer to all this Rambaldi stuff was that eventually we'd meet time-traveling/immortal Rambaldi (or his reincarnation) in the flesh. I'm not saying they had to give me exactly what I wanted, but still... they didn't give quite enough, I think.

Irina Derevko was totally bungled, in my opinion. What made her brilliant throughout season two was how nuanced she was. Evil, but subtle. For that matter, you didn't even know for certain she was evil, until she betrayed them all. Even in her appearance a few weeks ago, she totally used Jack and Syd again, but stopped long enough for tender moments in delivering her new granddaughter. But in the finale, Irina was just flat-out, irrational, mustache-twirling evil, with a truly apocalyptic endgame plan that, in my mind, had nothing to do with anything we'd ever seen her character do. And her death, though necessary of course, was just anti-climatic to me.

Still, overall, there was far more about this finale that was well done rather than flawed. It was absolutely the right finale for the complete ride that Alias has been. I'm satisfied. I'm not left wanting for more. And despite the rocky years, I'm glad I stuck around for the whole thing.

Time to hang up the wigs. No more musically-synchronized strutting. Syd has assumed her last Alias.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day Five Comes to a Close

The final two hours... and away we go!

Aaron Pierce finally makes "Previously On" Box status!

The bad guys flush all the remaining gas out of the sub, so that 1) they can take their masks off and can all get face time in front of the camera; and 2) it will be easier for the un-gas-masked Jack Bauer to get in there and fight them.

This week's opening exposition delivered courtesy of motivational speech by Bierko to his minions.

Audrey has all kinds of important people on her Instant Messenger.

Conveniently, Chloe is able to determine a countdown before the missiles will be launched. Can't not have a ticking-clock-until-crisis-happens on 24.

This Rooney guy had better have some convincing (but brief) exposition explaining why he didn't get killed by nerve gas.

There's something you should know. Rooney is not left-handed.

Suddenly, Jack is "son"-ing the hell out of this Rooney guy. But hey, it's Jack Bauer; he can call you whatever he wants.

Rooney knocks some stuff over to create a diversion. It couldn't have been "Ivan the Klutzy Henchman" making all that racket.

Jack takes the "lethal tracheotomy" count of this episode to two. And we're not even to the first commercial break!

Poor Agent McCullough. Though it's frankly a wonder he even lived that long.

Ah, the classic "face against the open steam pipe" schtick.

Jack dispatches Bierko in a way that suggests he's seen Goldeneye.

Bravo to Jack for not giving Henderson a loaded gun. But major boo to Henderson for not checking to see if it was loaded in the first place. In fact, I'm fairly sure that when Henderson got a gun last episode, he immediately checked its ammunition.

Well, I guess Henderson isn't going to be a "return villain responsible for killing people close to Jack, a la Nina" next season.

Logan and Novick share one of 24's patented "'then it's over' when it's not" moments.

Oh brother, not another phone call from Logan to Bald Mastermind again.

Jack's looking for Aaron Pierce. Boy, did he call the right person!

Morris has gone from working for the government to selling womens' shoes in Beverly Hills. I've seen the way the government operates on 24. I can believe this transition.

Wh-wh-HUH?! Chloe's ex-husband?! And within five seconds, we can totally see how those two ended up together. And how they ended up apart.

Martha goes in to distract her husband. I think we can all guess how she's going to do it -- an "act of congress." (Ha!)

The President calls to say he'll be running late... "Oh, five min--- uh, I mean hell, 45 minutes! Maybe hours!!"

Why are we seeing dead Henderson in the boxes at the end of this hour? That happened over half an hour ago. In 24-land, that's so "old news" they might as well cut in shots of Edgar, Tony, and Palmer, in their respective resting places.

Hour two begins with a recap that's odd on many levels. One, that we're even having a recap, when we were all right here for the last hour. Second, that it features so many dead characters. It starts with Bierko. Dead. Then Henderson. Dead. Then the Counter Terrorist Unit. Kinda also dead, considering it was absorbed by Homeland Security.

Chloe needs Morris to do one more thing. I doubt very much this could be good for Morris.

Jack's phony security documents are coming through. Have you ever been stuck waiting on a really important fax?

Hot taser action. It's not just for Chloe O'Brian anymore.

It would be so much better for Morris if he just didn't look over to where the President is handcuffed to... oops, too late.

Okay, we have now officially had so much red-flagged dialogue setting up this "specialized communications equipment," anybody who doesn't figure out that Jack is going to plant a bug on Logan really doesn't pay enough attention.

Logan thinks he would go down with Lincoln and Kennedy if he was assassinated. He'd be lucky to be remembered even as well as Garfield or McKinley.

Jack gives up without a fight, giving everyone their second chance to figure out Logan's been bugged.

Logan slaps around Martha, just in case you all weren't sold yet that he's a bad, bad man.

