Monday, March 27, 2006

Posted by Mark at 1:44 PM

Two Perspectives


At the midpoint of the midpoint,
Getting Ready to cross the line
Soon another year, soon less time
And here I am in the same ol' rut
And nothing I do Gets me unstuck.

Has it been worth it?
Have I done the right thing
Trying to find the Dream, only to crash and burn
If seeing's believing
then the answer is no.

Same car, same house
same issues, same stuff
Spinning the wheels,kicking up dust
but all the work
just deepens my rut.

Control is the illusion,
futility the reality.
No matter what I do, No rescue for me.

So, at the midpoint of the midpoint...
the question is...which way is up?


At the midpoint of the midpoint
Getting ready to cross the line
Another year another time
same struggles different day
Teaching me slowly
To Find the Way.

Has it been Worth it?
Some would say no
Dreaming the Dream, Reaching for More
I have faith, that much is true
And I know He Knows,
And to that I'll be true.

Doesn't matter the car,
Who cares about the house
Each day is a blessing
Each moment a chance
to learn His ways
and dance the dance.

Control is the illusion
Dependence the reality
Having faith in God's Grace
will always sustain me.

So at the midpoint of the midpoint
it doesn't matter what they say
because livng IS the classroom
to teach me God's way.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Posted by Mark at 11:45 AM

The Flash TV Series: Underrated

About a month ago, Matt over at WMD alerted me that the 1990s TV series "The Flash" was out on DVD. Immediately, it was purchased at the mecca of DVDs, Best Buy. Since then, the guys and I have watched the 20+ episodes of the series. I think it could have had a chance. However, network executives wouldn't let it grow. First, however, the obligatory...

IMDB Summary

In a freak accident, police scientist Barry Allen is struck by lightning and doused in chemicals. Barry discovers that this accident has made him the fastest man alive, able to move at nearly the speed of sound. With the help of STAR Labs scientist Tina McGee, he learns to control his powers...but when his older brother Jay (a motorcycle cop) is killed in the line of duty, Barry asks Tina o make him a special costume that can withstand the rigors of hyperspeed travel. He sets forth to clean up the streets of Central City as The Flash.

Mark's Remarks

This series starred John Wesley Shipp, who has appeared on JAG as well as soap operas, as Barry Allen, the forensic scientist blessed/cursed with the power of the Flash. It also features the alluring Amanda Pays as Christina McGee, the scientist who helps Barry control and understand his powers and limitations. Also a mainstay is Alex Desert, who plays Barry's colleague in the crime lab, famous for his role in Swingers as the "it's dead here anyway"guy.

Firstly, let me say that the music for this series was awesome. It was done by Danny Elfman, of Darkman and Batman fame. His haunting tones and melodramatic pieces fit in well with the drama and suspense of the show. At times, however, it sounded just a little too similar to the Batman music.

Speaking of which, the influence of Tim Burton's pop culture art deco meets goth set design was felt. We had gothic buildings, with old school Packards and chevs, and on the same street were 1990 Ford Tauruses and Escorts. This created a spastic look for the sets that at times hindered the overall enjoyment of the series.

However, this series is a great one season wonder. Shipp pulls off the role of Barry Allen/Flash very well. He adds some great comic lines to the show, which could have taken itself to seriously. Instead, this show is like a precursor to Lois And Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, except with less Moonlighting. Shipp plays the role of the tortured Allen quite well, wanting a normal life but at the same time fascinated and intrigued by the possibilities. Amanda Pays does quite well as Tina, especially in the episode called "Is that You Tina?" where she becomes the head of an all girl gang. Her outfits are quite the rage and let me say, she wears them well.

This show had some notable guest appearances. Jeri Ryan, of Star Trek Voyager fame, made an appearance on the episode Deadly Nightshade. This episode was a trek bonanza, as Denise Crosby also played in it. David Cassidy, Angela "Tina Turner' Bassett, and Bill"Lost in Space" Mumy also played in the show, as well as the late Jonathan Brandis of SeaQuest fame. Mark Hammill had the best role outside of Allen or McGee, as he played the evil yet hilarious Trickster in two episodes. This was a foreshadowing of his voice role as the Joker in the Batman animated series. Hammill plays a great villain, and everytime he showed up, it reminded me of his role in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (applause!).

Overall, this came off as a combination of Adventures of Superman and Greatest American Hero. It was a serious super hero show, but it did not take itself too seriously. For example, Barry's overeating problem due to his metabolism was a running joke, as was his penchant for messing up any room he dashed out of. This series had comedy, action, decent special effects (for the 1990s), and a great squad of guest stars and supporting cast. What happened?

