September 12, 2007

Lie Down with Dogs

I have a post at Eternity Road on Apple's ringtone debacle.

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September 10, 2006

That's Odd

We bought a Toshiba D-RW2 DVD recorder this weekend, in order to save off the 9/11 coverage from CNN tomorrow. After getting it set up and running, I decided to look at comments from other owners, so that I could get a good feel for others' experience with it. At Amazon, I found this review by "Jonathan E. Kite":

This is a very basic DVD Recorder. It doesn't have a ton of bells and wistles which is what makes it perfect for beginners. The lack of DVD-ram is upsetting, considering the DR-W4 is only thirty more for many more features, but sometimes less features are nice, the simplicity makes it easy for my entire family to use. You cannot access menu items when discs are finalizing/formatting/or even when shows are recording, which is unfortunate. Otherwise, it is a great starter by a company that makes reliable products.

I decided to look up the other player, and realized that the reviewer must be talking about the Toshiba D-R4, and just typo'd the name. But then I noticed something else. Search on Toshiba+"DR-W4" in Google, and you get the exact same review at over a dozen sites, unattributed, and with different review dates. Some of the other reviews from Amazon appear to be duplicated as well.

So, are other online shops just copying Amazon's reviews and "branding" them as their own customers? Are these by agreement with Amazon, or illicit? It seems really, really strange to me.

Actually, we bought a Cyberhome unit, then immediately exchanged it for this one. Do not buy Cyberhome equipment, because it's complete crap. Apparently, the break very, very quickly. But we did not have time to determine that, because the player only displayed black and white. Online support linked from their web site goes to a non-existent page, and their phone support said that telephone and email support was unavailable. Joyous. I suppose we deserve that for not looking around at reviews in advance.

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September 3, 2006

Paramount Must Be Getting Desperate

Remastering Star Trek: TOS FX, Music Enhanced

CBS Paramount Domestic Television has officially announced that they are releasing digitally remastered episodes of Star Trek, with all new special effects and music, to celebrate the groundbreaking series' 40th anniversary, according to John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television.


The refurbished episodes also feature higher quality sound for the famous opening theme. The original score by Emmy Award-winning composer Alexander Courage, has been re-recorded in state-of-the-art digital stereo audio with an orchestra and a female singer belting out the famous vocals. A digitally remastered version of William Shatner's classic original recording of the 38-word "Space, the final frontier..." monologue continues to open each episode.

I'm sure some bean-counter somewhere was trying to figure out how to make more money from the franchise. They've already released TOS on DVD twice, why not go for three?

I know the effects on TOS are dated, but is putting in a CGI Enterprise really going to 1) make an older generation buy it again, and 2) make a younger generation watch it at all?

Next thing you know, they're going to colorize Casablanca. Err.......

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July 1, 2006

Superman Redux

We caught a matinee of Superman Returns today. I really wasn't sure what to expect. The trailers had me confused as to what kind of movie it was. They seemed to show that - like the first half of the original Richard Donner film - this movie would try to be as much drama as action. However, some of the Kevin Spacey clips had me worried that - like the second half of the original - this movie would have too many over-the-top moments that bring it back down a few notches.

Before going into spoilers, let me just say that if you enjoy the first movie, you will almost certainly enjoy Returns. It's flows directly from the events of Superman I & II, and is an excellent sequel. Now, we can finally put aside Superman III and IV and say they never happened :)

Spoilers - but fairly minor - in the extended entry.

To a large degree, I think this movie does mirror the first film - but not as bad as I expected in the latter half. I think the best way to describe Superman Returns may be not only as a sequel, but as a homage to the first film. The stylized opening credits, giant "S" and John Williams theme are directly from it. Little touches were nice such as a picture of Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent on the mantle, plus Marlon Brando's Jor-El scenes. Then, you get a little dialogue rip-off that just makes you grin: "I hope this little incident hasn't put you off flying."

Where director Bryan Singer and his writing team go wrong is to take the homage too far. The plot is a rehash: Lex Luthor wants to create a new continent - destroying most of the US - with stolen Kryptonian technology instead of a nuclear missle. More dialogue is ripped off. They even redo the bit with what Luthor's father always told him about land. It was just a bit too much.

Where it goes well is the Lois-Superman plot. While Superman was away from Earth, Lois has won a Pulitzer Prize for an editorial titled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman". When he returns, she puts up barriers because she doesn't want to let him back in. She resists embracing his return like the rest of the world because she's "moved on." I doubt I have to tell you that this is resolved by the end of the movie. Still, it's handled well - such as when Superman explains to Lois what he sees and hears each night.

Visually, the film is excellent. Flying effects have come a long way since the original movies. It's hard to believe now how ground-breaking those effects were in the late 70s. The plane rescue (not Air Force One this time) is much more impressive.

John Ottman puts the original Williams music to good use throughout the movie, but doesn't add anything memorable on his own. Still, there's not much reason to. The original Superman Theme is probably Williams' single best piece of music - I was sorely tempted to applaud when the music came up during the opening credits.

In terms of all the Superman movies, this may be the best and most evenly-handled one yet. The franchise can certainly grow from here. Comparing it to the more modern movies like Spider-Man and Batman Begins, though, I would say it's not quite as good. It's more on par with the first X-Men movie - overall good, but a few rough spots around the edges.

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June 24, 2006

JMS Trek Unveiled

Ain't It Cool News links to a PDF file that shows the 2004 proposal by J. Michael Straczynski to reboot the Star Trek universe:

Every writer who’s been asked to pitch for one of the Star Trek series or features knows that so many stories have been developed in the Star Trek universe that it has become increasingly difficult to move something through the system. The three most common responses are: it’s been done, it’s being done, or it would never be done.

Yep, that's about right. After that premise, though, his treatment turns up some amazingly familiar stuff for it to be something that hasn't been done before:

We will start with a two-hour pilot that tells the story no one has ever seen: the circumstances that lead Kirk and McCoy (friends before this) to meet Spock for the first time. It will involve their discovery of a lost city on an uncharted world, nearly a million years old, and their encounter with the race that built it, a race long sought after by every civilized world for the tremendous advantages they could provide.

Hmmmm, Shadows, anyone? No, that's been done before....

There will be a beginning, middle and end to this series. It will be exactly five seasons, with each season equaling one year of their five year mission. The crew of the Enterprise will leave in our pilot episode, and they will return five years later from their scientific and security mission.

Wow, once again I'm sensing something familiar here from another JMS series. But there's more. Some familiar overtones from Trek too:

One thing we will discover is that buried deep within the DNA of humans, Vulcans (even Klingons) and other intelligent bi-pedal races is a mathematical code, something buried so deep and of such complexity that it could not possibly have occurred by chance.

Well, let's see, I think there was a TNG episode called "The Chase...

Now, to be fair, there's a lot of missing pieces here. I don't think there's many other people who could pull of a revitalization of Star Trek besides JMS. However, I'd really worry if Spock turned out to be a woman in this series and then showed up in a cocoon some time. I like the overall concept, though. No more further expansion of the Trek universe, just start over with the characters people know. People have lived through multiple incarnations of James Bond and Superman. I think the world could survive without William Shatner as James T. Kirk.

