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May 2003 Archives

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May 31

Took Miranda to see Finding Nemo. This was the first time we took her to a movie. It has an ungodly high rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

I enjoyed it, but it wasn't the greatest movie I've ever seen. It's very hard to find something wrong with it. Briefly, Nemo is the only surviving egg from a family of clownfish whose siblings and mother were killed by a barracuda attack. So we have a protective single father, Marlin, voiced by Albert Brooks. Nemo gets himself caught by a diver/dentist who puts him in his office aquarium in Sydney. Marlin must rescue his Nemo and bring him home.

Along the way, Marlin is helped most by Dori, a blue tang with short-term memory loss voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. Nearly every review mentions lobsters with New England accents using the word "wicked," even though they appear for only five seconds. My favorite character was Mr. Ray, the teacher and the bus for the school beneath the sea in the Great Barrier Reef.

Adults will love the references. A Great White Shark is named Bruce, after the mechanical shark in Jaws. There is a double reference in that he has an Australian accent like the Bruces in the philospky department from Monty Python. The sharks are in a 12-step program to avoid eating fishmeat. The saegulls say only one word,"Mine!" When Dori and Marlin find themselves on a boat dock, the seagulls suuround them like in The Birds. I'm sure you'll find more yourself.

Miranda was scared by the sharks, the angler fish and the whale. She'd cover her ears because she could close her eyes with her lids. Although she made a stink when we wouldn't leave until the credits were over.

When we got home, we watched the Enterprise episode "Regeneration". Berman and Braga screw continuity completely by having three humans find Borg in the Artic Circle. They soon find themselves assimilated and Archer's ship has to chase them across the galaxy. The Enterprise gets near and puts some Tarkeleans modified to be Borg in sickbay. One of them infects Phlox. While the doctor cures himself with intense doses of radiation, the Enterprise eventually blows up the Borg ship. But not before the Borg have transmitted the location of Earth to their homeworld.

Continued to watch the Twilight Zone episode "The Executions of Grady Finch". Jeremy Sisto plays Grady Finch, a prisoner sentenced to die. The lethal injection mechanism malfunctions, an electrical fire and a failure in the electric chair fail to kill. Even when the son of the murdered man can't kill him when his gun jams. Grady believes a guardian angel is protecting him and a retrial finds him innocent. He confesses to his defense attorney that he really was guilty and a statue of Nemesis, the goddess of justice, falls on him and kills. I thought I might be surprised that Grady was being kept alive so that the real murderer might be exposed, but would kill him in the process, instead they took the easy way out.

The second segment, entitled "Homecoming," concerns a Delta Force soldier in Iraq. Back home, the family gets a message that he's MIA and they have to be prepared for his not coming home. He turns up, but his teenage son notices some mysterious soldiers talking to him outside. The father really has been killed, but he's trying to make amends with his wife and son before he must "follow the light" like the other members of his unit. A similar theme has been explored before on MASH and my own unpublished Vietnam story "Three Soldiers".

Moved on to the CSI episode "Play with Fire". In the main plot, a waitress from Omaha is found dead in a high school press box. Turns out she was a prison groupie with the hots for a convicted murderer. This con also had a heroin problem and was still in debt to his prison dealers, which he paid by having the future victim do quickies. It looks the heroin dealer's outside connection may be done the strangling, but he size of the ligature marks means it's the con. You always hurt the ones you love.

In the other plot, the lab blows up with Greg, the primary victim. Catherine and Warrick discover the culprit to be Catherine herself when she put a flammable possible poison in a hood. Meanwhile, Sara is vaguely showing feelings for Gil.

Finished off the evening watching the CSI: Miami episode "Freaks and Tweaks". Horatio, Speedle and Delko run from a murder scene in a meth lab when Delko's interest in candid photos taken on holiday (nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more) sets off a massive explosion. The victim was playing a guitar, surrounded by three other methheads, when one of them took a pool cue to the guy, just not a music lover. The victim was then bound with duct tape, then a Rube Goldberg device used to rig a bomb just for kicks. What I don't get is how anybody up for five days on a meth jag can have the fine motor skills remaining to construct a complicated bomb.

On a side note, one of the methheads is played by Azura Skye who played Cassie Newton on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Introduced, imprisoned in the basement of a doghouse, she knew Horatio's dead brother.

In the much better B-plot, Calleigh works an apparent robbery of a driver and finds the victim in an acquaintance and a friend of Alexx. The shooter was a young boyfriend of the victim's wife. She gave him the gun and illegally prescribed eyedrops to her husband to relieve migranes. We find the eyedrops meant the victim didn't see the shooter. I'm more shocked he was driving with that kind of vision impairment. Good acting by Khandi Alexander and Emily Proctor as they deal with their emotions.

May 30

It was International Night at Sally Ride Elementary. I dressed in my barong and Miranda wore an embroidered blouse as a tied dress. My parents cooked up some lumpia made by their favorite supplier.

Many children, with help from their parents, produced science fair-type displays of particular countries. All kids got "passports" which were stamped by stickers at the various countries. I helped Whitlock with a table where she promoted the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools program for next year. This year Sally Ride had Spanish and will be adding Arabic next year.

