Sunday, December 30, 2012

Josh Brown, new Bengals hero

Today Cincinnati Bengals kicker Josh Brown kicked three field goals to help the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens, 23-17. Last week, he kicked to the game winning field goal to defeat the hated Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now he was not the kicker for the Bengals initially. Injuries to kicker Mike Nugent, forced the Bengals to sign a kicker in December. And an out of work Josh Brown who was cut by the New York Jets has answered the call. That's seizing the day. By the way, Josh Brown in 2010, was in the movie Jackass 3. Here's his scene.

Worst movie of the year, 2012

I usually don't pick a worst movie of the year. But when there's a movie that's so bad, I just have to kick it again as an example of cinematic stupidity. This year the movie is Battleship.

From the hero's breaking and entering of a convenience store to the lizard Amish aliens to Rihanna's magic cap, this was one awful movie. So bad that I had to pick the dumb moments of the movie. Watch this movie for the unintentional comedy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Django Unchained Review

You've got to expect certain things from a Quentin Tarantino movie. Looking for subtlety in one of his films is like asking a member of the Tea Party to say something good about President Barack Obama. It ain't going to happen. So what can one expect from writer-director Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained? If you saw Inglorious Basterds (2009), don't expect a history lesson. Tarantino's take on slavery is mishmash of spaghetti western (See the original Django (1966), Franco Nero has a humorous cameo.) and sixties blaxploitation flick. Expect Tarantino's wonderful dialogue and oh, yeah there's a "little" of that Tarantino violence.

In Django Unchained, King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a bounty hunter frees slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), to help him locate a group of fugitives. In exchange, Schultz will give Django his freedom and help him find his slave wife, Broomhilda. (Kerry Washington) Later the two partner up and hunt fugitives together. After a winter of bounty hunts, they find Broomhilda but she is owned by a cruel master, Calvin Candie. (Leonardo DiCaprio) Their problem is how to get Candie to sell Broomhilda to Schultz and allowing him to give her to Django.

There's a certain magic to the way Tarantino writes dialogue in Django Unchained. You can't describe it, otherwise every screenwriter would have it. It's simply captures your attention. Perhaps it's the way every line has a purpose, whether it is to advance the plot or define a character. And he does this in every one of his films. His direction of the movie is also magnetic. Instead of using hand-held cameras or overusing camera gymnastics, Tarantino merely relies on the drama in the scenes to capture your attention. You can't help but be invested in this movie.

Django Unchained is also helped wonderfully by the performances of the cast. Jamie Foxx is smoldering cool as the former slave, Django seeking to free his wife and enact vengeance on whites. Kerry Washington doesn't have a lot to do but she does carry the part of damsel in distress well. It's her physical and inner beauty that makes us feel we need to save her. Leonardo DiCaprio gives his despicable character a sort of practicality. To him, slavery is just a way of life. Samuel L. Jackson plays Stephen, an old slave to Candie. He's unrecognizable and very much different than any role he has ever played. And yes, he drop the "F" bomb at the appropriate time. What did I say about this film not being historically accurate? It's good to see Christoph Waltz break free of the bad guys he's played to be a noble, slightly unhinged and at times comic bounty hunter.

But for all the good things that Tarantino does, his love for over the top action nearly derails Django Unchained. Don't get me wrong people act illogically. It's just there's a scene towards the end of the film where one of the main characters goes berserk and starts a chain of the wildest gunfights in a western. I just thought why would this character do something that makes no sense. Yes, Tarantino prepares you for the climatic gunfight with violence of slavery and other shootings. But Tarantino wallows in the ugliness of torture and violence. I stopped caring about the characters at the end of the movie but merely was flabbergasted by the copious amount of blood spilled. As for the use of the "n" word for African Americans, all I can say that's what they used back in the nineteenth century. I saw the movie with blacks in the audience and they enjoyed it, so obviously they weren't put off by it. But this black man seeking justice by killing white people isn't going to help in solving our racial problems. I don't think Martin Luther King would give Django Unchained a positive review.

Django Unchained is a well made spaghetti western and blaxploitation movie. It certainly tries to say things about race and man's inhumanity to man. But it's Tarantino's love for violence that keeps the film from being anything more than B movie fare. The grade is, of course, a B.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

I was first introduced to the song "The Christmas Waltz" by the Carpenters version. It's a lovely waltz that's been covered by many jazz musicians. Here's the Carpenters with "The Christmas Waltz." We miss you Karen. I'm sure she share this sentiment. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Cincinnati Bengals are in the playoffs!

Wow, the world did not end. Yep, I expected the Cincinnati Bengals to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers to lose and miss the playoffs. Come on, it's the Cincinnati Bengals. After the Steelers beat up the Bengals in October, I said the season was over. Time for me to eat crow. Ummm, it tastes like chicken. The Cincinnati Bengals pulled out a victory in the final minute against the Steelers to beat them 13-10.

