December 06, 2009

November 12, 2009

Dollhouse Cancelled

Everyone who cares about this probably already knows, but Dollhouse has officially been canceled by Fox. They're set to "burn" the remainder of the current 13 episode season by showing two episodes per week in December.

Dollhouse has been pretty divisive among Whedon fans, at least from what I gather on the Tubes. It's certainly not as funny as Firefly, and the cast didn't quite have the magic of that show either. Still, there's plenty to like there if you stuck with it past the first five episodes (which were merely decent, but certainly not bad). I think the show probably did suffer from high expectations set by Firefly. We shouldn't forget though, that Firefly only got that first half season. Would it be remembered as fondly if it got as many episodes as Dollhouse did? I'd like to think so, but it's possible that it could have dropped off a bit in quality.

Personally, I hope this ends Whedon's relationship with Fox. They shunted Buffy off to UPN for its last couple seasons. They killed Angel just when it regained a fresh take on its premise. They murdered Firefly without giving it a chance to grow, and they set Dollhouse up to fail with a terrible time slot and poor promotion. I know, maybe Whedon's shows just aren't "network shows", so maybe I shouldn't blame Fox. I just hope his next show takes him to Syfy or HBO. I'd love to see what Joss Whedon could do with a series that wasn't constantly being compared to the ratings of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Edit: Oh, and I like PVP fine, but fuck this noise.

November 11, 2009

Revisiting Colbert

I saw Stephen Colbert out-of-character a week ago, and it reminded me of this video from a few years ago. Man, he's so awesome. Link.

November 04, 2009

Election '09

So, last night was a pretty disappointing night for Democrats. Two Governorships gone and marriage equality lost in Maine. Still, we picked up NY-23 and Washington State approved equal rights (but not "marriage") for gay couples.

The worst part for me is that now I have to put up with months of conservatives on TV and in person talking about how this reflects a general shift in national politics and we probably shouldn't pass healthcare reform now. Nonsense. I'm skeptical of reading too much into single election years even if they have several races, so I'm certainly not going to make too much of this one.

Owens will probably lose the NY-23 seat next year if the Republicans don't make it into a national race about the soul of the Republican party. If they have a primary, which they probably will, they'll probably end up with a candidate a little more conservative than Scozzafava, but nowhere near as conservative as Hoffman, and that candidate will probably pick up that seat. It won't be because the President did or didn't pass healthcare reform, but because it's a more conservative district.

And ultimately, the Republicans will eventually win back Congress and the White House, and they may even do it at the same time. No party will ever have an unending majority, and it's not because Americans are constantly re-evaluating whether they want healthcare reform or not. It's because there are years with high turn outs and years with low turn outs. Years when the under-30 vote comes and years when they don't. It's because the economy goes up and it goes down and when it goes down incumbents are likely to lose, even though there's little if anything elected officials can do to stop the cyclical nature of the markets (note: I'm not saying economic policy is meaningless here). And of course, there's a strong tendency to "give the other guys a shot" every once in a while.

And then, of course, you have to realize that in any individual election there are local concerns that probably trump national politics. Corzine was not liked. Hell, I've never liked him, and that was before he ran an anti-fat guy campaign. So look, I love politics and I'm always game for chatting about what's going on, but politicos have to realize that, like any obsession, it's easy to take your thinking too far.

October 29, 2009

Video Game Night: Week 8

Ok, the Phillies are in the World Series on Monday, so I'm not going to be around for Video Game Night this week. People that don't care about the World Series should feel free to show up and make their own game night fun, and I'll put a quick poll up in case people want to vote beforehand.

EVE Online

Here's another example of how EVE seems both bizarre, awesome, and totally different from what's going on in other massive games. Still, it also seems like you have to be pretty dedicated to get anywhere.

October 27, 2009


This last week's Dollhouse was so God damn good.

Christopher Walken Cooks A Chicken

I swear to God, I could watch this man do anything and be completely fascinated. My mind just numbs over, like when I used to watch "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." Link.

Update: So, the site that has the Walken video is like a You Tube of cooking videos, and there are several celebrity videos, including Ron Jeremy making an omelette. Link.

October 19, 2009

Video Game Night

There's playoff baseball again tonight. I'm probably going to be late, if I manage to make it at all. Those who don't have any interest in the game are welcome to start without me. The poll is tied, so those who show up can work it out amongst themselves.

October 16, 2009

October 15, 2009

Video Game Night: Week 8

Ok, so this week's Video Game Night didn't go so great. At least, I assume it went horribly because I wasn't there. We also had others unable to play due to Philly's post-season baseball, working late, etc. I hope some of you showed up and played anyway.

Anyway, back on the horse this week. We've had some talk lately from people that might start to swell our ranks by joining us more regularly for VGN. Great! That's a good opportunity for me to point out that the poll on the right side of the page is just a guide. It lets people know that that game will be played on Monday night, but that doesn't mean it has to be the only game played. Lots of people out there haven't been able to pick up Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 yet, but it's been dominating the voting since it came out and probably will for a little while. But it's also a 4 player game. If we get more than four people showing up and four want to play Marvel, but the others want to play, say, The Orange Box, that's cool! Just form up your own party and start playing! Video Game Night just allows us to expand our friends lists a bit and know that there will be gaming on Monday nights if you can make it.

I should also remind people that is a great resource if you haven't picked up our group of core games (Left 4 Dead, The Orange Box, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, NHL 10, and Castle Crashers). Left 4 Dead is down to $18, The Orange Box is down to $10, MUA2 is down to $33, and NHL 10 is down to $45. I imagine the upcoming release of Left 4 Dead 2 will push down the first game a bit. Castle Crashers is a downloadable game, so doesn't really help, but it's cheap anyway.

Also, people should feel free to suggest new games to add to our core group. Think Modern Warfare 2 should become a core game? Make a motion and get a second and we'll have a vote on it. Have an older game that for whatever reason people either don't have or I'm not putting in the polls? Let me know!

And if you're new to Video Game Night, or you just don't think you have everyone's name in your friend's list, post it as a comment here. For anyone that doesn't know, my handle is MosBen.

October 12, 2009


Boy guys, it'd sure be great to not be in the bottom of the eighth and to not be down 4-2. If only you'd loaded the bases one or two times. Oh wait, you did. Scoring some runs there sure would have been nice.

Update: Good job Ryan Howard. A two run double is nice.

Update, the Second: Jaysen Werth - You're a very good vampire.

Update 3X: That'll do, Lidge. That'll do.

Video Game Night: Week 7

Last minute heads up. It looks like several Video Game Night regulars are either showing up late or not coming at all. Consider Marvel Ultimate Alliance hereby stripped of its official status as the game of the week. Anyone that shows up can play whatever they want. I might be showing up, but it's up in the air.

