Monday, May 31, 2010

The Meaning of the Lost Finale and Series, Part 3

Okay, after reading other reviews, everybody is coming with this conclusion about the Lost Series Finale. It is that the Island exists. Sideways World is kind of purgatory where time has no meaning. That part I understand. But what this means is that the show now kind of sucks. I mean there is an Island where smoke monsters exist, paralysis can be healed and you can survive a nuclear explosion! Yes, I know it's supposed to be paranormal. But at least with a movie like Harry Potter, they tell you that magic exists. The problem is that the writers used reality based flashbacks, flash forwards, and sideways to ground the show. And then they teased us with science fiction concepts, only to end it with this New Age crap. Did they explain anything significant about the Island? No. Aaaaaaaaah! And the end was saccharine and contrived. Everybody is in the church with their significant other. Jack dies on the Island but reunites with Kate in Sideways World. I'm getting cavities. He can't even die alone. Vincent, the yellow lab has to comfort him as he moves onto Sideways World. This guy (DabramahBull) on YouTube does a great job explaining the way I feel.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Alternate Endings to Lost

Spoiler Alert. First, let's see the real end of Lost.

Here's Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof's "Alternate Endings" to Lost from Jimmy Kimmel's show.

How about Jimmy Kimmel's Alternate Ending?

I like the alternate endings better.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Review

I'm not one who says videogames will make bad movies. I believe some games are great ideas for movies. Halo. Half Life. Grand Theft Auto. Some videogame movies also have a history for bad films. Super Mario Bros. Doom. So when I watched Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which is based on a 2003 game, I was mildly surprised. It didn't stink, in fact it was alright.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, the adopted son of Persian King Sharaman. (Ronald Pickup) The king's brother George W. Bush convinces Persia to invade the City Alamut because he believes it has weapons of mass destruction. Um. sorry, that didn't happen. The king's brother Nazim (Ben Kingsley) convinces his nephews and stepbrothers of Dastan to invade Alamut because he claims they are selling weapons to Persia's enemies. During the invasion, Dastan captures a magical dagger which causes the person wielding it to go back in time for a few seconds. Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) has the duty to protect the dagger and the secret of the city.

Dastan is framed for the murder of the King. The other princes order his arrest. Tamina helps him escape. But her motive is to get back the dagger and protect the secret of the city. They go on a journey to clear his name, save the city and some hankey pankey.

Director Mike Newell captures the videogame's platform jumping with many scenes of Dastan running and jumping ala parkour. The problem is his staging of the fight scences. First they're shot too close. A good fight is like a dance. I want to see the bodies in action. Second, there's way too much CGI and fancy editing in the fight scenes. I would rather he do it the old fashion way, with more stunt men. The story is well crafted, intriguing and it's romantic.

Performances are good. Jake Gyllenaal takes the material seriously and it shows. You're interested in his plight. Gemma Arterton is an exotic beauty whose performance radiates sincerity. Ben Kingsley, in this kind of role, hams it up but what do you expect? Gandhi? English accents of the actors give the movie a classic feel. One particular fun performance should be noted. Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spider-Man 2) plays a kind of Arabian Donald King. He is a hoot and nearly steals the movie.

It's not as good as this year's How to Train Your Dragon but I would not mind seeing a sequel. An enjoyable movie. The grade is B Minus.

The Meaning of the Lost Finale and Television Series, part 2

Michael Emerson who played chief Other Ben, recently said on "The Attack of the Show" that the Island was real. Okay, this blows up my theory that everyone on Oceanic 815 died in the plane crash. So according his version, then the passengers on Oceanic 815 died at different times. When Jack dies on the Island, after saving it, he goes to Sideways World where he meets his friends. I know, it doesn't make sense from a time perspective. But if you accept time has no meaning in Sideways World then you can see how this contrived finale works. And don't ask me about the nuke. I don't care anymore. Anyway, here's the interview.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Meaning of the Lost Finale and Television Series

Namaste. Here are the big answers to "Lost." And by that I am talking about the main concepts of the show. First, those of you liked the science fiction elements in Lost can now skip the DVDs and buy Star Trek DVDs pre-Abrams. Why? We can now say that Lost is a religious television series. Second, we can all agree that Sideways World is kind of a purgatory since the castaways are all dead. Finally, I am not going to explain all the other mysteries because frankly I don't give a damn.

1. "Guys... where are we?," Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) asks about the Island. To answer your question, Charlie, you're dead. Your plane crashed on the Island. Now it could be fate, the word on Charlie's finger bandages, that you crashed on the magical Island but guys, your pilot was not Sully Sullenberger it was Gregg Grunberg.