Here's the game in a nutshell. The Bengals could not run the ball. The Steelers vaunted defense was killing us. Thankfully, the Bengals defense played as well as the Steelers. It came down to the fourth quarter and the last minutes. The score was tied at ten. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis called for a fifty six yard field goal. Now if you miss it, you give the ball back to Steelers quarterback Benji Roethlisberger to drive down the field. Bengals miss. Then the Steelers try to kick fifty two yard field goal. They miss. Bad decisions abound.

The last minute of the game. The Steelers have the ball. They're driving. Then Benji overthrows a receiver. INTERCEPTED. Bengals safety Reggie Nelson picks the ball off. Still the Bengals are a long way from a field goal attempt. Seconds left. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hits his great wide receiver A.J. Green for twenty one yards. Wait a minute. The Bengals make a clutch play? Bengals substitute kicker Josh Brown kicks a 43 yard field goal. (Pictured celebrating the win.) Bengals take the lead and win. Bengals win. Bengals win. Oh my God, the Bengals win!

It's been thirty years since the Bengals went to the playoffs in back to back years. They will be the final Wild Card for the AFC. Now the next goal. Win the next game. And then dare we dream? The Cincinnati Bengals- Super Bowl Champs. Here's the story with video.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The world did not end

Hey, it's December 21, 2012 and the world did not end. No rouge planet smashing into the earth, gigantic solar flare or alien invasion. Still here. I'm still alive. Time to party like it's 1999.

Prince - 1999 by djarnaldo

Conservatives and liberals must compromise on guns

First, let me say again conservatives can't and don't compromise. And here's more proof. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre spoke at a Washington news conference today. He could have agreed that there should be an assault weapons ban in light of the Sandy Hook shootings. No such luck and no surprise. He takes the radical right position. No compromise. He then went crazy and blamed video games for the murder of the innocent children.

LaPierre also made a suggestion that I used to find hilarious. He wants armed police in the schools. But I've thought about this. And I agree that armed guards, police or teachers who are trained could help. And liberals, you can show you can compromise. There's no down side to having a "good guy with a gun" as LaPierre puts it, defending our children from the evil or deranged. And conservatives must compromise here. Banning assault weapons and extended magazines can save further lives. We can all agree we need to improve our mental health system. If that means more tax dollars to make sure the mentally ill are able to get treatment then so be it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I feel fine at the end of the world

The Mayan Calender says the world is supposed to end tomorrow. So how about some end of the world music? Here's R.E.M. with "It's the End of the Word as We Know It." And what is up with lead singer Michael Stipes' eyebrows? Well, just remember it's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Republicans won't compromise and will take country over the fiscal cliff

I constantly hear from conservatives that President Barack Obama and the Democrats won't compromise. Today, the Democrats have indicated they will compromise. They are willing to agree to cuts to social security.

And what about the Republicans? The Democrats want those making over $250,000.00 to pay taxes pursuant to the pre-Bush tax cut rates. Coupled with the above spending cuts, we are on the way to reducing the deficit. So are the Republicans willing to compromise? The simple answer is no.

And if the Republicans won't compromise, deep spending cuts and increases in taxes will take place at the end of the year. The possible result? Recession. The Republicans ignore the will of the people. It was Obama that won and the Democrats retained control of the Senate. When it's 2014, the people of the country must remember to throw out the Republicans.

Republicans will take America over the fiscal cliff.

Dumb idea: Senate wants to look at video game violence after Sandy Hook shootings

The Huffington Post is reporting that Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wants to investigate the impact on children from playing violent video games. This comes after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and a report that the killer, Adam Lanza may have played "Call of Duty" and "Starcraft."

But do video games cause young people to commit violent crimes? The Post report says this:

"The myth that video games cause violent behavior is undermined by scientific research and common sense," said Michael Gallagher, president of ESA, (Electronic Software Association) in 2010. "According to FBI statistics, youth violence has declined in recent years as computer and video game popularity soared. We do not claim that the increased popularity of games caused the decline, but the evidence makes a mockery of the suggestion that video games cause violent behavior."

Max Fisher at The Washington Post analyzed the 10 largest video game markets in the world and found no statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related killings.

Look, there is no evidence that video games cause people to commit crimes. And such actions by Congress, this time by Democrats, will have a chilling effect on the content of video games. And let's face it , video games are protected by the First Amendment. Video games did not cause the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. The Senate has better things to do like passing an assault weapons ban.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Should we arm teachers?

At Sunday's memorial service for the Newtown, Connecticut gunshot victims, President Barack Obama called for legal action. He mentioned that four times during his presidency, he's had to deal with mass murder. (Tucson, Fort Hood, Aurora and now Newtown) But what action? We know that Obama has always supported the assault weapons ban now defunct. Will that stop these mass killings with guns?

Gun supporters say no. In fact, they are saying arm the teachers. Former Republican presidential candidate and governor of Texas, and mental giant, Rick Perry, also supports the idea of letting teachers carry firearms. Finally, a gun rights supporter has come out from beneath the rock to speak. Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America wrote in the USA Today and on Hardball with Chris Matthews (video below) lays the blame on Connecticut legislators for refusing to allow teachers to carry guns.

