Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Colbert Takes On Critics Of Obama's Libya Speech

Last night Stephen Colbert commented on the converative hypocrites who criticized President Obama's Libyan war speech. John Bolton called the speech a "dog's breakfest." What?! And check out his jokes about Newt Gingrich. Funny stuff.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cincinnati Reds 2011 Preview

Last year the upstart Cincinnati Reds won the National League's Central Division Championship. ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd will tell you the Reds were frauds because they beat up on bad teams and couldn't beat the good ones. Yeah, that maybe true but so what? If you're going to lose games, you should lose to the good teams and beat up the bad ones. That means you're better than average. And what does that make the runner-up and former champs St. Louis Cardinals? (Here's their nickname.) They couldn't beat the bad teams. But I digress.

The 2011 Cincinnati Reds will repeat as Central Division Champs. They will win the National League Pennant. And go on to win the World Series. Too confident? If the Reds stay healthy and play to their potential, they have as good a chance as anybody. Afterall, who would have guessed the San Francisco Giants would win the World Series. So, get ready for the Big Red Machine, part 2.

1. Pitching Former Cincinnati sports talk host Alan Cutler said baseball is about "pitching, pitching... piii.tch...iiing!" Yep, it sure is. The Reds don't have an ace like Felix Hernandez. What they do have is great depth. There are eight arms that can fill the five starter stops. Rookie phenom Mike Leake who had a great first half last year, can't make the team. And with Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey down with minor arm troubles, the Reds will use that depth. Matt Maloney and Sam LeCure who pitched for the Reds last year will help out. The beauty of having good arms for all five starter slots is that your pitchers will keep you in the game. The Reds will win a lot of games.

a. Starting Pitching- Let's go over the starters for the Reds. Edinson Volquez has electric stuff. But he needs to throw strikes and bear down when runners get on base. This is a maturity issue and let's hope he's grown up. Bronson Arroyo doesn't have overpowering stuff. What he does do is change speeds. He'll keep you in games and give you two hundred innings a year. His veteran presence will help the kids. Johhny Cueto had a very good season last year. He can win twenty games. Travis Wood is the lone left hander. He has the moxy of a veteran. Homer Bailey has finally grown up. He knows he cannot blow his fastball by major league hitters. Changing speeds and location will take him far.

b. Bullpen- Closer Francisco Cordero returns. He'll scare you by letting guys get on base. But he did have forty saves. Nick Masset hsa nasty stuff. He looks to be a future closer. Aroldis Chapman has the fastball with the best velocity in baseball. Fans of all teams routinely look at the radar gun to see how hard he can throw. He's hit a record 105 m.p.h. Bill Bray will get left handers out. Logan Ondrusek, Matt Maloney and Jared Burton all have good stuff. And by that, the last three guys are not journeymen dregs. They will be able to get in the game in the middle innings if needed and keep the Reds in the game.

2. Infield- Let's go with the right side of the outfield first. What can I say about first baseman Joey Votto. Consumate hitter. Power to all fields. Hits with runners in scoring position. (RISP) Oh, Votto is also MVP. Second baseman Brandon Phillips is fantastic fielder. He can also hit for power and steal bases.

The left side of the infield has questions. Shortstop Paul Janish can field with any shortstop in the league. The question is can he hit. I'll take a .250 average with the ability to hit with runners in scoring position. If he does that and the rest of the team hits, the Reds will be okay. At third is Scott Rolen. Not really a problem but at thirty five, he's showing his age. Bad back could keep off the field. That's why it's time to groom Juan Francisco who has prodigious power from the left side of the plate. Francisco can also play outfield and first base.

Miguel Cairo will be back as a reserve. He did a bang up job. The Reds signed World Series MVP Edgar Renteria. He'll be an insurance policy if Janish fails.

3. Catching- Solid. Ramon Henandez brings veteran leadership to the pitching staff. Excellent bat control. Ryan Hanigan is a great back-up and has an excellent arm.

3. Outfield- Here's something you may not know. Right fielder Jay Bruce hit .281 last year. He's a great outfielder with a cannon for an arm. Left fielder Jonny Gomes goes out everyday and plays like it's his last game. That maybe his problem. He needs to calm down when he needs to hit in the clutch. Reserve Chris Heisey could probably start with any team.

That leaves center fielder Drew Stubbs. (Pictured.) And I hope I don't put pressure on the guy. But he's one of the keys to the success for the Reds. I'm assuming that the pitching will be there. And I'm not counting on offense from Paul Janish. So if Stubbs can put the ball in play and use his speed; there will be more hits and runs scored. He must cut down on his strikeouts and hit with runners in scoring position. If he can do that, I'm excited. Last year he had twenty two home runs and thirty stolen bases. As far as his defense, he's an excellent centerfielder.

4. The Front Office- Players love playing for manager Dusty Baker. His wisdoem will guide the young players. GM Walt Jocketty keeps wielding his magic. For example, many thought it was a big mistake to trade for an older Scott Rolen. But it is what he Reds needed. Veteran leadership. He made good acquisitions of Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman.

5. Conclusion- The temperature highs for this opening day game will be fifty degrees. It gets that cold in October. The Cincinnati Reds better get used to it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Those Crazy Birthers, Part Seven

Donald Trump has been recently demanding that President Barack Obama show his birth certificate. That makes him the latest to join those crazy Birthers. You know the group of people who doubt whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. And should we add the Republican Party as part of that group? A recent poll shows that a majority of Republicans now believe Obama was not born in the United States. Sigh. This is why I left the party. It started with Reagan, now the yahoos have finally replaced the moderates. Oh, before I forget, that's probably the reason why Trump is demanding the birth certificate. He is probably running for President. At least comedian Lewis Black thinks so. But I digress.

