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EW! A Blog.

October 11, 2007 12:46 PM

To those, what, two? maybe? people who check for Heroes posts: Sorry! It is still Beast of Eugene time. Blogging falls by the wayside. It's sad. I like blogging. But there it goes ...

You know what I don't like, though? Stupid things happening on my "favorite" show. (I keep forgetting to watch Grey's. I completely forgot to watch Private Practice and/or Pushing Daisies, both of which I also wanted to recap. Bionic Woman was silly; Reaper can't sustain the whole hour. Plz more America's Next Top Model now? Does that show even air at a regular time or am I just lucky whenever I stumble across it?) To this season of Heroes, I give a big W. T. F., for the most part. Shall we discuss?

Spoilers through episode three after the jump! So make with the clicky...

OK, so I read some spoilers beyong episode three, and they're so interesting I really want to talk about them, but I won't. Wait, come back! I won't! Promise!

ANYWAY (TM Klosterman), this show is disappointing me right and left, though my better half did wisely point out that it is not entirely women who have OMG UNCONTROLLABLE BAD POWERS, because Ted had that problem as well. However, I still find Maya a little too much like Niki, and I think it would have been far more interesting were her and Alejandro's powers reversed: he cries the black goo from The X-Files and she reverses it. But honestly? That wouldn't have helped much either. Their entire plot needs to connect to the bigger story and fast, because right now they are being written to do stupid and stupider things, and it's dull as a doorknob. The American kid they broke out of prison has Claire's car, so hopefully connection is imminent - though I can't help but think there's something loaded in the fact that her high school mascot, for which there was a sticker on the car bumper, is the conquistadores...

But let's get to this episode's biggest problem: Did they really let DL die offscreen? Really? REALLY? Because that would simply continue my main complaint about this season: They're showing the wrong things and relying far too heavily on what happened between Kirby Plaza and now, without showing the parts that are important for the narrative. Plus, nooo! Don't kill Shadowcat! Really, though, there's something fishy going on with this whole storyline, and beyond the question of DL, as numerous wise folks on various discussion boards have pointed out, they had best not have Nichelle Nichols, Micah's New Orleans-based grandma, playing a Wise Voodoo Lady stereotype, or they are going to get it from all sides, and it isn't going to be pretty.

Phew. Deep breath. Good things, this time: Stalker Boy revealing his powers and flying off with Claire in a very silly, very badly put together scene that nonetheless ended in their very charming beach banter. I loved this, because I thought it was totally in character for poor Claire, who's never met another teenager with powers. But then they go off the deep end with pushing her out of character: The girl knows her father worked for the Company. She knows he's done bad things. Why on EARTH would she flip out to find out he'd once nabbed Stalker Boy? Stalker Boy who she just met? And beyond that, why would Mr. Bennet move the family to a town with a kid he'd previously captured for the Company? Hello, illogical decision-making!

Even the good things wind up in bad things. Like Sylar and Candace. Candace was annoying, but I wanted to see her true form while she was still alive, thanks. And Sylar ... so, he's Spike, from Buffy, captured by the Initiative and rendered harmless (or mostly so?)? Clever. Or is he on the Lost island? Or is he just out of the way so they can play with the Hoodied Menace who obviously has something else going on as there was no Hoodied Menace in the room with Mama Petrelli last week?

Oh, Hiro. Oh, Kensei. Oh, plot, which keeps giving me hope and then taking it away again. And this part of the show is utterly impossible to talk about with the spoilery thing I've read in my brain, so I'll just say this: Please let the woman kick ass, thx.

I've saved the best/worst for last: Oh, Peter. Plenty of shirtlessness for us fangirls, but really, you're not going to open the box? With your life in it? And you're going to go all Angelus/dark side on us? (Someone theorized that by coming into proximity with Niki in last season's finale, he's acquired a dark side, but that didn't seem like her power; that seemed like an unfortunate psychological manifestation of her power. So who knows.) The bit with the tattoo, however, was kind of awesome.

So. Sorry this is half-assed. I shall try my best to post right after the show last week, before I have other people's theories in my head and before any clever observances slip out my ears. Sigh.

October 2, 2007 02:50 PM

Bad Molly: I couldn't, for some reason, stop talking during this episode. What's that? Who's he talking about? Isn't that related to X, Y and/or Z? What did Mr. Bennett mean by that? Etc., etc., etc. No wonder my boyfriend started doing laundry instead of watching with me. Sorry, yo.