Well, it was put against Cheers, then Cosby and the Simpsons, for starters. It was also very expensive with all the effects. Then, the networks couldn't decide on a time to put it in. It bounced around, frequently getting moved without notice to the affiliates or the TV guides. This led to it being lost and forgotten by its fans, and to its ultimate cancellation.

From a comic fan's perspective, this show was very, very accurate in its portrayal of the Flash's origin. It was very true to the comic in the spirit of the dual life of Barry Allen. It had some cheese, but what superhero film/show doesn't? It was a quirky gem of a TV show that deserved a better chance, but the morons at CBS just couldn't do right by it. In many ways, this show was ahead of its time, as it focused just as much on the man behind the mask, similar to the way Smallville, XMen, Spiderman, and other superhero movies/tv shows have done.

I would highly recommend this show because it is that rarity of TV: something that appeals to the whole family, with just enough sex appeal, just enough action, and just enough camp to keep everyone entertained. The episodes with The Trickster (Hammill), Captain Cold, and MirrorMaster (Cassidy) are favorites. The show was really coming together when it was cancelled. Now, we will never know what might have been, but we can enjoy the 22 episodes of this diamond in the rough. I give it 4 out of five lightning bolts.

DVD note

The thing that really stinks is there are no special features. There are no factoids on the Flash, no deleted scenes, no bloopers. Maybe they didn't survive 15 years, but there needed to be something more, like maybe commentary with the stars of the show. This is just straight episodes, no extras, and that was kind of disappointing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Posted by Mark at 5:54 PM

The Legend of Zorro? Try Spy Kids in Ole California!

First, the IMDB Summary

The Legendary Zorro goes off on another adventure to protect the future of California and its citizens. This time, he fights against evil-doers with the help of his beautiful wife, Elena, and their precocious young son, Joaquin. Alejandro De LaVega is torn between two worlds: his life as Zorro and his life as a family man. After Alejandro once again breaks his promise to stop wearing the mask, Elena leaves him, and soon begins seeing Armand, a haughty French Count. But a mysterious explosion in the desert leads Zorro to believe that there's more to Armand than meets the eye, and our hero is intent on finding out what that is. Little does he know, there are others working to uncover certain truths as well.

Mark's Remarks

First, let me say that Sir Anthony Hopkins, even at his age, was a much better Zorro than Antonio Banderas, and I liked Banderas as Zorro. However, Zorro is always Diego de la Vega, not some former criminal. Hopkins had that mixture of swashbuckling with style, with that sarcasm. Banderas just has the machismo and the physicality. However, I loved him in the role and thought it a natural fit. I enjoyed the first film, but this sequel left a lot to be desired.

Firstly, let me get to the positives. Banderas was much more polished as a nobleman than in the first film. He really was a little more believable as Zorro with an alter ego, of the effite don. He does really great stunts and his swordplay was great. The fight scenes were wonderful, as well. They were actionpacked and reminded one of the classic westerns of the past, albeit with some modern special effects thrown in. And, I am a Zorro fan so anytime Zorro is on the screen I am into it. Also, someone French is the bad guy, and that just adds to the joy of seeing him beaten.

However, this film is a dud. Banderas must have done one too many Spy Kids movies, because now all anyone wants to do is make him play second fiddle to a kid or a wife. Zorro is the lead, folks, he should get the good lines and the good scenes. Instead, Mrs. Douglas (Zeta Jones) and this nobody kid get all the lines. As the movie played on, I thought this was Rodriguez directing a Back to the Future Style Spy Kids movie. It was too lame. Use the kid as a hostage, as comic relief, but don't make him be the hero who is the linchpin of the movie.

The historical tie-ins were interesting, as the march to statehood at times was contentious. However, making an officer named Boreurregard be part of the Order of the Serpent was a bit much. It sounds like they are casting aspersions on PGT Boreurregard who lived to fight in the Civil War, something this officer did not. Then, the sinister nature of the government sponsored Pinkerton agents is a blatant attempt by the writers to cast aspersions on our present government, especially with the mentions of "national security." One of the reasons people like Zorro movies is the ESCAPISM, save the political statements for "Brokeback Mountain."