Okay, let me break this down for you crazy conservatives. First, and have already debunked the birther theory. But here it is in short form. Pun intended. In Hawaii, you cannot get your original birth certificate when you request it. What you get is the short form. So, Obama really can't get the "long" form. However, the form he has shown does prove he was born in Hawaii.

Do you Republicans realize how crazy you are? Here's why. Two Honolulu newspapers in 1961 announced Obama's birth. Now for this conspiracy to work, reporters in 1961 would have to conspire with public officials both Republican and Democrats in 2008 to produce a falsehood that Obama was born in Hawaii. Look I like science fiction too but no one is saying there's time travel. But what is this really about? It's race. Seriously. If Obama was named John Smith and he was white, would those crazy Republicans care? No. He's black and has an exotic name. If I can paraphrase Bill Maher, which party is more likely to have the racists? It's the Republicans.

But enough with all the insanity. Here's Jon Stewart of the Daily Show from 2009 to tell you why the Birthers are nuts.

Bengals should not pick a wide receiver with its first pick

The Cincinnati Bengals have the fourth overall pick in April's NFL draft. They should not pick a wide receiver. Wide Receivers A.J. Green of Georgia and Alabama's Julio Jones (pictured) look to be drafted in the first round. And while I agree it's a need, it's not as major as other areas for the Bengals. For that matter, it's not essential for winning Super Bowl championships. Remember that the New England Patriots won Super Bowls with no name receivers. Okay, you can say they cheated by filming the opposition. Still, the receivers they had were not big stars.

The last time the Bengals used a fourth pick overall to pick a receiver was in 2000. They picked the very average Peter Warrick. I just hope that owner and de facto Mike Brown learned his lesson. But it gets scary when Head Coach Marvin Lewis says things like this, "My boss loves offense." Cincinnati Enquirer, 3-27-11, pg. C3, col. 1.

I'll say this again and again. Games are won in the trenches. That means the offensive and defensive lines. Right now the Bengals have needs there. Unlike baseball where you pick the absolute best player available, in football you pick the best player available in an are of need. The Bengals should pick a lineman.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Roger Ebert Thinks I Am An Idiot

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Battle: Los Angeles. I gave it an A grade. It was a thrilling science fiction war film about a platoon that gets caught behind enemy lines or should I say alien lines. Well, the great film critic Roger Ebert also reviewed the movie. He gave it one half star out of four. He hated it so much that he decided to go after the people who liked the movie. He wrote,

"Young men: If you attend this crap with friends who admire it, tactfully inform them they are idiots. "

Okay, Roger you think I'm an idiot. So now I'm going to defend Battle: Los Angeles against your criticism. I hope you didn't fall asleep during this movie, because you seemed to have missed all the excitement. You missed the desperate mission behind enemy lines as a platoon of Marines seeks to rescue civilians. I'm guessing you fell asleep because you should have been frightened when you realize the aliens have better weapons.

But let's go over some of your criticism of the movie. You say the aliens don't have any motivation. One, I doubt they speak English, so sorry they're not going to look into the camera and tell you why they're here. But if you were listening, news experts told you that they were after our resources, primarily water. Dr. Stephen Hawking has already proposed this scenario.

You complain about what the aliens look like. To you they look like stick figures. Better have the glasses cleaned. They looked like humanoid, biomechanical soldiers with weapons welded to their arms. Yes, they could have had more detail but this is a war film. The focus is on the Marines. You also complain about the alien ships. You call them ugly and cluttered. Oh come on. This is just subjective. They're supposed to look "alien." Sheesh. Where's your complaints about the clutter of the ships in "Star Wars?"

You then moan about the dialogue. Primarily, that it's short. Man, this is a platoon under fire! What do you want? Long monologues while the aliens are making sushi out of the soldiers. Spoiler Alert. And wow, you weren't touched when the little boy's father died? Or actor Aaron Eckhart's comforting of the boy?

Finally, you complain about the confusing action. What the? Now, I know you fell asleep during the movie. Let me go over the plot for you. A platoon of Marines is sent to a police station in enemy territory to rescue civilians. They get trapped by the aliens. The Marines have to fight their way out. They get a bus and ride part of the way out where they get trapped by alien armor. You missed that. I feel sorry for you. You missed a great movie.

Roger, you're still a great critic. You missed the boat on this one. Oh, and by the way, if any of you people liked Battle: Los Angeles, you are not an idiot.

Comedian Lews Black Endorses Donald Trump for President

Last night on The Daily Show, comedian Lewis Black endorsed Donald Trump for President. Okay, he was sarcastic but in the video below, he was also brilliantly hilarious. By the way, who would have known that Trump is a birther.

Jon Stewart's Take On Obama's Critics Over Libya

As I said President Obama can't win with anybody over the no-fly zone in Libya. Jon Stewart looks at Republican hypocrisy in the below video. He also takes on Obama's liberal critics also.

Obama Was Right In Using Force Against Libya

Wow. President Obama can't please anyone. The right wanted Obama to install a no- fly zone over Libya. And when he did last weekend, nobody in this country was happy. Senator John McCain (R- Arizona) wanted a no-fly zone but when it happened he bithced that it was too late. (L.A. Times story) Liberal congressmen were angry because they weren't notified.

But what is forgotten is that Kadafi explicitly said he would deal with dissent without mercy. And he was slaughtering his people. Is there a national interest here? Yes. The United States must stop genocide if it can. We cannot turn a blind eye like we did before World War II as the Nazis' persecuted the Jews. Of course, there is an economic interest. Yes, I'll admit it. Oil is an economic interest to this country.

