29 May 2008

Dentist Sketch - The Carol Burnett Show

God Bless you, Harvey Korman. You'll be missed.

Michelle Malkin: A special kind of idiot

So there's this conversative wing-nut named Michelle Malkin, who, of course, hates liberals and thinks she's better than almost everyone.

Anywho, this nut-job went after a recent Dunkin Donut's ad featuring Rachel Ray wearing a fringed black-and-white scarf that Malkin says offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.

She said in her column that the "scarf" Ray is wearing resembles a kaffiyeh and she wrote "for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons."

In a statement, Dunkin Donuts said the scarf had a paisley design, and was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot. "Absolutely no symbolism was intended," the company said.

According to Amahl Bishara, an anthropology lecturer at the University of Chicago who specializes in media matters relating to the Middle East, said "I think that a right-wing blogger making an association between a kaffiyeh and terrorism is just an example of how so much of the complexity of Arab culture has been reduced to a very narrow vision of the Arab world on the part of some people in the U.S.," Bishara said in a phone interview. "Kaffiyehs are worn every day on the street by Palestinians and other people in the Middle East - by people going to work, going to school, taking care of their families, and just trying to keep warm."

While some extremists and terrorists may wear kaffiyehs, "To reduce their meaning to support for terrorism has a tacit racist tone to it," Bishara said.

Wow, you know, people like Malkin are xenophobic, rascist ass wipes who should be called on what they claim they think the world should be. They have a narrow, black and white, right and wrong point of view that divides Americans along party lines. Plus, they use their misguided power to convince older Americans, ones who are afriad to ask real, hard hitting questions that terrorist are going to strike at their home tomorrow.

What a useless turd she is.

26 May 2008

Minor rant?

When I was a kid, on holidays such as today -Memorial Day - stores closed so people could do what the holiday was meant to be, honor those who gave up their lives to keep America free. You went to a parade, listened to politicians, had picnics and enjoyed the day with family and friends.

Now, it's a day to shop.

Why? Have we become so politically correct that stores have to be open for the people who don't give a hoot for what the holiday means? In that theory, then, should then all stores be open on, say, Christmas? It's a Christian holiday, but there are loads and loads of non-believers, non-christians and agnostics out there who are forced to deal with that holiday and stay home because 90% of stores are closed on that day -drug stores and other convience stores don't count, as that's what they were designed for, which is to be open when the regular store is closed.

We were busy at work, with people coming and going, spending money they don't have on things they really don't need. They wander around enjoying a holiday and probably don't understand, or don't care, what Memorial Day was about.

But big business rukes all these days. Big buisness, in it's mad dash for the God almighty dollar, has deciceded to keep store open just because a small percentage of people might be pissed off that they can't get the lastest Dean Koontz book on Tuesday -not to mention Saturday or Sunday.

Hey, all I'm saying is that maybe being open on a holiday such as Memorial Day is okay, just maybe keep holiday hours, such as 12 to 6. You don't have to be open all fraken day.

Oh well.

25 May 2008

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

So, after 19 years, Harrison Ford returns in fine form as Henry Jones, Jr. in Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While film works on many levels, like the two other sequels, nothing compares to the first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film, for me, settles inbetween the darker, more violent Temple of Doom and the wimsey, ultra-light Last Crusade.

I liked it, but did not love it. And that’s mostly because I think there are enough mythical, superstitious stuff out there, here on Earth that the film did not have to become a prelude to The X Files. Hell, I almost expected the Cigarette Smoke Man to pop up and try to cover it up. Still, its loopy and at times confusing But its obvious that Harrison Ford is having a lot of fun, thus the film is a welcome return to the old style of grand movie making: it’s don’t have to make any sense, so just sit back and enjoy the ride.

And while Indy 4 does try to avoid giving into those trivial references to the previous films, there are some classy tributes to both Denholm Elliott (who played Marcus Brody in the first and third film, and who died in 1992) with a portrait hanging in the school and photo on Indy’s desk and a statue and Sean Connery (who played Henry Jones, Senior and while still with us, is retired and did not want to cameo in the film) in another picture on Indy’s desk.

Jim Broadbent does a fine job replacing Elliott, while Cate Blanchette hams it up as Russian Soviet agent Irina Spalko. The return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood also adds a better dimension to the film and like Ford, appears to be having the time of her life.