The visuals of this movie were great. The feel of Ole California in the 1850s seemed genuine. However, having the kid be such a big part of the movie, the "comic" aspect of Zorro getting thrown out of his house but it is really all a part of a plan to save the country, is a bit of a stretch. Also, isn't it time we moved a bit on from the "illuminati" storylines? Isn't that the purview of Lara Croft and TombRaider?

I did not see this film in the theater, but instead opted to get the DVD. I am glad I bought the DVD but I should have taken the 2 bucks to go see this movie at teh supersaver first. Then I would have held off until the dvd was cheaper.

Reviewing the DVD

Overall, the DVD is a nice overall package. The packaging is very well done, and the menus are easily read and comprehended. What killed me was that this was a film about a Latino Hero, but the languages available are only English and French?!? Huh?

The deleted scenes with commentary were interesting, and they provided us with the information that there will be another Zeta Jones/Banderas Zorro movie in our future. You see, there was a different original ending and beginning to the movie planned that hinged around young Joaqin taking up the mantle of Zorro. It is a nice set of scenes, and adds to the film, but if you are going to do a Banderas threequel, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have these "passing the torch" type scenes.

It was a nice package with some nice features. I am not an expert on the audio or the anamorphic transfer, so I won't bother. Unlike some, I don't try to sound smarter than I am. It is a nice DVD, but I would wait to purchase it until it is cheaper.

Mark's Final Word

The Legend of Zorro had potential, and it was not found in young Joaqin. In fact, Joaqin should have been an afterthought, not a lead. It was too much Spy Kids, not enough Tyrone Power (by far the greatest portrayer of Zorro). It was too much Frank Langella, not enough Guy Williams. The action scenes were great, but too much Mrs. Vega and Son, not enough Zorro. I give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Posted by Mark at 2:17 PM

Battlestar Galactica: Off the Deep End?

Let's Hope It is All a Dream

I hope Jonah Goldberg is wrong, over at NRO's the Corner. He seems to think this crap of New Caprica is the way things are going to shake, out, and he is happy about it. I am not. I think the last two episodes of this season were garbage. We backtracked so far, and raised more walls than painting ourselves out of them. So, we are going to rehash an entire war between humanity and the cylons complete with evacuations and attacks by the fleet. So the whole first two seasons were made pointless,then! How stupid.

And Jonah, the cyclons are the terrorists, and they still have a plan. I think the war hero cylons are being manipulated as part of it. If the cylons were truly not going to bother humanity again, as Stockwell 2 said, then why show up on New Caprica? The answer is it is still about subjugation. They are the same old terrorists evildoers, with a new tactic. Remember, Osama offered a truce, too. So, Jonah, I think that the creators are showing their liberal bent, probably because too many conservative liked the show, by showing that see, islamofascist terrorists can reform, so we should take osama at his word and surrender.

Also, I do not believe for a minute that Adama or Lee would have put up with Baltar's garbage and let the ships sink into such disrepair, Presidential orders or not. And, what is with the "sleeping with the boss gets you XO rank"? Dee should be nowhere near XO, she has shown neither the loyalty nor the aptitude.

If Galactica continues on this course, I fear more will throw it aside. The last two seasons of friday nights now seem like a waste, because here we go again, with the evac and such.

If it was about eliminating the civilian government and making it more like the days of Lorne Greene, as some of my friends believe, this could have been accomplished much cleaner and with less stupidity. Let the hotbot blow herself up with Baltar after an inauguaration sexfest worthy of Monica and Bubba, taking out Baltar and Roslyn, who with the council of 12 is slowly departing Colonial One. The resultant explosion leads a void that only Adama can fill. Then we have the proper leader in the right place. Oh, and let Col. Tigh's wife have died on that explosion, she is a waste.

I am not happy about this, but I really hope the fans speak out negatively and exert pressure to make the creators eat the short term credibility gap of "its all a dream" rather than paint themselves into this loop of a crappy plot which closes more windows than opens.

Posted by Mark at 12:40 PM

Big Changes Coming--Welcome SOB Alliance Checkers!

As most of you know, I am part of the blogging team taking the internet by storm, Weapons of Mass Discussion. However, there are some things that I would like to talk about occasionally that just don't feel right over at WMD. Such things as my views on popular culture items, movie and film reviews, philosophy, etc., you will find them here, with my own touches of sardonic wit. Also, coming soon there will be, what I hope are exciting and eyecatching, changes to Mark's Remarks. This will include an updated template, a new title logo, and some new pictures. As you may have noticed, I will be going with an Avengers theme for naming some of my links. You can see this on the side with the picture of Captain America and the appellation "Sentinels of Liberty" for the SOB Alliance, which I have joined. Welcome one and all! Thanks for stopping by.