President Obama handled this the right way. He got approval from the Arab League. That's amazing. When can you remember Arab nations advocate armed force by Western powers against another Arab nation? Almost never. And there was a real coalition this time. France, and Britain immediately were on board. It's likely that NATO will take over the no-fly zone. This was not the President George W. Bush debacle in Iraq where major countries refused to participate. By getting all this support, this looks like an international effort not the use of force by arrogant Americans. As a result, thousands of lives were saved. Obama should be praised not criticized.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Next Media Strikes Back

Remember Next Media? They're the Taiwanese CGI company that does crazy and funny animated videos on the events in the news. Well, now they take on CAGW's video, "Chinese Professor." It's funny. Check it out below.

The Return of the Yellow Peril

Citizens Against Government Waste has released a slick ad that imagines a future where China dominates the west, particularly the United States. (Video below.) The cause? Government spending and debt. It has a Chinese professor speaking to students in Mandarin. He's talking about the fall of the United States due to government spending. On the wall of the lecture hall is a picture of Mao. Get it? Not only has the United States lost but the Communists have won.

Okay, I've got a wee problem with the ad. It's racist. Yes, that's correct. Note this ad is designed to inflame the angry white right wingers out there. Yes, I know it strives for realism by using the Chinese language but by not using English it's designed to emphasize the foreign feel. And having an image of Mao who is not relevant in China anymore, is bringing back Red baiting.

But more importantly the ad is wrong. Look, I hate government spending too. That's money out of the individual's pocket. But CAGW doesn't understand how the economy works. In 2008, we were on the brink of the Great Depression, part 2. Propping up banks that President George W. Bush did, saved the country. If the banks failed they would not be able to loan money to business. Businesses would fail. Great Depression, part 2.

What about stimulus spending? Again CAGW gets it wrong. President Obama also helped save the country. Let me explain this in simple terms so conservative right wingers can understand. Let's say you go to your favorite bar on Wednesday night. The bar employs two bartenders. And let's say because of the economy you stop going on Wednesday night. Let's say a bunch of customers stop going. The bar lays off the second bartender. He now has less money to spend and therefore spends less. Say bartender forgoes going to his favorite bar. That bar lays off one of their bartenders. And so the cycle goes. Businesses start to fail because consumers are not spending. Great Depression, part 2.

The only entity large enough to encourage private spending is the United States government. If consumers and businesses stop spending the government is the only entity that can step in. You want proof? Let's look at the Great Depression. What got us out of it? World War II. And what did the government do? By spending money on arms and building up the war machine, that put more money in the hands of people. They intern spent it. World War II was the greatest government spending program in the history of the United States. And it got us out of the Depression. So it's caveman thought to say that stimulus spending is evil.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Paul Review

It's hard to be objective for me when I review the comedy, Paul. This movie is about my tribe. No, not Chinese Americans. It's about geeks. And not just any geeks but science fiction geeks. That's the tribe and the right dialect. Anyway, I'll set any bias for the main characters and try to remain objective for this review.

The movie is about two British sci-fi geeks Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) who come to America to attend Comic Con and visit famous UFO locations. On their way to Area 51, the two stop by a diner where they meet a couple of bullies. They decide to run out of the diner but their RV dents the bullies pick-up truck. That accident causes them to flee at a high rate of speed.

On the highway, Graeme and Clive think they are being chased by the bullies when a car passes them. It then crashes. The two stop and investigate the accident. They find Paul (voice of Seth Rogen) , an alien. Paul tells him that he was escaping the government who no longer need his advice and now want to dissect him to see if they can reproduce his special powers. Graeme and Clive agree to take Paul where he can be rescued by his people. Along the way they accidental kidnap Ruth (Kristen Wiig), a fundamentalist Christian. Pursuing them is FBI agent Zoil. (Jason Bateman)

First, what a cast! All are experienced in comedy. Add to that, you get science fiction legend Sigourney Weaver. Wiig is a delight as the innocent but loopy Charles Darwin hating fundamentalist. Pegg and Frost have the geek thing down, though I wonder if they needed to act. Seth Rogen is perfect as the wisecracking alien. That makes up for his horrible Green Hornet earlier this year. The only weakness is that comedic star Jane Lynch is given very little to do.

Pegg and Frost's script contains jokes that will make non-geeks howling probably because of the sharp writing for Paul. But it's the inside jokes that will have science fiction fans in stitches. There are many lines and gags that refer to everything from E.T. to Star Trek to Aliens. And listen to the music of the band playing in the country bar. Kudos to veteran comedy director Greg Mottola (Superbad) for setting up the jokes.

Paul is a cross between the movies E.T. and Vacation. It's sweet, and very funny. The grade is A.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Limetless Review

Imagine that you have the ability to become a superhuman by taking a pill. The pill would allow you to maximize your human potential and lead you to power, sex and wealth. Now before you say yes, let's say this pill has side effects. Eventual addiction. Sickness. Death. Would you still take the pill? That is the plot to Limitless, a film directed by Neil Burger based on the novel The Dark Fields, by Alan Glynn.

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer with an extreme case of writer's block. His personal and financial life is falling apart. His girlfriend Lindy, played by the lovely Abbie Cornish, is leaving him. One day, he meets his his ex-brother in law on the street. He offers Eddie, a drug called NZT that will cause Eddie to use 100% of his brain. After taking the drug, Eddie finds he can write his novel. He starts to remember everything he has ever experienced. It also enhances his intellect. In essence, Eddie becomes a superhuman.

In addition to being able to write his novel, Eddie learns he can use his talents to make money. He begins to play the stock market and starts to make millions. This brings him to the attention of Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a wealthy financier who wants to hire Eddie. It also draws attention to others who want Eddie's secret. Oh and let's not forgot Eddie's Russian loan shark who is a little unhappy about Eddie forgetting to pay him back.