Okay, third chance, everyone: Martha now leads her husband in an orderly confession from dead Palmer to the big cover-up to the syntox gas plot in a fashion so quick and neat, you'd have to asleep not to figure out he's been bugged. Or, you know, President Logan himself.

Chloe had better start playing that recording before the Attorney General sticks his fingers in his ears and starts going "la-la-la-la-la!!!"

Charles Logan is brought down. Martha reveals her role in the scheme with a perfect smug smirk. Mike Novick is behind her a close second.

Say, you think Mike will get to be chief of staff for a third president next season?

I know it's tradition and all, but somehow a 21-gun salute seems like three too few for President David Palmer.

Okay, Kim wants to talk with Jack on a landline??? When we've seen the crazy shit cell phones can do all throughout this season? Yeah, major trap.

We come back from commercial with only 6:30 or so left on the clock. This doesn't make our chances of a non-cliffhangery ending look very good.

Back at CTU, Bill Buchanan and Karen Hayes share a big time "kiss me you fool" moment.

Curtis Manning is totally MIA.

Now we're seeing Chloe's wrap up. We've chewed up over three minutes of that 6:30. Yeah, no freaking way. This is no season three, folks. We're going out big time cliffhanger this year.

And we're not going to get any resolution on Bald Mastermind either. Okay, now I'm just pissed off. Seriously, I didn't give a crap about this bad guy. But why the hell go to all the trouble of even introducing him to the plot when you're not going to pay him off in any way? Why couldn't they have just left Logan at the top of the whole scheme?

Jack saved the country, and all he got was beaten and kidnapped by the Chinese.

Angry Chinese man from season four is back, and he's pissed.

Who do you figure Jack would have called, had he been given the chance?

Jack is literally on a slow boat to China, headed overseas for some prison camp, it would seem. How will he get back to LA in time for day six?

Find out in seven-and-a-half months.

As for this season... here's how it ranks for me, from best to worst, now that it's all said and done:

1) Season Two
2) Season One
3) Season Three
4) Season Five
5) Season Four

Got other opinions? Do tell.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

DDR Gets Personal

Check out the next incarnation of DDR. (From a different company, actually.) It's called Dance Factory. The claim is that once you've loaded up the game, you can put any music CD into the PS2, then have the game scan through a song and create a step pattern for it.

I don't know how this thing will pull that off, or if it will really do that good a job of it. But it seems to me that if this thing actually works even halfway decently, it ought to be pretty sweet.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Spore + Mork = Spork?

Robin Williams plays around with Spore for 10 minutes. It's funnier than his last five or six movies combined.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cracking the Code

Recently, I suggested that a good way to thumb one's nose at some of the more extreme forms of protest against The Da Vinci Code would be to buy tickets for that film whenever going to a movie, thus inflating DVC's box office take.

Unfortunately, I didn't plan on it actually not being a very good movie.

I saw the film tonight, and I don't think I'll be funneling any more money its way, "illicit" or otherwise. It was just too damn boring.

It felt for the most part like a rather faithful adaptation of the book. And I don't think I see any obvious ways that anyone could have made a better film version of this story. But watching the thing unfold, I realized pretty quickly that it makes a far better book than a movie. Actually, it made me call into question a bit just how good a book it might really be, in that I wonder if I were to read it a second time, if I would now find it as boring as the film adaptation.

For starters, the real driving force to the entire tale is the mystery at the heart of it all. And this isn't the sort of mystery where you're rewarded in a second trip by seeing clues strewn along the way that hinted at the solution. It's just "here's the answer," and once you know it, the primary source of tension, suspense, and excitement is completely lost.

The book had a compelling momentum to it when I read it. It was hard to put down. "Just one more chapter," I'd think to myself a lot. The movie lacked that momentum entirely. The action not only didn't seem to rush forward, but seemed to stop at a standstill for long scenes of exposition.

Which goes back to what I now wonder might seem like flaws in the book to me, were I to read it again. There's tons of exposition in the book. More even than in the movie. It didn't seem distracting to me at the time, because it was all necessary background to explain this "interesting theory" -- which really was interesting to me the first time around. But on film, it struck me more like reading (I'm sure to tweak some folks here) Michael Crichton or J.R.R. Tolkien -- "alright folks, I'm going to completely stop the narrative flow for a dozen pages here to lecture you on chaos theory / the eating practices of Hobbits / Constantine's assembly of the Bible."

The secondary source of tension, suspense, and excitement in the book is also absent in the movie -- the deliberate withholding of information. About every other chapter of Dan Brown's book ends with a passage somewhat like this:

"Hand trembling, he opened the door to the closet. What he saw stopped him dead in his tracks." (If books had musical stings, insert one here.)

Some would call this a pretty cheap trick, a crutch of inferior writing. I'll agree it wears pretty thin in the book. But say what you will, it is a trick that works. You keep turning the pages.

