on the same theme

Read this.

I think the whole idea here is finding ways to keep you sane while you’re in a holding pattern,  and you still have those great expectations of the future.  This is about preparing properly for when that future arrives, and being ready for it.  It gives me hope to know that I’m not a powerless player in my own life, if that makes sense.


At what point does a fan completely give up on their favorite team because the organization making all the decisions is totally stupid?  I guess the answer is that a true fan doesn’t abandon a team for this reason, but the Mets organization is completely stretching the limits of what a sane fan should have to endure.

You would think that a baseball lifer such as current Mets GM Sandy Alderson would be able to make a few more quality personnel decisions than he has, but somehow GMs with much smaller budgets do a lot more quality work with their resources than he does.   Now, it is entirely possible that he is hamstrung in decision-making by the Wilpons, but still…this level of mediocrity should not be tolerated.  It has been years since the Mets have been serious contenders for NL East titles or playoffs, and it is time to find someone to blame for this.

Hope is not a strategy – as some speaking in political terms have been known to say.  We need a plan, an exit strategy from the mediocrity if you will.  If the Mets have scouts who are not even close to making accurate player evaluations, we need new ones.  The thing is, I don’t know who is responsible for this mess.  I just want it to be fixed.   Firing Terry Collins is not the answer.  I suspect the blame should be placed on whoever evaluates this underachieving roster.  So whoever that is, fire them and find someone else.  What’s Billy Beane doing these days?  Give him some money to play with and see what happens.

random thoughts on the ouat season finale

Before I get to Sunday’s epic finale, let me just comment on the previous episode – I was very pleased to see that the writers allowed Henry to get his memories back and restored his belief in magic and the triumph of good vs. evil that has been the driving force in this series.

While there have been some compelling storylines with the adults on Once Upon a Time,  it is my belief that Henry is a critical part to making the fairytale real for the viewers.  I just wish that they hadn’t waited so long in this group of episodes to involve him.

Now to the adults – Zelena’s gone.  Good, although somehow I suspect she will be back at some point.  I really enjoyed her as a villain, and I’m glad the slight attempt to redeem her failed.  I mean, yes, in real life, bad people usually have some trigger in their past that causes them to choose the dark side and continue to make the wrong decisions about situations confronting them.  But in the world of Disney, villains have to remain villains.  Unless of course, said villains are the Evil Queen and Rumple….

Speaking of,  the finale brought an interesting twist to Regina’s story.   The reappearance of Robin Hood’s wife (thanks to Emma’s successful rescue attempt) will cause her to fight off some pretty dark thoughts and inclination to strike out against Emma.  We shall see if Regina’s redemption is permanent or whether she will return to being the Evil Queen.  My suspicion is that even though this is a crushing blow for her, her love for Henry and for Robin Hood will keep her from doing anything to Emma or to Robin’s wife.

I was actually rooting for Regina and Robin Hood as a couple, because I want her to be happy.  She has tried to change, and love changes people in a permanent way.  Is it bad that I want something to happen to Robin’s wife?  She seems perfectly lovely, but I just cannot let go of the idea of Regina and Robin Hood together.   Maybe this can be resolved without killing off his wife.  If so, that works for me.

I will keep saying this- Belle deserves a better man than Rumple.  The wedding was beautiful, but somehow this couple doesn’t work as well in Storybrooke as it does in the fairytale world.

So far I am 0 for 3 in the couples I support to continue into the next season together.   The next couple breaks this streak – Emma and Hook.

Many interesting things happened with those two in the finale – Emma wearing fairytale clothes (and a red princess dress!) and the two of them dancing at the ball being just two of those things.  I loved seeing Emma looking so girly and pretty for once.  It was such an awesome change.  I love Emma’s strength as a character, and her wardrobe usually reflects the tough woman she is, but it was nice to see a different side of her in this episode.