Coming Soon...

A look at the second Zorro Movie, as well as "The Flash" discussions, and taking a look at what has happened to Marvel Comics Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America. And we will also be discussing why Teresa Bond is the quintessential Bond Girl at some point. Thanks again, this was Mark, thanks for reading.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Posted by Mark at 11:32 PM

Kirby Puckett, Hall of Famer, Godspeed and Rest in Peace

Hall of Fame Baseball player Kirby Puckett died today at the age of 45. He died due to complications from a stroke suffered over the weekend.
Hall of Famer and Twins great Kirby Puckett passed away Monday afternoon at a Phoenix hospital, one day after suffering a massive stroke. He was 45.
"The entire Minnesota Twins organization is saddened by the loss of Twins great Kirby Puckett," the team said in a statement.

Considered one of the greatest players ever to don a Twins uniform, Puckett spent 12 years with the club before his career was cut short in 1996 when glaucoma caused him to lose sight in his right eye. Puckett retired as the club's all-time leader in hits (2,304), doubles (414), total bases (3,453), at-bats (7,244) and runs (1,071). The 10-time All-Star was then selected as a first-ballot inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

"This is a sad day for the Minnesota Twins, Major League Baseball and baseball fans everywhere," Twins owner Carl Pohlad said.

Puckett was a six-time Gold Glove outfielder and five-time Silver Slugger. He led the American League in hitting in 1989, batting .339. But, aside from his affable personality, he was best known for his unforgettable walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, which the Twins won in seven games. He was the MVP of the ALCS that year and also was a key member of the Twins 1987 championship team.

He was a leader off the field as well, being honored with the Roberto Clemente Award in 1996. Puckett is survived by his daughter Catherine, son Kirby, Jr., and his fiancée Jodi Olson and her son Cameron. Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.

"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am terribly saddened by the sudden passing of Kirby Puckett," Commission Allan H. "Bud" Selig said in a statement Monday night. "Kirby was one of the great players of the 1980s and 1990s. I admired Kirby throughout his career. He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the term.

"He played his entire career with the Twins and was an icon in Minnesota. But he was revered throughout the country and will be remembered wherever the game is played. Kirby was taken from us much too soon -- and too quickly. My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to his family and friends."

Link to Twins official statement

Mark's Remarks

Even though I bleed Cincinnati Red, I always admired Kirby Puckett. He was the Minnesota equivalent to Pete Rose. I mean, look at the guy. He was short and chubby. Yet he excelled in the outfield, stole bases, and hustled his way to all of those stats listed above and also two world championships. He was the heart and soul of the Twins in the 1980s and 1990s, and I admired him greatly. The Twins had their ups and downs, but you could always count on Kirby Puckett.

I admired him so much that in the twilight of my own baseball career, in high school, I chose his number 34 to wear in honor of him. You see, I had always worn 39 in honor of my favorite player, Dave Parker. However, a member of the team my youth league contract was traded to had seniority, and I had to choose a new number. Well, I had always been a bit chubby, even after I lost a lot of weight in junior high. And, I admired Kirby's game. So, I figured, let's be like Kirby. So I proudly chose 34, even though my mom wanted me to pick 24 to honor Tony Perez.

Those last two years I played were some of the best of my life. My whole youth league career, around 7 years, had been filled with losing, much as Kirby's career in Minnesota had experience with. However, like the latter stages of Kirby's career, the team I was traded to was a good one, and even though I was more utilityman than starter, I kept Kirby's positive outlook and team first mentality in mind. And, like Kirby, I had a dramatic moment in our championship series. Down to 8 players due to injury, I had to play both second base and rightfield. I made the gamewinning dramatic over the shoulder catch to seal our championship in my final game. I thought of Kirby, who just a year before had hit that gamewinning homerun in game 7. I am sure he would have been proud. Thanks for being a role model in dealing with good and bad, and in being an ambassador to our game.

Kirby Puckett was a wonderful ballplayer. He did great things for charity. His career ended much too soon, due to his eyesight failing. Likewise, the light that was his joyful life was snuffed out way too soon. Kirby, there will never be another chubby, barrelchested hustler like you. The Twins, baseball, and sport are just not the same anymore. Godspeed, Kirby. We here at WMD offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and his teammates. We lost a favorite player, they lost a father, fiancee, mentor and friend. God bless you, Kirby Puckett.