Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Guy Dresses Up Like a Bat Clearly Has Issues

Batman Begins

The new movie, the first since ruined the franchise eight years ago, can basically be divided into two separate movies. The first part plays out almost like an episode of Lost, unfortunately of the second season variety, where Bruce Wayne finds himself in the Himalaya region where he is recruited by, Henri Ducard played by in full Qui-Gon Jinn mode with Wayne as his apprentice, to join his League of Shadows. And the training sessions, with its clichéd metaphors, are peppered with a younger Bruce Wayne, showing what in his life led him to this point. These flashbacks also lead to some revisionist flashbacks most notable that The Joker was not the one who killed Wayne’s parents nor did the killer even mutter the phrase, “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

The first act is saved by the closing fight sequence between Wayne and the villain of the first half of the film, Ra’s Al Ghul played by Ken Watanabe from The Last Samurai. It seems as if Ken was cast solely for the fight sequence because his role is quite limited in the movie.

After his exile in Tibet, Wayne finally arrives back in Gotham to start the second act. It starts out slowly as Wanye starts to create his Batman alter ego with Batsuit, which we don’t get to see until an hour into the movie, and Batmobile, which is now a tank rather than the classic sports car from past incarnations of the franchise. The villain of the second act is one of my favorite from the Batman mythology, the Scarecrow, second after the Penguin. But much like how the ruined the Penguin in Batman Returns, the Scarecrow is usually seen as his alter ego, Dr. Jonathan Crane, both played by , no relation tom Eddie or Charlie, and his only rarely puts the mask on. And when he permanently turns into the Scarecrow, he only makes a small cameo in the final epic battle.

In the final battle, they tie in both first and second acts well including a plot twist that I never saw coming. The acting is top notch, but that happens when your supporting cast includes Neeson, Watanabe, as Alfred, as scientist Lucius Fox, and as not quite yet Commissioner Gordon. Christian Bale, who I will always remember as the title character from American Psycho, is Bruce Wayne, which he does a good job at. But, like his predecessors, I really don’t think he does a god job as Batman. , most known as Tom Cruise’s latest promotional tool, plays the token love interest who, like all of Batman's love interest not named Catwoman, is one-dimentional.

Since I divided the film into two acts, I would give the first act a TA:Elevated while the second act would get a TA:Severe, and as a whole:

Batman Begins get a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Toss Up: Lost vs Veronica Mars week 5

Cue up 'It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday' for ShannonJust when you think couldn’t get any worse, the show slips even further down. And when I say worse, I saying season two has gotten X-Files 7x bad. Once again we had to sit through fifty minutes of boring dribble only for it to pick up in the last ten minutes. But of course the marketing department ruined much of that excitement by letting us know that someone was going to die. And then the person they killed off, the token hot chick, was a bad idea to end all bad ideas.

And even though I mentioned that if Shannon was the one to die, I would never watch the show again, that was most likely an idle threat. Instead Lost will most likely move into the shows I watch but don’t want to admit I do much like the reality shows on VH1. But they might as well have killed her off because they rendered the character useless. Last season, her character seemed like the most intriguing to see how she would adapt to being on an island. Then aside from seeing Walt in the first episode, she has done nothing of note this season so far. Then after being mad at Sayid for not killing Locke for her less than two weeks ago (at least by my calculation of the show’s timeline), she willing to have sex with him which I would assume was unprotected. And what's up with the horror story, "if you have sex, you will die" cliche?

There were a few things I did pick up during the boring first part of the show. First the blonde tailie mention that she was a clinical psychologist and if my memory serves me correctly, the people who were running the hatch experiment were from a college’s psychology department. I have to believe she has something to do with it. Maybe her team didn’t push the button in the bunker that they tailies where staying in. I also found it interesting that she that she brought up the children, who I for now on refer to as the Lost Boys (get it? The show is called Lost, and then there Peter Pan, oh, never mind) a couple times. Who are the Lost Boys? Was there a large under aged presence in the back of the plane? Are they part of the Others?

Speaking of the Others, I have come to the realization that there are actually two separate groups of Others. I have grouped them into the Ethan Rom (remember him? I am beginning to wonder if the writers do) sect who I think is connected with the jungle whispers and those who were killing off the tallies systematically. Then there were the looking guys who took Walt. I think they are both battling to for control of the island. I haven’t figured out exactly how Desmond and the hatch figure into all of this, but then again, I really doubt that the writers do either.

I also think that this was the first flashback that happens well before the crash that they dated. If you were paying attention, Shannon was playing the Dave Matthews Band’s Stay (Wasting Time) which would put it circa 1998. That would also put Jack’s meeting Desmond at the same time. And that leads to another questionable reason to kill off Shannon. For anyone who was paying attention, Shannon’s dad was the guy who died in the accident caused by Jack future wife. But they never explicitly said that’s what happened, in fact Jack didn’t even appear at all this episode, and thus ruins what could have been an interesting storyline which this season desperately need. And now with Shannon dead they really can’t explore it any further.

