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March 2004 Archives

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Mary Icon...

Separated at birth? Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan and comedian Sinbad.

Oakland Raiders coach Norv Turner and former Vice President Al Gore.
March 31

Through The Sports Economist here are articles from MSNBC and NBA discussing the work Harvard Law School visiting scholar/researcher Michael A. McCann. Some choice quotes:

Between 1995 and 2003, McCann said, “over 80 percent of drafted high school players became or will become multimillionaires by the age of 21” and “maximized their earning potential by gaining the ability to become unrestricted free agents ... by the tender age of 22.”

At that age, the players who stayed in college for four years become bound by the nearly nonnegotiable rookie salary scale for three to five years.

“Most players who skip college may earn as much as $100 million more over the course of their careers than if they had done the ’smart thing’ and earned a college diploma,” McCann said.

McCann studied the 29 high school players who declared for the NBA draft and signed with agents between 1975 and 2003. Among those, nine would be considered superstars (one of the NBA’s best 15 players during their careers) or stars (the best or second-best player on his team).

Those include Darryl Dawkins, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Rashard Lewis, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James.

Of the 29, only three — Taj McDavid, Ellis Richardson, Tony Key — were busts as ballplayers, unable to sustain a living from the game.

The rest were either serviceable players regularly contributing to an NBA team, fringe players earning a very good living but getting few minutes, minor leaguers playing in the United States or abroad, or still unproven young players hampered by injuries...

I initially came up with the idea right before the 2001 NBA Draft. At the time, I had read a number of newspaper stories criticizing the ability of high school players like Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, and Eddy Curry to participate in the Draft, and how their participation was somehow harmful to both them individually and to the NBA. These stories would often say something to the effect of, "for every Kobe Bryant, there are two or three Korleone Youngs" and how history showed that high school players tended to fail in the NBA. I was honestly struck by the fact that no one seemed willing or interested to challenge this assertion, and I was curious to see if it was indeed correct. After conducting preliminary research, I soon realized that this assertion was woefully wrong, and, in all likelihood, had only become accepted as fact because it was repeated and repeated until it became recognized as such...

You're right - many people regard Korleone Young as a "failure" because he was a second round pick in 1998 and only played one season in the NBA. Well, first off, bear in mind that at age 19, he earned $289,750 to play in the NBA. Had he never earned another dollar playing basketball, he could have returned to college at age 20 with plenty of money in the bank - and certainly more money than any 20 year old that I knew in college.

Instead, however, Young has continued to play basketball professionally over the past five years, earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year to live abroad and play two or three basketball games a week for eight months of the year.

Now, let's compare Young's earnings to the median salary for single males in the United States ($31,267), or the median starting salary for college graduates ($41,000). Or, how about we compare his 30 hour work week schedule for 8 months of the year to that of the average American, who works an average of 43 hours a week, 11 months a year.

In other words, although Young enjoys neither the fruits of an NBA career nor the rewards of a college education, he works substantially less to earn considerably more than does the average American. And, to top it off, he gets to play basketball while doing it. Now, how is he a failure?...

Taj McDavid went undrafted in the 1996 NBA Draft, and returned home to Williamstown, South Carolina, where he lives with his parents in their mobile home, refuses to answer the phone, and can often be found playing pick up basketball.

However, construing McDavid's plight as some kind of warning to today's premier high school basketball players seems to ignore a very important fact: Unlike all of those players, Division I college basketball programs did not pursue McDavid. For one, he would have been academically ineligible to play his first season, though had he been recruited, a college could have simply red-shirted him for one season, thus allowing him time to overcome his academic failings. Yet, strikingly, not even one Division I college basketball program expressed interest in offering him an athletic scholarship. It should come as no surprise, then, that NBA teams, European teams, and minor league teams were not interested in him either. And, none of this is startling, since McDavid, who only played in South Carolina's third best high school basketball conference, excelled against inferior high school basketball players.

On a more basic level, then, if McDavid was not good enough to play Division I college basketball, then declaring for the NBA Draft came at no expense: He only lost the eligibility for something which he was already incapable of obtaining.

Let me put it this way: McDavid's declaring the NBA Draft had the same practical effect on his Division I basketball career that my declaring for the NBA Draft after high school would have had on my Division I basketball career. And I was a back-up point guard on a high school intramural team.

March 30

What you've always wanted Official Major League Baseball Team Apache Helicopters.

March 29

The upstairs hall toilet flooded, leaking into a smoke detector which set off all the other smoke detectors. We got a neighbor to disconnect them while Whitlock cleaned up the mess.

Watched the Wonderfalls episode "Woundup Penguin". The previously segment recounts how Eric, the bartender at the Barrel, came to Niagara Falls on his honeymoon and stayed when he found his wife servicing the bellhop.

The incessant singing of the inanimate objects causes Jaye to go to the Barrel, just at closing time. What could have been an intimate moment with Eric in the back room where he sleeps, turns into a search for a prowler. Inside the namesake barrel is a woman Eric recognizes as having walked out on a club sandwich bill earlier in the week.

The woman turns out to be a nun who has lost faith, but a priest is trying to bring her back. The inanimate objects are telling Jaye to bring her back to Him, obviously a hint to bring the nun back to the Lord. Meanwhile, Eric has a long talk with the priest in the bathroom that makes it look like it's a confessional.

Jaye suggests an exorcism to keep the inanimate objects from talking to her. Through a misunderstanding, the nun thinks it's a joke on her. While having an argument in the parking lot, Jaye is told to break a taillight, which she does accidentally.

The nun goes to Jaye's brother Aaron, the theology student, to learn a history of the various forms of exorcism. The nun then proceeds to tie Jaye up in her trailer and perform an exorcism herself. The priest gets stopped by the police for the broken taillight and other cops raid Jaye's trailer.

