36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

November 30, 2013

Hayek Called; He Wants His Theme Back

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness, Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

President Obama goes through the school of hard knocks, stating that he had no clue how complex it is to create a website.  It’s really not for the private sector, but this is government.

So by this point Obama has figured out that creating websites is hard, that “shovel-ready” jobs don’t exist, etc.  Once Common Core fails, Obama will learn that education is hard.  Heck, if he really learned his lessons, by the time he would leave office, he’d make Grover Cleveland look like a socialist.

My favorite sci-fi series of all time, #9: Heroes

Filed under: Science!, Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 11:29 am

It’s time for the Next Generation of sci-fi shows! Heroes capitalized on the superhero craze of the mid 2000s (which we could say is still going on now). It’s almost entirely ensemble cast, with no clear main characters, and you can make some parallels to Lost if you like. The idea is that there are extraordinary people with extraordinary powers that slowly discover that they have them — and each other. Really tremendous cast (notice a pattern?) with a surprisingly deep story line.

Favorite character: I am a sucker for strong villains (another theme here), and Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is a really terrific one, especially since he didn’t intend to be evil in the first place. Samuel Sullivan (Robert Knepper) was a good runner up, but not as interesting, in my opinion.

Favorite secondary character: Daniel Linderman (played by Malcolm McDowell). I’ve already used Robert Forster once and I didn’t want to use him again. The two men are rivals. but Malcolm McDowell has really settled into a superb guest actor for almost any show you can think of.

Favorite moment: When Milo figures out exactly what his power is, tied with Sylar’s discovery of his own powers. Both react very differently.

Why it’s here: A wonderful concept; just absolutely brilliant. Great special effects, great character development.

Why it’s not higher: The other shows above it are just better. The ensemble cast format doesn’t always work, as no one character sticks out consistently. Milo was irritating most of the time, and my G_d the first few times I heard the Japanese kid’s voice I wanted to strangle him. The time travel segments aren’t always done well, and things get confusing towards the end.

November 29, 2013

Chicago’s Bond Downgrade

Filed under: Chicagoland, Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

Strangely, a government which can’t control it spending has its bonds downgraded.  This is totally unique to Chicago and certainly has no bearing on other entrenched left-wing governments, just like how the failure of Detroit and several other cities have no bearing on other entrenched left-wing governments.  Just move along and let the government and their favored cronies keep shoveling money around.

My favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, #10: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Filed under: Science!, Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 11:12 am

I’m going to take a Stand here. (That never gets old!) I know that Trekkies all over will want to punch me in the face, but I really don’t like the Original Series. Even as a kid, I thought it was stupid (except for the salt monster episode that gave me nightmares). I thought, ever so briefly, about watching the entire Original Series again before remembering it was crap. It’s like Mission: Impossible’s fight scenes — everything is so unbelievably absurd that I can’t take the show seriously. I haven’t seen every episode, but I have seen about 90% of them. (I probably have seen them all, but I’ve forgotten them.) I talked about Voyager and DS9 in my original post, and I’ve never seen the new series with Scott Bakula.

Now that that’s out of my system, I will explain why I did like TNG. Everything that was good about the Original Series was taken and improved upon. It’s a longer series (obviously), goes to more interesting places, and with the holodeck established a number of other interesting possibilities.

Favorite character: Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart). Stewart is a brilliant actor who was really “discovered” by American audiences thanks to this show.

Favorite secondary character: Q (played by John de Lancie). Probably my favorite Trek villain, by far.

Favorite moment: The Sherlock Holmes episodes. It was a chance for the characters shine in a way that they couldn’t in TOS.

November 28, 2013

My favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, #11: The Stand

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tony Demchak @ 7:06 am

Imagine the world as a dollhouse, and that you take a hammer and smash most of the dolls. The result would have very little to do with the Stand.

The Stand is based upon the Stephen King book, which by a strange coincidence is also called the “Stand.” It’s a miniseries, which means I get to use it here, and it’s about as solidly sci-fi as Stephen King gets. A plague (called the Superflu) escapes from a government lab and wipes out most of the population of the world. A small group of survivors must journey to the West and defeat Randall Flagg, who is kind of like the devil but not exactly. Another great ensemble cast (Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald are the most notable), and one of the better adaptions of a King novel.

Favorite character: Stu (played by Gary Sinise). Gary Sinise plays, well, Gary Sinise (see, for example, CSI: NY or Of Mice and Men). However, Stu is pretty much Gary Sinise all the way around, and if you want to have somebody play Gary Sinise, it is difficult to find somebody better than Gary Sinise.

Favorite secondary character: Randall Flagg (as played by Jamey Sheridan). Prior to this miniseries, I’d only ever seen him in Law and Order; he does a fantastic job as Randall Flagg, who is a really nice and reasonable guy that just so happens to be pure evil.