I’ve always kind of liked Shia LaBeouf and while he has the spoiled teenager/goofball down pat, his performance is subtle and a nice throwback to the greaser days of the 1950's (his ride in on his motorcycle is a tribute to Marlon Brando). And, if done right, I could see LaBeouf taking on the mantle for future Indiana Jones films.

Candy Everybody Wants

23 May 2008

Borders continues spin it's future

As I mentioned yesterday, Borders issued a statement saying that it is continuing to review its “strategic options.” And thus, no new deals were close. I guess with the rumor mill spinning faster and faster, Borders had to say something, even if it was nothing.

Meanwhile, on the store level, the perks -always a sign of trouble - are vanishing faster than a republican caught at a porn convention. Borders has dropped two things just this week: paying time and half for the holidays (like this up coming Memorial Day) and suspending the free coffee and tea employees got.

The recent email about the coffee/tea suspension was headlined with “Let’s keep this positive.” Yep, they know it sucks, but let’s be positive (add 150,000 explanation points to that). I wonder how they expect the staff to be, as morale has sunken to an all time low. And what do they do about it, send their DM’s and talk about the numbers, the all important numbers. Like how sales are down, and even though the bulk can be explained by the “recession,” there is always the subtle emphasis that it’s also the employee’s fault.

How do you sell to people pinched by high gas prices, food prices and a housing market that is having a major stroke and a heart attack? Plus, with no Harry Potter this summer, there is no need-to-have book to drive customers into the stores. And we have to wait until August for Stephanie Myers final book in her Twilight vampire series.

Where does, in the end, Borders go from here?

I doubt at this time that Barnes and Noble will want to merge with Borders, if mostly because of the high debt. That is why no one will buy them. The $500 million is like poison.

Then, of course, there’s the whole antitrust thingy. Really, the only way it could work, would to wait until Borders declares bankruptcy -which I’m sure William Ackman and Pershing Square Capital probably would not like. Only then could B&N take over Borders, due to the flexibility provided by the courts.

Also, too, if they file for bankruptcy, it could help make the company become leaner (by getting out of those long-term leases/rents to close under performing stores, and then they would be in a better play to renegotiate the debt), and refocus on what made it good a long time ago, carrying a variety of books and meshing with the community to make sure they have an incredible atmosphere for your customers.

Still, Borders still has some good brand recognition, and had they not gotten in bed with Pershing and William Ackman, they probably could’ve gotten through 2008 with the improvements they’ve been doing. With Ackman broadcasting Borders problems, they’ll have a tougher time trying to find investors.

The company is going to have a rough year, and I expect further cuts at the store level -though I’m unsure how much more they can strip away, because since they love numbers, once they see the CSI scores drop and see the impractical, and very flawed, balanced score card numbers take a nose dive, I don’t know how we can do better.

Weather of the extreme

So, the extreme weather from yesterday continued today. While no thunder storms (though there are some in the high desert), there was plenty of rain. Flash flood warnings in burn areas and in the foothills are all over the place.

Still, nothing like yesterday, as Moreno Valley experienced a tornado, while most of Riverside County was dumped with hail that covered the ground like snow.

But it was a rainy day, one to stay in, even though its spring and the days are longer and you just want to get out. But with gas prices the way they are, my holiday weekend will be spent close to home.

22 May 2008

Tacking into the Rain

California is not known for its wacky weather. It is, sadly, fairly predictable. But the weather has been a bit odd this week. We started with it being very hot, temps in the upper 90's and low 100's in some areas of the IE.

It's ending with rain, thunder, lightening and much cooler temps.

It rained on and off today -some areas got a lot, while others little. It poured at about 10am this morning at work, the hard rain hitting the roof like concrete. Then it was cloudy, and I think the sun came out for a little while. Going home from work, I drove into more rain, but the added sound of thunder and lightening flashes made it even cooler.

I miss thunderstorms and I'm happy when it does it here. Still, it poured and I'm not complaining at all. Went to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with JayTee and Adam, which was nice.

I suggested afdter dinner to go see Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but the only shows we could've seen were the 10pm ones, and Adam needs to be up at like 4:30 in the morning, so we're planning to go on Sunday. I hope I can hold out until then.

Finally, there is some more fallout regarding Borders and their future. The press has finally gotten wind of our problems and is apparently circling Ann Arbor looking for some bones with some meat left on them. The company released a statement, filled with a lot of big business words and what not that baically boiled down to they're in the process of doing something, but they're not going to say what that is, and will not be making any more statements, because they're going to zip it.