Turns out there was a warrant for the priest because he had a fathered a child and was a deadbeat dad. Jaye was brought in for hit-and-run regarding the broken taillight. The child's mother comes to the police station and Jaye realizes she was to bring the child to her father. The nun believes she has witnessed a miracle.

Her faith restored, the nun returns to the convent. With a family now, the priest leaves the cloth to join his family. It seemed extreme for the girl's mother to through the police to find the father. He seemed like the sort of guy who would have lived up to his responsibility years ago.

March 28

Watched the Century City episode "To Know Her". A woman wants to charge a man with rape. However, he was twenty miles away at that time. She dated him once and he insinuated nanomachines in the woman's boyfriend that enabled him to feel whatever the boyfriend felt, including their sex that night. The D.A. refused to press charges so the law firm sues for damages.

Maybe it's because I'm a man, but I don't see the rape. She was not forced to anything she didn't want and the defendant did not control the boyfriend. I actually believe the boyfriend the was violated party here. I can see trespassing and violation of privacy, transgressions worth the $11 million in damages she eventually won, but I don't see rape.

Robert Guilluiame played the judge in this case and Archie Kao, the lab tech from CSI, played a bartender. The $11 million award would be worth between $3.3 and $7 million today, depending on your time value of money or inflation rate. The defendant spent $10,000 for the nanomachines, worth $3,101-$6,217 in 2004 dollars.

The B-plot involved a child star who wanted sought emancipation from his parents in order to take a drug postponing puberty in order for him to continue his career. Donnie Most played an ex-child star who took the stand to testify about what happens to child stars after the cheering stops. Eventually, the child drops the case when the lawyer really all he wants is to live like a regular kid.

Went on to the Tru Calling episode "Daddy's Girl". Tru's stepmother Jordan is organizing a special birthday for Tru's father Richard. Jordan doesn't turn up at the party and she winds up on the morgue slab, a victim of a mugging. It takes a long time for Jordan to ask for Tru's help. It gets to the point where Richard is sitting in the morgue hall with the two children from his second marriage. Also, Jordan says,"Stop him," instead of "Help me."

Tru spends the day with Jordan and prevents the mugging. The assailant gets away, but Tru realizes he's the man who shot her mother. He also turns up at Richard's birthday party. Tru's Dad says he didn't shoot Tru's mom, but we discover that Richard hired him to kill his wife.

In the B-plot, Jason Priestly applies for a job with Tru and Davis. At first he's a jerk who drinks Tru's soda and Davis discovers he's disappeared from his previous three jobs. In the replay, he admits to having been dead for three minutes before being revived. Instead of moving more positively through life, he becomes more depressed.

The show ended with the music video for the theme song "Somebody Help Me" as performed by Full Blown Rose. The lead singer looks like Miss Havisham with bright red hair. The program clips only contain Eliza Dushku and Jason Priestly, but none of the other characters.

Finished of with the Tripping the Rift episode "The Sidewalk Soiler". Just before Chode, Gus and Six beam down to the planet Schnozolla, packages of "Chew and Spit" gum mysteriously appear on the transporter platform. The planet is immaculately clean until Chode spits his gum on the sidewalk.

Turns out its that planet where the penalty for littering is death. Chode becomes the center of a sensationalized planetwide trial and execution. Of course, we learn Darth Bobo the clown beamed the gum onto Chode's ship. During Chode's extended electrocution. T'luk asks for mercy and strangely, the audience grants it.

March 27

Having stayed out so late last night, we woke up late and spent the evening watching television. Started with the Cold Case episode "A Time to Hate". The University of Pennsylvania shortstop, a gay athlete, was killed in 1964. His mother has returned to Philadelphia because as she's dying, she finally comes to terms with her son's homosexuality.

There are many suspects. His lover who was a law student then is a judge now and was very much in the closet back then. His "girlfriend" had her heart broken, but as a doctor now, she didn't want to see him hurt. There were his teammates, but they were playing at Cornell that weekend. The straight bartender at the gay bar, who has a history of low-life scams, may have blackmailed patrons, but his uncle who owned the place discouraged such behavior as bad for business. There was a unit of corrupt cops that included a rookie who saw what really happened and did nothing. Turns out it was a trio of neighborhood thugs who beat him up with his own baseball bat.

Unlike other shows, there is an overwhelming feeling of positive closure, as years of pain, suffering and burden are taken away.

Went on to the Water Rats episode "Message from the Dead". Frank and his Internal Affairs contact investigate the murder of a young mother because he might have been a witness to Knocker and Pappas killing Frank's brother Kevin. She was at a "Hen's Night," of a woman getting married and a picture she had with two other potential witnesses was taken from the photo album. One of the girls in the picture is also dead, ostensibly of an overdose as pronounced by Knocker himself. There's still the unknown photographer and a mysterious Swedish girl who entered the country under a false name. So Frank and the IA guy have to track down those girls before Knocker does, but it appears to be at least two versus one. However, in the B-plot, a rookie female constable is involved in tampering evidence and Knocker engages her to search for the Swede. Frank gets blind drunk and tells Rachel he wants to marry her. Knocker suggests to Rachel they quit in a week, run off to the south of France and open a cafe. Rachel wants her son and father to come along as well which Knocker agrees to, but she finds this proposition too sudden.

In the C-Plot, Sykes, Tavita and Cassidy escort a famous model on a photo shoot. The guys have to fight off rowdy intruders and the model goes potty among plants she's allergic to.

Finished off with the CSI: Miami episode "Wannabe". A man stumbles out of a Coconut Grove apartment with a bloody chest wound. Many people see him, as well as the killer finish him a few hundred yards later. While Speedle is collecting evidence, someone runs off with a piece of evidence.

The victim turns out to be a member of the Israeli mob that the Feds are using as informant to get the rest of the syndicate. The MO seems to be that of a hit man who enjoys knifing and torturing his victims.