Columbus Day

I think we should clearly get rid of Columbus Day, but as someone who gets the day off, I'll take it. Still, if we weren't going to do something worthwhile like have a Native Americans Day, we could at least take the holiday of Columbus' shoulders and have Exploration Day in celebration of the human drive to explore the unknown. We would include other historic explorers (though most of those guys were pretty scummy too), but we could also expand it to astronauts and future space explorers. It'd be a good day for education about both history and science, rather than trying to white wash the pretty terrible things of a guy who wasn't even the first European to land here.

Plus, it'd be a good excuse for Trek marathons on TV.

October 04, 2009

Dollhouse: Episode 14 & 15

Well, I missed the first week of the new season of Dollhouse because ever since I joined the DVR world I've completely lost track of when things are actually on TV. Since I don't pay attention to schedules, I missed that shows were coming back for new episodes. Anyway, I'm caught up now.

To start, Fox only aired 12 episodes last season, but there was a crucial thirteenth episode on the first season dvds (thanks Drew!). That episode completely changed the outlook for the show, with a post-apocalyptic vision of the future. Some of the things shown in that episode are being planted as seeds in these episodes, which is nice but troubling.

What strikes me about these two episodes in particular is that Eliza Dushku is really pulling through on the promises made by Joss Whedon at the start of the series that she was a great actress that hadn't been given the chance to show her chops. Throughout the first season I was always skeptical; always looking for a slip up or reason to doubt her. Well no longer. I didn't even think about it while watching these two episodes until I was done and realized, "Wow, she really pulled that all off well!"

I'm also really pleased with Alexis Denisoff's appearance in the show. As a Whedonite I think it's great to see him again, and I think he's great in that he performs well. I just hope they do more with him than the teasing of an insider. They played that story last season and it needs to get more interesting, but I'm sure it will.

Finally, I really like the way these two episodes take some time to cast the Dollhouse in a positive light. Joss is never going to get over the instinctive unease that the audience is going to have with a program like the Dollhouse, but it's nice that he reminds us every now and then that it can be used for good purposes.

I promise that for future episodes I'll give more detail in reference to the story, but that'll have to wait for posts where I'm only discussing one episode at a time and not at three in the morning.

October 03, 2009


Guy wearing a helmet cam is causes and avalanche, is buried, and is rescued, all caught on film. Link.

Thanks, Tycho.

September 29, 2009

Another Glen Beck Post

Every time I post a Glen Beck video I get that guilty feeling that I get when I feed a troll on a message board. Part of me knows that by acknowledging the troll I'm just encouraging more insanity, but the other part of me can't help being flabbergasted by someone who's obviously a douche.

Anyway, Katie Couric does her best to get Mr. Beck to simply explain a quote which he doesn't deny or repudiate, but he won't even engage. I'm assuming this interview is part of some book tour for his new book, but why even take the interview if you're not going to answer even the most basic questions about the controversial public image that you've intentionally created.

Ok, I don't know why I ask questions whose answers I already know. By being interviewed by Couric and painting her simple questions as some kind of crazy lefty trap he plays to the crowd that thinks Couric was mean to Palin when she asked the then-candidate a few simple questions and got stupid answers.

Arghh! I'd like to say more, but this guy just gets me too riled up. Just watch the video. What a tool. Link.

Cool Videos

Here's a really sweet goal. In case you can't quite see it, he drops the puck down his left side, then shoots behind his legs to the right. Nice.

Second, auto-tuned Carl Sagan has a hot new jam.

What was Microsoft thinking? If feels like at any moment one of these people might pull out a chef's knife and stab everyone. Painful! Link.

Dunno if I ever got around to linking to it, but Auto-Tune the News #8 came out a few weeks ago. It's not their best, but it still bumps. Link.

September 28, 2009

Video Game Night: Week 5

Alright, any last minute messages for Video Game Night: Week 5 should go in the comments here. If you're planning on playing but are running later than 8pm Eastern, let us know. If you're new to gaming night and have any questions or perhaps don't think everyone has your Xbox Live handle, here's the place to tell us. Looks like Marvel Ultimate Alliance is on tap for tonight. I'll get new polls up tonight for this week.

It also looks like NHL 10 has won the poll for which NHL game we should pick up, so I'll start adding it to the weekly polls.

September 23, 2009

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Seriously, every time I think Glen Beck has revealed to us the full extent of his crazy, he finds a way to up the crazy one more time. At some point he's going to just murder some poor grandmother to make some insane point about death panels. Link.

September 21, 2009

NHL Game?

There's a poll up asking which NHL game we should get for Video Game Night. The group voted to have an NHL game as one of our core group of games, but we delayed specifying which version until the new batch was released. Well, the new NHL games are out, so which one do you guys think we should get? I'm not going to consider this a valid poll unless we get five or more votes, so even if you haven't been showing up for Video Game Night for some reason (I know we have a few broken 360s out there) make sure you vote in the poll.

Also, I hope more people start showing up for video game night. It'd be one thing if people were inconsistent, but there was quite a bit of interest in this back when it was proposed and we're seeing the same three people week in and week out. It'd be nice to get some larger groups from time to time.

Video Game Night: Week 4 - Epic Fail

Well, to be fair, I don't know that it was a totally epic failure. Drew and Jay may be able to attest to some fun. I wasn't able to play because they didn't change the major fault in the first game which didn't allow groups to play if they different amounts of downloadable content (Drew and Jay have the Juggernaut, I do not), and because Gamestop screwed up my preorder bonus (I was supposed to get Juggernaut, but didn't).

Anyway...annoying. Here's to putting this sad tale behind us and having better luck next week. Oh, and more than three people next week too!

September 19, 2009

Three Oh

So tomorrow is my 30th birthday. Time certainly seems to go faster the older I get, but it's still crazy to look back on my third decade and see how long it's really been. I was a sophomore in college when I turned 20, living in the non-freshman dorm. Since then I graduated college and law school, worked for a judge, and have been going in the current gig for a couple years. I had one serious girlfriend, broke up, had a long dry spell, got another serious girlfriend (a better one at that!) and now I'm engaged. I back packed across Europe with friends and moved across the country.

Despite ostensibly being an adult for this whole last decade, it feels like the person I am at 30 is no more like me at 20 than 20 year old me was like 10 year old me. Well, here's hoping that the next decade is as fun as this last one has been.

September 16, 2009

Five Ways To Improve Max Baucus' Bill

So, Max Baucus' health insurance reform bill was released today, and as expected it's not great. It does have a few surprisingly good areas, but there are also horribly bad ideas in there, so Ezra's got five things you could do to improve the bill. Honestly, from what I'm reading about the bill, I think it wouldn't be half bad if you followed Ezra's recommendations, including a triggered strong public option.

September 15, 2009

Will Joe Wilson Win Reelection In 2010?