But now on to a show that has yet to disappoint, and easily wins this weeks toss-up (and currently has a 4-1 alltime lead), . The big story this week is the return of a couple familiar faces not seen since last season, Aaron Echols, Abel Koontz, Clarence Weidman, and Cliff the not very good lawyer. Then there was the triumphant return of Dick, who is quickly become my favorite character. I loved how he actually seemed that it was cool how his dad would be arrested on sight if he ever set foot inside the US again. All that and they even had Joss Whedon, creator of in his first ever speaking role playing an shady car rental employee, not to be confused with Kevin Smith who a couple weeks ago played a shady convenience store clerk. Next on the famous writer guest parade could be none other than horror guru Steven King who recent confessed his love for the show.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dick is backWhere Lost spent most of its latest episode boring me to tears, Veronica Mars was none stop action with twist and turns during almost every scene. Logan got arrested for killing Felix, again, after the only witness stepped forward, with no reason given, months after calling in the anonymous tip. Then Logan decides to go with the public defendant who just happens to be Veronica’s good ol’ pal Cliff which leads to the highlight of this episode where Cliff and Veronica debate who currently owes the other a favor by ratting off what each has done for each other lately while Logan just sits and listens.

The arrest leads Logan to share a cell with his father, who is just conveniently there while being transferred. While there, Aaron mentioned that he didn’t kill Lilly. I do believe him because I never really thought he did it in the first place. I always thought he would have her killed rather to do it himself. And really why would someone who has admitted to statutory rape, numerous counts of contributing to a delinquency of a minor, infidelity, and multiple counts of attempted murder, draw the line at admitting murder. His Duncan excuse is definably plausible and that will no doubt cause some tension between the new roommates.

Logan and Duncan are now roommates because Weevil and his homies burned down his mansion after they heard Logan was released on bond, suspiciously after Sheriff Lamb said he would be a flight risk. Yet even Cliff was able to get Logan out. I wonder if by telling Logan that, Lame was basically telling Logan to leave town when he gets out.

But the major story line was the return of Abel Koontz, with days to live, asking Veronica to find his daughter, who skipped town after taking the Kane’s hush money, so he can say goodbye. And since this is Veronica Mars, finding his daughter led to a larger conspiracy of the daughter coming back to Neptune to extort more money from the Kane family. This leads to the return of Weidman who Veronica had to ask after breaking into his office “You’re the head of what again?” But even after that and butting heads all last season, they team up to find Koontz’s daughter… in the ice machine of a shady hotel, “Rooms are $30).

Then to top thing off, Keith, who just found out his daughter’s name turned up on the hand of a dead man, breaks into the bus wreckage only to find something taped to the bottom of the seat. Unfortunately it was to dark to see what exactly was there. I thought it was some sort of bomb yet I heard some people say it looked like a rat, but there was defiantly something duct taped to the bottom of a seat.

Looking ahead to next week, we get to see how the tailies live post-crash on Lost and we may learn a little more about the Lost Boys who were mention during the previews. As for Veronica Mars, Duncan and Veronica look into some sort of babysitting scandal. At first glance it looks as if Lost will be better, but as we have seen all season, the subsequent episode has always been a letdown compared to its previews. So I think it will be a safe bet that Veronica Mars will ultimately be better. Not that I’m watching Lost ever again…

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Rocked the Vote (I Think)

At my district there were alot less computersYesterday was typically one of my favorite days of the year, voting day. Granted it being an odd year, there wasn’t really much across the nation for the talking heads to screw up like they have done in recent years with their feebly conceived polling system. But yesterday was a day of note due that it was the first year that Ohio instituted the statewide computer voting system. After hear about all the horror stories about the problems they caused last year, I assumed they would take the past year to iron out the concerns before spreading it statewide, but was I horribly wrong.

The first thing I noticed when walking into the gym where I vote was something I have never witness in my almost decade worth of voting, a line. I have voted in all but one election since turning eighteen, although I must admit, I cast my ballot absentee a couple times in college, but this was the first time ever I had to wait to cast my vote. The next thing I noticed was they had the computers lined up against the wall with the screens facing the line so really anyone was average eye sight could see exactly who or what you were voting for.

When I finally arrived at my computer to vote (see pitcure but we had about half the amount of computers), I noticed that the blinders to shield the person next to you were less than half a foot long rendering them useless from any wondering eyes of your voting neighbor and of course the line behind you could also easily check out your vote as mentioned earlier and the volunteers who paced behind voters like proctors at an exam, except they didn’t punish anyone who was looking at someone else’s ballot, instead they looked like they were just check out who you were voting for themselves. Not that any of that pertained to me because I was sent to the last computer in between the wall and a computer that had already broken down. Already broke on the first day of use, no wonder there was a line.