Neil Burger has a great flair for the visual depiction of intelligence. Scenes of numbers and equations form on the ceiling above Eddie as he ponders how to play the stock market. Letters fall from the sky as Eddie writes his novel. As Eddie advances, Burger uses first person shots to propel the viewer down the street as if you are being accelerated by the drug. Of course all, that fancy camera work comes at a price. It will make you dizzy. Thank goodness it wasn't filmed in 3D. But all these camera tricks work on making the idea of super-intelligence interesting. And Burger does know how to stage an action sequence. One quibble. There's no need for some of the rock and roll songs pounding you down. The visuals and a more subtle score would work better.

Leslie Dixon's script does have its contrivances. For example, Eddie's ex-brother in law is murdered. Eddie calls the police but has time to search his apartment. Really? It takes the cops that long to respond to a murder scene? And there is nothing in the screenplay to indicate that we should be rooting for Eddie or loathing him. Eddie is just kind of cold. Maybe that's the point. But the film does ask some interesting questions. How far would anyone go for a superior advantage in life even if it is dangerous? Bigger questions on what is important in a person's life are left out of the movie. That's a shame because one leaves the theater wondering about the ending. And please don't bring "No Country for Old Men's" (2008) ending to this discussion. The ideas in that film were telegraphed before its nebulous ending.

As far as the performances, Bradley Cooper is fine as Eddie. He's both desperate and slick. Abbie Cornish is just radiant. Robert De Niro is good as the ruthless Van Loon but he needs more sophistication as a businessman and less New York Mafioso.

I have to recommend Limitless. For its flaws, I appreciate its desire to stimulate the moviegoers intellect. That's something that's missing in today's films. Limitless is a thought provoking science fiction thriller. The grade is A-.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mass Effect 2, Eclipse Smuggling Depot Tips

Here's some tips for the side mission, "Eclipse Smuggling Depot" for Mass Effect 2. You get this mission one of two ways. You can scan the planet Daratar, in the Faryar system of the Hourglass Nebula. Or you get this mission as a reward for recovering a datapad to Aria recovered during the Archangel mission. The datapad details a conspiracy against her.

The first tip I'm going to give you is to save this mission for after the Endgame or attack on the Collector base mission. Why? Because I suggest you take Tali and Legion on this mission. After you recover Legion, you will get only two missions before you have to go through the Omega 4 relay to save the crew which gets kidnapped by the Collectors. That's assuming you want to save the crew. This side mission can wait till you save the galaxy.

Okay, this mission is about recovering the contents of crates. There are twenty. But the problem is that YMIR mechs are destroying them. The more crates left over the more credits you earn. My heavy weapon is the rocket launcher. It's fast and you should have enough to destroy one mech and damage another.

Now take Tali and Legion for this mission. Yes, they're the best against synthetic enemies but it's not the AI hacking that works here. It's the combat drone power. When you enter the circular area, direct Legion to throw a drone to the mech to your left. Then have Tali spawn a mech to the mech in front of you. The drones will keep the mechs busy. Busy enough to delay their quest to destroy crates. Destroy the mech closest to you. Then proceed to destroy the mech fighting with the other drone. There's one more mech on the plateau. Destroy it. You should have saved between fifteen and sixteen crates. Mission over.

Update: Mass Effect Wikipedia has a plan to save all twenty crates. Here it is.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles Review

The year's wave of alien invasion entertainment from Hollywood has arrived. In the next few months, we'll get "Cowboys and Aliens", and Steven Spielberg's TV mini-series, "Falling Skies." Last fall we had "Skyline." Today, Battle: Los Angeles has opened.

The movie opens up with a group of concerned marines being transported to battle. We hear voice over about an alien invasion. Then the whole thing flashes back twenty four hours to the story of Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz. (Aaron Eckhart) Nantz is on the verge of retiring due to age and a guilty conscience. In Iraq, a decision he made led to the deaths of some of his men. During the next few scenes, we also meet members of the platoon that was being transported to battle. Their lives would be transformed by an alien invasion. They are called to duty as the aliens land off the coast of Los Angeles.

These aliens aren't E.T. They are after our resources, primarily our water. The platoon is ordered to go to a police station overrun by aliens. After firefights with the aliens they discover only a man with his son, a girl and a veterinarian (Bridget Moynahan) are the only ones alive. They are joined later by Air Force sergeant Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) who was on a mission to locate the aliens command and control base for an air strike. Together, they must fight their way out of alien territory.

Director Jonathan Liebesman's direction is grounded in gritty realism. He uses handheld cameras in almost every scene. Now, I usually hate handheld cameras because they make the viewer nauseous. But in this movie, I see the point. He wants to give it a documentary feel. He wants the movie to feel as if it's real and not science fiction. And it works. The film is a cross between Saving Private Ryan (1998) and War of the Worlds. (2005) The action is tense. And you do believe that this is a group of soldiers fighting aliens in the streets of Los Angeles.

Credit must also be given to screenwriter Christopher Bertolini. He's crafted a script that feels real. And while there are a few cliches, such as one of the soldiers in the platoon is the brother of a Marine killed previously under Nantz, the screenplay packs some emotional elements. There's one scene that I challenge you to watch without crying. Additionally, there's another fine acting performance by Aaron Eckhart. He displays heroism, regret and compassion flawlessly.

Battle: Los Angeles is an exciting work of science fiction. The grade is A.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mass Effect 2 Abandoned Mine Tips

Here's some tips for this side mission for Mass Effect 2 called "Abandoned Mine." These tips are for the Normal difficulty setting. If you want tips for the Insanity difficulty setting, check for them here. You'll get this mission by buying the star chart for Minos Wasteland from Baria Frontiers on Illium. Once you're in the cluster, head over to the Fortis System. The planet you'll need to head to is Aequitas. Your mission is to investigate why the mine went silent.

