Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chris Matthews is Right about Fast Trains

I finally found something about Chris Matthews I can cheer about.  For the past few days, he's been urging the Federal government to embark on a campaign of getting interstate fast rail service all across America.  Matthews rightly points out that Europe has it, and the Chinese are constructing such service.   He also correctly notes that more people traveling on trains means fewer people traveling via gas-guzzling cars.

He's completely right.  I love driving, especially my Prius, which does save me money and time filling up at the pump.   But the Prius still uses some gasoline, and contributes to the US need for oil.  I feel the same about flying - it's magical.  But traveling by train is more fuel efficient, especially when we're talking about electrified rails.

Train travel is also the most relaxing, at least for me.   I can certainly get a lot more writing done on a train than as a driver (I wrote a good part of The Consciousness Plague on The Lake Shore, Ltd, from New York to Chicago), not to mention sleeping.   Although writing on planes is also easy, no conductor on a train has ever told me I have to shut off my computer, or any electronic device.

In the one part of the country where we do have fast rail service - the Acela, between Boston and Washington, DC and points in between - savvy people know it's best way to get from city to city, and these trains are slower than the ones in France, that is, slower than they could be here.

One of the appeals of the Obama ticket to me was Joe Biden, in particular Biden's devotion to Amtrak, which he long ago recognized as the most efficient means of traveling between Wilmington, DE and Washington, DC.    I hope the Obama administration and Congress take Chris Matthews' appeal to heart, and get America back to work and moving more efficiently, with reduced oil consumption, which can all be done in one master stroke: construction of a fast rail system across the United States of America.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lie to Me 2.14: Paranoids Can Have Real Enemies

Well, you know the old chestnut that, just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean there's no one out to get you.  Lie to Me 2.14 plays this to a fine tune, with a story about an Iraqi vet who thinks someone wants to kill him.

The tale hinges on an important distinction between someone actually, physically, trying to kill someone, and the presumed target knowing that someone has a real motive to kill the target.    If the target is right in his beliefs - as it turns out he is in this episode - than he'll react just as if there were a real person right outside his door, trying to take him out.   Lightman is able to crack this syndrome and along the way finds out that his book on understanding faces is required reading in our military.

There also an excellent coda to this episode.  Lightman goes in for what looks like a brain scan, giving us the impression that maybe he's suffering from some problem - "the usual suspects" he says to the tech, which seem like the usual things that can afflict the brain.   But it turns out that the "suspects" are the people in his life - daughter, ex-wife, Foster - and the scans are showing the emotions he feels for them.   These would be pure love for his daughter, flight impulse for the former wife, and "all over the place" for Foster.

That's a good take for how Lightman feels about her, which means it could go anywhere, which is good news for the series.


5-min podcast review of Lie to Me

See also my reviews of Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9 ... Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature ... Lie to Me 2.12:  The One Prevarication ... Lie to Me 2.13: The Whole Truth and Rep Joe Wilson




                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle





The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Monday, June 28, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer

Just had to post this ...

Supreme Court Is Correct in Striking Down Chicago Gun Ban

I support the US Supreme Court's striking down (5 to 4) a Chicago gun ban as unconstitutional this morning.   I'm no fan or devotee of guns, but the Second Amendment is, after all, a prominent part of our Constitution - only the First Amendment exceeds it in numerical priority - and ought to be respected.

Chicago argued that the Second Amendment applies only to Federal laws, not to state and local laws.  But the Fourteenth Amendment says otherwise, explicitly insisting that the rights of citizens given in the Constitution cannot be taken away or abridged by states.

The dangers of violating the Constitution should be obvious.  World War II was the last war legally declared by Congress as provided for in the Constitution.   American wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan are the result.   The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech and press.  But the FCC has been fining broadcasters millions of dollars in the past few years.  (See my Flouting of the First Amendment for more.)

Disregarding a part of the Constitution, such as the Second Amendment, just because we don't like it, is not the way to go.   Finding a legal way to work around it (if one really exists) or repealing it are the only possible roads to real progress.   The Chicago gun ban law did neither, and the Supreme Court was right to sweep it aside.

