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The average person in the U.S.A. watches 28 hours of TV per week.

C&C watch more than that. (Not as much more as I first suspected, though. That there are people, many people apparently, who watch TV more than we do is a somewhat scary thought….) Television and movies are easily our biggest vice.

A few months ago, our DVD player stopped working.
(Netflix is not much fun without a DVD player. You can only watch so many movies on your computer.)
A few weeks ago, our Tivo started acting somwhat funny. Not problematic, just a little eyebrow-raising.
A few days ago, our TV started scrolling and locking and generally acting possessed.
(And don’t even get me started on our warped, buckling, disintegrating entertainment center.)
For C&C, any one of these things would be disturbing.
All of them? Well, all of them happening is just this side of a disaster.
(Comparatively speaking, we know they are only electronics– but on that level, a disaster none-the-less.)

So…
we bought a new DVD/VCR a few weeks ago (on sale).
we bought a new HD Tivo Series 3 a couple of weeks ago(through a special subscriber deal).
and this weekend…
this weekend, we bought a brand new HTIB and a brand new HD Plasma TV(at some greatly reduced, well-haggled prices).
We also bought a new entertainment center/stand for the TV.
(We’ve added a tad to our debt load– but the interest rate was hard to beat.)
It was about time, really.
The TV,Receiver, Speakers, DVD, VCR, and entertainment center were all purchased used from a former co-worker of mine<no, not that one specifically, but you get the idea) 6 years ago.

It took me most of the afternoon to put the entertainment center together.
(Hey, I read diagrams as well as the next guy, maybe even better– but would it kill these “technical writers” to use a few words? They’re called directions, folks. Give ’em a try.)
It took me most of the evening to get all the components hooked up and talking to each other. (I’ve discovered that being persistent can be as effective as being knowledgeable.)
Now it’s done.

HOLY CRAP!
We now know the meaning of the word “UPGRADE.”
We sat in the living room just staring at the new TV. We looked at each other.
We looked back at the TV.
We briefly talked about taking the TV back–getting something a little smaller.
Addicts say, “Naaaaahhh.”

Consider yourself invited to drop in and check out the pretty pictures and kick-butt sounds.
The popcorn is on us.

The 12ths season of The Amazing Race started tonight.
C&C are checking it out– we’ll be watching it if we can find people to root for.

We currently like the lesbian ministers (though they will never win– too old), the asian american father-daughter team (again, they won’t win, he’s a little old), and oddly enough, the goth couple.

Observations from episode 1.
1. Stealing another person’s cab is bad. The cab karma gods will get you.
(Guess who lost the first leg….)
2. “Donkey’s have soul’s, too.” (Yelling at your ass will not make it move.)
3. Goths, apparrently, ARE afraid of death– if the sun is shining brightly.
4. Choose your ass with care. Be gentle and encouraging to your ass.

So, far, we’re liking this race…

As I sit here catching my breath (see the last post), my mind wanders…

We heard they had made another Highlander movie.
C&C were very excited – We love the Highlander movie and the Highlander series.
We were mistaken.
Once again, someone has taken absolute crap, put it on film, and then mistakenly called called it something Highlander related.
One of these days, they will actually make a second Highlander movie.
Hope is immortal in our hearts.

Speaking of good SciFi, the last two Dr. Who episodes have been absolutely mind-numbingly fantastic. C still isn’t watching it (they changed Doctors and she hasn’t watched it since.)

In case you weren’t aware of it, Survivor:China is starting this week.
One of the castaways is a Unitarian Universalist.
Hope he doesn’t embarass the denomination.
(Beyond actually being on the reality show in the first place, of course.)

On this week’s episode, “God is in the Details”, of Eureka (one of the many sci-fi shows currently on television), we were introduced to a new character and a new location.

The Rev. Harper of the First Church of Eureka.

In case you aren’t familiar with the show, here is the premise. Eureka is a secret town where all the mad scientists and eccentric geniuses are “put” by the government. Theory being that brilliance works best when surrounded by other brilliance (and it is safer to have all the crazy egg-heads in one place.)