21 May 2008

The woes of Borders Books

While the reign of Borders CEO George Sanders has done little for this company I’ve labored for now starting year 11, most of this can be blamed on former CEO Greg Josefowicz, and his short-sightedness when it came to understanding what its core business wanted. Hell, it knew what its investors wanted, but had no idea what the people walking through the door wanted.

I believe Borders problems started when it went public in 1995, but was exasperated by some of the biggest business blunders anyone has seen. First would be not having any foot hold in the e-universe. Josefowicz’s failure to capture any sort of market share in the internet world in the late 90's resulted in a loss of millions, and then their idiotic partnership with Amazon led to even bigger loss, and making the company a laughing stock to any potential investor. Their excess baggage continued with the international expansion, which even Barnes & Noble realizes is a mistake by the virtue of them staying away from it all together. Then acquisition of Paperchase dragged Borders down even further. This has all lead to poor stock prices and a debt of $500 million.

Now, with Pershing Square Capital owning 18% of the company and Pershing’s fund manager William Ackman making an ass out of himself, they’re further eroding Borders as a company. I’m unsure of the logic Ackman uses, as any internet search of him brings up oodles of information on him. It appears Ackman buys up large shares of stakes in companies and then forces the Board into doing what he says, using what is called “stockholder activism” to get what he wants.

While I’m sure any stockholder should do what’s necessary to protect its investment, but it appears Ackman’s mischief-making gives a bad name to shareholder activism. What’s wrong with the old adage of buy low, sell high? I’m guess dealing with Ackman must be a pain in the ass.

20 May 2008

Book: City on the Currents by Brian S. Matthews

So, instead of reading the Chabon novel as noted on the roght side of the blog, I took up Brian Matthews second volume in his New Wilderness series, The City on the Currents.

Starting six months after the first book, the crew of Compton Pit are still battling mother nature, still hoping to find a reason why all the animals, insects, birds and creatures of the sea, turned on humans beings.

One thing that has kept them safe in Compton Pit from the creatures of world is a vital piece of electronics. But when its stolen, Sid and his crew must set out to find it, before word of its existence changes the balance of power. But their trip becomes a journey that they never thought they take as the they track the device to the last aircraft carrier in the known world, now coverted into a floating city. It is here that Sid, Caps, Lena, Darcy and Noah confront their future. Here they find the device, and here they find an enemy who was once a friend.

Like the first book, this one moves at a swift pace. And while the gore is kept at minimum, Matthews continues to kill animals in a very glorious sort of way. The humor is ramped up a bit, but I found the pop culture references a bit tedious after a while - but I would probably be using them too.

The concept of the aircraft carrier becoming a city was well thought out, and I could almost envision it. The military come off as a bit wacky, but generally more sane than in other end-of-the-world thrillers.

While we get no more closer to understanding why the animals went crazy, we do get the real reason why Sid wanted the return of the Mimi.

My only complaint is the total lack of human life. People die horribly, left and right, and there is little remores. While I suppose there is a reason for it -after a decade of seeing loved ones die at the hands of Lassie, Garfield and Tony the Tiger, you probably have little in the way of emotions.

Still, it's a bit disturbing.

Now, I'll get to that Chabon book.

18 May 2008

Candy Everybody Wants

Doctor Who 4.07 The Unicorn and the Wasp

The Doctor and Donna arrive in 1926, and almost instantly they become involved in a murder mystery, in this near brilliant send-up of the whodunit genre.

We are introduced to many, many stereotypical characters and situations right out the genre, including the legedary Agatha Christie herself. Even Donna comments how its all seemly looks like a game of Clue. It's a smart and funny take on the classic set-ups that include the old country house, people with mysterious pasts, red herrings and a murder.

Writer Gareth Roberts, who also dealt with another historical writer in last years The Shakespeare Code, does a loving tribute to the Agatha Christie, with characters speaking titles to Christie's novels -like when the chef is killed, her employer said she had "an appointment with death." And he speculates on the real life disappeance of Agatha Christie in 1926, adding a dimension that helps sell the story.

