Thursday, October 30, 2003

I won my first case

I had my first jury trial today, and I won it. It was only a misdemeanor case, Pointing a Gun at Another, but a win's a win. Especially when the trial took about five hours, and the jury was out for 45 minutes. This means I have an undefeated record for now. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead...

Open the door, get on the floor...

How could 30-ton dinosaurs occasionally leave behind footprints of only their front feet? Because they could float. At least, that's the new theory. And it's a retro theory in a certain way, since early theories about the sauropods maintained that they must have spent much of their time in water in order to support their weight.

Zany Zell

The worst part about Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller endorsing President Bush in the next election? It somewhat kills my hope that Zell will choose to run. Maybe I'll still write him in.

Superman Synchronicity

Massive, record-breaking solar flares played an integral part in last night's Smallville episode, and by coincedence, a huge solar storm is currently doing its work on good ol' Sol. I only wish I lived somewhere where I could view the resulting auroras.

Good-bye IE, Hello Mozilla

Late last week, I finally got fed up with Internet Explorer. The popup ads were incredibly annoying, up until I downloaded the Google toolbar, and then the problem was eliminated except for a repetitive and grating "Micorsoft" box that would pop up every so often. Then the other day, IE started shutting down repeatedly. That was enough, and I gave up.

I looked over to TechTV for recommendations, and I quickly downloaded Mozilla. And it's great. No more popup ads. No more random shutdowns or IE-caused freezings. It even imported my entire IE Favorites list. In fact, my only complaint is that the post composition windows at CBR are now half their previous width. But if I can know that my browser won't self-destruct while writing a post, I think I can live with that.

Like that horrible McDonald's campaign says, I'm lovin' it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Smallville - "Perry"

Let's get the complaints out of the way. First, after seeing everything he did, Perry drew a conclusion based on bloody hands? And won't all of this seem a bit familiar to Mr. White when both Clark and a certain selfless superhero appear in Metropolis simultaneously? Perhaps Millar and Gough envision a Perry who has a "wink-wink" relationship with Clark, akin to Commissioner Gordon and Batman. (Does he know or doesn't he??)

But I can forgive both of those, because I loved this episode. Michael McKean succeeded in bringing new depth to Perry's character (as the creators predicted), and given his speech to Lex with the mention of the statute of limitations (a hint of murder in Lionel's past?), it seems like this won't be the last guest spot for the character. Even if this is a different Perry than we're used to, he's definitely set back on his path to destiny at the end. And I couldn't help but smile at the final exchange of the episode.

Plus, there are plenty of great little moments in the episode. Clark deduces that his powers are solar-related. Lex displays more of his dark side. Chloe meets her journalistic idol. Clark's journalism gets a mention or two. Pete actually has a speaking role. Lana comes to grips with her parents' deaths (come to think of it, whatever happened to Mr. Small?). There's a hint of a really dark secret in Lionel's past. And somebody finally takes notice of all of the coincidences surrounding Clark Kent.

Here's hoping the rest of the season is more like this ep and less like the last two weeks.

Yours Truly, In Print

My first letter-to-the-editor of the semester was printed today. This time, the subject was partial-birth abortion. My letter is the second on this page (albeit with my surname misspelled), and here is the column to which I was responding. I'd like to think that I added something new to the debate.

Freedom From Religion

From Texas of all places, comes a story of the excesses of the "separation of church and state" philosophy. Fortunately, the ban on gospel music and voluntary prayer has been lifted, but if taxpayer funds aren't paying the preachers, then I see no reason to bar them from speaking. Here at UGA, the Tate Student Center frequently has religious speakers, and nobody complains that such is a violation of their rights.

Taking a breather in the space race

Dennis Miller suggests that perhaps we should rethink our current space program. While I'm certainly not in favor of scrapping NASA, I think he does have a point here.

NASA's buget for 2004 is $15.47 billion. Manned space flight is very expensive, and it doesn't carry the same emotional excitement that it once did. We aren't even trying to put a man on Mars anymore, because most research can be done using unmanned spacecraft, at a fraction of the cost of manned missions. And what does require the personal touch, is it really cost-efficient?

