Friday, April 29, 2005

4th Horseman Alert - Bussing My Sister into Hell...

Despite my better inner instincts, I liked the Rosie O'Donnell Show the few times that I saw it. I liked Rosie O'Donnell as a stand-up comic back in the 80's who entertained regularly on Mtv. I liked Rosie O'Donnell in "A League of Their Own" where some of her truest colors and times were experienced. I enjoy seeing the eclectic-ness of Rosie O'Donnell's blog that has recently been showcased everywhere on the web. I hope Rosie O'Donnell has some more luck in the future: I'd like to hear more from her (maybe she'll happen upon my blog and tell me what my problem is).

On the other hand, I DESPISE Andie McDowell. All of her roles from the suculently awful "Tarzan: The Legend of Greystoke" have been the stuff of reviled legend in my house. I would bother to explain this more but hey: It's a 4th Horseman Alert.

The reason? Both Rosie O'Donnell and Andie McDowell are getting together for a movie:

"Riding the Bus with My Sister"

As always with things that are visually unappealing: Insert Ballpoint Pen A into Eyesocket B and Twist.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Nostalgia, Entertainment, Shock and Hypocrisy All in One...

While this might be more appripriately be placed in my "Mike's Movies" blog, I think there's something to be said for diversity here and this one's no exception.

While cleaning up my office this afternoon on my half day off, I was looking for an appropriate DVD commentary to listen to while focusing on other things. I chose the December 04 release of "TOP GUN : SPECIAL EDITION" in which you can hear the commentary of:

"Producer Jerry Brockheimer
Directory Tony Scott (btw, brother of the famed Ridley Scott)
Co-Screenwriters Jack Epps, Jr. Captain Mike Galpin
Technical Advisor Pete Pettigrew and
Vice Admiral Mike McCabe"

For what it's worth the commentary on here is second to none. You've got the regular Hollywood stories from the producer, the at first unwanted director, and the rest of it is outstanding: The real guys telling you what was real, what was possible, what wasn't possible, how the screenplay was adapted (the writers are actual fighter pilots) so that "the public could understand what was going on better" and a lot more in-depth things that really make it "magical."

Speaking of magical, you may recall that at the end, a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) with the callsign "Merlin" has now replaced the "I-hit-the-canopy-in-a-flat-spin-out-to-sea Goose (Anthony Edwards) in the back seat of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell's F-14 (the "Ready 5" fighter). Now until now, I never really took notice of him and it's funny how I eventually noticed who plays this character.

While looking for the commentary, I went into something called "the Vintage Gallery" on the disc and saw the "MUSIC VIDEOS" option. After a quick viewing of "DANGER ZONE (hums the guitar riff), I clicked on down to:

"Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens "TOP GUN ANTHEM""

This is the song that opens "TOP GUN" and was surely the song of legend at may a prom back in 1986 and beyond (it was at ours - snort). As I'm watching the end of this video (this and Danger Zone are INCREDIBLY 80's music videos folks: take a peek when you get the chance, man. Crazy) I see all the people on the aircraft carrier congratulating Maverick on the flight deck, manly hugs everywhere, smiles and fists held high. And then I see:


After a few errant blinks, I rewinded the DVD a bit and played it in slow mo several times and - sure as the Russians in this film are dumbasses about flying, there is Tim Robbins, an actor whom I like in many of his works, and non-stop whiner of today's American left wing movement. I wasn't sure it was him until I snapped back to the scene where he and Maverick are engaging MIGs everywhere, and DAMN! It's him! The whiney voice that's being the doomsayer was doing it allll the way back in 1986 too!

"Maverick: We've got a MIG on our tail..."
"Shit! We just flew right through his jetwash!"
"Get control Mav, Get control!"
"Let's get back in the game, Maverick!"
"Get in ther Maverick you can't leave him - what he hell are you doing?"
"He won't last down there alone - Get in the for chrissake!"
"Oh my gawd..."
"Maverick! We've got a MIG coming around on our tail - we've gotta' get outta here."
"He's coming around - he's comin' around he's gonna' get behind us!"
"He's right on us - he's between our tails - you haven't lost him."
"What are you doing you're slowin' down, you're slowin' down?"
"He's going to get a lock on us!!!"
"Mustang this is Voodoo 3 - remaining MIGs are buggin' out..."

Ironically enough, Merlin is used in the movie in honor of the man that much of the real "story" of TOP GUN was taken from about an airman in Vietnam that claimed many badguys during his tour in the military. Apparently the paycheck was worth getting over his beliefs for this film.

In any case, strange how past experiences and FILM make for an interesting revisit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Accidental Listener of a Savage...


Whild driving to get Gloria from work many times a week, I accidentally end up listening to a man named "Michael Savave" on a local talk radio station. While he's a bit radical, I do enjoy much of the sarcasm and some of the storytelling that he chooses based on the topics he chooses to cover during the week.

He's recently had his new book, "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder" over on newsmax, and I thought I'd share that review with you:

Give it a sniff - it doesn't all ring true, but you surely hear it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

SWC3B - More News than You Can Shake a Stick At

Read on below and remember you can see pictures from this great event online right here!

Still looking for SWC3 News? Be sure to check out the ATLAS Website for more details about the goings-on, the newest stuff and the stuff that I never saw because of the dreaded line monster this last weekend.

Go to the website, click on "Forums" and go to the Away Mission News - in there are listings that have "SWC3" as the topic headline and it will fill you right in.


Monday, April 25, 2005

SWC3B - The Next Motion Picture?

Read on below and remember you can see pictures from this great event online right here!

It's about 9pm and we've arrived at the place where we left all of our vehicles and it's time to unpack: but not before some friendly lightsaber play!

Ken and Adrian yanked out their lightsabers and posed for some pictures.

Matt joined into the fray using one of Ken's extra (how many did he buy? We'll never know the truth) lightsabers from Master Replica. The pictures are sweet as is the group photo, the memories and the good times amidst what was once again a fantastic a way mission.

Those of you that still haven't decided to join ATLAS should: It's a great time, a good release, and one of the neatest things that I provide time to. Check out more about ATLAS online at:

Thanks again to all of the people that made it on this Away Mission. I appreciate your time, effort and endurance to make it all very memorable.


SWC3B - A Race With the Discovery...

Read on below and remember you can see pictures from this great event online right here!

Holy schnikes! We just got passed by Lester and Kathy from the USS Discovery in a Ford Taurus with an XWing License place!

With a casual large toe to the floor we soon overtake them and pass them on a wave-run.

Kathy and Lester do their own fuel manuver and thunder pass us into the sunset just like the X-wings of the final Death Star battle - but on four wheels.

SWC3B - The Long Day in Indy Ends...

Read on below and remember you can see pictures from this great event online right here!

With another $15 parking day coming to a close, it's great to see the end of the tunnel at this point. The show is great, we really got our money's worth, but man: What an overwhelming experience both mentally and physically.

We packed up the van, headed for grub at the on-the-way-out-of-town Cracker Barrel where the Diet Root Beer, Hash Brown Casserole and comradery continued for about an hour.

It was then time to pack up the white bullet and begin the journey home.

SWC3B - The Empire Strikes Our Wallets...

Read on below and remember you can see pictures from this great event online right here!

Note to all of you who dialed back feverishly for an update: We have our merchandise from the STAR WARS Store at Celebration III but wow: Do we have feedback.

1.) Figure Only Line No Where to Be Found: Why can there not be just a line for those that want the special edition figure from SWC3? I continue to not understand this one (other than they don't have the people to work/support it in edition to the other lines and merchandise that they're trying to make available?). I also get that they are funneling people into what is basically a barrel where they suckle cash until the cows come home, but how much is enough? They have created 50k figures, all of which are sure to sell. They have the ticket price of everyone that comes. They have the cash they make everywhere else (exhibitors coming in, payments from the companies to be in the halls, etc etc etc).