Many people provided food which I ate took much of. A couple of Filipino families had displays. All of the kids who produced something for the program, including Miranda, received a certificate and an inflatable globe.

May 29

Watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Touched". Buffy, driven out of the house by Dawn, Faith and Potential Slayers, kicks a poor middle-aged man out of his house, and bunks down for the night. Giles and the Potentials capture a Bringer, whom they can communicate with through one of Willow's spells. It was funny because the Bringer spoke through Andrew.

Spike catches up with Buffy and unlike the William the Bloody that accompanied Drusilla, this simpering wimp swears undying love to Buffy as they spend the night together not having sex. The First comes to Faith in the form of the Mayor, then she and Principal Wood do the nasty. Willow finds Kennedy has cleared the bedroom of the Potentials so they can engage in hot girl-on-girl action. Actually, in my experience, the presence of others in the room has frequently not been a sexual deterrent to hormone-crazed humans under the age of 25. All this sex soon gets Xander and Anya and they're engaging on the kitchen floor.

Buffy leaves Spike and goes to the vineyard where she runs away from Caleb a lot before finding the magic slayer axe. Faith and the Potentials go somewhere near there and fight some bringers before a bomb goes off.

May 28

Finally finished Declare by Tim Powers, which was the Knossos February pick. Take your standard Tim Powers novel and give it a John Le Carre veneer. Unfortunately, I never liked the Le Carre novels I've read, so I found those elements an unnecessary impediment to enjoyment of the novel. If you like both Power and Le Carre, I think you'll enjoy Declare. If you are the reverse from me and don't like the fantastic intruding on your espionage thriller, I don't think you'll like it either. The novel also suffers from infodump and lack of emphasis on the important points of the story. Several times I found myself asking,"What's the point? What do these characters want to do? What's the suspense about?" It also ends with a card game, much like Last Call. Call this one an acquired taste.

May 27

Submitted two episodes and finished one episode of Silver Screen Test. At this rate, I may start offering them to other public access outlets in the other jurisdictions.

May 26

Came back from Balticon. Didn't stay around to eat at the Inner Harbor. I guess we just love our home. Kauai did not ignore us for leaving him all alone all weekend. I was too tired to cut our already too long grass. I spent a lot of time sleeping.

Frodo, Samwise and somebody else in Why Can't They Just Lose the Ring in the Sink
Why Can't They Just Lose the Ring in the Sink.
Sheila and Omar Rayyan. Miranda's head in the corner.
Sketching with Sheila and Omar Rayyan.
Person playing Dance Dance Revolution
In the Dance Dance Revolution corner of the computer gaming room.
Nine people arranged like Hollywood Squares
Sci Fi Squares. I'll take Marty Gear to block.
Restroom doors with the silhouettes of Bart and Lisa Simpson
Unique restroom doors at Burger King.
Miranda doing a puppet show with ballons
What did the wiener dog say to the sword?
Miranda sticks her finger in a black fountain
Like a waterfall, but totally vertical.
Snow leopard, tiger and panda marionettes
Probably looks better in motion.
Hannah Shapero. No description can do it justice.
Hannah Shapero and her award-winning hall costume.
May 25

Miranda did a marvelous job as Samwise in Why Can't They Just Lose the Ring in the Sink. Read the link. Dave Barry's column was the entire script. A number of children slated to taken major roles never showed up. A member of the audience was quickly enlisted as the narrator for all parts of the column not specifically spoken by a character. The entire Bane family participated including Rene as Frodo and Bob as Aragorn.

For lunch, we went to Pizzeria Uno. The mealcheck was in a folder imprinted with Toronto Entertainment District, which seemed strange in a restaurant in Baltimore, but based in Chicago.

After lunch, Miranda sketched dragons with artist guests of honor Sheila and Omar Rayyan. Their style certainly has Middle Eastern influences, but it's whimsical as well. I think you can see both Brian Froud and Aubrey Beardsley in their work. I don't know what Miranda finished. I don't remember seeing any dragons she drew.

Whitlock and I snuck off to watch the teens play Dance Dance Revolution. Quizbowlers Victoria Groce and James Quintong are among those who have joined the revolution. Last night, I watched some kid doing Max 300 for at least one minute. Whitlock was intrigued, looking for confirmations of the game's addictiveness from among those waiting. Gene Pappas stopped in and didn't like DDR for the concept of turning yourself into anime character. Unfortunately, all the computer games were interrupted for two panels, including one for Bryce. I thought that was weird, setting up a dedicated room for computer gaming, then kicking the gamers out for two hours to hold panels. Weren't other rooms available?

Whitlock went back up to the room to rest while I went to Children's Programming. The filk guest of honor was there singing songs. There was "The Anti-Singalong Song," which asked why singers ask the audience to help them do their job when no other entertainers or other professions do that. He sang a song the favorite "The Cat Came Back," then added a Tasha Yar filk about Denise Crosby somehow always ending up The Next Generation.

I ended the day watching Sci-Fi Squares. It was the SF version of Hollywood Squares. Some celebrities didn't show up. Marty Gear, Greg (not Gary) Weaver and the entire Dick family were among the names I remember. Caitlin Dick, the young daughter, was a last-minute substitute and seemed to be getting all the questions about SF from before she was born. As a question to her was read, somebody from the audience with yell,"In 1922..." and that would get a big laugh.