The acting, as always, is superb with actress Fenella Woolgar coming off brilliantly as Christie. Then there's the little stuff, like the charade bit between the Doctor and Donna, which just made me laugh out loud and the CGI effects with the wasp. And in a typical Christie red herring, the Unicorn referenced in the title of the episode -a thief - really has little to do with the plot. And typically, as a historical piece, the BBC proves why its so brillant at doing them, as the costumes, the settings and the little set etails make you feel it is indeed 1926.

For those who've been watching Doctor Who for all these decades, this episode brought back Christopher Benjamin, who appeared in two classic serials in the 1970's, Inferno and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

While the younger audience may be bored with the whodunit formula, it's a treat for us older fans who enjoy a little poking at what is a British construction: the stiff upper lip.

17 May 2008

Iron Man (2008) 3 stars

I liked Iron Man.

And that’s mainly due to Robert Downey, Jr.

Downey Jr. plays a high stakes arms dealer Tony Stark with little conscious - a man who has easily put aside the moral implication of designing these weapons and who takes no responsibility for how his weapons are actually used. But after being kidnaped by a rogue rebels, Stark realizes that he must rethink those blurred lines.

The film does take time setting up the premise, reminding me of the effort put into the first Spider Man film. But after that, the action and script falls into many movie cliches. While not even familiar with the comic book this film is based on, it was easy to realize from the beginning that the Beau Bridges character, Obadiah Stane, was behind the kidnaping. So it was no big surprise when it was revealed.

Gwyneth Paltrow is good as Pepper Potts, Stark’s His Girl Friday, but is given little to do other than look pretty. That might work in the comics, but in a film, it comes across as sexist - even though they give her a more strong, feminist mind. Though I’m unsure why they had to have her in high heels, as anyone will tell you walking on the iron grating in nearly impossible.

Still, as a gay man, I’m a still can’t get behind Terrence Howard’s homophobic mind set. Sure, as an actor, he’s very, very good. And though wasted here, when I look at him all I see is his comments he’s made about gay men. In tandem with those past comments, the scene where Downey Jr. makes fun of Howards character about some tranny or something strikes me the wrong way. And then there’s the scene in the beginning, where Stark does not realize that the driver of the Humvee is a woman, which comes across as a slight towards more butcher women.

Still, the film gives a message, or at least tries too, and Robert Downey Jr holds his own and makes the script work. And if the ending (after the credits) are any clue, we’re bound to see more of these films.

Which is already in the works, after it’s worldwide weekend release brought in $200 million. Look for Iron Man II in the summer of 2010 -with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as the ending (after the end credits) implies.

And because its me, there is one thing that caught. At the end of the film, just before Stark gives his press conference, we see Pepper Potts fiddling with Stark's suit. She makes sure the breast pocket has it handkerchief perfect. It's sticking out like its suppose to. Then, the next scene see's Stark giving his conference, and the handkerchief is no where to be seen.

Economic stimulus, Tires, a broken window and the heat

When I got my economic stimlas money this past week, I knew what I needed to do. I've been putting it off for a while, if only becaue I knew it was going to be expensive.

Tires. I needed new tires. Well, really only one -the driver side. But I've had the car for 6 1/2 years, and have replaced two out of four tires, whbich left 2 from the original purchase. At 67,000 miles, one was in desperate need of replacement, and the other was still in fairly good condition.

Still, I though, why not replace all of them? I got the $600 and instead of saving it or spending on stupid things like bills, I went an got the tires. So, with the four tires and an alingment, it came to $274 and some change.

Then there was the broken window.

The story is that a few weeks ago my driver side car door just broke. It's the thingy that keeps the door from shutting. Now, the door just opens and I have to be careful, cause it's no longer attached to itself.

So, when the door is wide open, I can lower my window, but because of the broke hinge thingy, when I try to close it the door, the window interferes. So, I have to roll up the window to make sure the door shuts (thus making able only to roll down my window a 1/4 when driving, because it encounters the broken you-know-what.

So, as I was getting my car set for the tires, I thought about mentioning it, but that quickly passed, because I assumed the worker would notice this. Yes, I assumed wrong.

Apparently, they pulled the car in with the window rolled down (because, as mentioned, if the door is not shut all the way, it works). The guy got, and slammed the door, and shattered the glass. It pissed me off, but I knew it was my fault for not telling the guy about it. It cost $143 to get it fixed, so I spent about $515 of that $600.