2.) Cash Only Lines: After finishing at our register and acquiring the goods, we noticed that not only was the Cash Only Line next to the register we were at not open: None of them were. Again, knowing nothing of the logistics of the show, it's hard to guess why this was, but imagine having 8 more registers open to process transactions at the show.

3.) Order from this Form: This probably disturbed me the most of our entire weekend: You could take the form that they had on hand and pay for your merchandise, but it would eventually be sent to you via US Postal - or you can order alllll this same merchandise (save the Darth SWC3 figure) on the StarWars.Com Website.

Huh? So all we were really in line for were the figures and the few baubles (coasters, drink cups, the ONE crappy shirt that noone was buying) available. Astounds the imagination.

4.) The Line: While Jade did a great job and only really have a problem when she had a full diaper, I just can't profess this long a line experience as a "family event" for those with young children. While I know I will love the pictures I took of my daughter standing next to Darth Vader, the experiences I had with her while at the show and during the trip, I am saddened that there isn't a better fix to get the merchandise into people's hands quicker so that the lines can move faster. 4.5 hours to get some figures and a three keychains is a long damn wait in itself, much less with a small child. I can only imagine the stress the people that waited the 7-9 hours yesterday - just cannot fathom it.

5.) The Madness: When we were walking down the hall to the Store area, I saw a young man holding up one of the special edition figures. I asked him where he bought it and he said "I don't know." I asked him if he bought it in the store down the way here and he said "I don't know." I asked him if he thought we could buy some down this way and he shrugged his shoulders and said that I could buy this one for $50 and avoid the line "up that way." I took a moment to grab one of the people with the STAFF embroidered shirts and said whom should I report this gentleman to: Shortly after this I received a cool red "VOLUNTEER" T-shirt, and the man was escorted away. Chalk one up for the good guys. Consequently, I also learned that one of the exhibitors (the people that surely spent a shitload of cash to get placement in the exhibition room) was removed from the floor because they too were selling the figures at way over cost. This in general is something I hope they will police better next time.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

SWC3B - Revenge of the Line...

We've waited until Sunday at 1030a to get in line for the Star Wars
Store - an adventure in futility. While the line numbers say we're at
the two hour point for getting shirts figuress and the like you don't
have to be a statistician to figure its going to take longer than that.

I wonder how much of "being in line" = being a Star Wars fan? Over
dinner last nite we were talking about that and the last time I remember
a "line around the building: ironically, was 1977 for the opening of
Star Wars. I find that sadly tragic and a reminder of what happens in a
line that lasted two hours. More as we make the circuit.
--cptmike via sidekick

Saturday, April 23, 2005

SWC3B - The Attack of Darth Mall...

Apparently waiting out the 6-7 hour lines at the mall (and it's a tasty
one) is all the rage. Food court is packed to capacity people
withcostumes are everywhere and they just keep on coming.

It is amazing to see the zeal that drives the STAR WARS franchise and I
look forward to seeing what the future holds.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Blog Tells More Than People in Convention Area...

I can't believe most of what's happening currently. We've been in a mall since 10am and I just read a blog on my Sidekick about the goings-on down the street.

While I'd love to be the one to tell you all of the things included in this blog, alas- I am not.

New news however: stuffed in a small corner of the mall was a ticket sales person for the Indiana State museums "Lord of the Rings Trilogy Expedition" which starts October 6th and continues thru January 3rd next year. I think that'll make a great extended Away Mission later this year.

For those interested, here is the link to the new series (two of them) basics, the line details (6-7 hours???) and more that is updated as mine is.

--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Red Alert... SOLD OUT...

Those of you that emailed me talking about coming up for a day or two -
Don't! The at the door tickets are gone for today and tomorrow both!
Also: there are very long lines outside in the elements hence we are
electing to pile back into the van and come back later.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Exhaustion and the Legend of Fancicles

The main "oh my gawd" exhibit hall (only one of many here) closed at 7pm
on a Friday evening. I still don't understand this move but will bow to
the experience of those that create the shows here. Exhaustion quickly
(I've never been in a place where I actually didn't know where to start
my set in as did hunger and a need to check into our hotel that lay
about 10 min away from the convention center so we packed up the few
trinkets purchased, collected our personnel and decided to go get some
grub and some needed rest.

As we began our retreat to the van, the skies that had threatened began
to unleash their fury on our young merry band of padawan learners. I
vilounteered to run to the van and while I made great time I also took a
second shower for the day - I was drenched. After reaching the van and
sqeegee-ing off about 7 extra pounds I went to collect the crew. What
we also witnessed was something of legend the likes of which have never
been seen ineven the Lord of the Rings novels. I like to call them
Fancicles. The weather here in Indianapolis is approximately 7 degrees
and sheet rain. In this the Fancicles have taken root in an effort to
see their beloved George Lucas who will be holding 3 30 minute
discussions this morning before he leaves. Now understand: the events
start at 8:30 am TOMORROW. There is sheet rain as we pass by and there
are at least 100 people in all varying forms of prottection waiting in
line. My firends, you now know the Legend of the Fancicle.
--cptmike via sidekick

Friday, April 22, 2005

SWC3B - The Main Exhibition Hall...

Someone pinch me - because I have died and gone to Toy Bonanza Verdose
Display Heaven. I do not have the words yet to encapsulate this whole
area. Lucasarts, Toy Makers of every mind, dealers with items I've
never seen. Master Replicas is also here whoring out sabers left and
right and pimping a new line of costimes that look totally kick ass, due
out this fall. I hope to detail more of the displays and actual items
tomorrow and Sunday. We're talking about staying much later than
originally intended Sunday.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - The Art Hall...

This is one of the neatest sections so far folks. Where else can you
not only have people come to buy your art but get paid on just drawing
stuff that someone else thought up?? I'll capture some of the names
tomorrow but folks: if they're anyone in the SW universe artwise,
they're here - with samples, photo ops and a smile. All are very
personable so far and are just eager to be part of it all. This years
event poster sticks out in my mind in general. Super slick and "oh
duuuude" level art.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Costumes Make the Star Wars Universe Go 'Round...

The variety of custumes at this event surpasses anything I've ever seen
in my years of fandom. You name it there's someone here with it -- and
then some. Vader, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Slave Leia, Jawas, Clone
Troopers, Stormtroopers, Snowtroopers, Jedi races of every kind and the
quality of costumes astounds the eyes. Others seen just on the first
day: Ghostbusters in full costume, Banana-kin Skywalker, Kitt Fisto,
generic forest rebel, death star office workers, Elvis Trooper,
DENGAR!! Totally cool! A ton more. I'm certain we'll see more and
I'll try yo be conscious of making a list. Again the quality of the
costuming is soooo wicked.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Badges, Posters and Materials...

The quality of the materials received is outstanding. I'll be sure to
insert pictures of them as soon as possible. Slick sexy graphics, high
quality lamination and lots of cool huge-ass posters everywhere.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Registrations and Refunds...

Just when I thought I coudn't possibly get any luckier today - I
apparently need to pay for my daughter's registration, hence I arrive
and I get $50 - CASH! Bam! Also walked by the "disability desk" to see
what portions of the shows would be interpreted and guess what: one of
them are. That's really aggrivating and we even had requested the
interpreting service. I left a message with both general customer
service as well as the disability desk supervisor who magically never
made it back to his post.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Let's See Some ID...