May 24

Took Miranda to Children's Programming. Tomorrow, they'll perform Why Can't They Just Lose the Ring in the Sink, a column by Dave Barry. Miranda will play Samwise.

Went over to Burger King and saw the restroom doors on the left. Took Miranda back to Children's Programming and she did a small puppet show involving a balloon sword and a ballon wiener dog. We had dinner at the Light Street Pavillion which didn't have too many open eatery places. Most of it was undergoing renovation. I had some fish and fries. Miranda liked the black fountain where she could stick a finger in it. There's also a Baltimore Zoo store there that had some marionettes moving to an automatic mechanical puppeteer.

Did my trivia contest as "Who Wants to Win a Million Credits". Andrew Love was the big winner, getting knocked down to 32,000 credits. He missed the 250,000 credit question: In the television mini-series Dinotopia, Karl Scott answers the examination question,”How shall we live?” with the lyrics to what song? The correct answer is "Bohemian Rhapsody".

After the contest, I went to a Buffycon party where I talked to Diane Weinstein and world-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster. Then I visited Joan and Dave Wendland. They sent me two copies of Showbiz Shuffle which I gave away on previous episodes of Silver Screen Test. I sent them copies of those shows and were amazed at Martin's knowledge. Martin himself stopped in earlier the evening and they were amazed by his physical presence.

I played a game of Showbiz Shuffle with Dave. You play a movie mogul and the object is to complete films consisting of a director, two stars, and two supporting actors. They use caricatures so they don't have to pay the real people, but you can easily figure out who they're talking about. The fun part is, after completing a film, guessing the sort of movie that results. How about a Coen Brothers drama starring Marlon Brando and Patrick Stewart? Dave kept getting all-guy romances.

I also played in a demo of XMachina. Joan describes it as Junkyard Wars meets Apples to Apples. Each player takes a turn as the client who wants a particular device built. The other players take their random assortment of parts and attempts to BS the client into buying their story about how this particular assemblage of parts will do the job and fulfill the contract. I had a vacuum cleaner and plastic bags in my hand, which the other players couldn't understand why I kept wanting to use. Those who know my personal situation know why.

Hannah Shapero showed up with her award-winning hall costume.

May 23

We went up to Balticon. I took Miranda to the Knossos meeting while Whitlock slept, but we left halfway through because she was bored. The book was Nevermore by Harold Schecter. Edgar Allan Poe and Davy Crockett solve a mystery in Baltimore. Gene Pappas, who selected the book, gave it a terrible review. He felt the plot was predictable, the characters cardboard, and the writing turgid. World-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster read a passage out loud and it sounded even worse. I didn't read the book.

The Enterprise panel had, besides myself, Howard Newby, Philip Thorne, Michael Pederson, and Susan Wright. Much of the discussion centered around the continuity errors in the series. Apparently the net contains several "fan saves" which rationalize these seeming inconsistencies. I made a few remarks about the acting and writing. As a cheat sheet, I printed out previous reviews from here on Eucalyptus and realized the season wasn't as godawful as I remembered.

I rushed over to the Alien Sex panel where I was supposed to be the moderator. That task eventually fell to Lawrence Schoen. Ray Ridenour posed the question at what physical characteristic would a potential alien partner no longer being appealing? Non-mammal? Chitin? The other panelists were Robert Balder and Jennifer Dunne.

May 22

Earlier this week, Balticon asked me whether I preferred to be on a panel about SF Movies that Failed or The Future of Reading and Writing. I chose the latter because it was immediately before the Knossos meeting. Today I learned, they put me on the former. In addition, I only wanted to be on one more panel, aside from Knossos, on Friday night. I submitted a list of four, in order of preference. Instead, they put me on all four. I am only showing up for the Enterprise panel, because of some interesting e-mail discussions with Philip Thorne and Michael Pederson.

May 21

Many years ago, a number of us were sitting around in a basement and the subject got around to the musical Cats. Andy Looney took a minute to explain why he didn't like Cats. We moved on to something else when one of the cats in the house walked right up Andy and said,"Meow, meow, meow...," meowing conversationally for a while. You could tell he was saying something like,"How can you say that? Cats was the greatest musical of all time."

You decide whether that or this moment from Kristin Hamlin is the weirder:

Justin and I were discussing various political/cultural figures to see how Aqua reacted to the mention of their names.

"Hey, Aqua," I said. "Michael Moore."

I swear to you -- Justin saw it too -- that Aqua's left ear, and only her left ear, twitched.

"Hey, Aqua," I said, to test this. "Ann Coulter."

Aqua's right ear, and only her right ear, twitched.

May 20

Finished the scores for an episode of Silver Screen Test. Then went over to the Digital Video Users Group meeting. David Rubenstein showed how composing digital music works. Merrill Hessel gave us a quick introduction to creating your own DVDs.