So what kind of a church would you expect in a town of super geniuses? (It seems they only have one.)
Well, they don’t say. But we can narrow the field.

1. They do refer to the place of worship as a church and they do meet Sunday morning. (Eliminates Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism among others.)
2. The Rev. Harper (no relation to a friend of mine) is a woman. (Eliminates Catholicism, Southern Baptist, and many other Christian denominations.)
3. The Rev. Harper, when consulted by an axious scientist, gives out multiple books from different world religions, including a book on Buddhism. (Maybe not as limiting as it seems– but it does point to more liberal, open-minded faiths.)

At first I thought it was a UU church.
Unfortunately, the stained glass cross window and the bibles in the pews somewhat preclude that. (So does her obvious attempts to guilt the sheriff into coming to church on Sunday.)

UCC maybe?

Oh, well. I still think it should have a been a UU church. Seems more fitting to the overall concept and the flavor of the oddball town.

If there is a better idea for television than this, I do not know what it could be.

Combining Mythbusters with Superheroes.

The Mythbusters aired their Superhero special today. All of the myths were based on Superhero gadgets from comic books and super hero movies.

I’m speechless with the absolute awesomeness of this idea.

For those of you who can’t see the show or can’t look at it on the internet, here are the myths they chose to investigate.

Can a superhero hit a person so hard that their Superhero Sigil Ring leaves a permanent mark (ala The Phantom)?

Can a superhero create a grapping gun that will imbed a grapple pin directly into concrete? (ala Batman or Green Arrow or a gazillion other examples)

Can a superhero create belt size ascending unit to lift him up his grappling rope? (ala Batman and half a gazillion other examples)

Can a superhero’s car take tight corners at high speed with the help of a grappling hook cannon? (ala Batman in the first movie)

Now you might think I’d be against this sort of thing. Nothing worse than people who want to bring reality into my most cherished of fantasies. But the opposite is true. I believe in internal consistency. In other words, super hero stories break some rules of reality, but other rules still have to exist and function normally. If they don’t, the super powers become meaningless (and you start having people reversing time by spinning the earth backwards.)

In case you were curious, here are the results of the mythbuster’s attempts.

Sigil Ring Scar on Face? Nope. If you hit hard enough to leave a permanent scar, you crush the skull. Now that’ll leave a mark….
Grappling Gun? Nope. They can make something that will eventually blast into concrette– but it won’t stay there. Holy Free-fall, Batman!
Belt Size Rope Ascender? Plausible. They built a rig that would do it– but it wasn’t on the belt AND they forgot to build in a reverse switch. You can go up, but apparently you are walking back down on the stairs.
Grappling Hook Assisted Turns? Absolutely not. No cable in existence can handle the force. Cool watching them try, though.

Last week’s episode of SG-1 was an unfortunate throw-away episode. With this being the last season of this beloved series, I admit to being a little disappointed when they craft an episode that doesn’t move along the plot or tie up any loose ends. This one seemed to be a sentimental offering to fathers and estranged families.

Oh well.

The episode wasn’t a complete loss, however. It did have this little easter egg of dialogue:

Jacek (Vala’s father): “I don’t mind telling you I’m a bit disappointed in this facility. I was expecting more.

Samantha: “Well, at times, so do we. But the truth is the stargate program just doesn’t get the support it used to from the people in charge.”

Jacek: “Why not?”

Dr. Lee: “Eureka! One down, twelve to go.”

Jacek: “That’s too bad because after all your stargate program has accomplished for this network of planets. I would think the decision makers would show it the respect it deserves.”

Samantha: “Yup.”

Would that it would be so…

By this time, if you are watching Heroes (and if you aren’t watchng Heroes, well why the heck aren’t you?), you should have watched the season finale. I’ve watched it three times– and I (suprise, suprise) have some thoughts to share.

Be forewarned, this is one big spoiler.