Jebus, this is the story of my life, a cautionary tale of getting things fixed before something casues it to cost more. Which it still will, as I still need to get the door fixed.

The guy who owned the glass company came over -with his worker- and fixed the window at the Big O Tires. He was this really cute Asian, small and compact. You could tell he took care of his body. His T shirt nearly formed to his body. We talked, I explained my door problem as we watched his worker replace my window.

He said with his money, he woould be out buying clothes, which more or less confirmed to me he was gay. It was not obvious, but my gaydar is pretty good. Sure he was at least 15 years younger than me, but he was hot.

He gave me his buisness card, but I think its only because he wants my business to fix the door. I wonder if I'll go there.

BTW, the heat is on. Started on Thursday and Friday it was over 100 here, and when I got up at 7am this morning, it was already in the mid 70's. It should hit the century mark today again, and probably close to it tomorrow. Then, it should moderate to more easier temps, in the low 80's, which is still above normal.

The heat is early this year, and has already started some brush fires in the Angeles National Forest near here.

12 May 2008

To bike or not to bike

I've been torn about riding my bike to work. It's 14 miles to Victoria Garden, and riding my bike usually takes on average, about one hour and 15 minutes and some change. When I work at 7 am (on Monday and Tuesday) I need leave at 5:30am. On days that I would start at 6 am, I would need to be out at 4:30, and that ain't going to happen. Because, during the winter, it's still pitch black outside, and while I have stuff on and a bike light blinking, I sort of do fear for my life. Now that it's getting lighter nearlier, it might be better. But to leave at 4:30 am and ride 80% of that ride in the dark(now, with summer approaching, but in winter, it would be 100%), I just can't seem to do it. Sure, two days a week would save me money on gas and what not, but I fight myself to do this.

Take today, I woke up around 4am with a splitting headache. Felt like someone was using an ice pick and sticking it behind my right eye. So great, I had planned to ride the bike. But I would need to get up in an hour, and there was no way the headache was going to go away. So, I slept until 6 and did my normal things I do to prepare for work.

I felt guilty, as I always do, when it comes to excercise. I'm getting thick around the middle, and I would like to lose it, but I have no ambition anymore.

Still, it was a cloudy and cool day here -though they promise nicer, warmer and hotter weather by Thursday - and as I left work it began to rain. Not a hard one, but enough to get one wet had one had rode their bike this morning and had to ride it agin home. I would've been some what soaked, I guess.

So maybe it was a sign?

Of course, the rain precipitated me getting new wiper blades, something I've avoided for a while. The nice lesbian lady at the Kragen auto parts helped me out of $24 (blades and washer fluid, which I also needed). Of course, I don't know if she was lesbian, but she did fit the profile: tall, fairly apple shaped, with mullet of sorts for hair and walked with a mans gate. It was a profile in stereotyping really, me the queen not really knowing how to change my wiper blades, and here the big, burley lesbian helping me out in 2.4 seconds.

I'm bound to go back, because she was great with the customer service. And I like that.

11 May 2008

Candy Everybody Wants

Doctor Who 4.06 The Doctor's Daughter

After viewing The Doctor's Daughter, I sat back and said to myself that this was a silly, silly, episode -a bottle episode, also - but that acting and the other bits of the plot are very interesting. The story picks up from last week's cliffhanger, where the TARDIS is hijacked and brought to this planet where the Doctor is forced to procreate a person who will aide some warriors in a battle with the Hath -some pretty good looking fish creatures.

It's an unimpressive war, due to the fact that it is an bottle show. Because if there was this huge war going on, it seemed to happening with only a handful of Hath and humans. Meanwhile, Martha Jones has been taken by the Hath, who appear for some reason to trust her. Maybe when she helps an injured Hath and stands up to its fellow Hath by proclaiming she's "Doctor Martha Jones, and who the hell are you?" they're impressed with it -after all, the Doctor does it all the time and it works for him.

Anyways, the plot goes no where, until the Doctor, Donna and his "daughter" Jenny (played by Georgia Moffett, who is the daughter of Peter Davidson, Doctor number five) begin the search for the source - some holy grail that will bring an end to this destructive conflict.

Its then, when things start looking up. Actress Catherine Tate once again brings much weight to Donna, making her one of the more rounded companions of the recent re-boot, bringing not only smarts like Martha, but an emotional depth with her in her releationship with the Doctor.