As I approached the Indianapolis Convention Cebter there were two
stormtroopers: one, a scout trooper (like on a speeder bike) and the
second a traditional New Home Trooper. The costumes were excellent. As
I walked by they asked me for ID. I said "You don't need to see my
identification" as I waved my hand and goddam: if it didn't work!
Actually I asked the trooper at the door if he could help me find
registration and he said "- don't know." Oh. Well there's something to
be said for not knowing but I thought the dude standing at the door
would know.

As I walked through I asked 3 more and they didn't know either. Finally
I just stopped this dude with a STAR WARS Tshirt and convention badge on
and asked HIM where to go. He pointed in the appropriate direction and
asked why didn't I come in on the other side of the building. Uhh,
sure. So I began the hoof out to the Registration Desk "that way".
Y'know, with all the troopers in place and whatnot, you'd think that
somone in costume wpuld know or want to direct someone to where they
wanted to go. That was strange. I strapped on the hiker's grabbed a
granola bar and began the long journey to the registration booth.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - Park That Thang, Rookie...

One of the things we never thought of when securing a 15 person
passenger van: overhead internal parking structure clearance. The van
is 7'7 inches high where each of the internal parking structures had a
6'9 clearance. I found a spot that was right next to the convention
center but it didn't have an accessible door on that side of the place.
Clearly the enginners that make modern day movie theaters made this
place. Grin. 20 minutes and $15 later I am parked. Now for the walk
to the "front".
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - completely overwhelming...

I've made some notes but don't know where to start. Will get back to
the hotel tonite and jack in with pics and details! Complete system
overload. I can't believe the amount of crap here!
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC3B - If You Pack It It Will Go

4-22-05: 15 person passenger van acquisition complete - zero defects.
We're about 15 minutes behind schedule, but it sounds like everone is
already at the meeting point, my workplace, EPC, Inc. By the way, those
of you able we have a giant-ass "Earth Day Sale" tomorrow 20% off
everything used. Crazy deals. How is it that 3 guys can all answer the
phone and not help me - the one standing here - snort. Got the keys and
we're rolling.
--cptmike via sidekick

SWC-3 Bloggage... Sleep Ended with the Call of the The Force...

Good Grief! I didn't sleep a wink! I am leaving the house now to take our Dog Zeta to the pound. I have a couple of friends stopping by the house later on to housesit for the weekend and then it's time to grab the vehicle. 8 valiant souls on on their way to Indianapolis, IN enroute to what is sure to be one of the largest gatherings of Science Fiction Fans: STAR WARS Celebration III!

My sleep was interupted with strange visions of meeting people I had known in my childhood: I was wearing a black shirt that said "I'm Mike Wilkerson: Remember Me?" on the front, and on the back is a giant "THANK YOU GEORGE." Weird.

In any case, the blogs that appear from now on will include the header: SWC3 - Whatever the Title Will Be -- Look for those this whole weekend at the links below!

I also have learned that every electronic news agency will have someone there blogging the whole weekend so it's great to be in such neat company. Please feel free to chime in on the comments and we'll take a gander as we can during the weekend and when we arrive back home on Sunday!

For reference, be sure to check out the links below for more information:
- STAR WARS Celebration III Homepage:
- Mike's Blog:
- Mike's Website:


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Blow by Blow Review: "24" April 18th, 2005

I am trying to remember the last time that I was so engrossed in an hour of television a week and I think I have to compare this season to not only the pace, but the same if not more intense anticipation level of the first season of "24" which really did change the way I and people in general were able to watch modern-day episodic television.

A long time ago in a movie house far away, "serials" were the advent of genius and made people want to "come back next time and see how our hero gets out of this one" and that tradition has spilled boldly into this series and folks: If you are not watching you are truly missing out on something monumental.

That being said, let's get on to this weeks:

Blow by Blow Review: "24" April 18th, 2005

-- Buchanan Wants to Be Able to Briefly Explain the Theft of One of the Nation's Stealth Aircraft: Frankly that's a simple one, folks: Security breakdowns and the determination of a group of individuals interested in making sure that they get their way. Sure, you've got details like the fake uniform, a lack of scrutiny at the security checkpoint, the murdered people in Anderson's path, but terrorism is terrorism - plain and simple. There is a goal, and once the tone is set there is little deviation. While we can rest assured that Madwan's journey so far has had many fortunate turns and happenstances, the fact is clear: Homeland Security is a vital part of today's America and why we all have to do our part to stay alert and allow the professionals to get the job done.

-- Chloe Wants to Tie into the Data Directly? This is something of a mystery: would all of the houses of the US Government really open their doors in light of a potential nuclear attack on US soil? Sadly, I believe that we here in real life land will find out eventually - I truly hope that the agencies that claim to protect us and the nation's best interest understand that there needs to be one board in the game against Terrorism especially when nuclear threats are involved.

"It'll Take an hour to Account for All Shipments in Transit:" There's something particularly wrong with this statement - if we can announce a national air raid in a matter of minutes, why is it that it will take an hour to account for all of the nuclear warhead shipment convoys? Radio contacts? Cell links? I wish they'd have mentioned more about the details of what one of these convoys consists of. While I understand the importance of national security, my guess is that the convoys ARE small, and just as innocuous as any 4-5 military vehilces I've seen on our interstates during my life.

-- Mike Wants the President to Go to the White House? While I surely don't share the feelings of our in-boots-shaking "24" Commander in Chief, I do believe that the best and safest place for the President is "in the bunker" until Madwan is taken into custody or killed. I am curious as to why Mike thinks he's alright to go "up top."

-- CTU Operatives Uniform Selection: Your team has just been selected to take in one of the few terrorists that you have a lead on in the midst of what is a robust attack on the United States. The setting: A boat at a marina, poorly lit, one lone rent-a-cop on duty, and one known associate in the area. Your choice of clothing? Hotsy gear for clubbing on the town. ? What happened here? How about ONE bulletproof vest here? Some night vision gear? Anything remotely "official" looking? From my viewpoint they could have been criminals enroute to take out another fellow felon that done them wrong.

-- My Heart Soars! "Be right back" from Jack: I knew that this was one of the things that I LOVE to hear in this show: the reason? This is one of the hallmark "the gloves are about to come off" phrases that makes this show ripe with excitement and anticipation.

-- Captioning Says "What's the Code?" As Jack enters the holding room, he simply enters in a code and "boop!" the door opens. After all the "incidents" with Jack in the holding rooms, wouldn't he NEVER be allowed free and clear access to the doors? Strangely: The captioning for this segment says "What's the code" the instant that Jack enters the foyer to the holding room. Innnnteresting.

-- Accept My Resignation? Command Post to Heart: Soar once more! Yet another signature phrase telling us that yes - it's true - the shitstorm is truly about to begin and Jack is the RAINMAN!

With newfound information, a new set of fugly bad guys, a devestated convoy and a former CTU agent without reins, we vault into the next hour of "24!" Look for more next week!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Testing the blog entry address 4-18-2005

This is to test the remote blogging ability that we'll have at STAR WARS
--cptmike via sidekick

Blow by Blow Review: "24" April 11th, 2005

With one of the coolest, ultimately complex and intriguing continually-weaving storylines ever, "24" continues to spin a web of interest, excitement and outright intoxication. Let's get to this edition!

Blow by Blow Review: "24" April 11th, 2005

I would regale how on the edge-of-my-seat I was during the first quick minutes of this episode but dude: how can one NOT be on the edge of their sear, after Air Force One has received devestating damage from a stolen Stealth Fighter over our own soil?!? That being said:

-- The Connection to the Downed Secret Service Agents: This has to be one of the coolest items I've never even anticipated in previous shows where we see Secret Service agents. Of course they're going to have their "own channels" but how many other shows have tapped "their channel" to get immediate response from people that are more than likely dead? Super slick.