"Plane" of Existence. First, let's talk about a big hint dropped in season two. It was the introduction of the Dharma Initiative, the mysterious organization set up to study electromagnetism, psychology, parapsychology, meteorology and zoology. Note that members of the initiative use the greeting Namaste. Dharma and Namaste are Hindu expressions. Dharma means upholding one's righteous duty and Namaste is a greeting recognizing the divinity in a person.

From those hints in the show, we look towards how Hindus view the afterlife. It seems that there are multiple levels beyond the earth. There is also the idea that bad karma leads to punishment in the afterlife. Now, the show is not just about Hindu religion but is a mishmash of different religions. However, some religions also have various planes of existence after one dies.

Okay, so how does that prove that the passengers of Oceanic 815 died in the crash? It's because of Sideways World. In that plane of existence we know that they are all dead. The whole series was told back in flashbacks that occurred before the plane crash. And if you noticed, most of the passengers had bad karma. The show had themes of redemption. The Island was a test or a chance at redemption. It may have been punishment. But once Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) detonated the atomic bomb in season five, they were all hurled into Sideways World. That's why her ghost told Miles, it worked. Finally, the last scene in the finale "The End" (appropriately named) accompanying the end credits is of the beach and plane wreckage. The beach is empty. A sign that from the beginning, they were killed in the crash.

And don't forget that Locke was crippled before the crash. He's on the island and now can walk. That can't happen in our real world.

2. "Time has no meaning here." Soran (Malcolm McDowell) Star Trek: Generations

Hold on. How can Jack (Matthew Fox) be on the island and Sideways World at the same time? For that matter how can Hurley (Jorge Garcia) be guardian of the island and be in Sideways World at the same time? Well, remember in the finale, when Jack meets his dead father, he asks why the passengers are all here now. "Well, there is no now, here." See clip below. So time has no meaning. You die in the Island plane of existence, then move onto Sideways World. Yes, it's a cheap way to bring the whole cast together since some of the Church audience were not on the plane and make one big saccharine happy ending.

Detonating the bomb, did reset the future for the castaways. It allowed them to move onto Sideways World and land in Los Angeles. At the same time it allowed the Island to give Jack one more chance at redemption. Again, ignore time since it has no meaning. Jack is hurled back from the seventies to 2007 where he passes his test as Guardian of the Island by defeating the Smoke Monster, who is evil incarnate. When Jack dies on the Island, he moves onto Sideways World.

3. And They Lived Happily Ever After. Now you've noticed this season, that Sideways World is actually a more positive lifetime for many of the castaways than the Island. That's because of positive karma. You see, good acts in the Island world sowed rewards in Sideways World. So when Jack's father opens the door at the back of the Church, they move on, perhaps to an even higher level of the afterlife, maybe Heaven.

Wait a minute, you ask. Jack's father says that some of those in the Church died before and after him. How can that be in your theory, Bernie? We are basically now talking about Desmond and Penny who weren't on the plane. Like I said the show has so many mysteries that the creators heaped on us, there's no point in going over all of them. Some of the questions, I believe are caused by discontinuity by the various writers. And just recently, ABC said they put the last scene of plane wreckage to transition the moving ending to the news. ABC indicated that Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof had nothing to do with it. Aaaaaaaaah! Was that a big enough scream? Okay, ABC why put a picture with plane wreckage as a soothing transition to the news? Okay, ABC how did Jack, Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate survive the nuclear blast? I'll believe it when Cuse and Lindelof finally explain it.

Update: There's a consensus that the Island was real. The show did not explain what the Island was. So smoke monsters exist, there's cure for paralysis and you can survive nuclear explosions? People, even with "Harry Potter" they tell you magic exists. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof won't even explain the Island in broad terms? Okay, it's some type of cork in the bottle of evil. But what about the magical stuff? Aaaaaaaah! Six years of watching the show and all I got was this contrived New Age crap?


Monday, May 24, 2010

When Lost Jumped the Shark

Spoiler. You've spent six years watching Lost and were praying for a great series finale. Unfortunately, you got a show with New Age religious overtones. It looked like a show that was going to go heavy into wormholes, time travel, parallel universes and electromagnetism. But no. Sideways world is some type of purgatory where the castaways get together for a happy ending. This doesn't explain why Hurley is now protector of the island when he's dead and in purgatory. Unless time is meaningless and Hurley joins the group after he dies which kind of makes him a god. Update: There's a consensus on the web that Sideways World was a purgatory where time has no meaning. That means when Hurley dies he can meet up with Jack at anytime. How convenient? The Island according to many is real. Don't ask me about how they survived the nuclear bomb. Awful, just plain awful.