True Blood 3.3: Rolling Eyes and Spinning Heads

Lots of hot lovemaking in True Blood 3.3 tonight, between vampire and human, and vampire and vampire.

Vampire and human was consensual, between Franklin (James Frain) and Tara.  It was enough to make Tara's eyes roll back in her head, eyelids a flutter, but it wasn't true love, on either one's part.  Franklin's on a mission, to find out all he can about Bill.   But for whom?  King of Mississippi?  Queen of Louisiana?   The tea party?  Sorry, just threw that in...

And Bill has a surprising, and surprisingly passionate, love scene himself tonight, and not with Sookie.  It's with Lorena, Bill's beautiful vampire maker.   Bill hates her.  He set her on fire last week (no problem, she healed quickly).  She stole Bill's humanity, his family, his normal life.   Bill hates her very being.  But that doesn't stop Bill from violently screwing her, apparently from front and behind, at the same time, as he makes her head twist literally around (he can't resist the violent sex, but can't bare to look at her face).   Violent lovemaking befits vampires.  But this was one the wildest bed scenes we've thus far seen.

No bed scenes, bad or good, or forest ground scenes, either, yet, between Eric and Sookie.  He's still calling her by her last name, and she's still insisting she's Bill's.   But we'll see.

And, oh yeah the sheriff (Bud) resigned - he couldn't take it anymore.  He left with a fine parting line about gaps in the brain and polyps in the other end.   I was thinking of calling this review "gaps and polyps" but I prefer the rolling eyes and heads.



5-min podcast review of True Blood

See also: True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone ... True Blood 3.2: King and Wolves
 
See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season


                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle





The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

True Blood 3.2: King and Wolves

The main event in True Blood 3.2 is the introduction of a King of vampires - the King of Mississippi - analogous to the Queen of Louisiana we met last year.   The King kidnapped Bill, via a pack of werewolves.   The King has a proposal for Bill.

First, as I mentioned last week, it's clear that most werewolves in this story are lot less potent than what we've been seeing in 1940s movies.   Bill dispatches most of the pack, with just a little of his blood consumed by the wolves to show for it.   According to Eric, however, these wolves may be stronger than most werewolves, being part of a secret, ancient sect of the beasts.

In other news, Sam finds his brother, also a shape shifter, and they both run off into the woods.   But the bro is no friend, and does his best to put Sam as a dog in the way of a fast-moving car.  Sam escapes, but apparently sibling rivalry between shape shifters can be deadly.

James Frain arrives in Bon Temps to play a new vampire with who knows what motives.  Last seen as a major character to good effect as Thomas Cromwell in The Tudors, and as a guest star in just about every show on television from 24 to the short-lived Miami Medical, it should be fun to see how he plays out vs. Bill vs. Eric.

At present, he's going for Tara, who under Lafayette's tutelage may be coming back at least a little from Egg's loss.  If Frain's vampire is a good guy like Bill - not very likely, but hard to say at this point - he could be the best thing that ever happened to Tara (other than Lafayette, which is something different).   She deserves a break.


5-min podcast review of True Blood


See also: True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone

See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season



                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle





The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lie to Me 2.13: The Whole Truth and Rep Joe Wilson

And here I am back with a review of Lie to Me 2.13, which was just on Fox.  A fine show-

But first, I just gotta say, where else can you see a real shot of President Obama, worked into the story line?   Only on Lie to Me, which always cuts to a few shots of real people - it's one of the show's signatures.   So tonight we get Obama's cool response to the Republican boor who screamed out "you lie" (that would Rep. Joe Wilson) as the President addressed Congress and the nation about health care this past September.   And Gillian explaining the meaning of Obama's response to the son of a presumed murder victim...

Which brings us to the story.   A gorgeous woman - Clara, played by Melissa George, who had a similar role in the first season on In Treatment - is accused of murdering her husband, twice her age (her character wasn't accused of murder in In Treatment, but she did her best to seduce the psychologist).  Cal's ex-wife Zoe (Jennifer Beals from The L Word) is defending Clara.   Before the episode is over, there'll be some good attractions between Cal and Zoe (as always), Cal and Clara (of course), and there's always a little something between Cal and Gillian.