Without a rival in the space race, NASA currently serves as a massive, expensive research lab. And I think Miller has a point that a lot of that money could be better served if it were put directly toward developing technologies that will help us here on the ground. We don't need to end NASA, or even suspend it, but $5-10 billion a year could do a lot more good than it's doing now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Online Antics Lead to Scholastic Suspension

Last week here in Georgia, a high school girl was expelled for writing a fictional story where an unnamed student dreams of killing an anonymous teacher. (She was reinstated after a public outcry.) Today, we learn that it's also a punishable offense in Georgia if you criticize a teacher online.

I've been posting on message boards for about six years now. It never occurred to me that what I wrote could get me in trouble with my school.

There is one mysterious line in the article, quoting the lawsuit as saying "The Web site contained...some hypothetical scenarios which visualized some fictional acts." Obviously, some of the details regarding these boys' posts must be a bit more inflammatory than mere criticism, as otherwise it would be unnecessary to describe the content in such terms. If these "hypothetical scenarios" are akin to Ms. Boim's, then I have no problem. On the other hand, if they were writing fanfic where their teachers were massacred by Spawn, I can imagine a little more concern. A month's detention, though, seems excessive no matter how this is spun.

More from NJ

The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services is taking a lot of (well-deserved) criticism for their failure to recognize the abuse of those four adopted boys. Despite having been visited 10 times by 3 different social workers, nobody reported the problems. Fortunately, it looks like the state agencies are asking many of the same questions I asked in this blog a few days ago, and they've already taken action to fire nine workers who were responsible for the house.

What scares me is that since nobody caught on to this abuse until the oldest was rummaging in garbage bins, how likely is it that there are other families out there with similar circumstances of abuse? Parents who don't let their kids go rummaging?

Media Bias?

I believe that there is bias in the media. Bias towards sensationalism, bias towards scandal, and partisan bias too. In the last case, such bias is not intentional, but rather a natural byproduct of the journalist's own views. If I were a journalist, I'd naturally approach issues from a conservative POV, so I don't see this bias as something underhanded, but rather something that should be taken into consideration when reading the news.

From time to time, I'll spot examples of such "stealth bias" in my local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Today's main story is a good example. Spread across five columns is a headline that reads "Researchers feel heat from right," and the sub-headline reads "Responding to conservatives, federal agency looks at projects on AIDS and sexual practices." The federal agency in question is the National Institute of Health, and the "conservatives" are the Traditional Values Coalition.

I'm not sure I've ever seen an interest group identified as the "left" in a headline before. Consider the controversy over the Ten Commandments monument in Alabama, which drew a lot of criticism from the ACLU. Can you imagine a headline that read "Justices feel heat from left: Responding to liberals, the court looks at..." ? I can't.

Remember. Conservative interest groups are "the right." Liberal interest groups are just interest groups.

Tit-for-Tattoo

Over at CBR, there's a thread about tattoos in which I desperately want to share a quote from AJC Editor Jim Wooten, but I can't bring myself to post it there. Thus, I'll just have to share it here:

Visible tattoos speak one message above all: "I never expect to be anywhere that matters."

Monday, October 27, 2003

South Park Republicans

Now in addition to crunchy conservatives, we've got South Park Republicans. Brian C. Anderson's piece on this and similar conservative cultural phenomenons is a bit long, but highly insightful into what may be a radical change in the politics of my generation.

1-2-3-Go!

It seems that for the second year in a row, I missed the World Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship. Ah well. I'll just have to suffice with ordering the DVD from the World RPS Society.

Conservative Conservation

Joshua Claybourn takes on the issue of conservatism and environmentalism, and I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels this way. While I may not know precisely which tack conservatives should take, the common perception of liberals as pro-environment and conservatives as anti- needs to be combatted and rebutted.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

What's on your hard drive?

I have a 9.5 gig hard drive, of which over 7 gigs are currently filled. And I ask myself, "what's taking up all that space?" Thankfully, I've been introduced to some nice freeware that can help me solve that riddle.

I downloaded TreeSize 1.7, and it's helped a bit so far. FolderSize does much the same thing, and TreeMap 4.0 apparently is really neat, but it has to be started from a "DOS batch file," and I don't even know what that means.

All these links are courtesy of TechTV's ScreenSavers, whose page has a little more detail on each of these programs.

N.J. Couple Accused of Starving Four Sons

This couple is more deserving of the bread-and-water prison treatment than any other criminals I've seen lately.

