Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Goodbye and good riddance.

Oh, 2008: you really crept up and bit me in the ass there at the end, didn't you?

The year started out okay: in January, my book did well in that Amazon competition. And then it was pretty much all downhill from there. My company was bought out and my job was eliminated. I couldn't get an agent for the book for love or money or sweat or tears. I couldn't find work. I resurrected all my film-school demons. I had far too many projects and possibilities fall through. And then, devastatingly, my mom died.

So, 2009, I'm pinning all my hopes on you. Here's to good friends and good fortune for all in a bold new year.

Because I'm currently bankrupt for ideas for original content, I'm going to end the year with another look at some of the keywords used to find this site. Here we go:

are seaquest and farscape the same universe
No, but that's not as preposterous an idea as it would first appear. The same thought flickered through my head while I was watching seaQuest DSV, mostly because Kent McCord makes Special Guest Appearances playing a ruggedly heroic astronaut on both shows. Farscape, by the way, is the vastly superior series, though seaQuest is not without a certain dorky charm.

"aries digital camera" review
"aries digital camera"
"aries digital camera" walgreens
aries digital camera complaints

I get a lot of variations on this. Lot of interest out there in the uber-cheap Aries camera. It's a perfectly serviceable $20 digital camera. The picture quality is not outstanding: outdoor photos are passable, but there's no flash, so indoor photos are pretty sketchy, as you can see from this moody and soulful self-portrait and the one above. But the camera is cheap, it's reliable, it runs on two AAA batteries, it's easy to use, and most of all, it's indestructible. I have destroyed three digital cameras in my time -- two of them this year alone, one within a day of receiving it -- and the Aries one hasn't failed me yet.

heroes eclipse improbable

heroes review nbc analysis science impossible

strain 138 and shanti virus difference
Speaking of heroes review nbc analysis science impossible... The mutated Strain 138 can be cured only via a mixture of Mohinder's and Claire's bloods, whereas the original Shanti virus can be cured with Mohinder's blood alone.

heroes: what do the writers think of a peter/claire romance in volume 4
Probably something along the lines of how the audience for a big, splashy mainstream prime-time network series isn't quite ready for a controversial and fanbase-alienating subplot about incest.

inappropriate chemistry peter claire
Yup. Bucketloads.

kristen bell tub party sendhil zach
sendil hot tub parties
I know, right? Sendhil mentions it on the commentary for Chapter Ten ("The Eclipse, Part One"). Living the dream, Kristen.

jack coleman handsome
Sure, but why do I have the feeling this is Coleman doing a vanity Google?

qualities that hiro has with viewers?
Abundant charm, enthusiasm, and near-suffocating adorability.

sendhil ramamurthy in-person
Super-hot. Very sweet. Probably smells good. Super-hot.

what are the words to the momologue at the end of volume three of the nbc tv series heroes?
I have no idea. I tuned it out, as always. But wait -- are people calling them "momologues"? Good to know: over in these parts, we've been tossing around "mohologue", "mohinderlogue", and the slighly more esoteric "Mo-Vo."

mohindercentric heroes
You've come to the right place.

"morgan richter" "talk soup"
That's me. I'm assuming this is from someone I know, so by all means drop a line to say hello, okay? It's New Year's Eve and I'm by myself, drinking Prosecco and petting the cat and grousing to myself about how no one loves me.

Happy 2009, everyone.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Earth, receive an honoured guest"

Verna Ellen Richter
January 10th, 1945 - December 19th, 2008

I love you, mom.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Heroes Volume Three, Chapter Thirteen: Dual

The final episode of Volume Three opens with that rarest of rarities: a Sylar monologue, in which he babbles on about cosmic jokes and the “dark proof of God’s absence.” Sheesh. Merry Christmas to you, too, Sylar.