But I did watch, all the same, and while this week's recap will probably not be as in-depth as last, I'm still going to natter on for awhile, because that is what blogs are for. So: Episode 2: "Lizards," aka The One In Which Claire Does Dumb Things. As always, after the jump there are spoilers for the story so far!

Well, let's see here. Claire does dumb things. And then more dumb things. Also, she cuts off her pinky toe, which is all kinds of squicky but kind of funny, too. (It's got to take more pressure than a regular old pair of sewing scissors wielded by a 17-year-old to really do that, right?) I want to think that your average person would take her overtalking about evolution in science class as a sign of a young lady who reads too much science fiction, but she should know better. She should definitely know better than to march into her dad's work and start talking about her powers. And I do wish they'd spent more time building up her desire to test herself; it appears to be coming from absolutely nowhere.

Weird stalker boy. Weird, weird stalker boy. Why is he spying on her? Why does he seem to know something? I am full of lack of trust.

The writers are totally playing with us with regard to Hiro and Kensei. Did Kensei regenerate, or did Hero back up time? I definitely thought there was some regeneration/super-healing afoot, but I admit to being a little disappointed; I really wanted the swordsmith's daughter to be the legendery hero, and, barring that, I'd settle for Hiro (resisting the urge to add the last name Protagonist; any Neal Stephenson fans will know what I'm on about). I'm very much enjoying Hiro's super-strong grasp on his powers, though I think it made not a lick of sense to have Kensei get hit with those arrows at all: Why on earth didn't Hiro stop them as he did before? Show, show, show. (She says, shaking her head.) Try, just try, to keep your internal logic intact?

Maya and Alejandro: I figured out about a minute before he reversed her power that their wonder-twin powers were definitely going to activate, but why couldn't it be the other way around for once? My favorite bloggers are continually noting the deeply flawed gender dynamics of this show, and what I love is that they, like me, love it all the same; they just want it to do better. I too want it to do better. But here we have Maya, who cries tears of death until her brother sucks them back up and makes everything better. Sigh.

Not much from the Parkman & Molly show this time, though I loved Mama Petrelli telling Parkman to get out of her head - and the scene where something is most definitely in the room with her. But it wasn't a figure in a hoodie, that's for sure. I wish they'd spend more time on the remaining members of the older generation and less on Claire acting out (and, quite unbelievably, getting her car stolen).

And then there was Peter. Oh, Peter. I still miss your flopsy bangs, but I like this new, controlled super-mutant (though once again with the girl rescuing! They couldn't have at least let her have a chance to defend herself?). I like that he appears to have Forrest's — sorry, wrong show; DL's — power, too (where ARE DL and Niki? Oh, in next week's previews, that's where!). A box of memories! Oh, how meaningful. If the poor boy's got telekinesis mastered (from Sylar, I'm guessing?) why wouldn't he just mentally snatch it out of the (badly-accented) Irish guy's hand?

What was that I said about internal logic, show? WORK ON IT.

Anyway, must run. Sorry to be half-assed. At the moment, my heart belongs to the second season of Weeds, even though I'd prefer much more plot, much less pot. I'm just sayin'.

October 2, 2007 11:13 AM

That sound you hear is me squealing with joy at this bit of news, from Publishers Weekly:

Fantasy author Garth Nix has sold North American rights to three new YA books to Ruth Katcher at HarperCollins Children’s via agent Jill Grinberg, who made the seven-figure deal. The three books include a prequel and a sequel to Nix’s Abhorsen YA fantasy trilogy

If you like fantasy at all, you really ought to read the Abhorsen series, which begins with the amazing Sabriel. (If you were to Google me, you would find a quote about this book from me in a PW piece about very un-put-downable books. No joke.)

Sorry for the lack of blogging. Ballots, you know, they take a lot of time. But things are barreling forward! And blogging shall return to the top of my to-do list shortly.

September 26, 2007 10:11 AM

With a straight face, the Oregonian wrote this story
about Hillsboro removing a flag painted fire hydrant at a dog park
after complaints. The star spangled urinal was set up by cops in
memorial to a police dog. Maybe Congress needs to pass a Constitutional
amendment.

By illustration, here's a video of urinoterrorism:

September 25, 2007 10:34 AM

Realistically, I'm not sure why I was so damn excited for the return of Heroes, even though it was last year's best new show despite having (apparently unknowingly) borrowed rather heavily from X-Men mythos. You've got your Rogue, your Wolverine, your Shadowcat — and, amusingly, all the genders are reversed!