-- Bodies Seen: While I am not a professional emergency medical anything, how about anyone check the pulses on the people that are down? While we're talking about "victims" I'd like to comment on the status of the plane in general. From the video it looks as though the fuselage actually is very intact, ie, there is an actual "tube" that is not in fragments which makes it all that more likely that people that were secured appropriately just may have survived what is clearly a devestating situation. That being said:

-- Seat Belts: Who the hell are these Secret Service Agents that know there is impending Steath Doom on the President's doorstep and noone dives on him to get his ass secured into a seatbelt? Same story with the dead son and at least one "victim" that is depited in what was apparently a hallway/not in a chair with a seatbelt as the camera crew walked in. Just like you've seen in so many other movies, imminent danger to the man in charge ellicits the ultimate response in regard to the President's security and I am saddened that with four guys standing around last hour, NONE of them get his ass into a chair and buckled up.

-- Just When You Thought the President Was the Worse Person to Have in Office: Tought it was impossible to have a worse president in place in the realm of "24?" Bzzzzzzzzzzzer! Wrong! We now have what is one of the most inept politicians in place apparently that takes pages from previous US leaders that make him one of the most useless pieces of political flesh ever!

-- Stealth Visually Engaged and Destroyed/ShotDown: Might this be what Anderson was referring to? Surely he didn't want to get shot down and ejected from the doomed Stealth fighter. Come to think of it, wouldn't there be some sort of signal that can be traced - perhaps the communication signal to Jack to track him? Why does the Stealth Fighter now become visible for the 5 fighter jets to take him out? Did you also notice that they didn't really show Air Force One "perfoming any evasive manuvers" ala the movie "Air Force One?" No chaff, either from Air Force One or the fighters -- nothing. In any case, how is it that they were able to find and shoot down the stealth?

-- The Importance of Meetings: I have worked for many bosses: Some of them have used and liked meetings - others haven't and say they are a waste of time. I guess what I would say is look at this situation: Air Force One has been shot down, the nuclear football is loose and CTU has a meeting to get everyone on the same page. Now - I SURELY am not in charge of anything that is as important (to our nation I suppose) as Air Force One, or the nuclear football, but even in the midst of all hell breaking loose, meetings happen and they help to get everyone on the same page and up to date - quickly and efficiently. 'Nuff said on that, I suppose.

-- Buchanans Discussion About Michellle and Tony: I am happy that this scene was quick, straightforward and done in general, but I hope it wasn't added in to satisfy. It felt super short, but did the jobs overall.

-- Air Force One Recovery Video: Noted above, Air Force One looks very intact. There's fire, but not out of control blazes. Very little smoke, and dude: - Again - Where the hell are the seatbelts on this flight?

-- Football Season Has STARTED: Where's Our Team? The control box and launch codes to our entire nuclear arsenal is loose and will soon be in the hands of terrorists. Wny in the hell is it that Jack's Chopper, with a pilot and ONE support agent is the one that's on the way to save the day? No Air Force Bases in California? Where are the fighter jets that were escorting Air Force One? Surely they don't have to protect the crumped and ablaze remains of Air Force One. Why are they not encircling the "football" and shooting anything in sight that they can clearly lock onto with their multi-million dollar weapons systems?

-- Kicking the Football with a Missle Barrage? More on the football being loose: Wouldn't, rather than having the football potentially fall into terrorist hands, destroying it be a much better idea? I am sure that the fighter jets are armed with missles: Why not use them to lock onto the frequency of the transmitter and destroy it? The process of creating new codes and getting a new box set up is already in motion: nothing to lose here but the potential of it falling into unfriendly hands.

-- DSL and Charter Cable Internet - >SKOFF<: Jack is mobile, in a helicopter, racing over a desert in the dead of night and requests the schematics for the (another?) abandoned/unmanned auxillarypower station. Tony has them up in almost an instant. I have no idea what kind of connection Jack has to CTU and vice versa, but I want it, folks. Whether it be a handheld PDA, his cell phone, a screen in a 2006 Ford Whatchmacallit - Jack wans and gets the information almost immediately.

-- FUMBLE! The Football is Loose! To continue the gridiron euphamisms, the football has been fumbled. The football is the case that secures the control panel and detailed codes for the location, control and launch of our massive nuclear weapons arsenal. In the wrong hands, the reults are clearly something that would threaten life as we know it on our planet: The resources provided to give solution to this situation? Two CTU agents armed with handguns and a news-style helicopter - with no weapons on it. Huh?

-- Set! Hutt 1! Hutt 2 Hutt 716411! Jack finds reason to tell the campers the case code? Why? How does this help the effort at this point? If they're not going to leave the case and destroy it with a missle barage from overhead aircraft, what is it this person can do to help? Giving them the combination/PIN number allows anyone able to extract the information out of them at another time.

-- Split up? Why? Rather than "splitting up" why didn't Jack tell them to destroy the pages when they found the thing? There were at least what - 20 different visible fires at the Air Force One wreckage. Why not open up the code book, take the pages and burn them? Even in the factory: They were CAMPING - how possible is it that they didn't bring some lighter or something? Tell them to destroy the play book pages and the only thing that the terrorists go home with is a cool new console system with which they can mod their Playstation into. If they are in the power station, why not smash the board with some of those heavy pipes around them? Hide the pieces in the building and run away until backup arrives (minutes, right?)

The Old Lighting Bullets with Open Flame-burned twigs? I am skeptical that the bullets would go off this quick in a tin with burning twigs as the ignition source. It services to help Jack move forward and make the kill, but just not sure that would work.

-- "If you promise not to kill us?" Just a note to all of us, in case you meet or are involved in even an hour of your day with a terrorist that has derailed a train and killed 53, just killed thousands by having one of 109 nuclear reactors meltdown, stolen a stealth aircraft, shotdown the President and his entire staff and son, and stolen a live nuclear warhead: His word doesn't mean anything.

-- Air Support Doesn't Disable/Destroy the Vehicles? Wouldn't/shouldn't the vehicles have been disabled as one of the first objectives of this portion of Jack's day? The only person that has "license" to walk out of that building, in my opinion, is Jack. Everyone else coming out better be friendly or dead. Come to think of it, that helicopter (now confirmed via digital rewind) doesn't even have any weaponry on it! Can we give Jack, the only sole hope of stopping the terrorists trying to steal the football the ARMED helicopter next time?

-- Number 2 Jeep: Gone! They just had live real-time satellite overview of air force one and it's escorts, but they can't track one of two jeeps? Earlier this evening, they were able to pick up heat signatures on cars, people, etc. in the middle of a city - how is it that now, in a DESERT where there are only two visible vehicles, they are unable to apply the same technology?

The next episode promises to be solid, and did I just spy Jack being put into "set loose" mode? Holy smokes! I'm still intoxicated with 7 hours left in Jack's day!

The Wagging Finger of Shame...

While tending to an tired child recovering today I had time to review a new episode of "Ebert & Roeper" which yeilded another exciting option for films that are released onto unknowing audiences.

Everyone has known for a long time, that movies that are released without a pre-release to critics are one of those things that just doesn't smell right. For those of you that somehow doubt this fact, let me add to the discussion the following titles:

"Battlefield: Earth:"
"From Justin to Kelly"

and then this addition from today's show:

"The Amityville Horror"

This film, like the "Barnburners" listed (and especially those that aren't listed above - there have been MANY more) above was not released to critics for review before the regular folk. Finally, Roger Ebert has coined a new category of hand gesture for it:

"The Wagging Finger of Shame!"

A note to all studios: It doesn't make any sense at all to NOT release your films to critics, otherwise they are instantly grouped with the crap that is captured above. Also remember, a lot of people don't agree with critics viewpoints often (hell, while I'm a die-hard watcher of Ebert and Roeper, often times I think they're dead OFF on movies) and that many (my father for one, two friends at work, etc) often hit movies that are DISLIKED because they know that if "this person hates the movie, I'll tend to like it."