So when did Lost jump the shark? That's where a television series like Happy Days went bad. In Happy Days it was an episode where Fonzie literally jumped a shark on skis. It starts where we finally meet Jacob (Mark Pellegrino, above) in the flesh and also his nemesis, the Man in Black (Titus Welliver), in the fifth season episode "The Incident." (2009) The show finally jumps the shark in the sixth season episode "Across the Sea" (2010) Now the show has become a full blown religious allegory. Don't you wish the show's writers had hinted at this New Age religious stuff way before the last season? It's quite a jolt. And it doesn't fit the science fiction material developed in the first five seasons. Memo to Bad Robot. Please keep Damon Lindelof away from Star Trek 2.

Lost Series Finale Review

SPOILER ALERT. Okay, you've spent six years watching Lost and trying to figure it out. What do the numbers mean? How come there's a polar bear on the island? How come Hurley never loses weight? So did we get answers from last night's series finale? Sort of. I'm going to review the final episode and discuss the meaning of it. So if you don't want to know about the ending, stop reading until you see it, then come back.

The show bounces between sideways world and the island circa 2007? Most of our castaways in the sideways world are happy. Whereas, back on the island, Jack (Matthew Fox) has become protector of it. Smoke Monster aka Fake John Locke or Smokey (Terry O' Quinn) wants to get off the island. He's evil incarnate. He forces Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) to enter the lighted tunnel which gave birth to him. Jack helps with the confidence that Smokey will be destroyed by the act.

Back in sideways world, Desmond continues to bring the castaways together. He believes that they will remember their lives on the island. Wait a minute. They were miserable on the island. They're happy in sideways world. Why do this? But I digress. The memories cause them to recall their relationships and they all head to the church for a reunion.

On the island, Smokey's plan backfires as he now becomes mortal. About to escape, Smokey stabs Jack. But one cant' forget that Kate (Evangeline Lily) is good with a gun. She kills Smokey. Jack tells the survivors that he must restore the island. He takes Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Ben (Michael Emerson) with him. You see Desomond had removed a giant plug that extinguished the light. Remember that the island is like a cork to keep out the evil in the bottle. The other survivors hop onto a plane and leave the island. Jack knows he's going to die in the effort, so he tells Hurley that he must become protector of the island. Hurley asks Ben to be his assistant. Ben happily accepts.

In sideways world, the survivors all meet at the church. Ben tells Hurley he can't enter the church. Jack is told to enter through the back by Kate who tells him that they are moving on. Jack enters a room where he meets his "dead" father, Christian Shephard. (John Terry) The room is full of Christian artifacts. Jack is told he's dead. Hmmmm. Jack's dad is named Christian. But I digress. Jack reunites with all his friends from the island in the church. As they all celebrate, the camera is forced backwards to a child's snow globe. Sorry, that's the finale to St. Elsewhere. Okay back to the show, Christian moves down the aisle and opens the back door where a bright light similar to the gold color beams over the survivors. Back at the island, Jack stumbles out of the tunnel and onto the beach where the camera zooms in on his eye echoing the first shot of the series. The eye closes. And that's the end to "The End", the final show for Lost. Or is it? Watching the credits you get a shot of the plane wreckage on the beach. Could that be a hint?

Like all of "Lost", this series finale was emotional and well acted by the cast. The writing was good in the way it handles the dialogue. But it's the finish that gets lost. First, I don't' believe that the heads of Lost, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse knew where it was going to go after the pilot. The show at one point embraced science fiction. The mysterious Dharma Intiative was into meteorology, parapsychology, zoology, and electromagnetism. But this season, the show veered wildly into New Age religion. Going to the light is something out of the canceled "Ghost Whisperer."

So what about the end? I think the fans who thought the whole thing was about purgatory were right. The plane wreckage as the credits rolled seemed to give me the push on this theory. The passengers of Oceanic 815 are all dead. Kate's line about moving on is telling here. The golden light as the door of the church opens comes from afterlife experiences. Go to the light when you're dead. Ben can't go into the church because of all the evil he has done. He must complete certain tasks before he can leave. So he's stuck in purgatory or sideways world.

Okay, this is where my theory gets somewhat blown up and why this last show kind of stinks. If they are in purgatory, assuming they all died in the plane crash, why is Hurley left in charge of the island? If he's dead, how can he be left to take of the island? Didn't he leave with the rest of the survivors to go into the light? Argh! "The End" doesn't provide many answers but unfortunately starts more mysteries. Update: There's a consensus on the web that the Island was real. Sideways World was a place where they could all get together after dying. Oh, and time has no meaning in Sideways World so Hurley could become protector of the Island and meet up with Jack. Don't ask me about how they survived the nuclear blast. This is lazy writing. That explains nothing about the Island. The grade will be changed to D.