After his brief flirtation with soul-searching and introspection, Sylar seems to have decided heroism is for losers. He storms the Primatech building and locks Claire, Angela, Bennet, and Meredith inside. While Angela and Claire hide out in Angela’s office, Meredith and Bennet head down to Level Five and release all the prisoners to use them as bait to trap Sylar. When Sylar attacks Meredith, puppet master Eric Doyle comes to her rescue. Sylar knocks Doyle out and stabs Meredith with a syringe full of adrenaline, which makes her abilities malfunction. He locks Bennet and Meredith in a cell together and scampers off to cause more mischief.

When Angela and a shotgun-toting Claire try to rescue Meredith and Bennet, Sylar attacks them and absconds with Angela. Claire sets Bennet and Meredith free, but Meredith, who can’t get her flames under control, insists on remaining behind so she won’t accidentally hurt anyone.

In Angela’s office, Sylar forces Angela to admit she’s not really his mother. Angela confesses to lying, but also claims to know the identity of his real parents. Before Sylar can kill Angela, Claire stabs him in the back of the head. On Level Five, Meredith loses her battle to control her powers and blows up the entire Primatech building – and ostensibly herself right along with it.

Meanwhile, Matt, Daphne, and Ando hang out in Mohinder’s lab. Ando is still hell-bent on implementing his crackpot scheme to give himself abilities so he can rescue Hiro. To that end, Daphne speeds off to Pinehearst to swipe the power-giving serum from Mohinder.

At Pinehearst, Nathan finds Peter standing over Arthur’s corpse. Peter wants to destroy the serum, while Nathan wants to carry out Arthur’s plan to give people abilities. The brothers get into a scuffle, which ends with Peter knocking out Nathan and heading down to the lab to destroy the serum.

Meanwhile, a dying Mohinder tries to inject himself with the corrected serum to fix his corrupted abilities. Peter bursts in and pulls a gun on him, then Daphne bursts in and swipes the syringe out of his hands, then Knox and Flint, who have arbitrarily decided to ally themselves with Peter (because they became fast friends with him during the earlier bank robbery? Yeah, I'm confused, too), burst in and manhandle him. Flint, who is looking for payback for the vicious, improbable beating Mohinder dished out, threatens to burn off Mohinder’s face. Aw, Flint, give him a break: Mohinder’s beautiful face has already been through far too much trauma lately.

So you remember the Marine who received super-powers last episode, the Marine who got a huge chunk of screentime and a fleshed-out backstory about his time in Iraq, the Marine with the painstaking character development that suggested he’d play an important part in future events? Yeah, he’s onscreen for about five seconds this episode before Knox breaks his neck. Knox then takes Nathan prisoner, but Tracy creeps up behind him, freezes him, and shatters him into a million pieces. Tracy urges Nathan to escape with her, but Nathan ditches her and heads to the lab to confront Peter.

Daphne returns to Mohinder’s lab with the serum. Ando injects himself and ends up with the ability to super-charge other people’s powers. When Ando uses his new ability on Daphne, she moves fast enough to travel through time. Matt uses the Theory of Relativity to explain how this is possible, and while it’s great to find out Matt has cracked open a science book or two, I will be just as happy if Matt never again starts a sentence with the phrase, “According to Einstein…” Ando and Daphne combine their powers to travel back in time to find Hiro.

Sixteen years in the past, Hiro dangles from a flagpole on the Deveaux building. He chats with a pigeon and struggles back up to the balcony. Inside the apartment, he runs into the adolescent version of himself. Hiro impersonates a chef and consoles Young Hiro over the death of his/their mother, then asks for his help breaking into the safe where Kaito keeps the powers-giving formula. Young Hiro, who is a trusting sort, agrees to this. Kaito catches Hiro stealing the formula and pulls a sword on him. Hiro attempts to defend himself with a baguette; Hiro, sweetie, I don’t want to have to warn you again about excessive zaniness. Hiro rips the formula in half, but before he can destroy it, Daphne and Ando zip in and transport him back to the present.

Hiro wants to finish the task of destroying the formula, so he and Daphne head over to Pinehearst. When they find Tracy stealing the formula from Arthur’s office, they swipe it away from her and zip off.