At the same time, this story illustrates my distrust of the gov't's authority on matters of child-rearing, as discussed below in my Amish post. Here we have a 19-year-old and a 14-year old, each standing only 4 feet high and weighing 45 pounds and 40 pounds, respectively. And the social worker never noticed. Why did a waif-ish and dwarf-ish legal adult not raise more questions from the social worker? Shouldn't she have been looking at medical records? And what about their school teachers? Rather, it took neighbors and the police to finally take notice of the situation.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

"Search Inside the Book"

Amazon.com introduced a new feature today, entitled "Search Inside the Book." Thanks to the diligent efforts of what one must presume are thousands of scanner-operating chimpanzees, Amazon now allows you to directly search the text of some 120,000 books, and allows the searcher to then view any of those 33 million pages.

For example, not only was I able to learn that the name "Clark Kent" appears in Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I am also able to view all four pages of the book on which the name appears (pp. 3, 120, 330, & 585).

Of course, it doesn't cover every book. I had no luck in finding "Aziraphale" from Neal Gaiman's Good Omens. But it's an amazing tool nonetheless.

Ed Sullivan & the Muppets

Muppets Magic: From the Ed Sullivan Show is the first DVD I've seen in a while that I feel I *must* own. Not only is this plenty of classic material, much of which I've never seen before, but it also includes one of my favorite Muppet sketches ever, "Java." And it's only $10!

Plus, thanks to the good folks at Muppet Central, one doesn't have to abide with the terrible DVD cover art. They've provided both a superior cover as well as a matching inlay.

American Inmate

Convicts Get Pardons After Song Contest

In the US, being famous can get you out of legal trouble. It seems that in Russia, being talented can have much the same effect.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Livin' Large in DC

The salary of a US Senator will rise from $154,700 to $158,000 starting next year, after the Senate yesterday rejected a proposal to exclude Congressmen from the scheduled gov't pay raises. This makes for the fifth year in a row that salaries have risen, totalling over $21,000 in raises during that time.

I don't mind the pay raise in theory, but as executed, I must raise an eyebrow. That $21K in pay increases means that salaries have risen 15.3% over five years. I hope my "cost-of-living" increases will be so generous.

Furthermore, the entire process has the air of an end-run around the 27th Amendment. Since Congress is prohibited from voting itself a pay raise until the next election, the raise is made automatic unless otherwise voted down. Plus, it means that you never have to explain to your constituents why you voted for a pay raise; you simply say it's "required by law," as the Senator from Alaska did.

UN Security Council Change-Up

Starting in January, five new nations will take seats in the United Nations Security Council. Algeria, Benin, Brazil, Romania, and the Philippines got near-unanimous support for their upcoming 2-year terms.

The noteworthy part of this story, as I see it, is in the last paragraph of the article. After the UN put Iraq and Iran in charge of its Committee on Disarmament, the notion that Libya serving on the Security Council all but destroyed my opinion of the organization. Kudos to the Bush administration for standing strong on this one, and to those African nations that did the right thing.

Domestic "Relations"

Georgia, like most if not all states, has a statute criminalizing incest. It's a felony, punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, and the age and consent of the parties is irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether the relation is by blood or marriage, and up until today, I thought the creepiest aspect of the law was that sex between first cousins is legal.

But then I noticed something: only heterosexual incest is illegal. It's a felony for a man to have sex with his daughter, or even his step-daughter, but not with his son. I suspicion that this oversight is due to Georgia's now-repealed sodomy law, but it makes for such a bizarre current state of the law, I can't help but suspect that no one in the legislature has noticed yet. I think a letter to my state rep might be in order.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Happy (B)Earthday!

The enduring legacy of the seventeenth-century Archbishop James Ussher was his historical chronology, recorded in The Annals of the World. Therein, Archbishop Ussher determined that the date of the Biblical creation was October 23, 4004 BC. (The Earth, as it happens, is a Scorpio.)

Thus, by Ussher's calendar, today marks the 6006th birthday of the Earth. (Remember, there was no year zero.) So raise a glass to mother Earth, and let's hope the next 6006 years are better than the first.

Partial-Birth Abortion, v.2003

The U.S. Congress passed a bill yesterday that bans partial-birth abortions. While I am no fan of abortion, I sense that I'm among few conservatives who oppose this bill.

