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January 2003 Archives

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January 31

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Bunk". A man and his wife follow their cat into an abandoned home. The feline turns over some chemicals which release fumes that kill the man.

Caine and Speedle go in with hazmat suits and determine that the house was used as a clandestine drug lab. The chemicals found indicate someone was trying to mix a legal form of ecstacy by replacing one of the acids in the molecule. The police interview the landlord of the house, a dermatologist acting rather lackadaisical about his investment.

Fingerprints from inside a latex glove found in the house lead to a part-time student with no job that somehow manages to own a Lexus. Caine wants to arrest him for the death of a kid who took the bogus ecstacy he cooked, but the prosecutor releases him. In a cryptic conversation, we learn that Caine's brother was a policeman killed by a released suspect. The plot fails to provide a rationalization for the D.A., such as the cook being an informant that must be let out to get the bigger fish.

A look at the records of the dermatologist and his medical real estate consortium reveals a number of houses in rough neighborhoods, probably serving as drug labs. The student moves into another one and the police harass him. A later visit finds him stabbed to death in the front seat of his car.

Someone killed him, apparently seconds earlier, unnoticed by the police, but detectable by the heat signature. Eventually, a carcinoma scar leads back to the dermatologist. The episode ends with Caine visiting his brother's grave.

Several logical holes here: If the cook was killed so recently, why didn't the policemen see the murderer? Releasing the student/cook served to kill him and get the dermatologist charged. One also needs to question why the doctor would leap to murder when he was generally in the clear.

In the other plot, Duquesne and Delko investigate a brutal murder of an elderly woman in a retirement community. A known sex offender works on the grounds, but he has an alibi. Interviews with the men reveal the victim to be quite frisky.

Duquesne and Delko do a blood spatter string test and find no void where an assailant could have been. They conclude that advanced stages of Alzheimers in the victim led to self-destruction. This plotline did not have enough red herrings for the viewer to suspect an outside human killer.

On Angel, we watched "Awakening". I believe the episode "Long Day's Journey" was pre-empted in this area for a Wizards game. Apparently there we learn that the Beast and Angelus worked together in the past.

Wesley calls on Wo-Pang, who looks a lot like the sorcerer from the Buffy episode "Enemies", to remove Angel's soul. However, at the last moment, Wo-Pang tries to kill Angel. The rest of the group gets back into the jail cell to fight the shaman, but he kills himself. Apparently, he serves the Beast and doesn't want Angel to succeed.

Wo-Pang's body is covered in tatoos, which Wesley reads. With help from Cordelia's vision, they learn that the sword that can kill the Beast is in underground Los Angeles. Angel, Connor, Cordelia, and Wesley navigate a series of traps. At one point, she realizes one may be triggered by brushing against her breasts and she says to them,"I knew you two would get me in trouble one day."

Apparently there are many places on Earth that can access the sword interdimensionally. Angel and Cordelia go one way, Connor and Wesley go another. Angel finds the sword, but an earthquake results and Connor finds Daddy and Cordy in a clinch.

Connor runs off and everybody else is at the hotel. The Beast barges through the door and Angel defeats him with a little help from Connor who shows up in the nick of time.

Angel and Cordelia do the horizontal and we discover it was all a dream. Angel is back in the cell with his soul extracted.

I usually don't like "It was all a dream" episodes, but this served to have events I didn't really want to happen, like Cordelia and Angel. I should have realized it wasn't real when Fred's make-up looked different and Cordelia had a curly hairdo.

For CSI, we finished the night with "Random Acts of Violence". A teen-aged couple stands outside a house. Next door, a single father is trying to get his two kids to bed. Gunshots spray the windows and he finds his nine-year-old daughter dead in her room.

The man is Matt Phelps, director of a recreation center where Warrick Brown learned to stay out of trouble. At this point, Warrick should have bowed out of the investigation, but doesn't. The teen-aged boy outside was slightly grazed. Not far away, LVPD have picked up a man at a bar, boasting at having killed someone else that night.

The boaster is Gene Jaycobs, from Brown's high school class. He waved the gun around and it matches the type at the shooting. Jaycobs claims to have found it in an alley and a similar low-life is his alibi. A waitress at another bar says she saw the pair making trouble there.

