Thursday, June 26, 2014

Good & Bad: '24: Live Another Day' (6/23/14)

24: Live Another Day Hour 9

Plot: Uuuuuggghhh.
                Perhaps more of an explanation is in order: Uuuuuuggggggggggggghhhhhhhaaaahhhh.
                So last week, President Heller stood in the center of Wembley Stadium and took a full-on Mama Stark drone-strike right to the chest, effectively sacrificing himself to save hundreds of thousands of innocent lives all across England. One old man dies, hundreds of thousands of men and women and questionings of assorted ages get to live.
                In exchange for the right to explode the President, Mama Stark promised to destroy all of the drones she’d hijacked, which she immediately began doing once Heller was confirmed to have been blowed up.
                Only … Heller didn’t exactly keep to his side of the bargain. Thanks to some video trickery by Chloe, he’s alive and well.
                Mama Stark realizes she’s been duped and manages to save one last drone, which she plans to do nasty, nasty things with.
                Since Chloe has totally hacked Stark Terrorism, Inc., she’s able to pretty easily figure out where they’re holed up. Soon Jack lands a helicopter on the roof of the building and begins his assault from up top, while Kate and her team storm the building from below.
                Jack gets there first, throws Mama Stark’s son out of the window, shoots her in the leg, stops the drone from blowing up a subway station and then throws Mama Stark out the window too, because … he felt like it?
                Meanwhile, the mystery of Johnny Depp-bearded tech’s death – he’s dead, by the way – gets unraveled and all fingers point to Benjamin Bratt.
                Bratt makes a deal with Michael Wincott, who’s apparently become a straight-up bad guy at this point: If Wincott helps him get out of London alive, he can have Mama Stark’s drone-control device. Turns out, said device is actually good for controlling all sorts of military devices, which could prove problematic for America and the world.
                The episode ends with Chloe rejoining Wincott (because she doesn’t know he’s evil), who’s on his way to meet up with Bratt and get a hold of the device while Jack is in pursuit of the whole gang.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Good & Bad: '24: Live Another Day' (6/16/14)
“24: Live Another Day” Hour 8

Plot: Surprise! In the plot twist to end all plot twists, Johnny Depp tech survived an assassination attempt! And most likely a second one! Oh yeah and some other stuff happened.
                Let’s see, Kate dragged Simone’s mostly dead body into the CIA for resurrecting and interrogating purposes. After a lot of icky medical talk, the doctor gives Simone a shot which wakes her up long enough for her to sell out Mama Stark’s former location and Naveed’s magic disk thing that gives whoever has it access to the terrorist cell’s computer stuff.
                Meanwhile, Jack and Chief of Staff Mark are ordered by President Heller to play nice and come up with a plan to get him to a rendezvous with Mama Stark all without anyone noticing. Jack proceeds to come up with the plan in a second all by himself. It involves extracting the President from the building and getting him to Wembley Stadium in a helicopter. Mark’s role in this? Act like a horrible bureaucrat and hold an endless staff meeting that no one needs while important stuff happens everywhere else. It’s the role both men were born to play and they pull it off without a hitch.
                Elsewhere, Depp survives the aforementioned assassination attempt and calls in to Benjamin Bratt to come get him. Of course, Bratt is a mole, so he tips the assassin off to Depp’s location. Depp briefly gets a leg up on the assassin, but their fight ends with the assassin shot and dead and Depp stabbed and in poor shape. I guess we can count that as a partial win for the pencil-pushers out there?
                I mean, that’s pretty much all the big happenings. Sure, Jack and Heller arrive at Wembley. Sure Chloe tries and fails to use Naveed’s magic disk thing to stop the drones and sure Mama Stark drone strikes the living beejesus out of President Heller as he stands helpless in the middle of the stadium, while Jack watches in the wings.
                But the important thing was totally all that Johnny Depp tech stuff. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Top 10 Most Badass Fictional Fathers of All Time
Fathers. You may love them or you may be super, super PO’d at them, but the fact remains: We wouldn’t be here without them.
                Unless ladies start figuring out how to reproduce like a hydra and just start having small people bud off of them.
                But completely reorganizing their bodies’ basic chemistry and makeup will probably take women, I don’t know, like a few years or something so we should be safe for a little while, fellas.  
                And so since women are stuck with us for the time being and since today is the day god ordained as a celebration of all things fatherhood, I decided it was the right time for a list.
                At first I was going to do, best fathers, but that would be too easy since my dad would win and I would come in second. Suck it Abe Lincoln, I’ve got two cats and they really like me.
                In order to make things a little more challenging, I went decided to go down the fictional father avenue. But not just best or most inspiring or something lame like that. Instead, I’ll be building my list on the most basic, cornerstone trait of any successful father: badass-ness.
                And so here they are, the Ten Most Badass Fictional Fathers of all time:     

