Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week (sorta)

A young cousin came over today and showed me how, through the magic of the internet, I could get the soundtrack to INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM in mp3 form. I had the record as a boy, and still feel a heck of a lot of fondness for the movie* and its music.
So, I downloaded the soundtrack (my cousin told me that they're not called "soundtrack"s anymore, but that I had to search for them under "OST"s. That mildly irritated me), and just started listening to it while doing some paperwork. Well, the title track started up (the one called "The Temple of Doom") and I was reminded of, several years ago, how I had made a cassette tape of several of my favourite John Williams movie tracks, and had taken it with me away from home. I would put it and other instrumental tapes on quietly at night to put me to sleep (I still do it with the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN soundtrack), thinking nothing of it.

Well, one night, a new roommate of mine turned on the light and started to rouse the others about what was playing. He became somewhat hysterical that I was listening to a cult of devil worshippers reciting their chants to Father Satan, and instead of laughing the incident off, it made me rather angry with the new roommate.

I handled it the best way I knew how: instead of explaining what the source of the music was, I began to mutter "Kali Ma protects us, we are her children."

Rish "Short Round" Outfield

*Which reminds me: I put the DVD in the other week, just to test out my sound system, and ended up watching TEMPLE OF DOOM all the way through to the end, really surprised by how great it is, after all of these years. And after all your many insistences that it's not a very good movie. It's nice to be right for a change.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Babysitter of the Year: Part IV

It's probably best you don't ask.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bottom Five Jim Carreys

So, as I said earlier, since YES MAN opens today, I wanted to know what everybody's least favourite (or Bottom Five) Jim Carrey movies are.This time, I went ahead and sent his IMDB filmography, to job people's memories. It was interesting to see that he was in films like THE DEAD POOL and PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED.

So, my five least favourites would have to be:
I worked on FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, so I dragged my family to it when it came out that holiday season, thinking that a) it would be amusing, and b) they might see me in it. Neither was the case.

But ohhhhhh, how I hated HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (and still do).

The first to respond was Prison Guard Johnny. I am distressed to see ETERNAL SUNSHINE on his list, but hey, to each his own. John's list:
27. The Majestic
26. Earth Girls are Easy
25. Batman Forever
24. Me, Myself, and Irene
23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Jeff the Chemist sent a list, but prefaced it with the fact that he hasn't seen any of them. It was:
1) Dumb & Dumber
2) Ace Ventura 2
3) Ace Ventura
4) Cable Guy
5) Rubberface

You know, I might have to disqualify him on this one.Beta Ray Charles wrote:
5. The Majestic (not really bad, just not memorable)
4. The Number 23
3. Fun with Dick and Jane
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
1. Ace Venture: Pet Detective

No Nickname Rhett sent me:
1. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
2. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
3. The Cable Guy
4. Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events
5. Me, Myself, & Irene

Merrill wrote that he hasn't seen enough Carrey films to make a full list, and only sent these two:
1. Man on the Moon
2. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

Similarly, tyranist reminded me that he's only seen five Jim Carrey movies all the way through, and won't list the ones he loved. So, his list consisted of:
1. Batman Forever
2. The Majestic

Even worse, Evil Cousin Ryan sent only one title:
1. Batman Forever

And I have it on good authority that he not only really liked that movie when it came out, but actually owns it.

So, I guess our "winners" are:
All in all, this wasn't a very successful list. I may need to take a break for a while.

Rish "Rubberface" Outfield

Majel Barrett R.I.P.

I really like Star Trek a lot. This may come as a shock, but I've gone to a Star Trek convention before. Perhaps it's a shock that I've only gone to one, but hey, Patrick Stewart was there, and I defy you to proclaim that not cool.

So, it was with sadness today that I read that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the "First Lady of Star Trek," passed away. She was seventy-six, and died of leukemia.

Majel Barrett has done more episodes of "Star Trek" than anyone. My guess is she's done twice the number that Michael Dorn has done, and he's got, what, ten years under his belt?
I was a fan.

I loved Lwaxana Troi. Even the mudbath episode.

Having never met her or gotten to work on any of the films or series (I once changed my clothes in William Shatner's chair, but that's probably best left unmentioned), I don't have a whole lot to say on the matter.

Apparently, she's gonna be the computer voice in the J.J. Abrahms TREK film. Maybe it won't be so bad after all.

Rish "Nurse Chapel" Outfield

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

As you know, usually my blog consists of either a) me talking inanely about a TV show I watched, or b) me admitting something that makes me look bad.

But I'm going to switch it up a bit and make a little boast here: I have never, in my long, utterly worthless life, seen an Uwe Boll movie.

Nope. Never happened.

In case you are new in town, Uwe Boll is a German director who is not only technically insane, but is regarded as the world's worst film director. Under his belt, he's made such films as ALONE IN THE DARK, BLOODRAYNE, FROGGER: THE MOVIE, POSTAL, BLOODRAYNE 2:DELIVERANCE, SEED, E.T. THE VIDEO GAME: THE MOVIE, BLOODRAYNE IV:RELIVERANCE, HOUSE OF THE DEAD, CUSTER'S REVENGE: THE MOVIE, and BLOODRAYNE 3: THE PREQUEL TO BLOODRAYNE IV. He tends to write and produce his films, as well as threaten to beat up their detractors.I don't like video game movies--and frankly, neither should you--so I'd never felt the need to see any of his films (even though I was tempted to see BLOODRAYNE if only to mock it). And it doesn't hurt that the guy is infamous for having more films on the IMDB's Bottom 100 list than Ed Wood, Roger Corman, and all the Wayanses put together.

Well, here's where the Stupid Thing of the Week comes in. I was at tyranist's for our weekly Wednesday get-together, and he wanted to watch Boll's "Dungeon Siege" movie. His rationale was that a) it had Jason Statham in it; b) tyranist has a mad crush on Jason Statham; c) tyranist happened to have it on his TiVo; d) I enjoyed playing the "Dungeon Siege" game; and e) a maaaaaad crush.

I told him I didn't want to see it, and gave him the whole "I ain't nevah seen no Uwe Boll movie" argument. Which he didn't believe. He taunted me, and when that didn't work, tried to convince me I like both Claire Forlani and Leelee Sobieski. Which I don't.

Then tyranist began to beg and plead, really making an arse of himself to get me to watch it. Finally, he told me John Rhys-Davies was in it, and said he'd let me tell my John Rhys-Davies "Don't look at my dick" story again.

I guess I'll never tire of that one.

I told him I'd consider watching it if, at the point in the movie that it got really stupid, I could tell him to turn it off. He probably had no intention of going along with it, but he agreed, and we began to watch, deep breath . . . IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE.So, now I've seen an Uwe Boll movie.

And to make matters stupider, I didn't think it was all that bad. Oh, it wasn't a good movie, not by any stretch, there wasn't a line of memorable dialogue throughout, and certain scenes either didn't work or seemed almost to have been inserted in the wrong place of the story. But there were a couple moments that were pretty good, the special effects were actually passable, and most of the actors fared pretty well (heck, even Claire Forlani).

Maybe it had something to do with Uwe Boll not writing the screenplay (makes me wonder what an adequate director might have done with the material), or maybe it was my expectations of absolute crap that kept me from absolutely hating it (I don't recall ever telling tyranist that we'd reached the point where he needed to turn it off).

Or maybe it had something to do with me falling asleep in the middle and having one of those alone-on-an-island-with-that-Waverly-Place-girl dreams when I should have been watching Matthew Lillard doing his drunken Paul Lynde impression.

Oh, Ray Liotta was truly awful, and I pity him. And Kristanna Loken (and her gaggle of damn lesbian tree witches) just plain sucked. But I didn't find ITNOTK:ADST as terrible as say, THE SCORPION KING 2, THE HAPPENING, or even X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE.

So, who's stupid now?

Rish "It Was A Rhetorical Question" Outfield

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top Five Jim Carrey Movies

You know, I've learned to dislike Jim Carrey lately, and I'm not really sure why. His new film YES MAN opens next week, and even though I think it looks terrible, I thought I'd stay positive, and ask everybody's Top Five Jim Carrey movies. If all goes well, I'll ask for least favourites next week (especially if YES MAN is bad).

My list:
My cousin Ryan was the first to respond (even though he was the last one I sent the request to, just to keep things fair). Unfortunately, he only watches video game movies and/or flicks where dumb guys fight, so he could only send the five Jim Carry films he's seen.*

His list:
1. The Truman Show
2. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
3. Dumb and Dumber
4. Batman Forever
5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

To my chagrin, tyranist was next to respond . . . with the exact same situation. He claims to have only seen five Jim Carrey films also, and they are:
1. A Series of Unfortunate Events
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. The Truman Show
4. The Majestic
5. Batman Forever
I guess I'm not the only one who has a problem with SeƱor Carrey.

Corrupt Hollywood Lawyer Ian sent me:
1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
2. The Truman Show
3. Bruce Almighty
4. Simon Birch
5. Peggy Sue Got Married

Something tells me he checked a filmography first.

Jeff the Psychotic Chemist sent this list to me (but it wasn't in any order and may also have just been a list of Carrey films he'd seen):
Once Bitten
The Truman Show
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Bruce Almighty
(though I never saw the whole thing)

Merrill sent me (which is surprisingly close to my list):
1. The Mask
2. Dumb and Dumber
3. Liar, Liar
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. The Truman Show
Prison Guard Johnny sent me:
1. Liar Liar
2. Ace Ventura
3. Dumb and Dumber
4. Ace Ventura II
5. The Mask

"No Nickname" Rhett sent along:
1. The Majestic
2. Liar Liar
3. The Grinch
4. The Mask
5. The Truman Show

So, it appears our winners are:

I do look forward to the bottom five, way more than I do to seeing YES MAN.


*I wonder if that means I need to use this list again next week.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Babysitter of the Year: Part III

My sister told me under no circumstances should I give the baby Coca-Cola. I'm not sure of the reason, but I made sure to honour her wishes.
I think I'm getting better.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

So, there's a guy at work who has gotten on my nerves, almost from the beginning. The man is a gigantic oaf, with a squinty mongoloid face and about eighty teeth. But it's what comes out of his mouth that really gets to me.