There's the new poll up, now bring the discussion here! Joe Wilson embarrassed himself at President Obama's address to the joint session of Congress with his infamous "You lie!" outburst. Then he apologized after universal condemnation. Then conservatives decided he was awesome and he essentially took his apology back. In the mean time, money has been flooding into both his and his opponent's campaign funds. Will this be his "macaca" moment, or is he still safe?

September 14, 2009

Doctors Want Government Healthcare

Ezra reports on a promising poll for healthcare reformers where doctors overwhelmingly support some kind of government option in healthcare reform. Link.


I don't really care about real Kanye, but this is pretty good. Link.

Update: Man, now that I'm actually thinking about it, and having watched the actual clip, that really seems staged to me.

September 13, 2009

Video Game Night: Week 3

Ok, you guys know how this works by now. Use the comments to this post to discuss anything about tomorrow's Video Game Night. If you're not going to be able to play at 8 Eastern, post when you'll be arriving. If you voted "Other" in the poll, let us know what game you wanted to vote for. Ideas for the Week 4 poll are also appropriate, though in all likelihood I suspect we'll be playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, since it is getting released on Tuesday.

Also, the reviews for NHL 10 are starting to be released, with more probably being published tomorrow in anticipation of its release. Since "an NHL game" won a spot as a core game in that initial poll, we should talk about which version people think we should get. NHL 10 will have all the newest features and refinements (I think First Person Fighting is one of the big bullet points for this edition), but once it's released NHL 09 will probably drop to around $20. So read some reviews and let us know what you think we should do.

September 10, 2009

Dungeons & Dragons Online

Dungeons & Dragons Online, the massively multiplayer online game based on the Dungeons & Dragons table top game (specifically the Eberron setting), has just moved to a "freemium" model. That's where the game itself is free and there's no monthly fee, but small things here and there throughout the world cost nominal fees. For instance, four races are available from the start, but you've got to pay to get two other races. Some weapons (though evidently not the best weapons available) are available to purchase. You can also buy adventure modules that contain a new adventure for your party to play. The idea is that players will come for the free game, and spend enough on buying doodads for their characters that the publisher still pulls out a profit.

Well, I'd love to hear from people that have played it. I've downloaded the client and created my first character (Majeek Castabulous the Cleric) on some server that starts with a "C". I'm not exactly oozing extra time here, but I'll try to check it out a bit and report to you guys how it looks.

September 09, 2009

Obama Addresses Congress

So, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress regarding healthcare reform. How'd he do? Vote in the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments here!

September 07, 2009

Video Game Night: Week 2

Ok, it looks like "The Orange Box" is going to be our game for this week, unless there's a flurry of new votes. Use this post for anything related to Video Game Night: scheduling issues, nominations for the Week 3 poll, Xbox Live handles if you aren't sure if people know you.

September 04, 2009

Wedding Songs

Oh, and as long as I'm on the music tip, I'm taking suggestions for wedding music. I'm trying to avoid, to the extent that I'm allowed, cliched wedding tunes. No "Shout." No "Sweet Caroline." Normally ok, but there are some songs that just crop up at weddings too damn much.

So give me suggestions! I'm talking slow songs, fast songs, whatever. The only obvious requirement is that you have to be able to dance to it.

Getting Verklempt

Cruising around You Tube, I ran across "I'm Going To Go Back There Some Day" from "The Muppet Movie." Yeah, big nerd, but this song always gets me a little misty. Anyone else have a song that always gets them, even if it's not your typical "emotional" song?

September 01, 2009

Disney Acquires Marvel Entertainment

Christopher asks, in a story about lunatic anti-science run wild, "Ben, any comment on Disney buying Marvel?" Ah, but my audience knows my wheelhouse.

So here we go. This really isn't that interesting.

Really though. A big company is bought by a bigger company. Yes, Disney is generally a "family friendly" (read: conservative) company. I mean, they're not conservative like Mike Huckabee, but they're certainly careful not to step on the toes of the sensitive among us. But really, has being owned by Time Warner stopped DC from publishing their often graphic Vertigo line? No. The devil is in the details, as "they" say. It remains unclear what, if any, impact ownership by Disney will have on Marvel Comics. What seems clear to me is that Disney is a multi-national, multi-billion dollar company who saw a lot of value in Spider-Man (seriously, don't let anyone tell you there's no hyphen) (also, seriously, the three movies grossed over $2.5 billion...that's value, and that's only the movies) and wanted to bring that profit in-house.

Look, I love the idea of Marvel as an "independent" publisher, but they've been considered the bigger of the "Big Two" in comics publishing for years. They're a huge corporate giant that already owned such disparate subsidiaries as Tops. They were the definition of corporate comics, with characters that were owned by the publisher and which couldn't be allowed to change in any substantive way, at least not unless it was temporary, and where comics creators broke into the big time but owned nothing. Marvel's great, but they're no Santa Maria.

So what does this mean for comics fans? My guess is probably good things. Marvel recently started a movie production studio to make all of their characters come to feature film life in-house. The problem was that they'd leased their biggest characters out to studios like Sony before realizing what kind of money could be made by a good super hero movie. Now, when all those deals expire, all the characters will safely reside under one roof, where they can make feature films, cartoons, etc. and the characters will be free to interact because they're all owned by one corporate giant. On the publishing side, it's not clear what, if any, interference Disney will have in Marvel Comics, particularly in the more graphic "Max" line. Frankly, there's so little (comparative) money in the publishing end that I doubt Disney has much interest in meddling. Joe Quesada might worry about his job now, but he's been pretty successful as EiC, so he's probably safe.

The last thing I have to say is that when this broke, I read someone's post in a comments section that said "Which Marvel character do you now want Pixar to make a movie about, and which Disney character should Brian Michael Bendis write." That shit got me thinking, but hard.

Summer Girls

First, let me say how grateful I am that I have no memory of this song from when it was "popular". Still, MattY has declared it the worst summer song of all time, and without really tabulating a list, I have to agree. Alyssa Rosenberg lists a few reasons why it sucks. Maybe I'm just thinking too hard about this, but what bugs me the most is trying to figure out in what year this story takes place. I mean, it's a summer with Home Alone ( Christmas 1990, or November 1992 if you go Home Alone 2), Abercrombie & Fitch is popular (frankly, I'm nowhere near cool, but I don't remember that store being popular until the late 90s or later), Michael J. Fox is playing Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties (September 1982-May 1989), and New Kids On The Block had "lots of hits" (debut album in '86 (wow), mega hit "Hangin' Tough" followup in '88, "Step By Step" in '90). If you throw in the fact that the band members were born in the mid-70s, which would make them mid-teens in turn of the 80s to 90s, and I'm mega confused.