Meanwhile, Phelps believes Jaycobs shot his daughter. After Jaycobs is released, Brown finds where he lives and confronts him. Afterwards, Jaycobs is half-alive in intensive care after a severe beating. Marks from a ring reveals Phelps delivered the beatdown after following Brown and he is arrested.

Inside Jaycobs' vehicle, Brown finds awards that were stolen from the rec center, now more convinced than ever that Jaycobs is the shooter. Meanwhile, Grissom explores the alley where the gun was supposedly found. Uniformed officers come to investigate a break-in nearby.

Grissom theorizes that the shooter tossed the gun into the back yard of the heist. Jaycobs found the gun while robbing the place, but lied about the exact location to cover-up that crime. Gil finds a casing that might yield fingerprints.

A van stolen from the recreation center is found with a lollipop stick. The DNA from here and the fingerprints lead to a juvenile, kicked out from the rec center. Mad at Phelps, he only intended to scare him, not kill anybody. The episode ends with the irony of Brown standing at the now closed recreation center. He helped destroy what he wanted so much to preserve.

Like the Miami episode this week, they never followed the red herring very far of the teen-aged boy who was shot.

In the other plot, Stokes investigates the murder of a Chief Technology Officer in a server farm. For some reason the girls were out this week shooting "Girls of CSI:" for Playboy. The three suspects are cubicle prisoners he spied on.

Like a classic locked-room mystery, the death was caused by a sheepish HVAC mechanic whose hammer dropped accidentally on the victim from above. He fished his tool back up, hoping no one would notice.

January 30

Read through the portfolio of a fund with 1% of its assets in an Albanian government security, which brought me back to those days when none of us had any kids.

The Zen Pirates would play games at Joyce and Dave's apartment back when they were still married. Andy Looney would answer the phone,"Choat residence. This is his Albanian manservant..." At this point, his name would change every time the phone rang. The name would rarely be recognizable as Albanian, usually Spanish, Italian or English.

Then Andy would turn to whoever the call was for and say,"Sir [or Madam], it's..." whoever "on the phone."

Then if it was Dave, he'd say,"I'm in the conservatory." Sometimes he thought up other places, like the Rumpus Room, but usually it was the conservatory.

Andy would get back to the phone and say,"He'll be right with you, sir. He's coming up from the conservatory."

Without sports, TRASH would have even more 'Weird Al' Yankovic questions. EPSN.
Not a real ESPN ad.
January 29

Whitlock's Saturn didn't start this morning but it looks to be nothing more than a dead battery. Dubbed off some copies of the Silver Screen Test episodes Cameron directed. Strange to hear a producer and game show host saying it, but I think I was on camera too much.

January 28

Here are a couple of threads of me doing stuff for the OOTP community.

January 27

Food for quizbowl thought.

January 26

Miranda was supposed to do homework which involved walking around your neighborhood and writing down how many houses had flat roofs/slanted roofs, garages, numbers of stories, fences, for sale signs, chimneys and flowers. First of all, she's scared of dogs so she wanted to sit in the car and do it. Then the snow flurries started coming so it was too cold anyway.

So I drove while she and Whitlock sat in the back counting. There wasn't much variety since this a new neighborhood. Every house has a slanted roof, has two stories, and a garage. Actually two houses don't have garages because as model homes, the garages were converted into offices.

The only "For Sale" signs were on lots being dug for foundations. The lots are so small, fences feel even more confining so there are very few of those. Most home have gas fireplaces which do away with the chimneys.

Since it's winter, there are no flowers. There are no apartments or townhouses. The lower priced houses are the ones with only one-car garages.

January 25

Along with grocery shopping I went down to the Container Store to find storage stuff for after the holidays.

January 24

Watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Potential". In one plot, Buffy is training the potential slayers with help from Spike. First, he acts as a target in the graveyard and later Buffy gives a big speech. She takes the group to the demon bar where they meet Clem and finally go to a crypt. Buffy fights the lone vampire they find there while she lectures. Then she and Spike lock all four potentials in the crypt with the vampire.

In the other plot, Buffy gets a visit from a creepy-looking student named Amanda. She seems to have some boy trouble and Buffy babbles on about what we know is her relationship with Spike.

The coven tells Willow they've picked up a potential right there in Sunnydale. She prepares a spell that will send a yellow light to the possible and indicate her position on the map. At first, the spell stays in the living room, then it explodes at Dawn, standing by the front door.