First, let me address the whole guns are a check on oppressive government idea. At its core, these Second Amendment remedies as Sharon Angle would put it, are about revolution. If government should become so oppressive then there might be a need to revolt. While I'm sympathetic to the idea, I'm not pursuaded by the right-wing on it, since they only support freedom when it comes to guns and taxes. Conservatives would have a better argument if they supported all the Bill of Rights, and I'm talking about the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. How many conservative Republicans are members of the ACLU? Regardless the better way to ensure our freedoms is for conservatives to support personal liberties the way the ACLU does. That might mean they support groups like the ACLU and appointment of libertarian judges. But it's fat chance since conservatives definiition of freedom extends mostly to guns and taxes. We don't need assault rifles to preserve our liberty. One more thing, you right-wingers, Obamacare is not something worth armed rebellion.

But back to the question. Should we arm teachers? Initially, I laughed at the idea. The solution of mass murder is more guns? But I come off hypocritical when I say the solution should be an assault weapons and high magazine ban. Yes, that would save some lives. But the root cause of stopping the killer in the first place would not be solved. But looking at it objectively, if a teacher was armed, when a deranged killer came into the school, there would be a greater chance to save even more lives. Shoot the killer, stop him from killing the children.

But shouldn't there be a compromise here? After all that's what voters want from our politicians. So here is my solution to try to stop more mass killings. Allow teachers to carry handguns. They must be trained and it is not, I repeat not mandatory. Allow more areas to carry concealed weapons. Sorry, liberals but this is a compromise. Here is what the liberals get. Ban assault rifles and extended magazines. Hunters don't need these weapons. Improve the mental health system. IF we have to socialize then so be it. No mentally ill person no matter how sick should be without medication or treatment.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Second Star Trek Into Darkness trailer indicates Khan is villain

The second trailer of Star Trek Into Darkness or what's being called a teaser has just come out. Check it out below. And check out's excellent breakdown. Let me just say with the sneak peak and Admiral Pike's (Bruce Greenwood) voice over that the shallowness of Star Trek 2009 is being addressed. Pike seems to be addressing the punk nature of Kirk in the first film. Now we might see a more reflective Kirk. See the original series episode "Arena." And the sneak peak with the IMAX version of The Hobbit: An Expected Journey brought up the Prime Directive. This is beginning to look like Star Trek.

But as you can tell from the title of this post, this trailer presents more evidence of Khan. Take a look at fifty five seconds into the trailer. See the tube like coffins. And there's a window on the tubes. There also seems to be ice on the glass of the windows. And there's people in the tubes. Doubtful that these are coffins. Coffins in the twentieth century don't have windows. Chances are these are cryogenic tubes housing Khan's superhuman allies. See the original series episode Space Seed where the genetically enhanced superhumans were frozen aboard the Botany Bay. And check out the narration where Khan er, John Harrison (Benedicat Cumberbatch) talks about doing things for the family. Nope, we ain't talking about the Mafia. He's talking about his superhuman comrades.

My fellow Trekkers, the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness is Khan. (In case you missed it, in this article, I speculate why John Harrison is Khan.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas comes early for the Bengals

Last Thursday, the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Philadelphia Eagles 34-13. The score was closer than it looks. The Bengals were losing to the Eagles 13-10 in the third quarter. The Bengals offensive line played like crap. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was running for his life. Then the Eagles decided to give the Bengals their Christmas presents early. The Eagles in the third quarter and fourth quarter, turned the ball over four times. The Bengals capitalized. Game over. Bengals win. Here's the story.

Today, the Bengals got more early Christmas presents. AFC North division foes Baltimore Ravens and the hated Pittsburgh Steelers both lost. The Bengals now trail the division leading Ravens by only one game. What? The Bengals now lead the Steelers by one game for the final Wild Card spot. The next game for the Bengals? It's at Pittsburgh. And yeah, I'm worried. I'm a Bengals fan. We expect the sky to fall on us. Let's just hope my pessimism is unfounded.

Pictured above. Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton scores on an eleven yard run for a touchdown.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- 48 fps 3D or HFR 3D review; regular IMAX review

I've seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in regular IMAX and 48 fps 3D or HFR 3D. (High Frame Rate) This is review of both versions and a recommendation as to version you should see. Of course, your choice may be academic if you decide the movie is no good and don't want to see it. As for that question, this review will also cover the film whether you see it in 2D, 3D, 48 fps 3D, or IMAX.

It's been nine years since we've visited Middle Earth when director Peter Jackson made the classic Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. (2003) Jackson returns us to Middle Earth with the prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie's based on J.R.R. Tolkien's children's book, The Hobbit. Believe it or not, there's going to be three films based on the book. Writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson take the appendices from the later Lord of the Rings novels to expand the storyline. That may sound like a good idea but at times, it gives the simple story a bloated feeling.