Now look, I was a nerdy kid. Hell, I'm a nerdy adult. Still, is it really "cool" to be pining for the summer when you were 15? I mean, again, nerdy teen here, but the summer of my fifteenth year was nothing compared to the summer of my 20th year. And really, the continuity is just all over the place. Alex P. Keaton simply cannot have been a major summer topic in the same year that Home Alone was big. And seriously, supposedly "cool" kids were talking about Home Alone enough for it to have been a factor? I mean, yeah, I like Home Alone, but I was 11 when it came out and I'm not in a supposedly cool boy band. That I also like Home Alone 2 is surely not to my credit.

Evolution-themed Shirt Banned In Missouri School

It's like every mind-blowingly stupid statement is followed but an even stupider statement. Still, I probably have to go with this one as the best/worst of the lot, from a parent and teacher in the district: "I don't think evolution should be associated with our school." Every once in a while I get depressed because it seems impossible to combat the staggering level of ignorance in the world. This is one of those times.

Thanks (?) MattY.

August 31, 2009

Public Option

The discussion topic this week is healthcare reform. The poll asks whether Democratic legislators should vote against a bill that doesn't include a public options, but here in the comments let's elaborate a bit: under what circumstances should Democrats vote against reform? Under what circumstances should President Obama veto a bill?

Video Game Night: Week 2

So the first VGN went rather well, with myself, Dan, Drew, and Jay playing quite a lot of Castle Crashers and getting our brand new characters very near level ten. After Drew and I quit for the night, Jay, Dan, and Dave went on further in Castle Crashers, though I can't say how that went. My guess is disastrously.

Last week's poll question was "What should be our core games for VGN?" Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 and Left 4 Dead both earned five votes, The Orange Box earned 4, and "An NHL Game" got three. So there's our core group of four games. Because it seems like most of us already own it now, I'm also adding Castle Crashers to the list. Now remember, what this means is that these games will be the core games that we play most often and which presumably we're all going to go out and buy so that we can play them together. I know money's tight for, well, pretty much everyone, but Castle Crashers is a relatively cheap XBLA game and both Left 4 Dead and The Orange Box have been out for a long time and are pretty cheap. I just looked on and Left 4 Dead can be had for $28 and The Orange Box is as little as $10.

As for the NHL game, as I said in the previous post, we probably want to wait until September 15 for NHL 10 to be released (the same day as Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2) to really decide on a hockey game. By then the reviews for NHL 10 will be in and NHL 09 will drop to below $20.

So there you go, two games under $20, one game under $30, one full priced game and one that could go either full price or cheap depending on what people want to play.

There has been lots of talk of games like Gears 2, or Call of Duty 4 (though they both only got 2 votes) and both those games are under $25 on, so there's something to think about as we expand out list of games. Also, feel free to use any VGN post to suggest other games that the group should pick up. I think it'd be fun for us to get either poker or UNO eventually.

Anyway, as you can see, I've put the poll up for next week's VGN and I've just used the three core games that we already have and thrown in one that's not a core game. I'd like to always have one game that's not a core game in the voting to just for variety's sake. So in addition to the many other topics I want you to discuss in this here post, everyone suggest four games that should be the Week 3 poll. I'm fine with just administratively choosing the games to be in the poll, but that's obviously going to heavily favor games that I want to play, so suggest away!

Video Game Night: Week 1

Here's one last thread for any and all thoughts/discussions about video game night. Also, I needed to let you guys know that I might not be there exactly at 8pm Eastern. Something's come up that I might need to be attending to. You all should mostly have each others' names, so I'll leave it to you to get some gaming going.

August 30, 2009

True Blood

Man, that was a crappy episode. You'd think with a thirteen episode season they wouldn't need any true padding, but seriously nothing happened. And it's not the good kind of "nothing happened" where we might get a fun little story. Nope, it was all about the big season plot, but they just moved the pieces around for an hour. I guess it's surprising that this is the first time I've felt this way. That's probably a good thing, I guess. Still, this episode was Poopsville.

Video Game Night: Week 1

Ok, so I think we've got enough people and enough kinks worked out to make this our first official Video Game Night week. As we decided, Video Game Night will start tomorrow, Monday August 31, 2009 at 8pm Eastern Standard Time and go until Midnight Eastern Standard Time. People are welcome to join in as their schedule permits. I'm sure that we're not all friends on Live yet, so we should probably use this post to post our Live handles.

As to the game of choice, we didn't get an opportunity this week to vote for a game, so I'm making the executive decision that this week's game will be Left 4 Dead. It seems pretty assured to be one of our four core games based on the current polling (if you know someone that hasn't voted in the poll, remind them to do so soon!). If you have a good reason why we shouldn't go for Left 4 Dead, post something in the comments. If you change my mind I'll make a post prior to game time.

August 27, 2009


Ezra tips me off to the controversial minotaur torture program. Link.

Heh, spine pile.

August 25, 2009

Compassionate Release

Scotland recently released Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on compassionate grounds. Al-Megrahi has terminal cancer and was released to be with his family in Libya before he dies. Scotland also has a formal policy of compassion in their justice system.
Obviously, the relatives of people who died on that flight have been very vocally opposed, and have been joined by President Obama. Scots seem split on the issue. Supposedly Libya agreed that he would not receive a hero's welcome when he returned to the country, but was greeted by throngs of cheering people. There's also a rumor/conspiracy theory that Gordon Brown supported Scotland's release of al-Megrahi as a negotiating tactic in securing more trade with Libya.

So, what are your thoughts? Should he have been released? Is the justification practical (increased trade) or moral (compassion)? Should there be a general policy of compassion in criminal justice and if so, are there exceptions (say, terrorists?)?

Poll Results

Well, it looks like we'll focus our gaming nights on Mondays from 8-12pm Eastern Standard Time, playing mostly on the Xbox 360. Again, there should hopefully be regular posts here on the blog about Video Game nights, so if somebody wants to suggest a game from another system or a substitute or additional night for a particular week, just drop a comment. So make sure you're checking back here at least somewhat regularly to see if there are any developments, but there's our standard setup.

I'm putting a new poll up now, as you can see. Vote on the four games that you think should be our poll. If you vote for a sports game, post in this comment thread which version of the game you think we should get. Depending on how the poll comes out I think we may need to expand the number of core games beyond four (if, for instance, there aren't four clear winners), but we'll see how it turns out. As always, use this thread as a general comments thread for Video Game Night.

August 19, 2009

Game Suggestion Thread

Ok, so we're getting game night up and running. I think it would be a good idea if we had 2-4 games that everyone in the group owned. That way we have a pool of common games that can form the core of the Video Game Night experience. This isn't to say that every week will have one of these games. Sometimes another game will be selected through the vote outside these games and some people will own it and others won't. Those that won't may decide to pick it up, but they're certainly not expected to. Who knows though, maybe every four months or something we can all vote on a new game that everyone will buy so we always have an expanding roster.