But in the movies, you can't get away with this technique very often. Sure, directors will sometimes pull the "angle on the character's reaction to the amazing thing, then cut to an objective view of that thing for the audience." (Spielberg should have patented this.) They can stop a scene at a tense moment to cut to a different scene at a different location. But use these tricks too much on film, and they get old even faster than the literary versions of the same. And Ron Howard is a smart enough director to know this -- thus visiting this well far less often than the novel.

Bottom line: if you're one of the maybe three people in the world who still hasn't read The Da Vinci Code at this point, and were thinking either of doing so or going to see the movie, do as those old TV commercials urged. "Read the book!" Based on my memory of reading the book, I think I'd have rated it a B+ at the time. The movie gets a C. It probably would have gotten less but for the entertaining performance by Ian McKellen. The crowd at my screening was pretty dead until his "first scene" (a voice on an intercom).

We're still very much searching for the "summer blockbuster to see" for 2006.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Review, Should You Choose to Accept It

This past weekend, the J.J. Abrams factor won out over all the other factors, and I saw Mission: Impossible III. On just about every level I can think of, I'd rank it "good, but not great."

In the plus column, it played a lot more like "Mission: Impossible" (the original TV show) than either of the previous films. By that I mean that my conception of the old show, admittedly based on very limited exposure to it, is that a team of people was having to work together to pull off heists and capers from week to week. It was not "lone wolf," James Bond type of stuff. Which is what made me sort of wishy-washy about film one (it had moments of good group heistedness, but an uncomfortably high number of "look at me, I'm the big summer action hero" moments for Tom Cruise as well), and made me totally despise film two (which seemed to make no effort at being anything but a "single star action vehicle"). MI3 actually had more good "team efforts" going on in it than both its predecessors combined.

But in a way, this almost worked to its detriment... because J.J. Abrams has had his show Alias on the air for five years now, and they've spent all that time mining that same formula -- a team of agents working together to pull off heists and capers. In other words, there were times that MI3 played too much like an episode of Alias, though with a less appealing lead character. There were even a few new characters introduced in this film that were essentially carbon copies of characters on Alias. An awkward lab tech, for example, was so much "Marshall Flinkman," they should have just got Kevin Weisman to play the role.

I can praise Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the best thing about the movie, though. He kicks ass in this film. He makes a chilling, creepy bad guy.

And though it's not really directly about this movie, I can also praise digital projection. I happened to catch MI3 at a theater with a digital projector. Holy crap, is that good stuff. Sharp, vivid, unblemished. Basically, compare a top end plasma screen television set to a five-year-old picture tube set, and that's about the type of difference in quality we're talking. Simply amazing. So incredible, in fact, that I actually got excited about the Superman trailer that ran before the film. I've been deep in the land of "so what" about there being a new Superman movie at every step of the way, through all the buzz, all the magazine articles, and through that first teaser trailer. But when I saw this new trailer, projected digitally on this big screen -- I can't deny, I sat up in my seat.

But back to Mission: Impossible 3. It might rate a B, but I'm knocking my rating down to B- for it being somewhat derivative. I'd rather J.J. Abrams have hung out around the Alias set more and made it not suck so bad for last year-and-a-half rather than taken off to make this movie.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Fun" With Michael

Well, I had let myself have just a glimmer of hope that some interesting character change had come about in Michael. I'd thought that maybe there was just some small chance that his motivations in these last two episodes of Lost had come from a true conversion during his time away, rather than a simple coercion. Sadly, it was not to be. Nope, instead Michael is still up to the same old boring schtick he's always had.

Michael is still staggering around the jungle screaming for Walt. I'm so far past giving a crap about this plotline I can't even express it. Walt has been gone for so long now that when he reappeared tonight, the child actor's voice had apparently changed. I can think of no other reason why they so blatantly and badly dubbed over all his dialogue.

Michael is still having flashback episodes that provide us with no real information we didn't already have. In the case of this episode, we all could pretty much guess what had happened to him while he was gone. Like I said, I wish I'd turned out to be wrong. But no, it pretty much went down exactly how you'd figure. (With one point of interest I'll come back to momentarily.)

Michael is still picking fights with the characters on the show we like the most. I don't recall him having a reason to fight with Sayid before, but damned if the biggest jerk on the island didn't find a way to start yelling at Sayid this week. (Though at least I ended up liking Sayid more in the end, for having figured out that Michael had been "compromised.") Oh, and he was going to start yelling at Hurley too, except Kate was there to tell him to stuff it.

As far as Michael's entire story in this episode was concerned, I found only one tidbit intriguing. That was the four specific people that he was asked to bring back to The Others.

First, there's the fact they had Sawyer's real name. This would seem to be consistent with the "list" that the tailies found in the dead Other's pocket on night one, which had names even the survivors themselves hadn't found out yet. Somehow, the Others have specific, clinical knowledge about who all these people from the plane are. How they got this information feels like it could be a rather important piece of the whole puzzle.

