ouat – predictable but enjoyable

If you haven’t seen any of the second half of Once Upon a Time season 3, turn away now.   This contains a few spoilers.

First, let me just admit that Hook and Emma have undeniable chemistry.  I love them as a potential couple, and this is coming from someone who was firmly in the Neal-Emma camp entering this half of season 3.  It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that Emma has two very good choices here, and she has already gotten over the flying monkey.  I would have liked to see Christopher Gorham (Walsh) get more of an introduction before he turned into the monkey, though.  That would have been an interesting situation to navigate in this half of the season, but there is so much more to talk about here than Emma’s love life.

We shall begin with the premise that no one questions or seems to notice that they have a new visitor in Storybrooke that does not have a history there.  Grumpy should have been suspicious of Zelena, even if no one else was.  He was one of Snow’s protectors before Charming came along, so he would have been a logical choice for someone who would ask the right questions of any visitors to town. Speaking of Mrs. Charming, she is a stronger, more independent character in the Enchanted Forest than she is in Storybrooke.  Snow was kind of a badass, stealing stuff, shooting people, and looking out for herself by carefully judging the character of potential friends or enemies. Mary Margaret is someone who is all sweetness and light, wanting to love and accept everyone.  Sometimes it”s hard to believe these two are the same woman.  The loss of skepticism will come back to bite her in her future dealings with Zelena.

David / Charming needs to be a bit more aggressive in his Wicked Witch investigation and should have been more assertive with Mary Margaret when expressing doubts about Zelena. I hope they find out her true identity before something horrible happens.  One of the only remaining mysteries is Zelena”s endgame.  Why did she bring Rumple back?  What are her intentions toward David and Mary Margaret?  Yes, we are told that she wants Regina to suffer, but wouldn’t that have more to do with Henry than any of those three?  Her lost relationship with Henry is hurting the Evil Queen more than anything else Zelena could possibly do to her.

I have been enjoying the first three episodes, but most of the major events have been somewhat predictable.   From the first minute we meet Walsh, it was rather obvious that he would turn out to be a bad guy (although the flying monkey thing was a surprise).  The existence of Hook and Neal made that necessary – that, and the fact that Emma would have to cut New York ties if her eventual destination was going to be the Enchanted Forest or Storybrooke.  I would have liked to have more doubt about that before Emma decided to reject his proposal.

The other event I saw coming was that Zelena and Regina are half-sisters.  I can’t explain how I knew that, but somehow I did.  It makes sense, though.  There is not much difference between an evil queen with magic powers and a wicked witch.   The love Regina has for Henry and the self-sacrifice that she has shown in the past redeems her.  We have not seen anything like that in Zelena, and instead we see her in all situations looking out for her own interests.

The interaction between Zelena and Rumple fascinates me.   They would also make an interesting couple.  What powers does she have (other than his dagger) over Rumple?  Why does he appear to have lost his mind?  What part is Rumple going to play in her revenge against Regina?  Does this mean that Rumple is turning back to the dark side (if only under coercion from Zelena)?   It might not be a bad idea for the writers to do this, because Gold is a much more interesting character when he is scheming and plotting against an enemy.

More later –

Odds on couples-

Hook / Emma – up

Snow/ Charming – steady

Neil / Emma- down

Regina/ Robin Hood – no idea when or if this will happen

predictable outrage

It’s time for another widespread boycott. I’m talking about massive outrage expressed all over conservative talk radio and Fox News. There has not been any mention of this anywhere in the media, so I feel compelled to help all of them find another worthy subject to discuss other than Obamacare.

I speak of course of a notable entry in the Easter candy department this year – ladies and gentlemen, may I present…the chocolate cross. It is insufficient to only have huge chocolate bunnies and eggs with ridiculously fake grass in huge wicker baskets. There is no such thing as lines crossed when it comes to merchandising each and every Christianity based holiday. After all, look how much we have learned to accept about the commercialization of Christmas.

The entire retail industry bases its success or failure as businesses on the Christmas shopping season.  They are intentional about this.  The birth of Christ has turned into one heck of a capitalistic success story. There is a whole category of merchandise consisting of Christmas related items – ugly Christmas sweaters, anyone?  So we have Christmas dinnerware and flatware, placemats, an inflatable Claus family, and other such things to purchase for our homes.  We have succeeded in divorcing Christmas from the birth of Christ.

It is the oldest of saws to decry this as part of the war on Christmas, or to talk endlessly about how the evil have ruined the whole holiday by selling nativity sets or trees or by not saying “Merry Christmas” to each and every one of their patrons.    This is not my opinion.  I believe Christmas became a secular holiday a long time ago, and that ship has gone way far from the shore at this point.

Christianity is a lifestyle that does not depend on sanction by the media, by the culture, or by the retail industry.   We choose to celebrate the birth of Christ and remember it in our own way.  If we choose to participate in the traditions that our culture has created for us, as long as these traditions do not require a betrayal of our faith, I see nothing wrong with participating in them. However, I think it is appropriate to ask that we are given proper respect by those with different views.

Which brings me and my long-winded self back to the chocolate crosses….

