Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh, dear lord

Right. The Earth's climate has changed before, so we should just go on as we have and not worry about it. And this guy's heading up NASA?
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, whose agency's observations of the Earth have helped to confirm a global rise in temperature, said he doubts that global warming is an issue mankind should address.


"To assume that is a problem is to assume that the state of the Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure it doesn't change," he said. "First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown.

"Second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we might have right here today, right now, is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

I'm simply stunned by this, although it fits the neo-con pattern of at first denying there such thing as Global Warming/Climate Change then admitting to it, but insisting that A) it's natural or 2) too far along to arrest. Either way, the end result is they advocate doing nothing. Pretty sad that Griffin's position contradicts that of NASA's own researchers and findings.

What's next? Griffin advocating the Ptolmic model of the universe because he believes its arrogant for humans to deny God fixed the heavens in concentric spheres about the Earth?

Now Playing: Dave Davies Chosen People

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Don't weep for Utah

Wow. That was a walloping if ever I saw one. Granted, I thought the Spurs would close out the Jazz in San Antonio. And being without a justifiably distracted Derek Fisher for the first half certainly didn't help Utah's chances. Nor did Deron Williams' sprained ankle. All the stars were aligned against the Jazz, and the Spurs pounced.

But I don't feel sorry for Utah. By all rights, they should've lost to Houston in the first round--would've too, if the Rockets had a coach with any clue as how to use Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Utah has a talented young team, and odds are they'll only get better in years to come. The Spurs, meanwhile, are long in tooth and getting longer. The window of opportunity for San Antonio is closing rapidly--next year they'll have a chance to repeat as Western Conference champs... maybe. After that, major rebuilding, while Dallas and Phoenix slug it out another couple of years, with Houston, Utah and Portland nipping at their heels.

As for now, I'm basking in the Spurs' glow. I'd love to see them play against Cleveland and the dynamic play LeBron James brings to the game. Detroit is a less-sexy matchup, and the Pistons match up better, so I'm not too keen on playing them. Either way, the Spurs are playing their best basketball of the year, and I don't expect a week's layoff to make them too rusty. Not with the franchise's fourth title in eight years so tantalizingly close.

Go Spurs Go!

Now Playing: various artists Sentimental Journey: Capitol's Great Ladies of Song, vol. 2

Coming up for air

I haven't forgotten the blog--I just haven't had any time to post. Things are hoppin' at home with the girls being on summer vacation, so there's the whole "entertain me!" factor at work. And speaking of work, my boss is off to Hawaii for two weeks, so I'm running the shop in his absence (saints preserve us!). So if I'm silent, more or less, don't think I'm ignoring you.

Oh yeah: Go Spurs Go!

Now Playing: Aerosmith Pandora's Box

Friday, May 25, 2007

Star Wars XXX

That's Star Wars at 30 years, not Star Wars porn for those of you with dirty minds. Since everyone else in the known universe is posting about the deep cultural significance Star Wars had on western society, I'll keep my reminisce short and personal.

I didn't see Star Wars on opening day. Or on opening weekend. Or opening week. Or opening month. One glimpse of a TV commercial, and my parents declared the film a "Weird-O," unfit for human eyes. At that time I for some reason believed my parents knew what they were talking about, so I loudly announced to anyone within hearing distance that I wouldn't be seeing that film. But then my friends started to come back from trips to Houston cinemas bearing tales of intergalactic derring-do. The television was awash in Star Wars reports and commercials. Magazine racks and book racks and comic spinner racks were filled with wall-to-wall Star Wars. And the toys were cool, displacing the previously-hip Micronauts without breaking a sweat. I began to suspect that maybe my parents had made the wrong call on this one. So I got the Marvel comic adaptations--the huge tabloids, as well as the individual issues--and read them religiously. I was sold. I begged and pleaded my parents to take me. No dice. I felt, literally, that I was the last person in the world to see this movie. Then, one wondrous Saturday, a family friend was taking her kids to Houston to see it, and asked if I wanted to go along.

I remember sitting in the darkened theater wiggling in my seat I was so uncontrollably excited. When the famed music started and the opening crawl crept up the screen, I felt my life complete. For the next six years, Star Wars dominated my life, until the relative let-down of Return of the Jedi. But those were a magical six years, and if nothing else, Star Wars turned me into a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy. So yeah, Lucas gets a lion's share of the blame for what I have become.