Bruce Weitz - who's looking far more distinguished now than he ever did on Hill Street Blues - also plays a role as the deceased's best friend, and Diane Baker is the judge (Raising the Bar should've worked her in).   And Cal's at his best in seeing the truth, going with the side of truth, and ending up in bed with ...

Well, see the show.   I'm going to watch a little news, and see if I can spot any shots of famous people that may show up on Lie to Me someday...



5-min podcast review of Lie to Me

See also my reviews of Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9 ... Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature ... Lie to Me 2.12:  The One Prevarication



                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle







The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Lie to Me 2.12: The One Prevarication

Oops, I forgot to review last week's Lie to Me (2.12) - ok, I won't lie to you, I was under tight deadline for a paper, and didn't have a chance to review that fine episode.   But with the new one up in New York in less than an hour, I better get to it ...

Because, it was one of the best episodes ever on Lie to Me, featuring Cal vs. Gillian, now and seven years ago when they first met, and Cal regretting something he did back then, which may be endangering his daughter right now.

The wild card is Jimmy Doyle, whom Cal helped ID as a terrorist seven years back.  His arrest went awry, resulting in his wife and 16-year old daughter being shot to death in front of Jimmy's eyes.   He understandably wants revenge - maybe on Cal's daughter Emily now.   A defense department colleague of Cal being blown up by a car bomb - which also injures Loker - certainly adds credence to the threat.

And much to Loker and Ria's consternation, no one is talking.   Not Cal, not Gillian, whom we gradually find has lied to Cal about something all of these years.

This is a good, powerful story, worthy of Shawn Ryan's (The Shield) production work on the show.   The twists are good - especially about who is the real killer here - and Gillian's reason for lying to Cal this one time makes perfect sense, of course.   I'd still like to see the two of them get together already, but Lie to Me is only in its second year, and Bones and Booth have not made much progress so far in five...


5-min podcast review of Lie to Me

See also my reviews of Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9 ... Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature



                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle









The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Treme Season One Finale: Happy Sad Life

A memorable Season One finale for Treme on HBO last night,  complete with a satisfying flashback coda which showed what most of our characters were up to when Katrina blew in.

The music was about the best of any episode, which means fine indeed, and I give first place a tie between two excellent performances:  Lloyd Price singing a few lines of "Stagger Lee" (I met Lloyd a few times in 1969-1970, when I was recording my Twice Upon a Rhyme album in Herb Abramson's A-1 Studios near 72nd Street in New York City, and it was great to see Lloyd still looking and sounding good); and John Boutté (the great Treme intro song) singing some of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me" as part of McAlary's attempt to serenade Janette into not leaving New Orleans.   You know what?  I also have to put Steve Earle and Annie (Lucia Micarelli) singing "This City" in first place, too - the music was just that good.

As to the story, some happy endings, some not, as befits life:
  • McAlary's not able to persuade Janette to stay, though she could always come back.  And McAlary has his job back as dj, and Annie showing up at his door near the end.
  • That's because Annie and Sonny are pretty well done - his last scene has him drugging out
  • Antoine gets a thousand dollar gig - the one with Lloyd Price (and Allen Toussaint) - but blows most of it on cards
  • Albert had the happiest story - in good with his family, and walking with full feathers and not getting arrested or beat up by cops - because the Sgt has a conscience, and no doubt on the Lt's orders stops his men from doing their worst
  • Creigton has the worst - he's gone, leaving a wife, daughter, and a fine career as a professor, author, and videocaster - it wasn't really Katrina, it was something inside of him
  • Ladonna finally gets some closure, putting her brother Daymo to rest in full New Orleans style
And that brings us to the coda, which finally tells us what happened to Daymo as the storm came in.  The finale was wisely 90 minutes not 60, and it only scratched the surface of this excellent, original nexus of characters and stories.  Fortunately, they'll be next season, and I hope many more to come.