So let's have it, name up to four multiplayer games that you think everyone in the group should own. Ideally, suggestions should include multiple genres, and including cheaper XBLA or other downloadable titles is also encouraged, as well as retail games that aren't necessarily brand new, and therefore might be found at less than $60.

August 18, 2009

Cake Wrecks

Thanks to a comment on Drew's place, I found Cake Wrecks, and got a hearty laugh in the process. Except for the Doctor Who cakes post, which was freakin' sweet. Link.


As you can see, there have been a few minor changes to the blog. It took me forever to realize it, but I guess Blogger offers some more fancy pants options than they did, lo those five years ago when we started here (5 years!). Among those changes, as you can see, is a weekly poll. The inclusion of a poll was the main reason for the update, particularly because several of my friends have discussed a weekly video game night. I actually hope to run two polls simultaneously so that one poll is always unrelated to Video Game Night.

The first poll is what night we should play. I think it's a pretty settled issue that whatever day we play on, the festivities should start at 8pm Eastern and run to 12am Eastern. That allows a large chunk of gaming as well as hopefully accommodating people's schedules and time zone issues. Obviously, people may not be able to start right at 8 and they may have to leave before 12, but that's our window.

As to system, most of the people I know have an Xbox 360. I know there has been some interest expressed in playing some PC games, particularly some MMOs. Hmmm, this may need to be another poll question, though I'm pretty sure I can run it concurrently to the "day" poll.

After scheduling is established, each week I'll put up poll where people can vote on what game will be played that week. I think we should probably agree upfront that one game should not be allowed to dominate VGN week in and week out. We're dealing with a semi-large group of people here, and in order to ensure continued participation I think we need to make sure that different tastes are being accomodated. So what should the rule be? Should no game be permitted to win two weeks in a row? Three? What mechanism should we use to enforce variety? Also, how many games should be in the weekly poll? If we have too many options, no clear winner could arrise, but we want to make sure that a variety of games are represented over time. How should we establish which games get in the poll for a given week? Should I just have a pool of game titles that people in the group are interested in and cycle through them? Should be have nominations?

Finally, I know people aren't going to want to play every game that wins a poll, and I'm sure that almost everyone will be unable to afford to buy every game that someone in the group wants to play. So all I ask is that everyone try their best. To keep this going we just need to make sure that we get people showing up regularly at the same time.

August 10, 2009

Tycho Is Right

I love it when Gabe and Tycho argue publicly on the PA front page. Clearly though, Tycho is right here. Link.

July 30, 2009

It Just Blows My Mind

A coworker today told me a story that I can't get out of my mind. The coworker's niece has a heroin addiction. She has private insurance. She tried to get into a 28-day inpatient treatment program. Her insurance provider responded that before they pay for an inpatient program, they'd like to see her fail a few times in an outpatient program. Fortunately she managed to harangue them into paying for her inpatient program, but they were willing to literally risk her life because inpatient programs are more expensive than outpatient programs.

Bill Maher's right: the profit motive has ruined our health care system. If you ever needed convincing that our system needs to be reformed, there it is.

July 29, 2009

Wizard World '09

Finally, towards the end of the last day we found him: Fanny Pack Spider-Man. The years haven't been good to FP Spidey. You can see the gut and the fraying mask. And he kinda smelled a little. Damn it all though, he soldiers on, year after year, and year after year we'll find him and take his picture!

And that's it! Wizard World '09! We'll see you in a year Fanny Pack Spidey! Make sure Lou Ferrigno has enough blankets in the rafters or he'll catch cold.


Wizard World '09

Max Brooks, son of Mel and leader of all Zombiephiles, led a one hour discussion group on making your plans for when the zombie apocalypse comes. Yes, Wizard World is an amazing place where miracles happen. On the other hand, Max seemed kind of pissed off to be there.

Oh, but I did ask a question which led to me becoming a running gag for through the discussion. That was almost as cool as being yelled at by Bruce Campbell.

Wizard World '09

The Baroness is right not to trust a picture with Jay. You might not know this, but as you can see here, she's quite the photog. Even terrorist leaders have hobbies.

Wizard World '09


Wizard World '09

I have no idea who this magnificent bastard on the right is supposed to be, but it's one of my favorite costumes of the con. I mean, is that some kind of pick axe in his belt? Intriguing!

Wizard World '09

I have to say, in the ranking of "sexy outfits a lady could surprise me with", Harley Quinn is right up there. And yes, the top five, though I can't say I've ever taken the time to make it, is almost certainly all nerd-related.

You can tell that Joker here is really serious about his evil deeds because he rolled up his sleeves. He means business, and business

Wizard World '09

Iron Fist is about to break his left wrist, assuming he's preparing to punch something.

I really wonder what the relationship between these two is. Are they father and son? That'd be pretty cool. Spring-Autumn friends that met at a Gamesworkshop over Warhammer 40k? Creepy.

July 28, 2009

Wizard World '09

"Do these shorts make me look fat?"

Also, Philly is a terrible place for parking an invisible jet.

Wizard World '09

Chewbaca gives a stirring speech on abolition on Kashyyyk. What a wookie.

Also, three "y"s? Really George Lucas? Really?

Wizard World '09

Army of Two is the most violently homoerotic game of all time. At least the one guy is Wrist Strong.

Wizard World '09

I've always wondered if the class struggle writ large ever played out between guys like Two-Face and Scarecrow (a former lawyer and psychologist, respectively) and some of the more blue collar guys in Batman's rogues gallery, say, Clayface or Killer Croc.

Wizard World '09

The crew of the Galactica, caught by surprise by a Cylon audience, engage the table's FTL.

Wizard World '09

Who knows what evil lurks within the hearts of men? Carlos, the Fightin' Plaintain!

Wizard World '09

"Rahble rahble rahble!"

July 23, 2009

Yeah, Socialism Sucks!

The government can fix my roads, but healthcare should be about me, my doctor, a variety of specialists and technicians, a hospital administrator, and my insurance company! The free market works! Link.

Hat tip over to MattY.

Wizard World '09

Friend 1: "Man, I'm going to be the new Bucky Captain America! It's going to be awesome!"

Friend 2: "Oh yeah? I'm going to be Deadpool, and it's going to be totally awesome despite X-Men Origins: Wolverine!"

Friend 3: "Well I'm going to be Banshee, and it's going to be...a costume!"

I have to say though, while the Cap and 'Pool costumes are totally awesome (somehow I think that's what 'Pool would actually look like in real life), I've always had a soft spot for Banshee. I have a soft spot for lots of characters that never get any respect. Like Cyclops. He's the X-Men's leader! That's cool!

Wizard World '09

So a big black guy walks past us at Wizard World with a yellow shirt, jeans, and a chain belt and we say, "Was that guy supposed to be Luke Cage? He doesn't look really dressed up, but he'd be a bad ass Luke Cage."

Five minutes later he walked past us again, this time having gotten a silver tiara painted on his head. Result!