What I would not want to see, though, is a "Battlestar Galactica"-like treatment that takes Trek so far from its origins that it becomes unrecognizable except for the names of the characters.

Paramount ultimately passed on JMS' proposal. AICN points out that since Enterprise was on the air at the time, it probably didn't get very far, which is unfortunate. I wonder what kind of hearing he would get now.

Right now (from the same AICN article), the focus is on a Trek movie that goes back to pre-TOS days. Matt Damon is being floated as Kirk. I have no problem with the casting, but I really wonder why Paramount is going the big-screen route. The last few movies have been disasters, and I really think it's because there's too much Trek readily available out there. After so many series all available on DVD and on so many cable networks each night, there's not a lot of reason to go shell out $10 to see a Trek movie. A TV mini-series would make more sense if they really want to re-launch a franchise.

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June 17, 2006

A Gentleman's Game

Today we went to see the Rochester Grangers, a vintage base ball team. In brief, vintage base ball is baseball played by the rules of some time in the past (the Grangers played the Bay City Independents using 1867 rules today). There are actually quite a few teams playing vintage base ball, and what I can't figure out is how I missed out on this for so long.

The most important difference between vintage base ball and today's baseball at any level is that the vintage sport is a gentleman's game. The players and fans cheer good play, rather than good play by their team. Players resolve disputes among themselves, though I must say that there was not a single dispute that I saw today: the players knew when they were out, or were most likely out, and simply abandoned the field. The umpire, besides calling foul balls, can only rule on a judgement call if asked, and only the team captains can approach the umpire. The rules are quite different: the players field bare-handed; the ball and bat are different sizes and, for the ball, of different composition; the fields are irregular (the Grangers' field prominently features a tree in left field); the pitcher's duty is to get the ball to the batter so that he can hit it (vintage base ball is a hitting and fielding game, rather than a pitching duel); fouls don't count as strikes, and balls are not called; and on foul balls (or any ball under slightly earlier rules), you can catch the ball on one bounce for an out. The purpose of the game is gentlemanly competition, exercise and entertainment, and the home team feeds the visiting team afterwards (after all, they've come a long way).

We ate lunch in the shade of some trees in deep right field, and I have not had so much fun at a baseball game since I was a child.

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May 22, 2006

A Weekend of Serenity

I got a birthday gift last week from Jeff & Steph - the Firefly DVDs. I had not watched them, just heard passing comments about them. About the only advice I got was "Don't watch them around the kids." So, with wife and daughter out of town for the weekend, I watched the entire series - then went out and bought Serenity (on sale this week at Target for $10!) and watched it.


Babylon 5 is the high mark for me as far as TV science fiction goes. Firefly still doesn't beat it, but it was a whole lot of fun. I liked that it made space BIG. Science fiction shows have a tendency to (for storyline reasons) make space small - travel and communication are instant. It makes for an easy crutch. In Firefly, space is more like the Old West. If the ship breaks down in the middle of nowhere and you're hosed but good.

I still think Mal should have let Jayne be sucked out of the ship after trying to turn in River.

Steph posted a long entry a while back about why the show was cancelled. After watching it, I doubt it's as sinister as being too much about honor and personal responsibility. The show had the requisite amount of sex and violence to overcome that. I think it just has to do with the ratings system. Networks want an instant audience now, and don't have the patience to build one. With hundreds of choices, shows are rarely given "a shot" anymore. I really wonder if any of the mega-networks will ever give a science-fiction show a chance again. More than likely, Sci-Fi and the independents will get the nod, instead. Reality shows are cheaper.

Posted by Nemo at 11:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Weekend of Serenity

I got a birthday gift last week from Jeff & Steph - the Firefly DVDs. I had not watched them, just heard passing comments about them. About the only advice I got was "Don't watch them around the kids." So, with wife and daughter out of town for the weekend, I watched the entire series - then went out and bought Serenity (on sale this week at Target for $10!) and watched it.


Babylon 5 is the high mark for me as far as TV science fiction goes. Firefly still doesn't beat it, but it was a whole lot of fun. I liked that it made space BIG. Science fiction shows have a tendency to (for storyline reasons) make space small - travel and communication are instant. It makes for an easy crutch. In Firefly, space is more like the Old West. If the ship breaks down in the middle of nowhere and you're hosed but good.

I still think Mal should have let Jayne be sucked out of the ship after trying to turn in River.

Steph posted a long entry a while back about why the show was cancelled. After watching it, I doubt it's as sinister as being too much about honor and personal responsibility. The show had the requisite amount of sex and violence to overcome that. I think it just has to do with the ratings system. Networks want an instant audience now, and don't have the patience to build one. With hundreds of choices, shows are rarely given "a shot" anymore. I really wonder if any of the mega-networks will ever give a science-fiction show a chance again. More than likely, Sci-Fi and the independents will get the nod, instead. Reality shows are cheaper.

Posted by Nemo at 11:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 4, 2006

George Lucas Finally Caves In

As Darth Vader once said: "The circle is now complete." George Lucas is caving in to customer demand (but only for a limited time) and releasing the original "Star Wars" trilogy on DVD unaltered from the first theatrical releases.

I've held out on buying the movies for this - I knew they would go for the money at some point. Now Han will shoot first, and the Ewoks will celebrate the fall of the Empire.

Original Unaltered Star Wars Trilogy on DVD!

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Holy Crap!

That's all I can say after the end of this week's Lost. Didn't see that coming!

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April 30, 2006

United 93

Brian and I saw United 93 last night. I should start by noting that it seems odd to file this under the "Movies" category, even though it is about the movie United 93. United 93 is really more of a reconstruction, or dramatization without added drama, than it is like a typical movie, or even a documentary.

The movie contains neither political commentary, nor much in the way of film gimmicks to heighten the drama and emotion, nor even context. It is basically a reconstruction of the events on United 93 on September 11, from the points of view of the terrorists, the passengers, the air traffic controllers, and the military command post charged with air defense of the North American continent. Everything is shown without extrinsic context — this film is in no way a propaganda picture — or comment. There are a few things that were done that were purely conjectural, and which could be described as "film gimmicks to heighten the drama and emotion", but they are both subtle and effective, rather than being a slap in the face.

The terrorists are shown as 2 brutal and remorseless killers, one brutal and very nervous killer, and one (the pilot, Ziad Jarrah) is shown as being hesitant and somewhat more attached to life than the other terrorists, though also committed to the raid as they were. This humanization of the terrorists is certainly conjectural, but it is a good conjecture: we have no need of demons or monsters; we are quite capable of filling those roles ourselves. Another excellent touch was used during the time the passengers were planning how to regain control of the aircraft. As the passengers and crew who would make the counterattack are gathering anything they can use as weapons — forks, hot water, fire extinguishers — the terrorists in the cockpit are praying in Arabic and some of the passengers who would not be taking part are reciting the Lord's Prayer. It was incredibly effective. The one conjectural bit that the film does that I was not happy with was the role of the Scandinavian passenger, who not only argued against the counterattack, but also tried to warn the hijackers and was wrestled down by the other passengers. I felt that this was not only stereotypical and unlikely, but also unnecessary; the extra drama was certainly not needed, and it's pointless to sully the reputation of a person, even anonymously, who may very well have behaved with utter heroism; there is simply no way to know.