Kudos to Ebert and Roeper for this new "Digit-al Designation!"

Be sure to visit their website and listen to the audio clip of it from Roger Ebert now!

(If you don't see it immediately just use the search function for "Amityville" and select the 2005 version)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Only Thing More Freakish Than Those That Dabble In Collectibles

Like many other STAR TREK/STAR WARS fans, I have accumulated what is easily way too much "stuff" and was able to realize that the shrinkage of my wallet, and my livable house space before my life concaved.

Sadly, not all collectors find their "limit" as is the case with this gentleman that is traveling the country with what is called the "STAR WARS Kenner/Hasbro Toy Museum".

I'm not sure how large your houses are (I think mine in total is currently just a little under 2500 square feet) but can you imagine "5,000 square feet of STAR WARS Collectibles?"

For those of you that giggle or shake your head at collectibles or those that "collect" remember a few vital elements here:

From: The 12th Edition of Toys and Prices 2005What are the top prices for Star Wars Toys? The top ten price list is compiled in Toys and Prices 2005 from Krause Publications. Prices are for toys in mint condition.

Luke w/Telescoping Lightsaber, SW 3 3/4" figure (Kenner, 1977) -- $3,450

Vinyl Cape Jawa, SW, 3 3/4" figure (Kenner, 1977) -- $2,225

Anakin Skywalker, POTF, 3 3/4 figure (Kenner 1985) -- $1,625

Yak Face, POTF 3 3/4" figure (Kenner, 1985) -- $1,150

Boba Fett, ESB, 12" figure (Kenner, 1979) -- $875

Boba Fett, Droids, 3-3/4" figure (Kenner, 1985) -- $650

Boba Fett, SW, 3 3/4" figure (Kenner, 1978) -- $650

AT-AT Driver, POTF, 3 3/4", figure (Kenner, 1985) -- $575

Jawa Sandcrawler, SW, vehicle (Kenner, 1977) -- $525

The Mechanism of Destruction -
The Darth Vader Sprinkler...

I have often wondered when we would realize the folly of our existence.

Would it be when World War III came? When both sides could no longer just "figure it out?"

When the United States could no longer afford to make the expenditures it does to help "heal the world?"

It's a whole lot more simple than that:

How about when I'm surfing the Internet and find:


While I have been surprised at some of the recent items that have been made available, this one struck me as somewhat "odd." The reasons continue to mount but lets start with:

-- "The Lightsaber": Can someone please tell me what Toy God can be hailed to make lightsabers and long cylinders of plastic STRAIGHT when they are crafted? With all of the cool stuff being shoveled into the toy markets these days you'd think they'd get at least one that they could take a picture of that's not bent.

-- "The Pose": You know that the people in the Target Photo Services - Merchandising Division are laughing their asses off with this one. (Hears Scooby Doo "Doo-doolooo-doooo" sounds and picture fades to a warehouse floor full of overworked photographers and a mountain of new "STAR WARS CRAP" that they will now have to dig into - thereby missing the most recent and telling episode of "LOST" or "24" to date) "Hey, dude: What if we turn it like - this - Ha! That's the shit! Look at that! It's a red-hot lightsaber love snausage! Yee haw! I'm surely in line for the Pulitzer! Holy Schnikes! Check out Princess Leia and the Buns! Schwing!" "Yeah, this'll teach Rosie to give us this load of toys last minute! Yeah!"

With all the directions that this could be pointed/photographed/showcased, how "hard" would have it have been to get a better picture?

-- "The Description": I have seen a variety of descriptions for this item that I thought I would share with everyone.

From Target.Com: "Try to stay dry and steer clear of the Dark Side with this Star Wars Darth Vader sprinkler. The 10" tall sprinkler has multiple spraying action from a spinning Vader atop the Death Star, including a stream that comes from his light saber. The sprinkler attaches to any standard garden hose. Wipe with damp cloth to clean. Made of PVC and ABS plastic. For ages 3 to 5 years. Imported. 10-1/2Hx6-3/4Wx6-3/4L"."

From ToyRUs: "Let's get wet! It's easy to stay cool and have fun with this Star Wars water sprinkler. Darth Vader spins as water sprays from his light saber. Sprinkler is 10" tall and connects to a standard garden hose."

From STARWARS.Com: "
Let the Dark Side defend your lawn from the ravages of summer heat or cool you off on a hot day with this Darth Vader sprinkler! Standing 10" tall, this great new Vader sprinkler spins around with water spraying action, wielding his lightsaber in a furious battle to save your lawn! Let Darth Vader be the center of your backyard universe today with this very cool garden accessory."

Of those, I'll take what's behind description number 3 please.

-- "The Controversy": That's right! When on this Earth have you ever seen something without controversy! The Darth Vader Sprinkler also is surrounded appropriately by the dark veil of controversy. The debate: Does water ACTUALLY COME OUT OF Darth Vader's Lightsaber? Does it come out of the base? Does Darth spin as the water shoots out? Now that I think about it, does the "limp/bent" Lightsaber/noodle perhaps speak to the fact that the water comes out of the lightsaber?

The only way to figure this last note out was clear - that right! The circle is now truly complete: Mike, the skeptic anti-collector has just purchased (1) Darth Vader Lawn Sprinkler from Target.Com and it will be here in a few short days. Stay tuned for the Blow by Blow Review of it. It's sure to be a Barn Burner/Soaker!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Blow by Blow Review: "24" April 4th, 2005

For those of you wondering which of the many hours of television you're watching needs to go - I can't help you there. What I can do is tell you that there is one 42-minute span of television that should be viewed at all costs - That's right! "24" is it! This episode holds not only action, adventure and to-the-hilt action, but holds the ultimate question:

What other show do you know will shoot down AIR FORCE ONE!?

With that, let's get to this episode's edition.

Blow by Blow Review: "24" April 4th, 2005

-- A Hidden/Overlooked Clue - Marwan Speaks: For the last four hours or so, we have been introduced to "The Pilot" and have never really figured out what his "goal/target" was. This episode holds the answer to that secret, but if you listened in the LAST episode, Marwan actually gave it up. He says: "the American people will forever be afraid to let their leaders appear in public." It was something that not only Jack missed but something I think we have ALL missed.

-- Drive Thru Cajones: I would like to officially order a stout pair for this President. Complaining that he's been "flying for 20 hours" - Uhh, that's not a cessna, Mr. President. If you happen to be abducted and brought aboard Air Force One, my guess is you'd have to imagine you were in a hotel room and wouldn't know you weren't in one.

-- Where the Hell is Edgar? Is Edgar in the bathroom? Suddently, Chloe has taken up the phone-answering desk. ??

-- "Heading 55-2": Does anyone know if the coordinates given as "55-2" mean anything? What does this mean to someone that's in a helpcopter? Send your input in the comments section.

-- Flashing Wire = Problem: Marwan sees that there is something significant going on with the flashing wire: Why doesn't he alert his cohorts to this? Wouldn't that cause even more stir that would assist in his escape?

-- Storming is Outstanding: The assault of the warehouse that Marwan and the superphreak terrorists are using is spectactular. Kudos to the special effects/stunt team here.

-- Deleting Files - Convoluted Programming Vs. a Bullet: At our office, one of the end all/be alls of computer hard drives is a drill press. If the people were in a bind to get data gone quick so that it wouldn't be (perhaps every but surely not quickly) retrievable, why not shoot the boxes full of bullets? Surely a bullet round is at least as destructive as a drill press making the drive inaccessible for most of the series season.

-- Jack's Kickass Knife Prowess: Rambo has nothing on Jack - two quick slits and it's all over for one of the unfortunate terrorists.