Secondly, what do Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley have in common? Well, to cut right to the point -- what's Hurley doing on that list? I think I can cobble together some common link between Jack, Kate, and Sawyer that might conceivably put them on a "list." But I start hearing Sesame Street's "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others" when I try to cram Hurley in there. (Or maybe that should be: "All of These Things are Wanted by the Others?")

Maybe we'll get some of these answers next week. Maybe Michael will end up dead in a ditch by the end of the season.

Naaah... more likely, we'll be stuck on some god awful cliffhanger, left to stew in frustration for four months.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

All the News That's Fit to Misprint

Every now and then, I read a news story that I have some actual knowledge about. For example, not long ago, one of the Denver newspapers did a story that mentioned my company's recent work on the Auto Assault TCG. More often than not, I find some sort of factual error in these stories. In this Auto Assault piece, things weren't entirely accurate regarding the relationship between my company and the one behind the Auto Assault MMO on which the game is based.

As I said, on those occasions when I know something about a news story, it feels like I'm spotting factual errors more often than not. Which really begs the question: is every news story this littered with errors?

Now maybe it just happens that when these particular stories come up, my encyclopedic knowledge of most things "geek" outstrips what the average reporter would be expected to learn for a single assignment. But I can't see that sort of thing accounting for all such discrepancies.

So my only conclusion is that you really shouldn't trust anything you read in the news. Not necessarily because of any "spin" or "media bias," but because sometimes they just don't know what the hell they're talking about.

Monday, May 15, 2006

4:00 AM - 5:00 AM

One more hour in the life of Bauer. (Pictured at right, with his badass cell phone.)

"Voice-over Jack" seems to take an unusually long pregnant pause this week when he says: "The following takes place between 4:00 AM... ... ... ... and 5:00 AM."

"The recording you are trying to reach has been erased. If you feel you have not reached your recording in error..."

Karen slaps Miles, but not nearly hard enough.

Bierko said something about a nerve gas canister? We're back on that old thread? While he's at it, maybe he could haul out Marwan's copy of the nuclear football from season four.

Bierko waited until about a half hour after his escape to rip his bandage off his face. Because he wasn't wearing glasses, it was the only way he could deliver the time-tested "dreadfully serious line of dialogue punctuated by removing one's glasses" take.

Pierce has been transfered to Washington. "Washington" of course being Logan's code word for "the torture room at the back of the retreat."

Even cuffed and beaten, Pierce totally manages to bitch slap Logan.

Now Logan calls Bald Mastermind on "the BaldPhone," just to remind us all that there is this Bald Mastermind we should care about catching in next week's season finale.

Poor Chloe. It sucks when you're backstreaming, but just come up dry.

Buchanan asks Jack "What would David Palmer do?" I so want my "WWDPD?" bumper sticker now.

Henderson says "you can't touch them, but they can touch you." A really bad touch.

Henderson says breaking Molina would take hours, and they don't have hours. Well... they have two-and-a-half, anyway.

Chloe O'Brian and the Exposition of the Phoenix Shield.

Everybody run... crazy, pill-popping First Lady's got a gun!

Okay, let me see if I have this straight. This Molina guy is so paranoid that he has triple-nested keypad locked doors and a gun/wiretap scanning laser thingy... but he left a convenient "climbing pipe" on the outside wall and doesn't have a single camera on the roof?

Or any kind of alarm that goes off when Jack comes down through the ceiling?

Martha wants Aaron to promise her that if anything goes wrong and he's in danger of getting caught, he'll find a way off the compound and leave. Not a very hard promise to make, if you ask me.

How fortunate that Henderson knows something about Russian submarine warheads. Keeps him in the plot a while longer.

Yet another amazing new aspect of Jack's cell phone is revealed -- you can hear the other end of the conversation even when you're riding in a helicopter. I can't even hear the other end of my phone when I'm at the restaurant on trivia night.

U.S. Naval Officer: "Here, instead of hanging up this phone, let me leave it hanging by the cord so you can hear me get shot in a second when I poke my head up out of the hatch."

Jack tells the helicopter pilot "we need to move." Was he not already flying at top speed for some reason?

Sure, Bierko and his men have gas masks. But we were told earlier in the season that if you're exposed to the gas for long enough, it can be absorbed through the skin. I guess they know Jack is going to so kick their asses before it all matters, anyway.

Which you'll be seeing next week, as Jack Bauer goes where Jack Ryan has been before him -- onto a Russian submarine.

Now, as a short little postscript on tonight's 24, I have to add a quick word about Prison Break, which had its season finale tonight. I've still been having fun with 24 this season, don't get me wrong. But I must say, I've been enjoying Prison Break a lot more for a long time now. It reached a point about four weeks back where I found I was looking forward to Monday night more for Prison Break than for 24.