Immediately, Dawn has a very hard time with the concept of being a potential, but Willow and Xander try to be helpful. Unfortunately, Anya is not. Dawn goes to room, then sneaks out the window.

Dawn meets Amanda on the street who tells a very odd story that may involve meeting a vampire in school and closing a classroom door on him. They go back to Sunnydale and, yup, it's a vampire all right. The girls do some fighting and running away when the Bringers show up.

The eyeless guys immediately go for Amanda, but Dawn says,"You don't want her, you want me." More fighting ensues involving flames and bunsen burners. Anya, Willow and Xander have discovered Dawn is missing and go get Buffy.

Dawn tells Amanda she's somebody special and Buffy arrives just as Amanda stakes the vampire with a flagstick. Amanda demands an explanation for the weird things that are happening to her, including a yellow light accosting her at the door to Buffy's house. The episode ends with potential slayer girltalk and Xander reassures Dawn about the life of a sidekick.

This was finally a good episode after a few of bummers. The big bad lays low for a while. The feelings of minor characters come to the fore.

I was surprised the Dawn is not a potential. This foreshadows more strongly than ever that the show will not go one after this year. It might have continued with Dawn as the slayer.

Back in the dream episode Buffy, looking at Dawn's future bed says,"Faith and I made this bed." While in a coma, Faith foretold,"Little Miss Muffet coming down at 730." I wonder what it all means now, but I look forward to the episodes with Faith.

All I might have been missing was a funny comment from Andrew after the last few serious endings.

January 23

Bad news for Craig Barker and all those who were hoping for a chance with Willow Rosenberg/Michelle Flaherty/Jessie Mills.

January 22

Crowded Metro station on the way home. If most of the people around me had their way, things could get even more crowded. Then again, who would pay for my Social Security?

January 21

More congratulations due for Nomar and Mia. Both were named to the ACC's 50th Anniversary Top 50 male and female athletes list.

January 20

Tonight Whitlock made a stuffed shell dinner with ground turkey and spinach in the stuffing. Miranda reluctantly ate it without gagging, as she usually does with most foods she's never tried before. I took the leftover meat and spinach, added more tomato paste, and made a spaghetti sauce out of it after Miranda went to bed.

January 19

Watched the Angel episode "Habeas Corpses". Being the only character alone at the end of the last episode, Fred answers phones alone in the lobby of the hotel. Lorne, Gunn and Wesley come through the door.

Not long afterwards Angels comes walking in and climbs up the stairs saying that Cordelia and Connor are safe. Actually caring about him, Lilah goes to Wesley's apartment, but he breaks off the relationship. Back at the offices of Wolfram and Hart, Lilah and Gavin try to figure out what to do next when Connor walks in.

Not long afterwards, the Beast arrives at the offices of Wolfram and Hart. As Connor goes to meet it, Wesley suddenly turns up to help Lilah. They find a secret exit that leads to the sewers and he advises her to go away and change her name.

Wesley tells them at the hotel that Connor is at Wolfram and Hart while the Beast is having an associate (and partner) buffet. Unfortunately, that also includes Gavin. Angel takes Wesley, Gunn and Fred, but tells Cordelia to stay home. The lawyers have been turned into zombies.

After finding Connor, the group escape to the elevator and the White Room, home of the creepy little girl. When they get there, the beast is kneeling over her body. The little girl says that the answer is among them.

The beast appears to draw the lifeforce from the little girl, killing her. As he advances towards the group, she teleports them back to the hotel. Angel announces to Cordelia that he knows about her and Connor and tells her to get out.

Unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the problems of individuals do matter a hill of beans to those people. Disaster and combat stories depend on trivial personal wishes and desires in the face of impending death. For this reason, I suddenly like where the series is going and the sheer shock of the creepy little girl's mortality.

The CSI episode "Got Murder?" begins with some beautiful shots following a raven in nightflight. Birdwatchers track the it, but find an eyeball in the nest. Grissom and Willows explore the nest's contents that lead them to believe the rest of the body is in a particular landfill.

Willows, Stokes and Sidle, knowing the condition of the eye, believe the body should be found in a section with recent trash. They find enough of the body to bring it in for an autopsy. Dr. Al finds an artificial spinal disk that he traces to specific woman in Texas.

Stokes and Sidle look through the trash and use junk mail addresses to determine the where the body was dumped from. Suspicion falls on a house where Michael O'Keefe plays a currently unemployed divorced father with two teen-aged kids.