The movie is excellent, and I recommend that everyone see it (something I frankly do not often do, even with movies I like). Stephanie and our friend Jen have both told me that "it's too soon" for such a movie, and I've heard those comments on NPR and other places as well. I disagree. Actually, I would agree with the sentiment if the movie was an Oliver Stone take, or a Michael Moore take, but as it was done, the movie serves to do something very critical: help us to remember what we felt that day.

The steady drip characteristic of news in this long, unusual war is numbing. There's a bombing in Baghdad, a kidnapping in southern Afghanistan, a gunman in the Philippines — every day another minor atrocity, and some days another major atrocity, reported with an attitude best described in the Don Henley song Dirty Laundry: "She can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. It's interesting when people die." And that kind of coverage makes us forget, makes us numb, makes us unfeeling and complacent. But this is not over yet, and it's not going to be over soon. This is a war that will utterly destroy either our culture or the part of Arab culture that spawns totalitarianism and expansionism and terrorism; it may well be a war that will alter both cultures beyond recognition. But there will be no let up and no quarter until one or the other side is utterly changed or destroyed. And because of the Arab way of war, there will be no fronts, nor any quarter given; the attacks will come at the time and place of the jihadis' choosing, unless we continue to disrupt them by fighting the jihadis in their homeland instead of ours. And it is the forgetfulness, the numbness, the complacency that makes us likely to turn away from fighting the enemy in their homeland. And then there will be another atrocity, here, with many many dead civilians who just went to work, or took a flight.

So no, it's not too soon. This kind of movie needs to be done now, and every few years, to keep us awake. If the media would actually replay the events of the day on its anniversary, this movie would not be necessary. If the media reported events in context instead of in isolation, this movie would not be necessary. But this movie is necessary.

Because what this movie does is to bring the events of that day freshly back to mind. To give you an idea of what I mean, there is a moment in the film where some of the characters are watching CNN and the first report of the explosion at the Pentagon are coming in. This was the point in time where I walked out of the shower, and saw my wife staring in horror at the TV. I turned to look on this scene. When it was shown again in the movie, my stomach sank into the pit of my stomach; it was the exact same feeling I had on September 11. When the movie ended, the audience stood and walked out. There was no talking, joking, commentary, as you would hear at the end of most movies. People were just remembering.

Go see it. Really.

UPDATE: I wrote this after having been away from the Internet for a couple of days. I then went to Instapundit, and found a lot more people saying the same kinds of things, and more besides.

UPDATE: Oh, and something I meant to mention but neglected. Many of the people in the various ATC centers and the NORAD command center were playing themselves. I believe that this is part of the immediacy of the movie: the director allows the characters to simply be seen in the acts of what they are doing on that seemingly-normal, then suddenly ghastly, day, and the intensity of people reenacting their own personal history and actions, as much as the lack of emphasis on anything that would later become almost mythical ("Let's roll!", for example, was just one in the middle of a couple of passengers — even their names aren't generally noted — talking and bucking up their courage to fight), prevents any jingoism or myth-making from coming out in the movie.

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February 15, 2006

Babylon 5 Actor Katsulas Passes Away

'Babylon 5' Star And Trek Guest Katsulas Dies:

Babylon 5 star Andreas Katsulas, who appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Enterprise, died this week of lung cancer.
Sci Fi Wire reported that the 59-year-old actor, best known to science fiction fans as the Narn ambassador G'Kar from Babylon 5, grew up in St. Louis and held a master's degree in theatre from Indiana University.

Katsulas created one of the most memorable characters in science fiction. Babylon 5 simply would not have worked without the wonderful interplay between him and Peter Jurasik. He was a truly fine actor. I will miss his work.

Update: Here's a video tribute page. The full (90MB) version can also be downloaded here.

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January 21, 2006

Have You Checked The Children

Sony has remade the 70s suspense/thriller When a Stranger Calls. I remember the original scaring the hell out of me when I was young (and doing the occasional babysitting job). This one has been updated: cell phones, caller ID, callbacks, etc. This one seems to try to build on the original, though: it goes a lot further showing the sitter trying to escape from the caller.

I don't see too many of these types of movies. The Sixth Sense may have been the last one, actually. I have my doubts this remake will hold up very well, but I have to admit that childhood memories sent a chill down my spine thinking about it.

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January 17, 2006

A Spring In His Step

I just laughed out loud when I read this. From Trek Today:

Stewart Has 'Never Felt Happier' Since Returning to UK

Patrick Stewart is having the best time of his life since leaving Hollywood and returning to his native Britain.
Stewart told a reporter at The Huddersfield Daily Examiner that he has "never felt happier" since moving back to the UK, saying, "I missed the career that I'd been building here...I missed the shorthand and the detail of being here, of picking up references, of feeling the fabric of English life around me, in all its subtlety and complexity - and infuriating aspects."
"Don't get me wrong, what happened in the States was absolutely fantastic," Stewart quickly added. "I wouldn't change any of that." But the newly named Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield said that he has been thrilled to return to British theatre and is happy with his new ITV series Eleventh Hour. "If I had fantasised about how I'd like to be spending my time on my return, this past year would have been it," declared Stewart, refusing to discuss his private life but conceding that his romantic relationship with a 25-year-old woman has enhanced it greatly. He said that his earlier heart problems have improved and he works with a personal trainer three times a week to stay in shape.
(emphasis mine)

I think a 25-year old woman would enhance the life of most 60+ year men, don't you? :)

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December 26, 2005

As If Three Wasn't Enough

At the printer now: Munchkin 4 - The Need For Steed including such wonderful monsters as: The Ether Bunny and Hairy Potter. New treasures include: the Duck of Earl and the Bi-Sickle.

More Munchkin fun for all!

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December 23, 2005


This morning we were watching the James Bond movie Live and Let Die. The scene is where Kananga/Mr. Big is telling Bond his plan to dump millions of dollars of heroin onto the market. My daughter, who has not seen too many Bond movies - but has seen The Incredibles several times says: "Now, why do the bad guys always do that? Now, Bond knows the whole plan, is going to escape, and then stop him!"

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December 15, 2005

Well That Settles That

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December 13, 2005


I saw Narnia tonight. It was excellent. Pretty much perfect, in fact, to the books. I agree with every word Brian Tiemann wrote.

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December 6, 2005

The Sci-Fi Equation

Steph asks: "There must be some mathematical constant that describes the relationship between the quality of a science fiction show and how quickly it gets cancelled. Mark, Jeff ... can't you work that out?"

