Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Couple Random Topics

So, the internet meme of the day was this website called Garfield Minus Garfield. This was a very impressive meme, considering that I think 3 of my daily addictions linked it (and considering that one is an Apple blog, one is a web comic, and one is a movie news blog, that's pretty impressive).

Anyways, I agree with them. This is something amazing and special. I have to admit I'm not sure I totally appreciate the little foreword, but that would be my only complaint. Actually, I think my other complaint might be that the author does a little too much filtering (I'm okay with some of the comics completely not making sense or having anything even resembling a punchline).

In any case, this is something special. I know nothing about art, but this could easily be one of the most intelligent and funny internet creations I've seen. It might almost qualify as art.

I love the amount of empty space that it is forced to utilize. I love that this forces the reader to fill in a story. It's so interesting to me to look at these empty spaces and realize that they're actually providing more context than whatever was originally there. With Garfield gone, these empty spaces are typically the peace that Jon disturbs with his antics, and the peace that returns once he leaves. The repeated frames become moments of introspection or simply the depressing lack of motivation to actually do something. Both are funny.

Well, either way, it's really amazing. It is way funnier than the original comic could ever hope to be. It's also significantly more depressing (reminding of Peanuts in its prime, in the best cases).

Next up is this game Rogue Galaxy. I know it's a PS2 game and I should be playing PS3 games, but there's an explanation for this. The situation was that I had gotten to the last boss in this game a long while ago, but my ancient PS2 stopped being able to read the disc (although the disc was fine).

In fact, for some reason it simply lost the ability to read any games published by Sony, which I thought was a little disappointing (although it made the decision not to buy God of War 2 quite a bit easier).

So, now that I have a PS3, I used that as an opportunity to finish the game (after getting around to buying a little USB adapter for the memory card so that I could start from that point).

Anyways, the game is just okay all around, but decently fun. I like these more action-based battle systems, and this one certainly kept me on my toes. It also helped that some of the random battles would have random challenges, with rewards, which kept battling from getting totally repetitive. It helped that the voice acting didn't suck, too. As a whole, though, this was a very generic RPG.

However, I really didn't like the end of this game. It was frustrating to me that they managed to do so much wrong, right there at the end. First, let's look at the final boss battle.

Throughout the game, the rule has been that if your entire party dies, it's game over, start at the last save point. So, anyways, players are basically taught that having their character die is completely inconsequential, since another party member can bring them back to life immediately (at full health, too). In this final battle, there are 8 (one for each party member) single boss battles. For all of these, the party size is one, so if your character dies, it's immediately game over. What's worse is that these are boss battles and the boss can easily knock off a third of your maximum life per hit (and sometimes hit's 3 times at a time).

The result was a really frustrating time, because the game hadn't actually taught me how to properly engage in a one on one fight, because that's not what the game had been about. Plus, even a single mistake forced me to start all over from the beginning of an hour long battle (which sucked, especially when the boss managed to one shot me a couple times in the very last battle).

My other complaint is that the ending is stupid. So, the cute girl who was totally into the main character and stuff leaves to become the queen of some planet or other (who cares). Anyways, good byes are said and while the credits are rolling, the party realize that they miss her and they don't want to lose her to that stupid planet. So, they decide that since they're space pirates they should go steal her back (fair enough).

And that's where it ends! We don't watch them do it. We don't control them doing it. Nothing actually happens. They just decide to do it. This can safely be called a "poor decision". This could have been a fun cool scene or it could have been a neat post-game challenge. Instead, it's just nothing. That's stupid.

Anyways, none of that really matters, since the dudes behind Persona 3 are releasing an expansion type extra thing in April. Yes, I have to get it. Yes, I have literally no other choice. So, yeah, I'm glad I got Rogue Galaxy out of the way so that I'll be prepared for Persona 3: Fes when it comes out.

Completely unrelated, I forgot to mention that I found it slightly depressing that I could kind of relate to Jon in Garfield Minus Garfield. That's probably a bad thing.