Now Playing: Aerosmith Pandora's Box

Friday Night Videos

It's interesting how perspective changes as you age. In the 80s, I didn't like the Eurythmics. I was neutral on some of their songs, and downright disdainful of others. But as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate their body of work more and more, to the point where I actually like most of the songs I hated way back when. Why is that, do you suppose? Nostalgia for the 80s may play some part, but it can't be the whole story because I still hate some of the stuff I couldn't stand back then, and have grown to dislike some music I used to think was great. I'm just weird, I suppose.

In any event, waves of thunderstorms are blowing in from the southwest, making it look more and more like this Memorial Day Weekend is going to be a complete washout. Fortunately, the Eurythmics have a ready-made song just for this occasion.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Sheryl Crow.

Now Playing: Eurythmics Greatest Hits

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Okay, I'm not a big follower of Lost since I firmly believe the showrunners have no clue as to where they're going with it, but I do keep up enough for random conversations. And I watched last night's two-hour season finale. I'm happy to report that it was one of the better Lost installments because A) stuff actually happened and 2) the survivors finally got a clue, got hard-assed and realized that everything Ben says is a lie. And flash-forwarding three years is an interesting bit of misdirection, especially if they plan on reintroducing Walt and his kid to the storyline.

But one thing really bugged me, and took away from an otherwise enjoyable episode: Charlie's stupid, senseless death. If he really is dead, of course. With this show, you can never tell. But assuming he is dead, without rewatching the episode frame-by-frame for hidden clues, I have to ask 1) why didn't he close the hatch from the outside where he'd be safe, B) why he just didn't hold his breath and swim out the ruptured porthole to safety (or at least try--it certainly looked wide enough to accommodate his skinny hobbit ass, and 3) where was the huge air pocket that should've formed in the room once the seawater reached the top of the broken porthole? A major plot point rested on that room being sealed, so if that's the case, Charlie should've had plenty of air to wait out a rescue attempt by Desmond. If the room wasn't actually sealed off, water should've rushed into the docking area after finding its way through the vents or whatever. Stupid, stupid, stupid violation of the laws of physics here, especially since the docking area set itself relies on the same principal. Sad to see a supposedly smart show like this one pull such a boneheaded move.

Now Playing: Aerosmith Pandora's Box

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

HEROES: How to Stop an Exploding Man

I speak of spoilers below. You have been warned.

Well, season 1 of Heroes has ended, and thankfully viewers got some closure to the main story arc. The build-up to the, ahem, explosive climax was note-perfect. There were so many nifty, unexpected twists (such as the old guy from the past in the flashback/dream sequence telling future Peter "I can see you, you know" and Linderman's abrupt and unexpected death) that I was downright giddy by the time the moment of truth arrived.

Except the actual final 10 minutes stumbled a bit. Despite all the deft touches the writers have when dealing with the individual heroes, when it comes to conflict involving powers, or group interactions, the just don't have a handle on things. Instead, everyone stands around watching as one mini-drama unfolds, then when that concludes, the next mini-drama steps up. When Sylar is pulling a Darth Vader on Peter, the cop from ALIAS steps in to shoot at Sylar. Fine. But when Sylar stops the bullets, everyone gawks rather than take advantage of the distraction. Nikki/Jessica comes up to wallop Sylar with a parking meter, but rather than finish the most dangerous man alive off, she wanders back to her family when Peter says, "Don't worry, I can finish this." I mean come on! Did everyone take stupid pills off-screen? Dogpile, man, dogpile! And I'm really befuddled by Peter Petrelli, who doesn't seem to have an ounce of fight in him. While Sylar is choking him, Peter does nothing to fight back as far as I can tell. He's right there with Sylar, which means he has access to all of Sylar's stolen powers. What I wanted to see happen was Peter start slicing off the top of Sylar's own skull--that's have been turnabout in a big way. And I also expected Sylar to try to go boom and have Peter absorb the energy, which is what triggers his own meltdown. But the writers had other ideas. And said writers still can't write lines for little girl Molly that sound better than the worst dialogue from George Lucas' movies.

As for Nathan's last-minute heroics... why couldn't Peter fly himself away? I assume he's like Ultra Boy, in that he can only use one power at a time. In any event, that was the one dramatic reveal that was completely expected.