This show went off the rails by taking the religious angle. Combining science fiction and religion is not a good idea. That's because they don't match. Faith and science are usually at conflict. This last season finished with a jumble of religious New Age ideas. Look, I didn't want all my questions answered but can we make some sense of a little of it?

As far as series finales go, "The End" is not as bad as the X-Files (it's' about creation of super soldiers?!) but not as good as the bittersweet Cheers. The bar in Cheers doesn't get blown up but still exists. Sam (Ted Danson) tells a customer that he's missed last call and he's sorry, "We're closed." Great end. The X-Files jumped the shark at season eight but started to get bad during season six. Lost started to go bad during season five when it veered into religion. The grade for the series finale, "The End" is D. The grade for the entire series is B minus. Namaste.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

MacGruber Review

Turning a five minute skit from Saturday Night Live into a feature length movie must be a hard task. Only Wayne's World has been made into a good film. It is even more difficult with the skit "MacGruber." It's a skit which is a takeoff of the MacGyver televisions series, the one where the hero eschews guns in favor of homemade solutions. On SNL, the skit is usually one in which MacGruber is faced with defusing a bomb. He gets distracted usually by the host of the week and everyone gets blown up. So, it's even more difficult to turn this skit into a movie unless you're making Bambi meets Godzilla type of film.

The movie opens up with Dieter Van Cunth, (get it?), played by Val Kilmer robbing the Russians of a nuclear weapon. There are dead bodies with realistic wounds strewn all about before Cunth cruelly executes a lone survivor. Okay, that's the first sign of trouble in a comedy. Hard to laugh when you see dead bodies, portrayed realistically.

Col. James Faith (Powers Boothe) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillipe) go to South America to recruit retired special forces expert MacGruber (Will Forte) to get the nuke back. He initially refuses but is haunted by the memory of his wedding in which Cunth blew up his bride, sending blood on associate Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig). Laughing yet? MacGruber accepts Faith's offer. After blowing up his own team of bad asses, MacGruber is forced to enlist Piper and St. Elmo to aid him.

If you're going to make a movie lampooning action films, then do it. Take for example, the movie Hot Shots, Part Deux. (1993) In that movie, the filmmakers fired a joke every few minutes. No such luck with MacGruber. Jokes are not funny. See MacGruber take out his car stereo from his car and walk around with it during the mission. Huh? MacGruber likes to rip out men's throats with his bare hands. You get to see the bodies after he does it. Boy, that's funny. What about MacGruber peeing on a burned corpse? Okay, that one in context, was kind of funny. You get this feeling that the filmmakers were thinking of making a somewhat serious movie, which would have been a first for SNL to turn a skit into a drama.

MacGruber needs more jokes for this type of lampoon. For your ten bucks, you get few laughs. You're better off watching the Daily Show. The grade is C.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pure Imagination

ATT has been using the song "Pure Imagination" for a commercial. The song originally comes from the film, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." (1971) Written by Leslie Briscusse and Anthony Newley, Gene Wilder sings it in the movie. It's a beautiful song. So remember,"If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There's nothing to it." Here's the video from the movie.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Face of the Tea Party Movement

Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul on the Rachel Maddow Show (May 19) supports a private business' ability to discriminate on the basis of race. Dr. Rand Paul was endorsed by the Tea Party and he embraced them back. This is the face of the Tea Party. Dr. Paul disagrees with the portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits private businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of race. While he hates racism, he believes that government should not force private businesses to not discriminate in businesses of public accommodations.

Dr. Paul touts the First Amendment as a defense for his position. Look, there is nothing in the law that prohibits anyone from being a racist, it just stops the discrimination in private businesses that cater to the public. By the way, Tea Party people are not libertarians. They don't believe in a woman's right to choose when it comes to abortion. They are another form of s conservative Republican. Here's the full interview. Note that Rachel was fair.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Robin Hood Movie Review

If you see Robin Hood with the expectation of seeing a swashbuckling epic, forget it. You might think then this new take on the fable would be an allegory for the argument of socialism. Nope. What about a tea bagger's, um, tea party theme of fighting taxes. Sorry, you rightwingers, there's that whole "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" thing Robin Hood liked to do. Which by the way doesn't happen in this movie. So, what's this film about? It's a prequel to the legend and a presumptuous attempt to start a franchise. There may be no evidence of a future sequel but why make a Robin Hood film without telling the rest of the story? You know, robbing the rich and giving to the poor, fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham and the tyrant King John. After this medieval dog, I doubt we'll see another Robin Hood movie anytime soon.