I might not have given him a second glance if he didn't have the charming tendency of inferring that his other male coworkers are homosexuals. Sure, I used the word all the time when I was fourteen, but after living in L.A. and broadening my views, I cringe when I hear "faggot" tossed around like "dude" or "bro" or "man" or "funster."

And I am aware of the hypocrisy of using the word "fuck" the other day and yet criticising someone who uses "faggot." But, the real dealbreaker (you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means) was when I heard him say, "Are you cereal?" the other night. I cringed, because it's perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever heard (and I hear people say "irregardless" and "nucular" and "and "They give no shit"* all the time).

And I'm vaguely aware of it being used in an episode of "South Park," so I'd let it go, except that last night, I heard him say it two more times.
Overloud Moron: What time is it, bruh?
Other coworker: Almost five.
Overloud Moron: Are you cereal?

I have no words to describe how asinine that sounds, except, perhaps, to quote "South Park" myself.

"What the hell would you know you fat sweaty Mongoloid?!"

Thank you,

Rish "Are you serial?" Outfield

*Actually, "they give no shit" is a pretty cool saying. Can I take that one back?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Some More Angel Wednesdays

I really have enjoyed watching "Angel" this season. But I haven't felt the overpowering need to blog about it.

I suppose, on the offchance that all copies of the show are lost, along with every other synopsis and review, that I ought to continue blogging these, though.

After all, we're so near the end.

Next up in my recap recaps is "Destiny," written by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight.

It features a flashback to the first time Spike met Angelus. And wouldn't you know, they hit it off immediately. Angelus is happy to have another guy around to chum around and slaughter with, and it occurred to me that I had never seen Spike and Angel as friends, in any episode that I can remember.

Well, their friendship doesn't really last, as Spike tells Angelus how happy he is to have a purpose in (un)life and that he considers Drusilla to be his destiny. Angelus then goes on to have sex with Drusilla, mocking Spike, and when Spike attacks him, Angelus soundly thrashes the younger vampire.

Back in the present, Spike gets a package in the mail. When Harmony opens it for him, there's a new burst of light . . . and suddenly Spike is corporeal again. He immediately grabs Harmony and makes up for lost time.

Harmony starts bleeding from her eyes and turns evil . . .er, and later, it happens to Gunn too. All sorts of things start going wrong around the building, and Eve proclaims that it's because there's a problem with the universe: there are now two hero vampires with souls to fulfill the Shanshu Prophesy.

Wesley is off marrying Willow, so they go to Sirk (I looked him up the first time through), the ex-Watcher in the Records Department. He's got a copy of the Shanshu Prophesy in its original language, and explains that all the translations have been incomplete. According to the original prophesy, the balance can only be repaired when the destined vampire drinks "from the Cup of Perpetual Torment," which has been recently found in a condemned building out in the Nevada desert.

Sirk says the cup is in a destroyed opera house in Death Valley, Nevada. So both Spike and Angel head off to reach it, both insisting that they are the destined vampire.

What follows is the mother of all battles: Spike versus Angel, both physically and verbally. Spike thinks he's better than Angel because he went out and earned a soul, and Angel had one forced upon him. Angel thinks he's better than Spike because he didn't get a soul just to impress a girl. Spike thinks he's better than Angel because he got to sleep with Buffy lots of times, and Angel only got the once. Angel thinks he's better than Spike because every time Buffy was with Spike, she really wished it was Angel.

They punch and throw each other around, and Spike just keeps getting back up. Spike thinks he's better than Angel because Angel works for an evil lawfirm now. Angel thinks he's better than Spike because Spike is too dumb to know the difference between good and evil.

It's an exhausting battle, and it only comes to a close when Spike picks up a broken board and impales Angel with it . . . through the shoulder instead of the heart, though he could have killed him. Spike staggers to the cup and drinks it.

It is full of Mountain Dew.

They return to Wolfram & Hart, realising that Sirk's translation was a lie. The ex-Watcher is gone, and Eve tells them that the Senior Partners stepped in and rebalanced the universe as best they could. Angel confesses to Gunn that Spike finally beat him after all these years, because he wanted it more than Angel did.

The coda of the story shows us where Eve goes at night: she has an apartment with her co-conspirator behind this whole thing, laughing about how easily she tricked Angel and Company. Her partner turns out to be good old ex-lawyer Lindsay McDonald, chuckling about their future plans. The end.

This was a much better episode than I've described (both times), and the fight was very impressive. I don't suppose we need any more flashbacks to Angel or Spike's past after this one. Except for whatever I'm not remembering.

That brings us to "Harm's Way," written by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, who are the showrunners on Joss's new series "Dollhouse."

I have almost nothing to say about this one, and I figured that, the moment Joss and Company got the word that "Angel" would not be renewed for a sixth season, that we would no longer get any light and stand-alone episodes like this one. We shall see.

This was a Harmony-centric episode . . . and I never wrote it up. In fact, this post sat for a couple of years because I apparently lost interest before finishing it. Shame.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Top Five Dealbreakers

So, I was having a conversation not too long ago about "dealbreakers," a term I coined for actors or actresses that I dislike so much that, if there's a movie coming out and it has one of them in it, I just won't see the movie. Or worse, there's a movie that sounds like it might be good, then I find out who's in it, and I decide to pass.* It was an interesting conversation, since one of the people my friend considered a dealbreaker actually used to guarantee I'd go see the movie.

I explained this, and asked people to give me their Top Five Dealbreakers. Only one person responded. So, I amended the request and asked people to give me five actors/actresses they despise. Only one more person responded.

My cousin told me that there simply aren't actors that do that to him, and, with the exception of Pauley Shore (and maybe the late Rodney Dangerfield), he likes everybody. Not surprising for someone who likes every movie he sees.

But I am just so very critical, judgmental, and easily-irritated, that I could make a Top Twenty list of Dealbreakers, not just five.
So, here you go:
1. Vin Diesel
2. Mark Wahlberg
3. Owen Wilson (who I couldn't remember the name of and so called "The blond bottle rocket shanghai noon guy")
4. Steven Segal
(though he's not really such a factor anymore, is he?**)
5. Reese Witherspoon
6. Kate Hudson
7. Michelle Rodriguez
(sorta makes FAST & FURIOUS a non-issue for me)
8. Catherine Keener
9. Madonna
10. Ashton Kutcher
11. Vince Vaughn
12. Cameron Diaz
13. Thandie Newton
14. Keanu Reeves
15. Ben Stiller

And lots, lots more.

Tyranist was, of course, the one who responded right out of the gate. His list:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Cameron Diaz
Meg Ryan
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Abigail Breslin

My buddy Rhett also sent a list of celebrities he's sick to death of, which is a fair response, I suppose, to my second request. It was:
1. Rosie
2. Anna Nicole Smith
(apparently she did more for mankind than we can even imagine with how she has been immortalized)
3. Lindsey Lohan, Madonna, and Britney Spears
4. Brad and Angelina
5. Tom and Katie

Merrill sent me a couple names, because I complained that no one participated in this one. His list:
Vin Diesel
Jean Claude Van Damme
Steven Segal
Molly Shannon

(almost but just not quite) Steve Carell
(another who's getting there)Will Ferrell

Well, this was probably a failed attempt. I won't bother to tally our "winners." At least Merrill had the right idea on his.

Rish Diesel Outfield

*An example would be: last year, I heard the plot to SHOOTER and thought, "Dang, that sounds like it's gonna be right up my alley." But then I found out its star, and I thought, "Oh, that's too bad. Guess I'll skip it."

**Fairuza Balk, Rosie Perez, and Molly Shannon could all join him on the "they really don't show up anymore, so why count them?" list.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

Today, for the first time, I got to run the big box smasher at work. It's a big metal cage that you fill up with cardboard, then turn on the hydraulic, which compresses it down with a whir and a clang.

As I pushed the button and the smasher came down, I said, "You're terminated, fucker!" The looks on the faces around me ranged from confusion to utter horror, but not a single soul laughed.

Rish "Box Crusher" Outfield

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Angel Wednesdays

I've complained about this before, but blogger has, once again deleted an entire post (one I'd spent the last two hours typing up). It doesn't tell you that it's not saving your work every time you hit Save, and you only lose everything when you hit Publish.

If this were the first, second, or third time this had happened, I could maybe consider it a problem with me, or the program. But now, I'm seriously starting to consider blaming you. For everything wrong in my life, really.

So, it's with sadness, and more cursing than a sailor with Tourette's Syndrome, that I REWRITE my recaps of the next four episodes. Argggh.First up is "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco," which is the closest thing we'll get to a throwaway episode this seas . . . ever.

It was written and directed by Jeffrey Bell, and it focused quite a bit on one of Wolfram & Hart's employees: a mailboy we'd seen walking around, who always wears a Mexican wrestling mask.

Many years ago, this guy was part of a group of five brothers (all wearing numbered wrestling masks) who did battle with the forces of evil, helping the helpless, and saving dubiously hot women from monstrous foes. But when an Aztec demon killed his four brothers, Numero Cinco retired from the hero business.

I'm reminded of that "Star Trek" episode with Teri Garr, and the guy who had the pet cat that he talked to. It was supposed to be a back-door pilot for a spin-off series, but it never went beyond that, and I almost got the feeling that the Mexican wrestler bit was like that.

There is a big confrontation in the cemetery at the end, when the Aztek demon fights Angel and Numero 5, and the four dead brothers come out of their graves to help kill the demon. Numero 5 dies in the process, but presumably gets to go on to further adventures in the great beyond. The end.

So, next up is "Lineage," written by Drew Goddard. And I'll just start off by saying that a) this was an excellent episode, and b) that I am biased because it was Wesley-centric.

Wesley goes out on a mission with Fred and Angel and almost gets Fred killed by cyborgs. This puts Angel and Wesley at odds, since it was Wesley who asked Fred to be there. Eve, the nasty little liason between Angel and the Senior Partners, thinks Angel is still angry at Wesley for stealing Baby Connor away from him a couple of seasons ago. Wesley no longer has any memory of doing that, but it looks like it'll be a sticking point for years to come. Kind of like those times I ran over tyranist's children.