1. DL is an idiot. If you can phase through objects, and you can phase others through objects, you shouldn’t be getting shot. You are a one trick pony, D.L., but it is a good trick. Use it. (Though, to be honest, I didn’t see the whole hole-in-the-head thing coming. Another good trick. Gory, but a good trick. It is things like that that keep LB from becoming a fan.) At least the writers realize he is an idiot. Jessica/Nikki says as much.

2. Loved the line from HRG, “What am I thinking now, Parkman?”
“You’re last thought.”

3. C says the scene where Hiro tells his father that he can’t abandon his friend, Ando, is straight out of Star Wars. She’s right. It is still a good scene.

4. What is Hiro’s father’s power? (I’m guessing long life.) Also, bonus trivia. The license plate of Hiro’s dad’s car is NCC-1701.

5. What is Angela Petreli’s power? (Most people are guessing she has mental powers related to manipulation. She touches people and they seem to do what she wants them too.)

6. There is a bad guy worse than Sylar that when you see him, he looks back at you. (Sauron is in Heroes?)

7. Matt, Matt, Matt. You also are a one trick pony. You read surface thoughts. In the list of cool combat powers, it isn’t even in the top 100. All of a sudden you want to get all heroic and bad-ass? I fear this will not end well for you. (Oh, lookey, it doesn’t.)

8. Hmmm. Where did this dream sequence come from? (I believe Mr. Devereaux has temporal astral projection as a power. Or had it as a power. Now Peter has it.)

9. How the hell does Sylar keep sneaking up on people? He sneaks up on Ando. He sneaks up on HRG and Peter. Peter says, “Then he must be hiding in plain sight.” Good call. HOW? (C thinks he stole Claude’s invisibility power– but then Peter could see him.) (Bonus question: How does Sylar understand Japanese when Ando and Hiro speak it?)

10. Candice is NOT a one-trick pony. Her illusion powers are very powerful–and she knows how to use them. C & C really enjoyed this scene. Good to see the psychological healing take place. Candice did exactly what was needed without knowing it. Give the two selves physical representation so they could integrate. BUT– why didn’t Candice revert to an ugly person when the powers stopped? (Earlier she implied to Micah that her appearance was less than pleasant.)

11. Thought for sure Matt was going to buy the farm in the loft. Nope. (Stupidity pass #1.)

12. Love, LOVE, LOVE it when Claire jumps out the window. (Nathan could just fly down and get her… oh, wait, Mommy Dearest told him not to.) Reminded me of a friend from an earlier game.

13. How do they know Peter can survive blowing up? That is a pretty high level of regeneration. Claire didn’t blow up, she just healed from being burned.

14. Micah and Molly seem to like each other…. Next generation of Heroes? (They make a cute couple, don’t you think?)

15. Matt, Matt, Matt… Gun and Mind Reading vs. Telekinesis (and about 12 other powers)– guess the winner? (Looks like Matt used up his Stupidity Passes.)

16. Don’t know why Sylar let Nikki/Jessica hit him with the parking meter, but I liked it.

17. Anybody else notice that Peter takes off his Jacket when he gets ready to fight Sylar? I thought you only did that in school ground fights. Was it a designer jacket or something?

18. Ok. I like the whole Hiro stabbing Sylar thing… I really do– but please explain to me why Sylar couldn’t/wouldn’t stop him when he was running from 10 feet away. Lame. (Should have had Hiro teleport across the distance and stab him. That would have been mucho cool.) Also, Hiro, once you stab an evil super villian with super powers, you should take the extra step of chopping off his head. (Mengler taught me that, though his method involved grenades.)

19. See? I told you. Loved the teleport escape though.

20. OK. Now, this can end in one of two ways as I see it. One, Peter flys off into the stratospshere and blows up there. (Peter can fly, remember.) Two, Nathan shows up and through brotherly love and support talks Peter down from going nuclear. Both are good endings. Three, someone could shoot him (Oh, look, there’s Claire) in the head. (No, wait, that won’t work. He can heal from bullet wounds… the bullet has to stay stuck in him for him not to regenerate. Why the heck has no one else thought of that little flaw in their plan?) Still only two solutions….
(Oh, look, there’s Nathan.) Looks like option 2.

