Saturday, March 03, 2012

I Can't Think Rationally on Politics When Everyone Keeps Being So Fucking Stupid


Every time a man says something ignorant or frankly even ventures an opinion on what a woman can and can't do with her body, I give up on this species a little bit more.

In a time of rampant unemployment and economic inequality, we’re seriously, in the year 20-fucking-12, having a national debate about whether women should be allowed access to birth control or should even be trusted with the health and well-being of their own goddamn bodies. This country is sick.

Congratulations, America: you are engaged in the dumbest dumbfuckery imaginable. Greatest country on Earth? The greatest country on Earth doesn’t have a debate on who own’s a woman’s sexuality. It just doesn’t.

I am watching the goddamned end of Western Civilization.

Joanie

Friday, March 02, 2012

My Favorite Fanart for February 2012

From the series SuperHero by Alex Tuis
(check out all of them; Rutger Hauer as Thor is definitely my second fave)

Big Barda by Phil Noto

Rose by Shenhaiyouyu

Anatomy of the Hulk by Walter O'Neal

Bonus Revenge by Vintz


Freak by Noah Wyler

Earthworm Jim by Noah Wyler

Three Bruce Lees by Becca Whitaker

R2 Series Print by Jason Chalker

Wonderbomb by Telegrafixs


Archer Predator by Highdarktemplar

Avengers Character Posters (check the whole fantastic series) by Venom420

Untitled Print by Ulises Farinas
(go to the page; it gets bigger, but man, I wish it got a LOT bigger)

Darth Maul by Dean at Springfield Punx



Darth Maul by Offtoseethewizard


Death Star Power by Jeremy Henrickson


Avengers Assembled by Dean Trippe

New Van Halen by Phil Noto

Doctor Teeth by James Hance

The Rocketeer by Natalie Hall

Kitty and Lockheed by Phil Noto

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Bailey

I'm Not Celebrating Breitbart's Death, But I'm Not Mourning It, Either

I see a lot of liberal bloggers who are talking about Andrew Breitbart this morning and just turning themselves into pretzels to say something nice about him. On the one hand, they can't believe a guy so young died. On the other hand, they don't want to be like some of those people on Twitter who are celebrating Breitbart's death. Whether they genuinely think it's just too bad that someone so young and so public could just up and die of natural causes at the age of 43, or whether they just don't want to be seen by conservative bloggers as sinking to the level of a lot of conservative bloggers, I don't know.

I wonder if even half of the conservative bloggers who are aghast and dismayed at the number of tweets celebrating Breitbart's death called for the same kind of respect for the dead they're calling for now when Ted Kennedy died. I know Breitbart wasn't. He was on Twitter showing the same lack of decorum and being the same kind of asshat conservatives are whining about right now.

I'm not celebrating the death of Andrew Breitbart, but I'm not going to miss this guy, either. I didn't know him personally, and I'm sorry that people who did and who liked and loved him lost someone they were close to. He leaves a wife and kids behind, and that's tragic.

But he also leaves behind a legacy of public hatred. He leaves behind a Twitter page that is 8% conservative talking points, 2% chortling with glee over the pain of Occupy protesters, and 90% answering every hate tweet he gets with more hate. Andrew Breitbart created a lot of hate in this world: his legacy is insults, divisiveness, anger, lies, and hypocrisy.

So I'm not going to mourn the guy. I'm not even going to feel bad that he's dead. I'm not going to say that the world is smaller because we lost an important conservative voice and all that nonsense, because I never considered him an important conservative voice, just a loud one. One who made it his life's work to destroy progressives, misrepresent them, ridicule them into silence, and call them terrorists. If you're a progressive or a liberal, how losing that is something to mourn, I don't know.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Davy Jones 1945-2012

Sadly, Davy Jones died in his sleep last night.

When I was in grade school, my friends and I used to rush out and play in the field and the woods near our homes. Around 5, we'd start going home, or to the house of the friend who lived closest, and we'd sit and watch reruns of Batman and The Monkees. I don't even remember what channel they were on, but they were both there, one after the other. I didn't discover the Beatles until much later in my life; for me, the Monkees were there first.