May 19

A week late, some thoughts on Rafael Palmeiro's 500th home run. When they showed his wife, who didn't think,"The reason he takes Viagra." One year the Orioles had the players at the gates giving carnations to the women. Palmeiro, the Latin romantic, smelled his before giving it to Whitlock. Much was made about the fact that Mickey Mantle also got his 500th homer on Mother's Day. Using the traditional birthday probability problem, and assuming a 182-day season, I figured that there was a 62% chance that Palmeiro would hit his 500th homer on the same day that another 500-homer slugger hit his. Of course, Mother's Day was not the same calendar day, games were more concentrated in the middle four months of the season in the past, and teams always play on a Sunday unless rain intervenes. Therefore, the probability was probably higher than that.

May 18

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "Tinder Box". Like the Great White conflagration in Rhode Island, stage pyrotechnics cause a disco to go down in flames. SF fans watched this one because Ben Browder set the torch as a bouncer, rejected three times before as a Miami-Dade firefighter. They also watched for Robert Beltran, who had two minutes screen time as a widowed judge whose hooker died in his shower. Turns out she was in the fire, but the smoke inhalation didn't kick in until much later. The nightclub owner used cheap non-fire-retardant materials for soundproofing and is looking forward to many wrongful death lawsuits.

Both Delko and Speedle were at the club when it torched, making a CSI: Miami job as exciting as being a niece or nephew of Jessica Fletcher. Also, the DJ was DJ Scorpius, a Farscape reference.

Miranda at the Hagerstown Playground
At the playground.
White buidling in Halfway
A "Halfway" House
Miranda at the sock hop

More Miranda at the sock hop
Sock hop pictures.

May 17

Went to Hagerstown to go outlet shopping. Miranda played at the playground. We mostly bought clothes for her. I bought some dress shirts since my neck size has gotten bigger due to aging. Whitlock bought lingerie. There was a Disney overstock store containing mostly items leftover from Disney California Adventure.

Afterwards we took a brief detour to Halfway, Maryland, which apparently is the second most populous city in Washington County after Hagerstown, but I hadn't heard of it before the past year. It seems to consist of an old section, including the white building pictured. It may have been an old boardinghouse or apartment that a nearby sign said would soon be remodeled for condos. The new section is dominated by the Valley Mall.

May 16

Took Miranda to another sock hop. The pictures look better because they left the lights on in the gym. The young man serving as DJ had more games, which resulted in a lot of children trampling each other. He played the same bunch of songs as back in March.

May 15

While Craig Barker worries how the Big Ten would function with Notre Dame, I'm trying to figure out how to align a 12-team ACC for basketball.

Divide the league into three divisions:
North - Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse, Virginia
Central - Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest
South - Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami

Each team plays the three teams in its division twice and the other teams once for 14 games. Now in order for some of the traditional rivals to play each other more frequently, we allow for 2 "non-conference" conference games that do not not count for the conference standings, but possibly for tie-breakers. This makes room for Duke and Maryland to possibly play each other twice.

May 14

Watched the Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder". In this remake, Molly Sims takes the Donna Douglas role. A nod to recent events is given by the leader who preaches conformity. The new ugly faces are just big, lumpy things, not the piggy mugs of the original. I missed the freakish horror of the hog face, a lit cigarette hanging from his mouth, very Serling-like. Although this is one of the episodes everyone remembers, I always thought it was a very slow buildup to the payoff.

In the second episode,"Developing," Rob Tunney plays a woman still grieving the loss of her fiancé a year ago. She confides in a priest who contantly worries she'll kill herself. He suggests she take up her profession of photography again. Soon images of the fiancé and the house they would live in appear mysteriously in the pictures. The priest fears she'll take this as an omen that she will kill herself to be with him again. She finds the real house and soon she appears in the photographs mysteriously as well. She almost commits suicide, but is saved by a nice man and the fiancé's image disappears from the photo.

May 13

More editing for Silver Screen Test. Finished one episode. I have to put the scores in to finish the other episode.

May 12

A Ranking of Buffy Villains

1. Mayor Richard Wilkins. Smart, witty, effective. Has genuine affection for Faith. Just underestimated the Buffy and the students of Sunnydale when he turned into a giant snake.
2. Drusilla. Apparently the psycho Goth chick has deteriorated to a stereotype. Still, I miss her incongruous lines and that she truly loved Spike.
3. Glory. Whitlock liked that Clare Kramer wasn't aneroxic, but she wasn't exactly Delta Burke either. Another wacky chick, this time of the shallow, self-centered variety. She made different sorts of non-sequitors, but had typically incompetent minions.
4. Spike. Best when teamed with Drusilla. Buffy is so not him. He's just so powerful and James Marsters is so talented, the writers think up ways to weaken him. First he's in wheelchair, then he's got a chip in his head, now he's got a soul.
5. The Master. The benchmark villain. Certainly charming, but ugly. Can't believe this is the father from the Twisted Sister videos.
6. Adam. Had that cold, robotic evil, similar to the Terminator in many ways. However, he wasn't around long enough and, let's face it, Terminators don't have much personality.
7. Angelus. Really only good when torturing Buffy directly. Put Boreanaz on the same screen with Marsters and Landau and Dave comes off as an amateur.
8. Warren, Jonathan and Andrew. Their nerd arguments were occasionally funny, but no one was seriously afraid of them. They were even incompetent in their most evil acts - killing Katrina and Tara.
9. The Evil Willow. The vampire Willow was fun. The evil witch Willow was just an extension of the self-righteous good Willow - still annoying and to avoided at all costs.
10. Caleb. Sure Nathan Fillion plays a good psycho, but nobody you really like to watch for long like the upper half of this list. He's a one-note misogynist and most interesting villains can play a good tune with their evil.