Speedle's hastily taken photos of the evidence thief leads to a CSI wannabe who gives up the latex glove. The prime suspect's lawyer wants to put the wannabe on the stand to brand the evidence as tainted. Speedle prepares the wannabe for cross-examination, but just before he's schedule to testify, he kills himself. Only one blood drop at the scene definitively links the prime suspect.

In the B-plot, a woman found in a dumpster was a cocktail waitress at a bar that specialized in fried ants. Her co-workers killed her for her lottery ticket.

Whenever David Caruso puts on his sunglasses, he seems like the parody of a cop show star.

March 26

Went to the Knossos meeting hosted by Bill and Maryanne Hussar. The book was The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. It was originally chosen in March 1989 by Minotaur Mimi Stevens. Unfortunately, she was hit by a bus a few days before the meeting and couldn't make it. Held at the then Adams-Morgan apartment of Mel Dickover, it was the first meeting for Mike Marinelli. Generally, new members are a little shy in expressing themselves, but Mike was quite strident that night.

This was considered a group pick and again, Mimi threatened not to show up because her church suddenly scheduled an emergency meeting which she had to attend. She did make it after 10:00. Unfortunately, we didn't see Mike or Mel. The heated discussion back then concerned whether people would like to live in a society ruled by benign telepaths. I think this time around, with current reality, those who thought they would like to live in such a world have second thoughts.

In addition, Gene Pappas' son Danny became the first Knosling to officially read the book and participate in the discussion. Meanwhile, there were four second graders and a third grader upstairs having a grand old time. I didn't read very much of the book, so I can't comment on it.

March 25

Another OOTP progress report. It's September 7th and I'm seven games gack in 7th place. In late July, there was a four-way time for first with two more teams less than five games back. Now, Charlotte has a 6 game lead over Massachusetts. I was in first in late August, but I ran into a Charlotte winning streak that included a sweep of my team.

My power-hitting first baseman was on the shelf for a month. My pitchers are giving up homers. In the September roster expansion, I've discovered a closer that had been languishing in AAA.

A crazy recent game happened again versus New Orleans. Their pitcher couldn't find the plate. So at the end of the top half of the first inning, I led 6-0 on only one hit. The game ended 8-2 with my team having only four hits, but 10 walks.

March 24

Went to Frederick Nissan for an oil change and preventive maintenance, including a flush of the transmission fluid. Stopped off at the MacDonald's on 7th Street and Route 15. As I drove out, I smelled something funny and the car didn't move right. As I got on the ramp to Route 15, I couldn't accelerate, just struggled up on idle. I ended up stopping the overpass over 7th Street.

I immediately called them back and they got a tow truck for me. It seemed the transmission hoses were not properly connected back together, so I was leaking fluid all the way. It was actually a good thing I stopped at MacDonald's and all that transmission fluid leaked while I was parked. Otherwise, I might have been further away when disaster hit. Frederick Motors gave a coupon for a free oil and filter change and a full wash, wax and detail.

ZZ Top
Pakistan believes they have high-value Al-Qaida targets surrounded.
March 23

One more Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction thought. As I watched Bob Seger perform "Old Time Rock and Roll," it didn't have the same magic when the original artists perform other classic tunes. It's not Bob's lack of charisma, but the tune is so great and so easy to sing that he's ceased to own it. And it's not like this is Tom Cruise's fault either.

Most classic pop tunes are so imbued with the character of the performer that a successful cover has to either pay homage to that performance or have the creative chutzpah to go in an entirely different direction. "Old Time Rock and Roll" on the other hand, can be sung by anybody in a karaoke bar, competently and successfully. "Yesterday" is considered the most recorded song in history, but to sing that in a karaoke bar requires a little seriousness on the part of the performer, unlike "Old Time Rock and Roll".

With a performance so elegant and simple, Bob Seger managed to make himself superfluous.

Once upon a time a woman had cancer and decided a boob job would be the centerpiece of her fight against cancer.

Baseball team considers playing in Bay City. You think they'll wear tartan patterns and call themselves the Rollers?

March 22

Taped the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and watched a little bit this morning. Dave Matthews sounds a lot like John Riggins.

Meet the new Dr. Who: Christopher Eccleston.

March 21

Bush gets a surprising endorsement:

In a statement sent to the Arabic language daily al-Hayat, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed 201 people, also urged its European units to stop all operations...

The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

Seeded the back lawn again, put up a bird feeder and a couple of suet cakes. It was pretty windy. Later I put oil in Whitlock's car.

March 20

Watched the Wonderfalls episode "Karma Chamelon". A stuttering girl named Binky claims to be unable to hold a job because of that stutter, but is hired by Wonderfalls because of her incredible folding skills. She starts to look like and dress herself like Jaye.

When Jaye breaks into her van, it looks like Binky's been stalking her. Expecting a Single White Female situation, Jaye confronts Binky who admits the truth - she's really a journalist who's been stalking her as an example of disaffected twentysomethings. So to get into Jaye, she must be her.

So Jaye spills her guts out to her, explaining the slacker lifestyle in great detail. Binky loves the idea so much, she gets Jaye fired so that she can live that lifestyle as well. All this time, the fish on the wall has been telling Jaye,"Get her words out," and she finally realizes what this means. Jaye types out the article Binky had been writing from her notes and gets it accpeted by a magazine. Jaye sends Binky out on her away - an author whose actually sold an article.

March 19

Got back to Tru Calling with the episode "Drop Dead Gorgeous". A phone call awakens Tru, but she's fully dressed. What show with a highly attractive young star wouldn't exploit every opportunity to show them scantily clad? Anyway, the call is from a reporter who's discovered Tru has been instrumental in saving the lives of many total strangers.