I loved the show and the music so much that when I was 9 or 10, the first cassette I bought with my own money was Then & Now: The Best of the Monkees. It makes me sad to see Davy die, and only at age 66, from a massive heart attack. I hope his family and friends are getting through the day today.

Goodbye, Davy. Thanks for everything.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.


A BETTER LIFE (2011)
I think I said what I needed to say about this film in my recent Oscar post. I thought it was a very moving look at the way our government has dehumanized and unsupported undocumented workers. I feel like going off on a political rant, but why bother? ****

ALBERT NOBBS (2011)
Not a truly bad film, but not a totally convincing one. Glenn Close's performance wavers between subdued and cartoonish as a woman pretending to be a man in order to gain financial security in 19th Century Ireland. Janet McTeer, who is doing the same thing, goes broad, but in a way that works. Good cast, but in the service of a film that isn't entirely convincing about its characters or its situation. **1/2

BEGINNERS (2010)
Precious but surprisingly charming movie about a man (Ewan McGregor) dealing with the death of his father (Christopher Plummer), who came out of the closet in the last years of his life. Emotionally genuine, sweet without being twee. He falls for a French actress (Melanie Laurent, who could blame him?) and tries to navigate the way his uncertain relationships with both of his late parents now throw up emotional obstacles in his present. ****

THE IRON LADY (2011)
At times, I really couldn't stand this film. It chooses to look at the story of Margaret Thatcher as the story of a woman who beat the odds and triumphed over a world of men to achieve political power, without really having an opinion either way about her policies. Frankly, she promoted monetarist policies that were little more than greed and selfishness, and which produced high unemployment. She was nationalistic to the point of being a warmonger. Her moral absolutism was monstrous. Ignoring her legacy--not even venturing a viewpoint about it--is like making a movie about George W. Bush and never mentioning the Iraq War. Improbably and tastelessly, the framing device for the narrative is Thatcher slipping in and out of dementia. No surprise this is from the director of Mamma Mia!, the worst film in modern history, which is similarly confused and not really about anything. I give it ** only because Meryl Streep is very, very good in it.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN (2011) ***1/2
This film, I think, depends on your perception of Marilyn Monroe. I think she remains such an icon because she provides a template for people, men and women, to project their desires onto. For her part, she often reflected what people wanted to see. She was notoriously insecure and emotionally needy, and there were a lot of people who turned her into a receptacle for their paternal and maternal feelings. There are always people who will need to protect the babe in the woods, and Marilyn provided that for them. Consequently, we've had different pictures drawn for us through the last 50+ years of who the "real" Marilyn was by people who were each sure they knew the "real" Marilyn. The fact that she's such an enigma explains her continued popularity; and, of course, she was also incredibly beautiful. (And, I've always thought, extremely talented.) So Michelle Williams here is excellent at being a Marilyn who responds to various perceptions put on her throughout the film: Olivier's condescension, her handler's proprietary anger, people who desire her or think they need to protect her from herself. I wasn't moved so much by the story of a production assistant (Eddie Redmayne) who falls in love with Marilyn, but I was fascinated by the woman stuck in the middle of all of this competing testosterone and how she did (and didn't) handle it. Marilyn here isn't a character so much as the force that drives the plot. Who she is is almost irrelevant. This is about who people thought she was, and how each of them were convinced they were right. ***1/2 And yes, Branagh is quite good, as I said earlier this week.

THE CANTERBURY TALES (1972)
Never seen a Pasolini film before; not sure this was worth the wait. Good costumes, but so boring and earnest... I kept wondering what it would have been like had Fellini made it. *

DEADLY SIBLING RIVALRY (2011)
Extremely stupid Lifetime movie about twins--one good, one evil, and the evil one pretending to be the good one while the good one is in the hospital. Charisma Carpenter plays both twins. I love Charisma. Her movies suck, but I love her. *, that's half for each Chrissy.

STRANGER IN MY BED (2005)
Lifetime again. Kind of an incoherent mess, but totally worth * for being so damn over the top.

THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1957)
This has actually been on my TiVo forever, so it seemed finally time to watch it. There's such a limited number of Marilyn Monroe movies that I'm taking them slowly... I admit, I'll be a little sad when there are no longer any Marilyn Monroe movies for me to see for the first time. Anyway, I quite liked this one, even though Marilyn seems a little like stunt casting as an American showgirl living in England who spends a few days with the "Grand Duke of Carpathia." Olivier is bit indulgent, not with himself so much but with his usual British patriotism. Marilyn is wonderful as the girl he attempts to seduce and throw away, but who keeps getting entangled in his affairs and makes him earn it. Eventually, the night of earned sex arrives and somehow magically fixes everything...which I actually have no problem believing a night of sex with Marilyn can accomplish. ****

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Star Trek: Enterprise, Season Two

It took me longer than I honestly thought it would to get through this second season. I needed a lot of breaks. It's the very definition of an uneven season of television; for every truly great episode (and there are some), there are four episodes of filler, silliness, and science fiction cliches. It's a shame, because there's so much great potential here, but unfortunately it's on a series produced by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga, and as much as they seem to want to make this a different kind of Star Trek, they also aren't comfortable straying too far from their long-established Trek cliches. So what we get here is an at times infuriating mixed bag.

1. Shockwave, Part II (my rating: 1 out of 5)
I've got to be honest here: I can't even remember what happens in this episode. More time travel shit.

2. Carbon Creek (2/5)
Cute-ish episode detailing the experiences of a Vulcan crew studying the Sputnik satellite in 1957 who crash in smalltown Pennsylvania and must integrate with the townsfolk until another ship comes to rescue them. Jolene Blalock plays T'Pol's ancestor T'Mir. Apparently Vulcans invented Velcro. It's derivative of October Sky, especially with the mining town and the air of both paranoia and inspiration created by the successful launch of Sputnik. But at least it's still science fiction? I don't know, it's an attempt to recreate that episode of Voyager that took place in smalltown Indiana, and... it's just... there. I do like that it shows us how T'Mir is willing to interfere on the side of getting that one kid into college and letting another Vulcan stay behind to observe humanity; T'Pol's most interesting journey is that she's pulling further and further away from the arrogance and imperiousness of the Vulcan High Council, and we can see it in her ancestor, so there is some character resonance.

3. Minefield (4/5)
A nicely tense episode detailing first contact between Starfleet and the Romulan Star Empire. We never see the Romulans (of course), but how about their ships?
That is beautiful. Everything I loved about the Romulan ships on the original series, with a couple-of-generations-earlier retrofit. I'd love to have a model of this one, too. That is just wonderful.

Anyway, the episode itself has a nice sort of tension, with the Enterprise stuck in a minefield and the Romulans insistent to the point of hostility in trying to force the Enterprise out of their space. Meanwhile, Malcolm Reed goes out onto the ship to try and remove a magnetic mine which impales him to the hull. Since we aren't able to see the Romulans (remember no one knew what they looked like until Captain Kirk faced them), it's a good way to ratchet up the suspense.

4. Dead Stop (3/5)
Okay, I really like how the damage caused to the Enterprise caused by the minefield is addressed immediately in the next episode. This is something missing from most incarnations of Star Trek--I got sick of how this was never addressed on Voyager, given the situation--and I'm glad they actually carry it over here. The idea of the automated repair station in space is a very intriguing one, and I like how this plays with Travis Mayweather's apparent (but not actual) death. They do some nice things with it, including giving Scott Bakula a chance to play Captain Archer as guilty over a crewman's death, one of his biggest fears.

5. A Night in Sickbay (4/5)
For reasons I don't quite understand, this appears to be a widely hated episode. What, a man can't love his dog anymore? Poor Becca was worried the whole time; I think she never would've watched another episode again if Porthos had died from the alien toxin he ingested. And I didn't think the stuff about Archer having to go through a complex apology ritual undermined him in anyway; a focus of this series is the early attempts at diplomacy in this pre-Federation time period. I don't know, I was invested in it, but I love Phlox and Archer. I did not, however, like the subplot with Archer having sexual fantasies about T'Pol. I mean, it's realistic--and T'Pol may be, for me, the sexiest woman main character on any Star Trek, though I acknowledge a lot of that is because she's Vulcan and she looks like Hilary Swank--and it's nice that this show, more than any other Trek series, openly acknowledges that people have sex, but I'm just not interested in seeing a romance develop between Archer and T'Pol. For what it's worth, I don't think those scenes are meant to be seen as Archer having any romantic feelings for her, but still... don't go there, guys. T'Pol is a great character who is more than just the show's lust object.