May 11

Watched the Buffy episode "Empty Places". Anya delivers a lecture that frequently diverges into her sex life with Xander. Buffy get the crap beaten out of her by Caleb at Sunnydale High. Faith takes the Potentials out for dancing at the Bronze. Unfortunately, the police force get a hold of Faith, but the Potentials fight off the cops. Giles send Andrew and Spike to a Northern California monastery to discover an inscription that may or may not be relevant to the future. Buffy holds a council to lead another assault on the winery where Caleb is encamped. The Potentials revolt in favor of Faith and Dawn kicks Buffy out of the house.

On the Enterprise episode "Cogenitor," the crew makes First Contact and no weapons are fired. Archer spends most of the episode onboard a stratopod, a vehicle that can withstand the high temperature near the surface of a star, with the corresponding captain, played by Andreas Katsulas of Babylon 5 and Star Trek. In the C-plot, Reed compares equipment with the other weapons officer.

In the A-Plot discovers that the Vissians are tri-gendered. The third sex, called a cogenitor, provides an enzyme. They are treated as second class citizens, but Tripp does a concealed scan and discovers their mental capacity is just as high as the other genders. He teaches it to read which eventually leads to it seeking asylum aboard Enterprise. Archer sends it back, but it commits suicide.

In reality, I think such a third gender, being such a small percentage of the population and necessary to reproduction, might actually be exalted, rather than oppressed. Such a natural birth control mechanism would result in a more promiscuity, absent diseases. We got a hint of that in Reed's plot, but not much more. Tripp shows the cogenitor a movie and decides on The Day the Earth Stood Still. I think The Wizard of Oz might be a better example of the nature of humanity.

May 10

Miranda went to the birthday party of our next-door-neighbor Stephanie at Blackrock Arts Center. Later we went out to dinner with Whitlock's mother, Guy, Kerry, Whitlock's cousin Aaron and their neighbor John Hancock at Positano's.

In between, Whitlock and I watched the Angel episodes "The Magic Bullet" and "Sacrifice". The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" plays over apparently happy people in L.A. Fred interrupts the revelry by bumping into a slow-moving car. Wesley and Gunn chase her, but she gives her awfully-colored jacket to someone else as she disappears into the sewers.

Fred goes into a bookstore called the Magic Bullet and looks for books on mind control. The owner is a conspiracy theorist who is still crazy, but Jasmine has convinced him not to worry about it. Jasmine assembles a seance where they find Fred at a motel. Very scary scenes of strangers whiplashing to look at Fred. She runs away and causes a traffic accident. A man in flames tries continues to convince her to join Jasmine.

Fred being chased down another street, she trips over a ravine and into the campsite of a dwarf in a demon costume. The demon hates the Jasmaniacs, and acts reasonably friendly until he decides to attack her. Fred puts a nearby axe in his brain and has a plan.

Back at the hotel, Wesley makes a presentation, complete with a huge picture of Fred, warning of the Burkle threat. Lorne announces that it's Open Mike Night, allowing everyone to give their testimonials of Jasmine. A headbanger leads the congregation in chants of "Jasmine Rocks". David Boreanaz and Vince Kartheiser sing an embarrassing version of "Mandy" filked as "Jasmine".

Fred returns to the Magic Bullet and Jasmine soon arrives with Angel and Connor. For his loyalty, Jasmine gives the bookstore owner a gift,"There was no second gunman. Oswald acted alone." Fred shoots Jasmine, the bullet passing through her to Angel. Suddenly Angel sees Jasmine for who she really is. Something about the mixing her blood and yours. Angel carries Fred away and Jasmine orders the bookstore burned so that no one can be infected with her blood.

Angel and Fred hatch a plan figuring that Cordelia's blood can substitute for Jasmine's. They sneak into Cordelia's room but is interrupted by Lorne who they quickly infect. They do the same with Gunn and Wesley, but it doesn't work on Connor who calls on the other Jasmaniacs as the episode ends.

In "Sacrifice", they escape in Angel's car, but Connor is left by the side of the vehicle. We discover that Jasmine consumes people for power, but it's all pretty clean-looking for such an evil villain - just a lot of green glowing. The gang gasses up, but Jasmine finds them and the surrounding people all talk with her voice. The group escapes into the sewers.

In the sewers, they find a small band of vampire fighters, similar to Gunn's old posse, including one actual former member. Meanwhile, Jasmine consumes Cordelia and the California governor has abdicated. Why didn't we hear about this in Sunnydale?

The underground group is also fighting some non-vampiric creature. When Angel vamps out, the youngest vampire hunter freaks out and runs surfaceward. Meanwhile, Wesley has been captured by a cool, Harryhausen-like insectoid demon. His race was the first to worship Jasmine and he's insanely jealous.