That is all.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Charlie Bartlett

So, I saw the new, cool, R-rated teen comedy, Charlie Bartlett. And, well, I gotta say, I'm liking this whole "R-rated comedy craze" right now. You know, it all started that couple of summers ago with The 40 Year Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers, and it's moved into teen comedies like Superbad and now Charlie Bartlett. Obviously, those first R-rated comedies just used the rating as an excuse to show boobies (well, Wedding Crashers did, I don't really remember how 40 Year Old Virgin earned it's R-rating). Superbad used it as an excuse to throw out the f-word at least once per sentence. And to show lots and lots of pictures of penises. Charlie Bartlett just uses it as an excuse to show abusive drinking and underage smoking. Oh, and illegally providing prescription drugs...and purposely overdosing on them. But besides that, it's totally tame.

Now, that might seem like an odd thing to appreciate (I imagine you don't typically walk out of a comedy thinking to yourself, "man, that was really funny, but it really could have used more scenes of characters trying to hide from their problems by drinking large quantities of hard alcohol"). But, it happens that this was something I really missed in I Am Legend (that classic comedy from this past December). By the end of the movie, Will Smith is basically bat-shit crazy (but can't really even comprehend it) and it would work a lot better if he just passed out each evening to hide from the outside world (instead of holding his dog while hiding in a bathtub). But, obviously, that's neither here, nor there.

Anyways, I liked Charlie Bartlett. He was a downright cool dude. If I knew him, I would want to be around him. So, he definitely wins lots of points that Juno never got (I wouldn't have especially wanted to hang out with Juno, although I probably wouldn't have minded calling her a friend). Charlie just wants to be loved. Preferably by everyone. In fact, let's be honest here, he won't settle for anything less. And, I gotta admit, that's pretty admirable. I know I've never shot for being loved by everyone. In all honesty, my typical goal is somewhere between fondly (if only vaguely) remembered and good old-fashioned forgotten. Love just isn't in the cards for me. But, well, I'm no Charlie Bartlett.

Surprisingly, I don't think he was my favorite character, though. That award kind of has to go to Robert Downey Jr.'s Principal Gardner. Now, that is one depressing dude (he would be the alcohol abuser in the movie). His pretty daughter is basically throwing herself at his newest problem (that would be Charlie), the kids at his school neither respect him or even like him, and well, yeah that's his life.

I love that he gets to redeem himself (because he absolutely deserves redemption). More importantly, I love that he gets to realize that he never needed redemption. That he was a good guy, who had simply gotten overwhelmed. I love that in the scene where he gets fired from his gig as principal, he's barely even aware. All he can see is that his daughter is crying because he had Charlie arrested. That she's really pissed at him and that, now in both their minds, he's betrayed her.

And I love that he retreats to the alcohol. Even more than that, I love that when he and Charlie sit down and talk about it, we realize that he's already started feeling better. He's becoming the guy he wanted to be again. And when Charlie makes him realize that his daughter still loves him, everything is okay again. None of that other stuff actually mattered, since he hasn't lost his daughter. I like that. That's touching.

Again and again, though, I'm always amazed at the fantasy that teen movies create involving adults. Charlie Bartlett (the movie, not the character) does not contain an adult who is either responsible or particularly intelligent (except maybe the principal, and he's an alcoholic...which probably disqualifies him from being responsible). Charlie gets away with everything he does, right in front of the adults. They're just clueless and he's clever. I find that a little depressing. Eventually, all the kids look up to Charlie because he's the only one who's actually been able to provide answers.

Typically, these movie utilize this fantasy by just making the adults oblivious to the world that their children live in (and there are numerous scenes in this movie condemning that attitude). But, in this movie, most of the adults want to be in their children's lives, they're just too caught up in their own problems to know how.

And the result is that the kids are unhappy and confused and desperate for guidance that nobody is giving. It feels like so many of the kids have similar stories involving their parents simply becoming pulled away by life. But, I guess that's probably closer to reality than the parents being oblivious.

But, so, yeah, it was good. Charlie was a cool character. And I was proud of him for living his dream. I like just how much his character got to grow. I loved that he got up in front of all these people who loved him, just like he'd imagined, and he didn't bask in it. He realized just how scary it was and started begging them to stop, to realize that they didn't need him. To realize that he wasn't qualified for the job they'd given him.