Mark provides some datapoints in the comments:

Star Trek: 28 seasons (all incarnations)
Doctor Who: 28 seasons
Stargate: 11 seasons (SG-1+Atlantis)
Babylon 5: 6 seasons (B5+Crusade)
Farscape: 4 seasons

I dunno - I think it's a crap-shoot.

I don't think it's entirely a crapshoot. But first, we need more datapoints:

Space: Above and Beyond: 1 season
Firefly: < 1 season
V: 2 seasons
Space:1999: 2 seasons
Battlestar: Galactica (original): 2? seasons
Galactica 1980: < 1 season
Battlestar: Galactica (new):2+ seasons
Quantum Leap: 5 seasons
Probe: < 1 season
Buck Rogers: 2.5 seasons
Sliders: 5 seasons

And we need to disaggregate Star Trek and B5 as well:

TOS: 3 seasons
TNG: 7 seasons
DS9: 7 seasons
Voyager: 7 seasons
Enterprise: 4 seasons

B5: 5 seasons
Crusade: 1 season

The variables would have to include:

Writing Quality: w
Acting Quality, Directing Quality and Characterization: a
Visual Quality, including special effects: v
Plot and Believability, Universe Quality, Immersion: p
Consistency: c
Originality: o
Name Recognition: n
IQ Demanded of Audience: i

Writing quality (w) includes technical aspects, dialog and the like. The scale is 1 (Voyager) to 10 (Babylon 5).

Acting Quality, Directing and Characterization (a) includes how the show hangs together, whether the characters arouse emotional responses, whether it's obvious that you're watching acting instead of appearing to be real people and so forth. The scale is 1 (truly horrid) to 10 (Firefly).

Visual Quality (v) includes special effects; the effect of the costuming, backgrounds and sets; the appearance of the ships and tools and buildings; and the quality of the camera work. A key point here is the grungy space ship factor: the Millennium Falcon, Serenity and the original Enterprise are obviously working ships, while the Voyager somehow is fit for an admiral's inspection while fighting for its life on the other side of the galaxy. The former is more human than the latter. This scale is from 1 (Flash Gordon serial) to 10 (Blade Runner).

Plot and Believability, Universe Quality, Immersion (p) includes all of the things that help you lose yourself in the universe created. Does the plot (or plots) make sense by itself or is it a vehicle for hanging geeky ideas on? Is the Universe believable, trite, or simply pointless? Can you feel what it would be like to live there? If it's not immersive, is it obviously campy or did they just fail to get it? The scale is from 1 (Galactica 1980) to 10 (Farscape).

Consistency (c) measures whether or not the show flows or keeps jerking you around. For example, having the characteristics of a ship vary in contradictory ways, or the implicit history be wildly off, can throw an otherwise fine show (ST:TNG suffered badly from this). The scale is from 1 (Galactica 1980) to 10 (Farscape).

Originality (o) simply notes whether you've seen all this before. The scale is from 1 (ST: Voyager) to 10 (Space: Above and Beyond).

Name Recognition (n) is simply whether or not the show is famous, or can piggyback off of a famous show. Or, for that matter, whether the writer or director or lead actor is famous. The scale is from 1 (Space: Above and Beyond) to 10 (every Star Trek except TOS).

IQ (i) is simply how smart you have to be to get what the show is driving at. Any moron can watch a show that is only about childish interpersonal relationships or mindless repetition of technobabble, but a show with complex relationships, long-lasting and half-revealed story lines and many cultural allusions requires a fairly intelligent viewer. 100 is average.

Before we can develop any kind of conclusions, we have to assign ratings and look for patterns. These are my own ratings, and some of them are pretty shaky. As a result, feel free to suggest changes, and also additional data points.

Doctor Who28652931061110
Quantum Leap57778794100
Babylon 5510101010995120
ST: Enterprise4358444980
ST: TOS37667393100
Buck Rogers2.5435453380
Battlestar: Galactica (new)2+????????
Space: 199926776785100
Battlestar: Galactica (original)26688677100
Space: Above and Beyond11091099101125
Galactica 1980<1124321680

1Dr. Who branded itself after a few years. While it came in with nothing, it eventually became a fan favorite, and that drove its further popularity.
2ST:TNG started out rehashing story lines from ST:TOS, and didn't venture as far as TOS for several seasons, but did eventually develop some ideas worth thinking about, including the plot lines with Q and the Borg.
3Sliders fell apart in the last couple of seasons; the first three were excellent.

Posted by jeff at 1:31 PM | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

Narnia vs. Tolkien?

I'm a little puzzled by Charles McGrath's article The Narnia Skirmishes

this could be the mother of all screen battles - not just your basic struggle of good and evil but a $200 million smackdown between the religious right and godless Hollywood, between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

followed shortly by:

If you read between the lines - and sometimes right there in them - these stories are all about death and resurrection, salvation and damnation. From a moviemaking point of view, this is excellent news if you are hoping to reach the crowd that packed the theaters to see Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ," probably not so great if you're also hoping to lure all those wizards-and-weapons fans who made the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy such a hit

Reading this, you would swear that the audiences were totally distinct. However, I don't know of many people who read Tolkien (at least before the Jackson movies) who didn't first read Narnia. Narnia's target audience is younger, but anyone who read them and enjoyed fantasy literature was almost certain to pick up The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as they got older. Sentimental reasons alone will pull these people in (I count myself as one of them).

As far as godless Hollywood vs. the Religious Right, well, the Tolkien books have typically gotten a pass from the Religious Right because Tolkien was such a devout Catholic. Tolkien doesn't have the hit-you-over-the-head Christian overtone to it, but neither is it hostile to it, so it's hardly a concern.

I'm sure there are some hardcore fans of each author that doesn't like the other for one reason or another, but generally, fans of one will enjoy the other. I just don't understand the desire to pit these two works against each other like a prize fight.

McGrath did close with one thing I can agree with:

Like all the great children's books, they're not really concerned with explaining or defending this or that orthodoxy. They're interested in mostly the same thing Hollywood is: escape.
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November 11, 2005

API Abuse

It seems that whenever someone releases an API, there is always someone else ready to abuse it horribly. Here is a cool example: Risk with Google maps.

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October 28, 2005

Pieces of Jewel

In the course of my job I get to see many well-known individuals. In the last few months I have seen Emmitt Smith, Shawn Bradley, Michael Finley, Sam Perkins, John Riggins, John Fogerty and Erykah Badu. I'm sure there are a few others I'm forgetting on top of those.

Additionally, others who were nearby, but I missed include Dennis Rodman and Sharon Stone.

Sadly, in that latter category was today's just missed run-in with Jewel. It may be worth noting here, that I'm a big Jewel fan. I would really have liked to see/talk to/get an autograph from/propose to her, had I had the opportunity. Alas, I was only about four feet from her, but with a partition obscuring her from my view. I was busy working at the time, or I might have seen her. Unfortunately, my co-worker who got to talk to her (lucky bastard) didn't recognize her (damn electronic music listener) or he probably would have given me a heads-up. By the time a fellow co-worker showed me a Ty Murray (Jewel's long time boyfriend) championship belt buckle that belonged to someone named Jewel Kilcher, she was leaving and I was still too busy working to do anything about it. Sigh...