6. Marauders (2/5)
The Magnificent Seven with Klingons instead of Mexicans. Not very interesting, which is too bad, because I hate to see the Klingons wasted.

7. The Seventh (5/5)
See, episodes like this are the reason I'm not interested in seeing a romantic relationship between Archer and T'Pol. In this episode, she turns to Archer for help completing a mission from Vulcan intelligence because she trusts and respects him. One of the joys of this show is watching that develop between the two; a mutual trust and respect that might one day develop into friendship. This is also another good step in T'Pol's journey of disillusionment with her government and possibly a disillusionment with the idea of emotional control; it's a great character episode that explores her individuality. I think there so easily could have been a mistake here and the writers manage to avoid it: in this episode, T'Pol is meant to apprehend a fugitive who protests his innocence. She is swayed by his protestations and by memories of an earlier mission that still haunt her. The dilemma she has is an ethical one: should she give in to her doubts about his guilt or should she do her duty and bring him in? In the end, the fugitive (played by the always-good Bruce Davison) turns out to actually be guilty, anyway. What makes this work is a crucial bit of timing: she makes the decision to let him go before we find out he's guilty. If she had decided to do her duty instead, and then we found out he was guilty all along, it takes the power of her decision and doubt away, and it would have been a smug revelation instead of an important bit of character development: that T'Pol, even as a Vulcan, has self-doubts and insecurities that she needs to overcome. This is an excellent episode for any Star Trek series, but especially this one.

8. The Communicator (2/5)
Interesting episode about accidental first contact between the ship and a pre-warp civilization. When Reed and Archer are captured, their technology confiscated and their execution scheduled, T'Pol and Trip attempt a rescue with a captured, cloaked Suliban pod. I think the business with Trip accidentally cloaking his arm while attempting to discover how the cloak actually works is funny, but it belongs in another episode. It would've increased the tension so much more if the audience had no idea Archer and Reed were going to be rescued. They figure T'Pol will stick to the Vulcan policy of non-interference and are ready to die in order to do more damage to the culture than they already have; it would've been much more suspenseful if we didn't know anything going on aboard the Enterprise. Still, I have problems with the premise; what the natives will learn from reverse-engineering their communicator, tricorder, and phaser is going to steer the culture enough that you might as well talk before they also start learning from your actual corpses, too.

9. Singularity (2/5)
A mixed bag of Trek cliches. Of course a space anomaly causes everyone to act weird and out of character. Of course T'Pol is immune to it. Of course the ship is going to be destroyed unless everyone can get their shit together. Of course, of course, of course. The only thing that keeps this from being a 1 for me is that there are some scenes of genuine suspense, such as the scene where Travis complains of a headache and Dr. Phlox comes dangerously close to taking out his brain to diagnose the problem.

10. Vanishing Point (1/5)
Didn't they already do this episode with Ro and Geordi on TNG? Here, Hoshi goes through the transporter and goes out of phase with the rest of the crew; she's invisible and intangible, but she also manages to foil what seems like the third or fourth secret plot by an alien to blow up the ship. Would've been more poignant if they'd just let her die at the end of the episode instead of actually hitting the reset button. So... she time traveled or something? I get that the transporter is new technology and we're still exploring it, but to go to a device that was initially used on a series that takes place 200 years in the future is silly. There's also no emotion in the scenes where everyone is mourning her and Archer is trying to explain what happened to Hoshi's father, because you know everything is going to turn out fine, because it's Star Trek.

11. Precious Cargo (1/5)
Nyarlathotep save me. Really? We're doing the One with the Spoiled Alien Princess? This is Trip trying to escape aliens with a spoiled princes, so we're rehashing the plot of The Bride Came COD and Six Days, Seven Nights and about a thousand other screwball romances, and we're not even doing it well. At least the princess is Padma Lakshmi, so she's beautiful to look at, but it doesn't save this mess.