That was something beautiful to me (because, during the opening dream sequence of him standing in front of a loving crowd, I had thought some very similar things, and it was nice to see that the writer's and I shared those feelings).

In short, I would recommend it to just about anyone. It's not presenting reality (that was a pretty nice public school and the whole idea of a student lounge is pretty much foreign to me, so I imagine it must be foreign to everyone), but it's talking about reality, and that's probably more important. Oh, and it's pretty funny too. And, yeah, the girl is cute, I'll give her that. Especially when she's sporting the semi-goth look early on.

That is all.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Post

So, as a special for Valentine's Day only, thing, I decided to do a post on love. This will probably be the most emo post I will ever allow myself to write, but, well, sometimes it's hard to resist, you know? Especially since Stanford just managed to totally blow an overtime basketball game at ASU, but that's neither here nor there.
Anyways, I wanted to talk about love through the context of the hit indie comedy Juno. For the record, I'm totally hip and saw it well before it was popular, or even being advertised, really. My brother and I were bored on a Saturday afternoon in mid-December and I noticed it was playing and commented that it was supposed to be funny, plus it had the kid from Arrested Development and Super Bad in it. So we saw it.

And, well, we thought it was pretty alright. Obviously, Michael Cera completely stole the show (I still think of his line, "I try so hard" and laugh a little on the inside). I was kind of disappointed in Jason Bateman, but he was alright. Ellen Page was cool, I guess. I wasn't too excited about her. I'm definitely not convinced she really deserved best actress, but the young lead female in the hit indie comedy of the year always seems to get a bid for either the lead or supporting role, so I guess the Academy didn't have a choice.

My main complaint with the movie was the music. I thought it was frustrating that they spent all this time talking about music of one genre and decade, but we basically never got to hear any of the music they were talking about. In their defense, I don't think anyone in their right mind really wants to hear that music, but that's not the point, because clearly they shouldn't be wasting our time talking about it if they know we don't want to hear it. Then, they end up just playing crappy indie pop songs, just because that's what you're supposed to play in this genre of movie (I'm pretty sure that Garden State firmly established that rule, even though I assume it was being followed by lots of people prior to that point). I thought that execution was just frustrating and stupid and brought down the movie, especially since they kept going back to it, when it served no plot purpose at all. I blame that girl Diablo Cody (whose been nominated for Best Original Screenplay, I'm pretty sure). I sincerely hope she doesn't win.

But, now that I'm done talking about the movie, I can use it as a springboard for love, like I said I was going to do. So, near the end of the movie, Juno has a nice chat with her dad (played by JK Simmons, who will always be Mr. Jameson from the Spiderman movies, to me). In this chat, he tells her that she should want to be with someone who thinks she's amazing and totally awesome just for being herself. He gives some example talking about the ideal person believing the sun shines out of her ass, no matter what.

And, well, I'm not sure how much I agree with that sentiment. On the surface, it seems like a pretty good deal, right? I mean, the recommendation is, pretty much, don't go looking for someone, just be yourself and let them come to you. That sounds like a nice, lazy strategy. Even better, the ideal person won't require any work since they're consistently amazed by you in any case, so, double yay.

And, weirdly enough, there's actually people in the world who do think you're amazing just for being yourself (this might be a slightly strong blanket statement, but I'll stand by it for now). So, the strategy is basically wait for one of them to show up.

Disappointingly, I don't think this strategy actually plays out as well as it should. The problem is that love is, and always will be, about keeping two (or more, I guess, I don't judge) people (or creatures...or objects, again, I don't judge) happy. This strategy does a poor job of providing happiness for either party.

Let's start by looking at the person who think the sun shines out of your ass (he's going to be the boy, just because in Juno that was Michael Cera). What is his source of happiness? Well, he is privileged enough to be with the girl he idealizes. That seems pretty awesome, yeah? But is it forever awesome? Possibly. It's certainly not guaranteed, but it's certainly not hard to imagine him still feeling like the luckiest dude on the planet far into the future. So, that's a pretty constant source of happiness.