And Freema Agyeman's performance, always good, gets top mentions for her emotional take on the death of her Hath friend. It was touching. And while the death of the Jenny was predictable, it was still a sad scene. Her regeneration, however, and departure kinda made her more than you thought of her to be - a disposable character. How this will -if any - impact the series is unknown. I'm guessing we've yet to see the last of her.

09 May 2008

Movie blah

One my coworkers see's movies all the time. He's pretty open to most thing, meaning he'll watch just any genre. He'll also go and see the films that open on Midnight. Last week he saw Iron Man and last night he saw Speed Racer.

He teases me because, thanks to a housemate who's a GM for Edwards Theaters, I can see movies for free. And I don't. And it's not like I have to go far, as there is huge movie house with in a few minutes walking.

I have yet to see a film in 2008. And probably will not see one until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens in a fortnight.

One of the reasons is that I hate going by myself. Much like eating out -that would be a nice restuarant and not a trip to In 'n' Out - going to the movies by myself is akin to telling the world I'm a single guy who has no hopes of ever getting into a relationship. Funny part of it was that I used to do it all the time when I was younger.

Of course, like everyone else, going to the movies has become a pain. People think only for themselves and the groups of people they go with. They talk like they're in their living rooms. Chat on the phone -despite the nice trailer on the screen asking them to silence them - They use their mobile phones as lights when the fiulm is running, which is annoying.

Talking during the film is also irritating, so that's another strike. Plus, I'm picky. I won't see a movie just because everyone else does. I hate horror films, and is usually turned off by the blockbuster tentpole films the major studios put out.

I do like seeing small, indepentant films, but living here in the suburbs, they don't tend to make it out here, and I'll be damned if I'm going to drive 45 miles into LA to see an art house film.

Finally, I think, with the window between theatrical release and DVD release getting smaller, I would rather wait and rent the one I really want to see.

The sad part, as my co-worker is now understanding, I would rather read than see a film.

08 May 2008

Book: New Wilderness by Brian S. Matthews

First off, I’ve never met Brian S. Matthews, however I’m very much aware of his work as a screen writer, as he’s written all the episodes of the online web series I work on, Star Trek: Helena Chronicles. He’s also scripted the feature Operation Beta Shield, which brings back major characters from the Hidden Frontier days and brings along the crew from the Scotland web series, Star Trek: Intrepid. He’s also scripted the season ender of Star Trek: Odyssey, due later this year along with the first episode of the four-part miniseries, Star Trek: Federation One.

So he’s prolific.

Anyways, before he became the writer of these web shows, Matthews wrote two novels he published himself. New Wilderness was released in 2005, and is the first part of a trilogy of tales about what happens on one lazy June 10 day (no year is given, but there is enough pop culture references to assume it began sometime in the late 1990's), when the animal kingdom - for some yet to be revealed reason- turned on the human race and brought about a world-wide devastation of civilization.

Over the years, I’ve read a few end-of-the-world type novels, and have seen many TV shows and movies about the same subject. Stephen King’s The Stand is perhaps, for the modern age, one of the best. While The Stand used a virus to wipe out most of humanity (one that seemed somewhat plausible back in 1978, but more horrific today), New Wilderness uses the animals like cats and dogs, our friends, to kill us, along with a whole host of other beasties. Is the author trying to say that in some way nature will strike back for what we’ve taken?

While the novel opens with the Turn, its primarily set a decade after New Wilderness (which is also a wink, wink at media’s attempt to title its news reports). Set in the Canadian west, near Vancouver, humanity is still trying to survive. But like any good end of the world tale, human greed seems to have survived (along with good guys and bad guys), as groups of people, holed up in various areas, are cornering the market on such necessities as technology, medicine, and gas.

The novel is, ultimately, a worthy addition to the genre, as Matthews keeps the pace going at a stride that makes you want to continue to read on, long after you should’ve gone to bed. There is plenty of violence and buckets of gore, but that I can forgive, if only because I believe something like this could happen to us once all our favorite things, the comfort stuff, is taken away. Mobile phones, iPods, our cars and how much money you make should not define your humanity, but God knows it will if the End of Days comes next Tuesday.

But, I also think its about 75 to 100 pages overlong -I could’ve done with out the flashbacks to some the characters life during the initial crisis. It wasn’t that those scenes were boring, just felt they really did not add to the plot. And the creepy ending, with the perverse kids who prey on young boys and worship a very bizarre God, borders on sadistic -even if it’s a plot point - and sort of reminds me that if there is one constant in the universe in novels of these kinds, homosexuality is still to be treated with universal hate.