12. The Catwalk (1/5)
This is kind of an incoherent mess. There's space pirates and an anomaly and radiation and yet another attempt to blow up the Enterprise from the inside. Stuff happens. In space.

13. Dawn (1/5)
Enemy Mine without the hermaphrodite, which was itself Hell in the Pacific with a hermaphrodite. Another rehash of ideas. This has been a really bad stretch of episodes. No wonder so many of the viewers who were left gave up on the show in the second season.

14. Stigma (5/5)
Finally, the show pulls out of its string of terrible episodes and gives us another great T'Pol episode. Not only is this a touching HIV/AIDS allegory, it also manages to justify that idiotic episode from last season where T'Pol is mind-raped. The mind meld that was done against her will has left her with a degenerative Vulcan disease, Pa'nar Syndrome, that the Vulcan medical community is doing nothing to treat because they consider Vulcans with the ability to mind meld "undesirable." Basically the Reagan administration's attitude toward AIDS. The obvious allegory is that T'Pol was raped and infected, and now she can't bring herself to ask for the cure because the Vulcans won't give it to her unless she admits she was mind-raped. She, however, refuses to participate in the marginalization of people with the ability to mind meld. This is an excellent ethical exploration, something Star Trek doesn't always do well, and also affords our most destructive example of Vulcan arrogance and officiousness. Excellent stuff.

There's also a predictable-yet-delightful subplot that does nothing to mar the episode, with one of Dr. Phlox's three wives (Feezal, played winningly by Melinda Page Hamilton) visiting the ship and attempting to initiate a sexual encounter with Trip Tucker. It's kind of obvious--Denobulan sexual politics have done away with jealousy, and Phlox encourages an embarrassed Trip to pursue Feezal--but Hamilton and John Billingsley are having so much fun that it's impossible to be irritated by it.

15. Cease Fire (4/5)
Continuing the theme of T'Pol's disillusionment, she here actually accuses Ambassador Soval of arrogance to his face (and he's very offended before dismissing arrogance as an emotional response). This is another crackerjack episode, with Jeffrey Combs returning as Commander Shran, specifically asking for Captain Archer's help in negotiating a cease fire over a disputed planet between the Andorians and the Vulcans. I'm so happy for this continued exploration of the Andorians. I also like seeing all the opposing viewpoints: T'Pol believes peace is possible, but Soval doesn't; Shran is pragmatic about the need for peace, but troops under his command (including Tarah, played very well by the excellent Suzie Plakson) want to keep fighting; and Archer, believing peace is imperative, is caught in the middle. I like the focus on diplomacy in this episode, especially Trip's willingness to put the Enterprise (quite literally) between the Andorian and Vulcan forces in order to prevent all-out war from happening. Archer has a good moment here where he says that humanity is ready to join a larger community. One of my favorite aspects of this show. When it's good...

16. Future Tense (3/5)
Tense episode, marred by more time travel shit (including a timeship that's a TARDIS, um... homage? Rip-off? Homage, I guess, since an homage these days is basically an acknowledged "borrow"). I think it's an interesting debate over who has salvage rights on a derelict ship (here the Enterprise gets into it with a Suliban and a Tholian ship--I'd love to learn more about the Tholians), but ugh, time travel. STOP IT.

17. Canamar (2/5)
Archer and Trip are mistaken as smugglers and find themselves trapped in a skiffy version of the slave ship from Ben-Hur without all of the sexual tension. Always nice to see Sean Whalen, even buried under makeup (and the makeup on this episode is, for Enterprise, uncharacteristically bad). Tiresome episode, though. Sometimes this show tries to Buck Rogers it up a bit too much.

18. The Crossing (2/5)
Incorporeal aliens try to take over the Enterprise, with predictable results. I do respect that the incorporeal being who takes over Reed's body immediately turns him into a sexual predator, because that seems to be the direction Reed is going in half the time, anyway. He would be the least surprising one. It's an attempt to do Body Snatchers, but it deliberately ignores the fact that it would be possible--and more successful--for the incorporeal beings to take over the entire crew at once instead of one by one. Apparently they're being slow about it for plot convenience. Some genuine suspense when a possessed Trip tries to stop Dr. Phlox from decontaminating the ship, but it's still pretty stupid.