In the lab, Flint beats Mohinder unconscious. Peter dumps out buckets and buckets of the power-giving serum, which looks a lot like cherry Kool-Aid. Mohinder, who has spent an inordinate amount of time this season covered in gunk, manages to get drenched in the serum. Nathan arrives and starts whacking both Flint and Peter with a lead pipe. I’m not entirely sure why he does this; Nathan’s motivations became a little opaque around the time he decided Arthur’s plan for world domination via giving everyone super-powers sounded sensible and sane.

Flint torches the lab. Trapped by flames, Peter injects himself with the formula to get his abilities back, then flies away with Nathan. Once they’re safely away from Pinehearst, Peter and Nathan squabble some more. Nathan is furious with Peter for giving himself abilities, and I’ll be damned if I know why, seeing as: a) Peter just saved both their lives, and b) Nathan has been a big cheerleader for the idea of giving everyone else abilities. Nathan flies off in a huff. This is the point where I officially give up on trying to suss out what’s in Nathan’s head.

Mohinder staggers down the road away from Pinehearst. Tracy, who appears to bear him no ill will for that time he drugged her and strapped her down and tried to use her as a lab rat, pulls up and offers him a ride. Before hopping in, he spends an ungodly amount of time checking out his beautiful reflection in her windows. I'd mock his vanity, but I’m just thrilled to report that, yes, the icky crud is finally gone, gone, gone, and he's once again smooth-skinned and impossibly lovely.

Volume Three wraps up with a Mohinderlogue about Good and Evil over a montage of images: Bennet, Claire, and Angela watching Primatech go up in flames, Hiro ripping up the formula and exchanging bows with Ando, Daphne and Matt embracing, and a non-decapitated Usutu--or at least a vision of him--appearing to Matt. Meanwhile, Nathan gives the President files on everyone with powers and tells him he wants them all rounded up and imprisoned, which is all too X-Menny for words. The President, by the way, is played by Michael Dorn, and I’m giving fair warning: if he becomes a recurring character in Volume Four (“Fugitives”), I will not be able to resist the urge to refer to him President Worf.

So thus ends Volume Three, which was pretty consistently entertaining, warts and all. “Fugitives” starts up in early February, and provided Sylar stays evil and Mohinder stays beautiful, I’m looking forward to it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Heroes Volume Three, Chapter Twelve: Our Father

Arthur calls Sylar to nag him into completing his mission to capture Claire. Sylar, however, is in the middle of dumping lighter fluid on Elle’s corpse, and thus is in no mood for a guilt trip from his fake dad. While Elle goes up in flames, Sylar looks sort of wistful and melancholy about murdering his girlfriend, but it’s hard to be certain what’s in his head these days; it’s equally possible he’s just thinking about how he’d really like a slice of pie. Sylar then targets some poor office drone named Sue, who has the ability to act as a human lie detector, and lops off the top of her head. He seems positively orgasmic about this. Just for laughs, he gleefully murders a bunch of her coworkers, too. Wow, that’s a really evil thing to do. Nothing nice about that. It seems pretty clear he’s evil again. Evil, evil, evil. At least until next episode.

Nathan drops by Arthur’s office and tells him he’s decided to take over Pinehearst. Arthur gets a good chuckle at this, but agrees to hand over his company to his upstart son. Later, Flint and Knox skulk about in the background whilst Tracy and Nathan squabble about lies and duplicity, etcetera. Flint and Knox have zero lines in this episode, but it seems important to report that Flint has fully recovered from the vicious, crippling beating he received at the hands of a fine-boned geneticist last week. Tracy assembles a group of fifty Marines, who will be the first recipients of powers once the formula is perfected. In a throwaway line, Tracy mentions that, instead of the usual Russian roulette approach to distributing powers, the formula has now been refined enough to give specific powers to specific individuals. Wait--so Mohinder finally does something useful and proactive after too many episodes of dithering to count, and it happens offscreen?