Lindsey is running a beauty pageant where the winner earns a modeling contract with a beauty company. A girl drops out at the last minute, but Tru refuses to enter. Harrison is one of the judges along with the husband and wife who run the beauty company.

The daughter of Harrison's loan shark is one of the contestants and he's angling to fix her victory to pay off the debt. But Harrison is too blatant and gets kicked off the judging panel. The naive country girl contestant turns up dead at the end of the competition and Tru rewinds.

Tru doesn't answer the call from the reporter, but tell Davis not to tell the her anything. Tru agrees to be a contestant, but this time Harrison gets kicked off the panel because his sister is competing. Turns out the contestant played by Glory, Clare Kramer, had an affair with the beauty company CEO, and has a tape with which she is blackmailing him to win the pageant. The wife knows about this and put a poison in her make-up remover. Jackie the country girl accidentally used the wrong cosmetics and turned up dead the first time. With the disqualifications, the loan shark's daughter wins and Harrison is off the hook. Who had the authority to make that decision since the entire judging panel had been disqualified?

The reporter turns up at the morgue, pretending to be somebody else. Davis really doesn't tell her very much, but she also knows that there was another woman who could also prevent deaths. Tru is told later by Davis is that other woman was Tru's mother. There's an incredibly unimportant sub-plot where it looks like Tru is permanently off-loading Luc.

And it seems like it's beauty pagent night because that was also the subject of the Tripping the Rift episode "Miss Galaxy 5000". There is a million dollar prize for the winner and Chode intends to enter Six. Darth Bobo the Clown also enters his daughter. After the contestant registrar, who is probably of the same species, says that T'luk is gorgeous, she also enters.

The clown girl kills off most of the contestants. Six frequently rants about objectification of women. When it's down to four competitors, the clown is disqualified because she killed most of the girls. Six is disqualified becuase she's a cyborg. T'luk trips Spamela Anderslutt, disqualifying her so someone on Chode's spacecraft wins the million bucks.

March 18

The Illinois Senate race has garnered attention among the quizbowl community for the question fodder. I related to Whitlock the Jack Ryan story of the investment banker turned teacher and ex-husband of Borg Babe Jeri Ryan. Then she recalled that Jeri's character Ronnie Cooke from Boston Public was a lawyer turned teacher.

Whitlock's also trying to figure out why the Laci Peterson murder attracts so much attention. Sad to say it, but Scott Peterson would be neither be the first, nor the last husband accused of killing his pregnant wife. My knee-jerk response was that Laci was pretty. All Things Considered had a story last night on this subject and I still couldn't get a handle on the unique aspects of this case.

I thought the Amy Fisher case also received too much attention, since it didn't seem like a unique crime. Whitlock thinks it's because news organizations loved saying "Buttafouco".

Watched the Century City episode "Sweet Child of Mine". This is the new series about a Los Angeles law firm in 2030. I hoped it would examine some legal aspects of social science fiction that you can only find on Analog these days. The science fiction portions held together well, but the legal aspects didn't.

The main plot involves a father who illegally brings the embryo of a clone of his son Axel (hence the title of the episode) in order to harvest part of the clone's liver for his son. Youngster attorney Lukas Gold takes the case pro bono, while overseen by Tom Montero, a deposed congressman played by Nestor Carbonell. Carbonell previously played the prime suspect in Mr. Monk Gets Married and Batmanuel in the live-action version of The Tick.

Late in the trial, Lukas discovers that Axel is actually a clone of the father. Since he actually his son's brother, it is left to the grandparents to continue the case on Axel's behalf. After summation, the prosecutor, Chin, played by B.D. Wong, is convinced to settle, as long as the case is kept quiet.

I had three problems here. First of all, Lukas is a pretty incompetent lawyer if he doesn't perform due diligence to discover his client's son is a clone. Then, disqualifying the father as guardian of Axel makes no sense. There is a long history of adults acting as guardians for their minor siblings. Finally, I can't believe a case as explosive as this could be kept out of the papers. Also, don't lawyers do pro bono cases like this for the publicity? Why keep it quiet?

The B-plot involved a 1980s boy band that wouldn't take a member of their original group on tour because he refused rejuvenation treatments. While negotiations continue, one of the members dies of a stroke. At his funeral, the two young-looking guys sing one of their old songs and the old-looking member comes up and it's just like old times.

For character development, we discover that young Lee May was genetically engineered to be the perfect lawyer. She had the ethical gene removed.

Like all legal shows, there are speeches about why someone became a lawyer, and it's always about helping people. And people become doctors to help people on medical shows. And people become police officers to help people to cop shows. Do TV lawyers say they love the dynamic argument of the law? Do TV doctors ever say the like handling body parts? Do TV cops say they like handling guns?

I think I'll stay with this show just for the social science fiction. But I know there are people, say a world-famous media fan who is both a published science fiction critic and a regular watcher of The Practice, for whom this is the perfect show.

March 17

For St. Patrick's Day, it's Baltimore Day. First, Jim Palmer accuses Brady Anderson of using steroids. Those whispers have been around since he suddenly slugged 50 homers in 1996. I thought Brady's body looked right for his frame, not wound too tight like those associated with steroids. I personally believe he was corking his bat. But both explanations leave out why his home run production dropped in subsequent years. If he didn't get caught with whatever he was doing, why stop?

Terrell Owens is now a Philadelphia Eagle. The talking heads - John Clayton, Scott Garceau and whatever Philadelphia writer they got to appear on SportsCenter - all said that TO's chance of playing for the Eagles were slim and none. Do these guys do any digging or thinking on their own, or do they just repeat NFL press releases?

Just another reminder that Playmakers live on in Baltimore - Former Raven Wanted for Alleged Kidnapping. There was already a sports angle when a naked man, bleeding from a gunshot wound turned up at Cal Ripken's doorstep. Now former Ravens running back Dameon Deshaun Hunter is a suspect in the kidnapping.