Gunn and Fred chase the boy above ground and bring him down. When the boy awakens, Jasmine has taken hold of the boy and the other vampire fighters. The group runs away and Wesley has figured a way to get to the insectoid demon's realm. However, only Angel can go while everyone else fights the Jasmaniacs under Connor's leadership.

May 9

Watched the Greene Turtle Sports Show on Comcast SportsNet. Their guest was Mike Toomey, national cross-checker for the Montreal Expos, who live in Maryland. Suddenly, their 2002 draft makes sense. Because of their small staff, the only players they had any confidence in picking were the ones Toomey scouted himself.

May 8

I'm not sorry Michael Jordan is no longer general manager of the Wizards. His executive record was hardly stellar, especially picking Kwame Brown. If he chose Shane Battier, the Wizards might have been in the playoffs both years Jordan played. However, I think Abe Pollin was wrong in not letting Jordan hang on one more year as GM. Although he may have been playing for selfish reasons, he sold out the MCI Center and put money in Pollin's pocket. And for this he gets the boot?

Here's the schedule for episode #10 of Silver Screen Test, again with a real time slot:
Fridays, May 9, 16, 23, 30, 10:00 pm
Mondays, May 12, 19, 26, 7:30 pm
The programs will appear on the Open Channel in Montgomery County, Maryland, Channel 19.

May 7

Did some more editing for Silver Screen Test. Learned the quirkiness of the character graphics software.

We're slowly learning there may have been more to these recent incidents with Larry Eustachy and Mike Price. Mitch Albom notes:

In the last two years, no fewer than four players have been arrested on charges related to substance issues. One player was found drunk and lying in a street. Another got nabbed for a DUI. Another was charged with marijuana possession. Another was charged with assault -- in a bar.

Given that context, getting drunk at a frat party would seem to be the last straw, but you never hear about that. Everyone's getting worked up about Price possibly paying strippers for sex, but this part of the Sports Illustrated article is disturbing:

According to a source close to the athletic department, Price had already been chastised twice by athletic director Mal Moore for spending time buying drinks for students and "generally serving as the life of the party in too many bars."

In fact, two Alabama students spoke to SI on Monday about an incident that apparently led to one of Moore's conversations with Price. According to one of the students, a few weeks after Price was hired, the coach went to Buffalo's American Grille near campus and, after four hours of drinking, propositioned some female students. "I heard him tell several girls who he was buying drinks for that his wife was still back in Washington and he wanted them to come to his room at the GameDay Condos," one of the student sources said. "One of the girls lives at GameDay, and when we went by there at 2:30 a.m., he was stumbling around and told us he had forgotten the entry code [he needed] to get up in the elevator. One girl offered to help, and he tried to talk her into coming to his condo. Everyone was kind of shocked."

Like Rick Santorum last month, my red flag goes up when someone is immediately shocked or freaked out. Going to a frat party and getting your picture taken being kissed by coeds, while not admirable, is not illegal. It may have hurt Stacy Eustachy, but that's none of our business. Reports also said Eustachy responsibly took a cab home. Similarly, Price going to strip clubs and taking some dancers to his hotel room was not illegal. Even if paying for them might be unlawful, it should not be. Harassing the students is different. If these allegations are true, then at the least he should have exercised greater discretion.

Still, if you look through history, most of the great achievers have had something wrong with them. For the sake of human progress, these giants and their families have paid the price. All I'm saying is if you hire somebody from the top percentile, there's likely to be baggage - some legal, some not, some harmful to your enterprise, some not.

The film Gattaca posits a society ruled by drones of identical elite, but those can't be the people running it. They're too conventional. Certainly, these are the bureaucratic cogs that keep a nation functioning at top efficiency, but they can't be the real rulers.

May 6

The Tigers have won three in a row. They've finally met competition more on their level - the Orioles. Dmitri Young missed a cycle by stretching his double to a triple. I always considered the cycle a freak stat anyway. Why not just honor any performance of 10 total bases or more? Consider Nate Cornejo the prime candidate to be the Tiger's All-Star Representative.

May 5

It's "Spring Break" on CSI: Miami. The guy behind the camera of something meant to be "Girls Gone Wild," but called here "Babes on Break" is non other than the self-righteous doctor aboard the Serenity from Firefly. Well if Malcolm is on Buffy and Zoe is on Angel, then Dr. Tam needs a job, too. Two guys wake up on the beach at dawn. One of them says,"Dude, where's the car?" They try to wake up a girl nearby, but discover her head can do the Exorcist trick.

The dead girl's got bite marks and semen in addition to a broken neck. The semen belongs to Dr. Tam who claims he just thought she was asleep. The bite marks aren't his so they just charge him with abuse of a dead body.

Finding the real killer involves improbably discovering the memory chip to his video camera. The card has him filming a girl he assaulted, but didn't kill, but also the dead girl shot under it. After much Trek science, they get the killer's fingerprint. We also discover he does some home dentistry so the bite marks don't match.

In the B-plot, Calleigh and Speed investigate a dead guy at the bottom of a pool. His totally stupid roommates held a bong Olympics. Excess marijuana in the victim caused an aneurysm in the room. However, these Rhodes Scholars decide to drag him to the roof and they jump into the pool from there. Dead guy was left on the bottom.