Squad members and weapons are dependent on the enemy you will face. They are all husks. I choose Jack because of her Shockwave power. I usually maximize this power with the talent points. She's able to knock down and kill multiple husks. The second squad member is less important, though I pick Samara since I can maximize her throw talent so she can throw multiple enemies. And when she does that to husks, it usually kills most of them. Tali, is another good choice for the reason I'll get to later. The one weapon I recommend is the flamethrower which you get by completing Zaeed's mission. That mission comes with the game if you bought it new.

The mission is straight forward. You explore the mine. Hack lockers to pick up credits. Husks will attack you. Sometimes they will jump from ceilings. Eventually, you will get to a place where there's a path leading up and another path to the left. Both paths will lead to an open area.

Okay, here is where it gets hairy. Husks will drop from the ceilings in large numbers. And it might seem like an infinite number but on the normal difficulty setting after you've killed a bunch of them, the supply of husks will eventually stop. During combat EDI will tell you to destroy an alien device in a room off to the side of the open area. But before you do that there's a locker on the floor to hack with credits. If you've brought Tali, you can try this optional approach. While you're attacked by husks, use her combat drone to distract the husks. You may have enough time to hack the locker. Then shoot the marked targets on the alien device with a weapon. End of mission.

What's in Spock's Scanner?

Ever wander what Spock is looking at when not actively scanning a Klingon Bird of Prey or Uranus? Black Moon has done a brilliant parody using the original series footage and a send-up of Facebook. Hilarious.

Jennifer Aniston and the Internet Boys

Jennifer Aniston has done an ad for SmartWater that tells you how to make a video go viral. She's aided by a three geeks called the "Internet Boys." Anyway check it out, it's a riot.

In Defense of Rick Berman

Go to any Star Trek website and mention former Trek producer Rick Berman's name and you will get angry Trekkers accusing him of everything from global warming to destroying the franchise of Star Trek. And I concede the man was not perfect. His firing of composer Ron Jones was just wrong. Jones wrote wonderful scores that were some of the most melodic, harmonic and soulful of any Trek composer. But I digress.

Rick Berman took control of Star Trek: The Next Generation around the third season. Under his watch, we were blessed with TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds", "The Nth Degree", "The Inner Light", "Tapestry", "The Chase", "Parallels", to name a few. He helped to create two more successful Star Trek shows, Voyager and Deep Space Nine which had some great shows like "The Visitor." Deep Space Nine was creatively different than the other Star Trek shows. Darker, but it was still Star trek. Whereas Voyager took the franchise back to its roots of space exploration.

Yes, there was the failures. With the exception of Star Trek: First Contact, the films were not entirely successful at the box office or with critics. Enterprise suffered for being on the UPN not readily available in every television market. And perhaps, franchise fatigue was setting in. But no one can ever accuse them of not being Star Trek.

Brent Spiner who played Date said it best. "Rick more than anybody else protected Gene Roddenberry’s vision. There were times we wanted to do things in an episode, and Rick would be, ‘No, no, no. Gene wouldn’t want that and that’s not what Star Trek is about.’ (Interview with SyFy radio; from Look, you can slap any space adventure movie with the name Star Trek but it won't be Star Trek unless it adhered to creator Gene Roddenberry's vision. Adventure, heart and intelligence. Rick Berman knew the vision and should be praised for honoring it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Daily Show Takes On Fox News Coverage of the Wisconsin Protesters

Thank goodness for Jon Stewart and The Daily Show for showing Fox News' slanting of the news on the Wisconsin union protesters. Fox happens to report that it was seven million to clean up the mess of the protesters when it turned out to be three hundred thousand. Yes, they are both a lot of money. But folks, there's a big difference between three hundred thousand and seven million. Check out the story below.

Then John Oliver does a sarcastic and very funny story on the Democratic state senators who are hiding out to prevent a vote on the union killing bill.

Is Charlie Sheen Right?

You've heard Two and a Half Men's former star Charlie Sheen spit out some of the most strangest quotes ever spoken by a celebrity. Sheen said he had Adonis DNA. He's got tiger's blood. Well, all those attacks on CBS and show creator Chuck Lorre has finally gotten him fired.

During an interview with NBC's Jeff Rossen, Sheen said CBS should "be licking his feet." Well, should they? After all, the show is the highest rated TV comedy. (Entertainment Weekly, 3-11-11, pg. 26) And it probably is the biggest comedy hit of the last ten years. Is Charlie Sheen right that the success of Two and a Half Men is because of him? The answer is "sort of."

Sheen played an alcoholic, and sex addict named Charlie Harper. Not to far from his real life persona. So basically he was playing himself albeit a saner version. To make this part work, the audience has to believe the actor. Certainly, Sheen has no problem playing the role since it's him. That's why John Stamos who's been rumored to take over the role is all wrong for the part. You're asking a guy from "Full House" to play X-rated after starring in a G rated family show as Uncle Jesse for years? Nah, it ain't going to work. But with Sheen in the role, CBS had a hit. The character of Charlie Harper had his faults but he was likable. He loved his brother and nephew. He certainly wasn't evil. And Sheen had great comic timing. Couple that with how believable he was in the role and you've got comedy gold.

But was the success of the show all Charlie Sheen? No. Absolutely not. Sheen needed a cast to play off. You can't dismiss the work of actors Jon Cryer and Holland Taylor. The directors also had a hand. And of course, the writers such as creator Chuck Lorre had even a larger part in the success of the show. I mean who is responsible for all those great jokes? The writers.

The sad reality is that Charlie Sheen has now destroyed his career in TV. He's become his own sitcom, one that may end with a sad ending. He has become the butt of jokes. (Saturday Night Live open below.) So far one hopes this real life comedy ends with a happy ending.