And while I'm at it, here are more gratuitous pictures of Jewel:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10

Posted by Brian at 10:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 29, 2005


Song: Borderline
Artist: Chris DeBurgh
Album: The Getaway
Year: 1983

This song is such a sad, heartbreaking song of separation. Two people are caught on opposite sides of a war, and neither knows if they'll ever see each other again. This is a kind of music that has become much more rare since the end of the Cold War: a commentary on foreign affairs and their effect on ordinary people. Well, such songs do exist in country music, and I suppose that there are such commentaries in rock as well; it's just that the rock songs that provide such commentary seem to always be "progressive" and a little brain-dead. This is much more thoughtful, and it's obvious that, while DeBurgh is singing from an anti-war position, he's not trying to target any one person, but a part of human nature that he feels powerless to change. It's a very good song, from a stellar performer.

I'm standing in the station
I'm waiting for a train
To take me to the border
And my loved one far away
I watched a bunch of soldiers heading for the war
I could hardly even bear to see them go

Rolling through the countryside
Tears are in my eyes
We're coming to the borderline
I'm ready with my lies
And in the early morning rain
I see her there
And I know I'll have to say goodbye again

And it's breaking my heart
I know what I must do
I hear my country call me
But I want to be with you
I'm taking my side
One of us will lose
Don't let go, I want to know
That you will wait for me until the day ----
There's no borderline, no borderline

Walking past the border guards
Reaching for her hand
Showing no emotion
I want to break into a run
But these are only boys
And I will never know
How men can see the wisdom in a war

And it's breaking my heart
I know what I must do
I hear my country call me
But I want to be with you
I'm taking my side
One of us will lose
Don't let go, I want to know
That you will wait for me until the day ----
There's no borderline, no borderline

No borderline
No borderline

Posted by jeff at 5:06 PM | TrackBack

September 28, 2005


Serenity reviews are all over the place since the blogger screenings (still bummed I missed it), and they are overwhelmingly positive. It is apparently doing well with those who don't even care for sci-fi and/or haven't seen Firefly, so the real task is just getting people to try watching it. I'm too lazy to post links to reviews, but they're all over the place at Instapundit (and pretty much spoiler-free if you skip the comments). I'll be seeing it (probably several times), and I'll be wearing my Blue Sun shirt. I just wish I had a brown coat like Mal's.

In other news, I saw Corpse Bride yesterday. I liked it, but it seemed like there should have been more to the story. They could have had more, and better, songs as well. It's not nearly the classic that A Nightmare Before Christmas was, but it's worth seeing - though you could probably wait for a rental.

Posted by Brian at 10:35 PM | TrackBack

September 24, 2005

Fantasy Football Week 2

Before week 3 begins, I should update week 2.

It was another good week for the Black Riders, defeating the Texas Twisters 148.3 to 110. My score was, again, second highest for the week trailing the Norsemen for the second week in a row. Add to that my bench scoring of 109, best of the week and 16 more than the second highest total. I had the highest potential score and highest total for the entire roster (32.3 more than the Norsemen). These are signs of a very strong roster. I am now 2-0, leading the Landry division. I also lead in the power rankings.

The Ring Wraiths did not fare as well, though, losing a heartbreaker 64-62. The powerful combination of Tiki Barber and Shaun Alexander proved too much to overcome. Alas, had I only used Carson Palmer over Tom Brady. I liked Palmer's matchup better, but I have learned over time that it's usually better to play the player, not the matchup. Not this time though. I am now 1-1 and in third place in the league. Next up, the 2-0 Heathens - highest scoring team in the league (I'm second).

Posted by Brian at 11:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

Smart Publicity Move

OK, this is smart: the promoters of Serenity are offering free screenings to bloggers who sign up here. Karl has already seen a preview, IIRC, but Brian can't say now that he didn't know.

Posted by jeff at 3:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

Fantasy Football Week 1

Yeah, there are a lot of important things going on in the world, and here I am finding time only to blog about my fantasy teams. I can't even find time to blog about my OU Sooners. Oh well, you guys can handle all the important stuff; I'll stick to football.

So Week 1 in the MCFFL and my Black Riders have come away victorious defeating the always dangerous Marksmen. It's a good start for my team that finished in the cellar last year. We are having some kinks in the new league software but the final score looks like it will be 124-95. The 124 points is second only to the defending champion Norsemen's 134. My crucial plays were Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson and Randy McMichael. A good sign is that I also had the most bench points (97), 11 more than the next guy, and the most potential points (148). My hindsight play would have been Larry Fitzgerald over Donald Driver. The concerns I have - Javon Walker's injury. That will probably hurt Brett Favre's value. Donald Driver now becomes the number one receiver, but that means he'll also face better CB's and possibly some double coverage. Thankfully, I'm deep at receiver.

In my yahoo league, my Ring Wraiths dominated, winning our game 91-61. The 91 points was best in the league, 20 more than the next highest total. The key plays - Randy Moss, Rian Lindell (who woulda known?) and the Pittsburgh defense. My hindsight plays - Keenan McCardell and Larry Fitzgerald over Isaac Bruce and Eddie Kennison. My concerns - RB. Steven Jackson had a mediocre game. My backups are Mike Anderson (injured), Cedric Benson (being eased into offense), and Marshall Faulk (did next to nothing as a reserve). I need Jackson to perform until Benson becomes the number one guy so that I'll have options.

Posted by Brian at 5:53 PM | TrackBack

September 6, 2005

Fantasy Football Draft #2

So this year, I decided to have two teams. It's been a few years since I've had more than one. This one is just for fun, on Yahoo!

First thought ... wow! I've almost forgotten what it's like to have every player available to draft. Much different than my keeper league.

I am given the sixth pick (out of ten). Ok, let's roll. Well, first five picks have eliminated top two QB's and top three RB's. I take Randy Moss. Personally, I rank him behind Owens and Harrison, but it's one of those gut feelings.

Round two and RB's are flying off the board. I take Rudi Johnson.

Round three and I need another back before the best are all gone. Unbelievably to me, Steven Jackson is still available. I snatch him up fast!

Round four and I need WR's. Yahoo uses three starters at the postion! That's alot, so it's important to get good ones. But QB's are disappearing fast. I target Favre but he goes three picks before my turn. I settle for Tom Brady. I'm ok with that.

Round five and I still need WR's, but sometimes you just have to go with best player available, so I take Mike Anderson instead. Interestingly Tatum Bell went at the end of round four.

Round six, and damn but there has been a run on TE's. I abandon my plan for a WR and take Alge Crumpler to make sure I get a good one. That's too high for a TE.

Round seven and I can't pass on WR any longer. I luck out and get good value at this point with Isaac Bruce.

Round eight and I still need a third WR to start! I take Larry Fitzgerald. Funny how I seem to end up with a few common players when I have more than one team.