There were some other great things as well, but these mostly fall into the category of hints for next season. Micah's "job" for Linderman is never followed up on, which leaves a fascinating plot thread dangling. And Molly's refusal to find a big bad guy who's "worse than Sylar" and can see her when she locates him is intriguing foreshadowning (next up: The Heroes venture into Mordor to confront Sauron!). But my favorite bit is Hiro's cliffhanger, where he finds himself stranded in feudal Japan between two hostile armies just as an eclipse begins. Sure, everyone got excited about that, but how many of them are fans of the 1990 Japanese samurai epic "Heaven and Earth" (Ten to Chi to) by Haruki Kadokawa? Gorgeous film, and one I love to death. It's probably got the most beautiful medieval battles ever filmed. I'd love to see them riff on that early on next season, but logic says Hiro will teleport out around the 5 minute mark, thus saving the budget for another day.

Now Playing: Peter Gabriel US

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Fountain

Lisa and I watched "The Fountain" on DVD over the weekend. We wanted to see it when it was in theaters, but couldn't manage to work out baby-sitting, and then the film bombed and vanished as quickly as it'd come. Unlike most of the SF fandom community, we were underwhelmed by Darren Aronofsky's earlier film, "Pi." I thought it stylish but incoherent, discordant to the point of distraction. Still, "The Fountain" looked interesting, and I'd heard all about its tortured history with Brad Pitt dropping out and budget problems and whatnot.

First of all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why this film flopped. It's difficult to follow--skipping among three different story lines--and doesn't spoon-feed the viewer anything. I'm not even certain Aronofsky knows the "why" of most of the film, but instead chose to craft his narrative around an irrational mystery. That's cool by me. In a simple world, the three storylines set in different eras would tell different episodes in the life of a man and a woman who'd drunk from the Tree of Life, aka the Fountain of Youth. Which is, in essence, what the film is. Except that in each life (or at least some of them) the protagonists' lives are finite, and there's no indication that reincarnation is a reality in this film. Essentially, the far future era shares a great deal of continuity with the earlier eras, but each of the earlier eras share progressively less continuity with those that come after. The film screws with your mind that way. I was probably as well-prepared for this film as anyone could be, since I'd read so much Moorcock in my younger days where continuity is pretty much irrelevant. This could pass as a Moorcock film in many ways, except I've never seen Moorcock write anything so sentimental.

All in all, a beautiful, trippy, surreal cinematic effort that desperately wants to be this century's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It compares favorably to the Russian version of Solaris and is more accessible than either of those films from way back when, so ultimately I have to say the film succeeds on its own terms. Recommended, just don't expect a popcorn flick.

Now Playing: Bruno Hoffman Music for Glass Harmonica

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shrek 3

Took the kids to see Shrek the Third today. Eh. You can tell that Dreamworks Animation is looking it as "product" now than "art." I mean, it was cute and funny--plenty of jokes and slapstick to keep both parents and kids yukking it up--but it was sloppy. The big plot motivator is that Shrek is trying to convince a young Arthur Pendragon, aka "Artie", to become king of Far Far Away so Shrek won't have to do it himself. Only there are no funny riffs on Arthurian mythos. Merlin's there for a bit, voiced by Eric Idle, but his character draws laughs from being a burned-out new-age hippie rather than Camelot. One of the reasons the first Shrek was so good is that it took fairy tales and ran all the classic elements through the wringer. The second one got away from this approach, lampooning Hollywood narcissism instead. It wasn't inspired, but it was coherent and funny. This third one doesn't even manage that--Artie's big speech at the end is so cliche that I kept waiting for the punch line. Except that there wasn't one.

Don't fight the crowds to see this one in theaters. Add it to your NetFlix queue and watch the original instead.

Now Playing: Bruno Hoffman Music for Glass Harmonica

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Night Videos

It's Friday. The weather is beautiful and we're on the cusp of summer. I don't know what your plans are, but I expect I'll be spending a good chunk of the weekend getting very wet at Schlitterbahn. In consideration of this, our video this week comes to us courtesy of the talented Sheryl Crow:

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Mike + the Mechanics.

Now Playing: Sheryl Crow C'mon C'mon

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Less of a vaccuum today

The saying that writers exist in a vacuum, in isolation, practicing their craft with sparse--if any--feedback is pretty much a truism as far as I'm concerned. A writer's path is generally a solo one, with the obvious exceptions of occasional collaborations. This persists even after publication, because the only thing worse than negative reviews and comments is deafening silence. So it was with great joy that I stumbled upon this thoughtful blog entry from Gerard Houarner, inspired by my recently-published Peter S. Beagle interview in Brutarian.
This train of thought was inspired in part by an interview with Peter S. Beagle in Brutarian 48/49, in which he's asked by the interviewer, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, what can he do now he couldn't at 19 when writing his first novel.