Even though I would not mind seeing Neal return somehow, I am now completely sold on Emma and Hook as a couple.  He is madly in love with her.  What other pirate would sell his ship to be with the woman he loves?  In pirate terms, that is quite a serious commitment, and I am glad Emma recognized that act as the sacrifice that it was.  Yay for Emma and Hook.  I am happy that she finally recognizes that Hook is worthy of her attention.

Last random thought – we saw ice coming from some unknown figure’s hand – is this supposed to be Elsa from Frozen?  If so, I cannot wait to see what direction they take her character next season.  So excited for the fall season.  I have a few unanswered questions that need to be resolved.

i object

Yes, this post involves recent events on Once Upon a Time.  Spoilers upcoming.

You cannot kill Neal.  I strongly object to this.  While I appreciate the need to resurrect Gold / Rumple,  must we kill off Neal to accomplish this?  Of course the obvious caveats apply, mainly that no one really dies on a tv show, but still…why are the writers attempting to kill him off? It does not negatively affect what is happening between Emma and Hook to keep him alive, and this would just be yet another predictable conclusion to a storyline if Hook was the only good guy left alive.  I want more surprises.  I do not want to know everything that is going to happen on this show before it happens.   Do not misunderstand this – I am in favor of Emma and Hook as a couple, but I do not want this to be decided right now.   I would have liked her to have to choose between Bae and Hook.

The problem Once Upon a Time is starting to have is the amount of evil / bad characters turning good, or at the very least, redeemable because of a singular moment where they did the right thing.  Making the evil queen a sympathetic figure because of her love for Henry works in the context of the story.  But Rumplestiltskin / Gold needs to be evil.  That is when he is most compelling and interesting as a character.  A Rumple-Zelena matchup (whether they are united in evil or opposing one another in a magic dual) would have great potential.  I want to see something similar to those two options.  I want some bad guys to stay bad, and for Belle to move on and fall for someone other than Gold.  Belle deserves her own good guy.  Make this happen, OUAT writers.

So when are they going to find a way to get Henry’s memory back?  The belief Henry has in magic and the power of that belief is what made this whole story work.  Fairytale characters – existing in real life, in modern situations, without their memories, far from their original home – this is not an easy scenario to accept.  But we do, because Henry does (or did, before Pan’s curse). We started out sharing Emma’s skepticism of everything Henry was trying to tell her, and then we saw the evidence and embraced his reality.  Not having Henry deeply involved in the recent story is a mistake.  Yes, I know we need to develop the future relationships between Emma/ Hook and Regina / Robin Hood (he really needs a Storybrooke name BTW),  but the story lacks something without Henry”s involvement in it.

So, I hope two things happen in future episodes.  One, bring Neal back.  Make the future Emma / Hook pairing less inevitable.   Second,  let Henry remember his past.  That could only strengthen the story.

an unpopular opinion on downton abbey

Anna and Bates should break up. Seriously. Dead serious here.

Bates has a violent side. It was clear during his time in prison when he was threatening his fellow inmates. Now, there was a little back-and-forth action to that, in that some of them were threatening him in return, but still.

He also does not react in a calm, rational fashion when confronted with a difficult situation. Witness his attitude toward his ex-wife before her untimely death. No, he didn’t kill her, but we can all understand why he was a prime suspect. Now view his reaction to Anna’s rape. He said all the token things about caring for her and loving her, but his primary focus has been finding and punishing the person who did this to her – not allowing the justice system to handle that punishment.

Consider that Anna’s first inclination after the rape was not to tell Bates, because she believed that he would try to kill Green.   Any husband might react initially with similar thoughts, and would be perfectly justified in thinking like that and wanting to defend his wife’s honor, but with a sane, rational person that is where the idea would stop. Green should be dead, and is,  so justice was served.  But did Bates kill him?  We do not know that yet.

Mr. Bates is not entirely beyond help, but unless he learns to check these murderous tendencies and raging temper – this relationship shouldn’t continue.  Anna should move on.  It does not matter whether he was responsible for the death of his ex or of Mr. Green.   Anna needs someone who is more mentally stable and who is not always a suspect in someone’s murder.

