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Archive for March, 2011

Dana Delany as "Megan Hunt"

I watched Dana Delany’s new ABC show, “Body of Proof,” last night and I can’t say I was impressed. The brief review is that I’ll give it another couple of episodes, but I don’t expect it to last.*

Body of Proof follows the life and career of Medical Examiner Megan Hunt, once a high-flying neurosurgeon, who now works in Philadelphia’s Medical Examiner’s Office after a car accident abruptly ended her neurosurgery career. As a Medical Examiner Megan applies her vast medical knowledge, keen instincts and variously charming and scalpel-like personality to the task of solving the medical mysteries of the dead and bringing the people responsible for their deaths to justice. But that’s only half the show.

Read showrunner Chris Murphey’s pitch to the public for the rest.

On the surface, the show sounds promising; in addition to her job as a Medical Examiner, Megan Hunt has no real friends (thanks to her often-acerbic personality, which she uses to keep people at bay), a failed marriage, and a broken relationship with her young daughter, the latter two thanks to her obsessive dedication to her former career. In addition to the weekly mysteries, then, we should be intrigued to see how Megan overcomes her weaknesses, rebuilds her old relationships, and builds new ones.

Trouble is…. We’ve seen all this before. Irascible medical detective? Quincy. (Or, for those too young to remember Quincy, House.) Crime fighter with broken personal relationships? The Equalizer. Scientific crime-fighting with cut up bodies on a table? Almost any procedural of the last 20 years. Witty, snappy, ironic dialogue? Too many shows to name, and it’s become cliché.

And that’s the problem with Body of Proof: there’s nothing special about it. Not the stories, not the investigation, not the dialogue, and mostly not the cast. Regarding the cast, Delaney herself is an excellent actress deserving of better writing. From among the supporting cast, Sonja Sohn (“Detective Baker”) is a favorite from her role in The Wire. The rest… eh. Jeri Ryan (“Dr. Kate Murphy”)  didn’t appear enough to make an impression. Windell Middlebrooks (“Dr. Brumfield”) risks being turned into the show’s regular punching bag. John Carroll Lynch’s character (“Detective Morris”) is a walking stereotype, “the cop who hates the star’s character but eventually turns into an ally she charmingly annoys.” Nicholas Bishop as Delaney’s sidekick (cop-turned-ME “Peter Dunlop”) who’s willing to tell her what she needs to hear… well, lose the stubble-beard, guy. It’s another cliché. Of course, so is the whole character.

The one relatively bright spot was seen in Delany/Hunt’s relationship with her daughter. Obviously estranged (a fact perhaps exacerbated by her ex-husband, who has custody), Hunt struggles to find a way to begin reconnecting with “Lacey” on the occasion of Lacey’s birthday. No spoilers, but, she does, and the final payoff is nicely handled — for once avoiding the trite.

But, that was about it. As I wrote at the start, I’ll give the show another couple of episodes to see if it improves, but I don’t think this “Body” will be rising from the table any time soon.

*Yeah, I know I said that about Rizzoli and Isles and was proved massively wrong, but cable has relatively lower standards for what constitutes a “hit” than do the broadcast networks. “Body of Proof” has a much higher hurdle to clear.

UPDATE: According to Variety, Body’s premiere enjoyed “3” rating in the coveted 18-49 category, with 13.9 million viewers. That’s a good start, but the key will be to see the trend over the next several weeks.

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What every veteran gamemaster needs: the ultimate gaming table. Presenting — the Sultan!

(Come on, pweeezze!! I’ll be your best buddy!)

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Because, you never know, he might have anger management issues:

The price of the Beefy Crunch Burrito had gone up from 99 cents to $1.49 and the man at the Rigsby Road Taco Bell drive-thru had just ordered seven.

The fast food customer was so disgruntled by the price hike he shot an air gun at the manager, displayed a semiautomatic assault rifle and pistol while in the restaurant’s parking lot, fled as police were called, exchanged gunfire with three officers who pulled him over, then barricaded himself in his hotel room — all over $3.50 plus additional tax.

The final incident in the burrito-triggered spree happened Sunday afternoon at the Rodeway Inn on North W.W. White Road, engaging SWAT negotiators in a more than three-hour standoff, according to officials and witnesses.

The man, whose name was not released because he had not been charged, faces three attempted capital murder charges for the exchange of gunfire with police plus possible other charges, said police spokesman Sgt. Chris Benavides. No one was injured in the incident.

Don’t these people get it? It’s the principle of the thing! We’re talking a Beefy Crunch Burrito, here! How much torment must a man endure, before it becomes too much?