06 May 2008

May Gray with a little this 'n' that

After a glorious, warm week, that sadly ended on Saturday, Sunday brought a cooler and cloudy skies. Essentially, the May Gray has set in, and is bound to lead to its sequel, June Gloom.

Most of the days now will start cool, and cloudy. The marine layer will usually be deep and reach far into the Inland Empire. On good days, the layer will burn off in the IE by 10 am. And if we're lucky, the coast will see it gone by late morning.

But today was not one of those days. The marine layer stayed most of the day, with the sun just popping out once in a while. This supressed the temps, with the us only getting to 64 -about 12 degrees cooler. By late today, the clouds were starting to pull back towards the ocean, but they'll be back.

Sent mother a CD of music for Mother's Day. I hope see likes it, as she was not so pleased with the selection. It wasn't that she did not like the music, it just was too slow for those long drives they take for vacations. This one has more pop songs, less easy listening, so we'll see.

Work continues to be odd, as the company continues to send messages about saving money. You know, I've been working since 1980, so I 've learned the signs of when your company is doomed: it's when they start worrying about pens, paper and other office products. It's don't order what you don't need; contact other stores in the area to see if they'll go in with an order to get free shipping.

Oh, how the halcyon days are gone. But, spin it Ann Arbor, spin it like a top.

04 May 2008

Doctor Who 4.04/4.05 The Sontaran Stratagem/Posion Sky

The Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky of Doctor Who's fourth series is perhaps the best throw back to the 1970's era of the original series. Both scripts were done well (written by script editor Helen Raynor, these two episodes makes up for last season's rather dull 2-part Daleks in Manhatten), but Poison Sky is perhaps the better of the two episodes.

This is what makes Who so much better, as it builds so much on origins. The welcome return of U.N.I.T just is hint of what made this story work (it also poked fun at itself, as there is great debate on what era those U.N.I.T stories took place, as the tenth Doctor muses he worked with them during the 1970's or, maybe, 1980's), along with the whole ATMOS system, which is the real throw back to Jon Pertwee's era as the Doctor.

Even the Sontarans come off more three dimensional than ever, often reminding me of what Ronald D. Moore did with the Klingons during The Next Generation's run. Turning them into a race of warrior who do not fear death and welcome the battle. Of course, most of it could go to actor Christopher Ryan, who brings great glee to his role as General Staal.

Filled with great humor and enough geeky past references to previous stories -both from the new one and the original (there is a mention of the Brigadier, now a Sir) - to make old fans happy, these two-part episodes are what makes me want to love this new series even more.

However, as with every episode, there is a drawback, and that being the spoiled child genius named Luke Rattigan. Beyond the silly last name, the character never full evolves beyond the typical meglomania of a guy too smart for everyone. His motives are muddled at best and you really don't care one way or the other why he did help the Sontarans.

02 May 2008

Lost 4.10 Something Nice Back Home

First, let's deal with how Jack lost all his fur. It's been established that Jack Shepard has a nice mane of hair on his chest and stomach. When the episode opens, and we get what amounts to a gratuitous towel sequence, Jack has not a hair anywhere on his front side. Where did it go? Does the Island not like men with body hair?

Even better, Jack must've lost it long before he left the Island, as we see Juliet preparing Jack for his surgery, she is shaving a guy who already has no hair on his stomach. WTF?

Rose brings up something interesting here, when she tells Bernard that Jack getting sick goes against much of what we know about the Island; that it heals people (like her). Still, without Jack getting sick, the knowledge that Jin now knows that Charlotte speaks Korean -and setting up Sun's departure from the Island - would've never happened. So maybe the Island is allowing this to happen (like having Claire survive the bungalow explosion)?

While it was a solid hour of TV -which I fell asleep half-way through, so I rewatched it today-, it felt slow and very "bottle-like." Not much happened, though we learned how Sun (maybe) get's off the Island, and that Sawyer chose to stay (and just what favors is Kate doing for him in 2007 -according to the newspaper Jack picks up?) on it. And Claire, where is she?

Next week looks cool, with quirky actor Doug Hutchinson appearing to play another wacko character. Do with your strengths I guess.