Why? Because of the first line of the proposed statute. "Any physician who, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, knowingly performs..." Like so much other national legislation, Congress is claiming the power to pass this legislation through the Commerce Clause. And as one who believes in a limited federal gov't and prefers that power be more in the hands of state and local gov'ts, I don't favor expansive views of the Commerce Clause and the like, which result in the feds' limited power being not nearly so limited.

Instead, I think the matter of partial-birth abortion should be confronted on the state level, and not the federal one. The 'Findings' preceding the bill state that over half of the states currently ban partial-birth abortion, and Georgia is among them. So this new bill will have no effect here.

One of the costs of a defined political theory is consistency. If I want to criticize Congress for federalizing matters that I don't like, I can't then exploit the same means to federalize issues that I support. If more conservatives in DC held to this, it would make for much stronger arguments on other debates on federalization (e.g. health care).

Georgia's Official State 'Possum

Occasionally, in perusing the Official Code of Georgia, one finds a gem of a law. OCGA 50-3-68 is one of my favorites:

Pogo ┬┤Possum, created by Walt Kelly, is adopted as the official Georgia State ┬┤Possum.

How many other states can claim to have an official 'possum?

Smallville - "Slumber"

Plot Recap: Clark is contacted in his dreams by a comatose girl who just moved in next-door. He and Lana save her from her uncle, who was keeping her unconscious for the insurance money.

It's only the fourth episode of the season, and we've already had two successive eps about Kryptonite freaks. Do I sense a return to the Season 1 motif? Even then, we're given a fairly mundane K-origin (the river she fell in had meteor rock), which again raises the question of why every other person in Smallville hasn't gotten superpowers yet if they're so easy to come by.

That said, the opening acts to the episode were good. They hinted at the truth, but it wasn't until the Lex scene that the unreality of it all was evident. The slow build was well-executed. (I thought it would have been more apropos to show Clark wearing red underwear, though.) And it gave Pete at least one scene.

More of Lana pining for Clark, and Clark intentionally distancing himself. But they seem to have come a considerable way since two weeks ago, so I question how long the writers can drag out this plotline.

Lex gets very little screentime in this episode, and his best scene was a fantasy. It's good to see that the sudden Lex/Lionel merger isn't going too smoothly, given their history, but I wish their conflicts were over something more substantive than fairly standard hiring practices. And I prefer the more subtle foreshadowing of Lex's future. "When you're rich, you're never crazy. You're eccentric."

And then there's the standard gamut of plotholes and unanswered questions. How could the doctors not notice if Sarah's uncle was drugging her so frequently? Why didn't Lana notice that the driver's side of Clark's truck was all but crushed? Why would Lana go alone to confront the uncle? Why did the uncle go psycho so suddenly, and how did he expect to get away with arranging Lana's death? And am I mistaken, or did we see Clark use his telescopic vision for the first time (in conjunction with his x-ray vision) while scanning for Lana?

All in all, not a bad episode, but not a terribly good one either. I give it a C.

Next week: Perry White. I'm really looking forward to that one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

DC Solicitations for January 2004

DC has released its first month's worth of solicitations for next year, and there's plenty of good stuff therein. Some of my personal highlights:

Nightwing: Big Guns tpb - I've collected all of the Nightwing trades up 'til now, but I happened to pick up a few of these issues cheap a while back, so I doubt I'll invest in a shelf copy. I like the series, but not that much.

Superman: Red Son tpb - This, on the other hand, I'll probably get eventually. I heard nothing but rave reviews about it, and it's a nice rebuke of Millar's conspiracy theory when DC rushes this trade out so soon.

Superman: Secret Identity - There was a preview copy of this at San Diego, but when I finally made the time to read it, it had disappeared. With both Busiek and Immonen, I'm sure this'll be good, but at $6 an issue, it's a bit pricey. I bit the bullet on paying that price for JLA/Avengers, but I think I'll wait for the trade on this.

DC: The New Frontier- Speaking of expensive, this is 6 issues at $7 apiece. I'm so confident that this will be excellent that I'm tempted to give in, but $42 really ain't cheap, and I just know this'll be beautiful in a single volume. And bonus features aren't unlikely, either, I imagine.

Plastic Man #2 - I have such high hopes for this series. I hope it doesn't disappoint. Definitely a series that deserves mainstream release (e.g. supermarkets, B&N).