In his enthusiastic response, he points out technical skills he’s developed, as well a willingness to handle scenes he couldn’t when he was younger. In short, his approach to writing has evolved, to the point where he says he finds himself less clever now than when he was 19.

He also talks about a writing internship he had at age 22 with Larry McMurty and Ken Kesey, in which he felt out of his depth. What particularly struck me there was his reaction to writers who were "very much from somewhere and could tap that, where I have the perspective of an immigrant's child. I could never be from the Bronx..."

The entire post is worth reading. He has some interesting angles on the give-and-take between myself and Beagle.

It probably goes without saying, but I find it gratifying that someone found my questions (and Beagle's answers) so thought-provoking and meaningful.

Now Playing: Johann Sebastian Bach Romantic Moments, Vol. 8: Bach

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Ding dong! The witch is dead! Sorry that I'm running late on posting this, but Ken Valentine--the asswipe of a New Braunfels city councilman who spent the last several years trying his damndest to turn the Comal River into the personal waterfront sanctuary for him and his cronies--has been run out of office by a 70-vote margin, 54 to 46 percent:
The recall effort was failing by 50 votes when the early votes were tallied. But the voters in favor of the recall turned out in force on Saturday, carrying the election day vote by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

"I was really kind of surprised, since I was ahead by 50 on early voting," Valentine said. "It was a phenomenal switch."

Valentine was the council's leading proponent of controversial rules aimed at taming the rowdy, drunken behavior that has bothered riverfront residents for years.

He helped persuade a majority of the council to ban Jell-O shots and beer bongs, adopt one of the country's strictest noise ordinances and prohibit alcohol in riverfront parks.

But the measure that caused the biggest backlash limited the size of coolers allowed on the rivers.

That-Ken-I-Hate and his supporters are boo-hooing about this, and he hasn't ruled out running again for his now-vacant seat. The media is fixated on the banning-alcohol-on-the-river angle, and Ken's playing it up, but that's smoke and mirrors. The restrictions he championed were so draconian that families couldn't take soft drinks with them in little Igloo coolers. He pushed a lot of stuff that discouraged people of all walks of life from tubing the river--not just rowdy drunkards. And he was confrontational, arrogant and dismissive in council sessions, rejecting popular sentiment out of hand because "he knew best." He absolutely refused to compromise on any issue. He was a jerk who tried really hard to screw up New Braunfels for all residents, not just those in his district. Boy, I'm glad he's gone. Now all we have to do is knock out the remaining three compadres of his on the council and life will be so much the better.

Now Playing: nothing

Monday, May 14, 2007

HEROES: The Hard Part

Okay, I finally caught up with last week's Heroes episode, "The Hard Part." Overall, I found it an okay episode, but nothing great. It's another of those where nothing much happens other than shuffle the playing pieces around to get them in place for the final act. Which is fine as far as that goes, except for the fact that there have been several of those already this season. It gets kind of old after a while.

Several things stood out as good about this one. Sylar's visit to his flighty mother was a nice touch, humanizing the villain. The super chick holding Micah prison having reality-warping abilities beyond just being able to change her appearance was nice, too. Mohinder's interactions with the shadowy government conspiracy folks worked fairly well, too, as did his discovery of the cure for the little girl's affliction. And the fact that the shadowy government conspiracy wants New York to go boom as much as Linderman does is a curious development, even if this episode once again veered closer to inviting Watchmen comparisons.

Other things didn't work so well. The cliche'd struggle between Sylar and his mom, leaving the injured party in "doubt" struck such a false chord I laughed out loud. Hiro's confrontation with Sylar was poorly executed even if the buildup was anything but. And the show really needs to hire writers who can script children's dialog, because every time the sick little girl said something to Mohinder, it was like fingers on the chalk board. Little kids--even those with super powers--simply don't talk that way. Ugh.

Anyhoo, I'm looking forward to tonight's episode. Since there's only two left, I figure something's got to happen this time around.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Staying Home to Watch the Rain

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Night Videos

I was a big fan of Mike + the Mechanics back in the day--being a big Genesis fan at the time, it was only natural--and Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) was a big reason for that. The video is strangely engrossing, and I (as well as some friends) desperately wanted to see the movie it was supposedly from--video credits indicated it was from soundtrack of the forthcoming motion picture "On Dangerous Ground." The science fictional imagery in the video, coupled with the dystopian lyrics of the song sold me completely. Unfortunately, the promised movie never came out. Two decades later, I learned that some of the scenes from the video were from the 1986 movie "Choke Canyon," which the IMDB lists as having the alternate title of "On Dangerous Ground." So that must be it. I've never seen the movie after all these years, but I still like Mike + the Mechanics.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Paula Abdul.