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Good & Bad: '24: Live Another Day' (6/9/14)

'24: Live Another Day' Hour 7

Plot: Let’s try to keep this brief, shall we? Part of the reason is that I’m running a little late on this thing. The real reason is that I fell asleep for about 5-10 minutes of this episode. Not necessarily an indication of its quality (ok well sorta), but more of a critique of my sleeping pattern as of late.
So, the condensed version: Simone isn’t in great shape after getting hit by a bus last week, imagine that? Jack and Kate catch up with her at the hospital, but she ain’t talking. Luckily, Simone’s neice is very much talking and she tells Kate all sorts of info about her aunt Simone. Mama Stark finds out Simone was set to betray her and orders a drone strike on the hospital. Jack and Kate get Simone out right as the drone strike hits, but she’s fading quickly. Jack is all set to drop Simone off with Kate at the CIA and go rendezvous with Heller when the episode ends.
                Elsewhere, Heller gives Prime Minister Stephen Fry a stern talking to about meddling in ‘Murka’s affairs and Fry immediately gets all grovely and apologizes. Remember who’s top dog these days, Brits.
                Johnny Depp bearded tech is hot on Bratt’s double agent tail, we find out the mysterious person on the phone with Bratt last week was Michael Wincott and at the end of the episode some crony manages to mess up killing Johnny Depp bearded tech, presumably on Bratt’s orders. Just because, you know, we can’t have anyone being too good at their jobs.
                Let’s see, the Russians want Jack and they’re pretty certain Chief of Staff guy is a lying traitor type person who wanted to put one over on them.
                This whole putting the Brits in their place while Mama Stark drone strikes everything has gotten old for Heller, though. So, he takes off his old man sweater, puts on his President jacket and contacts Mama Stark, possibly to turn himself in to her. We don’t know because the episode ends on this sensational cliffhanger … until the preview for next week’s episode answers that question for us, yeah, he’s going to give himself up to her.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Who wears short shorts? Kicking sexism and authority figures right in the shins