Watched the Water Rats episode "Wrecked". In the main plot, the boat trio find a small outboard beached at a National Park. After seeing a bloody shirt and footprints, they follow to a man burying another man's body. He flatly refuses to speak, even to say his name. When a lawyer is reported missing that matches the dead man's description, their suspect turns out to be the victim's brother-in-law. At this point, we're all strongly suspecting that he's protecting his sister, since his confessions appear inconsistent. The wife did commit the murder and she threatens to jump from the roof a tall building, but Knocker talks her off.

The B-plot involves the illegal looting of a wrecked ship called the Galway Castle. Someone involved in the trade of the material goes to the site of the wreck and nearly dies from getting stuck.

March 16

It may not be all that bad to play in the "play-in-game" or "opening game" played tonight in Dayton. Consider that two non-power schools gets the stage all to themselves and one of them will actually go home claiming an NCAA tournament win. If you rank 61, 62, or 63, your blowout loss to the number one seed will get lost in the shuffle unless you can make it close.

Finished watching the mini-series Children of Dune, which also includes the sandwich novel Dune Messiah. The special effects are excellent, especially of the huge spacecraft landing at Arrakeen. The cast is serviceable and still nice to look at. The biggest names are Susan Sarandon as Princess Wencesia and Alice Krige as the new Lady Jessica.

It's been years since I read the books so I can't speak to how faithful the adaptation is. So I just pondered the age-old themes that power corrupts and heroes are human. A different sort of corruption now embodied by Alia must be defeated in a power rooted in the desert, just as in the first novel.

As House Corrino sisters, Julie Cox and Susan Sarandon look similar. However, Jessica Brooks as Ghanima doesn't look like her TV mother Barbara Kodetová, but more like the movie Chani, Sean Young

The clothes aren't quite as outlandish as in the previous mini-series, but Ghanima wears this to meet her betrothed Farad'n and this as her wedding dress. In scenes in a grove, Ghanima, Irulan and Jessica wear outfits so mundane, you'd think it was a movie set in the 1950s.

Alec Newman returns as Paul the mad, blind prophet. He denounces Alia's corruption and upturns the tables of merchants, just like another famous messianic figure. Later he proclaims himself as a voice in the wilderness like a predecessor to a messiah. Whitlock and I and few other people I've talked to love the scourging of the temple. Perhaps because it's the moment where Jesus is most human.

I'll save my criticism for my favorite scene from when I read the books. Alia battles a fighting machine for practice. As she progresses to higher, more dangerous levels, the experience becomes erotic for her. She removes her clothes, both from the heat and her sexual excitement. This could easily take three minutes, combined with driving electric guitar music. The nudity could easily be covered with strategically placed machines and long shots of a body double in a flesh-colored leotard. Throw in a sweaty shot that would appear orgamsmic out of context.

The filmmakers chose 5-10 ex-model Daniela Amavia as Alia whose looks remind me of Elizabeth Anne Allen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She's a typical Joss Whedon girl-of-the-week, not a pre-born who's experienced too much at an early age. The fighting machine consists of self-programmed blades. Alia only removes her clothes when she's finished as if she wants to shock Paul when he finds her. In the book, she seemed more like an adolescent caught playing with herself.

Overall, the finished product probably isn't as satisfying if you haven't read the books. The machinations don't quite hold together in the visual format so just take in the aforementioned big themes.

March 15

Can't get into any details, but I heard this story from a friend of a friend. A family can't take the 21-month girl they adopted from China on a plane to the United States because the kid is a terrorist threat.

March 14

While Whitlock went to the spa, Miranda and I went to Sally Ride to play on the playground and hike in the woods. The ACC Finals took place in this period and I was surprised as anyone at the changing fortunes of that game. Give Gary Williams credit - these guys work as do his NBA alums Juan Dixon and Steve Blake.

Billy Packer certainly made a jerk of himself, not in merely his opinion downgrading St Joe's, but in his retort which recounted history where Wake Forest team defeated the Hawks. Billy, you ain't playing and Martelli wasn't coaching that team. Just challenge Martelli to prove you wrong and leave it at that.

March 13

Miranda went to a birthday slumber party for her cousin Victoria. We started by watching the Tripping the Rift episode "Mutilation Ball". Mutilation Ball resembles basketball except that all the players wear chainsaws and dismember their opponents.

Confederation ships, which resemble Star Trek, want Chode and his crew to retrieve Malak, the retired superstar who still can't move the Expos to Washington. When Chode and Gus abduct Malak, T'nuk decides to do some happy on the retired athlete since he is bound. Unfortunately, she breaks his member and he turns out to be a robot and not the real Malak.

So the crew finds the real Malak at a party planet, fat and out of shape. As the ship approaches the stadium, Malak's body is not holding up well and they must do the Uma Thurman/adrenaline directly to the heart trick.

The Confederation team is opposing the Dark Clowns whose cheerleaders have clown faces and look really scary. A Marv Albert takeoff is one of the announcers and is called Marv Alien. Malak's first play is a dunk that stops because his heart and entire body breaks into pieces in mid-flight. The Confederation lets Chode and his crew go.

Moved on to Wonderfalls and the opening episode "Wax Lion". Jaye, an over-educated Brown grad finds herself working at a souvenir store at Niagara Falls. A wax lion from a vending machine starts talking to her.

Plot synopsis would be impossible because it doesn't really come together to a satisfying conclusion. Gabriel Hogan who played offensive lineman Guard Dog Fredericks on Playmakers is a UPS-type guy that the the wax lion tells Jaye to fix up with her sister. The sister Sharon admits she's a lesbian and he gets an allergic reaction to peanuts he ate. On the way to hospital, Sharon ahs to perform and emergency tracheotomy. At the hospital, Sharon falls in love the guy's ex-wife and he falls in love with a candy striper.