Stokes and Sidle dust the dead woman's car and find prints from a woman with a different name, but related to Michael O'Keefe's family. Returning there, the father explains that the mother left mysteriously five years earlier, only to return recently and disappear once again. He numbly describes the police suspicion that fell on him then and caused him to lose friends and his job. Apparently, the wife changed her name when she ran away.

The daughter has a bracelet she said her father gave to her, but which he says he gave to his wife recently. He took out a life insurance policy on his wife which will kick in five years after her disappearance, a few days after her death. The daughter's pubic hairs are found in his bed and she is also lactating due to pregnancy. It looks bad for the Dad.

Amazingly, the girl has a hysterical pregnancy. She's in love with Dad and fantasizing about him for all she's done running the house. When Mom came back, it ruined her world so she killed her and dumped the body in the freezer until trash day.

In the other plot, David, the new assistant medical examiner, is performing his first autopsy on a car salesman who died of a heart attack. At the first incision, the body starts bleeding because he's not dead. Al and David revive him.

Grissom and Brown investigate the other salesmen at the dealership. Meanwhile, the victim dies again. Suspicion falls on another salesman who may have poisoned his rival with venom from one of his pet snakes. At first, it seems he can't have done it because the venom came from a snake not at his house, until they find the culprit viper at a friend's house being snake-sat.

Michael O'Keefe reads Walden in the audiobooks edition I have. His character seems to have dropped a long way from Caddyshack and The Slugger's Wife.

Perhaps I should have put this in a CSI: Miami review, but David Caruso seems strangely uncomfortable. Both Horatio Caine and Gil Grissom occassionally say corny lines that are meant to sound clever, but the tongue seems to be firmly in William Peterson's cheek, perhaps because he's a producer as well. But when Caruso says those lines, you feel he's trying to prove his acting ability in a venue where plot twists star, not thespic talent.

With this show, we've finally caught up. There's a new Buffy on Tuesday where I understand she and Spike set up a slayer boot camp, something I thought was necessary, once this many girls showed up.

January 18

We had a smaller crew but the Silver Screen Test went well. My thanks to Jimmy Albert, John Buckley, Yen-Ming Chen, Andrea Lamphier, Bob Mattia and my fourth director, Cameron Jones.

Brian McBride sends Sunderland into the cellar. Maybe the English will take American players seriously now.

Watched the Birds of Prey episodes "Gladiatrix" and "Reunion". In "Gladiatrix," a gentleman with a deformed face kidnaps metahuman women to fight to the death in Old Gotham, beneath the current city.

Whitlock obsesses that men love to watch women fight. I don't like the current catfighting Miller Light commercial, because I don't like fighting as an excuse to take women's clothes off. I also can't claim I don't like certain kinds of violence. This just isn't it.

In investigating the disappearances, Huntress gets herself caught and has to fight. Dinah follows and gets caught also and they have to fight each other. Reese finds an entrance to Gladiatrix.

All the metahuman women have been drugged to increase their anger and rage. Oracle discovers the ridiculously pardoxical cure that more of the drug will overload the amygdala and turn off the anger. Reese finds where the drug is stored and injects the women. He frees them, the spectators escape, and the guy in charge supposedly meets much messiness.

In "Reunion," at the 5th anniversary re-union of New Gotham High, men who hit on Helena are mysteriously dying. The culprit is a nerdy, clumsy guy with a jones for Helena still. He has chameleoid skills that makes him unstable.

The other thread was Huntress revealing herself to Reese as Helena Kyle. There was interesting exchange where the Gotham Clock Tower crew discuss the secret identity issue. Dinah says,"You don't wear a mask, you don't wear glasses. How can you have a secret identity?" Funny how in that universe, Clark Kent wearing glasses can be considered a secret identity.

I miss Mia Sara.

January 17

Finished stuff up for tomorrow's taping of Silver Screen Test.

January 16

Watched the CSI episode "Recipe for Murder". A partially ground-up body appears at a meat factory. Special chemicals to heighten ridges reveals that the hand belongs to a chef at a five-star restaurant.

The murderer turned out to be a hostess, who killed the chef for bonking another chef. After the stabbing, another chef and the owner cut-up the body. It doesn't make sense that the restaurant would go to these lengths to cover up the crime. Why not just report the hostess and cut her off like pariah?