And while we are on the subject, can we talk about how the writers keep excusing all of this bad behavior by Mr. Bates by showing him through Anna”s eyes as some kind of victim?  And how, by some miraculous coincidence he might be fingered for two deaths and be completely innocent of both?  Isn’t that rather unbelievable outside of the world of TV dramas?  I think yes.

moffat being sneaky

Are you going to address the Moriarty thing and what that really is all about, right away?

MOFFAT:  Well, you’re going to have to wait and see what we’re gonna do.  This is not a whim.  This is the longest term plan we’ve had.  There are some things that you change, at the last minute.  You think, “Oh, we could do this instead.”  But, the Moriarty plan has been in place since the end of the first [season], let alone the end of the second [season].  It’s a good plan.  It works.  My son worked it out, so that was quite good.  No one else has.  He was getting hassled by someone at school who was saying, “Your dad doesn’t let anyone stay dead.”  So, he came home and said, “Dad, is it this?,” and I said, “Yeah, that’s what it is.”  It’s all perfectly logical, and I think people will like it.

Read more here.

downton season 4 episode 4 and other random thoughts

Warning – here be spoilers.

The episode begins with Anna struggling with her horrific experience with Gillingham’s valet by freezing out Bates. I have no idea how women deal with situations like that, and I cannot imagine what it would be like trying to deal with a rape. This storyline is a surprise to me, although it probably shouldn’t be based on past seasons. I hate the premise involved in keeping the rape from Mr. Bates. I do not like that they are headed in the direction of making him a suspect in yet another possible death, as if the only redeeming character of the man is that Anna loves him. The writers keep trying to paint Bates as some kind of unstable psychopath, who would not take much more provocation than jealousy to murder a man. If that is the case, shouldn’t we all encourage Anna to move on and find someone else?

In relation to the endless soap opera that is the love life of Lady Mary, Evelyn Napier returns! You know, the guy indirectly involved in her major scandal in season 1? (Look it up) She seems to enjoy seeing him, and he is not a bad choice if and when she actually decides to get over Matthew. Of course, if she had made a slightly different choice in his favor earlier in the series, so many things would have been different for her. On the other hand, his boss, Charles Blake, is another interesting candidate for the hand of Lady Mary. He will end up proving himself not what she expects, and a pleasant surprise. I’m still going to keep Lord Gillingham as the leader in the clubhouse. Rule #1 in TV – engagements only mean something if the marriages actually happen. Even money says that Gillingham won’t go through with it. I don’t have any prior knowledge of this, only a strong suspicion. It’s the same feeling I have about Molly Hooper’s engagement in that other epic British series (Sherlock). We all know that something is going to happen between Sherlock and Molly. We just don’t know when exactly it will happen. But that’s a prediction for another day and a different post…

Thomas should leave the ladies’ maids alone. First O’Brien, now Baxter – I hate the way he tries to use them for information/ gossip, and he does not treat them with any respect. At least with O’Brien, it was equal evil matching up with each other. That was a pair worth watching. This bullying needs to stop, and Baxter deserves better. I hope she finds someone who will give her the courage to tell Thomas where to go when he starts his nonsense.
Moseley needs to get over himself. I don’t know the state of the British economy in those days, but we have all had to take jobs we are overqualified to do. Suck it up, man, and act grateful for the opportunity. No boss wants to hire somebody who acts like it’s a favor to the employer to accept the job. That said, Carson has sticks where they shouldn’t be, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him someday to learn some valuable lessons about tolerance and humility.

The whole Isobel / Countess / Peg saga – yawn. Who cares.
The whole Alfred / Ivy / Daisy triangle is a bit tired at this point. Instead of prolonging this agony for the viewers, why can’t we find Daisy a legit guy who’s not a co-worker?