Wesley is not having a very good day. Fred doesn't appreciate his overprotectiveness of her, probably won't ever have sex with him, and calls him a child in front of his father, who has come to Wolfram & Hart to talk to Wesley about reforming the Watchers Council.

We've never met Wesley's father before, but I'd always got the impression that he was a humourless, stern, strong-willed, conservative old school curmudgeon just like my own father. And I couldn't have been righter. This guy, Roger Wyndam-Pryce, has never been anything but disappointed in his son, and almost immediately, he reminds Wesley of his past failures, and the shame he's brought upon the family name for being kicked out of the Council, and now for working for an evil lawfirm.

There's not much Wesley can do to change his father's mind, even though he tries to show him that he has become an important man and is making a difference in the struggle against evil.

Fred thinks she can find out what made the cyborg tick, and Wesley mistranslates the writings on its chest. A bomb starts counting down, and as everyone is being evacuated from the building, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce calmly reads the inscription, then defuses the bomb.

Wesley tries to bond with his father by asking for his help with the cyborg, and showing him the Records Department. It looks like they're going to actually connect--especially when Mr. W-P comments on Wesley's feelings for Fred--but then Wesley shows his father the magical reference books. His father berates him for how dangerous they'd be in the wrong hands, and how inadequate the security behind them is.

Sure enough, a bunch of cyborgs attack the building and while they fight with Gunn and Angel, Wesley takes the books (and his father) to the ultra-secure vault within W&H. As soon as they're inside, his father knocks him out, and steals what appears to be a stick.

He tries to leave the building, and tells Fred that Wesley needs Angel up on the roof. Angel goes up there, and Mr. W-P zaps Angel with the stick, which is really a wand of some kind. It steals Angel's will or something, but Wesley and Fred come up to the roof and Wesley points a gun at his father, demanding that he give the wand back.

Mr. W-P berates Wesley for working with demons and monsters, and tells him he has to eliminate Angel. When that doesn't work, he pulls his own gun and tells Wesley if he doesn't give the wand back, he'll shoot Fred. Wesley shoots his father instead.

But, it turns out, it's not his father. It's also a cyborg. Angel tries to cheer Wesley up by telling him that he actually killed his father once, and Spike tries to cheer Wesley up by telling him that he actually killed his mother once (or twice, technically). After she tried to shag him.

Wesley is not cheered up. Things are made worse when Fred tries to cheer him up, not by describing how she killed her parents, but by stressing why he did it, and that he didn't really do it, and . . . in walks Knox to take Fred home. I don't think that helped much either.

Alone, poor Wesley calls his real parents and asks to speak with his father. Nothing has changed between them, and we hear Mr. Wyndam-Price berating him as we fade to black. The end.

This was an excellent show, and easily the most we've focused on Wesley. My only complaint is the whole father-being-a-cyborg thing. Obviously, the producers thought there was room for more stories about Wesley and his father, not knowing that the end of the series was so near. Had they known they were about to be canceled, I'm sure things would have been different.

But wouldn't they all?*

So, next up was "Des"--you know, I'll come back to that one. I'm going to make sure this one posts alright.


*For example, had I known that all my work was going to disappear, I wouldn't have tried so hard to be clever and insightful and funny. And I sure as hell wouldn't have spell-checked.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Top Five R080Ts

Apparently, this is my three hundred and thirty-third post.

We're halfway there, kids.

My pal Big Anklevich and I have had a podcast going for a few months, and we've done fourteen episodes. I've really enjoyed reading fiction stories and being insulted weekly by R080T, Big's android sidekick. If you'd like to participate in insulting me, check us out at The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine.

Sometime I'll have to ask Big what "dunesteef" means.

And speaking of robots, WALL-E came out on DVD this week, and I ran out and bought it (of course). I was discouraged to see that the special edition was ridiculously overpriced, and that Disney "justified" the extra cost by including a third disc with a digital copy on it. That sort of thing is absolute crap, like the mini-fad a few years ago of including the soundtrack album (or worse, portions of the soundtrack album) as a "bonus" disc (which you still have to pay extra for).My pal Merrill is the biggest Pixar fan I know. I think you'd actually have to work for Pixar to love it more than he does. I had told him, a few years ago, that I had thought Fox's ROBOTS computer-animated film was pretty good. Well, Merrill accused me of orally pleasuring a wildebeest when I told him that.

But today, while raking leaves and thinking about WALL-E, I realised that ROBOTS is a steaming, undulating wet turd compared to WALL-E. It sucks to be wrong.

Then I started to think about robots (not the movie, but the . . . beings) and I thought I would ask everyone for their five favourites. Because I messed up so badly on the Fourth Films list (by sending an IMDB link that included video games and fourth installments that haven't even been made), I left it up to everyone for what they considered a robot and what source materials they'd pull from.

My picks are:
1. C-3PO
2. R2-D2
3. Lt. Commander Data
5. The Terminator

Big Shot Lawyer Ian was the first to respond. His list:
1. R2-D2
2. C3-PO
(it was really hard to decide who was number 1 between these two)
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger as T800 (is it the T800?)
4. KITT From Knight Rider (does he count as a robot?)
5. Ash from Alien

Jeff the Chemist not only sent a list, he sent a list of (I kid you not) every robot he culd think of from his childhood and how much he liked or disliked it. I guess I could include that here, but I didn't even recognise a name or two on the list (for example, Seven Zark Seven, and something called "Johnny Sako and the Flying Robot"), and really only wanted his top five. They were:
1) Terminator
2) R2D2
4) Data
5) Bishop

Merrill sent me this list, explaining that he didn't take the time to think it through because he wanted to be the first responder (which he wasn't):
1. Optimus Prime
2. R2D2
3. Wall-E
4. C3PO
5. Johnny Five

I had a conversation with my cousin shortly after asking for his list, and he said, "I listed a robot from the Star Wars movies, but it wasn't Artoo and Threepio." I said, "It was EVE-9D9, wasn't it?" He seemed really surprised that I guessed that (though my second guess would've been IG-88), but I guess that just shows we have more in common than I believed.

Ryan's list:
1. Brainiac (Superman: The Animated Series)
2. Data
3. T-1000
4. T-X
5. EV-9D9
(the droid in charge of all droids at Jabba's)

He also said that if anyone listed Twiki from "Buck Rogers," he would hunt them down and beat them to a bloody pulp with a rusty crowbar. I'm not a fan of Twiki myself, but he's better than the Terminatrix from T3, man.

Tyranist sent the following infuriating list:
1. Cybermen
2. T-800
3. K-9
4. Bender
5. Maximillian

Beta Ray Charles sent me a list that he assured me was only robots, and no cyborgs or androids like the rest of us plebeians would cite. It was (oh, and it's in reverse order):
5. H.E.R.B.I.E.
4. The Iron Giant
3. Optimus Prime
1. R2-D2

Rhett who works for the government was last answer. But his list was:
1. Darth Vader (I know, but you remember the line: "He is more machine now than man...twisted and evil."
2. Optimus Prime (Any time that they make the character of a robot so cool that you want to be like him is saying something.)
3. The Terminator
4. The T-1000 Terminator
5. Data

If I'm not incorrect, that makes the following our winners:
1. R2-D2
2. The Terminator
3. (tie) Optimus Prime/WALL-E/C-3PO

Sadly, no one mentioned the Buffybot.

It's amazing how varied and unusual everybody's lists were. Maybe I should've narrowed the parameters a little. But maybe not, maybe it's more interesting this way.

If it's interesting at all.

Rish "More Machine Than Man" Outfield

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

I was reminded of this potential STOTW while talking with my pal Jeff tonight.

The other night, I went to see Kevin Smith's new movie with my brother. He and I have never really been friends, but I figured he was the only person in the area I knew who would go to a movie called ZACH & MIRI MAKE A PORNO with me.

Well, at some point during the film, my brother got up to go to the bathroom, and about two minutes later, a couple a row or two in front of us also got up. But they weren't going to the bathroom. They were disgusted with the film and made no secret of it.

Fortunately for the story, my brother happened to be coming into the theatre as they were stomping out of it, and he heard them complaining about how dirty and inappropriate the movie was, and they were on their way to storm the ticket counter to demand their money back.

I need not explain why this sort of thing infuriated me. It was not a Disney Channel film they had been attending. It was no sneak preview. There was no room for surprise in a film like this.

I wanted to grab one of them and scream right in their face, Ellen Ripley-style, "You paid to see this movie! You asked the ticket taker for a pass to see a movie with 'porno' in the title, and you claim innocence now, you ignorant brown-eye?! Well, you're not gonna sleaze your way out of this one. I'm gonna make sure they nail you right to the wall for this, Burke, RIGHT TO THE WALL!!!"

I didn't, of course. But, dude.

Rish Outfield

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton R.I.P. (and Top 5)

5 November 2008

My friend Merrill sent me an email, letting me know author Michael Crichton had died. Soon after, it was on the news and on the internet that cancer had claimed him at age 66.He was a shockingly tall man, who used to come into the video store where I worked fairly often, enough that I came to recognise him by sight and chatted with him on several occasions. He used to HATE it when I, or another employee, would talk to him about JURASSIC PARK. He could be surprisingly grouchy about the novel/film that made him most famous.

But at the same time, he loved to talk with us about ANDROMEDA STRAIN, COMA, TWISTER, and even CONGO. I remember asking him about the TV show "e.r." (which was my favourite programme at the time) and how he explained that it started as a screenplay he wrote years before, and somehow ended up as a pilot . . . to a show that's still on all these years later.

Anyway, I figured I'd ask people about their Five Favourite Michael Crichton movies. In looking over his filmography, I didn't find a lot of choices (at least that I'd seen). No wonder I always wanted to talk to him about velociraptors.