In the other case, a young woman appears dead from an apparent suicide. Drag marks and a bloody footprint indicate someone was there and moved her body. She was a troubled person who took lithium for her bipolar condition and frequently attacked others.

It turned out her parents wanted to commit her, but an adult cannot be committed without charges filed. The father overdosed her on valium and slit her wrists. Her boyfriend interrupted and the father couldn't stop the bleeding.

It seemed like a ridiculous extreme. The parents could have encouraged a violent act against them or one of their friends. Just someone willing to file charges.

January 15

Stayed home with Miranda while she continues to improve.

Watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Showtime". A potential slayer named Rona arrives at Sunnydale bus station only to have harbingers set upon her. Buffy rescues her and says,"Welcome to hellmouth," the title of the first hour of the show.

When Rona wanders the bus station, I was reminded of the Inca mummy girl killing the original Ampata Gutierrez in "Inca Mummy Girl". Rona looks through the phone book, supposedly for Buffy's number, but wouldn't it have been more ominous to see that page torn out of the book?

Many new potential slayers now stay at the Summers house, mostly in abject terror and in possession of horrible accents. Willow gets a call from the English coven that a new trainee arrived in Sunnydale a few days ago. Normally, Slayer Central would get a call from the Watcher, but he was killed and the Coven picked up her Sunnydale presence through magic.

Buffy and Xander go to the motel, only to find the girl dead for a number of days and looking exactly like one of the girls in the house. It's Eve, who has been sowing despair in the house, but who obviously is the First. Buffy confronts her and she disappears.

The Turok-Han attacks the house and Willow sets up a magical barrier in the foyer. It won't hold and everybody escapes. Everyone goes to the new Sunnydale Library under construction. The potential slayers watch as Buffy defeats the Turk-Han in an overly-long battle that ends with a garotting.

In the other storyline, Anya and Giles ask a demon oracle why the First would choose to kill the Slayer line now. Apparently, it has something to do with bringing Buffy back from the dead. With no Turok-Han to guard him, Buffy frees Spike.

These Buffy episodes are feeling like climatic May episodes. Unfortunately, it's still January and the season arc has been stretched membrane thin. There should be a self-contained demon or other problem and the arc could be advanced in ten minutes of the episode.

For example, one could visit the urban legend that some colleges can't have sororities because of a city ordance that six unrelated women in a house constitute a brothel. Sunnydale officials could come visit the house with suspicious reports of strange young women coming and going. Principal Wood could question Buffy himself about it.

Andrew could be the object of one of the girls, preferably an experienced Faith-type who likes deflowering young men. She bangs him and he's totally on the side of the good guys. By the way, according to the Oracle of Bacon, Thomas Lenk was in Boogie Nights with William H. Macy who was in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon.

They also could give the girls some distinguishing stereotype characteristic, like meeting the members of a platoon in a war movie. It's unfortunate that Firefly is the most interesting Whedon show right now and it's cancelled.

January 14

Mary's mother took Miranda into the pediatrician and took a lab for more tests. The kid's getting better, but the fever's just lasting too long.

Watched the episode "Entrance Wound". A couple on a romantic tryst finds a naked woman dead beneath the bed. The CSI crew find little blood on the body despite the 23 stab wounds and discover she's been washed in the tub after death with a special cardamom soap.

A bloody fingerprint leads to a black man living with his white girlfriend and their family. The print belongs to a character played by D.B. Woodside, principal Wood from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Further examination of the fingerprint finds it was artificially made as a frame-up.

Although all suspect the ex-husband, a talk with the landlady's wife reveals the landlord has forensic interests and some new sexual prefences, particularly to wash her with cardamon soap. The landlord apparently wanted to just kill the prostitute for thrills. He also had the forensic skills to accomplish the frame.

In the other plot, a German tourist is shot at a gas station in an apparent carjacking. The crime exhibits inconsistencies such as why the shooter didn't drive away with the vehicle after the driver ran away if carjacking was the motive. Also, the wife reacted too quickly a surprise event. Traces of lipstick lead to the wife having set-up the murder with a Miami native who knew her as his dance student in Germany.

January 13

Wonderful entry from Le Prétre Noir, a clerical blog. Thanks to Patrick Nielsen Hayden for this one.