The plot to The Hobbit is rather simple. Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) enlists hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) to accompany thirteen dwarves on a quest to reclaim their kingdom The dwarves are led by Thorin Oakenshield. (Richard Armitage) Hobbits are peace and food loving beings but are known to be able to sneak into places. Hence, Baggins will be the group's burglar. But it won't be that easy since the dwarves's kingdom is being occupied by a dragon. Along the way, the party will encounter trolls, elves, orcs, goblins and Bilbo will meet some guy named Gollum. (Andy Serkis)

Jackson's The Hobbit is no mere G rated children's book. There are epic and exciting battles, some of them bloody. Some of them are told in flashback. Those are the most successful. The CGI used since the Rings movies has advanced. The action is clear and one gets a feeling for the battle. It's the chase and battle scenes that are a little too busy. For example, the dwarves attempt to escape the cave of the goblins. Jackson's camera is too busy here and it's hard to follow the action.

Ten years after the Rings films and you can see the evolution in CGI. Orcs, and trolls have texture. And actors facial expressions are captured for CGI characters that have speaking parts. Gollum, who was in the Rings movies, looks fantastic here. There's greater definition to his skin and you can see the muscles in his face. Serkis' more subtle gestures are captured. You feel like he's a real person. While CGI is used for some locations, Jackson also mixes in the real landscape of New Zealand. It makes for one gorgeous looking film.

Thankfully, Jackson understands that a movie is more than its special effects. He gets great performances from the cast. Ian McKellen looks older but he still relays Gandalf's gentle wisdom. Richard Armitage as Thorin is haunted by the defeats of his race and his longing for a home. Two actors from the Rings films return as elves. Hugo Weaving is noble as Elrond, leader of Rivendell. Cate Blanchett reprises her role as the ethereal and angelic Galadriel. She's so beautiful and luminous that she's her own special effect. And Martin Freeman is wonderful as Bilbo. He displays fear, comedy, kindness and heroism with aplomb and skill.

Okay, now for the review of regular IMAX and HFR 3D or 48 fps 3D. Let me start with regular IMAX. When you see an IMAX film, you'll notice the screen is larger than the usual movie screen. It's usually taller. The projection also gives the picture better resolution. That being said, I found the IMAX 3d of The Hobbit to be unimpressive. There was not enough pop, i.e. objects on the screen didn't seem to push out. Many times, I wondered whether the movie was in 3D. That being said, no matter what version you see, you should be grateful that Jackson shot the movie in 3D. The darkness issue with 3D is not here. You can see things in the dark caves of the goblins. Additionally, shooting in 3D allows the camera to catch the nooks and crannies and the light and shadow of a scene. That's much better than crappy 3D conversions.

I then went back and saw the film in HFR 3D or 48 fps 3D. The common movie is shot in 24 fps. That's 24 frames per second. When you shoot a movie at 48 fps, you're doubling that and adding more visual information. The result is a crystal clear image. Movies shot on normal film speed are more like paintings whereas HFR 3D is akin to a photograph. Don't get me wrong, a skilled director can take out the harshness of 48 fps with careful lighting. Some have complained that the sets look like well, movie sets. This is a comment that I find ridiculous since there's nothing wrong with seeing the grain in the wood of Bilbo's hobbit hold. The higher frame rate makes you feel you are there and in the world of Middle Earth.

So, what about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in HFR 3D? I wasn't expecting much of a change but was surprised by what I saw. Peter Jackson's shots now made sense. There was pop and depth. As with any great 3D cinema, I thought that some of the characters in the movie were in the theater with me. A couple times, I gasped with surprise and wonderment. I smiled many times at the visuals and the feeling I could touch Tolkien's world. My recommendation is to see this movie in 48 FPS 3D or HFR 3D. I know that many theaters don't have the projectors to display the movie at that speed. But the experience is worth the search.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an epic fantasy movie. However, I found the literate dialogue between characters more enthralling than some of the battle scenes. It's the ideas of love, nobility, and kindness expressed by the characters that give this movie its big heart. The grade is A.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review of the first nine minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX

I just saw the first nine minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness that was attached to the IMAX version of The Hobbit. Here's the review. There are spoilers so if you don't want to know about the film until it comes out in May, stop reading.

Okay the first scenes of Star Trek Into Darkness start out in London. A couple is visiting their sick daughter at a hospital. It's clear that she's terminally ill. A distraught father is comforted by the movie's villain, John Harrison, aka Khan I believe, (Benedict Cumberbatch) he says he can save her. We then flash to an M class planet Nibiru. Kirk (Chris Pine) and McCoy (Karl Urban) are being chased by a primitive alien humanoids. It's a strange world as the vegetation is red. Meanwhile, a shuttle is flying into a nearby volcano with Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Spock (Zachery Quinto) aboard. We find out that Kirk is trying to lead away or distract the aliens while Spock will be lowered down into said volcano to stop it from erupting and killing the aliens. The Enterprise is underwater because they can't reveal themselves due to the Prime Directive which prohibits Starfleet from making contact with alien species without warp drive. Everybody makes it back to the Enterprise except for Spock who's going to save the aliens. Kirk is now stuck with a terrible decision. Save Spock by exposing the Enterprise and violate the Prime Directive or let him die thus obeying the law.