Why this is here: Geraldo the Guinea Pig, the true hero of the story. Okay, not entirely Geraldo. It’s a very well done story, which avoids your standard post-apocalyptic tropes to a certain degree, and there’s the usual splash of King mysticism that is unusually light-handed.

Why it’s not higher: They kill Geraldo. Apart from that, it’s too short. The Stand is a long book, even for Stephen King, and I think it would work better as a proper TV series than as a miniseries. If you just see the miniseries, a lot of the nuance and context that makes the book one of King’s best is just not there.

November 27, 2013

TSA Chat Down Failure

Filed under: (In)Security — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

The TSA has spent $1 billion on its Chat Down program to no effect.  Really, I think we could say “The TSA has spent $X billion on all programs to no effect.”  Except that annoying and harassing millions of innocent people certainly is an effect.

My favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, #12: Dollhouse

Filed under: Science!, Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 6:43 am

From the X-Files to the… W-Files, I guess. (Some of these are harder than others.) Dollhouse features a number of Joss Whedon mainstays (from star Eliza Dushku to Amy Acker, Alan Tudyk, Felicia Day, Summer Glau, and Fran Kranz, among others). The basic plot is that using Science!, a corporation builds “dolls” for specific tasks by implanting them with false memories, which are then erased as time progresses. Gradually, one of them (Echo, played by Eliza Dushku) starts remembering her real life. Spoiler alert: it turns out that the organization that kidnaps people and erases their minds is somewhat evil. Who knew?

Favorite character: Most of the characters are fairly well fleshed out, and like many Whedon shows it relies on solid performances from the entire cast. Eliza Dushku is the easy choice for this one, as she’s the only character one could fairly call “main”. She was better as Faith, which I think is surprisingly close to her actual self, but this part was probably more difficult, as she has to play multiple roles (ala Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap).

Favorite secondary character: Alan Tudyk as Alpha, without the tiniest sliver of a doubt. He was magnificent as the psychopath who may or may not know he’s a psychopath. He steals the show in every single scene.

Why it’s on the list: It’s a superbly done show, with your usual Whedon style dialogue. The concept isn’t entirely unique, but it’s executed well, and there are enough plot twists to keep things interesting. I really liked the opening music as well.

Why it’s not higher: There is an odd fact about most Whedon series: they start slow. Both Buffy and Angel took about seven or eight episodes to catch fire. The first two or three episodes of Dollhouse do not establish the overall story arc well. They make the show seem like an excuse to show Eliza Dushku in as many tight clothes as possible. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). When you have six or seven seasons, you can afford to skip exposition from time to time. When you have two, you can’t. The finale to season one, “Epitaph”, is incredibly confusing and makes very little sense. I know why it is — Whedon thought that he wouldn’t get a second season — but it’s probably the worst single episode of any Whedon series. It’s not bad, and when you consider it in the context of the end of season two, it makes more sense, but it’s really poorly explained.

November 26, 2013

Environmentalist Sad Trombone

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

Japan is repudiating the Kyoto guidelines.  Remember when people cared about that piece of paper?

My favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, #13: The X-Files

Filed under: Science!, Television and/or Movies — Tony Demchak @ 6:25 am

Unless you’ve been locked up in Alcatraz (and even then, you’d get free cable), you’ve probably seen the X-Files at least once. (Yes, yes I will keep doing this for the ENTIRE SERIES.) Straitlaced, no-nonsense FBI type Dana Scully (played by Gillian Anderson) is paired with “Aliens are real guy” Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny). I think if this series were made today, it would probably be a buddy comedy, which would be, in the words of 80′s Guy, “awesome. Awesome to the max.” It isn’t, though.

The basic plot is that they investigated the weird, unexplainable stuff, while the government alternately tries to stop them/helps them/ignores them, as is convenient for that particular episode. There have been a bunch of rip offs of this show, some good, some bad, some fantastic (if I could justify it as science fiction, Millennium would be on this list), but X-Files did it first-ish.

Favorite character: This is a tough one. I like Mulder slightly more than Scully, but they’re both awesome and/or irritating at times. We’ll say Mulder.

Favorite side character: I like the Lone Gunmen, who add the comic level of absurdity that this show desperately, desperately needs.

Why this show is on here: It’s an interesting concept, and a dumping ground for virtually every urban legend/myth that existed at that time. The special effects were very good, and some of the story arcs were exceptionally well done.

Why it isn’t higher: It got ridiculously repetitive, and honestly, I think the show takes itself way too seriously. I haven’t seen the entire series — the wife and I are up to the bit where the first movie fits in — but I think they were starting to run out of ideas after season four or so.

November 25, 2013

An Apt Metaphor

Filed under: Curmudgeonliness — Kevin Feasel @ 6:00 pm

Wesley Smith compares Obamacare to the Vasa.

In this light, read John Hinderaker’s obituary on Obamacare.

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