March 23 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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 Permalink
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.