Now Playing: Joanne Shenandoah & Lawrence Laughing Orenda

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Where have all the fire ants gone?

Fire ants are evil incarnate. They are a horribly invasive species that have conquered the entire southern U.S. since their accidental introduction into Alabama from Brazil in the 1930s. They are a major reason the horny toad (Texas horned lizard) is a threatened species, since they devour the lizard's eggs and drive out red harvester ants that are the horny toad's diet. They also blind newborn calves and deer with their stings, are devastating to ground nesting birds and hurt like hell when they bite you. I spend a good bit of money every year on Amdro fire ant bait to keep them under control in our yard.

Last year after one particular series of heavy rains, the wife and I counted 22 mounds that popped up in our yard overnight. That's the pattern with fire ants--rain is the big revealer, and they flourish in wet conditions. We've had heavy rains moving through the area at least once a week for the past month or so, and the Blaschke household has been bracing for the coming invasion. A friend of ours lives 15 miles away in Seguin, and she reports that the infestation is out of control--dozens and dozens of mounds popping up faster than they can be treated.

But that, strangely enough, hasn't happened here. In the past three weeks, I've spread bait out over a total of four mounds, and none of them are what I'd characterize as huge. The ants are still around and as vicious as ever--I have three blisters on my foot from this afternoon's encounter as testament--but there just aren't that many of them now. Why is that? Maybe, just maybe, an experimental program begun last year to introduce a South American fly that uses fire ants as larval hosts is beginning to have a real impact:
"We've been releasing a different type of phorid fly in New Braunfels to see how effective it will be in the controlling fire ants," said Molly Keck, Extension entomologist for Bexar County. "We're hoping this one will be even more deadly to them than the other species of phorid fly we've been using throughout the state for fire ant management."

If the release is successful, additional releases of the new phorid fly species will likely be forthcoming, she said.

Phorid flies kill fire ants by "dive-bombing" them in order to lay their eggs in the ant's thorax, Keck explained. Once hatched, the fly larvae migrates into the head of the ant, eating the contents. Eventually, the ant's head falls off.

The new fly, Pseudacton curvatis, is imported from South America and has been acquired though the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service, Keck said.

Well, that's interesting and all, but how do I know that we're even in an area where these flies would be around to work their magic?
An initial release of about 75,000 of these flies was completed over three days – June 14, 20 and 23 – in the southeastern part of the city.

"This type of phorid fly is different from the Pseudacton tricuspis, which is already being used in several counties as a biological fire ant control," Keck said. "It's more robust and prefers the smaller-sized worker ants. It also handles cold weather better than tricuspus, so it's less likely to die out during fall or winter."

The new fly's aggressiveness toward smaller worker ants is especially useful in eliminating fire ant colonies with multiple queens, Keck said.

"Those colonies usually have large numbers of the smaller worker ants in and around them," she said. "So they provide more ‘targets' for this fly. And these types of colonies are abundant throughout the state."

Our subdivision is literally at the southeastern tip of New Braunfels. I can walk across the street and move out of city limits. We are surrounded on four sides by farmland and cow pastures, and on summer days you can look over the green fields and see the grass broken by brown fire ant mounds every 5-10 feet or so. The flies are here, and they're working. To which all I can say is "yay!"

Now Playing: Jim Croce Photographs & Memories

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Didn't the latest episode of Heroes air on Monday? Doesn't Jayme have an opinion on it? Well, yes and yes. It aired, and I have an opinion. I just don't know what that opinion is since I haven't seen it. I've been absurdly busy and missed the Monday airing, and haven't had an hour to put aside in order to view the thing online. Rest assured, though, that when I do I'll post my thoughts here.

Now Playing: Stevie Ray Vaughan The Real Deal: Greatest Hits vol. 2

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spurs top Suns

So the Spurs outlasted the Suns 111-106 in one of the hardest-fought (not to mention bloodiest) playoff games thus far in the NBA postseason. Not to slight the Jazz or the Warriors (or the entire Eastern Conference for that matter) but the San Antonio-Phoenix series could practically be for that league championship.