Robin Hood starts out with Robin Longstride (Russel Crowe) as an archer in King Richard's army. The English forces are returning from the crusades and have decided to stop off in France for some pillaging. The movie introduces us to the future band of Merry Men, Little John (Kevin Durand, "Lost"), Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes, "Band of Brothers") and Allan A' Dayle (Alan Doyle) as other English archers. If you're looking for a fun scene where Robin Hood bests Little John, forget it. The best the screenwriter Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) and director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) come up with is a fight over a shell game. Oh, joy. During a troop inspection, King Richard comes upon Robin and asks for his honest opinion of the wars. It's sort of like asking Miss USA what her opinion of gay marriage is. Unfortunately for Robin, his screenwriter decides to channel twenty first century thinking on the crusades and Robin spits out how bad they were in terms of how the Christians treated the Muslims. No Miss USA crown for you, Robin. He gets chained up while the good king decides to attack a French castle.

Okay, there is some history here. There was a 12th century English king named Richard the Lionheart. In the movie, Richard is killed by an arrow just like the real king. During the chaos, Robin and his men escape. As they are riding around the French countryside, they stumble upon Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge) who had been ambushed by Godfrey (Mark Strong, Kick-Ass) an aide to Prince John (Oscar Issac) who is running England while Richard is away. Fatally wounded, Loxley asks Robin to take his sword back to his father, Sir Walter. (Max Von Sydow) In order to sneak a ride back to England, Robin takes the guise of Loxley. Hold on. When they get back to England, nobody recognizes that he's not the real Loxley. WTF? I know eyewitness testimony is bad but really?

Back in England, Godfrey who is aligned with the French King Philip plans to undermine Prince John's reign by levying excessive taxes on everyone. This would weaken Prince John by causing rebellion and allow the French to invade a divided England. Wait a minute. Ridley, you're trying to cram this convoluted plot into a two and a half hoar movie during the summer? Either make this a mini-series or a three hour film. But I digress. Meanwhile, Sir Walter, upon learning that his son has died convinces Robin to take his identity so his now widow Marion (Cate Blanchett) can keep the land. Oh, Friar Tuck (Mark Addy, Still Standing) makes an appearance. Sigh. You see there's no fun scene where Robin wins over Tuck's allegiance. The rest of the movie is about whether in the future, the English will be eating croissants or fish and chips.

The problem with this movie is the opposite of Iron Man 2. Director Scott and Crowe take the subject matter way too seriously. This is probably the worst performance I've ever seen of Russell Crowe. He's glum and doesn't seem to know who his character is. Gentlemen, it's Robin Hood and his Merry Men not Robin and the Boyz N' the Hood! The best merriment that the filmmakers can do is to show the Merry Men get drunk. Now, that's cheap. What? No witty banter? There's zero chemistry between Crowe and Blanchett. And poor Max Von Sydow. He's made to look a senile old fool.

The film looks as it has been drained of color ala "Saving Private Ryan." Battle scenes are a mess, as there is too much camera movement. Sword fights are choreographed and shot badly. The men's hair styles are wildly incongruous. Robin and Little John's very short cropped hair and stubble, look like they just stepped out of an twenty first century Irish pub. Godfrey's bald head makes him look like Lex Luthor. Only William Marshall (William Hurt) looks like he belongs in that century. The music is completely forgettable. What can I say when the best part of the movie is the animated and colorful end credits. Even Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights had more adventure.

If you want to see a great film about Robin Hood, rent The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) starring Errol Flynn. Even Kevin Costner was better in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. (1991) While I praise Ridley Scott's Robin Hood for some historical accuracy, it's an uninspired mess. Grade is C.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Jonny Gomes Plays Like It's His Last Game

Tony Larussa said that the Reds' Jonny Gomes plays like it's his last game. There's a reason for that. He had a heart attack in 2002. He had one tough life as a teenager. Here's an USA Today article from 2005 on him.

By the way, last night Gomes blasted a three run homer to make the Brewers pay for walking Jay Bruce to get to him. The blast was the margin of victory for a Reds win, their third in a row.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Turning Point

Today the Cincinnati Reds stand atop the Central Division after taking two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals. And I'm excited. I predicted the team will win the division. Okay, they've only played 37 games. If the Reds win the Central, Saturday's game was a turning point. Over the last ten years, there have been heart breaking losses and the Reds on that night looked like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football held by Lucy. Two outs in the ninth. The Reds were clinging to a one run lead when closer Francisco Cordero gave up a double with a Cardinals runner rounding third with the tying run. Here we go again. Not today. Chris Heisey gets the ball off a dead hop. He fires it to Orlando Cabrera. He fires the ball off line but on time to catcher Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez dives to make the tag. Out! Game Over. Reds Win. Here's the Reds post with the video replay.