I wonder if we’ll be seeing articles about “burrito rage,” soon?

 

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In this case, it’s the $162.50 that some fool collector paid for Gary Gygax’s used cigar box:

I hope the winner got one of these with his prize:

Earlier.

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You’ve no doubt heard of the massive quake in Japan yesterday. Magnitude 8.9, aftershocks over magnitude 7 on the scale, killer tidal waves — yeah, the Japanese are having a real bad day.

There’s plenty of information out on the web, but I wanted to share this one in particular, via Hot Air: an animation by NOAA of the wave effect as it bounced back and forth across the Pacific. Like ripples in a pond… except we’re talking about the biggest ocean on the planet:

“Impressive” doesn’t describe it by half.

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Letters delivered years after they were sent are always fascinating, sort of like time-capsules from another era. The latest case involves two letters sent during World War II that finally reached their destinations (sort of). The common thread is that both involved Camp Roberts, California…

On May 17, 1943, Lt. Mervin Teig wrote a letter home from the sprawling Army base north of Paso Robles. He had signed up for military service 10 days after Pearl Harbor and just wanted to let the folks know he was still OK.

“How’s good old Iowa?” he wrote. “Has Tilford cracked up the Ford yet? If he’s smart, he’ll stay there and feed the pigs and polish the Ford. I see too many of these young fellows in uniform out here.”

The young officer saw combat in Europe, emerged unscathed and, after a business career in Mason City, Iowa, died about 10 years ago. His younger brother Tilford stayed on the farm.

About a month ago, Tilford Teig received a phone call from a person whose name and position he didn’t catch. The caller asked whether Teig wanted an old letter sent by Mervin to their parents, who are long deceased.

The man could have been from the Postal Service’s “mail recovery center” in Atlanta — a facility known during a less euphemistic era as the “dead letter office,” where workers try to puzzle out the proper destinations for millions of errant items.

And then, just a little later…

McMaster is trying to locate a Miss R.T. Fletcher — the addressee of the letter delivered to Camp Roberts just two weeks ago. That’s more than 66 years since Aug. 9, 1944, when the letter was postmarked in Montgomery, Ala.

“It just came right in with the rest of the mail,” he said. “There was no explanation.”

The return address was torn off the envelope when it arrived, and McMaster doesn’t feel right about reading the letter inside.

“I respect privacy,” he said. “And we wouldn’t want to get the institution in trouble by violating postal regulations.”

Now that’s weird. I can see a couple of Twilight Zone-style stories in this.

I wonder if they’ll ever find Miss Fletcher?

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There’s one born every minute. I mean, who else but a sucker collector would bid over $150 for Gary Gygax‘s cigar box?

His empty cigar box.

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If you look at the sidebar on the right, you’ll notice that the “What I’m reading” link has been updated to “The Complete Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard.” I haven’t finished the book, yet, so can’t do a proper review, but I will say I’m enjoying it immensely.

What a relief after the drudgery of “The Return of the Sorcerer.”

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Rango

I think I need to see this:

Looks perfect for me; I go to movies for escape, not deep inner meaning or stinging social commentary.

Just fun. :)

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I mean, someone has to invade the Earth!

They’re here

Exclusive: NASA Scientist Claims Evidence of Alien Life on Meteorite

We are not alone in the universe — and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.

That’s the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.

Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying meteorites. He gave FoxNews.com early access to the out-of-this-world research, published late Friday evening in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. In it, Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites — only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth.

Though it may be hard to swallow, Hoover is convinced that his findings reveal fossil evidence of bacterial life within such meteorites, the remains of living organisms from their parent bodies — comets, moons and other astral bodies. By extension, the findings suggest we are not alone in the universe, he said.

“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth,” Hoover told FoxNews.com. “This field of study has just barely been touched — because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible.”

If this research is borne out, it will also give ammunition to the argument in favor of the “seeding” theory of the origins of life: that life’s building blocks developed somewhere in space and were deposited here as the early Earth was pummeled by comets and meteorites. It could, of course, also be indicative of parallel development — similar processes on Earth and elsewhere leading to similar results.

Or it could all be cold fusion all  over again. That’s why I’m gratified to see Dr. Hoover and his associates using a very open and broad peer-review process to challenge and vet their theories. Hopefully, it will have the integrity lacking in the climate-science peer review scandal.

Mind you, I’m biased. As a guy who grew up reading science fiction, watching movies like Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and TV shows like Star Trek (the original, natch), a universe with aliens  just seems much more fun than one in which we’re alone, in which “we’re it.”

Besides, they have to destroy Los Angeles.

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