The Flash #206 - I really like "Ignition" so far, but I'm glad Johns isn't dragging the storyline out too far. And like #200, we get a preview of the new artist. I rather liked Howard Porter's take on Wally in JLA, so I imagine I'll like his work here too.

Green Arrow: The Sounds of Violence tpb - I'll buy this off eBay eventually.

JLA #92 - I've bought JLA since issue #1, but this storyline really doesn't interest me. I sense a buying hiatus coming on.

JSA/Hawkman - Oh yay, a crossover between a title I buy and a title I don't. But I trust Johns, and Rags' art doesn't disappoint, so I'll give it a shot.

H-E-R-O #12 - DC made this issue a featured article, which is good for promotion, but I fear is bad for the series' continued existence. This series sort of made it on my pull list on impulse, but I've been happy with it so far, and although I'll be sad if it gets canned, it'll get 14 issues at the least, and that's better than many series I've bought and enjoyed.

Star Wars Episodes VII-IX

Rumor has it that Steven Spielberg may be interested in directing a third Star Wars trilogy. On the plus side, this would almost certainly be an improvement over the Star Wars films of late. But the last time Spielberg took over another director's pet project, we got A.I.

In addition, I read once that Lucas' original 9-film arc was originally supposed to end with the events of Return of the Jedi, and the classic trilogy eventually covered all of that ground in 3 films rather than 6. That puts a shadow of doubt on this rumor, but I'm hoping for it, nonetheless.

Amish Paradise

What happens when religious freedom comes into conflict with child-protection law? Well, that's precisely the situation up in Amish country, where child labor laws are restricting the Amish's ability to teach their children a trade at an early age.

For most of human history, a person was expected to be self-sufficient by age 18 or so. I look at most of my fellow collegians, and I sure don't see people that I think can take care of themselves. Heck, I don't consider myself to be nearly as capable as I believe I should be. I'm 25 and I still haven't had a real job. So I rather admire the Amish philosophy. There's nothing anti-21st century about it. Lots of young people would benefit from such instruction.

I love this quote: "The bill would deny Amish children the very real benefits of government health and safety protection that are afforded Catholic, Baptist, Jewish or any other children of non-Amish faith," said Nicholas Clark, a child labor expert with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Yep, I'm sure the unions are looking out for the best interests of the Amish culture. And framing the issue as denying a "right to protection" is beautiful rhetoric. Who knows what's better for the children: their parents or the feds? I know which side I'm on, but it seems like there are plenty of folks who'd rather have the gov't write the rules on child-rearing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

21 Angry Men (& Women)

After two months of my externship in Madison County, I finally got to take an active prosecutorial role today, presenting three cases to the grand jury for indictment. There was very little to it, but it was nice to actually *do* something other than watch or research.

The criminal trial calendar starts up next Monday. I'll have my fingers crossed.

The Annotated "Movies"

While crashing at Jim MacQuarrie's home this summer, I was introduced to a lot of new music, and surprisingly or not, our tastes in music seem to be at least somewhat similar. One song particularly grabbed my attention: "The Movies", by the Statler Brothers. I wasn't previously familiar with the group, but I later found out that my folks were, and that my best friend's parents owned their albums.

I managed to download a copy of the song online (as well as the similarly enjoyable "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?"), but the lyrics were hard to come by. Despite the plethora of lyrics sites on the internet, this little song seems to have been neglected. So I went the extra mile and not only posted the above lyrics page to my website, but I annotated the song as well, with lots of links to the Internet Movie Database. (Who knew that Thomas Edison had an IMdB entry?) Enjoy!

Scambaiting, Episode Umpty-Three

My Nigerian scammer just won't give up. She has gotten a lot more succinct, though.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Movie: Seabiscuit

Despite being a movie junkie, I'm not a big fan of dramas. I like my films to have a touch of humor, or suspense, or action. That's not to say that I don't go see dramas, but rather that when I'm done watching them, I don't give much thought to them. In other words, I don't tend to buy them or even treat them to repeat viewings.

Seabiscuit is an exception, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's the real-life inspiration, or the sympathetic characters, or just the beautiful photography. But the film held my attention through and through, and I find myself drawn to recommend it to others, which I rarely do for dramas.