-- Note to Badguys: Don't Reload Your Weapon in the Open: I think there were three guys in this and last episode that stood in an open area to reload their weapon, and are summarily taken down.

-- Bombs With Little Red Lights: Why is it that all bombs either have a ticker/blinking light or a counter? I thought for sure we would have this series evade this at this point. What happened?

-- Does Tragedy Offer Audrey Solid Potential for a Reuniting Effort for Her and Paul? Just like exchanges in television, the relationships born of/fostered by tragedy do not usually work out. I know this because I learned it in the movie, "SPEED." :)

-- Supersniper Turned Scanner Boy: Castle, the ultimate headgearless Sniper from the last episode has now been relegated to scanning documents and sending them to CTU: Wouldn't his skillset be more useful hunting down the nations top terrorist threat as he flees the scene?

-- FBI Sends One Agent to Check Apartment: The FBI sends ONE agent to check this giant-ass apartment where the Pilot and his dead cohort were previously staying. Why is this? The place is HUGE, and I was under the impression that all FBI agents run in pairs? When the door is open, why is it she doesn't call anyone for back up?

-- The President is a Dick - My Dad Told Me So: Sadly, after this most recent episode, and this one, I have come to the conclusion that this President in this season of "24" is a dick. Father, I agree. ;)

-- Terminal Cliche' for the President: As the President takes his CTU calls, he asks for his son to step in: is this the terminal cliche' for his son, or for the President? Surely one of them has to now die.

-- Painting Sordid Pictures: The President rattles off "the truth" for the son, and sure: that is exactly what could be portrayed to the American public. But there is always some ray of hope or being positive that can be added in to almost any information that is passed on. That this isn't what happens is disturbing.

-- Jack and Agent Hart Arrive on Scene: Jack and Agent Really Expendible arrive at the residence. After a quick unholstering of weapons all around, the "Fake Drake FBI Agent" stands in the middle of a doorway with her gun drawn! Does this seem like the patterned establishment of identification that you see from a seasoned or even new FBI field agent?

-- Anderson (The Pilot) Wants Assurance: Anderson wants to know that Marwan has established his cover because after "this is done the whole world will be looking for him." Marwan assures him that it's all taken care of. Since when is the word of a terrorist that's responsible for the death of at least thousands today and the nuclear scorching of a very large piece of American soil worth anything? What a fundamental jackass.

-- Chloe's Continual Inappropriateness: Chloe informs Edgar that the teams in proximity to the area that Edgar's mother was in have reported that her body will be inrecoverable for potentially months or more.

The silence shown above is indicative of the time it's taken me to go to Dark Jedi Knight school, learn "force choke" and preparing to kill Chloe remotely the next time I see her on television. How ridiculously inappropriate is she to say something like this and how does it not jeopardize Edgar's ability to think clearly at a time when he absolutely need to?

-- Tony and Michelle Being Married: I can't stress how much I don't care to hear anything about Tony's dislike for the potential relationship that Michelle and Buchanan may have had. I have no interest in hearing any details about it - for the love of god writers, please write the relationship out!

-- Chloe Viewing Edgar's Goings-On? The camera shows us that Chloe is seeing, in real-time, what Edgar is doing. Why is this? How is this helping to keep data secure and also helping to make the most efficient use of the time that they have?

-- Division and CTU Don't Use the Same Sorting Process: Isn't this kind of like the round peg in the square hole theory that nearly killed the astronauts of Apollo 13? How does this make for a more efficient use of time and help to lessen potential problems because someone turned in a report in the wrong format that would "bring a server to a crawl?"

-- Edgar Delivers the Wrong Goods Intentionally: Is this a harbinger that Edgar is on the "wrong" side or that he wishes to not be part of the stress-laden job any longer here at CTU? Is he a grief-stricken son, or a cog in the machine of villainy?

-- Fake Drake and the Hard Drive: Fake Drake collects the recently found hard drive from Agent Hart's corpse - why doesn't she haul ass out the front door with it? Isn't the point to make sure that the "copy of the disk" isn't found by CTU or any other agency that might piece together what is going on? I don't understand the reasoning there.

-- Locked Files on the Hard Drive - There's No Need to Fear - Edgar is Here: I have seen a great many freakish feats in the world of geekdom, and so I'm not all that amazed, but how in the hell does Edgar know the particular code for that external hard drive? I mean come on now.

-- Secret Agent Men and Evasive Action: There is a Secret Service Agent that enters the Conference Room on Air Force One and informs the President and son and everyone else in the room that the Air Force One pilot is preparing for evasive action. Why is it that there are still 6 people (the Prez, his son, and four other Secret Service people) still standing when this announcement is made? Evasive action will KILL EVERYONE IN THE ROOM if they are not strapped in - period. Get your Presidential ass into a chair and belt it down, Mr. President.

-- Maverick Moment Gone Awry: If any of you are TOP GUN fans, you'll remember the moment when Tom Cruise (Pete Mitchell, "Maverick") is searching for answers from his internal "Goodse" holding dead Goose' dog tags, contemplating the past and future and his life in general. This scene occurs once again, but guess what? Rather than standing down and finding a semblence of humanity to save the day - The Pilot snaps up his breathing gear and in true Darth Vader fashion, SHOOTS DOWN AIR FORCE ONE! Take that, Young Skywalker! :)

-- Balls, Balls, Anyone? While I have already stressed this above, I just wanted to reiterate: Show me another show that has the balls to shoot down Air Force One!

With flames, calls of mayday, blinking icons on a radar screen and mass-wreckage everywhere in the trailer for next week, I simply cannot wait to get my eyes on the next episode!

Blow by Blow Review: "24" March 28th, 2005

Isn't it funny how there is usually a crescendo/peak to the season of a show and then it begins to tail off to wrap into a build up for the next season, yet "24" has made nothing but continual strides upwards topping every episode prior to the one that you just watched? It's clearly more proof positive that you need to get your ass in front of the tube on Monday nites and tune to Fox to visually collect the feast that is "24".

Let's get to this week's edition:

Blow by Blow Review: "24" March 28th, 2005

-- Edgar as the Funnel? Michelle says that they're going to funnel everything thru Edgar: Why is that? Doesn't the history of CTU over the last three years indicate that when one person has been the "funnel" that bad things happen?

-- Excellence of Character Introduction: Something that is really unexpected and unfolding wonderfully is the character of "The Pilot" as we've referred to him over the last couple of episodes. I am extremely happy with both the filler and the initial "lack" of detail that has been provided for this character in out story and I look forward to seeing where the actions of this character take us.

-- Michelle's Newfound Respect for Tony: Just about everyone makes mistakes and it's great to see that even someone that was so badly "wronged" as Michelle can understand that people can change and that in this case, Tony really is a good man. It is great to see that the writers have really considered making their relationship more than one-dimensional here a season aftere their marriage ended.

-- Tony the Wonder Interpreter: Those of you that check the news often in regard to foreign affairs should be aware that there is a lack of interpreters in general available to help protect the United States against the forces that would make us have continual bad days. Something to note: Tony notes in this episode that he he recently checked the traffic logs of not only CTU, but Interpol, the FBI and the NSA. While I'm certain that he might have been able to "check in" with the sources of the review of the traffic, I don't understand how Tony could have possibly reviewed all the potential traffic that may be available - it's just not physically possible for one dude to do what he claims.

-- Distraction = Attraction? I am amazed that no one else in the entire structure of CTU puts the pieces of the puzzle together to get that the attention to Behrooz is just simply a diversion to splinter the attention of CTU. With all the people that they have working on this case wouldn't it seem likely that even one person would say "maybe it's just a cover to help waste time and misdirect our attention?" No one comes up with that.