I love it. But I hated season one's finale with a fiery, burning passion. It didn't make sense. It cut out the most interesting characters from the final battle — what there was of that. It pretended to kill off one of my favorite characters in a totally unbelievable way that left not an iota of suspense as to whether he'd be returning this year. It was bad.

"Four Months Later," season two's premiere, isn't that bad. But it's a little weak all the same. 'Ware spoilers after the jump!

The thing is, though, I can't remember whether the thing that's bothering me the most came up at the end of last season or not. It's simple: Mohinder's talking about a virus that can take away mutant powers and then kill them. When he talks to mysterious, creepy Midas about how this virus could mutate itself and infect normal humans, Midas gets a gleam in his eye that reminds me of Magneto in X2. Take Cerebro and use it to kill mutants! No, use it to kill humans!

Take this virus and mutate it to kill ordinary folks! Or not. I'm not sure where that's going. But what bothers me is that this virus, which looks very much like it could be central to season two's overarching plot, appears to have been discovered in the off-season. And that's sloppy storytelling. If this is going to be a big deal — if it even really exists, and I assume it does and that it's why Molly is sick — we need to see it arrive on the scene. And thus, what I don't remember: Did we know before that Molly had a super-sekrit mutant killing virus, or that she just was sick? Did we know that it could spread to other special folks? Am I being crabby for no reason?

Well, anyway, on to the rest of the show. Spoilers crept out that one familiar face wouldn't survive, and it was disappointing to see it be Hiro's father, but not unexpected. To me, the episode's highlight was one tiny line: "Now there are nine." Nine! Nine older generation mutant-folks who used to hang out with Mama Petrelli, Simone's dad, Linderman and Hiro's papa (interesting how many of them are defined by their children, no?). Is Midas one of them? Is that shadowy figure one of them? What happens if Sylar gets to one of them? And when, oh, when will we get to discover Mama Petrelli's power?

A quick rundown of characters: Claire, making a new life in California, is a doll as always, though the Nissan product placement for a hideous car I'd never seen before was certainly awkward. Her new friend Stalker Boy — sorry, West — had me in stitches simply because he looks like And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead maestro Conrad Keely — but he became more interesting when his power was revealed. Flight! A duplicate power! Why would they do that so soon? Are powers genetic? Did Nathan have more kids?

Mr. Bennett, as always, was fantastic, and though I've seen a few posts disparaging the Bennett family dinner, I loved the horrible discomfort, the undertones, the floating secrets. I want to know where the Haitian is and who he's truly working for, though, and I can't seem to remember how Mr. Bennett got his memory back after the Haitian wiped his brain to protect Claire.

Parkman and Molly were cute and perfect and while I think it seemed a bit abrupt to have Parkman divorce in the off-season — and wasn't his wife pregnant? — the atypical family of Parkman, Mohinder and Molly appeals to me, as does their rather gothic, dark home in the elder Suresh's old apartment. I don't care much for the "I can see you!" baddie that Molly dreams of, but it's appropriate for her age that he seems like something out of a crappy horror movie and not a believable imaginary character. Yet.

No Niki, but another pretty, mentally unstable killer lass (kudos to one of my favorite Heroes commentators, Yoon Ha Lee, for pointing this out). Was that really necessary? But, as she discusses, we've barely met Maya, and maybe there's more to her than first impressions suggest. I still wonder if they left Niki out of this episode so as to avoid making the parallel between the two of them clear, though. And I see Maya very much as the Rogue character who will want the "cure" for her own safety/good/safety of those around her, though previews for next week suggest I might be wrong here.

Oh, Hiro! I do hope he gets more to do this season than wander around trying to figure out what he ought to be doing (rather like the trio in much of HP7 — though I did love those scenes). I kept expecting Takezo Kensei to a) be Hiro's father, b) be Hiro or c) ... well, something other than being a white guy (David Anders, whom IMDB.com says is from Grants Pass) with a familiar attitude about the whole hero thing (someone please remind me who he's reminding me of?). This sets up a handful of amusing possibilities: Either Hiro is, in a twisty time-travel way, his own hero, or Hiro makes up the stories of this not-hero, or the swordsmith's daughter turns out to be the real Kensei, or something else entirely. I'm rooting for the daughter, of course, and not least because it's time there was a Heroes heroine who took charge of her own story. (I love Claire, but the girl's only 17, still in high school, and it doesn't seem like Buffy exists in her world. She didn't even get to help stop Sylar.)