Many true stories have been adapted for film, and while I don't know how many liberties were taken with this tale (few, I hope), everything in this one worked. The loss and redemption, the triumph over adversity. Much of the film could have descended into cliche, but instead it came off as inspiring, much as the real Seabiscuit was to the America of his day.

My only complaint is that the theater showed a 16mm print rather than 35mm, resulting in a smaller picture. If you haven't yet, make sure to catch this on the big screen, because those races won't have nearly the same impact in your living room.

Movie: "My Summer Story," aka "It Runs in the Family"

My family are among the few people who seem to recall Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. Virtually everyone is familiar with the infamous A Christmas Story, but this TV-movie sequel remains both obscure and a family favorite.

But 'Hopnoodle' is not the only sequel to that holiday staple, as there was a theatrically released follow-up several years ago, under the title It Runs in the Family. (Upon video release, the title was changed to My Summer Story, for obvious reasons.) And last week, I happened to stumble across a used copy of this film at a Wherehouse Video closing sale. Unfortunately, the film fails to live up to either of Jean Shepard's other films.

The cast is certainly first-rate. Kieran Culkin takes over the role of Ralphie, in what appears to be his first major Hollywood role. Mary Steenburgen and Charles Grodin play Ralphie's parents, and also do a fine job, although Grodin has a tendency to make the Old Man a little too crazy at times.

The film's biggest problem is its lack of a central storyline. No fewer than four main plots are explored in 95 minutes, and none is really dominant. The one that finishes the film, that of the summer fishing trips between Ralphie and his dad, is easily the best and most heartfelt. But it probably comes in third in terms of screentime. At the other extreme is the conflict between the Old Man and the Parkers' hillbilly neighbors, the Bumpuses. The neighbors are overdone caricatures, the conflict is forced, and the aforementioned excesses of Grodin's character don't jive with the portrayal of the Old Man in Shepard's other films. And at film's end, the entire episode adds virtually nothing to the rest of the story, and feels as if it were added just to take up time.

All in all, it's not a bad way to spend an hour and a half, but it pales in comparison to its predecessors.

Friday, October 17, 2003

TV: Catches and Casualties

With a couple of weeks behind me, how have those new shows I reviewed fared?

I haven't seen "The Hander" since I last reviewed it, and I don't miss it. I wanted to catch last week's ep with Joe going undercover, but I can't say I was terribly disappointed in missing it.

On the other hand, I was annoyed that I missed the last "Alias" ep. It could still fall off my radar, but right now I still want to tune in.

"The West Wing" has barely crossed my mind. No loss there.

I caught a few minutes of "Karen Sisco" on Wednesday, but then opted to watch "Law & Order" instead. "Sisco"s a nice enough show, but if I'm going to start watching TV at 10 pm on Wednesdays, L&O wins, hands down. (As a prosecutor-in-training, Jack McCoy is my new hero.)

And I'm still avoiding "Whoopi" at all costs.

Blinded by the Right

Last year, Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" was released as a major motion picture, with one major difference from the novel on which it was based. In the novel, the villains were Muslim terrorists, but in the film they were changed to be Neo-Nazis instead.

Today, John Grisham returned in force to the big screen with the release of "Runaway Jury." And as with "Sum," there is a major change from the book. In this case, the novel's villain was a tobacco company, but the film changed them to be a gun manufacturer, and further altered the story to address (or perhaps promote) gun control.

The commonality between these two is clear. In both adaptations, the film creators jettisoned the nearly-universal villain in favor of one that is traditionally an enemy of the Left. Instead of Muslim fundamentalists, the villain becomes white men (albeit racist white men). And instead of Big Tobacco, it's the gun lobby. And I don't see any reason in either instance as to why the original story demanded change.

For some time, I've lamented the lack of positive conservative portrayals from Hollywood. Now it seems that that's not enough, and they've moved on to inserting conservative villains into stories that originally lacked them.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

TV: Series Premieres

And now, let's see what's on tap for the new season:

The Handler

My family hasn't had HBO for years, and thus I've never seen an episode of "The Sopranos." So while I'm familiar with Joe Pantoliano's work, I've never seen him in his most infamous role. That said, he's good here, and I think this show has a good chance of surviving. After two episodes, the premise is solid, the plots are convincing, and the "players" are good. And the first episode was capped with a nice surprise at the end. I do hope they expand the number of undercover agents, because watching the same small handful of agents week after week could get repetitive. A rotating cast of 8 or so would be sufficient. Still, despite all its good points, there's just not enough here to bring me back every week, especially on Friday nights. It'll be an occasional watch, I expect.