May 4

Watched the CSI epsiode "Last Laugh". Bobcat Goldthwaite is bombing on stage. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Ross is out in the alley, looking like he's practicing his act until he says,"Zip me up." A female head pops up from behind the trashcan and we realize he's been getting Monica Lewinsky service on prime time. Whoa!

Ross gets on stage, acts like a jerk and I say,"Don't tell me. Ross is the victim. Bobcat is the murderer. Don't tell me it's that simple." Unfortunately it was. Along the way we get the red herring of a kid across town being poisoned with the same bottled water Ross drank and the kneepad girl explaining that Ross,"Didn't want to pop the cork. He wanted to shake the bottle." Gilbert Gottfried said funny things to Catherine, but not on stage.

In the B-plot, Brass sees a middle-aged man with a trophy blonde coming out of a red sports car and decides to re-open a murder investigation. Sara and Nick try to check the original crime scene, but the grieving husband has remodeled it. Instead they go to an identical model home to test theories of the wife's death. However, I thought the suspect had lived too long in the house for a model home to still be open in the development.

Nick and Brass try to convince Al to authorize an exhumation. The coroner engages in classic bureaucratic CYA. He's not a bad man, but I miss this sort of behavior which happened all the time in Homicide. They get enough evidence to cast suspicion that the husband killed his wife, but not enough to prosecute. But it's enough for the insurance company to repossess his sports car.

May 3

Watched the Angel episode "Shiny Happy People". Miranda lay on the couch across us while we watched it. I'm sure she'll reminisce in the future about those Saturday mornings watching those weird shows with her parents.

Gina Torres has been born full-grown from Cordelia and immediately induces everyone to serve her. Somewhere near the end of the episode, she is named Jasmine.

In an assault of a nest of vampires in a bowling alley, she bleeds, which is a plot point. When the fight is taken to an adjacent outdoor cafe, an injured human picks up a knife and attacks Jasmine.

Fred gets obsessed with cleaning Jasmine's blood-stained blouse. She eventually gives up and buys her a new one. When presenting it to her, Fred discovers Jasmine's true face of rotting flesh, compete with worms and maggots.

Fred talks to the guy who attacked Jasmine. He's in the psychiatric ward, but confirms that he saw what Fred saw. She goes back to the hotel which is overrun by Jasmine fans. Fred confides in Wesley, but he blabs to the whole hypnotized gang. Fred tries one shot to assassinate Jasmine with a crossbow, but is thwarted, and she escapes.

Fred takes an SUV to a diner still in the Los Angeles media market. Jasmine, now named, appears on morning television and hypnotizes the dive, except for Fred, who walks out.

Miranda with a red, white and blue garland on her head.
Miranda at the birthday party.

Took Miranda to Christina Hussar's 7th birthday party. Whitlock and I skipped out to stroll around Wheaton Plaza. Miranda made a friend in one of the party's many Rachels who happened to be born in the same day and year.

Watched the Enterprise episode "Horizon". In the main plot, Mayweather visits his family aboard their slow freighter. His father died some weeks ago, but the message never got to the Enterprise.

In the usual coming home plot, Mayweather's brother is now in acting command of the Horizon. While Mayweather renews ties with Mom and a female friend, he attempts some upgrades on the ship's systems which the brother disapproves of. They get attacked by some aliens who leave some explosive tracking device. When the aliens come back and Mayweather uses his piloting skills and the upgrades to defeat the alien pirates.

In the other plot, Trip tries to get T'Pol to watch a screening of the Boris Karloff Frankenstein. Eventually she agrees and they discuss the film with Archer at a meal. T'Pol believes it accurately portrays human fear of the unknown and will recommend to Ambassador Soval that future Vulcans posted to Earth watch it.

Now there was a line T'Pol said that to me, triggered a much more interesting exchange than the one that followed:
T'Pol: I fail to understand why humans would want to intentionally frighten themselves.
Archer: Humans enjoy experiencing fear or pain in a safe environment. When everything turns out well, it's a relief. It's a release.
T'Pol: Then perhaps Commander Tucker would prefer being shackled and beaten severely. Given the increased level of pain and suffering, the relief and release should increase as well.
Trip: Anytime, you're ready, darlin'. Just name the time and the place.

We skip the Twilight Zone reruns for the Enterprise episode "Breach". The ship arrives at some planet where the ruling government wants to kick out the aliens. Three Denobulan geologists are in a deep cave and Archer send Mayweather, Trip and Reed to retrieve them. Meanwhile, an escaping transport of aliens is attacked by the ruling government and Enterprise takes on the survivors.

In the A plot, one of the transport survivors is an Antaran, an alien race with a long-standing hatred of Denobulans. He refuses to allow treatment by Phlox. Archer orders Phlox to treat the Antaran, but Phlox won't treat an unwilling patient. At this point, if I were Archer, I'd just say,"Fine. You wanna die. Go ahead so I can devote my sick bay resources to patients who want to live. Here, let me help you into this airlock."

The resolution, of course, requires Phlox and the Antaran to resolve their differences and prejudices. Phlox reveals that one his son has retained the Antaran-hate despite his upbringing.