And then there were the Petrellis. One is living with a death threat (as long as that lasts — the living, or the death threat). One has a scary, scary beard and is unconvincingly drinking himself into a stupor and, it seems, blaming himself for his brother's death. And the third, in a scene that calls to mind about half a dozen similar Whedon scenes (Darla returns from wherever! Angel returns from Hell! Spike returns from getting a soul!) is very confused, very caged, very messed up and with a very unfortunate haircut (I liked the bangs! But apparently the actor desperately wanted to lose them). Also, he's got an iffy new bit of bling.

I adore Peter Petrelli, but this development did lead to some eye-rolling.

And that, dear reader, was that. Things Might Happen. Stuff Is Important. And I should Blog During Commercials for better commentary, but I was engrossed in another commercial-eating project. Next time, next time.

For what it's worth, Journeyman was rather dull, but also slightly intriguing. Is that all there is to it? He, like, disappears into time to help fix somebody's life, then he zings back again? Er ... OK. But I'll probably keep watching it with that post-good-show hangover thing.

Coming soon: The Bionic Woman, Moonlight, Nathan Fillion on Desperate Housewives (yes, I will ONLY talk about Captain Mal. Or at least try) and more!

September 24, 2007 12:33 PM

Newport turns 125 on Oct. 23 and is planning a bunch of festivities .
Here's some photos of how things used to look:


Hmmm. Didn't see Ripley's Believe it or Not in those pictures.

September 21, 2007 05:21 PM

How dare China export toxic toys? Turns out the U.S. does the same.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the U.S. goverenment has long okayed the export of toxic and other dangerous consumer products that it banned or recalled for sale in the U.S.

"Though recalls coordinated by the CPSC of Chinese-made goods have made headlines recently, for decades the federal agency has allowed American-based companies to export products deemed unsafe here," the Bee reports.

"Our agency, through our governing statues, cannot claim much moral superiority over the Chinese," the paper quoted U.S. Consumper Products Safety Commissioner Thomas Moore. "It is somewhat hypocritical."

September 20, 2007 10:31 AM

Eugene's own Fast Computers have the Song of the Day on NPR with "Sweden Hasn't Changed, You Have" which is, come to think of it, my favorite FC song, too (though in my head the title lacks the last two words). Sure, they spelled Peter's last name incorrectly, but what's a little misspelling in the face of good publicity? Caroline Evans writes, "The melody itself is powerful, haunting and stark, but it also seems organic and natural, a perfect opening to one of the year's most satisfying releases." Sweet.

For more on the FC, you might peruse their tour diary entries on Willamette Week's Local Cut blog. Hey, why didn't we think of that?

Oh, I know: Local Cut has, um, readers.

(Three cheers to the guy who linked to one of my posts! You give me hope, sir.)

September 19, 2007 07:10 PM

Super cool authors + imaginary playlists (alas, without links) = some of the coolest blog-based stuff I've read in ages: the New York Times' "Living With Music" series.

Apologies to all of you who're rolling your eyes; as established this morning, if it's not about movies, music or books, then everyone else knows about it before me. And sometimes they all know about it first even when it IS about these things.

(Tied for coolest blog-based stuff I've read in ages is David Edelstein's blog over at New York magazine, which also, we discovered this morning, has an awesome theater critic who rivals Anthony Lane for pure sleek cleverness in his sentences. I don't always agree with Edelstein — for one example, check his blog post about Sideways — but I very often like the way he says things.)

September 18, 2007 02:25 PM

The Seattle website Crosscut.com has singled out The Register-Guard for one of the worst websites among the many "bad" examples in the Northwest.

The R-G and other regional papers have the attitude of "It's not news until we get around to posting it: How dare you expect to read the news in the afternoon or evening. These are morning papers! That's when the news will be ready for you." Not updating a site continuously is "Not the best way to influence the regional agenda — or the D.C. congressional delegation," Crosscut.com writes. "The worst example of timelessness is the Eugene Register-Guard, which posts the news at noon. On purpose. Let that be a lesson to those of you who don't subscribe to the dead-tree edition."

Crosscut's criticism is actually not new. Two years ago The Spokane Spokesman-Review's Ken Sands blogged about the R-G web site: "the print content seems really old because the site isn't updated until noon Pacific time each day."

The R-G may be behind the times in locking up its content. The New York Times announced today that it would stop requiring paid subscriptions to read columnist articles and access the paper's archive. With so many people accessing news content through Google and links from other websites, the paper figured it could make more money in ads from the extra traffic than in charging for the content. Guess they just discovered what the "inter" in Internet means.