I was right about the Bengals draft. I'm right about this Reds' year. Look at the starting pitching we've got over the last week. Three complete games. When can you remember that? If that pitching holds up, the Reds not only win the division but the whole thing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jon Stewart on the Oil Spill; SNL on the Oil Spill

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart gives this hilarious commentary on the goofy ways to stop the Gulf oil spill.

SNL last night also did a bit as its opening. Posted below. I'll have to admit I liked Stephen Colbert's commentary the best.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Field of Dreams Is For Sale

I hope it's not a symptom of the mortgage crisis but the actual farm and baseball diamond used in the film "Field of Dreams" is for sale. Here's video of James Earl Jones' speech, "People Will Come" from American Rhetoric. Check out Jones' lines from the speech that will send chills down your spine.

Mann: The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come

Glenn Beck Has Nazi Tourette's

Keith Olbermann ran Lewis Black's Daily Show commentary on the subject of Glenn Beck linking everything liberal to Nazis. Watch it below. If you want it from Comedy Central, here's the link.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Classic SNL: "The Delicious Dish" with Alec Baldwin

You've seen Betty White on the SNL skit, "The Delicious Dish." Now check out the classic 1998 one with Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy and his um, special food balls. Warning: PG-13 humor.

SNL: "The Delicious Dish" with Betty White

Last night, Betty White (Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls) hosted Saturday Night Live. Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon also were guests. Ana and Molly reprised their NPR skit, "The Delicious Dish" in which they interview a guest with no idea of the double entendres thrown about. With Betty White, it's even funnier. Here's the skit, enjoy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2 Movie Review

Iron Man 2 starts out at the end of the first Iron Man, with arms manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) announcing to the world that he is Iron Man. The broadcast is sent around the world where Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) in Siberia watches it. At the time, his father Anton (Yevgeni Lazarev)is dying. Both father and son blame Tony and his father for their exile. You see at one time Anton worked for Stark Industries helping to develop arc technology. Tony's father dumped Anton when he wanted to use arc technology for profit. Stark's publicity enrages Ivan who plots his revenge.

Meanwhile, Stark is not humbled by the great power he can wield. He's a narcissistic party animal. He's not Spider-man whose phrase, "With great power comes great responsibility" is the guiding principal of his Spidey's heroism. Stark's lack of attention to his business leads to attacks by arms manufacturer and competitior Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) who wants the government to buy his brand of combat suits and Senator Sterm (Gary Shandling!) who wants Stark to turn over the Iron Man suits to the military. One of the movie's main plot points comes when Ivan attacks Stark as he competes in the Monaco Grand Prix. After Stark becomes Iron Man and defeats him, Hammer breaks Ivan out of jail. They team up to develop drone suits to bring down Stark.

If you read Entertainment Weekly, you got the first hints of trouble with this movie. In the May 7, issue, the actors, Downey, Don Cheadle ("Lt. Col. Rhodes"), Scarlett Johansson ("Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow") don't take this movie seriously. And when you watch the film, it's clear they didn't. Downey's delivery is dripping with sarcasm with a certain contempt for the Stark character. Cheadle doesn't have enough lines to tell what his feelings are. Johansson is so beautiful that you get the feeling that director Jon Favreau forgot to direct her. He merely frames her angelic face in the best light while she has as much emotion as a Barbie doll. If you remember Burt Reynolds' Cannonball Run movies, you get the same feeling from those pictures when you watch Iron Man 2. The actors,the director and the writer had a party but you the audience were kept out of the club waiting in the rain while a bouncer told you that you weren't hip enough. And who decided to cast Gary Shandling as a United States Senator? It's a good thing he doesn't have much screen time. Shandling's weird comedic pucker nearly sinks the movie.

Great movies start with the writing. Justin Theroux is all wrong for this job. This is the guy who co-wrote the comedy Tropic Thunder (2008) Look, it's good that there is humor in these superhero movies but if you don't take them seriously you end up with the campy TV series of Batman. Stark is written like a rich, shallow, punk. There's no redemption as there was in the first film. Even if he is supposed to be a negative character, you don't care for him. That's because Theroux doesn't take the material seriously.

Favreau's direction is tone deaf. First, he follows the banal rules of the sequel. Bigger and louder. That may be fine, but he must be responsible for the party on the screen. Everybody may have had fun but the audience does not. One of the worst decisions was to film the ending battle scenes at night. Iron Man is chased around an Expo by flying drones. Because it's dark you can't see the drones, just their fiery exhausts. You see very little of Iron Man. Since you can't see what's going on, there's no excitement.