I think Chris here is *this close* to being Danny Rand. He's also *this close* to hugging Luke Cage and getting his ass broken in two.

Wizard World '09

Is this guy the medic for a bank robbery team? A stylish safe cracker? A medical ninja? Your guess is as good as mine.

Wizard World '09

There's an orb joke in here somewhere, BUT THIS IS A CLASSY SITE!

I think she's Evil Lynn from Masters of the Universe, but I'm not 100% on that.

Wizard World '09

Ed falls for the siren song of Commerce Batgirl. She draws nerds in for a picture and then sells them the various wares stashed in her utility belt...well, it's somewhere in there.

July 22, 2009

President Obama's Preser

It's a sad comment on our public discourse that the talking heads that I saw on both Fox News and MSNBC talked about how this wasn't a great press conference because there wasn't some big new announcement or position taken. President Obama spoke eruditely on the issue of healthcare reform and made some great points. He didn't detail a plan because he doesn't have a plan of his own. There are several bills working their way through Congress and they're all different. Bill O'Reilly was, unsurprisingly, particularly annoying in this respect.

So he was good, and he was interesting, and he was smart. I call that a win.

July 21, 2009

Lily Allen

I've listened to most of the tracks on Lily Allen's album "It's Not Me, It's You" and I have to say...I like it. It's definitely light, pop music, which isn't my usual fair, but it's really damn catchy. Plus her lyrics are kind of funny and she's got a great British accent. So am I crazy or do other people like this over their most snobby impulses?

Wizard World '09

"Who ya gonna call?"

"Some other guys!"

Seriously, do any of those guys look like they have doctorates in anything relating to ghosts or nuclear physics? Ah, I get it! They're the Ghostbusters franchise from Wichita, where the only ghost is small scale agriculture.

Wizard World '09

"SHOOT HIM!" Ben said.

Wizard World '09

Rogue makes a return appearance! It's a good thing she's got all that spandex or she'd be flooded with Ed's memories. Trust me sister, you don't want to go on that ride.

Wizard World '09

Ed does not approve of alien suit Spidey! Well, maybe it's "Black Cat made me a black suit" Spidey, who appeared after he ditched the symbiote but his superhero girlfriend liked him in black. That seems way more lame than "I got this black alien symbiotic suit on an alien world called Battleworld."

Wizard World '09

Ah, obscure without being made up. Nice. In case you're wondering, I'm attempting to cloud men's minds.

July 19, 2009


There are plenty of interesting points to be made about the tension between agnosticism and atheism. Ultimately, I think Mr. Appel and I probably agree more than we disagree. Still, the passage that he quotes from Pope Benedict really irritates me. It assumes a false dichotomy between God not existing and the Roman Catholic conception of God. He offhandedly mentions the choice to live life as if God exists, but even if you narrow the field to Christian sects it'd be pretty hard to determine what is acceptable behavior in God's eyes. That uncertainty is one of the prime arguments that are made for agnosticism. It's that kind of straw man crap that instantly makes me think the person's not arguing in good faith. Link.

July 18, 2009

Jon Cohn On Fresh Air

My usual dislike for Fresh Air aside, this is a really great primer for healthcare reform if you find yourself a little confused about all the players. Link.

Hat tip, Ezra.

July 17, 2009

Wizard World '09

Ugh, bad, blurry picture taking Ben! Still, props to the woman appearing as Jubilee! One of the Marvel characters most associated with the 90s, Jubilee is also of of a small few Asian-American characters in comics, that is to say, a character who is Asian and not a ninja.

Wizard World '09

Another picture with the realest Thor I've ever seen. In this picture you can see his belt better. See that thick metal hoop by his right arm? That's because this hammer was seriously heavy.

Ed proves himself to be a true hero by being able to lift Mjolner, though he can clearly only do it with two arms, so maybe half a hero.

Wizard World '09

There were a couple Thors at Wizard World, but this guy was easily the best. Look at that hat! And that hammer was over 40 pounds of real metal! You heard that right, this lugged a huge chunk of metal around because it looked cooler than a fake plastic thing. Commitment!

Wizard World '09

This was probably the most popular costumed person at the con, with lots of pictures. I believe she also appeared in either the Philadelphia Inquirer or the South Jersey Courier Post. She also had a three year old with her that seemed to really want to be in the pictures.

July 16, 2009

Wizard World '09

Was Ed thinking we'd be confused as to who was the Imperial Guard in the picture? If you are confused, it's the fellow in red.

You know, somebody must have spent a pretty decent amount of time designing the Imperial Guard, only for us to only ever see them enter or leave a room. That must be the job that really good Storm Troopers get to ride out the last few years before they get their pension.

Wizard World '09

Like the Spaceballs, the best parts of conventions are seeing the people that go for pretty obscure characters. This guy here is Ragdoll II, from DC's Villain's United and Secret Six miniseries.

It's also always tough to come up with something to do while having your picture taken with someone in costume. Jay and Ed seem to like showing approval or disapproval. I seem to go for some kind of action shot with the person. It's weird.

Wizard World '09

One of these kids is not like the others. One of these kids is doing his own thing.

But seriously, with all the huge amounts of Star Wars nerdity at cons (Wizard World has had a light saber fighting/training area every year that I've been there), I've never seen anything from Spaceballs. I was genuinely thrilled when I saw these guys.

Wizard World '09

Boba Fett's are almost as ubiquitous at a convention as Storm Troopers and Jedi, mostly because you have been able to get really high quality replica helmets for years.

Here, it looks like Jay supports bounty hunting, but what is he doing with his other hand?

July 15, 2009


Look, I Love Lucy was a great show and I'm as likely as the next guy to drop a "Babalooo!" from time to time. But come on, Senator Tom Coburn! Do you really think it's appropriate to say "You've got some 'splaining to do" to the first latina nominee to the Supreme Court?! Who are these people and how do they keep getting away with this crap? Link.

Wizard World '09

Ok, this guy looks enough like Blade that he might actually patrol the streets of Philly looking for vampires at night. If you're especially pale you might want to reconsider you evening plans.

The other guy...I don't know. BUT LOOK AT THAT POSE! DYNAMIC!

Wizard World '09

This guy is exactly why I'll never go to a con wearing a costume. In order to really be awesome, as he clearly is, you either have to sink a ton of money or time into a costume. Probably both. I mean, that gun probably works! I'm assuming.

Wizard World '09

This is Marina Sirtis' booth. She wasn't there because she, her mother, and boyfriend had been abducted by damn dirty Ferengis.

I've mentioned it before, but I'm pretty sure Lou Ferigno lives in the rafters of the Philadelphia Convention Center as some kind of Phantom of the Convention because he's always there.