And privacy was the least of my worries when I started to vote. The computer themselves stood about four feet high so I hade to spend the whole time bending over to read the screen because it was set at a height for a grade school student. I’m sure this was done as not to put people of shorter stature at a disadvantage, but in turn it just put people of normal height or taller at the disadvantage. And of course there was no way to adjust the screen.

Then when I finally finished my ballot, guaranteeing a week’s worth of back pain, I ended up having to push print ballot three times, not that anything actually printed out. After my personalized debit card popped back out of the machine, I spent a couple minutes analyzing my computer to make sure there wasn’t anything that actually printed out even thought I heard it make a printing should like at my ATM printing the receipt. So I took my debit card back to the volunteer, passing all the other computers where it would have been easily to check out how people vote, handed it back in. And that was it, there was no way to tell that what was stored on my debit card actually represented what I thought I was voting for and know quite well how easy it is, even accidentally, to erase information on one of those cards. And someone pointed out to me today that there is no way to make a write-in vote with the new computer system.

All of this because people were too stupid to check their paper ballots to make sure their votes when all of the way through and not leaving a hanging or pregnant chad. But to alleviate the problem of people not checking their ballot, they have replaced it with a method where you cannot check your ballot even if you wanted too. How is that a solution? We really need to go back to the paper ballot and for those to stupid to check their own ballot to make sure it is done correctly don’t deserve to have their ballot to be counted in the first place.

But I guess not many other people had that problem yesterday anyways as only three million other Buckeyes voted yesterday. For those keeping track at home, that is out of eleven million citizens and eight million registered voters. That would come to 39.7% turnout. Wow, that’s barely a third and we had five amendments to the state constitution on the ballot too. The worst of the worst in terms of turnout would be Athens County which so happens to be the home of Ohio University. Way to rock the vote guys.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Top Is so Much Better Than the Bottom (Yet More Boring)

Get Rich or Die Tryin' Soundtrack - 50 Cent

Back in the late 90’s, my go to rap guy handed me a mix tape with one of the most entertaining songs I had heard in a while, How to Rob, by the then unknown . Since then 50 dropped classic mix tape one after another earning the title as the greatest underground MC. Then he finally got his chance after being discovered by Eminem who introduced 50 to the world on the soundtrack of his own big screen debut, .

Less than four years later, 50 is ready to hit the big screen himself with his own semi-autobiographical film, . But where the 8 Mile Soundtrack only featured two songs from the star, 50 turned his soundtrack to his movie into essentially a album without any rappers that aren’t part of his crew. This was a bad idea because 8 Mile brought in heavy hitters like , , and , Get Rich or Die Trying gets weighed down by 50’s friends who makes George Bush’s accusations of cronyism pale in comparison to 50 bring in his third rate crew to the album.

The soundtrack starts off with 50’s attempt to write his own Lose Yourself with Hustlers Ambition. But where Slim Shady wrote the song in response to critic who said he couldn’t write a curse-free song, every fifth word Hustlers Ambition needs to be censored on the radio which makes me wonder why and station or MTV would play it. But for the rest of the album, most of the songs have a curse word as much as every third word. A wide man once said it’s easy to get your point across by cursing; it takes a real wordsmith to do the same without cursing. Obviously 50 likes taking easy way out.

And there in lies the problem with 50 these days. When he was unknown he was hungry, and his is music showed it and that carried over to his first major label released Get Rich or Die Trying, not to be confused with the Soundtrack of the same name. But since then he has become complacent in his rap, content to just rehash everything he has done before rather than to push his music further. This is most relevant on What If which sound much like How to Rob but instead of taking about how he would rob famous people, he instead name drops his peers taking about how lame he would be if he imitated them. Sadly he doesn’t realize he is now just a pale imitation of himself when he was relevant.

50 isn’t the only member of G-Unit who likes to rehash previous hits. On Don’t Need No Help, Young Buck rehashes the famous the classic NWA refrain, **** tha police more often than did on the original fifteen years ago. There is even more police bashing on the anti-snitch I Don’t Know Officer. Yawn.

Of course 50 has a bunch of songs that are reminiscing of In da Club and Candy Shop, the songs that got him on TRL in the first place with potential club hits such as We Both Think Alike, Best Friend, and Have a Party, which is bogged down by that annoying G-g-g-g-g-Unit chant every five seconds. Lloyd Bank$ even raps “I’m TRL next to ” on Born Alone, Die Alone as if that’s an accomplishment. All that means is that your target audience is now fourteen year old white. So if you are not a fourteen year old white girl, you need to stay away from the Get Rich or Die Trying Soundtrack.