My list:

Tyranist was first to respond. His list was:
1. The 13th Warrior
2. Westworld
3. Andromeda Strain
(1971--remakes are for idiots)
4. Jurassic Park
5. Rising Sun

Ryan then sent this list, having not seen enough to cite five:
1 Jurassic Park
2 The Lost World
3 Twister
4 Sphere

Chemist Jeff sent this list (as well as an essay about Crichton's books versus his movies):
1 - Runaway - Dunno why, but always enjoy watching this movie. And Kirstey Alley was still cute. No clue he wrote it.
2 - Jurassic Park - Just a well done movie based on a really good book
3 - Twister - No clue this was his, but a fun movie. Always wanted to hear him yell "game over!" or "Weirzbowski!!!"
4 - Andromeda Strain - 1971 - I've seen it and enjoyed it, just don't remember all that much, other than the basics...
5 - Jurassic Park 2 -Lost World- though I didn't enjoy it that much, but it's the best of the rest (that I've seen)

Beta Ray Charles helped me out with (nothing that he'd never read a single Crichton novel):
1. Jurassic Park
2. The 13th Warrior
3. Twister
4. Jurassic Park 2
5. Congo

He also wrote "Amy loves Pepsi" after citing CONGO, which I don't really get, but am disturbed by nonetheless.

Unca Rhett sent me a list (and somewhat on time too) with these three:
1. Twister
2. Jurassic Park
3. Jurassic Park: The Lost World

I suppose that makes our winners:

Strangely, nobody listed TIMELINE. I've got an autographed poster of that somewhere. And didn't that have Paul Walker in it?

Rish Outfield

*More than one person complained that the novel was called "Eaters of the Dead," and the film should've been called that. I for one would've been greatly disappointed had I paid to see a movie called EATERS OF THE DEAD and got the Antonio Banderas movie instead.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Babysitter of the Year: Part III

So, I've had the male child in my care a few more times lately. He is, without a doubt, the greatest boy to ever live. He probably makes the Baby Jesus look like a former child actor. I took him out to the park and pushed him on the swing, I took him to the local burger joint and the proprietors gave me free food, I took him with me to Wal-mart and taught him to shoplift. My last several babysitting ventures have been without incident.

But this week, I thought I'd hold him while I watched something on the computer, so I sat him on my bed, went to the computer, meaning to call up something innocuous like "South Park" or "Evil Dead," and when I turned around, the baby was crawling off the edge of the bed.

In slow motion he toppled over and I managed to take a step in his direction before he landed on his little blond head.

Well, of course he wailed and of course I scooped him up and of course I felt guilty, and when my sister came over to pick him up, I had to admit that I had nearly maimed her only son.

To my surprise, she said, "Oh, I did the same thing when he was around three months old. It's no big deal."


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Angel Wednesdays

So, tyranist and I have watched a bunch of "Angel" episodes lately.

When I was blogging about my Buffy Wednesdays, I'd often beg him for a week off so I could catch up. But I'm probably more than a month behind on "Angel" now, and I really don't mind if we watch the show twice a week.

I guess I'll try to be brief and say a few words about three or four episodes. First up was "Unleashed," by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft.

So, Angel and Company are running Wolfram & Hart, and don't know if their co-workers can be trusted. They go to the park to talk about their feelings unobserved. But a blonde goes running by, pursued by a werewolf, and before Angel can slay the monster, she is mauled. Angel kills the werewolf with a silver fountain pen*, but the victim gets away.

He and the others try to track down the woman the next day before she becomes a werewolf herself. The girl's name is Nina, and . . . how do I put this . . . she's dubiously attractive. But hey, she's also about to become a werewolf. She starts craving raw meat and thinks about eating her family.

They bring in a monster expert, Doctor Royce, who's played by the doctor on "Enterprise," John Billingsley, and he tells them why the werewolf in the opening scene looked so much cooler than the one Oz used to turn into. Gunn is able to track the girl down using traffic cameras, and Angel rushes over to her house.

There is a subplot of Spike asking Fred to see what she can do about recorporealising him. He keeps disappearing and reappearing later, but it seems to be taking longer to come back now. He really turns on the charm, and Fred appears to be charmed. I know she's the regular female cast member, but with Wesley, Gunn, Knox, and now Spike after her, I'm starting to wonder what kind of perfume she wears.

Nina turns into a werewolf, but our guys shoot her with a tranquiliser and stick her in a cell at Wolfram & Hart. Angel tells her about her condition and tries to comfort her. He tells her that he's a vampire, but he chooses not to kill, and she can do the same. I honestly don't know if he would have cared if she looked like Barbara Walters, but I guess we'll never know.

During the day, Fred takes Nina to her house to get some stuff. Her family isn't very understanding of where she went at night, but soon they are attacked by a bunch of dudes, who take Nina back to a mansion and hose her down.

Angel is sure someone at Wolfram & Hart betrayed them, and Lorne makes people sing for him. Everybody passes the test, though. Later, Spike's ghost appears in front of Fred, and she follows him into Dr. Royce's office, where she finds some kind of drug that enabled him to pass Lorne's singing test.

Angel beats Royce up, and finds out Royce sold Nina to a bunch of rich dudes who like ultra-gourmet meals. They head to the mansion, where all the people there are salivating at the thought of eating a werewolf.

Well, Angel and company arrive and unties the girl, but she transforms and attacks the first person the script has her see, who is Doctor Royce. They shoot her with tranquilisers and get her out of there, then tell the hungry guests that they can wait a month to eat Royce, since he'll become a werewolf too.

The gang leaves, and Angel takes Nina home, telling her that although she becomes a monster three nights a month, she doesn't have to be evil. Actually, they talk a lot, and I guess there's supposed to be some kind of sexual tension there, and she's reassured by his words and tells him she'll see him in a month.

Fred thanks Spike for leading her to the answers, and he claims to not know what she's talking about. He's worried because, when he disappears, he goes to a very bad place, and thinks that one of these times, he won't come back at all. The end.

During the end credits, I asked tyranist if a) we'd ever see curiously hot werewolf girl again, and b) if they'd resolve the whole Spike Ghost thing in the next episode. He said, "Yes" and "No" to the questions.

It wasn't as though I disliked that episode (though I did), it's just that it didn't feel like an "Angel" show, and it certainly felt divorced from the continuing plotlines of the show's last three episodes.

And yeah, why did she have to be that attractive?

A rather dubiously attractive werewolf.

Tyranist thought the concept of eating a werewolf was dumb because she'd revert to human form as soon as they killed her. I disagreed, considering the whole episode dumb.

Next up was "Hell Bound," written and directed by Steven S. DeKnight. I liked it a bit more than the last one.

Basically, we get to see where Spike goes when he phases out of our world. And that place looks very much like Hell.

Tyranist commented throughout that this was easily the scariest "Angel" episode yet. I'd still give "Shiny Happy People" the nod, but hey, it scares me that I used to actually like a song called that.

Spike is feeling pretty sorry for himself, since as a ghost he can't really move or touch anything, and Fred hasn't figured out a way to give him his body back yet.

He keeps encountering some really disturbing stuff in what looks like a basement: mostly people who are mutilated or undead

Eve, that nasty little liaison to the Senior Partners, tells Angel that Fred is spending too much money on Spike, and Angel tries to convince Fred to abandon her little Spike project. In a neat moment, Fred explains to Angel that Spike is a hero--a champion just like him--who deserves whatever help she can provide so he can assist them in the fight against evil. Angel, however, thinks that the moment Spike gets his body back, he'll go running back to Buffy.

It would seem there's still issues there.

Spike begins seeing dead people all the time that no one else can see, and soon the corpses tell him that the Reaper is on its way. Spike and Angel talk, and Angel tells Spike that their kind doesn't get to escape from Hell, they only get a reprieve before their check has to be paid up. But Fred has explained to Spike about the Shanshu prophesy (that's first season stuff for you, kids), and Spike thinks it could be referring to him, since he also is a vampire who played a major role in the Apocalypse.

Or "an" apocalypse, as these shows are wont to show us.

Before Spike gets sucked down to Hell again, he and Angel share a moment of almost friendship, when Angel admits that during their time together a hundred years back, he kind of liked Spike's poetry. That was cool.

Spike disappears again and when he comes back, no one can see him. He figures that if he concentrates hard enough, he can move a penny up by Demi Moore's face. He uses this ability to write the word "reaper" on Fred's shower door.

This reaper turns out to be some evil dude from England
named Pavayne who was very much a Jack the Ripper-type in the 1800s. On the grounds where the Wolfram & Hart building now stands, Pavayne was killed and his blood was used for deconsecration. But Pavayne has used black magic to avoid going to Hell and haunts the building, sending other souls to Hell in his place.

As a spirit, Spike confronts Pavayne and fights him, claiming he's not ready for eternal torment just yet. Spike realises that he was able to communicate with Fred because he really concentrated, and concentrates on beating the snot out of Pavayne.

Meanwhile, Gunn goes to the white room and gets information from the black panther on how to recorporealise a ghost. He and Fred make a circle and tell Spike to step into it. Pavayne attacks Fred and tells Spike he can either step into the circle or save the girl. Spike chooses neither and pushes Pavayne into the circle, where he comes to life in the lab. The others grab him and, instead of killing him, restrain him. Angel locks him in a tiny vault in Wolfram & Hart, keeping him alive with machinery forever. A fate worse than death, in his case.

Spike ends up still a ghost, but with no more danger of being sent to Hell prematurely. Fred tells him that she'll keep trying to help him, because he's worth it. The end.

Like I said, this one was better than the one before, but it still seemed pretty mean-spirited (that makes two in a row). Fans of the show or the writers could argue that a) I am a whiny little weakling, or b) Angel and company have now spent several weeks working in the den of well-dressed evil, and that evil has rubbed off on all of them a little.

Except Fred, of course.

I believe that's all the "Angel" we watched on one particular Angel Wednesday, but that was at least a month ago, so I should probably continue blogging, since I'm already sitting here.

Next up was "Life of the Party," written by Ben Edlund, and it was a Lorne-centric episode. It began with him on his cellphone, wheeling and dealing with celebrities and snarking it up and calling people "babe" and awful nicknames and using even more pop culture references than usual. Once he's alone, though, we see how much of a toll it's taking on him, planning to throw a huge Halloween party for Wolfram & Hart's staff and clients, and the constant effort to be cheery and on top of things.