Finished watching the Firefly episode "Serenity". Joss Whedon intended that this episode open the series, but Fox tabled it until now in favor of a show with more "action". It begins back during the Alliance war as Malcolm and Zoe fight the Battle of Serenity.

Flash forward to the pair and Jane during a hardsuit salvage on an Alliance vessel. When a military ship arrives, Serenity flees, using a fake distress signal originating elsewhere to throw their pursuers off-track. On the planet Persephone, their favorite fence, Badger, won't buy their goods because the Alliance has a lookout for the ship.

Needing money, they start looking for passengers, which consists of Kaylee sunbathing at the entrance ramp. Simon and Book come aboard with a character named Dobson, portrayed by Carlos Jacott who was Ken in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Anne". In transit, Wash discovers that someone has sent a signal to the Alliance.

Given that we haven't seen Dobson before, he must be the Alliance agent. Dobson shoots Kaylee before he is captured and Serenity escapes in exchange for Simon's medical services. Malcolm opens Simon's cargo and finds River, naked in cold storage. Simon tells her story and they have a close call with a Reavers ship that doesn't notice them.

Malcolm makes an easy deal with Patience, who shot him the last time they met. He suspects an ambush so they bury the cargo and Jayne looks for the sniper nests while Malcom and Zoe finish the deal. Patience shows up on horseback in a scene right out of a standard Western.

Of course, it is an ambush, Dobson escapes and the Reavers return. The trio return to Serenity on horseback, Malcolm shooting Dobson dead as he walks up the entrance ramp. Wash performs an escape maneuver on the Reavers that involves igniting plasma in the atmosphere.

A couple of really great lines, such as Zoe to Malcolm in reference to Wash at the end of the episode,"Sir, I'd like you to take the helm, please. I need this man to tear all my clothes off."

And Simon asking Malcolm,"I'm trying to put this as delicately as I can. How do I know you won't kill me in my sleep?"

To which Malcolm replies,"You don't know know me, son, so let me explain this to you once. If I ever kill you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing me, and you'll be armed."

And all Simon can say is,"Are you always this sentimental?"

Book comes off surprisingly unworldly here, unlike his attitude the rest of the series. He appeared hesistant about Inara's presence, although he should have mentioned something about prostitutes and thieves needing the Creator's guidance more. I don't know what kind of "action" Fox was looking for.

January 12

Miranda's fever stayed high. We took her to the emergency room at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. They told us to keep her on the current analgesics. The fever isn't high enough to be dangerous. The pediatric emergency room beds have cable television. We watched the end of the San Francisco-Tampa Bay game.

January 11

Got Whitlock a vacuum cleaner. In our marriage, this is considered a romantic gift.

Watched the Enterprise episode "The Catwalk". The ship encounters a small crew of aliens who warn about a cloud with lethal radiation. Trip determines they can live for eight days in the shielded portion of the warp nacelles.

The aliens keep to themselves. Suddenly, the ship powers up by itself. If the warp core goes online, everyone in the catwalk will die.

Trip goes to the ship in a spacesuit to fix things. He discovers aliens of the same type as their guests trying to power up Enterprise. When he returns, they interrogate the aliens. They claim to be deserters from the oppressive military. Archer, T'Pol and Reed disable the warp drive and Mayweather's crazy piloting drive the aliens off the ship.

Certainly Trip was too busy, but weren't there equally gregarious crew to socialize with the aliens? It's not like they had normal duties to perform. Someone could have discovered their story much earlier.

Given the last episode we saw, Precious Cargo, this episode could only have been better. I didn't see the fingerprints of Berman and Braga in the story credit. The writers certainly could have surprised the audience more. I thought perhaps the aliens trying to power up the ship had good intentions and were good guys.

January 10

Got the car back. Took Miranda to the pediatrician. We just have to watch her fever for the next few days. Whitlock's mother stayed with her today.

Watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Bring on the Night". Giles arrives with three Slayers in Training. The Turok-Han, the ur-Vampire, and the First, in the form of Drusilla, torture Spike.

Out for the super vampire, Buffy finds him beneath a Christmas tree lot. She survives when sunrise comes. One of the slayers in training stupidly runs away instead of simply whimpering in shellshock. Buffy vows to fight the evil. The ending could have used Andrew saying something banal over Joss Whedon's credit.

Rumors fly that Giles is dead and incorporeal because no one touched him.

January 9

Stayed home with Miranda while she recovers from her fever. Massive bill on the car damage.