8-min podcast review of Treme

See also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton

And: My Favorite Moment in Treme (Season One)


                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic, Mozy, Zazzle




The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Favorite Moment in Treme

In preparation for the Season One finale of Treme on HBO this coming Sunday, I just wanted to mention my favorite moment in the series.

Actually, it's a favorite few moments on the show, and they're on every week, in the Intro, which features John Boutté's great song, "Treme Song (Down In the Treme),"  from his 2003 album, Jambalaya.

But my favorite part of this Intro begins about eight seconds in, with a guy dancing in the street.  And it reaches its crest between 9 and 10 seconds, when he leans in and moves his left hand.   You can see it below.   For some reason, this move feels just right.   It typifies the cool, ebullient spirit of the show.  I wanna dance just like this guy when I grow up.

That's it.   Just wanted to give that moment a shout-out.



See also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams ... Treme 1.9: Creighton

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama's First Oval Office Address: The Limits of Talk

I thought the high point of President Obama's first address to the nation from the Oval Office was his invocation of American success in producing planes and tanks in World War II, and our success again in getting safely to the Moon and back in 1969, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary.   Both provide inspiring examples of our capacity to do extraordinarily difficult things, which is what we must do to recover from the BP oil spill, and make sure spills like that don't happen again in the future.

And the low point?   Well, that resides in the difference between any speech, any talk, however good, and actions.   Until we see evidence that the spill has been contained, that its ill effects have been reversed, that policies and technologies are in place to prevent something like that from happening again, no fine words from any President will suffice.

Obama did tell us something new and very hopeful tonight - that the capping process already in place will suck up 90% of new oil leaking.    If that's indeed the case, that's good news indeed.

Meanwhile, initial media coverage, as per usual, did not do much to help.  I just heard Chris Matthews, yet again, carp about the mention - this time, from Obama - that Steven Chu won a Nobel Prize in physics.   I've yet understand how Chu's Nobel Prize is in any way hurting our government's response to the oil spill.

But the media, like the Presidential address, are comprised of words.   America and the world are waiting for actions and results.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Treme 1.9: Creighton

I've been concerned about Creighton for a few episodes now.  Last week, he was the only one who got no joy out of the Mardi Gras.  On last night's episode 1.9 of Treme - the next to last episode of this debut season - Creighton continues in his downward spiral.  He's faking his writing to his family, he's ending his classes early.   Although he clearly loves his wife and daughter, has a great job, is reaching people with his YouTube videos, and has everything to live for, suicide seemed like a real possibility last night.  I'm holding out hope for next week's Season One finale.   After all, though suicides did increase from from 8 to 26 per 100, 000 people in the aftermath of Katrina, Treme is still a work of fiction.

Other notable developments in last night's episode:
  • Janette's being beaten down by New Orleans bad luck and weather.  Although she'd rather have her "head dipped in duck fat" than give up her cooking, she's thinking of packing up and taking her act to New York City.   The "stresser" (as they have it on Criminal Minds) was a cooking gig she had with a great band, blown apart by stormy weather.   This produced at least one great line - I don't wannna be "electrocuted for my art" one of the band members observed - and Janette beginning to feel it was hopeless in N.O.  When she goes home and finds her bed being rained on through a broken roof, this might be the last straw.  It looks as if only McAlary can talk her out of leaving.
  • Annie's split from Sonny.  This ain't easy, but is probably for the best.
  • Ladonna tells Antoine that what happened between them last week was just a "Mardi Gras fuck," but Antoine's not fazed, which is why I like him.  He knows the truth - he's irresistible, yeah.
  • Albert's headed for a bruising, and is told so by the police Lt.  But the last thing Albert will do is back down, so there should be some good, I sure hope not deadly, action in the Season One finale
The music was great as always, with "I Hear You Knocking" (of Fats Domino fame) in the background,  and a fine version of "Double O Soul" (great title) by the Subdudes.   And my favorite line -  tough choice with all the fine lines in this episode - but I give it Albert's friend, after Albert coaxes the kid he's breaking in to help with some heaving lifting - "You're back's gonna hurt for 40-50 years," the friend tells the kid.   That's the story of everyone's life, right there.