He glances in the mirror, and a trapped-looking Ali Larter is staring back at him. No, actually, it's a different Lorne, the Lorne he is on the inside. But Lorne pushes it all deep down and goes back out there, convincing Angel that he needs to personally invite one of the evilest and most influential demon lords (a dude named Sebassis) to the party. Archduke Sebassis has been displeased by Angel and company's takeover of the lawfirm, and Angel gives him a special invitation. Oh, and this guy is just revolting. He is ultra-decadent and white-skinned and keeps servant boys on leashes wearing only a leather speedo.

I know you're thinking this is just like the Vatican, but that's just offensive. These weren't human boys.

So, the party happens, and Lorne runs from guest to guest, trying to get them into the partying mood. Soon, Spike is laughing it up, Fred and Wesley are drunk despite not having imbibed, Angel starts making out with Eve . . . and Gunn begins to pee on things.

It would seem that, in order to get everything done around there, Lorne has been going without sleep, and his subconscious starts to manifest itself, first by psychically causing people to do what he says, and second by creating a giant Lorne Id that tears things apart.

The people affected by Lorne's suggestions snap out of it, and do battle with the huge inner Lorne. The employees, guests, and Sebassis seem to enjoy all this, and finally the gang is able to defeat the giant Lorne by putting the normal-sized Lorne to sleep. Afterward, everyone is a little embarrassed by what went on at the party . . . but that is exactly what office parties are for. The end.

I neither liked this episode nor disliked it. But I can't say I was thrilled with Angel hooking up with Eve. The episode made it look as though they actually had sex, but I choose to ignore that 'cause . . . well, you know, I suppose Angel could have sex with someone he disliked with absolutely no chance of a perfect moment of happiness, couldn't he?

Maybe this episode was better than I thought.

Rish Outfield

*Which shouldn't bother me, because at least one vampire on "Buffy" was killed with a pencil.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stupid Rant of the Week

Pretty much, with every one of my friends, there comes a point where the chief woman in his life (when I was a lad it was his mother, now that I'm semi-grown, it's his wife [which amounts to the same thing]) decides I am a bad influence on that friend. The women express this in different ways. For example:
1. Chris's wife expressed sad disappointment that he went to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN on opening night with me, or took me to THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY on my birthday.
2. Another friend's wife greeted me with a smile only to begin tsking the moment I was out of view.
3. I know of one friendship that simply dried up like an earthworm after a rainstorm fades because the new wife didn't want me around. Don't know where that guy even lives now.
4. As the months became years, Jeff's wife somehow overcame her revulsion of me and seemed to accept me as a sort of misshapen brother-in-law.
5. Merrill's wife intimated that I was unworthy to meet her sisters, and perhaps I should be kept from the children as well.
6. Matthew's live-in girlfriend shudders herself in her room when I come over, as if the mere sight of me might drive her to madness.
7. And Dennis's wife found me so threatening as to not speak to me, but tell her husband "to tell your friend" that it was time to go home, or people with jobs don't stay up late on a weeknight. She so hated me at one time that I fear she may have gone to her grave with that dislike not fully extinguished.

I could go on, but the dead horse has been soundly beaten.

In the last year, my cousin and I have become surprisingly close, finding that we both like comic books, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," movies, action figures, "Star Trek," and certain types of music. Though we rarely spent any time together in childhood, we now get together every Tuesday, collecting toys, watching "Firefly," eating at Wendy's, shopping, playing video games, painting, and conversing. While his wife initially said nothing, his mother was the first to express disapproval that we seemed to have formed a friendship. My mother's sister goes as far as to interrupt our conversations, asking him to go talk to someone other than me, which I can only guess that he finds amusing, or is somehow able to ignore.*

Sadly, though, it seems that the day has come when my cousin's wife has discovered my ill influence on her boy. She's smart and long-suffering, cooks good food, often takes an interest in our conversations (or seems to), and strikes me as quite easy to get along with. But it is inevitable that she--like all other women I encounter--discover that I am the source of all that is dark, dirty, and ill-smelling in the universe. Twas I who convinced Eve to take a bite of that delicious-looking bit of fruit. Twas I who introduced the black plague into merry old England. Twas I who suggested to young Hitler that maybe the Jews were getting a little too big for their britches. Twas I who urged them terrorists to do something about the great Satan America. Twas I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator.

Lately, she has mentioned the messy blackness I represent in her clean white universe. And really, there's not much I can do to change a woman's mind about me. I'm just a bad person, through and through. Heck, I took a seven year old to "Sweeney Todd," what more evidence do you need?

So, my cousin came over this past Tuesday, sharing in my plan to drive all over the valley looking for rare toys that I could sell and he could put on his shelves, a sort of miniature road trip. Because my cousin has been having money difficulties of late--and who hasn't?--I suggested that I drive my soon-to-pass-away car up north and back. But when I mentioned that we'd have to clear out the trunk and back seat of boxes**, my cousin decided to drive instead (I guess I owe him some cash for gas, but since he owes me stacks of currency, the crown jewels, and his firstborn male son at this point, it didn't occur to me to pay him up front).

We drove around, discussing his lack of funds, his favourite Green Lantern, the disciplining of children, and Brendan Fraser, and he spent a great deal more cash than he intended to do. In fact, he was not relishing having to explain to his wife why there'd be no more hot meals this calendar year when . . . the flashing lights behind us caught our attention.

My cousin had been doing eighty in a sixty mile an hour zone, and just as the policeman handed him the speeding ticket . . . his wife called to check on him. The poor boy had to sign the ticket, thank the policeman***, then get back on the phone to explain to his woman why there'd be no hot meals in the New Year, and more importantly, why I wasn't driving the car like they'd/we'd agreed.

I had to sit there and listen to him writhe. It was very sad and I hope I can make it up to him someday.

Preferably in a way that involves no expediture or effort on my part.

But let this be a lesson to you: if ever you are unfortunate enough to befriend me, don't introduce me to your better half.

Maybe it would be a good idea not to hang out with me at all.

Rish "We are quite safe from your friends here" Outfield

*Besides, he doesn't live under her roof anymore, so I guess she can only cajole with no real power behind it.

**If you recall, I'm a box scrounger.

***Why is it that we feel the need to thank policemen when they harass us or fine us? If anything, they should thank us for giving them money. But I think I've done it every time I've been pulled over or pressed up against a police car. Are we just afraid of the nightstick?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top Four Number Fours

I remember when tyranist and I first saw FRIDAY 4. I thought it was great, and a huge step up from part 3. Now, I feel quite the opposite.

There are some good fourth installments out there. HALLOWEEN IV was good, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD was probably last year's best summer action flick, and RAMBO was my favourite one in that series, despite the almost-sickening violence throughout. Hell, I didn't even hate INDY 4 as much as everyone else did.

So, my picks--difficult as they were to make--are:
1. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (my favourite of the series)
2. LETHAL WEAPON 4 (ditto)

My cousin told me the link I sent everyone was quite worthless, listing movies like THE MUMMY 4, the fourth PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, JURASSIC PARK 4, and countless video game movies. Whoops.

His list went like:
1. Star Wars: A New Hope
2. Star Trek: The Voyage Home
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
4. Lethal Weapon 4

And yeah, there it is. I just knew STAR WARS would make it on somebody's list. But you could burn my taint with cigarette butts and I'd still insist PHANTOM MENACE is the fourth film in that series.

Prison Guard Johnny sent me:
1. Star Wars episode IV
2. Star Trek IV the Voyage Home
3. Live Free or Die Hard
4. Lethal Weapon 4

Merrill sent me:
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2. Rocky IV
3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

He thought the pickings were pretty slim, and didn't even like INDY 4 all that much.

Tyranist was late in responding, and told me this wasn't a fun list to answer. He suggested Top Five Jim Wynorski movies for next time, along with this list:
1. Live Free or Die Hard
2. Thunderball
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
4. Lethal Weapon 4

The winners ended up being:
While I disagree that STAR WARS belongs on this list, I didn't specifically forbid it, so there it is. I'll be more careful next time.

Rish Outfield

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"He Never Forgot And He Never Forgave"

25 October 2008

I've always been fond of the theatre, and got it into my head to take my seven year old niece to a play sometime. This week I thought I'd take here to the local community theatre, which is performing "The Turn of the Screw" in honour of Halloween, the single greatest day of the year.

But then, last night, I discovered that "Sweeney Todd" is being put on in town. To say that I became ecstatic is most obvious, let alone that I changed my plans.

I was only familiar with the film, but it was the Sonheim musical, so I figured it would be similar. I told the child all about it, and even showed her the trailer to the Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter version. She thought it looked great, and I made plans to take the next night (tonight).

In looking at the website to find directions to the theatre, I saw a small disclaimer at the bottom of the screen. The fine print read "Children under 13 are not advise to attend."

So, I had to make a decision. A command decision.

And, like any commander, I chose not to take her (recognising that there's a considerable difference between thirteen and seven), then went ahead and did the opposite (figuring, as Doc Brown taught us all, "what the hell").

The Castle Theatre, as they're calling it, is at the top of a hill--or more technically, at the very bottom of a mountain--on the property belonging to the only mental institution in town. They used to put on Halloween haunted houses there, and allowed the inmates of the hospital to participate, which always added to the chills of the season. As I drove the child up there, I'd point at anyone visible on the side of the road, asking, "Does that guy look crazy to you?" until she begged me to stop.

I have to admit that I did consider changing my mind back and just taking her home, especially when she was getting freaked out at the thought of "a scary play" and a castle, and escaped insane folk.

But to be honest, I wanted to see it, and wasn't going to let a little thing like inappropriateness ruin my evening. So in we went.

This is no exaggeration: she was literally the only child there.
There were a few older people, but it was mostly college students (probably forced to go to it for a class), and young people on dates (I read about those in a book sometime), but no one even around thirteen, let alone seven years old.