For almost every episode in this second half of their season, Prison Break has been a tense, 42-minute heart attack every week. It's had me on the edge of my seat, cheering and screaming at the TV in a way 24 hasn't made me do since season three. If you weren't watching Prison Break, it's not too late. The DVD of the first season is being released on August 8th. Plenty of time for you to pick it up and catch up before season two starts. I recommend it highly.

And in the meantime, I'll be pulling for a exciting resurgence of the 24 I used to know and love. Well, that's harsh -- the 24 I still know and love, but used to know and love a bit more.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sun Setting On the West (Wing)

The final episode of The West Wing ran tonight. Unfortunately, I felt like this last hour wasn't all that good, in the grand scheme of things.

I came to the show late, during the fifth season really. I was watching episodes on DVD, and later in reruns on cable -- basically, I was getting at least one new episode every weekday for months until I had seen them all. So I didn't really go through the same disappointment the long-term fans did when the show dipped in quality near the middle of its run. Certainly I did see that drop in quality -- even before Aaron Sorkin actually left at the end of year four. I recognize that the first two years were the best for the show, and that these last two years were a somewhat surprising resurgence of quality. I just never had the experience of feeling the show had become that bad, as many of the fans felt around year five.

Maybe that all plays into me being a little underwhelmed by this final episode. This was a "disappointment" I was around for. Last week's CJ-centered installment was a much, much stronger hour to me. It had more of the hallmarks that attracted me to the show in the first place -- strong character interactions, snappy dialogue, people in political positions doing noble things (things we wish would happen in real life). This week... none of that, really. It felt like the parade had somehow already gone through, and we were watching the sweeping up of the stray bits afterwards.

Bartlet played a bit more of the "obsolescence" beat we've seen him cover in past episodes. We get purely mechanical accounts of what characters are moving on to from this point forward. Very little real meat. They couldn't even actually manage to include every cast member in the episode -- despite all the talk about Toby, he did not actually appear on screen. A bit of a slap in the face to Richard Schiff, if you ask me.

But I'll remember the show for what it was at its best, regardless of a somewhat lackluster finale. This was truly one of the greats.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Something Fishy

This is a little thing -- a very little thing -- but for some reason this truck I saw this week made me laugh.

I'm not sure if it's the juxtaposition of the Seattle Fish Company of Denver, or if it's the double abbreviation of "CO," meaning two different things.

Or maybe I just didn't get enough sleep the morning I saw it, and was even more easily amused than normal.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Da Vinci Load

With the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code now only a week away, more and more Catholics and Christians are protesting. As with similar protests over the book, a few responses to all the hubbub come to mind.

First, when are far right-wing Christians and Catholics going to learn that the more they bitch about something, the more it makes people want to see it? Did they learn nothing from the Harry Potter books? Or The Last Temptation of Christ? This is free marketing to the people who make this stuff, and they love every last one of you.

Two -- and I can't stress this enough -- it's fiction. It's fiction, people. Nobody is trying to pass it off otherwise, including the book's author himself.

Beyond the general outcry, a few specific protests warrant further commentary from me.

The Catholic group Opus Dei has asked that a disclaimer be put in front of the film. Because if not, everyone is sure to think they're all a bunch of self-flagellating albino zealots. I cannot say how stupid this is, other than refer back to point two, above. You didn't see NORAD asking for a disclaimer to be put in front of the movie WarGames because it portrayed their security as being so inept that Ferris Bueller could hack through it on a computer with less processing power than the one in the hatch on Lost. Point two, people.

Here's a good one about protest going on in India. A spokesman for these protesters says: "Activists will go on a fast unto death if the government fails to take action against anti-Christian movies." Really? Promise? Cause I say, snap to it! He also says, "You can't make fiction on a religious figure." Yeah, cause no one has ever done that before in the history of the world.

I've saved the best (worst?) for last. Cardinal Francis Arinze issued a statement in which he said: "Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and to forget." Hmm... isn't that pretty much exactly what "good Christians" are supposed to do? Unless as a cardinal, he has some interesting interpretation of that whole Matthew chapter 5 business about "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" that someone like me couldn't fathom.

Months ago, while Serenity was in theaters, I mentioned that any time I was going to the movies, I was going to be buying a ticket to Serenity and sneaking into the other film instead -- all to make sure my money was going to the place I wanted to.

I think now I'll be doing it again for The Da Vinci Code.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Me, Myself, and I

It seems to me that compared to the population at large, gamers are big fans of the royal "we." Particularly CCG players.

In day to day life, you don't get a lot of people talking about themselves in the plural... "we're going to going to the grocery store later," "we couldn't believe the weather yesterday," "we had the most excellent dinner last night."

But in gaming, you hear it all over the place. "We're going to attempt the mission," "and then we attack you," "we'll have this guy take the damage."