Wizard World '09

I appear inappropriately excited to see Link, considering that I'm pretty sure that I've never actually finished a Zelda game. I came pretty close to finishing A Link To The Past on the SNES, but I never owned it so all my play time was in rentals, which makes beating any game difficult.

No, Ed was not stoned. I don't think...

July 13, 2009

The New Hottness

Auto-tuning the news. Link 1. Link 2.

Update: There are lots of other auto-tuned videos, but I must say I'm partial to MLK's "I Have A Dream". Link.

Wizard World '09

The Question. He, like several other Charlton Comics characters, was the basis for a character in Alan Moore's Watchmen; in this case Rorschach.

Actually, the Vic Sage Question recently died in the comics (cancer) and was replaced by a female version (Renee Montoya, who was created for the Batman Animated series from the 90s). I'm pretty sure this was a lady in the costume, so maybe she was going for that.

Wizard World '09

So that's why Black Manta is always bothering Aquaman. Phantom Six told him to.

Wizard World '09

When you're a Storm Trooper, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 must seem pretty small potatoes. On the other hand, these guys can't hit the broad side of a sand crawler, so I'm not so sure I want him in my multiplayer clan.

Wizard World '09

Here's K.I.T.T., though they didn't have the Mr. Feeny voice on.

And for those that don't know, K.I.T.T. stands for Knight Industries Two-Thousand. Yup, like Batman, Michael Knight has a multi-national company behind him. Why does he drive around in a car? Because the company has an officially funded and supported vigilante division. I guess that's better than Wal-Mart, but it's still pretty crazy.

Wizard World '09

I wish I could use "Because I'm holding a thermal detonator" in more situations without getting arrested.

July 11, 2009


So, I don't live in the U.K., so there's no way I could have seen the new Torchwood miniseries. But let's just say I heard that it's both fantastic and heavy as shit. Everyone should watch it...when it's aired on BBC America.

July 09, 2009

Meet Q

We got a new kitten tonight. The fiancee thought our 2 year old cat "needed a friend." I thought that was crap, but whatever. So meet Q.

July 08, 2009

Transformers 2 F.A.Q.

Ok, as my review tried to establish, Transformers 2 isn't a good movie, but I thought it was kind of fun. In fact, though there are certainly better examples, I occasionally really like movies that are fun when I'm watching them but can also laugh at their absurdities later. And here is a hilarious F.A.Q. on Transformers 2 that puts it in just such a category. I might disagree with some of the points on substance (I don't think the movie is nearly as confusing as people both here and elsewhere seem to think it is) but it doesn't matter because his points work great for humor. Link.

Hat tip to Ezra for the find.

Update: Eh, Transformers, G.I. Joe, same difference. Here's a video of the most ridiculous escapes in the G.I. Joe cartoon. Link.

Update the Second: Ok, there's no real link to 80s cartoons with this one, but I did get this link from Ezra and I'm too lazy to do another post. The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Link.

July 05, 2009

Review: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

In short: Meh.

Look, let's be honest. The original Transformers TV show and feature film are pretty crappy. Sure, they're awesome and I'll love them my whole life, but the plots were thin, the characterizations almost non-existent, and there's a thin...ok thick layer of cheesiness that's just slathered all over. But hey, it's robots that turn into other things and then back and then they fight. That's still pretty cool.

So, does Revenge Of The Fallen take the series to new levels of depth? No. Not even close. This is a movie where robots turn into other things and then back and then they fight. If you're down for that then you won't be disappointed. Would I some day like to see a really serious take on the Transformer concept, where they fought over something more metaphysical than energon and where they managed to elicit an emotion from the audience other than whatever emotion accompanies big explosions? Sure. That'd be great. On the other hand, based on the box office returns, I think I'm probably in the minority for wanting to see Transformers: Field Of Robot Dreams.

Any way, what I kept thinking as I watched the movie, however, was that this movie isn't nearly as confusing as I had heard. Yes, there are times when you might not be able to name the robots that are fighting, but most of the time it's because one of the robots doesn't have a name. Do people complain that you don't know who's getting shot in a battle scene in a war movie? No, in any battle scene there's going to be some generic fodder characters and there are indeed some here. But otherwise I really didn't have a hard time figuring out what was going on.

At the end of the day, this is a big summer blockbuster about robots fighting. If you can't sign on for that, then why complain when that's what the movie presents?

I Didn't Do It

Ezra's got a good post about people blaming the lack of speed or the quality of reform on Obama rather than the Legislature. Link.

Wizard World '09

Frequently at Wizard World, you'll run across someone who's clearly into it. They love the convention, they love the people, they love the source material, and they love the attention, so they make a very elaborate and super cool costume. Then you have their friends, who love the attention.

Here we have the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. Not the custom Mercury's Helmet. No small feat, friend. Then you've got his friend here, who's, uh, a guy in a coat? Don't punch me Coat-Man! Just continue to bleed attention off your more industrious friend!

Wizard World '09

Ah, a cool Beaker and...and...and...people with me actually said the other guy was supposed to be Bunsen Honeydew. ORLY?! Let's look at the evidence: glasses, camera, satchel with a Spidey mask hanging out. Does that scream Bunsen Honeydew? NO SIR, IT DOES NOT!

Wizard World '09

This woman is an example of a certain type of Wizard World costume-wearer: SHE'S A LIAR! Wizard World is a place of happiness and wonder, but also commerce. And many of business people there have studied the nerds long enough to figure out that people in costumes get attention, especially pretty women. So this lady's job was to just walk around in her low-cut top, with a bat symbol all up on her boobs and then try to convince people to go to some leather working booth. I don't know, I didn't really need anything leather.

Wizard World '09

Ah, Wizard World. The happiest weekend of the year! It's like Christmas and Captain Picard Day rolled up into one! So, over the next however-long-it-takes-me, I'm going to be posting pictures that I took from our days at the 'con. Hopefully I'll think of interesting things to add to them.

Here, we have female Hush and Riddler. The Riddler must have come here after work, because you wouldn't want to rob a bank with a loosened tie. What would people think?!

Also, Jay's head!

July 04, 2009

Hot Off The Presses

Did you know you can read the script for the unmade full length feature film Grayson (likely to remain the best trailer ever)? It's true! Link.

June 25, 2009

10 Best Picture Nominees

So the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that they're increasing the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 this year. Initially this may seem like a stunt. Then you might think, "Are there really 10 great films in a given year?" But after that you may come around to the idea that it could be pretty interesting.

Limiting the Best Picture group to five has, in my opinion at least, limited the nominees to a pretty narrow band of movie-types: Very serious dramas with famous celebrities in the leading (and usually supporting) roles. It's become really easy to distinguish between normal movies and movies that are trying to emulate that type in an effort to get an Oscar nod (the most obvious to me was Pay It Forward, which didn't get anything despite trying oh so very hard to seem important). Increasing the number of nominees to ten means there's room to nominate a great documentary, foreign film, or pure comedy, none of which ever get that biggest of nods. Will the big self-important dramas still win most of the time? Probably, and don't take this post to mean that I haven't liked most of the nominees in the last few years, but this allows the Academy to recognize that "best" doesn't necessarily mean most heavy, emotional, or serious; at least not for most people. Link.