Is there anything good about Iron Man 2? Yeah. Gwyneth Paltrow. She has an idea of what her character, Pepper Potts, wants. And there is the franchise of Iron Man, one of the coolest of Marvel's superheroes. By the way, stay through the credits as you will get scene giving you a clue as to where Marvel is going next with its superhero movies. Hint: It looks like Thor is coming and maybe an Avenger movie is also on its way. For you non-comic fans, Avengers are the team of Marvel's supreheroes. I suggest Marvel hire writers who will take the material seriously. Iron Man 2 is a loud sequel without the wit, intelligence and heart of the first movie. The grade is C+.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mass Effect 2: Get the "No One Left Behind" Achievement

Here's how I got Mass Effect 2's "No One Left Behind" Achievement and also saved the Normandy crew. Warning, this post contains spoilers. But if you want the happiest ending then this is how to do it. Now if you check the Internet and YouTube, you'll notice that there are many ways of getting this Achievement. This is how I completed the Achievement, using my combat squad of Samara (pictured) and Grunt.

1. Things you must do first. The Achievement requires your whole team of samurai survive the last mission. It is possible to get the achievement and lose the Normandy crew but that's not the happy ending we're aiming for. There are some things you must do first before you start the final mission. Upgrade the ship in three areas. Talk to Jacob to get the Heavy Ship Armor upgrade. Talk to Tali to get the Multicore Shielding Upgrade. Talk to Garrus to get the Thanix Cannon upgrade. If you do not get all three upgrades, you'll lose a teammember for each upgrade not obtained during the final mission.

Get the loyalty of all members of your team. If you don't, those members of your team that are not loyal may die. This is done by performing those teammembers' loyalty missions. I also obtained full Paragon status as quickly as possible. This kept morale up. Take for example, when a fight broke out between Jack and Miranda, I was able to defuse the situation without losing the favor of either. I also obtained every teammember's special weapons upgrade if they had one. You can get some of those by talking to them. See Jack.

Saving Yeoman Chambers.

Okay, now remember that we also want to save the crew of the Nomandy. You know, Yeoman Chambers, Dr. Chakwas (hacksaw, ha!), engineers Kenneth and Gabby, etc. Don't let the game's open ended mission structure fool you. To save the crew you must follow a particular order. But don't worry, the order only affects the last three missions.

Make sure you have completed all the loyalty missions when you are given the location of the wrecked Reaper to get the IFF. ("Derelict Reaper" mission) I also completed almost all of the secondary assignment missions to get experience points and credits. I'm pretty sure you don't have to complete all secondary missions because I left Citadel: Found Forged ID assignment. I wanted to go there with Legion after the final mission for laughs. Get it? Running around the Citadel with a Geth? It's especially hilarious when you argue with a security official about letting an Asari travel, when you point out the difference between a Geth and an Asari. Shepard, "One has a flashlight on his head..." all the while a Legion with the flashlight head is standing to your side. All right, you have to love the game.

Okay, now start and finish the "Derelict Reaper" mission. You pick up a Geth, Legion, at the end of the mission. Activate him on the ship and talk to him. Agree to help him with his loyalty mission. The game allowed me to complete Legion's loyalty mission before the final two missions (Normandy Attacked, The Final Mission) you need to complete to get the happiest ending.

Normandy Attacked/Save the Normandy

When you get back from Legion's loyalty mission, you get a message from EDI that you will have to take a shuttle to your next destination. Accessing the galaxy map starts the "Normandy Attacked" mission. You and the team travel away from the Normandy by shuttle. The Normandy is attacked and the crew is kidnapped by the Collectors. You control Joker and save the Normandy. Once, you get back on the ship, you find yourself alone with only your samurai, EDI and Joker. You can save your game but whatever you do, DO NOT TRAVEL TO ANY OTHER PLACE BUT THE OMEGA 4 RELAY.

Why? Because if you complete a side mission before you enter the Omega 4 Relay, Yeoman Chambers dies. It's logical. The longer you take to rescue your people, allows the Collectors to kill them. You see they are taking people to make them into Soylent Green. Okay, that's a joke. They are taking people and liquefying them into human goop. I'm not going to tell you why, that's a spoiler that doesn't need to be disclosed. Unfortunately, you can't save everyone, you will see a colonist woman turned into a human milk shake in the final mission, but if you follow my plan at least you won't see cute Kelly Chambers turned into human slop.

What's the reward? Well, after you successfully finish the last mission, you can return to the Normandy. You will see a busy ship with people. You will get praises from crew members and gratitude. Kelly will be at your side on the CIC. Along with your team, they're all alive. Again this is the happiest ending. The next step is how to save your samurai team on the suicide mission. So read on, fellow gamers.