Stephen Colbert On Mike Huckabee's Comments

Last night Stephen Colbert did a piece on Republican Mike Huckabee's comments on Natalie Portman and President Barack Obama. It was very funny. And Star Wars fans, you're going to love the joke about Natalie's pregnancy.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau Review

Watching "The Adjustment Bureau", I thought of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. He was the Republican who many thought would be a candidate for President. Then, he was caught in an affair. He admitted to the affair but also acknowledged that he loved the woman he was cheating with. And down went his Presidential bid. In the film, David Norris (Matt Damon) is a young and upcoming politician, running for the New York Senate. He loses the election and as he is thinking about what he is going to say to concede, he meets the free spirit Elise (Emily Blount) a contemporary ballet dancer. After doing some talking, they immediately have an attraction to each other. In fact they kiss. Unfortunately, David must go and she's on the lam for crashing a wedding.

Later, we are introduced to mysterious men, Richardson, (John Slattery) and Harry. (Anthony Mackie) We find out these guys are the Adjustment Bureau, an agency that adjust the lives of humans by directing them to make certain choices. Harry is told to make David spill coffee on himself. But he fails and David boards a bus where he meets up with Elise again. They rekindle their romance and he gets her phone number. As he goes back to the office of the company he's working for, he stumbles upon the Bureau's attempt to correct Harry's mistake and the ripples that it has caused. The humans are frozen in time while the Bureau works on them. The Bureau captures David and he is told to forget Elise. They burn the card which has her phone number.

David searches for Elise for the next three years. In the meantime, his political career is beginning to show promise and he is now running for the Senate gain. While riding the bus, he spots Elise. He bolts from the bus. They again rekindle their romance. Richardson tries to stop the romance but fails. Soon another Bureau man, Thompson (Terrance Stamp) takes over. He tells David that the romance is not in the plan made by "The Chairman." If he continues to romance Elise, he will not become President and Elise's dancing career will end. See, that's why I'm reminded of Governor Mark Sanford. The rest of the film is about the choices he will make.

Director and writer George Nolfi has taken the short story "The Adjustment Team" by Phillip K. Dick, and turned it into a metaphysical sci-fi romance. His dialogue feels real and his direction is graceful. He doesn't force the action but lets it happen organically. it's this skill that he guides the leads Damon and Blunt to a believable romance.

As for the two leads, there's instant attraction between the two. It's been some time since I've seen that type of chemistry on screen. Emily Blunt is absolutely charming. Matt Damon is a man who is haunted by his love for a woman. What seems like love at first sight, really works here. And yes, I do believe in love at first sight.

The Adjustment Bureau is an original, intelligent and beautiful sci-fi romance. You believe that Damon and Blunt do love other. The grade is A-.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mike Huckabee Smears President Obama

In Steve Malzberg's radio program, Republican and probable Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee criticized President Obama for "returning" a bust of Winston Churchill as a display of Obama's dislike of the British. Of course, it wasn't true. Obama merely moved the bust to another part of the White House and replaced it with a bust of the greatest Republican President ever in Abraham Lincoln. This is not new stuff. Media Matters has collected a bunch of these "stories." And guess what? They come from Fox News. It's all about showing that Obama is not one of us. He's not American. He's not white. Chris Matthews did a story on it below.

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Halo 3 Cortana Legendary Walkthrough

If you're playing on Halo 3 on the Legendary difficulty level, you'll find there are two areas which are the most difficult. One is the Tsavo Highway mission at Rally Point Alpha. The other is the Cortana mission which takes place on the Flood infested High Charity. And while you can do a speedrun, I like to kill as many enemies as I can. So this is a walktrhough on Legendary with the purpose to destroy as many of he bad guys as you can. I've embedded a player's (pokemanfreak 16) walkthrough as a guide. And by the way, I love his accent, I'm sorry to say it's kind of funny. He sounds like Lawrence Welk.

And remember patience and cover. Here we go.

1. Introduction.

a. Know your enemy. Your enemy is the Flood. They come in four forms. Combat. Pure Forms. Infection Forms. Carrier Forms. And with the exception of the Range version of the Pure Forms, the Flood are mindless and generally will rush you if not firing a weapon at you.

i. Infection Forms- The Infection forms are the small annoying hats that will reanimate dead bodies and turn them into Combat forms. You can use any weapon to melee them and burst their "bubble." But watch out. A large group of these can take your shields down in a few seconds. Then you get that awful crunching noise and death. Additionally, if you shoot the sacs on the walls, Infection forms will spew from them.

ii. Carrier Forms- These slow things resemble the old time stove top popcorn snacks when it's about ready to pop open. They walk slow and when they're near you; they explode sending Infection forms into the air. The best weapon to use against them is the flamethrower or a plasma grenade when detonated takes out the Carrier and the Infection forms.

iii. Combat Forms- These guys carry weapons. The charge at you, so be ready with the melee button. The shielded version is harder to bring down. And by the way if you don't break them up into bits, their bodies can be reanimated by Infection forms.

iv. Pure Forms This form is the coolest form to see since it will mutate right before your eyes. And the Ranged version of this form is also the most annoying.

The initial form of the Pure Form is the Stalker. It resembles a scorpion. Called Stalker because it will seek you out. In this version, flamethrower or melee are the most effective way of dispatching it. Unfortunately, the next mutation is the Range or Ranged Form.

The Stalker will climb to the ceilings. There it will mutate into the Ranged Form. It looks like the creature from the movie Tremors. Except it fires energy beams at you. On Normal difficulty it's tough. On Legendary its maddening because of the damage, accuracy and rate of fire that the Ranged Form can unleash. Needler, flamethrower, Brute Shot, and Energy Sword are great weapons against this version.