Whoopi

When NBC pulled a rerun of "Scrubs" at the last minute in order to re-air this pilot, I figured I might as well give it a try. I wish I hadn't. This program is absolutely atrocious. Lots of unfunny jokes, lots of exaggerated situations, and characters that I couldn't care less about. Actually, the Persian mechanic manages to squeeze a laugh or two out of his lines, but even those moments are spotty. On the other hand, the white-acting-black girlfriend character is incredibly annoying, and is one of the worst sitcom characters that I can recall. As a one-episode guest she would be irritating and forgettable, but as a regular, she's a horrid idea. While it did well its first week, I can only hope those viewers will wisen up and let this show die fast.

Lilo & Stitch

This Saturday morning cartoon spin-off of last year's Disney movie seemed like a great idea in theory, but I'm not crazy about the execution. I really enjoyed the film, and the premise of the show is decent enough (i.e. searching out Stitch's fellow experiments), but the result is fairly bland. There are high points, particularly David Ogden Stiers' Dr. Jumba, as well as Captain Gantu (who unfortunately has been made into a bit more of a comic relief character than I'd prefer) and his Monty Python-esque bunny boss. And the art and animation is better than most network cartoons these days. But in order to make the show 'educational,' some parts of the show get overtly preachy and dull, and the aura of Pokemon doesn't help matters in the plot department. I'll give the show another shot, but I'm not expecting much. Still, it's sure to appeal to the little ones, and the built-in premise promises at least 600 more stories to tell, so I'm sure this'll survive for a while.

Friday, October 03, 2003

TV: Season Premieres

Smallville

Thoroughly enjoyable, and even moreso with a group of friends. "Kal" goes bad, Lex goes crazy, and Pa goes super. A little more mythology, and a little more development. Plus, the opening shot of the Daily Planet Globe was just perfect. My biggest complaint is that since this is a two-parter, and the season finale was a two-parter, the result is a 4-part story, and I want some resolution.

Scrubs

I waited so long for this, especially since NBC aired the season finale back in April, and chose not to premiere it with the rest of Must-See-TV last week. And frankly, I was a bit disappointed. It felt like they were trying too hard for the jokes, and there wasn't as much of a heart to the episode. The radiologist was particularly grating. It was still funny, but I hope this was just a fluke.

The West Wing

Despite all the raves this show has received over the years, and despite my love for Sorkin's "Sports Night," I've never watched this regularly, and I finally realized why. Under Sorkin's pen, conservatives were practically evil, and it's difficult to watch a show where you're the bad guy. That said, the first two eps of this season were pretty good. The slant is still there, but at least it's kinder to my POV. I doubt it'll make it on my weekly schedule, but it was worthwhile.

Alias

Yet another show I haven't watched before. But despite having seen only last year's post-Superbowl episode, I managed to catch up with the show's plot quickly, and it really grabbed me. Lots of intrigue and scheming, and lots of questions to be answered in upcoming episodes. I did think Sydney's rebuke of her ex was awfully harsh, though. This may well make it on my schedule now, but it'll be tough, as it's opposite both "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Three years ago, at the close of the UGA/Tennessee game at Sanford Stadium here in Athens, was the time I was most ashamed to be a UGA Bulldog. UGA had not defeated the Volunteers in several seasons, and when we broke that streak, hundreds of students took to the field (some even before the game ended), and tore down the goalposts. I found it to be highly classless, as well as wanton destruction of property.

But such goalpost destruction was not an isolated incident. Such behavior has become almost commonplace across the country. And so while it isn't surprising to see that a student was injured a couple of years back, it is offputting to see that said student is suing the goalpost manufacturer.

I could be mistaken, but I think most goalposts have warnings on them that state that persons should not hang on them. Is this plaintiff claiming that such warning wasn't enough, that a rational person wouldn't anticipate the danger of a goalpost falling on him? Or that it should have been made more difficult to pull down? Or perhaps that it should have been a break-a-way goalpost to accomodate vandalism?

I hope his lawyer is slapped with a sanction for filing a frivolous lawsuit. I can't believe the school is actually settling with him, when his client was engaged in destroying school property.