So what is the psychology at work here? Is it that gaming brings out this mildly conceited side of people? Are mildly conceited people drawn to gaming, where they have this bizarre outlet for this impulse? Or are players getting involved enough in personifying their playing pieces (cards, in the case of CCGers) that they really don't mean the royal "we," they mean "we" as in "me and my pieces/cards"?

Or maybe they're talking about the new Nintendo game system.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Pearl of Wisdom

Another interesting episode of Lost this week. They're on something of a hot streak now, I guess -- though one would expect that as we barrel toward the end of the season.

I have yet to hear from anyone who doesn't like Eko. So seeing another episode about him is compelling, particularly now that he's out Locke-ing Locke in the faith department.

The revelation of the "super hatch" is rather interesting on a few levels. For one, it doesn't appear that it truly IS a "super hatch," despite its apparent proximity in the center of the island. The orientation for this video marked it as only #5 of 6 ("The Pearl"). Kind of makes you wonder what's going on in hatch #6. And why this wasn't hatch 7. And why there appeared to be nine TV screens in the hatch to monitor "other places" when there are apparently only five other hatches. And if there's something special about this spot on the island that pulled the Nigerian plane down right on top of it. And if it's a "coincidence" that every time Locke goes out to this spot with someone, he's unable to climb whatever needs climbing on his own.

Fun as all that island MacGuffinry was, though, I was still more entertained by the content of the flashbacks, which (as the good flashbacks do) filled in some new info about the past we didn't know. It would appear that Eko's true conversion to spiritualism is far more recent than we might have guessed. And I'm guessing we haven't seen the last of his ghostly brother.

Then there was that interesting nugget that the father of the "miracle girl" he was sent to investigate is the same psychic that sent Claire out on flight 815. (For once, I figured out this connection before reading about it somewhere on the net.) More interesting was the fact that he played himself off to Eko as a total fraud. This presents only two possible scenarios in my mind:

1) He was lying to Eko to get him to go away. Quite likely, but not very interesting.

2) He didn't believe a word of what he told Claire when he sent her on the airplane to L.A. This seems very unlikely, given how serious he was about giving Claire her money back and getting her on this particular flight.

I think we have to rule out the possibility that he was a fraud who had one brief moment of true insight, because the timetable appeared to be that Eko met him after he had already met Claire -- likely only a day or two before flight 815 departed.

I find these mysteries going on off the island to be more compelling than what's going on on the island these days. Is that wrong? Is it likely there will ever be closure on any of it, when the only way we ever get filled in on things is via flashbacks?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Out of This World

I just finished watching the second season finale of Veronica Mars, and I was blown away.

A lot of new shows with big buzz and/or critical acclaim started last year. I've watched many of them. But nearly all of them let me down in year two. Desperate Housewives has been a near total misfire this season compared to year one. Lost has had a few great episodes this season, but has just as often treaded water -- and rarely has it approached the greatness of the best first season installments. Even Battlestar Galactica, which stayed phenomenal in the first half of season two, hit the skids pretty hard before bounding back for the last two or three episodes.

But Veronica Mars never faltered. If anything, it got better in year two. And tonight's episode was a perfect culmination to another perfect season.

We got a shocking but logical reveal of the culprit behind the bus crash. Another jaw-dropping development with Aaron Ecchols. Further ties all the way back to the first season mystery of Veronica's rape. An interesting "alternate reality" dream sequence featuring Veronica's mom and Lilly Kane. Heartstring-pulling moments between Wallace and Jackie, and Logan and Veronica. Heart breaking moments for the short time Veronica thought she'd lost her father. And pithy dialogue, as always. This finale was an absolute triumph.

The industry rumors still seem to be that Veronica Mars' chances for a season three on the new CW (Clarence Weedman? Don't think that exchange of dialogue didn't have a "meta" significance: "CW?" "It's a done deal.") network are good. We'll know for sure next week. Til then, my fingers are crossed that TV executive idiots won't mow down yet another impossibly brilliant show that's still going strong.

Monday, May 08, 2006

3:00 AM - 4:00 AM

Apparently there really was an air pocket somewhere for Secretary Heller to hide in, because he survived his mad plunge over the cliff a few episodes ago. That, or he held his breath longer than David Blaine.

All President Logan needs to do is appear to struggle with the ethics?

Bierko is being transfered? What the hell? Weren't we done with him five episodes ago?

Mike Novick comes to tell Logan about the distress signal "from the plane." Logan has to play dumb. It's not a stretch.

I had heard somewhere that it was actually part of the interstate highway system planning that one mile out of every five be designed to accommodate emergency airplane landings. But apparently that's not true (check waaaay down at the bottom of the story). In any case, this is still going to be the most plausible thing that has happened on 24 in weeks. (Not that we tune in for realism, mind you.)

Chloe was going to just hang out at the hotel for a while and keep tazering (tzaing?) that lout, but they needed her to come open up a socket.

What a bad flight attendant. The oxygen masks drop, and she doesn't secure her own about her head as she's supposed to -- she simply holds it to her face.