Director J.J. Abrams visual style is mesmerizing. I found the camera angles and color palette to be arresting. However, like Star Trek (2009), his pacing would appeal to those with ADHD. Fast cutting. Warp speed pacing. Dialogue flies by like an Aroldis Chapman's fastball. Zone out and you might miss something. I would like to hear a non-Trekker see if he could explain the Prime Directive. As far as the 3D, Star Trek Into Darkness is a conversion from 2D. Most conversions are too dark. This clip does not suffer that much. However, it lacked pop that a film shot in 3D would have.

I like this ship! You know, it's exciting!

Does this criticism mean that I disliked this clip? No. I have similar feelings as I did for the 2009 movie. It's made for an action craving audience; most likely teenagers. That being said, it was exciting and made me want to see it again. I also want to see how they get Spock out of that situation. I'm guessing that they're not going to kill off Spock in the first few minutes.

I also was delighted that writers, Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof channeled an important Star Trek concept. The Prime Directive. Hiding the Enterprise so the primitive aliens don't see the ship reminds one of the Next Generation's episode Who Watches Watchers and the movie Star Trek: Insurrection. I've complained that Abrams Trek movie lacked ideas so it's encouraging that in the first nine minutes embraces two Trek ideas. The Prime Directive. Explore strange new worlds.

The nine minute clip was thrilling. It was thought provoking. It's a good start to Star Trek Into Darkness. Let's just hope the rest of the film can be declared Star Trek. The grade is B+.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness; John Harrison is Khan

Make a comment on a Star Trek website that you think the new villain for Star Trek Into Darkness (STID) is Khan. Then be prepared to be attacked by other Trekkers. It's like standing among Klingons and yelling coward. Watch out. I think some of it is that they believe you support the idea that the new villain should be Khan. For the record I do not. Been there; done that. And if you read this blog, you know I believe that the new bad guy is Khan. I still believe it's Khan even though Benedict Cumberbatch who plays the villain is called John Harrison. So, I'm going to stick my neck out and explain my reasons.

Paramount has released a picture from the movie. It shows actor. Benedict Cumberbatch, in the brig of a ship. He's got a Starfleet undershirt on. In front of him are Spock and Kirk. There's a caption that indicates Cumberbatch's character is named John Harrison. Now the angry anti-Khan faction will now say, "Aha, it's not Khan." Bob Orci did say Cumberbatch's character would be canon. And there is character on the original series called Harrison. (By the way Harrison was a member of the crew in the Khan episode, Space Seed.)

Who is John Harrison?

First, let me say that in July I surmised correctly that Alice Eve would be playing Carol Marcus. Second, the evidence (search for a Hispanic actor, 2009 DVD commentary, Eve is Marcus, Cumberbatch has superhuman strength, etc.) point to the villain being Khan. Third, has not retracted its story that Cumberbatch is Khan.

But why is Cumberbatch named Harrison and not Khan? Simple it's an alias. It's a surprise plot device that we see many times in movies. One character is not who they claim to be.

Here's an example. Let's take a look at the actress Naomie Harris and two of her movies. In Pirates of the Caribbean: At the World's End (2007) she plays vodoo witch Tia. But in reality she's sea goddess Calypso. This is revealed later in the movie. (Bond Spoiler ahead.) In the new Bond film, Skyfall, she's MI6 agent Eve. But at the end of the movie we find out that she's the new Moneypenny. In fact, actress Harris denied she was playing Moneypenny. So when the actors of Star Trek Into Darkness deny that Khan is in the movie, take that with a grain of salt espically when there's an alias.

How does Harrison become Khan?

Maybe the question should be, "How does Khan become Harrison?" Except for the fact that Cumberbatch is playing Khan, there's scant evidence to show how Khan became Harrison. Unfortunately, this is going to require some speculation. But I'm willing to boldly go where no Trekker has gone before.

So, here we go. Peter Weller is known to play a future CEO. Now in the show Enterprise, he played John Paxton, an anti-alien human. Paxton was captured after a plan he had to evict aliens from earth. But Weller is not playing a character that is canon. So it's doubtful he's Paxton. Could he be a grandson of Paxton? Maybe, certainly both men would have the motivation for revenge. But he's got his own ship in the movie. Let's just say he is on the search for the Botany Bay, Khan's cryogenic ship. He finds the Botany Bay. He wants to bring back Khan but knows if anyone recognizes him; he'll be arrested. But Weller's CEO has a plan.

So, Weller kidnaps a member of Starfleet, John Harrison. They kill him and surgically alter Khan to look like him. See DNA therapy in Did Another Day, (2002) and the Next Generation episode Face of the Enemy. (season 6, 1993) As a member of Starfleet, Khan-Harrison "detonates" the fleet. The word "detonate" is from the first synopsis. With the earth weakened, it becomes easier to take over. After all, Khan was a ruler of part of the planet in his time.