All these holidays including Easter do have some secular basis.  I do not intend to go into the reasons why bunnies and eggs are relevant to the season, but it is not too hard to figure out if you really care about the whole history of that holiday.  They do not, of course, have a single thing to do with the death and resurrection of Christ, but they sure do taste good.  These are additions to the holiday we have learned to accept.

There should be lines where Easter commercialization should end.  Chocolate crosses cross the line of what is acceptable for us.  We have already trivialized the meaning of Easter so much, but the cross is a serious affair. It is the whole basis of our faith – that Christ died and rose again so that we can have a relationship with Him.  He suffered and died on that cross.  It should be precious to us.  We should respect the cross enough not to make candy out of it.  Spirituality has been watered down in this culture, and we must choose to walk the hard path and stand for truth.

Boycotts don’t achieve anything.  A life that stands in respect and devotion to that cross means far more to the culture in which it exists. So let us rise above the culture and make this our ambition if we belong to Christ.

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.

this is pretty much ALL correct

Quoted from that fine website – Television Without Pity:

My point, and I do have one, is that by staggering the broadcast of a mystery show such as Sherlock, you are aiding and abetting shady providers of your fine programs — the very providers you (and your for-profit counterparts) spend time, energy and money trying to shut down. Your nonsensical scheduling does more to increase the demand for shady services than all the viral marketing in the world could ever accomplish. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes’ cognitive powers to realize that your scheduling costs you viewers.

In the next year or decade, or however long it takes Moffat and company to produce the next season (series to you Brits) of Sherlock, will you please get your collective acts together and agree to broadcast the show on the same schedule? Given the five hour time difference between UK and the U.S. East Coast, unlike Benedict Cumberbatch, I’m not asking for a simulcast (although I’d greedily accept one). I can avoid spoilers for an afternoon. I cannot avoid them for two and a half weeks.

I don’t have much to add to this, and I co-sign this opinion – read more here.

As a fan of several British TV shows, I am beyond convinced that allowing Sherlock and Downton Abbey the same broadcast schedule in the UK and in the US will add many more viewers to the audience of those shows.  In this modern world with the internet and many new ways to push content to viewers (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc), there is simply no reason to have this generation’s version of videotape delays on shows such as Sherlock and Downton Abbey.

There are popular British shows that have the same airdates in America and in the UK. Ever heard of DOCTOR WHO? That’s the most obvious example. So what’s different about these British shows? I don’t know the answer to that question.  It should be noted by the powers that be at ITV and the BBC that there is profit in doing the right thing for the US viewers of their programming.   Consider that if you will, important decision makers across the pond.

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)

an editorial note

I would like to officially welcome all of you lovely folks to the new and (hopefully) improved version of the blog formerly known as Organized Chaos. It’s been a while since I have consistently posted here. The content here has previously been about 95% politics and 5% random other stuff. This balance is going to change. For the record, I am still the same conservative ideologue I’ve always been. My opinions haven’t changed with time. If you wish to read those opinions, the archives are still available to you.

But life is too fleeting, so I want to reboot this blog as a more personal and fun blog that focuses on more trivial and unimportant topics. My apologies to anyone who has visited for serious and useful information, because you might not find what you’re looking for on this new blog.

Here’s what I have in mind – music I’m listening to, the occasional tv rant / review, random sports opinions, and the occasional batch of humorous links. I may throw in a politics opinion once in a while if something really catches my attention. If this sounds good to you, please stick around. Glad to see you here. Welcome to Unfiltered. Enjoy the ride.


a closing argument – to change direction

I am nervous about Election Day. This country is in a very divided place. Politics has become such a polarizing force that families are fighting over it, friendships have been broken and not easily repaired, and we are separated in a class struggle that threatens the very fabric of our nation – all because we disagree on how to fix what’s broken in this country. This shouldn’t be the case. Some of the blame should rest with our current president and his political party. Remember “hope and change”? That has long since disappeared, and anyone who cares to pay attention should feel quite disillusioned at this point.

President Obama has failed to keep his promises. All politicians break promises, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is remarkable about our president is that he fails to take responsibility for his own record. What is that record? Let’s start with 7.8% unemployment. Even if you buy the argument that President Obama started with a deeply problematic economy (and he did), his policies have done very little to improve these numbers. We can do better than 7.8% unemployment. We can get people back to work. We just need to reverse the job-killing direction of this administration’s policies by lowering taxes for small businesses and putting a big sharp knife into Obamacare. The president keeps saying he has a jobs plan and we should read all about it on his website. If it’s such a great plan, where was this great plan the last 4 years when many people lost their jobs, and still haven’t regained them? It’s time for President Obama to give the presidency to someone who wants to do the job that is required.

How about his policy on energy? How’s that working for us? We all know about the high gas prices. These prices are having serious effects on us as consumers both directly (as we fill up our cars / trucks / SUVs) and indirectly (increased costs for truckers and those who are transporting products to our stores and supermarkets). This is all part of the administration’s plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by making us use less because of the price. Sometimes it seems that environmentalists care more about the planet than the people that live there. Nevertheless, it would be good policy to ok the Keystone Pipeline to increase our supply of energy, which will help to ease gas prices while we explore new ways to power our vehicles and heat our homes. Our president refuses to do this.

Continue reading