Round nine, and there is still a high value RB on the board, so I snatch him up - Cedric Benson. This may be a steal at this point.

Round ten and WR is still important for depth. I take Eddie Kennison. In a league where so many receivers get drafted I think this is a great value pick.

Round 11 and it's time for a backup QB - Carson Palmer.

Round 12 and as much as I like to wait on K and Def, supply and demand forces me to go defense and take Pittsburgh.

Round 13 and I need at least one more WR, preferably two. I zero in on Charles Rogers, but he goes three picks before me. I take Keenan McCardell. Boy do I need another WR, especially with Moss and Kennison sharing a bye week.

Round 14 and there are no worthy WR's in my eye. Oh well, maybe one will emerge before the bye week, or one will get cut, or a trade will be available, or McCardell with be worth a start. Regardless, I go RB instead and take Marshall Faulk. I seriously debate taking Ricky Williams, but at least Faulk will be available at the start of the season.

Round 15 and K is all that's left. I'm targeting Josh Brown, but he goes eight picks before I choose. I settle for Rian Lindell. Oh well, you never know with kickers anyway. Ricky Williams? He goes three picks later, next to last.

Posted by Brian at 11:40 PM | TrackBack

Fantasy Football Draft #1

So here is an account of the draft in the more important of two leagues in which I'm participating in this year.

First, it's important to know that this is a keeper league. We have a roster of 16 and we keep four, no more than two at any position. This league also starts a combined five RB's and WR's, at least one RB but no more than three. Since RB's accumulate more points (more consistantly) than WR's and you can start three, this position is in even more in demand than in many other leagues.

Also important is a rule that we may keep a player no more than three years in a row. This was the first year that rule applied. It caused me to be unable to keep Joe Horn.

During the offseason I had two sure keepers at RB - Rudi Johnson and Clinton Portis. However I was offered Curtis Martin for my second round pick. Well, I had the first pick in the draft and knowing Martin's owner wouldn't keep him, I could have had Martin without a trade ... in theory. But there were other teams that could use Martin, so he could have potentially traded Martin to them, leaving me with a missed opportunity. So I made the deal, meaning I would have three great RB's, but could keep only two. My reasoning was that I could drop Portis, draft him first overall, and restart the three year count. This was to be his third year, meaning I could not have kept him next year. It was a big price to pay and one I felt uneasy about, but truth be told, I ranked Martin above Johnson and Portis. I also kept Brett Favre. Unable to keep Joe Horn, I had to settle for keeping Donald Driver. I wish I could have kept Horn.

We had bad news leading up to the draft. Three owners (out of ten) bailed on us and we got one new owner. Now two rosters were dumped into the draft pool. The only significant developments were that Terrell Owens and Tony Gonzalez were now available when they wouldn't have been before.

I pick first. I would love to draft Owens. There are only about seven great WR's in the league in my opinion. I only have Donald Driver. But as I said, we can start three RB's, and having three great ones is a big boon. So I'll pass on Owens. Of course Portis is available, but so is Corey Dillon whose owner already had two other great RB's, so didn't keep him, and could not find someone to trade him to. Portis means a lot to me. The year I joined this league was his rookie year and I drafted him in the second round. That year he was often the only RB I had worthy of starting. But with him and a great receiving corps, I cobbled together the best record in the league in the regular season. But I rank Dillon higher, so I make the pick - Dillon.

I've given up my second round pick for Martin, but I pick first in round three. I have three great RB's, now it's time to go WR. Middle of round two and there are three I'm looking at: Horn, Reggie Wayne, and Javon Walker. Horn and Wayne go off the board in succession. Hmm, big dilemma facing me. Walker is the best WR on the board, but I already have Favre and Driver. I don't want another Packer here. Dilemma averted. Walker is chosen with the pick I traded away. So I settle on Darrell Jackson.

Rounds four and five are coming up. I still need WR's. On draft day, I get gut feelings. I look at my rankings and decide to pass on guys for various reasons. Lower rated prospects look more attractive all of a sudden. This happens more often that not at WR. This is such an occasion. I reach down my draft board, looking for upside. I take Larry Fitzgerald. I probably have him ranked too low anyway. Now I have to go TE. This is much too early for my liking, but there are only about nine who are significant options for their teams and six are already off the board after a mini run at the position. I take Randy McMichael.

Rounds six and seven. I have three RB's and three WR's. My goal is always to have 11 total, six of one, five of the other. I carry two QB's, one TE, one K, one Def. So I'm looking for the best available at those two main spots. Everyone I'm looking at makes it to me, so I go with Eddie Kennison and Reuben Droughns. Kennison was one of the guys I had above Fitzgerald.

Rounds eight and nine. I need a QB, K, Def, and three total RB's and WR's. Plenty of QB's left and I like to save K and Def for the last two picks. So I go for two WR's I have ranked highly, but have major question marks around them this year. I've passed them by for two others and here they are, still available. Derrick Mason and Muhsin Muhammad. I see them as great values at this point. Besides I took Muhammad in the 10th round last year, and it turned out well (despite my last place 4-9 finish).

Rounds 10 and 11. I need a RB and QB. I get what I set my eyes on. Jake Delhomme and Thomas Jones.

Round 12, two picks for me, a K and Def. With the pick I acquired in the Martin deal, I take the Philly defense. And Mr. Irrelevant in my draft - Ryan Longwell. These are much better options than I expected to get. I'm happy.

So the roster looks like this for now:

QB - B. Favre and J. Delhomme
RB - C. Martin, R. Johnson, C. Dillon, R. Droughns, and T. Jones
WR - D. Driver, D. Jackson, L. Fitzgerald, E. Kennison, D. Mason, and M. Muhammad
TE - R. McMichael
K - R. Longwell
Def - Philly

Posted by Brian at 10:49 PM | TrackBack

August 26, 2005

Fantasy Football Rankings - RB's

Ah, running back, usually the most critical position in fantasy football due to the large demand and relatively small supply of really good ones.