Song to Download – You Already Know (This is only because it has the best beat. You would be better off saving your money)

Get Rich or Die Trying Soundtrack gets a Terror Alert Level: Low [GREEN] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Act Like You've Been There Before

Terrell OwensI really never cared much for . I’ve always gone with the “act like you’ve been there before” philosophy. Granted I thought the sharpie incident was brilliantly conceived and I like anytime someone mocks Ray Lewis. But for the most part, I know if Owens is teased to be coming up on Sportscenter, I’m pretty sure I’ll be disgusted. From his endzone celebrations, to calling Jeff Garcia gay, to all the sophomoric junk that went on this summer. After a relatively quiet start of the season, the Eagles start to lose and Owens starts up again. First was the whole Brett Farve thing that did get overplayed because less face it, if a healthy Farve was the Eagles quarterback rather than a hurt , the Eagle would be better. But the staw the apparently broke the Eagles’ back was the situation with Hugh Douglas. Now Owens has been calculating so far in what he said, but I didn’t think he would be that stupid to go Ron Artest on a former teammate. He really needs to leave the teammate punching to Big Head Barry. It’s never a good sign when a spectator compares something to a WWF situation.

Now it looks as if the Eagles will Keyshawn Owens and ship him off or even drop him in the off-season. (This just in Eagles' coach Andy Reid said Owens won't be back this season.) Would I want Owens for my team? In a word, no. I would much rather seem my team lose with class than win without it. Back in the 90’s I jumped off the Indians when John Hart assembled a bunch of hired thugs in hopes of winning like fan bashing Joey Bell, ump spitter Roberto Alomar, wife beater Will Cordero, and the craziest baseball player ever, Milton Bradley among others. I much preferred the perennial last place teams of the 80’s opposed to the 90’s thugs.

But surely Owens will find a team next season because, much like the Eagles two seasons ago, there will be a team who think they will be one playmaker away from the Super Bowl and pick him up. But every team should realize that Owens joined a great 49er team and left it in shambles and will likely do the same with the Eagles. I really doubt that this is a coincidence.

Angela Ellen Keathley and Renee Thomas pre-fightBut with all the hoopla over T.O. isn’t even the most interesting football story this weekend. Apparently two cheerleaders were arrested early Sunday. And what happened make the Minnesota sex boat look like a Boy Scout retreat. and were reportedly having sex in a nightclub’s restroom stall when they were interrupted by an angry woman waiting in line so Thomas punched her. This is quite possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m sure Keathley and Thomas will be coming to a Playboy magazine near you in time for the Super Bowl issue.

No, seriously, Ashlee Simpson is a good girl, b***hIn other drunken chick new, shortly after giving an interview with People Magazine talking about how she hates famous people who think they are better that other people, was caught on a camera phone berating a McDonald’s employee, calling her an expletive, and refusing to take a picture with a fan because he wouldn’t kiss her feet. What a classy lady, maybe she should hook up with Owens. Sadly I don’t have a video of the cheerleaders, but at least the Ashlee one has made it’s way onto the web, see the video for yourself – click here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I Want My, I Want My, I Want My Music Television

Every week I watch good ol’ Bob Ross on my digital tier because the colors of the painting of more vivid and his afro is more pronounced. Now my digital tier in the 500’s is a mix of digital, which I can watch, and high definition channels which I can’t watch due to my lack of a HDTV. So asides from The Joy of Painting, which finally got mentioned on the third installment of I Love the 80’s even though I didn’t start watching it until the mid-90s, I rarely go into the upper reaches of my cable because it’s too complicated for my feeble mind to understand.

Then a couple weeks ago, I pulled up the TV Guide that’s built into my cable system after another soothing week of Bob Ross when I noticed a new channel that wasn’t a digital or HD version of another station. Right above the digital PBS channel was a new channel called , so I though I’d check it out and once I turned it on, the channel was showing a video of Oasis’ Champagne Supernova. I was taken aback because it had been a very long time since I saw a video in the middle of the day and even longer since I saw a good one. So I sat there as video after video came on, each one good as the previous and commercial free aside from the occasional Public Service Announcement and promos for the station.

Overall, the station seems like an adult contemporary radio station but will videos and a much bigger playlist. Aside from your regular variety of videos you would see on other “video” channels, they also have an extensive library of live video that they draw from too. The main drawback of the AC playlist though is that the are about as hard that the rock gets and there is absolutely no rap on the station. But it does give airtime to new artist such as and , singers that have been overlooked by other music channels and radio like and , and even alt-country acts such as and that get ignored by the mainstream and Nashville.

So if you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and miss when MTV actually showed videos or even videos that you like, check your cable system to see if you already get The Tube. Or hope over to there website, to see if you get it in your area.