Now, of course I imagined the scornful gazes of the many zoobies noticing me there (and I hope they imagined my obscene gestures in their direction), but I am happy no one dared say anything to me, as I'd be an even worse example to her by shouting obscenities in a public forum.*

The play began, with a chorus of ghostly Victorians dressed in black introducing our story: "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, his skin was pale and his eye was odd; He shaved the faces of gentlemen, Who never thereafter were heard of again..." And you know, it was pretty scary, even for me. But we stayed there and watched the play unfold before us.

And wow, it was a lot of fun. The kind of thing I'd go to all the time if I could. I don't know how much a kid could get out of the story, but the songs were catchy and the narrative compelling as hell.

Around the time Signore Pirelli met his demise, my niece was really enjoying herself. She . . .

Look, if I saw it in a movie, I'd roll my eyes, but the kid actually leaned up in the middle of the play and said, "This is awesome! Thanks so much for taking me to this!"

So, there's that.

Rish "Swing Your Razor High" Outfield

*Although on this same babysitting trip, I heard my niece use the F-word for the first time, combined with a rather odd racist remark, when she mentioned "blood fucking sikhs." Odd, we don't really have any Indian people around here, and what else could she have meant?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

I went to my aunt's house the other night, and found that she had decorated up her walls with paintings of children and unicorns and had plastic flowers everywhere and a big display over her fireplace, along with large blocks spelling out "Welcome Freinds."

I considered saying something, then decided to keep silent. Then, after everyone else had left the room, I snuck over to the wall and switched the "E" and the "I" so it said "Welcome Friends." Seemed like an okay thing to do.

It's only in retrospect that I wish I had changed it to "Welcome Fiends."

Now who oughtta feel dumb?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Angel Season Five Begins

My cousin Ryan and I went to a restaurant last week, talking about "Buffy" as usual. One of the restaurant's employees walked by and entered the conversation, saying, "Hey, I know what you guys're talking about. I love that show!" He seemed like a friendly guy, and it's always nice to meet a fellow fan, so I invited him to join our conversation about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

"Buffy?" he said, "Oh, I thought you guys were talking about 'Angel.'"

"What's the difference?" I asked, sort of considering them one entity, though that's hardly logical.

"Well, 'Angel' is cool," the guy said. "But 'Buffy''s just a high school soap opera. For girls."

My cousin nodded and said, "Go away now."

The guy tucked his tail between his legs and walked off.

That conversation notwithstanding, tyranist began the first (and only) "Buffy"-free season of "Angel" this week, season five.

That first episode was called "Conviction" and was written and directed by Joss Whedon.

I gotta say, I was not happy to see a computer-generated Angel at the beginning of this show. I may sound like an old woman, but I just can't stand CGI (more specifically, BAD CGI) the way my mother has trouble with all the cursing in movies in the Eighties and Nineties. The only difference is that profanity is cool, and bad CG just isn't.

It starts with Angel saving a chick from a vampire, just like the show used to. But then we are reminded that this is the new and improved "Angel," and our guys run Wolfram & Hart now. Not much time has passed since the last episode, but Angel is about thirty pounds heavier, and Gunn has hair now.

The credits roll, and a certain James Marsters now gets second billing on the show. It took a few minutes for me to realise that both Connor and Cordelia were absent from the credits now.

We are introduced to a couple new semi-regulars: Eve, Angel's evil contact with the Senior Partners (who pretty much replaces Lilah Morgan from the last episode), and Angel's new secretary, who is none other than Harmony Kendall, in a move I found pretty darn amusing.

Eve stresses that Angel and Company has to keep the lawfirm going if they want to stay in charge of it, and great news: that means doing evil stuff like getting murderers off and disposing of all the hookers Mark Wahlberg accidentally beats to death on long weekends.

We meet one of the clients, a guy named Fries, who is on trial for child prostitution, white slavery, and video game piracy. He's a slimy, sleazy individual proud of his guilt, and threatens to destroy the city with a bomb if Wolfram & Hart doesn't get him off.

And by "get him off," I mean, win the case . . . not the other thing.

Gunn complains that he's not really valuable to the firm, since he's something of a head-basher, and Eve sets him up with some kind of shady appointment to help him "feel like a new man."

So, I don't know if we're meant to really dislike Eve, or if it's just me, but compared to Eve, Harmony is my new favourite character.*

We also find out that Fries has placed a bomb inside his little boy's chest. Angel goes to the kid's school (despite it being daytime) to try and get the kid somewhere where he won't blow anybody up. A bunch of soldiers (in Wolfram & Hart's employ) fight Angel, and we get some wire fighting (which was almost as jarring as the CG Angel at the beginning). Angel wins.

So, Gunn goes in to have this procedure done, and when he comes out, he's been brain-fed all the legal knowledge necessary to make him a great attorney. He argues Fries case in court, getting the judge removed from the case, due to a prior connection with the client.

The others are dubious about Gunn's procedure, but Eve insists they need a lawyer more than they need someone to beat people up. Now with time to prepare for Fries's new trial, they are determined to do as much good at the firm as they can, while still doing what's required there.

Back in Angel's office, he gets an envelope in the mail, and when he opens it, he finds the medallion he was given last season (and gave to Buffy in her last episode). As soon as he touches it, it makes a bright light, and Spike appears in front of everyone. The end.

Hmm, well it looks like I'm going to be incapable of blogging these episodes (and maybe all of "Angel" season five). Which isn't to say that I have nothing I want to comment on (or snark about), but it does say a bit about how lazy I am. Certainly I don't have other obligations that keep me from blogging right now. Sorry.

So, very briefly, "Just Rewards" was written by David Fury and Ben Edlund, and it was a pretty great show. It not only picks up where the last episode left off, but also flashes back to Spike's death** at the end of BTVS. Spike has appeared in Angel's office at Wolfram & Hart, and he's a ghost . . . sort of. Somehow, his lifeforce was sucked into the medallion upon his death, and also somehow, that medallion made its way to Los Angeles, despite there not being any Sunnydale left.

So, is it The Powers That Be? Does Spike yet have some role to play on this show, for good or ill? Before he can answer, Spike fades away, and then comes back. He does that a lot now.

But dying and saving the world (or helping to, anyway) hasn't mellowed Spike none; he still seems the same cheeky dude as before. And he mocks Angel at every turn. Which is nice.

Angel wonders if maybe Wolfram & Hart gave him the medallion hoping that he'd go to Sunnydale and get killed (and out of their hair forever), but because Joss had Buffy send Angel packing, the whole ghost thing happened to Spike instead. It's an interesting point, I guess, but I'm about 99.375% sure it'll never be resolved.

Spike is mean to Harmony, then tries to leave Los Angeles, but is instantly brought back to the W&H offices. Fred volunteers to try and figure out what he is exactly, and if anything can be done to help him. In the interim, Spike decides to haunt Angel. Again, nice.

Meanwhile, Gunn and Angel have shut down a couple of the more unsavoury departments at the firm. One of these was some graverobbers who provided bodies to a necromancer named Hainsley. Hainsley isn't happy about this turn of events, and we find out that he can not only control the dead, but makes money by giving demons reanimated corpses to inhabit. When Angel meets Hainsley, he sends his goons after the vampire. When that fails, Hainsley uses his abilities to control Angel's body. The necromancer realises that the Senior Partners want Angel alive and he doesn't dare kill him himself. Angel gets free and has Gunn use his legalese to get Hainsley in trouble with the IRS (which even demons and wizards fear).

Wesley theorises that they can get rid of Spike's ghost by having an exorcism. Angel tells him to go for it, but it must be done on hallowed ground. Fred thinks it's wrong to just cast Spike into nothingness (or the afterlife, depending on your perspective) like that, and Angel says he'll think about it and decide in the morning.

Spike overhears their plan and goes to talk to Hainsley, who offers to give Spike a body again in return for revenge on Angel. Spike tells Angel what Hainsley proposed, but because he's good now, with a soul and a better understanding of heroism, he decides to let Angel exorcise him and send him on his way.

Spike and Angel go to the cemetery--hallowed ground--and Angel begins the ritual, only to have Hainsley step out and take control of his body. He knocks Angel out and takes him someplace where he can transfer Spike's lifeforce into Angel's body. That way, he can get Angel out of the picture, and the Senior Partners won't think he killed him.

Spike resents that Angel had a soul forced upon him instead of seeking one out, and yet Buffy mooned over only Angel. Also, he resents that Angel has nice new cars and a new place to live and lots of money and windows that let in light but not death, and Spike saved the world and gets . . . well, nothing.***

As Hainsley begins to transfer Spike's aura, Spike jumps into Hainsley's body, preventing him from doing his magic. Hainsley/Spike fights Angel for a while, but Angel kills Hainsley and turns Spike into a ghost again. It is revealed that Spike and Angel had triple-crossed Hainsley and that--except for using Hainsley's body to punch Angel a couple times--Spike was on the side of good all along.

The others at Wolfram & Hart (and maybe Angel too) don't entirely trust Spike, but Fred says she'll try and help Spike break free of the medallion, and maybe get corporeal form again. He hopes she does it fast, as every time he disappears . . . he goes to a place that's not at all pleasant. The end.

As I said before, I really liked this episode. The banter between Spike and Angel was great, and it was cool to see him interacting with all these characters he doesn't know. And Harmony too.

The beauty of Spike--besides his charming personality--is that I tend to believe he's sincere when he claims he's turned over a new leaf and wants to fight on the side of good, and yet, I totally believe him when he evilly wants to steal Angel's body and let his soul disappear into the ether.

I don't know if Spike and Angel could ever truly be friends (indeed, I get the impression they weren't friends even when they spent years terrorising Europe together in the Eighteen Hundreds), but I'm anxious to see them succeed or fail in upcoming weeks.

Whether I blog about them or not is anybody's guess.

Rish "Also Fired From Wolfram & Hart" Outfield

*She played an evil bitch on FOX's "Boston Public" during the year I worked on it, so maybe that has something to do with my dislike for her. I rarely felt like people who played bastards on shows were that way in real life, though, and I don't remember ever interacting with her.

**Or should I say "death" on this one?

***Technically, he gets second billing. And that's something, right?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week (sorta)

I didn't do a Stupid Thing of the Week last week, and I don't really have one for this week. But today, I mentioned to tyranist that my uncle continues to call me "Ricky," even though that is not my name, and I came to the realisation that he does it because it really, really pisses me off.