Kirk captures Khan-Harrison as a suspect for the act of terror against Starfleet. I'm guessing that the scene above depicts that. I'm also guessing that at that moment, Kirk and Spock do not know that Harrison is Khan. Somehow, Khan escapes. Kirk aboard the Enterprise pursues him.

The Wrath of Bernie.

I make no claims of accuracy in regards to predicting how Harrison becomes Khan. I just still believe that Khan is in the movie. Seriously, why would the writers take an obscure crewman to be the villain versus one of the greatest bad guys in science fiction? The name John Harrison sounds like an accountant.

And as I said above, I rather not see Khan again. That being said, I'll keep an open mind. If they make a great film, I'll praise it. But they better make Star Trek not Star Wars. Or else, they might have to endure the Wrath of Bernie.

Announcement trailer-Japanese version. English with Japanese subtitiles

J.J. Abrams' fear of Trekkies

Director J.J. Abrams has done it again. In an interview with MTV, (video below) Abrams says his upcoming movie, Star Trek Into Darkness was "not made for Star Trek fans. It was made for movie fans." This echoes his comment in 2008 about his first Star Trek movie, where he said, "We weren't making a movie for fans of Star Trek. We were making a movie for fans of movies. Entertainment Weekly, Oct. 24, 2008 pg. 30. As a Trekker, I was offended when he made that comment four years ago and somewhat annoyed about the recent comment.

Abrams' comments reflect a fear of Star Trek fans. Now to be fair, he did tell MTV that there will be stuff in the new movie that Trek fans will like. But why must Abrams continue to suggest that his movies can be divorced from Star Trek? It's because he seeks a broader audience outside of Star Trek fandom. It's a fear that only Trek fans will come to this movie. However, it was the Trek fans who saved Star Trek and made it into the franchise it is today. His comment reflects a certain nod that Trekkers are geeks. The problem becomes is this new movie Star Trek? If Abrams makes a movie for the lowest common denominator, the movie ceases to be Star Trek. We'll see in May of 2013 whether Star Trek Into Darkness is Star Trek.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stephen Colbert for Senate, Part 2

Previously, I've talked about satirist Stephen Colbert leading to replace South Carolina Senator Jim De Mint. Now everybody is talking about it. And you don't think this didn't get by Stephen Colbert for a second straight show? No way. Colbert does another funny piece with something important to say.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stephen Colbert for Senate

Holy cow. Satirist Stephen Colbert is in the lead for the soon to be empty Senate seat in South Carolina. That's according to a poll by the Public Policy Polling. Here's the report by Huffington Post. I should note the poll reflects that Colbert does not get Republican support. Finally, some conservatives get the joke. Colbert plays a fake conservative to make fun of their idiocy much like the character of Archie Bunker. Last week, Colbert did comment on the Senate seat.

Michaela Watkins does Arianna Huffington

I need to laugh after that Bengals loss. So how about a blast from the past? Here's the talented Michaela Watkins doing Arianna Huffington from an old Saturday Night Live. She's commenting on President George W. Bush's desire (2008) to help newly elected President Barack Obama in transition. Hilarious stuff.

Bungle in the jungle

The Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Dallas Cowboys today, 20-19. It was a game that the Bengals led into the fourth quarter, 19-10. The game came down to dropped passes and interceptions. Bengals receiver A.J. Green dropped a sure touchdown pass. The Bengals defense dropped a couple of interceptions. The defense also let the Cowboys drive for ten points in the fourth quarter.

The painful part of this loss? The Pittsburgh Steelers lost. The Baltimore Ravens lost. So the Bengals could have taken the lead for the final Wild Card spot. They could have moved within one game of first place in the AFC North which is held by the Ravens. Ouch.

I'm not going to be fooled like I was in 2006. That year the Bengals had to win one freaking game at the end of the season to get in the playoffs. Remember the last game with Steelers that season? The month of December, the Bengals could have gotten in the playoffs but blew chance after chance. Then came the last game. If the Bengals could have beaten the Steelers, they would have gone to the playoffs. But they lost. If you watched yesterday's game, you've seen this movie before.

Next up. The Philadelphia Eagles.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Michaela Watkins does Ann Coulter

Now that we've heard from conservative author Ann Coulter and her racist remarks about Hispanics, I need to laugh. So from a past SNL, here's the talented Michaela Watkins doing Ann Coulter on Weekend Update. As Coulter, she discusses President George W. Bush's legacy. Enjoy this funny piece.

Ann Coulter shows why some conservatives are racist

Not all conservatives are racist. But let's face it. There are leaders in the conservative movement that are racist. In a recent online article, conservative icon Ann Coulter has shown she is a racist. Here's the article titled "America nears el tipping pointo." Notwithstanding her Archie Bunker Spanish, Coulter in the article clearly demonstrates she is a racist. And since she's got a large conservative following, one can project that a large number of them are also racist.

In the article, she bemoans the fact that the young electorate has a larger number of non-white voters. She complains that a large number of new immigrants come from Third World countries. She states "A majority of them are in need of government assistance." Like many conservatives, she doesn't cite any facts for that assertion. She merely reacts.