Sixteen years in the past, on the balcony of the Deveaux building, Hiro and Claire watch Kaito Nakamura give baby Claire to Noah Bennet. Claire tells Hiro she recognizes him from the stories Peter has told her. Hiro, who is still stuck with the brain of a ten-year-old, doesn’t understand what she’s babbling on about and cheerfully delivers the only phrase he know in English: “Where is the train station? I must use the toilet. More waffles please!” Oh, Hiro. You’re a darling, but perhaps a 10% reduction in overall zaniness would not be remiss.

Inside the Deveaux apartment, Hiro’s beautiful mother (Tamlyn Tomita! Ah, fond memories of The Karate Kid 2) breathes life into a random dead dove. Despite having a healing ability, she’s dying of a glamorous mystery illness. Healing abilities: not as handy as you’d think. Just ask Adam Monroe. Or Linderman. Hiro’s mom tells Kaito they must make arrangements for her to pass along her ability--i.e. the all-important catalyst--to someone else before she dies. She wants to give it to young Hiro, whereas Kaito has already decided baby Claire will be the recipient.

Eavesdropping Claire decides she must prevent herself from receiving the catalyst. She scampers off to her parents’ old apartment, where she ingratiates herself to Sandra by helping her with the new baby. Bennet comes home and immediately becomes paranoid and irate about Sandra letting tiny blonde teenagers into their home. Bennet bosses Sandra around and grills Claire and pretty much behaves like an irrational dickwad. And how exactly did it take Sandra sixteen years to figure out her husband wasn’t really a paper salesman? Claire gives him a pep talk about being a good father and convinces him not to let the Company do anything to baby Claire. While she’s at it, she puts the idea of the vile “Claire-bear” nickname in Bennet’s head. Gosh, thanks, Claire.

Hiro visits his mother, who recognizes him as the grown-up version of her son. He asks her to heal his scrambled brain and restore his missing memories. She kisses him and gives him his marbles back, then, for good measure, passes on her ability to him. Having made Hiro the catalyst, she dies.

Claire rejoins Hiro on the balcony. Arthur teleports in and joins them (Arthur can travel through time, too? Is there anything he can’t do?). Arthur sucks out Hiro’s brand-new healing ability and chucks him off the balcony. Before teleporting Claire back to the present, Arthur gives her a message to deliver to Angela: “I won.” Because there is no bleak situation that Hiro can’t make entirely absurd and farcical, he lands on a flagpole, where he dangles, helpless.

The search for Isaac’s sketchbook takes Daphne, Matt, and Ando to Manhattan, where, after a series of quasi-zany adventures, they finally track it down. The sketchbook shows Hiro lost in the past, dangling from that blasted flagpole. Ando becomes determined to use the formula to give himself superpowers to travel back in time and rescue him. This seems improbable, and indeed vaguely preposterous, but the idea seems to make Ando happy.

But here’s what we’ve really been wondering this whole time: Where’s Mohinder? What’s he up to? It turns out he’s been doing what he does best: posing in a lab coat while frowning prettily at beakers of brightly colored liquids. Arthur arrives at the laboratory and adds the precious catalyst to Mohinder’s formula (he does this by waving his hands over a basin and shooting off lots of glowy lights, which makes as much scientific sense as anything else on this show). Mohinder injects the first Marine test subject with the newly-completed formula. When his powers kick in, the Marine tosses a chair through the glass barrier of his protective cell with enough force to embed it into the far wall.

Angela sends Peter and the Haitian on a mission to kill Arthur. Angela, I admire your moxie, but ordering your powerless son to kill your super-powered husband is kind of tacky. Peter and the Haitian mind-whammy their way through Pinehearst until they reach Arthur’s office. The Haitian neutralizes Arthur’s powers while Peter prepares to shoot his dad in the head.

Sylar strolls in at the last second and stops the bullet. He uses his new lie-detector power to confirm that this whole business about being Arthur’s son was indeed all an elaborate charade, then kills Arthur himself. While Peter stands around and looks flabbergasted by this turn of events, Sylar saunters off.

Huh. I guess we can add Arthur to the growing list of dead immortals.