8-min podcast review of Treme

See also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious! ... Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams



                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic







The Plot to Save Socrates




"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Sunday, June 13, 2010

True Blood 3.1: Oxygen vs. Phone

Well, my favorite line in the Season Three premiere of True Blood on HBO tonight came from the sweet old lady paid a little visit by Bill.   She said she only had enough money to pay for either her phone or her oxygen (she needs a special supply, given her poor health), and she chose the oxygen, of course.  But somehow there's a lesson in there for all of us - life is more important than communication, as important as communication is.

As for the rest of show -
  • It contained some great nude shots, for people and beings of all persuasions
  • Tara's not recovering from Eggs being fried (ok, shot) any time soon
  • Sam has an erotic dream about Bill - but that's likely because Sam has Bill's blood in him
  • Eric gives someone the screw of her life - but it's not (yet) Sookie
  • Lettie May has the hots for a preacher whom she (incorrectly) thinks saved Tara
  • Jessica and Hoyt will inexorably get back together - but Jessica has a dead body to deal with
  • the Bellefleur cousins are up to something
  • Jason's advised to do what he does best - music to his ears
  • Sookie still looks fine in that purple dress
The episode ends with Bill surrounded by werewolves in the forest.   Now in classic monster lore - i.e., 1940s movies - vampires and werewolves are about equal.   Vampires are more versatile, but they can also be killed in lots of different ways - in contrast to werewolves, who can only be dispatched by a silver bullet in the heart.   I hear from people who have read the books that werewolves are not quite as strong in the deep-south True Blood scenario.   But they're clearly a force to be reckoned with, have something to do with Bill's kidnapping, and should be fun to see in the weeks ahead.



5-min podcast review of True Blood season 3 premiere

See also from Season 2  True Blood Pours Back In and  Love and True Blood in the Air and Likes Coming Together in True Blood and True Blood Boiling and Godric, Eric, and Sookie on the Roof and Maryann vs. the Good in True Blood and Illusion, Eisenhower, and Texting and True Blood Season 2 Finale

See also from Season 1  True Blood Calling ... Penultimate True Blood ... Last Bite of the Season


                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic








The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Threat to the First Amendment with "Protecting Cyberspace" Act

Senator Joe Lieberman is at it again - the "it" being a disregard for the First Amendment and the freedoms it protects - this time being primary sponsor of a bill that would give any President emergency powers to seize control of the Internet.   Any search engine such as Google, any broadband provider such as Comcast or Verizon, any software company in control of any kind of app on the Web, could be fined it failed to comply with an order from the Department of Homeland Security.

Terrorists have been using the Web - most recently, Twitter - for years (see my "Dark Side" chapter of New New Media).  And the FBI and other agencies should continue to do all they can to root out this and other illegal activities online.  But granting the President emergency powers is not the way to do this.   Think about what Richard Nixon - who tried to dictate what the New York Times and the Washington Post could publish, under the guise of national security - could have done with such power, had the Internet existed in his day.

The balance between doing our all to combat terrorism, and keeping our freedoms, is not easy to achieve.   But certainly we don't want to reward terrorists by turning into the kind of society that they embody, by fulfilling their goal of killing our democracy, from the inside.   Google and Comcast have given us no reason to think they would not cooperate to the utmost with any national security needs - just as no newspaper in the United States has ever published information on troop movements that endangered their security.   Whether we like the President or not, giving that office the power to control the Internet would be a dangerous blow to the political and personal freedom of expression currently enjoyed to a greater or lesser degree by all media in this country, and clearly guaranteed by the First Amendment.



Here's a link to the full pdf text of the lengthy Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010  - thanks to John F. McMullen for bringing this serious matter to my attention.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lie to Me 2.11: Double Feature

Lie to Me was back on Monday evening with a fine resumption of its second season - Episode 2.11 - an hour that had two tip-top unrelated stories.

The main story had Lightman locking horns with good-looking young Martin Walker, whom Lightman and at first no one else is convinced is a sociopathic killer of attractive female college students.   Gillian at first "doesn't see it" - as she tells Lightman, to his frustration - and this is in large part because the situation is complicated by the fact that Walker is sleeping with Lightman's former mentor and lover, the smart and alluring Helen, who of course is blind to Walker's killer instincts, too.   Lightman, ever ready to go the extra mile to nab his liar, allows himself to be water boarded in order get the goods on Walker.