There are more racist comments. The new Hispanics are the "poorest of the world's poor." She points out that the new Hispanic immigrants are " having illegitimate children and going on welfare." Any facts, Ann? No. The Huffington Post debunked much of her racist diatribe.

You couple this with Fox News' Bill O' Reilly's complaints of the end of traditional America, and you have a racist conservative movement. When I was younger, the mainstream conservative Republicans were not this racist. The fear of the coloring of America is a racist one. It's what I used to hear from guys in the Klu Klux Klan about America beginning to look like Brazil. It's my hope that the electorate reject the Republican Party until they become more libertarian in regards to individual rights not just guns and taxes and less bigoted.

Friday, December 7, 2012

First Star Trek trailer indicates the villain is Khan

The first trailer for the next Star Trek movie has come out. Star Trek Into Darkness opens on May 17, 2013. But we get clues as to which villain Benedict Cumberbatch will play. I believe it's Khan.

First check out's excellent breakdown for the trailer. Now, I've posted my thoughts on that post as Basement Blogger. On this site, I will do the same but also embed the Japanese version of the trailer below because it has a couple of extra scenes.

This trailer indicates the bad guy is Khan. Let's take a look at the voice over narration by Cumberbatch.

"You think your world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace for I have returned to have my vengeance."

First, we know that Cumberbatch's character is canon. In the trailer, we see that he's a human. He exhibits super-strength in dispatching Klingons. He also is seen wielding a laser weapon. Now if he's Gary Mitchell from the original series, Where No Man Has Gone Before, he would use telekinesis. Of course, the comment about vengeance makes sense for Khan since he was exiled or fled from earth after ruling a large section of the planet as a tyrant. See the original series episode, Space Seed.

Alice Eve. She plays a character that is also canon. If Cumberbatch is Khan, then she is Carol Marcus, the mother of Kirk's son. First, her hairstyle is similar to Marcus' from the movie "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." In the trailer, check out the romantic looks between her and Chris Pine's Kirk. Eve prepared for the role by watching all the original series episodes. She seems to have focused on Kirk. Why would she do that? My guess is to create chemistry between her character and Kirk.

Couple this trailer with the evidence. There was a search for a Hispanic actor to play the villain ala Ricardo Montalban from The Wrath of Khan; and the commentary on the 2009 movie about a scene with the Botany Bay, Of course there is the TrekMovie story which confirmed Cumberbatch is Khan.

It's Khan, my fellow Trekkers.

Update: One thing I forgot to mention. There's a scene in the Japanese trailer where it looks like Spock is trying to touch another hand through glass. It's a clear reference to the scene in The Wrath of Khan where a dying Spock "touches" Kirk through the glass. Both are Spock's "Live long and prosper" hand signal. More evidence that this new Star Trek will feature Khan for better or worse.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stephen Colbert on low testosterone medicine

On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert did a piece on low testosterone medicine. The crux of the piece. If you take low testosterone medicine, you won't be able to touch anybody. Hilarious stuff.

Reflections on The Dark Knight Rises

With the DVD release of The Dark Knight Rises, it's time to think about the ideas in director-writer Christopher Nolan's film. And while Nolan says his Batman movies are not overtly political, there are plot points in the films that reflect what's happening in our world. (Rolling Stone interview with Christopher Nolan.}

1. Modern Batman films are the children of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. In 1986, DC Comics released Frank Miller's graphic novel, "The Dark Knight Returns." It was a gritty, and subversive look at the the Batman story. Gotham, American society and even President Ronald Reagan did not get positive treatment. What Miller's work did do was to take the Batman story to more serious heights. Now Batman stories could feature social commentary.

So, starting with director Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), the film version of Batman could comment on what's happening with the world today. Particularly in Batman Returns, Batman is a champion for the common as Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne fights against his economic class by opposing another super rich man's plan to milk the public of its money. And isn't that what Batman creator Bob Kane had in mind when he envisioned his character as a Zorro type.

Christopher Nolan's Batman films are more realistic than the campy TV series and Burton's surreal approach. There are modern themes in the first two movies. In Batman Begins (2005), there is the theme of revenge versus justice. And in The Dark Knight (2008), he explores terrorism and the means to stop it. A theme you will see in The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises resembles The Dark Knight Returns in terms of plot. In the graphic novel, a middle age Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to become Batman again. In the movie, an older and crippled Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to also become Batman again.

There's a fun nod to the graphic novel, in The Dark Knight Returns. While chasing robbers, two cops, one an old officer and the other a rookie, are passed by Batman on his motorcycle. The old cop sees Batman, and says, "You are in for a show tonight, son." It's a scene and line paraphrasing a similar one in The Dark Knight Returns.

2. Crime occurs at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum of society. In The Dark Knight Rises, there's a rich and greedy, construction company owner named Dagget. His goal in life is to take over Wayne Enterprises. And he'll do it anyway he can. Legal or illegal.