19. Judgment (5/5)
I like this look into the Klingon justice system and its degeneration due to the political machinations of the Empire. I also love JG Hertzler being on this show as a Klingon. Man, I miss Martok. Martok was the best Klingon ever. Here, Hertzler plays Kolos, Archer's advocate in a Klingon courtroom where he is charged with aiding rebels and attacking a Klingon ship (captained by Duras, so we see the beginning of his House's fall from honor). Kolos is an excellent character, an honorable relic of a time when Klingon honor meant something different. It's nice to see a representative of a more tolerant, more enlightened Klingon way as a means to tell us that the Klingon Empire as we see it here is already in decline because of paranoia, greed, and a culture that increasingly places warfare above education and justice. I also like that, after Archer escapes from a lifetime sentence on Rura Penthe, he is branded an enemy of the Empire and a bounty is put on his head. I always get extra excited when there are actual ramifications from a plot instead of just going back to one.

20. Horizon (2/5)
Finally, Travis gets an episode and... it's okay. I think they went for a somewhat cliched plot with him dealing with his father's death and unresolved issues with his brother. Too bad, because Travis just doesn't get enough screen time. Hoshi's been pushed in the background a lot this season, too, and her one episode was fairly stupid. I did like that T'Pol enjoys James Whale's Frankenstein.

21. The Breach (3/5)
Liked the stuff about racism between Denobulans and Antarans, shown to us by an Antaran's refusal to undergo lifesaving treatment at Phlox's hands, but I didn't care about Reed and Trip trying to evacuate a group of Denobulan geologists. Another episode with a great performance by John Billingsley. That said, the idea of Denobulans as oppressive war criminals seems wrong for a race that we've so far seen as nothing but optimistic and happy.

22. Cogenitor (1/5)
An episode that people inexplicably love... So, the Vissians have three sexes, one of them being a "cogenitor" who is necessary to reproduction. Trip befriends a cogenitor and begins to educate him/her; he feels strongly that the cogenitors (who only make up 3% of Vissian population) are basically being treated like horses and should be allowed to have a role in raising the children they provide (despite the fact that, again, 3% of the population--how many kids does a being have to raise there?). I don't like the way this episode basically argues that the cogenitors are little more than slave drones who are purposely kept uneducated, because every alien you meet on Star Trek is going to be psychologically the same as an American. In the end, after Archer rejects the cogenitor's request for asylum, the cogenitor kills him/herself, and we apparently learn a valuable lesson about cultural objectivity or gender identification or non-interference or something. Archer's dressing down of Trip feels out of place at the end of the episode, because we've spent the first four-fifths of the episode being preached at about self-agency and individualism, and suddenly the message is that trying to help someone reach that is wrong. If T'Pol had given Archer the speech he gives Trip, he'd have accused her of being cold and unfeeling. The messages here are all over the place and just don't mesh, and using it as another example of the need for the Prime Directive doesn't work because the Vissians are more advanced and, until the suicide of the cogenitor, willing to share their technology with Starfleet.

The idea of birth assistance and cross-gender gestation was handled much better on the Alien Nation episode "Partners." I still maintain that Alien Nation was a very smart, underrated science fiction series.

23. Regeneration (1/5)
The inevitable Borg episode. Great special effects, but the show is trying too hard with this one. While it makes sense that Borg could be frozen in the ice and left over from the movie First Contact, it just tries too hard to force the Borg onto a series where they don't belong. I still can't even figure out how Seven of Nine's family knew about the Borg when she was a little girl, and the attempt at a causality loop here--did the Borg message get to the Delta Quandrant, and will it take 200 years to get there?--is just ham-fisted. They've already marked out where a Delta Quadrant is? Or an Alpha Quadrant, for that matter? This just smacks of Rick Berman needing to get his pet aliens on the show. Also, how is there almost no intelligence on the Borg in Picard's time? And Dr. Phlox could find a way to rid his body of Borg nanoprobes (Voyager's magical fix for every plot for its last four seasons) but scientists in the future with 200 years of technological breakthroughs couldn't figure it out? This episode is so out of place it should be completely ignored.