That wasn’t one of the options.

….

Didn’t we already cover this? Peter can use more than one power at a time.
(Fans speculate that when he is overloading, he has lost control of his powers…)
Oh… well, then. I guess you have to go with this option.
Nathan is going to drop him, right? I mean, he isn’t going to just hang on to him, is he?
And what about regenerating from dispersed atoms?
Can he do that? (Not bloodly likely.)

21. C to C, “Well, at least Sylar is dead. I was getting really sick of him.”
C back to C, “Yup, me too.”
C and C, “OH CRAP! We’ve been gyped.”
See, Hiro, one more sword stroke would have been a really good idea….

22. The Japanese word that Hiro says is apparently literally translated as “I’m pinched.”

23. Next season is going to be cool….

From the latest episode of Medium.
(A vastly underated show. I completely reject the premise, but absolutely love the acting and the stories. The husband character is that rare thing– a realistic man role, well sort of.)
For reasons that will be obvious if you know us, these clips tickled our funny bones.
I don’t think the quotes require context from the story; but if you ask, I’ll provide it.

Husband: “Help me out here. Which…which one of these shirts looks most well-adjusted?”
Wife: “Well, I say that the one on the left looks…uh…a little paranoid to me, and the one the right looks like it has anger issues.”

……………………………

Wife: “So how was therapy? How was the therapist?”
Husband: “He said I was angry.”
Wife: “Oh yeah? What did you make of that?”
Husband: “It pissed me off.”

The newest tagline from our favorite show, HEROES, is “Can Sylar be stopped?”

Sylar is the big baddie on the show– a sociopath with the power to copy/steal other Heroe’s powers. Unfortunately, his means of copying/stealing powers involves slicing open their forehead and removing their brain– a process that is, as you might guess, fatal.

At this time, Sylar has “stolen” the following powers:
See/Decipher Complex Systems (this is actually his “Copy/Steal Power”)
Telekinesis – moving things with his mind (which he uses for the head-slicing)
Cyrokinesis – freezing things (including people)
Eidetic Memory – complete photographic memory, increased learning ability
Liquify – reduce any solid object to liquid (ugly, ugly power–though not that useful)
Super Hearing – pretty much what it sounds like, more useful than you might think
Precognition – the ability to draw/paint scenes from the future
? – and there are several more that we don’t know about

Now, when I was a kid, I used to make up super heroes and super villians. I also made up special cells to hold criminals with super powers. It was an amusing creative exercise. OK, I admit it. I still do it now. So, this question of “can Sylar be stopped” really gets to me.

I started thinking about all of his powers and how they might be overcome/counteracted.
His defensive powers are pretty limited– if you can suprise him. But that enhanced hearing is a problem. Whatever you do, it has to be silent for faster than sound.
My thoughts go on like this for quite a while. Whatever you do, you had better do it right the first time, no hesitation, no possibility of recovery. (Sylar has been captured twice now and both times ended poorly– because people want information from him and think they can keep him helpless. Bad, bad idea. My friend, Mengler, wouldn’t have made that mistake.)

To add to the fun– the previews of the future episode show a small girl who “has the power to stop Sylar”. Really? One power? Oh, my. Whatever could it be. My geek brain goes into overdrive trying to figure out what power that would be.

Blow him up from a distance? (She was small, cute little girl– pretty harsh idea.)
Stop him in place? (Hiro already has that power and it hasn’t worked for some reason.)
Block his powers? (The Hatian can do that– so that is unlikely…)
De-evolution? (That would be cool… cute girl looks at you and you get younger by the second…)

So, I’m thinking all of this out-loud. And C is listening, tolerating my geekiness.
And then she says,

“She could just make him a good person.”

… … … … … …
… … … …
… …

“Huh. I hadn’t thought of that.”

And I hadn’t. It would never have occurred to me.
I looked at C, and wondered at her elegant solution.