-- "Thanks for calling CTU: This is Edgar: How May I Direct Your Call?" With all of the work that has been piled on Edgar. With all of the life events that he has been subjected to -- after Michelle's reinstatement of Cloe because Edgar's being overwhelmed/poor performance, why on Earth is Edgar now functioning as the switchboard operator at CTU?

-- "Just Give Me the Password": Chloe contacts Edgar on the dreaded "Videophone" and wants the password that he is using to access the main server at Division. Wouldn't it bee prudent if each user into the system had their own username and password to help prevent errant attempts into the system? I'm just a cog in the machine at my workplace and this is how we do it and we're not defending any nation from terrorists with a real zeal to destroy our way of life: Why isn't the Divisional computer in charge of securing our nation using at least the same type of system that my workplace uses?

-- Chloe the Inappropriate Conqueror: While Chloe has been asked into an impossible situation at CTU, she, like Sarah, claims that she gets what she wants or she "walks." Hey, there's the secured/guarded door hit you in the ass, lady. While they again would be even more short handed, surely they could give her duties to Edgar who is only taking care of organizational communications and switchboard operating. :)

-- Curtis Gets the Secure Dumbass Award: Curtis, in the middle of the floor no less in an audible voice, gives Chloe "the password for Division." What is the liklihood of there being one master password for the system that everyone uses? Other than him announcing it in the middle of the room this just seems like it would totally a bonehead play.

-- The Worst Kind of Telemarketer: Edgar the Wonder Operator fields the phone call from Marwan and the rest of the calls. Again, with all the things that Edgar has on his plate and mind, is this the best person to be handling the call at this point?

-- The Dreaded Televised "Exchange": Apparently, neither the CTU Team or the Terrorist Team take the time to watch prime time television: EXCHANGES NEVER GO THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO. If you know of one that has ever turned out please feel free to post it in the comments section because off the top of my memory for every television show I can remember, it never works.

-- Speed-dial Heaven: I think CTU and it's players now currently hold the award for the most programmed auto-1-key speed-dials in the history of entertainment. Do any of you have speed-deails set up even on your cell phone much less your workstation phone? I don't.

-- CTU Terror Guru Conference: Not One Naysayer: Again, the point that there are now not just 4 high-end anti-terrorist gurus in a room but 15+, and none of them even consider that the trade may be a bunch of nothing. Amazed, folks, simply amazed.

-- The Mystery Voice Samples: Chloe claims that the just downloaded the voicesample data from McCLennan-Forster and that none of the samples match - how is that? Wasn't there just an EMP blast at McClennan Forster that erased\/scrabled all the data on those systems, making remote connections and data retrieval impossible? How'd she accomplish this?

-- Curtis - The Texas Hold 'Em Master: I have to congratulate Curtis: While his security mind blows, his poker face and attitude to Behrooz is top notch.

-- "Everyone - on this call!" Michelle instructs everyone to listen in to a call to Marwan at one point - again, with the deception and potential security breaches that have been uncovered previously, wouldn't she understand what a security risk this might be? I get that maybe "someone could discern a sound or noise in the background" or possibly "hear something of value" but at this point, doesn't prudence have the front seat? You can always play back the conversation: surely it's being taped.

-- Jack - the Expendible Warrior: Not once, not twice, but three times this episode, we are reminded that Jack is expendible: And folks: I think he is and eventually they will have the series end on a hero note where we suddenly get a taste of just how expendible Jack is. Kudos to the writers for hitting us over the head with this and continuing to avoid the "hero never dies" syndrome that plagues many current television shows.

-- IDs, IDs Everywhere - Except in the TOP SECRET AIRCRAFT HANGAR AND SERVICE DIVISION: I am a lowly web designer/graphics dude at the company that I currently work at and even I have/am required to have a photo ID/work badge on my person at all times. Flash to the hangar holding of the nation's most secure aircraft. Neither the maintenance people, the shift manager, or our anti-hero, "The Pilot" have any identification on their person in any fashion. Having interpreted in many military installations in our area, I can assure you that this is not the case at even the most inane military installation.

-- Incredibly Inappropriate Chloe: Does anyone have a spork that I can kill Chloe with? While I am certain that everyone in every workplace has their foibles and idiosyncracies, I am also certain that Chloe and her admitted inappropriateness wouldn't be tolerated by someone like the "Secretary of Defense's Daughter, much less her coworkers.

-- A Missing Persons Report Filed After Only 2 Hours: Have you ever been gone 2 hours over whatever your scheduled deadline to report back to work/home/wife and had them contact the police because you didn't check-in? If so, then you're ready for the next edition of "I am in an out of control relationship." While there would be calls, even Email or Instant Messages to me, I am certain that noone in my family would have contacted the local police station to check on me or to file a "Missing Persons" report.

-- The Spectrum Continues: One of the wonders of this show is it's ability to use the complete spectrum of interaction to varying degrees to get you to watch. That being said the note in this episode is: Jack being hauled away, shackled, and just behind him and the terrorists that are dragging him away, a faint glimmer of electricity (and hope?) shines with life. We'll get to what that is at the end of the episode this time.

-- Distraction Complete: Time to Kill and They Don't: Ok, the exchange is occuring. If Behrooz is truly expendible, why is it that they don't kill both Marwan and Jack? Wouldn't that make them waste even more time investigating the death(s) and eat up more of CTU's already dipleated resources?

-- Here a Tracker, There a Tracker, Everywhere a Tracker-Tracker: They put a "here it is" Tracker on Behrooz, and one in his scalp: Wouldn't it be prudent to put one that he swallows or something so that it would be harder to just "cut out?"

-- Sniper-ific! CTU can't see the sniper on infra-red satellite imagery, in headlinghts as he rises to his knees on top of a building as a truck full of CTU folk arrives, and can't get the fix of his live cell phone as he speaks in direct contact, for an extended period of time with Marwan. How does that happen?

-- Thank God for Lame Sniper: It's a great thing that the Sniper for Marwan was a lamer: Castle, magically without any assault headgear, rises with a giant-ass assault rifle, and three other tactical guys in full gear! How did this sniper not see these guys arrive? He must be related to Magoo.

-- Technology Everywhere But Not a Drop to Use: They know the place/address of the exchange, they know who/what is arriving and they have the parameters that Marwan has dictated for the event - in all the short-term prep for this, no one thinks to get satellite imagery of the area of the exchange. Why is this?

From the trailers for next episode, things are about to be thrown into overdrive!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

2005 Birthday Wrap Up...

I thought I'd provide a timeline of my birthday this year so that I can remember next year what I was doing a year ago. Enjoy!

12:01am-2:15am: The 35 Year-Old Hunt of a Lifetime

7:45-8am: Preparing to go to work

8:15-8:30: A quick drive to work with a detour to Target to see about a Lava Reflection Vader Figure (there weren't anymore - only a sad and picked-thru empty box)

8:45am-2:35pm: Working at EPC

2:40pm-3:30pm: A stop at Home Depot to get some gardening materials for Sunday's activities

4pm-4:20pm: Pick up the tasty food for my birthday party from Roly Poly Sandwiches

4:25pm-5:30pm: Cleaning up the house to prepare for folks to come

6pm-6:25pm: Eating tasy goodness from Roly Poly

6:25pm-7:25pm: Playing a DVD movie-based game with friends. Lots of fun.

7:25pm-7:55pm: Apple Pie and Ice Cream and a resoundingly good rendition of "Happy Birthday to Mike"

8pm-9:30pm: Watching "Walking Tall" with the Rock with Friends and Family

9:45pm-9:55pm: A quick and standing ovation-receiving rendition of "Clucky Clucky Chicken"

10pm-11:30pm: finishing out "The Shield" episodes from previous Tuesdays.

12am: Sleep.