Perhaps you’re familiar with the sad tale of the Quebec-based high school student who started an Internet revolution with nothing more than some computer paper and a pair of jorts. John Cena would be so proud.
                Quick recap: The girl wore a pair of jorts to school one day, a pair of vice principals did a spot uniform check during one of her classes, her shorts were short enough to violate policy, they asked her to change, she refused, she got PO’d and printed out a bunch of signs accusing the school of sexism and fostering a culture where girls are viewed as sex objects, the school got PO’d and suspended her for a day.
                This is what I can piece together from Internet accounts.
                Somehow, this story that should have ended right then and there found its way online. Oh wait, that’s right. It’s 2014 and every ridiculous one-off story has to get squeezed into some larger narrative.
                In this case, some folks on Twitter hailed the student as some sort of leg-baring messiah, carrying the torch for oppressed women everywhere, fighting the good fight against a dress code policy that guilts girls for their bodies.
                Of course, as far as I can tell that’s mostly poppycock. She isn’t a hero, she’s a teenage girl who knowingly broke a rule, threw a fit when she didn’t get her way and then got punished for it. Or in other words, she’s every teenager who has ever lived ever.
                The school isn’t wrong here. It has a clearly-defined dress code policy in place and short-shorts are the second thing it bans.
                Also on the list? Low-riding pants. Is that some sort of cruel assault on male expression? Or more likely, is it because school officials want a dress code, they have to draw a line somewhere and that’s where they’ve chosen to draw it?
                When I was in high school, I had fairly long hair. I knew a fellow student who had a full-blown Carl Winslow moustache. We were both constantly in violation of our Catholic school’s dress code.
                His facial hair was banned and hair on guys couldn’t go past their shirt collar. And you know what? The vast majority of teachers couldn’t have cared less about where my hair stopped or what he had on his upper lip. Except for two female teachers.
                My buddy was constantly under the watchful eye of this one teacher, who made it a point to write him up for the stache in front of our entire study hall, even threatening to shave him herself on one or two occasions.
As for the other teacher, I had no classes with her, but she always managed to track me down in the halls and remind me to get a haircut.
                Why did these two female teachers do this to us? I guess the only answer is that they were concerned that my friend’s overt, rugged masculinity and my more soft and sensitive, yet still manly version would overpower the school’s female students and they’d start throwing themselves at us in the halls. (Trust me, that never happened.)
                Or maybe those teachers were jealous that he could grow a moustache and that I had longer hair than the pair of them.
                Or you know, maybe it’s because there was a rule on the books and they felt compelled to enforce everything in said book, unlike the majority of our teachers who were more interested in picking their battles.
                One of the most important lessons kids learn from actually going to a school each day is how to be fully-functioning members of society. That includes following rules, dealing with authority figures and with your peers and so on.
                If this girl from Quebec gets an office job, there’s a damn good chance there will be some sort of dress code she’s going to have to follow and her boss likely isn’t going to give a shit how hot it is outside. It’s easier to start learning that lesson early rather than getting canned later because you can’t understand why a fishnet top isn’t an appropriate thing to wear to a client meeting.
                You could ask the question: Should short shorts be banned? Is that sending the wrong message? But that’s not the point. The school has decided that’s where it wants the line. Just like guys can’t have their jeans sagging down to their knees. (Also, an aside, if a guy showed up in cut off shorts that stopped mid-thigh, he’s probably getting sent home too. No proof, just a gut-feeling.)
                I’m not blaming the student in this case. I mean, she’s absolutely wrong about every single part of this, but that’s not her fault. She’s a teenager, that’s her job.
                The real blame, as it always is, is on her parents.
                This isn’t about rape culture or slut-shaming or any other buzzword. It’s just typical teenage nonsense. The only difference is, back in the day her parents would have jumped in with a “No daughter (or son) of mine is going to do XYZ” speech, told their kid to listen to the principal and defused the situation.
Now, no parent wants to believe their precious kid could do anything wrong and so it’s off to Twitter or the evening news if someone even thinks about suggesting their perfect angel is anything less than that.
I’m not sure mom and dad steered that media car in this case, but I know they didn’t pull it over.  
                The school has a very clear no-butt policy. It doesn’t want to see the top of your butt hanging out of some sagging pants or the bottom slipping out of the bottoms of your short-shorts. Even though the shorts in this case weren’t THAT short, let’s just acknowledge such a thing is hardly out of the question.
                If the school had a rule mandating all blue-eyed students must be treated as inferior to brown-eyed ones, then by all means, feel free to rebel to your heart’s content. That rule makes no sense.
                But on the revolutionary spectrum, crying about shorts falls closer to “Corey and Shawn go on strike because they don’t like tests” than it does to “Boston Tea Party.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good & Bad: '24: Live Another Day' (6/2/14)