To be continued…

thoughts on the grammys

Let me don my cynic’s cap and pen a few lines on the current state of the music industry as it relates to the Grammy Awards.

Allow me to preface this by saying that there are areas where this awards show gets it right.  For example, their acknowledgment of legend type artists, and appreciation of those artists is great to see in the current climate of instant celebrity. One could question some of the classic + modern collabs we saw this evening, but it’s a great idea when it works. I must also confess to only watching the first hour, but there were more interesting must-watch shows on at the same time (Sherlock, Downton).

Music awards shows are less about artistry and more about special effects. They have become somewhat predictable – not who will win the awards necessarily, but the content you will see on said broadcasts. That’s less true for shows like the VMAs, where the performances are more or less all designed for shock and awe,  a.k.a. controversy.  Those shows are engineered to deliver media buzz, no matter what that would mean for the content of the broadcast.

The main objection I have about much of the music industry machine is that their focus is on creating stars, not on nurturing upcoming artists to be themselves and not a cookie-cutter of what’s already popular.  The machine tends to spit out the same old type of musician and fixes those artists in bad ways.   I am not saying that genuine talent is entirely absent from mainstream popular music today, only that most of the chart-topping tunes sound the same to me.  Those songs may be ridiculously catchy tunes, but that’s about it.

If that’s ok with you, you’re entitled to your opinion.  But there is so much great music out there to discover outside of what you hear on the radio, and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to seek out some indies and artists that don’t fit in the award show acceptance criteria.  You won’t be sorry that you made that choice.

More on this in future posts.

dead poets quotes ftw

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?”Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

-John Keating (Dead Poets Society)

hamas and fatah: no good choices

The infighting among the various Palestinian factions, chief among them being Hamas (the known terrorists) and Fatah (the terrorist affliated group), has caused the Bush administration to take sides. For better or for worse, the Bush administration has chosen to cast their lot with Abbas and his PLO pals in Fatah against Hamas. In previous posts, I have suggested that the United States might not want to make a habit of financially supporting groups who are not committed to peace or democracy. I’m no foreign policy genius, but it does seem inconsistent with Bush’s post 9-11 statements that we would go after the terrorists AND the sponsors of terrorism. Unfortunately, that includes so many groups in the Middle East, including those who could potentially be allies in the war on terrorism. Andy McCarthy brings up an excellent point sometimes overlooked when we question the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to peace with Israel.

He asks:

Why is the administration supporting Fatah without demanding that it shred its Constitution and unambiguously recognize Israel’s right to exist, as Israel, in perpetuity? Why isn’t President Bush demanding that Abbas not only order the disarming of Hamas in the West Bank (which Abbas did only because Hamas is fighting Fatah, not because Hamas is a terrorist organization), but that he also disarm the al-Aqsa Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad? Because Abbas would be finished the minute he tried any such things. They are not what Palestinians want.

The Palestinians are a backward people, indoctrinated toward brutality. They don’t rate a sovereign state or anyone’s help until they civilize themselves. Sovereignty is a privilege that implies acceptance of civilized norms — that is why we speak of states like Iran and North Korea as “rogues.” Regardless of whether there really are scattered Palestinian moderates, it is a dangerous fantasy to assume the Palestinian people, as a whole, are ready to be anyone’s peace partner.

We are enabling their hatred when we provide support without insisting that the Palestinian people — not just Abbas and Fatah, but the people — convincingly foreswear revolution, terrorism, violence, ethnic-cleansing, and the goal of eliminating Israel. We are a generation or more, at least, from any hope of such developments. In the meantime, as long as we subsidize the hatred, we shall be buying more of it, while giving the Palestinians no incentive to reform.

There are more than a few links between Fatah and terrorism, as McCarthy points out here in this NRO article. His suggestion seems to be that we should put conditions on aid to Abbas and Fatah. I agree with him, however, I’m not sure how successful President Bush would be if he did this. All I know is that it doesn’t make much sense to fund their inter-faction squabble or provide them weapons to kill each other.

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