Visual effects department to production team: "You want us to do what now?"

Too bad they stopped before that overpass. I would have liked to see "property damage" added to Jack's list.

Creepy mastermind has a name now: Graham. Is this supposed to make me really invest in hating him as a bad guy?

Ooo, Curtis gets to do something and talk their way out of a roadblock.

Bierko apparently knows the driver of his prisoner transport van. This would be what, CTU Mole #947? And seriously, what the hell difference does it make if Bierko escapes? Don't "we" have everything we need out of him?

Holy crap! Jack actually made it back to CTU without further incident! I didn't see that coming!

Jack agrees with Audrey that "it's over." But the show's not called "21," folks.

Come on. Do we really believe for a second that a spineless weasel like Logan is going to commit suicide?

Mrs. Logan is watching news footage of Palmer mourners from "earlier today." It's now 3:50 in the morning. Shouldn't that be "yesterday?" And what is she doing awake? Didn't she scarf down a fistful of sleeping pills last hour?

Apparently Miles is not nearly as loyal as Karen said he was. He springs into action, wielding a device with flashy red lights that presumably erases digital recordings. And if that is indeed what happened, it again begs the question: why -- given the countless opportunities to make a copy of this recording -- did no one make a copy of this recording?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

sHot iN tHe dArk

A very humorous anecdote came from trivia this past Thursday. I've hesitated to tell it, because I can't quite remember all of the details of the question involved. I've decided they aren't really important to the story.

We were sucking it hard this week. Worst showing in quite some time. Going into the final question, we were in something like 7th place out of 9 teams. No chance of winning. So we decided that we were going to wager the maximum allowable 20 points on the final question, just to see if we could make anything happen.

Well, the final category was basketball. Ugh. Sports is very much the weak subject of our trivia team. And basketball is basically the sport we hold in contempt above (below?) all the others. My brother-in-law said he might know a little on the matter, so we immediately resolved to just go with whatever answer he wanted for our guess.

The question was (and here's the part where the details are sketchy) something like "rank these NBA players from least to most points scored in 2003: Carmello Anthony, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce." (I'm not even sure I have all the players right, so don't bother trying to fact check this.)

So, as my brother-in-law was working away on a legitimate attempt at an answer, I decided I'd scribble a whimsical one of my own. I decided to put the players in alphabetical order (Anthony, Garnett, McGrady, Pierce). Except that just as I was finishing, he finalized his answer, and it happened to be the same as I'd come up with. Well, that was going to blow my entire "see, here's what I'm guessing" reveal, so I decided I had to come up with something else.

Fine, I thought. I'll alphabetize them by the second letter of their last name. I wrote out "Garnett, McGrady, Pierce, Anthony" and showed it to everyone. "Here's my guess." Not that I was ever serious about going with it. We went with my brother-in-law, who with his virtually non-existent basketball knowledge had infinitely more info on the topic than the rest of us.

They read the answers... and it matched my "second letter" system. We'd have lost even if we had somehow strangely decided to go with my guess, but we all got a huge laugh out of it.

And now I know what to do next time I'm in doubt about how to arrange four items.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Worst Job Ever

Hilarious video. Very not safe for work. Try not to peek at the right side of the screen before you've seen the whole thing -- it kind of ruins the punchline.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Two Out of Three

I'm sure you probably knew that KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut are all owned by the same parent company (along with a few other fast food places). After all, they seem to be doing those "two-in-one fast food restaurants" more and more. There's Taco Bell-KFC, where you can order chicken nuggets and a burrito. There's Taco Bell-Pizza Hut, where you can get breadsticks and a gordita.

But in my experience, Taco Bell seems to always be one half of the combo. I don't know of any "Pizza Hut-KFCs" out there anywhere. Apparently, there's just something about Taco Bell that demands it get star billing in this fast food trinity.

Anybody got a KFC-Pizza Hut near them that can dispute this?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What Other Way Can You Drown?

This coming Monday night, ABC is airing "David Blaine: Drowned Alive." Somehow they are drawing two hours of television out of the world's worst snow globe -- David Blaine spending 8 days underwater and then trying to hold his breath for 9 minutes. Oh, and some crap about 150 pounds of chains is involved too. I feel I already know way too much about this.

The only way you could get me to watch is if the show actually delivered literally what the title promises. There's just no truth in advertising.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Lost on Lost

If you haven't seen this week's Lost yet, turn back now!

Still here?


Holy crap!

I was somewhat intrigued, if not completely enthralled, with the revelation that Ana Lucia had traveled to Australia with Jack's father. Given how he keeps ending up in everybody else's flashbacks, it seems fairly inevitable that the daughter he was there to see must have some survivor connection as well, yet to be revealed.

I was entertained again, as I have been, by the antics of Henry Gale. Lately, I've found his plot the most enjoyable thing about the show. The actor has delivered an appropriately moody and creepy performance, and I've enjoyed watching him get under the skins of the main characters, chiefly Locke.