But, there's a big source of pressure and concern on his back, as well. He's got the girl of his dreams, but he's not really the boy of her dreams. The only thing he's inherently got going for him is the fact that she appreciates the ego boost of being the girl of his dreams. We assume she appreciates it enough to be with him. But, he's got relatively little else to help him. The result is that he can never feel safe in this relationship because he has to be constantly reminding her of the ego boost she's getting from being with him.

So, the cost to him is a life of servitude, in order to be certain that he can still have the only thing that is really holding her to him. As an example, what if sometime in the future she found someone who was cooler and funnier and otherwise more fun to hang out with, who also thought she was totally amazing and that the sun shined out of her ass. The only reason she would stick with Michael Cera (hypothetically, of course) would be potentially out of a sense of obligation (or if he could convince her that he believed the sun shined out of her ass more).

Personally, I don't like that deal. It sucks to be the guy who basically worshiped the girl and dedicated himself to her until finally she decided it was worth giving it a shot. Well, I mean, it was awesome while it lasted, but as soon as she got distracted it was pretty much crap (in her defense, the distraction was anorexia, but the second time it was really just at her whim, so my statement stands). And, in the other case where I worshiped the girl, eventually she decided that all the worshiping I was doing (and you're just going to have to take my word for it, but I was spending a huge amount of time to make her feel loved and hours per day) just wasn't enough and the relationship wasn't worth it. Yeah, that sucked too.

So, it sucks to be that half of the relationship, but, well Juno's dad wasn't worried about that half, now was he? Just because it sucks to be that half of the relationship doesn't mean there aren't plenty of people willing to take on the part.

So, now what's the advantage of being with someone who thinks the sun shines out of your ass? The thought process is that it's relatively stress free. The person likes you for who you are, so you can be you. This means you don't have to change yourself or anything. They're happy knowing that you're happy and you're happy because there's someone who thinks you're amazing. We'll even assume that you think this person is cool and fun and attractive (so, this is someone you want to be with and whose opinion you value). I think that's a fair assumption because, as I said, there's plenty of people out there willing to be that other half, so you can potentially be choosy on that front.

Intuitively, this sounds like a pretty good deal, but it has one key downside. The challenge is that you have no control of how they feel about you (and potentially, neither do they). They like you for who you are. Okay, so who are you? Yeah, I don't know either. So, then, what do they like? Well, they like you. Are they still going to like you in ten years? Quite possibly, but definitely not for certain. It's hard to know. How about even one year? Still, it's hard to know, since we don't understand why they like you.

And that's the crux right there. All you can do is be you and hope that they continue liking you. There's nothing else you can really do. But, someday they could realize that the sun doesn't actually shine out of your ass (since, obviously it doesn't actually, so all this time somebody's been getting fooled). And, well, when that happens you're pretty much done. You've got nothing else to offer them if the privilege of being with you loses the illusionary value it had. And, well, that situation sucks about as much as the other situation.

Of course, the next question is supposed to be, then what should I look for instead of the person who thinks the sun shines out of my ass? Of course, I don't really know.

Personally, and this might be because I'm a little negative at this time, I don't think there is a right answer. I think there's just different degrees of wrong (and, depressingly, giving up and just shooting for being happy alone is fairly wrong as well).

In the end, I guess the real goal is to find someone who, for some reason, has sunlight shining out of their ass who also randomly thinks the sun shines out of your ass (even though the sun can't possibly shine out of multiple asses, but you'll know it's actually coming out of their ass, and that can just be your little secret).

And, well, I don't think that's impossible to find, either. Of course, I have no idea how to look for it, but that's not the point. I hope that's not the point, at least.

Anyways, Happy Valentine's Day!

That is all.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Avatar is Awesome

Well, about every two to three months, I suddenly get this powerful urge to write about how awesome Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender is. This cycle is based upon Nickelodeon getting around to releasing the next disc of the show on DVD, which is on a rather slow schedule. But, I'm addicted so I don't really mind.