Whitlock thinks it's a rip-off of Tru Calling, including the successful older sister, the confused twenty-something, and being pulled along by events she can't really control. Tom Shales compares it to Twin Peaks. The most obvious difference is that David Lynch loaded his show with eye candy on both sides of the gender line. I think quirky shows need an optimistic lead character like Agent Cooper and Constable Benton Frasier. I don't know how long I can stick with Jaye's angst.

Also, this is the first fantastic show I can think of where the central character's insanity may be a reasonable explanation for fantastic events.

March 12

How does The Answer Guy feel about the Answer Man?

Finished watching Judas. Supposedly, this has been finished for three years, but networks shied away from it because of the controversy it might cause. After The Passion of the Christ, this one flies underneath the radar screen.

The big names were Tim Matheson as Pilate and Bob Gunton as Caiaphas. Maryland native Johnathon Schaech as Judas is a Peter Gallagher-lookalike matinee idol. Jonathan Scarfe is a heftier than expected Jesus that reminded me of a pothead Donal Logue.

This had a shallow network tone to it. The best scenes had Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate all trying to shirk responsibility for Jesus' death. This is what network TV does best - show evil slipping accountability, not with any conviction for their actions.

I think the historical Judas was probably motivated by money or jealousy. These are venal reasons that may no longer resonate with materially comfortable audiences. This Judas was a rebel and zealot. He doesn't understand that Jesus does not want to remake the world politically. So the conflict here is between the political man and the spiritual man. I prefer the depiction in Jesus of Nazareth where Ian McShane's Judas turns Jesus over, believing he will triumph in a battle of ideas. He lacks faith and wants Jesus to prove himself. This is a spiritual betrayal Christians can identify with, rather than the traditional betrayal because of money.

Whitlock was disappointed there wasn't a resurrection scene. It ended with the apostles taking down the body of Judas from the tree, as I thought it should, because this was the story of Judas. Perhaps, they could have shown the resurrection and have the burial of Judas by apostles still not aware of the resurrection to close the movie.

Went on to the CSI episode "XX". Several body parts fall off a bus carry women prisoners on work release. The first assumption was that an inmate was attempting a breakout by tying herself to the undercarriage and the knots just couldn't hold.

But the autopsy reveals a blow to the head of the victim sustained before she became roadkill. Gina Torres is neither a laser-wielder or demonic god, but still towers Amazon-like over Marg Helgenberger in her role as warden. The victim had a girlfriend inside who saw her continuing to bang the bus driver in the back seat of the ride. So the lover offed her with a lock in a sock and tied her to the under carriage.

The only thing I don't get is that the victim, Baby Girl, was accounted for at 1:00. The bus left at 1:30. So in half an hour, the killer was able to find appropriate materials and tie to her the undercarriage? In prison?

In the B-plot, a body is found dead in his brother's apartment with incredibly neat stab wounds. The occupant is mentally challenged and has David Marciano, the original Ray Vecchio from Due South as his guardian. Interestingly, both DS and CSI were produced by Alliance Atlantis.

Anyway, the dead brother had lost a lot of money day trading, then figured he had a system to beat the blackjack table. So he takes the retarded brother's life savings out of the bank and proceeds to lose all the money. His ace in the hole is an insurance policy so he sticks a knife in the wall and stabs himself four times.

Of course since it's a suicide the insurance company won't pay. Ray Vecchio obstructed justice because he thought his charge did the killing and suddenly the poor guy's all alone.

Not waiting for that click in the head that comes from a bottle of booze.
March 11

Since Ashley injured her leg in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, how about casting a woman as Brick?

Two observations on watching the Big 12 tournament game between Texas A&M and Missouri. Quinn Snyder looks like Robert Patrick from Terminator 2. The greyish green of the out-of-bounds areas look like the bathroom tile at a very old school.

March 10

Watched the Water Rats episode "Respect". Two Asian bodies turn up in the water and Jeff brings Detective Li, the Asian crimes specialist to head the investigation. There's the usual culture clash. Eventually the search leads to an English ship that just left an hour before.

The ship's carpenter comes forward to say that he tried to smuggle his family and some other people who paid him into Australia from China. Unfortunately, they died from carbon monoxide poisoning from the engine in the compartment they stowed away in, so he threw them overboard.

In the B-plot, Rachel and Knocker make their engagement public. Internal affairs talk Frank into searching Knocker's house. Frank finds Swiss bank statements and a false New Zealand passport. When IA goes in, they find Rachel, but no evidence.

March 9

From Baseball America:

Pete Cera, a longtime minor league and major league trainer, died Feb. 24 in Hazleton, Pa. No age at death was listed in the obituary.

Cera worked in some capacity in baseball for 60 years, taking a job with the Hazleton Red Sox in 1938, eventually retiring as assistant clubhouse manager with the Phillies in 1998.

Cera worked as traveling secretary and trainer in the minors for a number of teams. He made it to the majors as a clubhouse manager with the Phillies in 1972, earning a ring when the Phillies won their only World Series in 1980.

And from Historic Baseball:

Pasquale "Pete" Cera (Died: Feb. 24, 2004 in Philadelphia) Cera, 86, was the Phillies clubhouse assistant from 1974 to 1998. According to his obituary, he served a number of roles for the team from trainer, traveling secretary, clubhouse and manager's helper and players' friend. He was the first winner of the Richie Ashburn Special Achievement Award, given to the Phillies employee who shows, among other things, the most passion for the game.

My wife's family called him "Packy". Previous entries about him can be found on March 9, 2001 and April 16, 2002. Accordingly to Whitlock, Packy was trainer for the Phillies, then as the team wanted people with college degrees in that position, he got demoted down to clubhouse manager.