So, there's that.

Rish "Anything But Ricky" Outfield

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Angel Wednesday (October 1st)

I mentioned in my last post how much I loved "Shiny Happy People" (at least I think I did). So here's a spoiler: I really enjoyed all the remaining Season Four episodes, and told my cousin I thought they were much more solid than "Buffy" Season Seven. However, today in going on wikipedia to see who wrote each episode, I saw quotes from critics that claimed the end of the season derailed, and none of the Jasmine episodes were very successful. Hmmm.

Well, I may not be a big shot television critic, but Garry Marshall once accused me of trying to kill him, so I think I'm qualified to continue blogging.

Tyranist and I continued well into the night on episodes, starting with "The Magic Bullet," written (and directed) by Jeffrey Bell. As it begins, everyone in Los Angeles is getting along, at peace, full of joy. Everyone is under Jasmine's spell and is at peace . . . everyone except for Fred Burkle, who is being pursued by Wesley and Gunn.

Fred escapes by hiding in the sewer. Later, she surfaces and goes to a bookstore, The Magic Bullet, which seems to serve mostly conspiracy theorist clientele. She's been reading up on mass hypnosis, and talks to the nutjob behind the counter. The dude is a huge crackpot, but he's happy now that he's fallen under Jasmine's control. He shows Fred the gun he keeps under the counter, which he really has no need for now that he's found inner peace.

Back at the hotel, there are throngs of people begging to see Jasmine, or just be in the same building as her, and people stir themselves into a frenzy when she walks among them. Angel and company still can't understand why Fred would have abandoned them, and Connor thinks she should be killed. Nice to know a couple things never change.

Jasmine picks a handful of lucky people to go upstairs and commune with her, and while everyone else is jealous of the chosen . . . those Jasmine picks never come downstairs again.

Angel and Connor go into the sewers to find Fred, and they have a bonding moment when Connor tells his dad what his childhood was like, tracking Holtz in his hellish environment. Jasmine contacts them in their minds, explaining that she's able to communicate with all her followers telepathically. This is how she's going to find Fred. Jasmine concentrates and finds Fred at the motel she's staying in, seeing her through the people on the street and in the rooms.

Fred runs as the Jasmine followers, zombie-like, go after her. One of her pursuers gets in a car accident and bursts into flames, and back the hotel, Jasmine's hand catches on fire. She asks for a couple of chosen followers to join her in her room, and everybody else is even happier than before now that they have a psychic link with the others under Jasmine's spell. They start singing and bearing testimony of their love for Jasmine and all she's done for them. It's both amusing and disturbing, like me with no pants on.

Fred gets an idea, and goes back to the Magic Bullet bookstore. The crackpot behind the counter pretends to be on her side, but before long, the place is surrounded by Jasmine's followers, and soon, Jasmine, Angel, and the others arrive.

Jasmine steps in front of Angel to tell Fred that she can still come back into the fold, and Fred pulls out the crackpot's gun and fires it into Jasmine, through her, and into Angel. Angel snarls and jumps on Fred, about to kill her, but she tells him to look at Jasmine, and when he does, he sees that disgusting maggot-covered corpse Fred saw in the last episode. Fred shoots Jasmine again, but Connor gets her out of there, Angel--the spell broken--grabs Fred and gets her to safety too.

Jasmine realises that her blood was what broke the spell, and tells her followers that because she was merciful with Fred, she infected Angel with her hate. Now they must all die, including anyone else who falls from the faith. She picks a couple people to be her chosen, and uses them (we still don't see how) to heal her bulletwound. When the people don't come out, Connor (who was standing guard) asks where they went. Jasmine says that she ate them, and Connor doesn't have a problem with that.

Fred and Angel have a conversation about how happy they were under Jasmine's spell, and how miserable they are now. She explains how she figured out that Jasmine's blood was the key to breaking her hold over people. She also tells him how alone she was being the only one not under her spell, and he calls her a hero.

They get the idea that Cordelia's blood might also break the spell, so they sneak back into the Hyperion Hotel and to the room where Cordelia is still in her coma. They cut her hand and collect her blood, but Lorne discovers them. Before he can alert the others, they use Cordy's blood to "free" him, and he goes downstairs to get Wesley and Gunn, pretending that Jasmine needs them for something.

They too are "freed" from Jasmine's spell (with a little help from a baseball bat), and Angel wants to get Connor before they go. Despite tyranist's warnings, Wesley asks Connor to join them in Cordelia's room, where the others grab him and stick him with some of Cordelia's blood.

After a moment, Connor calms down, and Angel asks if he's alright now. He says he is, and they let him go. Immediately, he runs out into the hall and starts calling for Jasmine and her followers. The end.

We weren't about to leave things there, so we quickly went on to the last disc of the set, and the next episode, "Sacrifice," written by Ben Edlund. I knew Edlund as a kid from The Tick comics, but now I know him from "Firefly." I look forward to his work here too.

Picking up with Connor calling for help, Angel slams the door, bars it, and has the others exit via the fire escape. Connor tries to get in, shouting at how Angel is trying to screw up the one good thing he has in his life as usual. Did I mention that tyranist hates Connor? Well, he sure mentioned it.

Before Connor can get the door down, Angel leaps out and starts thrashing his son, catching up on about seventeen years of spankings. He then leaps down into the alley and makes his escape with the others (though at the time I wondered why he just left Connor there unconscious*). They drive off, hearing on the radio that the entire city of L.A. is now Jasmineland, and stop to get gas.

The people at the gas station attack them (including a little girl), speaking with Jasmine's voice, and the gang beat them up and drive away. Sadly, they didn't beat up the little girl. I would have enjoyed that. The gang abandon their car and flee down the sewers, observed by some sort of creature.

Jasmine takes Connor into her room and heals his wounds. She also devours some of her chosen followers while he looks on. Jasmine moves Cordelia from her room, claiming that she must be hidden away so as not to be used as a weapon against her followers.

Down in the sewers, Angel and company encounter a group of young people living down there. At first they treat them hostilely, but one of the youths recognises Gunn and knows his anti-vampire exploits. This gang has been living underground since the sun went out, barring themselves into a secure section and doing what they can to survive and fight vampires. One of their number, Matthew, is a little kid, and he's somehow managed to keep a bit of his innocence despite his living conditions.

There is, apparently, some kind of monster down in the tunnels that occasionally takes one of them, so Angel volunteers to help them kill it. When it attacks again, he fights it, but the kid sees his vampire face and flees from him, heading to the surface where Angel can't follow. Fred and Gunn go after the boy, but Wesley is snatched away by the creature, which appears to be half man/half spider/scorpion/crab/Nicole Richie.

The creature talks to Wesley, speaking in a broken, backward English that I found interesting and unique, but my cousin said was just a less fluent Yoda. This creature (which I'll call Crabman) begins to rant about loving her before we did, and Wesley asks if it's talking about Jasmine. The creature scolds him for giving her that name, and points out that Jasmine is not her real name. When Wesley asks what her true name is, Crabman gets all jittery and changes the subject.

Meanwhile, Fred and Gunn try and find Matthew, going up to the surface. They take the opportunity to talk about their relationship and killing that professor together, and I get the feeling we're supposed to now consider the matter closed. They find Matthew, who tries to run away again, so Gunn bops him over the head and carries him back. I guess this bothers Fred, but it was the coolest thing Gunn did this whole season.

Angel tells the gang members that he's a good vampire, and gives them the first three seasons of the show to watch. When they finish, they decide to trust him, and goes looking for Wesley.

The gang is upset when they see the kid unconscious, but Matthew opens his eyes and begins to speak in Jasmine's voice, which ought to make them even more upset. Since Jasmine knows where they are, it's time to run. Unfortunately, Connor and a bunch of acolytes arrive in the sewers then (which makes sense, since obviously Matthew was "tainted" by Jasmine when he was on the surface, giving her plenty of time to send her little squad after the others).

Crabman explains that it is from another dimension (as "she" is), and shows Wesley the crystal that brought it there. It taunts Wesley that a human could not survive going there and plans to kill Wesley as soon as it's done with the vampire it caught previously. It speaks about the magic in words--one word in particular--and Wesley puts 2 and 1.87259 together.

Angel arrives soon after, and saves Wesley from Crabman. Guess what, folks, there is a fight, and Angel manages to kill Crabman. Wesley grabs the crystal and explains what Crabman said about its dimension.

At that moment, Angel smells Connor nearby, and they go there, where Jasmine's thugs are already battling with the Gunn and the gang.

Hanging back, Wesley figures out how to activate the crystal, and opens a portal to Crabland. Angel figures he's the only one who can survive going there (though it would've been neat if Lorne had been the one), and enters the portal, taking the crystal from Wesley to help him get back.

Angel finds himself in an alien CG environment, and looking around, he sees an army of Crabmen coming toward him. The end.

This episode was something of a sidetrack, feeling pretty padded and similar to stuff we'd seen before, but all these episodes have been a bit slower than I would prefer. Luckily, we don't have to wait days or weeks between shows, so we went on to the next one immediately.**

The following episode was the irritatingly cleverly titled "Peace Out" written by David "Next Up Who's Gay" Fury. I know it goes without saying, but this episode picks up where the last one left off.

Connor and his brainwashed thugs are fighting Gunn and his gang in the sewers under Los Angeles. We see that Jasmine is "absorbing" all the injuries of her men onto her own body, so that they can be stabbed or broken, but then are immediately healed. Promptly, Jasmine's forces defeat Wesley and the others, and for some reason, Jasmine tells Connor not to kill them, but to take them prisoner. Also for some reason, it's only our main characters again, and they are brought before Jasmine at the hotel.

Angel has the crystal that brought him to Crabland, and all the CG Crabpeople back off at once. In the distance is a temple or palace or monastery, so Angel goes there.

Jasmine wants to know where Angel is, and Wesley mentions the Crabman and his world. Jasmine does not deny having been there, explaining that she went there and cleaned it up the way she's going to do with this world. Because of our technology, she predicts our world will be much easier to rule than the last one.