Avatar is interesting for a couple reasons. The first thing that I think is interesting about it is that it is basically a American version of your typical action-comedy anime. However, and this might be just because I'm American, it's a lot more enjoyable than the typical Japanese action-comedies. So, basically we have some American dudes who decided that anime was cool, but dubbing over and editing Japanese shows was lame, so why not just make a really awesome American anime. And so that's what they did, and Avatar was the result.

The result is a rather odd hybrid of American comedy and sensibilities with a more anime art style. Personally, I think it comes out very well. The fight scenes are well choreographed and exciting, but so are the visual gags that you just can't find in typical animes.

However, the main reason that I enjoy Avatar and find it so interest is not at all related to the whole Western-meets Eastern concept. It's interesting because it's a really good show. It deals with tough themes at a very uncompromising level. It deals with loss and responsibility and friendship, but not in the same way that these types of things are dealt with in shows like Naruto or Bleach. During the vast majority of the show, it's a group of young friends traveling together, feeling as though the fate of the entire world is on their backs. And they have to watch as so many adults have given up hope or are simply incompetent. They are confronted with an unhappy world every day and they can only lean upon each other. And they do. This group feels much more like a close-knit family than most versions of this story.

The world in the show is another major highlight. It's obvious from their travels that the world is falling apart. Even in the areas that the real bad guys haven't reached yet, the situation is dire. Everywhere that the friends go, things are going badly. And it's not always because of the Fire Nation. I like that. The problems in the world aren't created by just one group. The average people who are suffering need help to solve problems from bandits or unhappy spirits or corrupt leaders or even their own ignorance or apathy. There are evil people in all the cultures (except maybe the Air nation, they might all be good guys if they weren't all dead).

Even more important than the theme of evil everywhere, is the theme that everyone deserves saving. Everywhere the Avatar goes, he helps people. Even as he is slowly traveling deeper into the heart of the Fire Nation itself, he is helping people in need. And he's meeting good, innocent, average people as well. Just as there is evil in all cultures, there is good in all cultures. And, good or bad, they deserve to be rescued.

It's nice to see that kind of theme on a kids show. Even though it's clear that the leader of the Fire Nation is evil, it doesn't mean his people are. I think that's an important lesson to teach our children (and to learn for ourselves, for that matter).

But, what I really like about it are the bad guys. They are so much better than the typical anime bad guys. I mean, they get to be characters for goodness sake. The Fire King is heartless and evil, but the war he inherited wasn't started by a wholly heartless and evil man. Even his evil and heartless (and rather cute) daughter Azula recognizes that she is a monster and perhaps feels some remorse for the fear in the eyes of her followers (when she's not relishing it, of course). Of course, the best bad guys are Zuko and his uncle.

Zuko is awesome because he is such a mirror of the Avatar. They both have physical markings that make them immediately identifiable. Zuko's scar is his constant reminder that he was disowned by his father and his quest to kill the Avatar is his only way to earn that back. Aang's marking is a reminder that he is the last surviving Air Bender and everything that the Fire Nation took from him. They both are travelling and helping people (admittedly, Zuko is just helping people on his travels to find and kill the Avatar, but he's helping people nonetheless).

Zuko is fun because he is capable of being good, and yet his need to regain his cold, heartless father's respect pushes him to fight the Avatar. And his conflict with himself is a large part of the show. He does so many good things, but when it comes time to face the fact that he knows Aang is a good guy and his father is a bad guy and he shouldn't let his father rule his life, well, we're still waiting for him to make the right decision on that one. In the end, I expect that Zuko's actions will play just as large a role in saving the world as Aang's.

Also, I'm pretty sure it goes without saying that Uncle is pretty much the most awesome character on the show. It's too bad that Mako died, since his voice was perfect for Uncle.

So, yeah, it's nice to finally get that off my chest. Avatar is amazing. It's funny and enjoyable, but it's also a lot deeper and more aware than nearly all the kids shows I've ever seen. I know it's target audience is like, probably ten years old, but it's got content that goes a lot deeper than that.