We lost Paul Winfield on Sunday. He had that world-weariness that something bad was going to happen because something bad always happened to that person.

Watched the Monk season finale "Mr. Monk goes to Prison". An inmate is poisoned less than an hour before he is scheduled to be executed. One of the prime suspects is Dale the Whale, a massively fat man Monk sent to prison. Adam Arkin played the first Dale, but now he's portrayed by Tim Curry. Timmyboy is less disgusting and charming in his evil. Dale wants a window, which the prison won't start until the murder case is solved. Dale promises that if Monk solves it, he will tell all he knows of the death of Monk's wife Trudy.

The prison librarian, played by Kathy Baker, says that a particularly vicious con named Spider threatened the dead man. Monk goes undercover and befriends Spider while alienating a coterie of neo-Nazis. However, the librarian was just telling stories. It all begins with a billionaire who just died of liver disease. Kathy Baker's son wrote a book about the billionaire and was being sued for libel. Now the prisoner was going to donate his organs and his tissue type was just right for the billionaire. So Kathy Baker paid someone to poison the death row inmate with dozens of toxins that made his organs unsable.

Dale the Whale said that the bomb that killed Trudy was intended for her. Monk and Sharona must go to New York to seek a man named Warrick Tennyson.

March 8

Marvelous comment from Management By Baseball. Scroll down to February 21.

People who are good at investing other people's money tend to not be good at investing their own. Tom Hicks, the owner of the Texas Rangers, generated most of his wealth using other people's money and working sweetheart deals for public subsidies and working kickback-like favors running pension operations. That is not to be dismissed as a skill. It requires brains and panache.

But owning and operating your own business in a competitive area away from patronage requires a different set of skills. I frequently ask the question of managers assessing or considering the hiring of other managers at any level (including CEO). The question is, "If [candidate] was the assistant manager of a 7-11, would he do a great job, an okay job or would he be a failure?". I call that The Assistant Manager of a 7-11 Test. Tom Hicks wouldn't pass the test (and neither would about 40% of the CEOs at the helm of half-billion dollar and bigger corporations in the U.S.). C-level execs like to pretend this stuff isn't important, that what they do is "different". And while it's different, you have to master the Assistant Manager of a 7-11 skill set to have any chance at all of succeeding higher up.

Watched the Tripping the Rift episode "God is Our Pilot". Imagine a bawdy Futurama done with computer animation, but not quite as clever. There's Captain Chode, Gus the robot, Six the whore and two more crew members whose names I can't remember.

So Chode and Gus go back to the Big Bang and God isn't there. Apparently robots are theists, otherwise they'd have to worship their creators and, have you ever seen their creators? But actually, they unknowingly killed God with their timecraft when they weren't there.

So when Chode and Gus return, the universe is slightly different without God. People have not concept of evil, that is until Chode and Gus tell them, and all hell breaks loose. Chode and Gus must return to prevent their previous selves from killing God.

Now it's pretty rough stuff I wouldn't recommend for children below 12, but a lot of the banter is about at middle school level. However, you could actually have a serious philosophical discussion about the episode. Were Chode and Gus the snake in the Garden? When they save God, he makes them his sons, then allows them to be run over and killed by their previous selves' vehicle. Is it inevitable that God sacrifices his children?

March 7

I buried the irises in more dirt and planted some grape hyacinths in a pot. Whitlock and Miranda cleaned out the birdbath and I helped them put up a new bird feeder. The old cedar feeder had its rope eaten by squirrels. We can still fix it if we get a narrow enough chain to run through it. Metal will be a little tougher for those squirrels to eat through. Then Miranda and Whitlock went to the top of the hill and around the block, about a mile in total, I think.

Watched the Enterprise episode "Azati Prime". Mayweather and Tripp sneak into the Xindi complex with an Insectoid shuttle and we see some cool underwater special effects. The weapon can be destroyed if they maneuver the shuttle down a trench and fire photon torpedoes at a thermal exhaust port which will cause a chain reaction, destroying the weapon.

Archer cold-bloodedly destroys three Xindi at an observation post, then decides he will pilot the shuttle in a kamikaze mission. But first, Daniels takes him to the future, tells Archer to negotiate and gives him a Xindi artifact from the future. Apparently the Sphere-builders were merely manipulating the Xindi who fight with the Federation in the climatic battle.

Archer gets captured and may have gotten to Degra. Meanwhile, with the incrediblyy incompetent T'Pol in command, the ship is falling to pieces.

March 6

As spring pokes its head out of the hole, it's good to watch television. We start with Monk and "Mr. Monk Gets Married". An older man refurbishing an antique desk finds a note written by a prospector who found a gold mine, then killed his partner. The same older man shows his younger partner the note and gets similarly killed.

Disher calls Monk and Sharona about his mother who's suddenly married a younger man Disher suspects is gay. Sharona and Monk pose as a married couple at the same home where Disher's mom and Dalton, our murderer, are also in for marriage counseling. Monk, Sharona and Dalton are all trying to figure out the prospector's cryptic statement that "the gold is in the journals".

We see in the flashbacks that the prospector is played by William Sanderson AKA J.F. Sebastian and Larry. He had actually melted the gold and wrote with the gold in the ink.

Went on to the Angel episode "Shells". Amy Acker as Illyria now wears a sexy catsuit that reminds me of Willow's intendant costume. Illyria goes into another dimension to raise a demon army, but it's been too long and they ain't there anymore. By the way, her superpowers include altering time so that she can move superfast. Illyria returns to Wesley who promises to help because she looks like Fred, which is awfully shallow of him.

Moved on the the Water Rats episode "Unfinished Business". After killing Chris Kollias, we now suspect Knocker Harrison will kill his widow as well. However, internal affairs tells Frank they're onto Knocker. Rachel introduces Knocker to her father and son.