The next mutation is the Tank. If you run into a Ranged Form on the ground, it may change to the Tank. Big and lumbering, it's melee attack is devastating. And to make matters worse, it can also spew Infection Forms. Flamethrower, Brute Shot melee, Gravity Hammer, and Energy Sword are the most effective.

b. Choose the Right Weapon- You should carry a range weapon and melee weapon for this level. That's because the Flood will generally charge you. The best combination to use is the Brute Shot and the Energy Sword. You will find plenty of ammo for the Brute Shot. And it's grenades pack a powerful punch. Plus, the blade end makes a great melee weapon should the Flood rush you and they will. The Carbine is good for only taking out Flood Combat Forms at a distance.

There are two "specialty" weapons to use on this level. The Needler is great since the shots track an enemy. Great against a Ranged Form stuck on a ceiling meters away. The flamethrower is deadly against all Flood however it slows you down. So be prepared to drop it when you need to run. The rocket launcher is also great but there's very little ammo after you get it. The Gravity Hammer is excellent against a group of Flood charging you. But it's slow. You're better off with the Energy Sword.

2. Start of the Level- Okay, you see the pretty cutscene. Jump down and get the Incendiary grenades. Shoot as many of the Infection Forms as you can. You will approach a left turn. You wont' be able to kill all the Infection Forms and they will reanimate some dead bodies. Kill them. Now notice that there is a path leading to the cliffs above the first portal. Go up there, get the grenades and change out your shotgun for the Energy Sword. Move through the portal until you come to a portal in the ground that will force you to drop down. Drop down.

3. Pelican Hill- Once you're down here, you immediately come under attack. To your right is a wall with a path that leads up to the top of the wall. First take of the Flood that will charge you. Retreat to cover if you're shields go. After the first group of Flood attack, move forward. Get the Brute Shot and Incendiary grenade. Two Carrier Forms will "charge" you. Take a plasma grenade and stick one. Kill the other .

Carefully make your way to the top of the wall. There's a checkpoint around here so try to initiate it. You will see a lot of Flood. If they're grouped throw an Incendiary grenade. That'll take out a bunch of them. When you are charged, switch to the Energy Sword. Okay, by now you're shields are down. Run back to the beginning for cover. Rinse and repeat until you've killed all the Flood in this area. Now you're going to run into Ranged Forms. Hopefully, you'll be in their range to kill them. In the Stalker Form, take advantage of that and melee them to death.

Many players run to the Pelican outside of the walls and grab the flamethrower. On the Legendary difficulty level, it's almost impossible if you haven't thinned out the Flood. Plus if you save it for last, you'll have more fuel for the coming battles.

Okay, after you've killed everything on Pelican Hill, keep moving. Eventually you will come to a floor not covered with brown organic sludge. There are dead bodies. Take the flamethrower and immediately burn the bodies. That's because a Infection Forms will try to reanimate them. Now some will survive but if you burned the bodies that's just less than you'll have to deal with. But notice littered on the floor are grenades, and weapons. And as you leave the area, there's another Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer. A sure sign of a coming battle. Move out and come to another floor portal. Drop down. (Video goes to the Round Room of Doom.)

4. Round Room of Doom This is the hardest of area of the level. There's also the Tilt skull here. Okay, once you've dropped down, you'll be in a short hallway with a dead Elite with an Energy Sword. This hallway leads to a circular room. The main circular floor is transparent and you can see a weapons cache below it. But first you must kill the enemy before you can get it.

The second you start to approach the circular room, you will be under attack. Most of the fire comes from the Ranged Forms. When you enter the circular room, you'll notice a Covenant Weapons locker. Use it for cover. To your left is a transparent wall. That area and the pillar behind it, is your goal. But first there's a Ranged Form above you and a Combat Form is charging from the wall you with a Mauler. Immediately kill him. He's deadly at close range. Then take out your Brute Shot and kill the Ranged Form above you. You'll be under constant attack so keep moving. Drop the flamethrower if you have to. If Flood charge you take out your sword and swing away. You may have to retreat to the beginning of the room.

Okay, you've thinned out a lot of the bad guys. There's still many more Ranged Forms. Now run to the transparent wall. The area behind is also good to lure any stragglers. Now, next to the transparent wall is a locker of Needlers. If you're as unfortunate as I was, there's still Ranged Forms pouring down fire and out of range of your Brute Shot. Grab a Needler and hunch for cover. Oh, by the way, watch out for Stalkers flanking behind you and to your sides. They'll turn into Ranged Forms and kill you within seconds. Anyway, you got the Needler. Pop out and nail the Ranged Forms on the ceilings. Whew.

Pick up the flamethrower. Burn the bodies. Mop up any enemies still alive. Move down and off the circular floor. Now your HUD tells you to go up a path but look behind you. There's an opening. And underneath the opening are dead Elites but a weapons cache also. Grab the Skull if you've haven't and then move up the path to the Alley of Death.

5. The Alley of Death- You move up the path and enter a small room. There will be a Carrier Form moving on your position and possibly two Pure Forms. Burn them. And since this is your first flamethrower, don't be shy about using it, because another is available.

After you've taken out these three, you come to the a long alley. To your right is a dead end alley. That has another flamethrower. To your left is another dead end alley. There is also paths leading to elevated positions. At this moment, you're probably under attack from Ranged Forms. Take out your Brute Shot and kill them. Move slowly up the alley and kill any Ranged Forms that turn into Tanks. Use the angles in the walls for cover. Retreat if you have to and drop the flamethrower since you have to run a lot.

Okay, after you've moved so far up the Alley of Death, you'll hear the sound of Combat Forms. Most of these guys will be shielded. Retreat backwards and fire your Brute Shot. When they are in melee range, switch to the Energy Sword. Now this is important. You can retreat all the way back to the Round Room of Doom and get ammo from the cache. Sometimes that causes the Flood to congregate in the left hand curve of the alley where you can use a grenade.