2. The Final Mission. Okay, you've entered the Omega 4 Relay and had sex with the mate of your choice. The ship enters the space where the Collector station is at. You will need to fight off a couple of ocular robots. The Normandy crashes into the Collector station. You will have to divide your team. Your squad will fight its way to the center of the station. Another will divert the enemy. One person must open doors to allow everyone to reach the center.

a. Who to Pick For the First Objective? You must pick a tech expert to open the door towards the end of the first leg of the battle. He must move through a tube while being exposed to hostile environmental conditions. Picking team members requires logic. The best tech people are Tali and Legion. I chose Legion.

The next team member to pick is the one who will lead the diversion or fire team. Again logic is important here. I picked Garrus. Remember he has experience to lead men into battle.

As for my squad, I chose Samara and Grunt. Why? The enemies on the Collector ship are organics. Both use assault rifles as their primary weapon, an excellent gun that fires rapid rounds and inflicts major damage. Grunt, at this level is unstoppable. If you have upgraded Samara's Throw power, you will be able to wipe out multiple enemies at once. Against charging husks, she can take out a group of them.

b. Who to Pick for the Second Objective? Okay, you've reached the Normandy crew and saved them. The next step is reach the area where the tubes containing the human goop is going. You divide the team again. One team must again travel one way while you travel the other. I picked Garrus again to lead the fire team. Unfortunately, your armor cannot save you from the larger Seeker Swarms so you need a biotic to throw a dome over your squad. I've read that Samara is good here but I want her in my squad. I chose Jack. Again, I picked Samara and Grunt for my squad.

The doctor tells you that the crew is too weak to fight. They must return to the ship. Pick a member of the team to escort them back. I've seen Mordin die at the end of the game, so I chose Mordin to escort the crew back to the Normandy. He will survive if he leads the crew.

c. The Third Objective. Finally, you reach an area before the final chamber. Give your command the room speech. :) Now pick your squad. Make sure they're loyal. I've done this with Samara and Grunt. But lately I've been picking Samara and Miranda. Why? First, your enemies are organics. AI hacking won't work here. Second, Miranda has strong dialogue at the climax. Third, Miranda and Samara are babes!

Update: (9-8-10) Lately, I would complete the Derelict Reaper mission and save Tali's Recruitment mission to be the next one to be completed just for the fun of it. And I have still saved the crew and the team. Here's how. Now this is important. After Derelict Reaper, you get to do two more missions before the crew gets kidnapped in Normandy Attacked. After the kidnapping you must go into the Omega 4 relay to save them. You could complete everybody's recruitment and loyalty missions before the Omega 4 relay which would simplify everything for the achievement and saving the crew.

But I get a kick by taking Legion on Tali's recruitment mission. He can AI hack some of the Geth and the mission is easier. Plus, you get some interesting dialogue. But remember you must get Tali and talk to her before the final mission to get the multicore shield upgrade. So, I completed Tali's recruitment mission. Got the multicore shield. Then I do Legion's loyalty mission with Tali. That mission is much easier with Tali, because now you have two techs who can AI hack Geth. Legion is now loyal.

But you say those are two missions after getting Legion. The Normandy will be attacked and the crew kidnapped when you attempt the next mission. Tali will not be loyal. That's correct. So how do I save Tali who's not loyal in the final mission? Remember you have Legion and he's loyal. He's the tech expert you send in the tube at the beginning of the Final Mission. Now what about the leader of the fire teams? First all must be loyal. The choices I've discovered that work are Miranda, Garrus and Jacob. That's logical because they're all good leaders. The consensus on who escorts the crew should be Mordin. I've seen him get killed even though loyal when he didn't do the escort. Oh, and make sure he's loyal. On the long walk, I choose Jack to throw the barrier. Again, make sure she's loyal. Okay, on all three combat missions, I've chosen Miranda and Samara. Make sure they're loyal. They're also babes. What does that do? It gives all fire teams combat strength. Each team has Grunt who is a tank and that protects Tali.

So, what's the reward? Well, you get to take Legion on Tali's loyalty mission after the final mission. You get some interesting dialogue from the Quarians who hate the Geth. Of course, Legion is a Geth. By the way, the enemies in Tali's loyalty mission are Geth so Legion's tech expertise helps. Plus if you have not done the side mission, "Eclipse Smuggling Depot" you now have two tech experts to use combat drones on each YMIR Mechs thereby allowing you to get more crates. It just goes to show you that there are other ways of getting the achievement and saving the crew.

d. Conclusion. By following the above steps, the crew of the Normandy and your team of samurai will survive the Suicide Mission. Note that when Mass Effect 3 comes out, the surviving characters may appear in the sequel. You ran into surviving Mass Effect characters in the second game, so there is an added benefit.