In the B plot, the three guys descend a lot in dark blue light, reminiscent of the endless mountain climbing in Lost Continent. I thought the lighting was so bad, I couldn't get a handle of whatever peril they were in to generate any kind of tension. I just screamed,"Get these guys in trouble so the bonding can begin!" They find the Denobulan geologists who don't want to leave and are even willing to wait it out until the government changes.

Though the acting in this episode in the Phlox section was among the best in this series, the spelunking was excruciating to sit through.

On to the Twilight Zone episode "The Pharoah's Curse". A young magician wants to learn a special trick,"The Pharoah's Curse," from an old master. It involves two illusionists switching places in glass coffins.

The young magician stays with the old man and runs through what are apparently physical tests. The youngster sneaks into one of the coffins and discovers that it's real magic. I start suspecting that the Molly Ringwaldesque assistant played by Lindy Booth is the key to the trick, a succubus of great age.

It turns out whoever devised the trick uses it to transfer himself into a younger body. So the young magician ends up in the old man's body and the old guy is in his body. I thought the name "Pharoah's Curse" was anachronistic since I don't think that term ever came into use until the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb.

The second episode,"The Collector" starred Jessica Simpson as the babysitter to a 10-year-old with a spooky collection of dolls. Immediately we say,"Gee, she's going to be turned into a doll." The episode did manage to create enough tension with dolls moving when you weren't looking, but the ending was the same anyway.

Ashley Edner played the 10-year-old who looked 13 and acted like 6. Jessica Simpson has the fresh-faced beauty of Christie Brinkley but, if this performance is any indication, even less acting ability than the Uptown Girl.

May 2

Just repeating a rumor I read on No idea of its veracity.

What has been overlooked in this whole deal is that Coach Eustachy came to the party as a guest of a Mizzou basketball player -- Josh Kroenke. As in Stan Kroenke. As in the the owner of the Denver Nuggets Stan Kroenke.

If Eustachy does get the sack or decides it's "in the best interest of the program" to step aside, it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him on the hardwood of the Pepsi Center shortly thereafter in some capacity. I would have to think that somehow Eustachy was buddying up to Josh and perhaps vice-versa as some sort of corporate mating dance on behalf of the Denver Nuggets. Just a conspiratorial thought on my part.

Watched the Buffy episode "Dirty Girls". Faith comes back and Nathan Fillion, Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, introduces himself as the psychotic preacher Caleb in service of the First.

Not a lot happens here. At the beginning, Caleb picks up a Potential named Shannon in his truck, stabs her and gives her a message for Buffy. Despite everyone saying it's a trap, Buffy takes a platoon of Potentials, along with Faith, Spike and Xander to the wine cellar where Caleb and the Bringers hideout. They get beaten badly, Caleb takes out Xander's left eye and the Scoobies retreat.

There were two funny scenes. In one, Xander has a dream wherein two potentials who had "never been with a man before" come on to him while his bedroom door opens to the other potentials living in his apartment having a pillow fight in their underwear. In the other, Faith and Spike talk in the Summers basement like the prelude to the undressing in a porn film.

May 1

Kevin Drum posts today about scientific literacy. Maybe I sound like this guy, but I can work up a pretty snotty attitude about what people should know. So do most of my friends, even those who give me gruff for my attitude.

Tim Young is working on new arguments like this:

Giving already wealthy celebrities more tax cuts will make them even richer and further from reality, which will result in more Michael Jackson-type behavior from currently reasonably well-adjusted celebrities.

A new reason not to be a Cub fan. A textbook case of might vs. right.

The Undertow...
|US Plans Deathcamp|
|What A Tangled Web We Weave...|
|The LOCUS Index to Science Fiction Awards|
|Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase|
|Super Hero Encyclopedia|
|Spam: Good Lords|
|Domino Artwork|
|Cornerstone Speech|
|Warren Buffett's "Value Politics"|
|Elite Polish Commando Unit|
|Free Pass|
|The Little Monorail That Could|
|Building the Washington Metro|
|Football Uniforms Past and Present|
|Greystone Inn|
|Zinn and Chomsky on the Fellowship of Ring|
|Saving Private Lynch Story Flawed|
|Run for the Border|
|Leaving the Party?|
|Are We Better Off?|
|Dangerous Visionary|
|Disappearance of Saturday Morning|
|Extreme Ironing|
|Herbert Hoover Action Figure|
|The Secrets of September 11|
|Worst Ever Football Kits|
|Military Brass Discourage Use of Retro Uniforms|
|At the Turning of the Tide|
|No Baseball Stadium in Arlington|
|Map to Mordor|
|How America Lost|

|Dave Barry|
|Chris Barylick|
|Mike Burger|
|David Bykowski|
|Jessie Connolly|
|Mark Coen|
|Jon Couture|
|Victoria Groce|
|Arianna Huffington|
|Idle Words|
|Impolite Company|
|Doug Pappas|
|Tricia Southard|
|Julie Stalhut|
|Eric Steinhauser|
|Summary Opinions|
|TRASH Times|
|Eva Whitley|

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Last revised May 31, 2003
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