24. First Flight (3/5)
Interesting, low key episode about Archer's early Starfleet career as a test pilot. I was worried this was going to become a time travel plot, and I'm glad it was just a gentle series of flashbacks as Archer remembers a friend and fellow test pilot who has just died (played by Keith Carradine). I'm really interested in the history of Starfleet, and this is a nice episode to delve into it. Sort of the bookend to this season's earlier "Carbon Creek" as we find out more about the future history of space exploration, the sometimes combative relationship between Starfleet and its Vulcan ambassadors, and the developing friendship between Archer and T'Pol.

25. Bounty (3/5)
Neat to see a Tellarite again, here a bounty hunter who kidnaps Archer for the bounty the Klingons have placed on his head. Skalaar is kind of a neat character; don't know if we'll see him again, but it would be nice if we did. The b-story, with T'Pol's pon farr prematurely triggered, is pretty ludicrous. Yes, yes, we remember, this is the sexy Star Trek, you can stop putting Jolene Blalock's glistening thighs in close-up, we get it. The whole subplot is basically an excuse for Jolene to run around in sweat shorts and a clingy-yet-loose tank top. That seems like something I shouldn't be complaining about, but, come on, Enterprise, where's your integrity?

26. The Expanse (5/5)
The teaser for this episode shows an alien probe in Earth's orbit suddenly unleashing intense fire on the planet, cutting a straight line from Florida to Venezuela and killing (we're told later) 7 million people. It's the most effective moment of tragedy on this show since the previous season's finale, when the Enterprise accidentally caused the destruction of a mining colony. After some Temporal Cold War nonsense, the Enterprise is refitted (with photon torpedoes, among other upgrades) and sent into the Delphic Expanse to find the source of the attack on Earth: someone or something called the Xindi. We also have the Klingons' continued attempt to kill Jonathan Archer for escaping Rura Penthe, and the final failure of Duras. It's a very good episode and a very effective finale, and we see the concerns of characters who are no longer exploring, but now gearing up for war: Trip's sister was killed in the initial attack, Ambassador Soval warns of strange things that happen in the Expanse (including a case of Vulcans going crazy and murdering each other, and a horrifying tale of Klingons being, essentially, turned inside out), and T'Pol struggles with her loyalties. This is a major turning point for her, opting to throw away her career and resign her Vulcan commission in order to stay aboard the Enterprise and travel with them into the Expanse out of loyalty to Archer and the crew.

The episode ends with the Enterprise entering the Expanse and the promise of probably a darker and more action-oriented season to come. Obviously Starfleet can't lose the war against the Xindi, but I wonder if the characters themselves will be put in real danger or not. This is still Star Trek, after all, but Star Trek with the promise of a new, less episodic direction.

I guess we'll see what happens next.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Visual Thinking

Kermit and Harry the Hipster visualize jazz on Sam & Friends in 1961.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Third Anniversary

Today is mine and Becca's third wedding anniversary. Once again, because we are the most romantic people on Earth, it took Facebook to remind us of the actual date. We don't really think of this as our real anniversary, because we count from our first date, which was 20 December 1994. So though we've been married for just 3 years, we've been together for just over 17 and we've lived together for just over 10. It's also, inexplicably, my sister Jayne's first wedding anniversary, so since she kind of took the date, the 20 December date just feels that much more ours, anyway.

But it's nice to be reminded that three years ago today, we went out on a tremendously rainy day and ran away to get married without telling anyone. I don't think we told anyone about it for a month. We stood up in front of a judge on our own and said our vows, both wearing matching Superman tee shirts because we don't have fancy clothes and we're both silly and still big kids. We felt already married for the longest time. All we did was make it official.

I'm just glad she's with me. That's still the really unbelievable part to me.

Happy Wedding Anniversary, Becca!

Song of the Week: "The First Time It Happens"

It's Oscar Sunday, and since the Muppets are nominated in the Best Original Song category, I thought this video might be appropriate for Song of the Week. Here are Kermit and Piggy, performed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, at the Oscars 30 years ago, with a song nominated from The Great Muppet Caper.

Sunday Hottie 369

JEAN DUJARDIN