3. Greedy capitalists can wreck our economies. The villain Bane attacks the Gotham stock exchange. He confronts a greedy stock broker. The broker says to Bane, "This is stock exchange. There's no money you can steal." Bane says, "Really? Then why are you people here." Yes, this is an obvious comment on the 2008 stock market meltdown, where Wall Street almost destroyed America.

4. Economic injustice can lead to revolution. Selina Kyle aka Catwoman warns Bruce Wayne about the continued abuses of the rich on the poor. She talks about the storm coming. "You're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us." Of course, one needs to look at the French and communist Russian revolutions.

5. Radical poor people can lead to mob justice. Bane exploits the economic fissures of society to cause the poor to attack the rich. Even Catwoman is drawn back by the poor throwing the rich out onto the streets.

6. The Dent Act is the Patriot Act. In the movie, the Dent Act is a law which is used to put crooks in jail. Yet, it's based on a lie. The lie being Batman killed district attorney Harvey Dent. That ruse was the justification of the law. This is similar to the use of Bruce Wayne's high tech eavesdropping machine to find the Joker. The question always becomes, "Does the ends justify the means?"

While the Patriot Act is useful to catching terrorists, it also can infringe on individual rights. These laws have short term benefits but can have long term side effects. Bane exposes the lie to Gotham. This leads to more revolution but in a bad way. Legitimate government is replaced by the tyranny of the mob.

7. Hope is a major driving force for our existence. A couple things. Nolan's Batman is a dark vision. But it's dark because of the evil that people can have and their acts that inflict pain on each other. And yes, fear is a big theme in Batman. It's Bruce Wayne's fear of bats that he uses to create his crime fighting alter ego. He wants to instill the fear he feels in the criminals that he wants to bring to justice.

But The Dark Knight Rises also raises the idea that hope is a driving force for humanity. Fear of dying in a hellhole might drive Bruce Wayne to make the leap to freedom but it's hope that keeps him alive. That's clear when Nolan takes the image of the cave like prison and mixes it with the image of the well that a child Bruce Wayne falls down. There's an image from the first movie of Wayne's father coming to rescue him. We hear his father ask Bruce, "And why do we fall Bruce?" Now the answer though comes from the first movie, Batman Begins. He answers in the first movie, "So we can learn to pick ourselves up." Yes, Bruce must use fear to drive him but he needs hope to sustain him.

The idea of hope is weaved throughout the whole movie. Of course there's the goals of Batman. Give people hope of justice. Detective John Blake has hope for Batman's return. Perhaps, the concept of hope is best demonstrated by Officer Foley. (Matthew Modine) When Bane takes over Gotham, Foley gives up as a police officer. But when he sees the symbol of Batman burning on a bridge, his hope is restored. He puts on the uniform and enlists in the fight against Bane.

So why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Huffiington Post reviews The Hobbit 48 fps.

If you're wondering what The Hobbit 48 fps looks like, Mike Ryan of the Huffington Post has already seen it. One question for me, is there a theater here in Cincinnati that can run it at that format? I also wonder what the hyper clarity would do to the story telling aspect of film. Here's Ryan's review.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Michaela Watkins takes on Ayn Rand

Former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan is an Ayn Rand fan. According to Wikipedia, she's big into the laissez-faire capitalism. That makes her a hero to right-wingers like Ryan.

Last fall, Funny or Die did a parody of Ayn Rand if she hosted a variety talk show. It's based on her harsh philosophies and TV interviews. The talented and lovely Michaela Watkins (Saturday Night Live) plays Ms. Rand. Funny stuff. Check out the video below.

Bengals grind out victory

Face it long suffering Cincinnati Bengals fan. After the Bengals took the lead, 20-13 over the San Diego Chargers, quarterback Philip Rivers was leading the Chargers down field in the last two minutes. Fourth down on the Bengals seventeen yard line, Rivers sent a pass towards the endzone. Could it be a Homer Simpson-Bengals moment? There was a big "No" to "Doh." Bengals safety Reggie Nelson jumped in front of the Chargers receiver and intercepted the ball. Bengals win!

It was an ugly game. The Bengals turned the ball over three times, including Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton throwing a pick six. There were stupid Bengals penalties. But the Bengals overcame the mistakes. Thanks to no small part to a great defensive line of Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. Special mention to stud Dunlap. He had two sacks and forced two fumbles. The Bengals won this game in the fourth quarter by scoring ten points. Good teams find ways to win. And this goes a long way to showing that the Bengals are a good team. Here's the story with video.

The Bengals keep pace with the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers for the wild card. Both teams won big games. Look I'm a longtime Bengals fan and as any Bengals fan can tell you, we know heartbreak. So, I'll wait until the Bengals make the playoffs before I get too excited. But it's December and hope lives. Who Dey!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

CNN: "The U.S. had plans to nuke the moon."

According to CNN, in 1958, the United States had plans to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon. According to physicist Leonard Reiffel it was to show the world, read that to mean the Soviet Union, that the United States could maintain a mutually-assured deterrence. Oy. Sound mad to me. Here's Stephen Colbert's take on it.