Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Catching up with Star Trek Re-watch

Another turn of the page-a-day calendar brings us once more to Thor’s day (or Thursday, for those of a more modern persuasion), and that can mean only one thing: a new installment of Tor.com‘s weekly feature Star Trek Re-watch, by Dayton Ward and yours truly.

A combination of illness, travel, and a holiday kept me from promoting last week’s Re-watch column, so this week you get a double feature — and what an “odd couple” of episodes this is. Back to back, we find one of the original series’ most laughable entries followed by one of its most laudable.

First up is For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.” If you just couldn’t get enough of “The Paradise Syndrome” five weeks ago, then you’re in luck—most of that episode’s tropes (and effects shots) are recycled here for your viewing pleasure.

Then get ready to grab something heavy, because the next episode will blow you away: The Tholian Web is far away one of the finest hours in the 40-plus years of the Star Trek saga.

For you completists, here’s the list of my and Dayton’s contributions to the Star Trek Re-watch:

  1. Spock’s Brain
  2. The Enterprise Incident
  3. The Paradise Syndrome
  4. And the Children Shall Lead
  5. Is There in Truth No Beauty?
  6. Spectre of the Gun
  7. Day of the Dove
  8. For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky
  9. The Tholian Web

Go check ’em out, and leave a comment over there to let us know you’re paying attention!

Blind Devotion on Star Trek Re-watch

It’s a dreary, drizzly Thursday here in New York City, but there’s a bright spot in the gloom: a brand-new installment of the TOR.com series Star Trek Re-watch by yours truly, ably aided and abetted by Dayton Ward.

This week, Dayton and I sink our teeth into the third season’s fifth aired episode, Is There in Truth No Beauty? — and, for once, we’re not in complete agreement about its merits.

Watch the episode for free on the CBS website, then read our review and leave a comment to tell us what you think!

Hard Numbers: Taxes & the U.S. Economy

Over at Tax.com, economist David Cay Johnston lays out a detailed, by-the-numbers case for just what a disaster the Bush tax cuts have been for our country, and why they need to expire.

The bottom line? By even the most forgiving metrics, the Bush-era tax cuts cost the United States $1.8 trillion and completely failed to produce any of the benefits that the GOP promised they would yield. (A more thorough accounting suggests the true cost is closer to $2.7 trillion.)

I found myself nodding in agreement as I read Johnston’s post-evidentiary summary (emphasis mine):

The hard, empirical facts:

The tax cuts did not spur investment. Job growth in the George W. Bush years was one-seventh that of the Clinton years. Nixon and Ford did better than Bush on jobs. Wages fell during the last administration. Average incomes fell. The number of Americans in poverty, as officially measured, hit a 16-year high last year of 43.6 million, though a National Academy of Sciences study says that the real poverty figure is closer to 51 million. Food banks are swamped. Foreclosure signs are everywhere. Americans and their governments are drowning in debt. And at the nexus of tax and healthcare, Republican ideas perpetuate a cruel and immoral system that rations healthcare — while consuming every sixth dollar in the economy and making businesses, especially small businesses, less efficient and less profitable.

This is economic madness. It is policy divorced from empirical evidence. It is insanity because the policies are illusory and delusional. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.

So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the “lamestream media,” who treat these policies as worthy ideas?

The Republican leadership is like the doctors who believed bleeding cured the sick. When physicians bled George Washington, he got worse, so they increased the treatment until they bled him to death. Our government, the basis of our freedoms, is spewing red ink, and the Republican solution is to spill ever more.

Those who ignore evidence and pledge blind faith in policy based on ideological fantasy are little different from the clerics who made Galileo Galilei confess that the sun revolves around the earth. The Capitol Hill and media Republicans differ only in not threatening death to those who deny their dogma.

How much more evidence do we need that we made terrible and costly mistakes in 2001 and 2003?

Go check it out.

My dream setlist for a RUSH concert

Last night on the drive home from the RUSH concert, my friend Randy and I discussed what we had liked about the evening’s setlist and what we hadn’t.  In my case, there were a few songs that I especially missed hearing, and a few I would not have missed had they been excluded.

That got me thinking — what would be my dream setlist for a RUSH concert?  (more…)

What’s wrong with this picture?

So I’ve been reading that Justin Halpern, creator of the Twitter feed @shitmydadsays, has been rewarded for his hilarious tweets with a book contract and a TV sitcom deal.

Let me get this straight.

A 28-year-old man moves back in with his elderly parents and reportedly starts tweeting his father’s more outrageous remarks. In just 73 tweets, he nets himself 750,000 followers. And now he’s up to ass in cash and success.

Taking into account the Twitter limit of 140 characters per tweet, multiplied by 73 tweets = 10,220 characters. Now let’s assume an average word length of six letters including a space or punctuation. This sonofabitch got a book contract and a TV deal as a reward for a total output of 1,701 words.

Best of all? They weren’t even his fucking words! They were his dad’s hilarious remarks.

If you ask me, his dad ought to be the one with the book contract and the TV deal.

Bitter? Me? Why do you ask?

A Remake I’d Like to See

It is an oft-repeated complaint that Hollywood is out of original ideas. This should come as no surprise, as there have been no new story ideas since we as a species first started writing things down. That said, the people working in Los Angeles have made some really questionable choices in recent years when it came to what classic films to remake. So let me help.

Listen up, Hollywood: You want to know what movie is in desperate need of a remake, and would require little new thinking on your part? Well, I’ll tell you:

Ladyhawke.

It’s been 25 years.  It’s time.

The story is perfectly fine. You could simply pay the writers their fee and use the same script. No need to rewrite, it’s a period piece — you don’t have to update the slang or jokes.

One thing you need to do differently this time is the music. The one common complaint I hear from (and share with) fans of this movie is that its soundtrack is atrocious, a complete mismatch to the film. Don’t repeat this mistake: get a timeless score from Brian Tyler or David Arnold.

Casting? It’s not that difficult. Daniel Craig as Captain Etienne Navarre; Charlize Theron as Isabeau d’Anjou; and Shia LaBeouf as Phillipe Gaston.

Okay, there. I’ve done the hard part for you, Hollywood. Now go get to work. And try not to screw it up.