In the end, though, I really like Aang. I like that he has such power and that he is using it to save both the people he meets and eventually the world. I like that he blames himself for the state of the world because he ran away from his responsibilities as an Avatar once and he will never do so again. He's accepted his destiny, because he's the only one who can stand up to the Fire Nation.

In Live Free or Die Hard, Bruce Willis talks about how sometimes somebody has to stand up and be "that guy". Aang isn't destined to save the world. He's only destined to have the potential to save the world. But he's standing up and being that guy and not looking back.

And that's a great main character.

That is all.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008


So, I finally got around to watching Once. I think it was Moriarty at Ain't It Cool News who finally convinced me to see it. I know it made it in his top 20 movies of the year, but I'm not totally sure where exactly it fit in. So, yeah, he liked it and I tend to like his judgment I've seen it.

Well, my thoughts are mixed. Personally, I thought it was pretty boring. Also, I'm quite confident that the anime I download has higher picture quality. Obviously, the music is supposed to be the movie's strong point, and, yes, it is. But, the music is just okay. It's certainly not bad, but I didn't think it was all that special either. You know, brit pop. Everybody wants to be Radiohead or Coldplay or David Gray or Travis or whoever. And, well, these songs could fit in almost any of their songs alright (okay, obviously, it would never in a million years fit in Radiohead's songs, because it is neither brilliant nor borderline unlistenable, which Radiohead is somehow capable of being). In any case, not all that exciting.

But, there was stuff I did like. I totally liked the ending. That was awesome. You could never get an ending like that in America. We don't need to see him score the record deal. We just need to see him find the courage to leave and actually try (I admit, I thought he was totally BS'ing about leaving for London on Monday, until he did...on Tuesday). I also liked the documentary feel to it. It truly managed to pull me into the fantasy (when I wasn't getting annoyed by the fact that the picture quality sucked, of course).

I didn't really like that he got back in touch with his ex. That was unnecessary. I mean, just because he's not over her, doesn't mean he should try to get back together with her. That's just silly. She doesn't deserve him. On the other hand, considering that she inspired all his songs, I guess he probably needs to spend some time with her so that he can get inspired for the full CD.

I also didn't like the scene on the bus where he uses music to talk about his past since he's not comfortable having a conversation like a normal human being. I thought it was annoying. Also, it made this feel a little too much like a musical, instead of story, I guess, with music. I did like that they were willing to admit the scene was ridiculous by having him get too into it and start just singing cursing words at the top of his lung and upsetting the other passengers. That doesn't excuse them for it, though.

On an unrelated side note, all I could look at on the girl was her nose. She had a very Czech nose, I guess. Moving on...

The guy was cool, though. Apparently, he was also in the significantly better movie, The Commitments. That movie had so many strong points it's hard to know where to begin, but I guess you have to start with the music, and it was awesome. It also had a great ending. And comedy, something this movie sorely lacked. And interesting characters. Did I mention the music already? Oh, I did. Well, I probably didn't emphasize the awesomeness of the music enough. Especially the singer, doing Mustang Sally. It was also cool since the singer was an ass. Did I mention cute Irish girls? Nope, well, it had them too.

Back to Once. I promise not to compare it to The Commitments, since obviously it's not even remotely fair (multiple cute Irish girls beat a Czech girl with a sizable schnoz everyday of the week). Although, before I totally drop The Commitments, one similarity between the movies is the fact that it gets tough to understand the characters due to their heavy Irish accents. Once didn't have quite as much of a problem on this front, but The Commitments demanded multiple viewings to get all the dialogue (and for the awesome music, of course). Once, though, adds in equally unintelligible Czech accents, though, so boo on them.

One thing I am curious about, though, is the meaning of a couple of the things the girl said to him. At one point he asks her how to ask if she loves her husband in Czech. She responds in Czech, of course. It would have been nice if he could have found out what her answer meant. At the time, I assumed it meant "I love you", but since they didn't end up together, the meaning is back up in the air. Also, at one point she associates spending time with him with "hanky-panky". I have no idea what that was supposed to mean. At least, I don't think he did either.