Walker is so good at his craft, before he's caught, that he even gets tough beautiful Torres to agree to go out with him.  She doesn't know much about the Walker case, because she and Loker are looking into a case of a teacher who claims he saw a UFO, thereby jeopardizing his position in the school.  It was good to see Howard Hesseman play the teacher, and even better to see Glenn Morshower (Aaron on 24, Landry's father on Friday Night Lights) play the Air Force colonel who tries get the teacher to agree that he saw something else.   Loker sees right through that, but in the end convinces the teacher to go with a bogus story to save the teacher's job.   The course of UFO-spotters never did go easy.

As I often feel at the end of a Lie to Me episode, I wish there was more time than an hour to tell and fill out the story.   Episode 2.11 had two such stories, which means it could have used at least three hours.

We'll have to be content with the new stories in subsequent hours this season and beyond.


5-min podcast review of Lie to Me


See also my reviews of
Lie to Me and Bill O'Reilly, Saddam Hussein, and Ben Reynolds in Lie to Me 2.6 and Lie to Me 2.7: The Redeeming of Loker and Lie to Me 2.8 in Afghanistan and Viva Lightman and Las Vegas in Lie to Me 2.9



                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, eHarmony, eMusic







The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Calling out Chris Matthews for his Attacks on Steven Chu

I was half listening to Chris Matthews on Hardball last night, but heard yet another snipe from Matthews' about Energy Secretary's Steven Chu's Nobel Prize.   This must have been the 6th or 7th time I've heard Matthews wane sarcastic about Chu's Nobel Prize in physics, and since I don't watch every minute of Hardball every day it's on, I'm sure there have been many more jibes of this sort from Matthews.

The substance of Matthews' complaint is that a Nobel Prize in physics provides no comfort that its recipient would know what to do about the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   There is no doubt that David Alexrod and others in the Obama administration have mentioned Chu's Nobel laureate as a reassuring factor in our government's being up to the task of containing the spill, which it clearly has not been to anyone's satisfaction as of yet.  But in Matthews' recurrent slams, Chu's Nobel Prize has been distorted into a deficit, as if the very fact the Steven Chu won the Nobel Prize makes him not competent to lead and advise Obama in how to combat the oil spill.   And that point is not only logically ridiculous, but indicative of a more widespread contempt for academe, which has also surfaced in attacks on Obama for being too professorial in his approach to the oil spill, whatever exactly that means.

In Matthews' case, his attack on Chu is especially egregious.   Unlike his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow, who not only interviewed Chu in a respectful yet critical way, and who has provided powerful on the scene reports from places ravaged by the oil spill, Matthews has done nothing about the oil spill other than his high horse bombastic analyses.   This may play well in Matthews' head and to people who have problems with awards given to pathbreaking scientists, but it does nothing to speed the containment and cleanup in the Gulf, and protect its shores from the worst affronts of petroleum.

PS - It's not often that Gawker and I focus on the same things, but here's a similar, well-founded complaint about Matthews re: Chu, in yesterday's Gawker.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Obama on College Seminars and Kicking Asses: My Response

President Obama's interview by Matt Lauer on tomorrow's Today show - or at least an excerpt from it - is receiving a lot of attention.   Obama says he meets with experts not as if he's conducting a "college seminar," but because he wants to find out "whose ass to kick" as responsible for the oil spill and its aftermath in the Gulf of Mexico.

First, let me say that I think Obama's doing a not bad job in combatting the ill effects of the spill.  The factors that led to it precede his Presidency, and if his administration has been a little slow to recognize the spill as an horrendous crisis for the region, the country, and even the world, Obama has  been quick to respond to criticism, in substance (suspending other off-shore drilling, committing more people to the tasks) as well as style (his denunciation of BP).