Meanwhile the R-G keeps its archive locked away for paid access. Seems kind of silly. Anyone with a Eugene Library Card can access it for free thanks to the city library.

September 12, 2007 04:53 PM

Just how bad of a "problem" is immigration?

From the AP today comes news that:

"Nearly one in five people living in the United States speaks a language at home other than English. California led the nation in immigrants, at 27 percent of the state's population, and in people who spoke a foreign language at home, at 43 percent. West Virginia had the smallest shares of both: 1.2 percent of immigrants and 2.3 percent of people who speak a foreign language at home."

Hmmm. Let's compare California and West Virginia.

In median family income, California ranks 6th highest in the nation at $37.019. West Virginia ranks last in the nation at $25,758.

In percentage with college degrees or higher, California ranks 15th in the nation at 29 percent. West Virginia ranks last in the nation at 16.5 percent.

In percentage living below poverty , California ranks 15th at 13 percent. West Virginia ranks fifth in the nation for poverty at 17.3 percent.

The Census doesn't rank states based on moral turpitude, but consider this news item from West Virginia that also appeared today:

"Six whites, including two mothers and their adult children, have been charged in the week-long kidnapping, torture and rape of a 20-year-old black woman in West Virginia."

Maybe immigration isn't such a problem after all.

September 7, 2007 04:14 PM

• Bacon Salt "is a zero calorie, vegetarian, Kosher certified seasoning salt that makes everything taste like real bacon." Seriously? Gimme some. Let me try it.

• Newsflash: Publishers sometimes reject things that go on to be classics! OK, all sarcasm aside, it's true, and the rejections quoted in this story make me want to go paw through the Knopf archives discussed in the story. Rejection letters — any kind of editorial letters, really — are always fascinating, both for what they say and what they don't say, and for the examination of the editing and writing process. And for the simple fact that sometimes people make mistakes, but other times, they pass on things because the time or the publisher isn't right. If someone other than Scholastic had published Harry Potter, would it still be a phenomenon? I want to think so, but it doesn't always work that way.

• Still on the topic of books, the Booker Prize list has been narrowed to the shortlist. Surprise! Ian McEwan is still on it! I need to read that book. And re-read the wonderful, gorgeous Atonement before I have to arm-wrestle Jason for the right to review December's film adaptation.

• How to be a good restaurant patron: Don't say any of these things. I heart Waiter Rant.

• Today's aggravating news: Southwest Airlines would like to tell you how to dress.

• Today's not-that-surprising news that's probably only of interest to my former-New Yorker self: The Village Voice reports on a study showing that "Four years later, relatively healthy and seemingly resilient 9/11 witnesses near the twin towers—people who witnessed the events with their own eyes—were more sensitive to certain emotional stimuli than people several miles away who learned of the events secondhand."

• And to counter that sad reminder, I leave you with today's dose of awesomeness: Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon, together! I've been saving this one ’til the end of the day. Dessert, if you will.

September 6, 2007 01:44 PM

From a recently received press release:

Disney Forces Machine Head Cancellation
In a stunning last-minute move, Walt Disney Properties have pressured promoter Live Nation into canceling Machine Head's performance tomorrow night at the House of Blues venue in Anaheim (on their Disneyland property). Citing violent imagery, undesirable fans and inflammatory lyrics as the reason, the diversity-impaired corporation began pressuring the promoter on Saturday to cancel all upcoming heavy metal concerts, placing Machine Head under an internal "review process" that took 5 days before bothering to convey their alarming decision to the band late yesterday - less than 48 hours before their Black Tyranny Tour was to kick off at House of Blues Anaheim on Friday night.

More here.

Now, to be honest, I don't know the first thing about this band. But I find numerous things to take issue with in Disney's actions here — not least that they ought to know who they're booking before they book a show. "Undesirable fans"? Come on, now, kiddos. You just hosted Bat's Day in the park and now you want to ban heavy metal from the House of Blues? (No, not that goths and metalheads are the same, silly; just that Disney's picking and choosing of which subcultures they approve of bothers me.)

Anyway. Like you needed another reason to avoid the Mouse Kingdom.

September 6, 2007 01:47 PM

Marry Our Daughter: real or fake?

From the FAQ: "But in the unhappy event that your marriage doesn’t work out, then whatever conditions have been negotiated between the husband and the wife’s family will apply." (Emphasis mine.)

This is just too easy a target. Seriously.

(Three cheers to Jef for the disturbing, though probably not real, link.)