In fact, several camera crews are on their way there to do a broadcast of Jasmine's message, and transmit it all over the world. Fred tries to get through to Connor, telling him to see what Jasmine really is. He looks over and sees Jasmine standing there, a walking corpse overspilling with wriggling maggots. He tells Fred that Jasmine is beautiful, and I think tyranist was too shocked and horrified to pause the DVD and begin cursing Connor's name.

Connor leads the others down into the basement, locking them in the cage they built for Angelus, and explains that he grew up in a hell dimension, and Jasmine's ugliness doesn't at all bother him. And, of course, she is his little girl. Fred tries a different tact and asks about Cordelia. Wesley suggests that maybe Jasmine eats her followers and has eaten Cordy as well. This gets through to Connor, though he tries to hide it.

Wesley and Fred theorise that if Cordelia is a threat to Jasmine, but she hasn't killed her, then perhaps Jasmine CAN'T kill Cordelia, or needs her for something.

Back in Crabland, Angel enters the temple to find an elderly demon there, a priest who guards "the word," which I assume is Jasmine's true name. He refuses to help Angel, though, and explains that he doesn't even know her true name. There is a Keeper of the Name in there with him: a big ugly brute, and he will only speak Jasmine's true name with his last breath. The Keeper has even sewn his mouth shut so as not to accidentally say it.

So guess what Angel does? If you said "He fights the big ugly dude," you'd be totally right. The priest mocks Angel during the fight, telling him all his friends are dead and there's no reason to keep fighting. Angel insists that the world is enough . . . er, the safety of the world is enough to keep fighting, that even if he had no friends left, the world still needs him.

Connor goes to Jasmine and asks where Cordelia is. She tells him her mother is in a safe place, and that she's alive and uneaten. But where that safe place is, she won't tell him. The members of the press arrive and take away her attention, so Connor starts asking around until he finds the acolytes who moved Cordelia. Since he's Jasmine's father, they tell him what happened to her mother.

Angel actually takes the Keeper pretty easily, but the priest tries to confuse him with words about his son, and how Connor will never ever love him. Eventually, Angel knocks the priest out and continues fighting.

Down in the basement, Gunn thinks he can break the door of the cage off its hinges. Tyranist and common sense explain that if a monstrously strong vampire like Angelus couldn't break out of the cage, a bald street tough like Gunn probably isn't going to manage.

So, Gunn kicks the door off its hinges, and our heroes escape.
Connor goes into the city and finds a church where Cordelia is being kept (she's on the altar, still appearing to sleep peacefully). He knocks the consciousness out of the guards, and starts to talk to her, telling her it's hard to keep fighting, especially now that he doesn't have a reason to. He confides in her that he was able to see through Jasmine's spell all along, but just wanted to belong, and wanted to live in peace for once.***

Jasmine begins her press conference, and it is transmitted everywhere, even to your mother's house. She delivers her message of love, and suggests that her followers maybe build her a big cidadel or temple to give hope to those who look upon it.

At that moment, a portal opens up and Angel steps out. He holds the severed head of the Keeper of the Word, and as Jasmine's followers move to attack him, Angel cuts the thread that keeps the head's mouth closed. "Giiiiiiiiiiiiinatorrrrrrrrrres," the Keeper gasps, and suddenly, her spell is broken.

All around her, her followers begin to weep and snarl and kick things and shout and crap their pants. Jasmine tries to appear like Mrs. Larry Fishburne, but only manages to look like a boil-covered version of her previous self. She tries desperately to calm people down, proclaiming her love for everyone, but they refuse to listen.****

Jasmine goes out into the streets, where people are behaving as though the Lakers just won the Championships again, burning cars and shooting puppies and looting buildings and raping children. She calls her only remaining servant: Connor, and he leaves Cordelia's side to join her.

Angel catches up to her and boasts that he beat her. She isn't angry, just sad. She could have turned earth into a paradise, but look at it now: all of Los Angeles has become Compton. He tells her that even Compton is better than a world with no free will, and reminds her of the many people she killed (which I guess refers to all she ate, but he refers to thousands, and I don't remember that). She reminds him that without the peace she offered, millions will die in wars and plagues and the rest of the Bush Administration.

She tells him she just wants to be left alone, and he tells her she doesn't have to rule the world to make it better. And for a moment there, I thought that maybe they'd keep her around and try to make a good guy out of her, which would certainly be interesting, but no, she punches Angel, and he flies through the air, then she picks up a car and smacks him with it, which I don't think we've seen another character do on these shows.

Looks like those "Firefly" alumni have a lot more physical strength than the regular guest stars.

Angel tries to fight her, but she defeats him easily. She reveals that she is one of the Powers That Be, and gave up that power to come down and be on earth, to make a difference instead of just sitting around and observing.

Now she says she's going to make a difference, alright: she's going to do all that she can to wipe out the human race. Connor arrives and stands beside her. She asks if Connor still loves her and he tells her that he does. She tells Angel there's no chance he can defeat both of them, and then Connor does an odd thing: he punches his fist through the back of her head, and Jasmine's head explodes like an overripe pumpkin.

I don't know why he did it, exactly, but Jasmine lies dead before him, and Connor runs away into the night.

Angel trudges back through the doors of the hotel and is happy to see Wesley, Fred, Gunn, and Lorne there, all alive. Oh, and Evillawyerwoman Lilah Morgan too. Also alive. WTF? The end.

This was a lot like the end of "Buffy"'s Season Four, where the Big Bad of the season is defeated, and yet there's one more episode left to go in the season, even though it felt over. And like I said, even though it was late, late at night, we decided to watch it to the end, and that meant one more, "Home," written and directed by Tim Minear.

So, Lilah is somehow alive (and not a vampire), and she wears a scarf around her neck to conceal the scar from when Wesley beheaded her. Tyranist had it figured out before I did, but like Holland Manners before her, just because a Wolfram & Hart employee dies doesn't mean they are no longer required to work for Wolfram & Hart.

She is there to deliver a message . . . and a gift ("These two droids. Both are hard-working, and will serve you well."). The message is congratulations for ending the possibility of world peace, and the gift is control and total ownership over the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart. Basically, they are giving up and proclaiming Angel and company the victors in their little four season war. Obviously, everyone suspects a trap, but Lilah tells them there will be a limo outside to give a tour to anyone who is interested.

Amazingly, all of them--Angel included--end up meeting the limo, and going over to see what they've inherited, should they choose to accept it.

We do check in with Connor, who is walking the rioting streets of Los Angeles. He encounters a dude who wants to kill himself now that Jasmine is gone, but Connor beats him up instead.

The building is bustling, and each hero is given a contact/guide to show them around in their area of expertise. For example, Lorne is the new entertainment division head, and W&H represents tons of famous people (explaining how Vin Diesel had a career around this time).

Wesley discovers some magical reference books that automatically become whatever the reader seeks, no matter how obscure. Wesley sneaks down to the records room and goes through the files. He finds Lilah's contract and burns it, which I thought was nice. She discovers him and mentions that it's not that easy: the contract magically reappears in the drawer, and she's sort of stuck there.

Gunn is presented by a hot black chick, and she takes him in the elevator to that creepy white room, where he meets a black panther. Not one of the militant activist group, and not the Marvel superhero, but an actual black-furred leopard.

Fred is in charge of the scientific department, and her assistant is played by Jonathan Woodward, who was also in "Buffy" and "Firefly" this season. He's charming and geeky and if this weren't the last episode of the season, I'd swear he was there as a potential love interest for Fred.

Angel is in a spacious upper office, with special tinted windows so the sunlight won't hurt him. Lilah gives him an amulet and tells him it's for use in Sunnydale (which of course has already paid off since we saw "Buffy" first).

Like I said, we also check in on Connor throughout the show, and when next we see him, he's gone to a sporting goods store and has taken everyone in there hostage. He's wired them all with explosives, and taken Cordelia there, wiring her to explode as well. She sleeps on, dreaming of that "Veronica Mars" show she'll soon be appearing on.

Angel gets wind of it and goes there, trying to talk him out of it. Connor is also wired to explode, and he shouts at Angel that he can't feel anything anymore. Angel tells him things will get better, but the boy doesn't believe him, so Angel knocks him out (rather easily) and takes the detonator away. He tells his unconscious son that he does love him.

Everyone else, back at W&H, are in favour of taking the job offers, and Lilah tells them that Angel has already accepted. Angel arrives and explains that Cordelia is getting the best care possible, and that he has to go to Sunnydale, but first, he wants to see Connor. Lilah is unwilling to do this for him, but he reminds her he's her boss, and she takes him. The others wonder who this Connor is Angel is going to see.

Angel goes to a remote home out in the country, and looks in the window. A family is having dinner together, congratulating their son on his acceptance at college. The son--who is both loved and happy--is Connor, with a new family and a new start. The end.

I thought this was an interesting way to tie up the last couple threads of this season, and tyranist realised, with considerable glee, that we will never see Connor again.

I'm not as thrilled about that 'cause, somehow, I sort of learned to respect his constant bitterness, and enjoyed listening to my friend rant about him.

I did a tiny bit of research, and found that the WB Network was kicking around the idea of not renewing "Angel" for a fifth season, so the show's creators decided to revamp it and show them they were going to go in an interesting new direction next season. Only time will tell how right (or wrong) that direction was.

All in all, I'm quite happy with this season. I'd say it was the best "Angel" yet, and like I dared blaspheme before, felt it was a much soldier season than "Buffy" Season Seven. So there.

Rish Outfield

*Now I realise that Connor could have mentally told Jasmine where they were if they took him with them.

**I might mention now, though, that it was already much later than our Buffy/Angel Wednesdays usually go. It's a testament to how much tyranist was enjoying the run that he was willing to stay up until two or so to finish them.

***To his credit, tyranist didn't call "bull shit" on this (even though Connor was OBVIOUSLY under her thrall) or Gunn breaking out of the cage (which, hey, I'm going to call "bullshit" on).

****And dude, something really strange happened then: I felt sorry for Jasmine. I did. I actually pitied her as she tried to regain influence over her mindless slaves and they spat at her and continued to rage out of control.