I was suffering the return of Michael. When the line came: "He's waking up," I made no effort to control my own Jack Bauer-esque "Dammit!"

Then, of course, we got to the ending. What can I say? They got me. I'm not sure what exactly to make of the latest developments. Michael appears to have been either converted or coerced by the Others during his time away. To learn which, stay tuned, I'm sure.

I don't really think this makes me like his character any more. On the up side, he finally did something in an episode that wasn't yelling at other characters or shouting to the jungle for Walt. On the down side, he frakking killed two other characters!

Ana Lucia, we hardly knew you. Libby, we never knew you. We didn't ever even get a flashback episode about you. Kinda seems like a suck gig for that actress, as it turned out. I wonder if she'd been told her fate going in? Or if this was some kind of horrible punishment from the writing staff for the DUI arrests those two women got on the same day in real life.

Given that Michael wounded himself at the end of the episode, it appears he's setting himself up to claim that Henry Gale arranged his own escape and killed the two women in the process. So, how long will Michael be able to keep up the lie and remain with the survivors?

How long do I want him to keep it up? I guess that depends on what happens next.

One thing's for sure... we're probably on course for a bummer of a cliffhanger that's going to make last year's "opening of the hatch, but what's inside?" cliffhanger seem like small potatoes.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

March in May

So, a couple of my fellow bloggers have already offered their different thoughts related to yesterday's nationwide protest.

In lieu of providing my own thoughts, I offer this picture that I snapped myself on my lunch break yesterday, of the lawn and park area in front of the Denver state capitol building.

Monday, May 01, 2006

2:00 AM - 3:00 AM

Dave Barry's gonna love this episode: no Audrey listed in the opening credits, hence no Audrey in this episode. She appears to have fallen down a well with Curtis Manning and Christopher Henderson. I hope they didn't all land on Aaron Pierce.

Jack Bauer is on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan or something.

Miles is peeved that Karen won't let the agents shoot Buchanan in the thigh.

Why the hell is this hotel bar so crowded past 2:00? And on what one can assume to be a weeknight, too!

Jack is on flight 520... probably not coincidentally the production number of this very episode. (The 20th episode of season 5.)

How frakking amazing is Jack Bauer's cell phone plan? Where can I get this kind of coverage? Not that I've ever been trying to make a phone call from the cargo hold of an aircraft in flight.

Are there this many people on every diplomatic flight leaving in the dead of night?

Jack blind-sides an air marshal, and is now well on his way to adding a whole new string of interesting felonies to his checkered resume this hour.

Jack vanishes back down into the cargo hold as the flight attendant totally fails her perception roll.

More vague-ominous conversations between President Logan and "conspiracy puppet master." Yawn.

I've known all along that Mike Novick was Logan's chief of staff. But him saying so specifically dislodged a big question for me. We know from season two that he was Palmer's chief of staff. We know from season three that Palmer was running for re-election against Keeler, so clearly they were from opposite political parties. And we know from season four that Logan was vice president under Keeler. So, Novick just jumped between parties and was somehow able to work as chief of staff to two different U.S. Presidents?

Anyway... back in the hotel bar, and Chloe has managed to find her very own "cougar," in the form of a drunken lout.

I can't imagine Martha's medication should be taken with wine, but hey... she's already past the point of no return on the journey to totally freaking crazy, so why not?

Now this diplomatic flight has so many people on it that two different people who happened to know Christopher Henderson are both on board!

Of course the flight has to head back to L.A. They can't make it all the way to Germany in the four-and-a-half hours left in this "day!"

Thankfully, Chloe dispatches her "cougar" quickly. If only Kim Bauer had packed a tazer in season two.

Jack Bauer hauls down on the machinery inside the plane, graduating from taking down helicopters to taking down whole airplanes!

And it's "into the garbage chute, flyboy" with the air marshal.

Okay, I totally believe that Jack Bauer would hijack a plane, if that were his only move. And I believe he has the skills. What I don't believe, in this day and age, is that somehow he avoids having every single passenger on that plane instantly come rushing at him tossing their shoes, carry-on luggage, and anything else in reach.

Somebody's shoving the stick even further up Miles' ass. And poor Mike Novick is stuck in the middle of another fine mess. Weasels to the left of him! Weasels to the right of him!

What's funnier than watching Chloe tazer somebody? Watching her do it twice.

The co-pilot! Well, there was a decent bait-and-switch. I suspected the "what's going on" jerk earlier on in the passenger cabin when the flight attendants were making everyone return to their seats. (Of course, it was engineered that way.)

Jack has the recording again! And again, he's not immediately calling somebody... anybody to transfer a copy of that recording over the phone to someone he can trust.

Okay, what possible justification would Logan be able to come up with for ordering the plane shot down? I guess we'll find out next week.