24: Live Another Day Hour 6

Plot: Don’t worry you guys. No one important (the show’s definition not mine) was killed in that little drone strike from last week.
                Anyway, so after that incident, President Heller is all like “Um my bad” and immediately gives Jack whatever he wants. Guns. Communication gadgets. Kate. And just like that, the two most attractive blondes in the war against terror are not only on the same side, they’re now partners.
                Being Jack Bauer, he decides to immediately push this newfound partnership to the very brink. You see, in order to get the arms dealer who knows Mama Stark to talk, Jack needs to get back in his good graces. To do that, he kinda needs a human sacrifice sooooo … But don’t worry, Jack assures Kate. He’s totally going drug her up before he hands her over to this psycho so he (the psycho) won’t torture her right away. Kate will be sound asleep while Jack helps Chloe hack into the arms dealer’s computer system and by the time she wakes up the world will be saved. Easy as pie.
                Of course, the arms dealer has a drug to counteract Jack’s drug and Kate is immediately woken up and forced to run the gauntlet of torture devices: Electrical shocks, water, drills, knives, being strung up by your arms which are stretched out behind your back.
                Meanwhile, the Brits, who up until this point have been very content to do nothing while Mama Stark threatens to drone-strike their country back to “Game of Thrones” times, have had a change of heart. Instead of doing nothing, now they’ve decided to do nothing helpful. Prime Minister Stephen Fry learns that Heller’s got a touch of the Alzheimer’s, so Fry immediately begins second-guessing everything, including Heller’s decision to put Jack in the field.
                Sensing Jack may be going off the rails, Fry orders a team to storm the arms dealer’s pad and forcibly take whatever info Jack is trying to acquire by stealth. This turns out to be something that leads to Mama Stark. I think it was Simone’s cell phone or something.
                The Brits show up, the ruse is busted, Jack gets the info he needs, Kate gets her badass moment where she kills a bunch of henchmen, the Brits are all killed and Jack and Kate go about their merry way.
                Elsewhere, Mama Stark decides Simone should kill Naveed’s sister and young niece, Simone is less than thrilled with this and cocks the whole thing up as the Brits would say, managing to accidentally kill the sister while trying to help her escape. Then Simone manages to get herself hit by a bus while chasing the little girl and attempting to explain she didn’t mean it.
                The smarmy Chief of Staff gets himself caught in a lie when the Russians call to inquire about when they can pick up Jack, as per the Executive Order on which Chief of Staff forged Heller’s signature. So that’s not going good, luckily he has an easy out (whisper: Alzheimer’s).
                And just when you thought there couldn’t be more plot: Benjamin Bratt turns out to be some sort of mole who set up Kate’s husband as a traitor (she IS a great agent after all!) and he talks to a shadowy-sounding character on the phone about moley things.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The young-ish man and the sea: A tale of love and loss

The sea and I have had a difficult relationship through the years.
                Admittedly, I haven’t lost any husbands or children to Davey Jones’ locker, nor have I ever been forced to explore my own mortality while face-to-face with the sea’s immense power and might.
                So I’ve got that going for me.
                No, the source of my problems with the seas is that it’s kinda gross. Jellyfish live in it, they’re gross. Seaweed is of course known to reside in and near the sea, you can tell that from the name.
                But the grossest part of all is the salt.
                When I was a kid, this inherent ickiness never bothered me. I’d spend hours in the sea, frolicking about. My favorite passion was pretending my boogie board was a space ship from “Star Wars.” Good times.
                I’m not sure what exactly caused it, but at a point though, the sea and I turned on each other.
                The thought of going in, getting coated in salt water from head to toe and then having to sit on the beach for several more hours before I could shower it off began to seem like something Jack Bauer should be dishing out to terrorist kingpins.
                There was also the issue of putting on sun tan lotion. If I didn’t smear half a kilo of the stuff on my person, the sun would cook my Irish skin like an overwhelmed chef on “Hell’s Kitchen.” But that greasy feeling of sun tan lotion also didn’t sit well with me. Especially if you put it on your chest and back and then put a shirt on top of it.
                This was the worst. So gross. Much awfulness.
                Given my scrawny and, as we already discussed, ghostly-white physique, shirtless wasn’t an option.