Watched the Birds of Prey episode "Nature of the Beast". Mitch Pileggi now plays Gangster Al Hawke rather than Stephen McHattie. The new Hawke, though still morally corrupt, is thoughtful and not insane like the old Hawke. I found the transformation unconvincing.

Hawke meets with a Russian mobster, but gunmen interrupt the summit. Hawke's deputy Frankie Spitz called the hit, then turns to the Specialist, a metahuman who can walk through walls. Reese enlists Huntress to help him protect Hawke, who has promised to turn state's evidence.

Barbara and Helena keep this investigation from Dinah, since Hawke killed her mother. Her telekinetic anger rattle the glassware, but otherwise seems like the tempest one finds with an emotional teenage girl. When Dinah finds out she goes to kill Hawke herself, but Huntress stops her.

Eventually, Dinah reaches an epiphany and protects Hawke. When Frankie calls off the hit, the Specialist kills Frankie, money not meaning that much to him. Huntress defeats him in the radiological lab of an abandoned hospital as the Specialist tries to walk through a lead door. He ends up looking like Han Solo, frozen in carbonite.

Hawke decides not to rat on his pals and Reese must arrest him.

January 8

Came home early for Miranda's last Spanish class in her "Little Red Riding Hood" module. She was feeling pretty sick, but she sure liked the Pepperidge Farm chess cookies.

January 7

St. Louis Post-Dispatch architecture critic Robert W. Duffy thinks that the Cardinals shouldn't go retro for their new stadium. He cites the nearby American Zinc, Bank of America and Equitable buildings as models to follow, but I see them all as faceless modern high-rises.

While I think the retro ballparks have quickly become new cookie-cutters, I'd be leery of modernistic flying saucer-like touches. Busch Stadium rises above the concurrent stadiums in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati with the arches at the top. I think a new ballpark can appear quite innovative by eschewing the red brick and using creative ornamentation.

In addition, who knows how much money and leeway a baseball team has to be creative when public money pays the freight. A ballpark shouldn't try to look like anything else, even though places like Ebbets Field and Shibe tried to look like hotels or churches.

Baseball America's 2001 Major League Overachievers
Stubby Clapp David Eckstein
Stubby Clapp David Eckstein
Joe McEwing Frank Menechino
Joe McEwing Frank Menechino
Jamie Moyer
Jamie Moyer
Baseball America's 2001 Major League Underachievers
Roger Cedeno Royce Clayton
Roger Cedeño Royce Clayton
Juan Encarnacion Edgar Renteria
Juan Encarnacion Edgar Renteria
Ruben Rivera
Ruben Rivera

January 6

While cleaning out my old issues, I saw the lists on the left which didn't have any pictures attached. There's an obvious physical similarity shared by the players on the same list. Probably, someone discovered this and these lists didn't reappear in 2002. For what it's worth, I think Mark McLemore is an overachiever and Ben McDonald was an underachiever.

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Camp Fear". Girls sneaking away from a school clean-up excursion find another girl's dead body. She wears the uniform of a boot camp for delinquent girls.

Meanwhile a man lies dead in his trailer, burned from the inside out. Caine and the other criminalists wait on the absent Meghan. At the end of the episode we learn she resigned.

The boot camp provides titillation, just to the respectable side of your porn spam. At least they wore t-shirts and fatigues. No one claims to recognize the girl. They find her blood on the commanding sergeant's zipper, but that seems to be incidental contact.

Finally, her mother reports her missing. The girl was a model with a friend at the camp. She didn't want to continue that life and snuck in to see her friend. The senior cadet kicked her out. Later that same cadet found her body and moved it off compound property.

Turns out the mother was there and drove her into the swamp where the girl hit her head accidentally and died when the leeches devoured her unconscious body. Not a very satifying resolution and I couldn't find anyone to charge.

The lung burn in the trailer stole 120+ octane from marina gas tanks by siphoning it. From sucking so much gasoline, he had to drink a lot of milk to cure the indigestion. I thought that perhaps a cigarette ignited the excessive gasoline in his system. Turns out it was the spark from his cell phone that did it.

January 5

In the morning I went out grocery shopping just as the snow storms hit. I slid on Seneca Crossing Drive and may have messed up my front axle. Didn't get to see any of the exciting finishes in the NFL. I fell asleep during the Pittsburgh comeback and I was giving the kid a bath during the 49er comeback.