And then I realized

She was just playing the Buddy card.
(From Wiz-War, the best beer-and-pretzels game I’ve ever played.)

In the next version of Wiz-War, Buddy will be an Attack spell. This will upset C, but she’ll still play it on you.

Many of you are not fans of the “reality TV” genre.
C & C are, I’m sorry to say, horribly addicted to it– within reason.

Currently, we are watching three of them.
And my favorite– Survivor.

I WAS getting board with this grand-daddy of the reality genre.
The contestants lately have all been actors or actor-wannabes. Many of them play the game with knowledge that can only come from watching the show and then say and do things that only people completely unfamiliar with the game would say or do. (Or complete idiots…)

This season’s show is different.
I’m LOVING this season.
Here’s why:

1. Class Warfare
Good science fiction addresses modern day problems cloaked in the trappings of the future.
Apparently, you can do the same thing with Reality TV. Last season, in an attempt to boost their flagging ratings, the Survivor contestants were chosen and then fashioned into tribes by race. Big hullabaloo. Lots of ink. Not a big deal on the show. But it did raise race as an issue. Interesting. This season, they went with class. One tribe had everything– a regular beach bungalo. The other tribe– a machete. Of course, the tribe with everything did better than the ones with nothing. I guess the tribe with only a machete had trouble “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.” In addition, at one point the “blessed” tribe was asked to sacrifice one of their tribe or trade camps with the “cursed” tribe. Guess which choice they made. Comfort and material goods apparently outweigh social ties in Reality TV, too. Fascinating.

2. Yau-man
Yau-Man is a 54 year old computer engineer from California. He looks like Mister Miagi’s kind, but near-do-well cousin. And he is now my favorite Survior contestant. (I have two others that are favorites– but Yau-man has surpassed them both.) Here is a sublist of why:
A. Yau-Man can throw a spear, blow a dart, and shoot an arrow.
In one challenge, everyone had to do these three things. All the young bucks walked to the line with sure cockiness. Half of them didn’t even hit the target. Yau-man walked up, took an unorthodox stance, and nailed it. At one point, he grabbed all the arrows and held them up and the host, Jeff, asked, “What are you doing now?” To which Yau said, “Finding the straightest arrow,” with a tone in his voice that seemed to imply “do you think I’m an idiot?” Then he hit the target dead-on. Having practiced both archery and blow-gun, I appreciated his performance.
B. Yau-Man found the hidden immunity idol.
They hide this small statue and give clues to the contestants. If you find the idol, you can make yourself safe for one vote. Yau figured it out first, waited till everyone was gone, then found it. Which is only half of the story…
C. Yau-Man hides a fake idol.
Realizing that others might find the clues and look for the idol, Yau decided to make a fake idol and hide it in the same spot. He took a coconut shell, painted some stuff on it, and buried it. BRILLIANT!!! I would never have thought of that. No other contestant has ever thought of it. Granted, no one has dug the fake idol up– but that doesn’t make it any less clever. I wish someone would dig it up. Can you imagine the face of the person who finds it, then tries to use it? Oh well, it won’t happen now. Still brilliant.

3. Moral Outrage placed properly
Often, the contestants on this silly show say truly silly things. They get upset when people lie to them or betray them or trade sides or vote for them or any of the many other things that are basic parts of this staged game. Nonsense. I get sick of listening to these whiners. But, when a contestant does something truly icky– then I want to see some moral outrage. The current group of contestants has done just that. The current losers-to-be searched through Yau-man’s personal belongings looking for the immunity idol. They found it. (Bad Yau-man, silly thing to do.) They then tried to make hay with it by telling the others in Yau’s alliance. Their thought–“won’t they be upset when they find out that Yau didn’t tell them that he had the idol”. Their real reaction–“They went through your stuff? That is lousy.” No repercussions for keeping a secret. Why? Because secrets are a basic element of this game. About time someone remembered that. Way to go.

I’ve made a bet that Yau will win. Judging on my track record– I’ve just ruined things for Yau, but a guy can hope.