And I missed the game. For some reason, I had it in my head as a 6:30 p.m. tipoff. At 2:30, I was at the zoo with my kids, navigating a wet, misty drizzle on rain-slicked sidewalks. We had a pretty good time, actually, and Orion learned the joys of chasing miniature goats in the petting zoo and splashing through puddles on the sidewalk.

And while I mentioned the Jazz up above, can anyone tell me why Jeff Van Gundy is still the coach of the Houston Rockets? Their collapse against Utah in game 5 is inexcusable. With talents like Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming anchoring your team, you shouldn't be struggling to earn a fifth seed only to get bounced in the first round. That team should be challenging for the division and conference title every season. Van Gundy is obviously the wrong man for this collection of players--as I've said for the past three seasons--and needs to make way for someone who brings something new to the table.

Now Playing: Various artists Tower of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Night Videos

Remember when Paula Abdul was relevant? Before she became a loopy self-parody on American Idol with lawsuits over botched manicures? She never had the strongest voice, but early on she was great at picking material that suited her and even better with choreography. I wasn't familiar with any of the Bob Fosse stuff back when the video for Cold Hearted, but boy did it sure catch my attention. Since then, I've seen touring productions of Chicago and the River North Dance Company, and all I can say is that my impression of Paula Abdul, circa 1988, has gone up considerably. But that still doesn't change the fact that I think she's one of the biggest flakes you'll see outside of a box of breakfast cereal.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Duran Duran.

Now Playing: Billy Idol Charmed Life

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Schirra space

Crap. I've just seen a news alert that Wally Schirra, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, has died in California. He always struck me as a relatively down-to-earth fellow (pun intended) and I'm saddened by his passing. I've had his book, Schirra Space, on my bookshelf for a number of years, but haven't gotten around to reading it. I think now I will.

Now Playing: George Strait Strait Out of the Box

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

HEROES: String Theory

The writers of Heroes have done something very, very smart. All this season, the coming nuclear blast in New York City has been the focal point of the show, and the various heroes' motivations. By flinging Hiro and Ando five years into the future, after the blast and the subsequent aftermath, the show has successfully raised the stakes tenfold while maintaining the urgency of the nuclear deadline. With the introduction of Malcolm McDowell as Linderman, an Ozymandias character if ever there was one, the show came perilously close to aping The Watchmen. But the bleak "mutant hysteria" of this possible future moves the storyline into a dark interpretation of Marvel comics themes, whereas up until this point I feel (rightly or wrongly) that the overall narrative was more driven by DC themes. It's no longer a Watchmen ripoff, and the season can successfully close out this storyline (a graphic novel analog in DVD boxed set form) while sewing the seeds for a larger, more urgent storyline in season two.

There were many comic conventions in this episode. Future Hiro and current Hiro had some interesting interactions, although the fact that future Hiro doesn't speak with much of an accent was distracting. And future Hiro is a bit dull, personality wise, although they did a good--is expected--job of explaining why. Showing all the possible future versions of the various characters was a fun, if somewhat timeworn approach. Sylar's big reveal was a classic super villain moment, and the fact that there was actual super-hero ass-kicking going on was very, very fun. I find it more than a little flawed in the logic department that Sylar would opt for concentration camp-style extermination of these meta-humans rather than absorb their abilities into himself, but that's a relatively minor quibble. All in all, quite the good episode.

Now Playing: Warriors-Mavericks game 5

Mission accomplished

Today marks the four year anniversary of President Bush's famous "Mission Accomplished" photo op aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, where he declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

At the time, the Sunni insurgency in Iraq was estimated at around 5,000 fighters. Today it is estimated to total some 25,000 fighters.

At the time, the Shiite militias were estimated to total around 5,000 fighters. Today they total roughly 50,000 fighters.

Current U.S. troop levels deployed in Iraq to quell the rising violence have climbed over 150,000. At the same time, the resurgent Taliban (remember those guys? The ones who helped Osama Bin Laden attack the U.S.?) have retaken parts of Afghanistan and are increasingly aggressive in engaging NATO forces in that country.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Vice President Cheney continues to assert discredited justifications for the war, such as that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake to build atomic weapons, that Saddam Hussein was cooperating with Al Quaeda...

Well, the long and short of it is that I feel so much safer today than I did four years ago, knowing all those bad Iraqi terrorists have been beaten and no longer pose a threat to us. Sleep well, friends.

Now Playing: The Surfaris Gone With The Wave