There’s only one episode left in Volume Three, and I have to say, apart from a certain sloppiness and the occasional glitch (pie-baking Elle springs immediately to mind), I’ve been pretty happy with the season thus far. Provided Mohinder loses the icky crud and becomes dewy and beautiful again next week, I have no problem with chalking this one up in the win column.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Heroes Volume Three, Chapter Eleven: The Eclipse, Part Two

The eclipse continues. And continues, and continues, and continues…

In Haiti, Baron Samedi chains Nathan up in a cell along with a couple of scantily-clad women. Samedi, who has impenetrable skin on eclipse-free days, mistreats the women and strokes his chin in a sinister way. This eliminates any lingering doubt about his status as a villain. Peter and the Haitian rescue Nathan and the women, but Peter stays behind to hold off Samedi’s heavily-armed forces.

Los Angeles: Sylar is strangely chipper about his lack of powers. He tells Elle being powerless will give them a chance to start a fresh new life together. Great. The Sylar and Elle relationship is back to being sort of barfy. Despite having a sniper rifle trained on the lovebirds at the end of last episode, Mr. Bennet still hasn’t gotten around to shooting them. Instead, he waits until they drop out of his line of sight and start having sex on the floor before he opens fire. Elle gets nicked in the leg, and she and Sylar run and hide in a nearby junkyard. While searching for them, Bennet strolls around out in the open and yammers loudly on his cell phone to Sandra, who has taken Claire to the hospital.

A doctor informs Sandra that Claire’s whole system is badly infected. On the phone with her husband, Sandra freaks out because the police have been called in. Sheesh, doctors. They get so hung up on rules and regulations when you bring in a gut-shot teen girl and refuse to explain how it happened. The Father of the Year award slides a little further out of Bennet’s grasp when he won’t stop his pursuit of Sylar and Elle long enough to visit his dying daughter. After two and a half seasons of complaining about wanting to be normal, a powerless Claire finally realizes a super-healing ability can really come in handy at times. Having made this discovery, she flatlines and dies.

Bennet pursues Elle and Sylar through a warehouse. Sylar locks Elle in the freight elevator to save her and takes on Bennet by himself. Fisticuffs ensue. While Elle watches in horror, Bennet slits Sylar’s throat with a box cutter.

Back at Pinehearst, Mohinder is still trying to puzzle out what eclipses and super-powers could possibly have in common. When Mohinder tries to explain his research results to Arthur and Flint, Flint responds, “You keep talking, but all I hear is ‘blah, blah, blah’”. Aw, heck, Flint, that’s all any of us hear from Mo a good thirty or forty percent of the time. Just tune him out and enjoy the pretty accent. At Arthur’s request, Flint manhandles Mohinder some more; I have high hopes of this becoming a weekly ritual. While trying to escape, Mohinder whacks Flint upside the head with a microscope. A perfectly splendid fistfight breaks out, which Mohinder improbably wins. He knocks Flint out, steals his security pass, and escapes from Pinehearst.

In Kansas, Daphne explains to Matt that she gained her super-speed ability during the last eclipse, which also had the nifty side effect of clearing up her cerebral palsy. Eclipses: is there anything they can’t do? Meanwhile, down the road at the comic book store, Hiro reads through back issues of 9th Wonders in the hopes that his past adventures will jog his memory. He becomes traumatized by the events in his life shown in the comic (Sylar murdering Charlie, Hiro impaling Sylar, Adam murdering Kaito) and locks himself in the bathroom.

At long last, the eclipse finally ends. Finally! Everyone’s powers return. Claire’s healing ability kicks in, and she comes back to life. Sandra smuggles her out of the hospital.

Hiro insists he doesn’t want to grow up, if being an adult means his father has to die. Special Guest Stars Seth Green and Breckin Meyer give him a pep talk about being a hero. They trot out the very first issue of 9th Wonders, which shows the events that took place sixteen years ago, when Kaito Nakamura, with a pre-adolescent Hiro in tow, gave baby Claire to Mr. Bennet. One of the panels shows the present-day versions of Hiro and Claire secretly observing this transaction. Hiro teleports off to find Claire.