June 18, 2009


One of the most important aspects of the healthcare debate that you almost never hear about is that it's not about making people more healthy. Genetics and lifestyle play such an important role that it's only in a small minority of cases that having good quality insurance makes a decisive difference in medical outcomes. What healthcare reform *is* about, however, is cost. The U.S. spends more than any other developed nation on healthcare for pretty bad health outcomes overall.

Ezra, who you should really be reading every day for you healthcare debate fix, has a great peace up today that makes the case that we've set up a system in America where we pay through the nose so that we can avoid having to make tough choices, but that refusal is itself a choice with very real consequences. Link.

May 18, 2009


Can someone explain to me what's so great about WolframIAlpha? I've heard a news story about it, and now Ezra's talking about it at his new digs. I feel like a dumb, old man over here, but I don't get it. THESE KIDS, AND THEIR "MUSIC"!

Dollhouse Renewed

As Drew pointed out in the comments to the last post, Fox has opted to renew Dollhouse for a 13 episode second season, despite chronically weak ratings. Here's an article that has some interesting theories on the renewal. Most interesting to me was the idea that Dollhouse didn't do that great on TV, but did great on Hulu, which is also owned by Fox and where the bar for success is much lower. So Fox has a nascent web TV business (Hulu), and they want it to succeed by getting tech savvy viewers hooked on seeing their niche shows there. What better place than Hulu for a Whedon show to flourish, where Dr. Horrible made such a splash? It also helps that unlike The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fox owns the actual show Dollhouse as well. So this is all corporatey goodness over at Fox, and with the added restriction of a lower budget, Dollhouse looks like a safer bet for renewal. Oh, and here's an interview with Joss.

Don't, however, take any of this as an excuse to not buy the Dollhouse Season 1 DVDs when they come out over the summer. This show needs (and deserves!) all the help it can get.

May 10, 2009

Dollhouse: Episode 12

So, I missed a post or two, but here we are, the (possible) end of the series. Honestly, I'd be fine with this as the end of the series as long as Joss Whedon did another 12 episode series next year, and another the year after that, and so on. More than anyone else that I can think of, I think Joss Whedon is uniquely in a position to bring the UK format of television series to the US. He's got a smallish but totally devoted fan base and creates shows with enough watchability to pull in a few non-devotees here and there. His shows aren't going to be the center of a broadcast network's Thursday night lineup, but they'd make decent fill ins for the summer or after the fall lineup has been culled of the dead weight. He also knows how to sqeeze impressive results from a constrained budget. This is probably wishful thinking, because a stupid reality show will always be a cheaper fill in than a scripted show. Still, it'd be nice.

What would also be nice is if Fox would give Dollhouse another chance. They hobbled it from the beginning by dropping it behind the flagging Terminator show on Friday nights, when nobody watches TV. They made it a mid-season replacement, which probably get renewed even less frequently than a new show in the fall, which have pretty short average lives to begin with.

This episode, like most of the series, made interesting use of the premise and got great performances out of every member of the cast. It was also perfect in striking the balance between "end of the season episode" and "last episode ever," unlike Firefly, which was brilliant right up until it just stopped.

At the end of the day though, there's just not much I can say about the episode. If you've been following the series, you'll almost certainly like it. If you haven't been following the series YOU'VE BEEN KILLING SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL, YOU BASTARD! Ok, breathe...Anyway this leave enough open doors to pick right back up in the fall, but closes enough to not leave the fans screaming at their TVs (or computers if you've been watching on Hulu). Everyone and everything related to this show is underrated, and I can only hope that Fox gives the show a chance to catch on with a broader audience so that may be remedied.

May 08, 2009

Review: Star Trek

Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered September 28, 1987. From then until the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise on May 13, 2005, the Star Trek franchise was continuously on the air. An entire generation grew up with new sets of characters and a history that evolved through the series. The new Star Trek film from J.J. Abrams tosses out all that history and brings us back to the original series crew.

I guess we should settle this now: there is really no right way to do this. Like with comic book movies, hewing too close to the extensive cannon of the franchise will impress fans, but will likely drive away anyone without a PhD. in the subject matter. Ignoring the franchise's history will make the film more accessible, but there's a strong chance that you alienate your base. J.J. Abrams leans more to the latter than the former, but I think he did as good a job of balancing the competing goals as was possible.

The cast is just about perfect, and they all tread the very fine line between invoking the famous traits of their characters without pantomiming Shatner, Nimoy, or the other original cast members. The only down side I see to the cast is that by the time the Trek movies of the past were released, pretty much all of the actors were typecast as their Trek character. This allowed them to do several movies with a pretty fixed cast because nobody was getting other work. For some reason I doubt that Chris Pine is going to want to spend the next 10-20 years playing Kirk, but I also doubt that Paramount is going to stop making Trek movies if this one is successful but Pine wants out. I hope that they've signed everyone to at least a three picture deal, but I've got a sinking feeling that we'll start to see new faces subbed in eventually.

The special effects were really fantastic. The newer Trek series had increased their special effects so greatly that the original Enterprise, particularly the television version, looked pretty lame by comparison. This movie restores a sense of awe to the original ship that's been gone for a long time.

It's not the most contemplative science fiction story of all time, but Trek movies have mostly been about exciting space battles, so that's not the worst criticism of all time.

All in all, this is a great (re)start to the franchise, and I'm sure we'll see more films in the next few years.

May 05, 2009


Short review: It's not great, but it's worth watching at some point. There are some things that are annoying, but they cast the movie well. The script is a bit bland and overly packed with fights, but it does do a good job laying out a backstory for Wolverine and tying him to several characters from the previous films. They also waste a lot of time and special effects money introducing a slew of mutants that really don't serve any function in the movie other than "Oh snap, it's Emma Frost!"

Overall, I'd give it a C, or a 70% or whatever. Not great, not terrible, worth watching.

What I *don't* understand is that I've seen several people online give essentially the same review that I just did, but say, "It's not great, but it's not Daredevil or Superman Returns bad." I still don't get what was so terrible about those movies. I don't think either was great, but though I though Superman Returns was better than Daredevil, I've seen much worse than either. Here are the main points that I remember people making against them:

Daredevil: They changed Daredevil and Bullseye's costumes. They made Kingpin black. The park scene with Electra was bad.

Superman Returns: They reused the airplane scene from the earlier Superman movies. They made Superman a deadbeat dad.

None of those were very convincing to me at the time, and I don't find them terribly convincing now. So, can anyone explain why those movies are considered at or near the bottom of the superhero barrel?