1. Priest Holmes - His eight games last year were good enough to be a top 12 RB. If healthy, he's #1.
2. LaDainian Tomlinson - Most people rank him number one with very good reason.
3. Shaun Alexander - The guy is consistent and scores a lot of TD's.
4. Tiki Barber - Too high? Over last three years has averaged 1900+ total yards with 9 TD's.
5. Domanick Davis - Not only a good runner, but a major factor in passing game.
6. Curtis Martin - Extremely consistent and coming off best season.
7. Edgerrin James - Knee injury seems well behind him
8. Corey Dillon - Move to Patriots was a godsend for him.
9. Rudi Johnson - Proved himself last year.
10. Ahman Green - Coming off a down year by his standards.
11. Clinton Portis - 1300 yards considered a disappointing season because of only 5 TD's.
12. Deuce McAllister
13. Jamal Lewis - should improve this year without suspension and with better WR's on the team
14. Julius Jones - a little high to put him, but he sure looks like the real deal
15. Willis McGahee - teams will key on him until Losman proves he can throw
16. Brian Westbrook - hard guy to rank because of his low rushing stats, but is best receiver at RB
17. Chris Brown - if he stays healthy and beats Travis Henry for starting job. That's a big if.
18. Steven Jackson - all the tools to be elite, but Faulk will steal some carries and catches
19. Fred Taylor - Lack of TD's a big concern
20. Warrick Dunn - career year last season. Fits Falcon system perfectly, but will lose TD's to Duckett
21. Tatum Bell - if he wins starting job. If Mike Anderson wins it, put him here.
22. Cedric Benson - drop him several spots from here after holdout. he'll have a slow start to season
23. Ronnie Brown - has not shone in preseason and Ricky Williams lurks - be wary
24. Reuben Droughns - this ain't Denver and Suggs lurks if healthy, so another one to be wary of
25. Kevin Jones - should go much higher than this. has a lot of talent, but only 5 TD's last year
26. Cadillac Williams - perfect fit for Gruden's system
27. Kevan Barlow
28. LaMont Jordan - has looked good in preseason, bump him up, but remember he's still unproven
29. Ricky Williams - hard to rate! Might be worth a late pick. Watch R. Brown to see Ricky's potential
30. J.J. Arrington - assuming he starts
31. Larry Johnson - best backup in league. If Priest goes down, Johnson will explode
32. Marshall Faulk - still some gas in the tank. Will get some carries and factor in the passing game
33. Travis Henry - if he wins starting job move him up about ten spots
34. Jerome Bettis - value increases with Staley hurt and you know he'll carry it at the goal line
35. Michael Pittman - coming off a good season, but likely the backup this year
36. Duce Staley - health and low TD totals a concern
37. Stephen Davis - depends entirely on health and if he starts, be wary
38. Derrick Blaylock - showed talent last year, but ask L. Jordan how much C. Martin gives up carries
39. Thomas Jones - move him up after Benson's holdout. He'll start early and is coming off good year
40. DeShaun Foster - plenty of talent but can't stay healthy. Move him up if he starts, but be wary
41. Michael Bennett - inside track to start, but will still be part of a committee
42. T.J. Duckett - will score TD's but is a yardage liability
43. Marcel Shipp - injury prone
44. Lee Suggs - if healthy, has talent to start.
45. Mewelde Moore - may be best Viking RB right now, but will be part of a rotation
46. Quentin Griffin - With Mike Anderson returning to RB, Griffin not worth drafting
47. Antowain Smith - coming off a solid stint with Titans. Will back up Deuce McAllister
48. Anthony Thomas
49. Kevin Faulk
50. Nick Goings - good year last year, worth consideration if S. Davis and D. Foster falter

Posted by Brian at 2:34 AM | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

Fantasy Football Rankings

I have been playing fantasy football for several years now. Mostly I've done pretty well. Sadly I've never won a title, but have finished second or third many a time. So with that in mind I present some initial fantasy rankings. This list will change a bit before my draft day in the two leagues I'll be in this year, but usually it doesn't change much. So if you haven't had your draft yet and want another man's opinion, here you go.

Up first, the QB's:

1. Peyton Manning - You expected someone else?
2. Daunte Culpepper - More #1A than #2
3. Donovan McNabb - T.O. situation could hurt him, but he's still good.
4. Brett Favre - You know he'll start every game and be consistent.
5. Trent Green - Consistent in an explosive offense
6. Tom Brady - Fantasy value overlooked by many
7. Aaron Brooks - Much better fantasy QB than real one
8. Jake Delhomme
9. Marc Bulger - Needs to stay healthy
10. Jake Plummer - Too many INT's, but still puts up big fantasy numbers
11. Matt Hasselbeck
12. Drew Brees - I thought San Diego was giving up on him way too soon.
13. Kerry Collins - Randy Moss will not make this guy great! Way overrated.
14. Brian Griese - Played well as a starter last year. Another guy given up on too soon.
15. Chad Pennington
16. Carson Palmer - Should be much improved
17. Steve McNair - Health a major concern
18. Michael Vick - He's a great runner, but you need a passer to win. Very inconsistent.
19. Byron Leftwich
20. Ben Roethlisberger - Running focus of team dampens fantasy value
21. Drew Bledsoe
22. David Carr - Needs better protection and more TD's
23. Jeff Garcia - If he wins starting job. Best years were with Mariucci.
24. Joey Harrington - If he wins starting job. Great candidate for Brees-like season.
25. Gus Frerotte - If he wins starting job
26. Billy Volek - Jump on him quick if McNair goes down
27. Kelly Holcomb - Only because I know what he can do, but don't know about Losman.
28. Patrick Ramsey
29. Tim Rattay - Good news: he's the starter. Bad news: it's for the 49ers.
30. Brad Johnson - If Culpepper goes down, grab him quick.

Posted by Brian at 10:43 PM | TrackBack

August 21, 2005

Too Far From Texas

Song: Too Far From Texas
Artist: Stevie Nicks
Album: Trouble in Shangri-La
Year: 2001

This is the song that stays with me when I leave my family in Dallas to go work somewhere else. Fortunately, I am not going as far as London, but the song still speaks of the sadness of separation and the ties that bind us to people and the places where we know them. It's one of my favorite Stevie Nicks songs (and I'm a huge Stevie Nicks fan).

Lyrically, it has Nicks' familiar touch, telling a story of love and separation. The style is similar to How Still My Love in that way. Musically, this has one of the best guitar lines of any of Nicks' music, with a very expressive performances from Waddy Wachtel and Mike Campbell. Steve Ferrone's drumming and Sheryl Crow's bass playing provide a solid rhythmic foundation that is strongly felt, but subtle enough not to overpower Nicks' voice (this is not a song to be belted out). Benmont Tench adds wonderful keyboard accents that complement the guitar to create a sound that is at once resolute and tearful, a perfect complement to the lyrics.

There's a plane, it's headed for London
Twenty-four hours more and he'll be on it
And I can't show my love, and I can't stop it
Ooh, I can't stop it

There's a house there, somebody's waiting
Somebody else's arms will wrap around him
And in that moment what will he think then...
When I can't touch him

Maybe my love could fly over the ocean
Maybe my heart should try to leave him alone
All that I really know is that he's goin'
Too far from Texas
Too close to home

In a room just outside of Houston
That's where I spend my nights trying to get through to him
He says he's comin' back in every letter...
But he might never
No he might never


Does he know how long
I've waited for this love to come
Does he know I'm holdin' on
And that won't change no matter where he's gone


Couldn't I, couldn't I wait
Couldn't he, couldn't he stay one more day

Posted by jeff at 8:16 AM | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Farscape meets Stargate SG-1

I love Farscape. I have no interest in SG-1. SciFi canceled Farscape after acquiring SG-1 from Showtime. This made me unhappy, to say the least.

But it's time for a new season of SG-1 starting tomorrow. And lo and behold, MacGyver is gone, replaced by none other than Farscape's Ben Browder. Fellow Farscape alum Claudia Black is scheduled to do six episodes as well.

Like I said, I have no interst in SG-1. I don't care about the show's past eight seasons. But I do enjoy Ben Browder and Claudia Black so I guess I'll have to give it a try.