Matt and Daphne have a heart-to-heart chat in the cornfield. She tells him a poignant tale about how she made a really cool scarecrow when she was thirteen, Matt ruminates on how they’re both flawed but good people, and they patch up their relationship and head over to the comic book store to find Hiro and Ando. Seth and Breckin inform them that the most recent 9th Wonders is the last issue Isaac Mendez completed before his murder. However, according to comic-geek legend (and as we all saw back in the first season), Isaac bequeathed his sketchbook to a bike messenger before his death; the sketchbook might contain the next installment of Hiro’s adventures.

Back at the Bennet house, Claire is resentful that her father was too preoccupied with hunting down Sylar and Elle to check on her in the hospital. As much as I hate it when Claire gets self-righteous, she’s got a damn good point. Elle and Sylar (who, like Claire, came back to life when his powers returned) invade the home to kidnap Claire for Arthur. Bennet drops the bombshell that Sylar is not Angela and Arthur’s son: they’ve just been “leveraging (his) mommy issues” to manipulate him into helping them. Oh, that’s awesome. Please let that be true, because that’s a fantastic twist.

Not yet through with his mind games, Bennet tells Elle that Sylar killed her father. Mind you, she already knows this, and already fought it out with Sylar, and already cried a lot about it, and already slept with Sylar anyway, so I’m not sure why she’s looking so stunned and horrified all of a sudden. Sylar starts to kill Bennet. Is Sylar evil? Is he good at heart? Do his powers force him to kill? Is he just a psychotic rat bastard? Does he want powers? Does he want a normal life? I’m so confused. And evidently, so is Sylar. It’s looking grim for the Bennets… but then Hiro teleports in, teleports Sylar and Elle off to parts unknown, then teleports with Claire to Charles Deveaux’s balcony in Manhattan sixteen years ago, right at the moment when Kaito (good to see you again, Mr. George Takei) hands off the infant Claire to Bennet.

Back in Haiti, Peter runs amuck with an assault rifle and has a grand old shootout with Samedi’s forces. Nathan and the Haitian return to help him out. The Haitian wipes his brother’s brain, or kills him, or something (hey, this just occurred to me: Baron Samedi, the evil brother, named himself after a god, so is this why the Haitian, the good brother, has no name? To compensate? Maybe?). After Nathan and Peter bid adieu to the Haitian, Nathan decides to go back to Pinehearst, because he (somehow) thinks Arthur’s crackpot scheme to give powers to half the world is a really, really good idea. Good luck with that, Nathan.

Mohinder pounds on Maya’s door, then glances at his hands and realizes the icky crud has returned. I repeat, THE ICKY CRUD HAS RETURNED. Worse, it’s finally spread to his face. Heroes, I had so hoped the “Mohinder is a crazy, evil, hideous bug-man” chapter was behind us. I feel betrayed. He slinks away before Maya sees him, ashamed of his hideousness. He skulks back into Pinehearst, where Flint is evidently in a coma from the beating he received (which still seems improbable: Flint is a big, strapping thug, whereas Mohinder is a fine-boned geneticist). Mohinder tells Arthur he’s going to continue working on the formula.

Elle and Sylar, having been teleported to a deserted beach, get horizontal. All is not bliss, however: now that Sylar’s powers are back, he tells Elle, he realizes nobody ever really changes. And then he slices open Elle’s head and kills her.

Soooo…. This means Sylar’s bad, right? I liked this episode a lot, but seriously, Heroes, knock it off with Sylar’s flip-flopping. One final note: while there was no Tracy in this episode, it was preceded by that swell The More You Know NBC public service announcement where Ali Larter and Sendhil Ramamurthy talk about how it’s way cool when different cultures come together; I’m sure it’s supposed to be an important message about tolerance, but it somehow ends up seeming more like an advertisement for the world’s hottest interracial dating service. Which I’m sure is a message we can all throw our support behind.