What I take exception to is Obama's apparent embracing now of a criticism of him made by pseudo-populists of both parties, that Obama is too "professorial" in his approach, by which they mean a man of words not action.   Anyone who really knows anything about the academic world knows that it is not just about words and ideas, but their application in the real world.   This is why, for example, in Communication and Media Studies departments (I'm a Professor in one of those at Fordham University), students take not just lectures but production courses, pursue not just theories but internships.   Just as in English department students write as well as read, in Biology department students learn about cellular structure and see it with their own eyes under microscopes, etc.

One of Obama's greatest strengths is his keen mind and capacity to see the world and its crises through the lens of logic.   Most people have capacity for ample emotion.   In a President, we want not only that, but a facility for dealing with crises with calm and reason.

No need at all for Obama to apologize or clarify his position to critics who are interested neither in the oil spill or Obama's work as President, except to make cheap points with viewers or further their own political agendas.

The excerpt from Obama's interview by Lauer follows:

Treme 1.8: Passions and Dreams

I had a tough time deciding which musical performance I liked best in Treme 1.8 on HBO last night - pretty much a tie between McAlary singing "Battle of New Orleans" at his family gathering and Janette delivering a fine version of "Iko Iko" in one of the myriad of threads to the Mardi Gras tapestry - I guess I'd give Janette the edge.    And lots of other great music, including a version of the Nevilles' "Tell It Like It Is," and a few of the Nevilles showing up for another gig.

Lots of good passion in the streets, too.   Sonny getting hot, long, deep kisses from two beauties on a float, and Antoine and Ladonna having another go at it.  This after Antoine and his current woman talk about his "perimeters" after she says he should go forth and have a good time.  She makes clear that the parameters do not including sleeping with another woman, but, hey, Antoine is irrepressible (not only with women, but in stiffing cabbies).

Ladonna is still keeping her brother's death from her family, and it's fair to say she's not completely in her right mind on this day.   None of our characters ever quite are in Treme, but, then again, is anyone really anywhere?  Annie and Sonny are still performing well together, but that's only in their music.  By the end of the episode, Annie and McAlary are talking and walking together, and they could make a pretty good couple.

The only person outright unhappy on this day is not even Albert, who's in jail, but Creighton.   In a soft, searing YouTube diatribe, he talks about the dream that was always New Orleans now being no more than a dream of a dream.

But if Treme shows us anything, it is that the people and the music and the food are as real as it gets, a joy in life that defies the most damaging catastrophe.   The parallels to the current oil spill are unavoidable, and the message is that one way or another the people in this beautiful part of the world will somehow prevail in the end once again.


5-min podcast review of Treme

See also Treme! ... Treme 1.2: "If you ain't been to heaven" ... Treme 1.3: Fine Sweet and Sour ... Treme 1.4: New Orleans, New York, Nashville ... Treme 1.5: Delicious!


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The Plot to Save Socrates



"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Criminal Minds 5.22 and the Dark Side of New New Media

Just checking in here with a review of the next to last episode of Criminal Minds this season - 5.22 - which pitted the BAU against what I call the "dark side of new new media" (chapter 11 in my book, New New Media), or the use of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other social media for distinctly anti-social activities, such as cyberstalking, cyberstalking, terrorism, and murder.

Since the BAU fights the worst monsters in the word - Hotch, Derek, Rossi, Reid, Prentiss, J.J., and Garcia are really the only thing between those monsters and us - you know abuse via the Internet in this episode will be as bad as it gets:  a computer master (almost as talented as Garcia, which is talented indeed) trolls the Internet for women he can not only kill, but video as he first kidnaps them.  He's put together an online club of voyeurs who enjoy this sort of thing, which is as easy as pie these days to put up for live viewing on a web site you control, and disguise your role via a series of proxies.

The Internet as villain is no stranger to television, and has reared its head on episodes of Bones and CSI to name just two (see New New Media for further examples).   But I've never seen the matrix of social media and the possibilities it opens for deviant minds better explained than on Criminal Minds.

I also usually like my cop shows leavened with a little more humor than you find on Criminal Minds, but my wife and I are avid fans of the show, and I think it's time I started reviewing just about every episode from now on.





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The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
InfiniteRegress.tv