The Hunt of a 35 Year-Old Lifetime

Over the last week there has been a secret, covert action being planned - something that was know about by many, but something that few would discuss. Said action was initiated yesterday, April 1st, at 23:15:00 in the vicinity of 1661 Jungerman Rd - the target designation: Store #648.

While I would love to regale our entire evening and tale in the same format as above, I think it will suffice to say that my family and four buddy's who are also science fiction fans were out hunting for the ever-elusive STAR WARS Exclusive Collectible Figures last nite and into the morning of my 35th birthday.

I remember back to the days of 1977 and among other things, I vividly remember the continual adventures created with the litany of action figures that were stored in my Darth Vader Head Figure Storage Device. I still have them in fact:

It's been a very long time since I've been interested in collectibles -- While there was a time that I would have kicked over an old lady to retrieve a limited edition Captain Picard figure, those days are long gone. Eventually, things like rent, car payments and the bothersome, yet required electricity bill needed to be paid. Recently however, there was mention on a number of popular websites discussion a grand set of "exclusive action figures" that would be available only at 12:01 on April 2nd, Today, my birthday. For the first time in a long time, the flame of Figure and Collectible Hunting had been rekindled - for a couple of weeks anyway. The goal:

To collect the three pieces of merchandise shown below.

Click Here to See More About These Cool Toys...

The overall goal? To get the certification from all three to send off for the "ultimate collectible" which I believe has yet to be announced.

On to the story of last nite, and it is a whopper. At 11:15pm, we arrive at probably my most hated Walmart store, store #648.

The reason for the hate? This is the store that offered my 10-year Walmart Veteran wife a transfer (that we've been waiting for for 18+ months) if she would consider changing duties to cleaning toilets. While this is another blog discussion for later, it is the seed of my overall uninterest in shopping at this store. Nonetheless, we arrived, as had Brian, a friend of mine. Brian said that they have all the exclusive toys (for Walmart it is the box/thing shown above) in a tent outside, and that they wouldn't be selling them 8am tomorrow morning (as opposed to 12:01 as dictated by every site and flyer on the planet Earth).

So I whipped out my cell phone and called the St. Charles store (one that we shop at frequently no less) and told the lady that answered the phone who I was and that I had about a dozen friends on our way there and where we should line up for the exclusive toys that were going to be sold at 12:01am.

Note that I'm asking where we line up and not whether or not they're having the event. Super key, dudes :)

She said that there was a tent outside and that we could line up there for them. I told Brian this and I think he was somehow teleported there, because he was there in a span of all of three or so minutes. :)

After he got there he asked around and sadly: he too got the same story of "the exclusive toys will be available tomorrow morning at 8am." So I called the same lady back and asked to speak to someone in management. I confirmed with one of the nite management reps (a gentleman we'll call "Lenny" for the sake of this discussion) that the exclusive toys were to be sold at "12:01am."

My family and I arrive on scene. There is a tent outside (just like at the Hate-Mart 10 minutes away) with people standing outside waiting (my credit to those folks: it was only about 45 degrees). Several have lightsabers and my hopes begin to soar.

We head inside as per "Lenny's" instruction (exclusive items will be sold both inside and out).

While Gloria and Jade to shopping in the store for more merchandise, my friends and I make a B-Line for the toys section. I also noted there is now a "Blimpies Sub" shop inside of Walmart here: How slick is that? We arrive at the toy section. There, amongst what I will call a roped off but still very disorganized area, are about 20 people waiting for this section to buy merchandise. Now, call me crazy, but I'm certain that at least one of these people here are also interest in getting the same items we are. But guess what? They're NO WHERE TO BE SEEN. That's right - we're standing in front of rows of merchandise that anyone can buy anytime, at any store on the planet tomorrow.

So what the hell is going on here? Where is the EXCLUSIVE stuff? Why isn't it here? Where's the organization and PLANS that are so well described on the websites that told us about all of this? The answer wasn't clear but it was time to figure it all out.

We started asking the people that were working there what the story was and eventually I just asked to speak to a manager - We got a lady whom we'll call "Sarah" to come out and talk about it. I had snagged a flyer from another couple that was there that detailed everything that we had been talking about. Exclusive toys available at 12:01, etc etc. I went over the sheet with her and asked her what's up. After several minutes of dead-ending we asked if there was another step in the chain that we could go to to get more details about what was supposed to be going on. Eventually we got her to take us out to the "tent" outside to see if what we were looking for was there. It was.

Sitting gloriously inside of a bunch of "crap" was what we were looking for. The replica box of the box shown above. Somewhere someone is laughing their asses off at all the phreaks that are lined up at Walmarts across the nation to pick up their "empty promise box" but it's good to entertain - so onward. ;)

Eventually, realizing that the 30-40 people gathered inside and the 15-20 people outside were waiting for that merchandise, she told us that she'd have the palette of stuff delivered inside and the purchasing could begin.


After some shit-eating grins and humor, we arrived back at the line and began our very short 12 minute wait to come to fruition.

Five Minutes....

Three Minutes...

A Minute and a Half...

It went buy in a blur.

My friends and I were about 15th in line and when we eventually got up front who did we see?

My wife and child who had received the first box provided. Those of you that say you can't hear what other people are saying is a curse are out of your mind :)

In any case, she had one, and I got one and so we headed to the check out. When we got there I purchased my merchandise and provided my handy-dandy "I'm a husband of a Walmart Employee Card" to the cashier and suddenly "Lenny" popped up. Whispering ensued. I asked if there was a problem and if there was some need for identification verification or something and the cashier said "no." The transaction didn't go thru several times and I began to get concerned. More whispering and freakish looks. Again I asked if there was some problem and after getting a "no" again from the cashier I asked "Lenny" directly who then told me "we're used to having Walmart associates treat other associates appropriately as per the Walmart code".

Now I get the "code" crap - I've seen the specials where Walmart people treat other Walmart people like they're family, rah rah clapping "W!" (fist in the air) "A!" etc on thru the word "WALMART", but I'm just a dude there buying merchandise that happens to have a family member working there. What code am -->I<-- supposed to follow? The JEDI code? All I've done is help Walmart several at least several thousand dollars worth or product and avoid a potential geek riot and what I get from "Lenny" is "follow the code?" Please. While I don't know if it was fate, my coworkers being present or divine intervention, I let it go and left with our merchandise and my temper intact. About 15 minutes later we arrived at Toys R Us to continue our adventure.

I wish to congatulate Toys R Us on doing a fantastic job on their event. Their organization, their personnel's attitude, the quality of showcasing the product and the SMILES ON PEOPLES FACES were wonderful to see and something that Walmart (at least the St. Charles location) should get to school and learn rapidly.

Even though there were apparently there were only 5 "Ice Yodas" that were given to the first 5 people that were there, it was still a grand event and something I was very pleased to have participated in. There are apparently more to come but nothing more this morning. We collected a few baubles, smiles, friendships and eventually went home, arriving in the house just shortly before 2am.

7:45am came very early - Toan, a friend of mine had arrived at the local Target across the street from us to collect the "Lava Reflection Vade" figure and that a very limited number were going to be available. While I hadn't originally thought I'd be able to get there (had to work this morning) I stopped in there and sadly, found the empty box that the figures were recently in.

So the mission, while not nearly as fruitfil as I'd hoped, did manage to provide me with some great merchandise, a fantastic blog entry, and memories that will last not only my lifetime but my daughter's.

More "Ice Yodas" are on their way next week when the hunt will end and I will be sure to update you on it.

Kudos to Toys R Us, a sadly but expected JEER to Walmart, who continue to find new ways to make things that are supposed to be straightforward, sideways, and many thanks to all of my friends and family for participating in a great and decidedly Jedi experience.