January 4

Whitlock, her mother, Miranda, Victoria and Ian went to see Amelia Bedelia at Imagination Stage. I walked around White Flint. Afterwards, we dropped by niece and nephew at their new home in Norbeck Grove.

Watched the Birds of Prey episode "Sins of the Mother". Dinah's mother comes to New Gotham and is revealed to be the former superhero Black Canary. The Canary wants to Dinah away and start a life together again.

Meanwhile, the reformed remnants of Hawke crime family want her dead. They capture Black Canary and Alan, the new head, concocts some overly complex rope device to asphyxiate her. Helena, Dinah and Reese manage to free her, but Canary stays behind to let them escape. An explosion kills her, but Alan survives. We discover he is Reese's father.

Stephen McHattie, a Lance Henricksen look-alike, plays Alan Hawke. Lori Loughlin, played Black Canary adequately since it didn't require much fighting or much more acting.

January 3

One of those beginning-of-the-year columns, which isn't too different from the end-of-the-year columns, by a guy who's probably been in the business a long time. Till I saw this:

Flo Jo paints her nails with a roller.

Uh, Ernie, she died four years ago.

Back on the TV front, we watched The Twilight Zone. In "Gabe's Story," Titus star Christopher Titus, plays the title character, a delivery man for an electronics store. His life goes totally wrong until he gets into a car accident and starts seeing a man in an orange jumpsuit no one else can see.

The man deliberately kills his lawn and breaks vases while Gabe makes a delivery. Gabe is about to embark on an ill-fated robbery scheme, when he sees the man again and physically threatens him. The man in the orange jumpsuit takes him to huge building where the writers direct everybody's story.

Gabe parks himself in Roxannne's office, the woman responsible for writing his life and 5,999 other people. They take his case to upper management and eventually they let him take charge of his own life. A rather mild ending, I thought Gabe would want many material successes written into his life.

In "Last Lap," Marco takes Andy out driving late at night. A Latino pair, Andy is a car mechanic maven who worked on the car Marco will drive in an urban road rally next week. Strangely, the find the course already set-up several days early.

Andy is dying of cancer and Marco is taking him for one last ride. They wreck, but Andy survives and his cancer symptoms disappear. Andy continues to see Marco's ghost, but everyone else seems indifferent to his death. Marco explains that Andy must accept death. So we go back to the accident, and Andy does die in the wreck.

Greg Serano played Marco. He earlier played boxer Javier Molina in the CSI episode Fight Night. Santa Barbara bomshell Gina Gallego played his mother.

On Firefly, the episode "Objects in Space" begins with the crew talking to each other in various pairs with River walking by, but hearing whatever they're really feeling. She picks up a gun that she thinks is a branch and the crew is very disturbed. Without her present, they reconsider whether she's a physical risk to everybody else, but she hears, whether through sound or psychic waves, from the level below, perched on railings for which Summer Glau's previous ballet experience proved particularly useful.

A bounty hunter, Jubel Early, sneaks onboard in an obvious Civil War reference. He knocks out Malcolm and electronically figures out seal off all the doors, unless he wants to let people out. Early sexually terrorizes Kaylee and knocks out Book before finding Simon.

The bounty hunter wants Simon to take him to his sister, but River reveals herself as a voice, having melted into the consciousness of the ship. Well, she didn't really. River was in Early's ship the entire time and playing with their minds.

Feeling unwanted, River agrees to go with Early. While in EVA, Mal sends Early tumbling away into space.

Whitlock questioned why the crew didn't see River's value, especially in financial negotiations. I also wanted to know why they didn't take Early's ship, at least to cannibalize it for spare parts.

January 2

A note from the irreparably clueless. Almost as fun as reading Soviet propaganda. Angie Schultz responds bettr than I ever could.

January 1

Playstation has a commercial where typical videogame teens engage in a firefight commando game. Connected by hands-free headsets, they suffer a devasting defeat. Exhausted, leaning back on the couch one of them asks,"Who are these guys?" Cut to a tent in a desert where you discover their opponents are active duty in the Middle East.

Consider a different commercial. This time the teens play a trivia game instead. After their humiliation and,"Who are these guys?" Cut to here? Or just fill in the blank with your own unstoppable question-answering machine.

The Undertow... another pointless surfing metaphor ...

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Last revised January 31, 2003
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