But, so, yeah. Just okay. It definitely wasn't bad, but I wasn't all that impressed. I am glad that I managed to stay awake during the really long and boring middle section (I got so bored at one point I started thinking about work, which I normally completely forget about when I'm home).

That is all.


PS - So I went to Wikipedia and apparently she did say "I love you". Also, it wasn't in the script. And the actor didn't know what it meant either. So, I'm not sure if it actually counts as having been said at all. In addition, I guess the budget was only $160,000 dollars, so I probably should forgive the poor quality. But, I'm not really feeling generous at the moment.

Lastly, apparently we never learn the characters' names. Which is weird because I could swear she introduced herself to him when she first interacted with him (and I didn't catch the name since it was something unintelligible but very Czech-sounding, and, no, I'm not going back to make sure). Also, I totally thought she called him Oliver at one point. But, whatever, the characters didn't get to have names in the credits, so I'll just trust the credits and assume they had no names (which could make it harder to get a record deal...just my thoughts).

That is all.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Terminator Update

So, I'm still watching that terminator TV show. Yes, River is still the only reason I'm watching it. I'm actually starting to get a little concerned for the show. Mainly because Sarah is somehow managing to just keep getting increasingly lame.

I'm really questioning whoever it was that decided "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" was a good title. I mean, seriously, who could have thought that would be catchy? It conjures up images of lame sci-fi book series or maybe some random comic book story arc. It also conjures up images of Riddick, who would make a pretty badass terminator. But, in any case, it does not sound good (that's right, Chronicles of Riddick wasn't very good, even with Judi Dench). But, even if you wanted to argue that we HAVE to use the word "chronicles", why does it have to be Sarah Connor's chronicles? She doesn't deserve to be the main character and, more importantly, she doesn't act like the main character.

She's just kind of wandering around aimlessly. For example, she gets a lead on a dude who happens to be doing some impressive stuff with AI in his basement. So she burns the house down. That's her response. In medicine, that would be considered treating the symptoms, instead of the disease. It's freaking lame. Infinitely more cool, and sci-fi-esque (that's right, two hypens in one word, yeah, that's how I roll) would be to work with the dude to create some sort of virus (computer virus, just to be clear, after that medicine analogy) that might attract a young, blossoming (the term from Bungie's pre-Halo shooter, Marathon, would be, that's not relevant, and yet, somehow, Marathon is always relevant) AI just discovering the internet and kick its Goddamn ass. But, no, her solution is to just burn down the house of anyone who thinks AI is cool. Which could get boring after awhile, you know.

They should at least give the title to John. I mean, he's more of a star than her. He does stuff. Not well, but, hey, that's better than Sarah. Plus, he's actually developing as a character. He's both confronting the fact that he's going to be a hero someday and realizing that he has both the desire and the capabilities of actually being a hero. And Sarah is trying to stop that. Which is lame. Just because her character is weak and indecisive and definitely not Linda Hamilton, she feels this need to stop John from becoming the savior and all out of this desire to protect him. Only, it's really just a desire to protect herself (she's scared of the idea of losing John, both his life and her conception of him as her son). So, yeah Sarah's lame. And I don't like her. Even though she was in 300...although, I guess I didn't particularly like her in 300 either, so, whatever.

And then there's River. First, my complaints. Err, complaint. It's been two episodes in a row where she didn't do anything to try to seduce John or send him mix signals or act like there's anything remotely like the odd, human-robot romance that I totally want to see going on. That's unacceptable. The only reason I'm watching is to see if that happens, and if they don't keep this metaphorical carrot in front of me, they're going to lose me pretty fast. They're excuse is that River pissed John off in the previous episode and so he's not really happy with her. But, that doesn't excuse her for not doing anything to try to win him back, especially considering that all she really has to do is bat her eyes or giggle in his general vicinity and he'll be back on her side...or, at least I would.