In the murder plot, Gavin accompanies Rachel and Frank to investigate the death of a trailer park resident and we learn what the Australian equivalent of white trash is like. In the B-plot, Tavita and Sophie chase down a hunky flasher.

Finoished off with the CSI: Miami episode "Money for Nothing". Horatio stumbles onto an armored car robbery and shoots one of the suspects, but not before putting on his sunglasses.

When the other suspect is found, the $3.2 million he's stolen is all counterfeit. One of the armored car drivers admits he switched the bills, but only because someone was holding his sister hostage. When they find the basement where the sister was held and the fake money printed, the blood doesn't coagulate, so CSI suspects the abduction was staged.

The sister had help from a guy within the Federal Reserve who was supposed to escape to South America with her. But she doublecrosses him and almost escapes with her real boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Yelina notices Ray's illegitimate daughter, but thinks it's really Horatio's.

March 5

Watched the Angel episode "A Hole in the World". Fred gets infected by a sarcophagus and spends the rest of the episode dying while Wesley sits by helpelessly. Knox was responsible because he worship Illyria, not the region of Greece, but one of the Old Ones.

Spike and Angel take the superjet to England for the cure to Fred. Angel mentions taking in a West End play. Perhaps they should have mentioned When Harry Met Sally?

After fighting some monsters, Spike and Angel meet Paul Atreides, guardian of sarcophagi of the Old Ones. It's a huge pit that goes all the way to other side of the Earth. The guardian explain that if they save Fred, thousands more will die horribly. Spike wonders, it the pit goes all the way down, there's somebody in New Zealand looking up at him. Yeah, it's probably Orlando Bloom.

So Angel accepts that Fred must die and Fred gets a new blue hairdo.

March 4

I was going to make a point-by-point response to gay marriage screed by Orson Scott Card, but GatorGSA does a much better job. Let me just add something based on this quote from Card:

But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society -- to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.

No, it doesn't change the protected status of marriage one iota. Everyone currently married retains their rights. Advocates would just extend those rights to more people. And you want the preserve the civilizing effect of commitment by preventing certain people from committing? Who's Humpty Dumpty here?

March 3

Saw Dream Job this morning. I realized they probably don't spend this much time in real-life evaluating their desk anchors. They just look at a bunch tapes, because the candidate probably has anchored somewhere else before, and reject them in ten minutes. I agree with James Quintong that the Fact or Fiction competition was quite interesting and probably could make an interesting show on its own. Ohmigod, a television show involving real thinking, or at least purposeful regurgitation.

March 2

Another view of Saturday's taping of Silver Screen Test from a contestant

March 1

Don't want to go into any details, but I think I've finally figured how torture works, and how the mindless repetition can wear a victim down.

Watched the Water Rats episode "Police Issue 13519". In a breaking and entering, the suspect is found with a gun that used to belong to Kevin Holloway, Frank's brother and Knocker's former partner who was killed in the line of duty. To top it off, the suspect is the Nick Kollias, the son of the attorney representing Pappas, whom Frank killed and always believed had killed Kevin.

Nick says he got the gun from his father's safe, which also had a set of papers. For some reason his dad Chris is willing to let get charged with Kevin's death because he is afraid of something. That something is Knocker himself, whom he meets at a secret location. Harrison was involved in Kevin's murder, as the papers from Pappas suggest, so Knocker kills Chris Kollias, then asks Rachel to marry him. By the way, Kollias seems to live in the same big house as Alex's old boyfriend.

In the B-plot, only one of two are recovered from a boating accident. Tavita suspects foul play when he spots the survivor and the widow in a loving embrace. When he pursues his hunch, the wife charges harassment and Hawker forces him to apologize.

The Undertow...
|All the Lies|
Iraq on the Record|(Requires Acrobat)
Bush Mistakes Man for Woman|
Creekstone Sticks to Its Request for Testing All Animals |
Fish. Barrel. Boom.|
Googlewhack Adventure|
A Very Naughty Boy: The Life Of Graham Chapman|
TV Tropes & Idioms|
House Gymnastics|
I'm Shocked, Shocked!|
|Roger Healey|
|Anthony Nelson|
|I Got Ya Expos Right Here!|
|Grand Mental Station|
|Post-Traumatic Stress is Un-American|
|Opportunity Rover's Blog|
|Spirit Rover's Blog|
|Flip Flops|
|Imaginary Girlfriends|
|Writing and Publishing 101|
|Gene Wolf on Writing|
|Exterminate All Rational Thought|
|London Riot Re-enactment Society|
|Good Tutorials|
|Tresclub OOTP Utilities|
|OOTP Ratings Chart|
|Boing Boing|

|The Answer Guy|
|Athletic Reporter|
|BallPark Digest|
|Dave Barry|
|Bears Will Attack|
|The Best of Both Worlds|
|Fred Bush|
|Business of Baseball|
|Margaret Cho|
|Bill Conlin|
|Bitter, Deceptive, and Petty!|
|Jessie Connolly|
|Cooch's World|
|James Dinan|
|Dispatches from Tanganyika|
|Sean Eustis|
|Ginohn News|
|Heck's Kitchen|
|The Humbug Journal|
|Idle Words|
|It's Not Me, It's Him, Right?|
|Juliepede's Bug House|
|Bill Maher|
|Making Light|
|Management by Baseball|
|Now That Everyone Else Has One|
|Nuclear Ember|
|Penguin in the City|
|Political Animal|
|James Quintong|
|Random Neuron Firings of a Unique Individual|
|Shorter Quizbowl|
|The Sideshow|
|De Stijl|
|Stochastic Thoughts|
|Summary Opinions|
|Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company|
|Thought for the Day|
|TRASH Times|
|Unqualified Offerings|
|Oliver Willis|
|Would you Eva?|

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Last revised March 31, 2004
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