When you don't hear the Flood and approach a left hand curve in the alley, stop. Go back and replenish your ammo to full for the Brute Shot (floor of the alley and cache) and Energy Sword. (beginning of the alley) And get the second flamethrower. Move back to the curve. Move forward. Hit the checkpoint and stop. If you die in the room ahead, you'll have full ammo. You see a portal. Go through.

Part 2 of the video. I don't recommend you use the Cloaking Device as you may need to move back through the alley. If you didn't kill the bad guys, they may still be here. Plus he has big time trouble with next room.

6. Room of Doom Two The first thing you see is a Covenant Locker with Carbines. To your right is a little tunnel. Use the locker for cover. Grab the Carbine. Kill as many Combat Forms as you can. If you come under strong fire from Ranged Forms, retreat through the entrance portal. Now you see why you killed all those bad guys getting here. They won't be a problem if you need to retreat.
Now use the flamethrower sparingly as you want to keep it all the way through the rescue of Cortana.

When you've cleared the room of most of the combat forms, move across the room. Head to a tunnel at the far end for cover. There's a good chance there's more Ranged Forms out there. The tunnel will also have another Energy Sword. By the way, venture out to the floor and quickly destroy the dead bodies. I'll tell you why in a minute. Okay duck back into the tunnel. Pop out and destroy any Ranged Forms. Grab the deployable cover. Drop the flamethrower; you'll pick it up later.

Now move up the path. You might be jumped by a about four Combat Forms. Take out your sword and deal with them. To your right you'll see a dropped Needler. Don't pick it up yet. As you reach the top of the path, Ranged Forms and Infection Forms attack. If they're any bodies down below, they'll reanimate them and now you've got a fight. Use your sword and stay in cover behind the wall. After you've killed the Combat Forms, run out and get the Needler. Now deal with the remaining Ranged Forms. Bye, bye. Grab your dropped flamethrower and switch back to the Brute Shot.

Move around the room on the second level. You will eventually reach the top of the room. Watch out for a Combat Form lurking here. Jump to the next portal. Go through. Then you will come to another portal. Go through and reach the Reactor Room.

7. The Reactor Room- This room is circular but it has wide ledges on two sides. In the center are the controls to the Reactor Room. However, it's connected by thin bridges from the ledges. Fall off and you die.

Immediately when you enter you hear the explosion of one of the reactor pylons. And a combat form immediately attacks you. Move and use the flamethrower in short spurts burning anything in your path. If you lose shields, drop it and head for cover in the nooks in the wall. After you've killed everything on one side, cross the bridge. Kill anything by the controls. Then move to the other side.

Okay, now you're on the side where Cortana is located. Kill all the enemies here. Enter the hallway which will lead you to Cortana. Now this is important. if you still have fuel in the flamethrower and want to use it on the way back. Drop it here in the first part of the hallway. Why? If you take it where Cortana is, you'll lose it. Go to the end of the hallway, rescue Cortana by breaking the containment field; melee. Now get out.

As you approach the first hallway, you'll see the flamethrower is there. Pick it up. Now same approach as the getting here. Wipe out everyone on your ledge. If you need to use the Brute Shot to wipe out Ranged Forms on the control platform, then do it. There's plenty of Brute Shot ammo. Cortana tells you have to buy some time by starting a chain reaction in the reactor.

Cross the bridge and get to the control center. You're probably under attack from Ranged Forms on the other side. Activate the deployable shield. Okay, now pop out and take out some of the Ranged Forms. Move to the other ledge and kill the rest. Finally, peace and quiet. Go back to the controls. Activate the controls which exposes the pylons. Use a grenade or Brute Shot and blow out the remaining pylons. A chain reaction has started that will destroy High Charity.

Video no. 3. This player is a a riot. "Come here and die. Die you piece of sh#t. Because they are pieces of sh#t. You die. You die too. Thank you." 1:20

An explosion blows open a door on the ledge. That's the exit. Move towards it but first deal with the Combat Form who emerges and attacks you. Be careful, he has a Mauler. Okay, where the door was, is a hole to jump down. But wait. Look down. Combat Forms are down below coming to attack you. Since you are in the elevated position, rain down fire on them with any weapon. Go back to the reactor room and replenish your ammo. Go back to Cortana's ledge and get the Cloaking Device. Remember it feels like you've got limited time to escape but you've got a lot of time to get out.

Now, get to the hole and jump.

8. Alley of Death , Part Two. You're back at the Alley of Death. Now stick to your right and use the elevation to avoid more enemies particularly two Carrier Forms. Make your way back to the Round Room of Doom.

9. Round Room of Doom, Part Two- You find yourself back at the Round Room of Doom. And this is where it gets hairy. Combat Forms burst from a door where you first entered this room. Throw an Incendiary at them. Then pound them with the Brute Shot. If they get too close, switch to the Energy Sword. And watch out for the Combat Form with his own Energy Sword.

When they're down, go through the door they came from. Keep your sword out. A Tank busts through from the right wall. Kill him. Go through the opening he made. You will eventually come to a hole to drop through. Wait. If there are enemies waiting to kill you, rain fire on them.

10. Run Like Hell- Jump through the hole. Now run and keep your sword out. Once you've get to the next portal, you may want to use the Cloaking Device. You will eventually reach Pelican Hill where Cortana tells you about a friendly signal. It's the Arbiter and he has a flamethrower. Get to the Pelican, you know where you found the first flamethrower. Enter the back and end the mission. WHEW.

Video no. 4. Again, this guy is too much. "And you die. You over there, you die too." 3:00. THANK YOU. POKEMONFREAK 16