In fact, I actually have more complaints. Considering that River is the only reason I'm watching, she's not getting to do very much either (if you've noticed the pattern, no one is doing much). Which makes me sad. Also, she hasn't been randomly naked since the first episode. Once again, this is the type of thing that can be remedied quite easily, but the show doesn't seem to understand it's strengths. Also, she's a lot more fun when she's trying to hang out with John in high school than when she's kicking ass and taking names. Admittedly, that's pretty much all that can happen in high school for the show (River being hot, not the ass-kicking), so I would probably complain that nothing was happening if they spent too much time in high school (oh wait, nothing is happening, and I'd rather have nothing happening while River is trying to act like a really hot high school girl than nothing is happening while River is trying to act like an ass-kicking machine).

Story-wise, there is actually one thing I find interesting. Sarah and River's relationship is a major part of the story, for reasons I don't totally understand (but the fact that I think it's interesting could be a fair argument for why), but it adds some interesting dynamics. First, I have to say that I like it when they get to connect. For example, when John accidentally gets himself into trouble and Sarah's all pissed and doing nothing but shouting and making angry noises, she yells at River saying that River could not possibly understand how it would feel to lose John. River's response is that if John dies, her life loses all purpose and she would be as nothing. Sarah turns away and pretends she didn't hear her. But at least she shuts up, and maybe she gets a little appreciation for this terminator, which is complex enough to conceptualize what it would be like to fail.

Their relationship is interesting, though, because of the way they can't help but seem to be competing for John. Sarah believes that she needs to protect him from the dangerous world outside by keeping him away from it. Her response in nearly any situation is to get John out of there, then maybe go back and try to do something. Her hope is to prevent John from ever having to become the savior. And, in doing so, she is also trying to stop him from developing into that person as well. When the show starts, that's pretty much how things are going.

River, on the other hand, is from the future and only knows John as he was when he was the savior of mankind and shit (and, I think she was as enamored with future John as a Terminator can be, either through programming on John's part or otherwise, I'm not sure). To her, protecting John merely means keeping him alive, but she still wants him to develop into the savior (it's important to keep in mind that she does put keeping John alive well above his development, as far as priorities go). She believes that he has to develop into the hero he will become for two reasons. The first reason is because that hero clearly can keep himself alive, which would be useful. But, she also wants him to develop into the guy that she's in love with. She wants him to become future John, savior of mankind. Even if in this timeline that means stopping the terminators from ever being created, she wants it to be John who does it and becomes a hero for it. So that she can have future John.

Remember, she's made it clear that only future John can give her orders, but someday, she hopes, John will be able to give her orders (okay, that last part was just theory). Of course, I'm a little curious how her programming distinguishes between future John and present John, but we'll just assume it's a mixture of age, personality, and whether or not she's sleeping with him (oh wait, terminator's don't sleep...that's kind of hot).

In any case, it's almost certainly worthwhile to watch out for any instances when she immediately obeys John. Of course, we then have to immediately wonder if she let John try to infiltrate the bad guy's truck on purpose or not. She did a good job of distracting Sarah while John snuck away, but was she merely distracted, or was it an act? Or is she just not really able to detect lies without lightly touching the back of John's neck? We'll never know, but it's good to keep in mind, anyways.

I guess I kind of think of Sarah and River relationship as a kind of weird mother-in-law/daughter-in-law kind of thing. Sarah wants him to stay as her little boy, but River wants him to grow into the man she sees in him. Both their lives are dedicated to him, but can he be dedicated to both of them? Well, that's up to Sarah.

In any case, this is a competition that Sarah is doomed to lose. John is pretty much destined to become the hero of mankind. It's happened in every timeline, so she should really just stop fighting it. And, even after four episodes, we're already seeing John developing into that hero. We've gotten to see him make quick decisions to fight the fight and he's shown the empathy to care for the people around him. We can tell he's on the road to becoming a leader. For that matter, he can tell he's on that road (and it makes him both excited and scared, understandably).

And, someday, Sarah is going to realize that and help in his development, instead of trying to prevent it.

And I'm looking forward to that day (primarily to see if River starts taking orders from him...).

Okay, fine, I'm enjoying the show. I just hope it's going where I'm thinking it's going, because if it's not, I'm going to be disappointed (or, possibly, pleasantly surprised).

By the way, did I mention that River is really hot?

That is all.