Posted by Brian at 12:13 AM | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

"Lost" And Found

Just to wet the appetite of "Lost" fans, check out Oceanic Air Flight 815's seating chart. Be sure to click on the infamous numbers in sequence.

Posted by Brian at 12:45 AM | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

I like music, but am less and less thrilled by what's getting airplay, especially in terms of new music. It seems as if only a few artists get airplay, and so much is being overlooked. So I was very happy to find This site has a ton of songs in almost every conceivable genre by many artists looking for an audience.

Here are some of the handful of songs I've stumbled across while perusing the site that I really like:

Defenseless - Rook

This is the first song I found at the site that I really liked. It's a hard rock/heavy metal song that really rocks.

Muse - Rook

I really like this band; they remind me a little of Evanescence. I wish they would come play down here in DFW.

Elusive Butterfly - Geoff Byrd

I dare you to listen to this catchy pop song and not smile, tap your feet, and/or dance to the music. This could be a hit if it got the chance.

Silver Plated - Geoff Byrd

Sounds like John Mayer. This is another pop song that seems like a sure-fire hit if given airplay. In fact if it was a John Mayer song, it would probably be on its way to #1.

Dragonfly - Universal Hall Pass

This is a really catchy new wave kind of song that I really like.

Why - Mandi Perkins

Close your eyes and within the first 15 seconds of listening to this song tell me it's not Natalie Merchant. That's what first caught my attention. This is another song that could be a radio hit.

Lucky - Better Off Dad

I love the voice of lead singer Jaimee Harris. Her voice is much more mature than her 15 years. She has major talent.

It Only Hurts - Better Off Dad

So Better Off Dad is going to be playing in a Wall Street oriented coffee shop called Standard and Pours here in Dallas next month. Maybe I'll take off early from work to see 'em live.

Whimper - Better Off Dad

Jaimee's vocals sound a bit like Amy Ray of Indigo Girls to me.

This is just some of what I've found, and I haven't really spent that much time there. If you like music and get some time, check it out.

Posted by Brian at 11:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

Just Give Me the Damn Ball!

At my job, I get the chance to see famous people occasionally.

Today's celeb sighting - Keyshawn Johnson.

Posted by Brian at 1:13 AM | TrackBack

May 31, 2005


The trailer is here for Serenity, the movie based on Joss Whedon's underappreciated, but awesome sci-fi show Firefly.

Needless to say, I can't wait!

(Hat Tip: Karl Gallagher)

Posted by Brian at 8:44 PM | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

Yea or Nay?

At my job, I get the chance to see famous people occasionally.

Yesterday's notable sighting - Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Posted by Brian at 1:43 AM | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

Store Wars

Here's a funny Star Wars parody from the Organic Trade Association.

(hat tip: James Taranto)

Posted by Brian at 11:12 PM | TrackBack


At my job, I get the chance to see famous people occasionally.

Today's celeb sighting - Duffy Waldorf.

Posted by Brian at 12:48 AM | TrackBack

Revenge of the Sith

Spoilers below the fold, just so you know.

I agree with Kevin Drum pretty much. There were two things that reallybugged me about the movie:

  • Fast cuts between the Yoda/Palpatine and Obi Wan/Anakin battles were superfluous and annoying, when one wants to get the full effect of both battles. Similarly, fast cuts between Padme dying and Vader almost dying were superfluous and annoying, for much the same reason. That's just bad movie-making.
  • James Earl Jones was wasted. Vader is emotionally stripped, done in. When the Emperor asks if Vader can hear him and Vader says, "Yes, master." Great! Fantastic. Then he goes off in some kind of emotional catharsis? Wha...? Especially because the lie was so unneccessary; Vader was already turned and wouldn't go back, and blaming others for putting him in the position of hurting, thus being unable to save, Padme was sufficient. The better way to do that scene would have been, after the "Yes, Master," to have Vader say, "Padme?" The Emperor would answer: "She is dead." Vader would then stare at Palpatine for about 8 seconds, with no music and no dialogue - just breathing. Then Vader would turn on his heel and stalk off without a word. That would have been Vader.

Short take: worth seeing; didn't suck; best of the first three; on a par with Return of the Jedi, but not as good as A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back.

Posted by jeff at 12:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005


At my job, I get the chance to see famous people occasionally.

Today's celeb sighting - Natalie Cole.

Posted by Brian at 11:51 PM | TrackBack


From Drudge:

CBS head Leslie Moonves declared this week: "I think talking to ghosts will skew younger than talking to God."

Moonves made the starling comments during a breakfast with reporters where he announced his new fall schedule.

"The Ghost Whisperer," a supernatural drama about a woman who communicates with the spirit world, will replace "Joan of Arcadia," which features a young woman who speaks to God.

And there goes one of my favorite shows on television, after just two seasons. I thought Joan of Arcadia was an example of television at its best. It's a shame to see it gone so soon.

With Joan and JAG gone, my Friday nights will be much more open.

Posted by Brian at 10:41 PM | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

They Lost Me At NextGen

Lileks is made of sterner stuff. Actually, NextGen did have some good bits once it got past the need to remake a bunch of TOS episodes, and DS9 had some quite good moments too. It's just that the good moments were buried in a mass of dreck: the individual stories were largely uninteresting; the series premises were largely a load of liberal tripe; the external events driving the story arcs (to the extent they existed) were forced and artificial and the characters were flat and meaningless. Ironically, the acting was the best thing about NextGen, and I can't find a single good thing to say about Voyager. I only watched the first episode of Enterprise.

The original Star Trek, and many of the movies it spawned, were fantastic. Not because of their effects or their "relevance", but because the characters were worth caring about, and the stories brought up ideas that are worth thinking about. TOS was a very human show, and the later series were at best homages to the original, and frequently only parodies.

Good speculative fiction on TV can be done: Babylon 5, Farscape, Space: Above and Beyond, Dr. Who, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, the original Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica. But for me Star Trek lost its vitality not with the recent end of Enterprise, but with Star Trek VI, which as far as I can tell was the last useful thing that Roddenberry's creation ever produced.

Posted by jeff at 12:42 PM | TrackBack

August 11, 2003

Viacom Sued for Bollixing up Star Trek

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

OK, this is too funny not to draw attention to:

through its actions and inactions, Viacom has let the once
proud Star Trek franchise stagnate and decay. Viacom has released only
one "Star Trek" movie since entering into agreement
with Activision and has recently informed Activision it has no current
plans for further "Star Trek" films. Viacom also has
allowed two "Star Trek" television series to go off the air
and the remaining series suffers from weak ratings. Viacom also
frustrated Activision's efforts to coordinate the development and
marketing of its games with Viacom's development and marketing of
its new movies and television series.

The complaint goes on to state: "By failing and refusing to
continue to exploit and support the Star Trek franchise as it had
promised, Viacom has significantly diminished the value of Star Trek
licensing rights including the rights received by Activision."

(Hat tip: Tacitus)

Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack