PBW: Airshow 2K6

This year, I ventured out to the Jones Beach Air Show once more, armed with a better camera than the one I had last year. Despite overcast weather conditions making shooting difficult, I think this batch of photos is still an improvement. I caught all manner of things that fly for this week's Photo Blog Wednesday, from a tiny ladybug on a nearby flag to biplanes, helicopters, and angels...blue angels. Enjoy!

(whoops, how did that get in there...)



Shadowy Flight

As I waited for my first parade Monday morning to kick off at 9 AM as it always does, a few things were off. First and foremost, it would be the first time this particular group was playing without its founder, my former music teacher who passed away last October. It was also extremely hot, which isn't unusual this time of year, but to be so warm so early in the morning didn't bode well for the rest of the day, especially our second parade at noon. While the later parade in my home town offered little to no shade, the first parade in a neighboring community offered trees in abundance, and we all fled to the cooler spots beneath trees. I thought it was hot Sunday when I played with another band out in Queens, and was grateful to have my dad's car with air conditioning, but Monday definitely was worse. Halfway through the morning parade we usually wait in the street at a park while soldiers fire off rifles and trumpets play taps. This year the sun was too intense, and everyone moved to the side once more.

I loved shade when I was a kid. It was great to be outdoors and get fresh air, and be able to stand where the temperature was several degrees cooler, where even a nice breeze might be found. Most of my friends were tougher and younger than me, and chastised me when we'd play sports and I'd be off to the side. I missed many a fly ball to the outfield because I was under a tree instead of in the optimum position to catch it. God put trees here for a reason, and not just so we can breathe oxygen, although I'm sure that was the prevalent reason.

As the sun rose during the closing ceremony of Monday morning's parade, the shade slowly withdrew. The sun beat down upon me as I trekked back to my car, near the beginning of the parade. In the distance a mirage appeared, a pretty girl in a tan sun dress. As she got closer, I stepped out into the street to allow her passage on the narrow sidewalk. Even a geek can be chivalrous, given enough time to prepare. As we passed, I smiled and she, looking stern, fished in her purse for what I assumed to be mace. I guess she sensed I was a “shady” character, and as I passed a storefront I looked at my reflection in the window and tried to figure out how I looked remotely threatening or creepy. When I related the concern to my mom later on, she dismissed my assessment and speculated that the girl was looking for a piece of paper on which to write her phone number. I don't think her “glass half full” scenario is any more likely than my “glass half empty” outlook.

TheWriteJerry, on an unprecedented streak of great posts and great audience participation, shamed me with his latest piece in which he wrote, “...most people do not understand why they get the day off today—that their freedom here in America is secured by the blood of those who were willing to risk all in the name of duty, honor and liberty.” The last few days I've been subtly bitching about working four jobs on a holiday weekend, as if I should have been doing something else. The truth is, I did slip away to the beach for a few hours on Saturday morning before playing a feast that night, so I had no reason to feel that way. Even Sunday, when my dad and I got home in the afternoon around 4, I snapped at my mom's friendly greeting of “what are you guys doing back already?” “Already?! Am I supposed to work all the time?” In my meager defense, I had done a lot of driving and gotten far more sun than shade. In truth, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, but the speeches and ceremonies at the parades about those who have gone before, who are no longer with us, should have put me in my place. This weekend is not about going to the movies, lying on a beach or hanging out with friends at a barbecue, but about remembering those who made it possible for us to do that stuff any time. It's easy to slip into the shadows of self-pity and forget what true sacrifice is. I heard the phrase “ultimate sacrifice” far too much this past weekend not to realize that.

The title of today's post comes of course from the introduction to Knight Rider, and Curt knows why. Join me again tomorrow, when I'll have thrilling photos from my Saturday adventure...


Phantasmic Links 5.29.06

Is everyone having an awesome Memorial Day weekend? It's a good time to honor the sacrifices soldiers have made and the freedom we have because of those sacrifices. As the temperature rises we're reminded that Summer is now upon us, and perhaps as we take a break from parades, barbecues, and fireworks, we might seek shelter in air conditioning while clicking this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS:

I generally try to beat games before presenting them here, but I haven't had time to complete more than 24 of the 30 challenging levels of Warp Forest. Is it a brainteaser? A drive and shoot game? It's both, and it's brilliant.

Jimmy Kimmel interviews one of those pesky Hanso Foundation executives. Yes! Take that, numbers! Hat tip to Mister Rey.

MacFarlane takes on Lost action figures.

Ah, those wacky Marios...

I wonder how popular certain bands would be if they stuck with some of their original names...

How cool would it be to have an arcade in your home? At the very least, I'd be able to get quarters any time I needed them...

In Dumbolf, you control one of those golfing elephants...

How many of these classic ‘80s commercials do you remember?



2006 Summer Movies

On Friday and Saturday I covered this year’s major season finales. I didn't cover all the finales, but I definitely enjoyed those of Scrubs, Supernatural, My Name is Earl, and How I Met Your Mother. I would give each of those 4 or 5 out of 5 ratings, award Scrubs the Best Line award with “get out of here you old queens!”, be wondering if NBC will continue to treat Scrubs horribly, never showing reruns and waiting until January, and wonder if the father and the car will survive Supernatural's cliffhanger. No, I don't watch House or The Office despite multiple recommendations from friends; there's only so many hours in the week, and content my brain can absorb. I'll probably have something to say about The Sopranos when that wraps up season 6 next weekend, but for now the television season is basically over. With the conclusion of so much small screen entertainment, it's natural that my eyes would turn to the big screen. Both Xtine and TheWriteJerry have listed their must-see movies, and while J-No used a fan-made fake X3 poster, I was still inspired to list the movies I'd like to see in theaters.

Despite early bad reviews and worrisome rumors and suspicions about the plot, X-men: The Last Stand is going to be a must-see. I never miss comic book movies, especially since the genre become more legitimate a few years ago. Good or bad, I have to see this trilogy through to the end and I have heard good things about Kelsey Grammar as Beast. Of course, finding time to see it has proven challenging. It opened this weekend, but I usually avoid the crowds for big movies on opening day and catch a matinee. Yesterday I had other plans in the morning and played at an Italian feast for four hours in the evening, and in a few hours today I'll be playing in a parade. Tomorrow I have two parades, so it looks like I may have to wait until next weekend when I'm less busy. I work on weekends more in the Summer than any other part of the year. I just hope no one spoils X3 for me in the meantime.

The more I see of Superman Returns, the more enthusiastic I get. Check out the trailer over at Scott's. I definitely agree with his assessment of that last shot; the man doesn't even blink, and why would he? The departure of Brian Singer from the X-men series led to my initial concerns about X3, but I have faith he'll do a good job here. While the initial still photos left me underwhelmed, most of the recent trailers have encouraged me. I can't wait to see what Kevin Spacey does with the role of Lex Luthor. Superman returns on June 30th, and I'm hoping it will be as good as Batman Begins.

A Scanner Darkly opens July 7th, and while I'm sorry to say I've been remiss in reading the novel, I am attracted to the use of Rotoscoping. I've had the privilege of seeing the comic book adaptation through my job recently, and while I can't obviously divulge any details, I can say it looks amazing. I think I'd be disappointed if I saw this on anything smaller than a movie screen, preferably in a stadium theater.

July 7th offers a conflict, as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest opens that weekend as well. I loved the first movie that introduced me to the wonders of Keira Knightley, and she became a selling point for me for films such as The Hole, The Jacket, and Domino, all of which I highly recommend. It goes almost without saying that Johnny Depp is great as Captain Jack Sparrow, and I'm glad he's reprising the role. I may wait for the DVD, but I'm definitely considering seeing this in theaters. If I do decide to wait, perhaps I'll pick up a copy of Kingdom Hearts II to tide me over.

I might see Miami Vice in theaters as well. I've already seen Mission Impossible III. The Summer movies are already rolling out, and the way a year flies I suspect the holiday movie season will arrive before we know it.


LOST Finale Thoughts

Previously, on MCF...

And now, LOST:

What I liked:
Desmond's entire back story.
Libby's connection to Desmond.
• Seeing Sayid's soldier skills put to use, despite the apparent failure of his plan.
Kate picks up that a pair of Others are following them, and she and Sawyer kill one.
• The scene in which Michael confesses.
• We finally learn what happens when the button isn't pressed, and confirm that the magnetism revealed earlier this season(and hinted at in the first season by a spinning compass) indeed caused the crash.
• Learning the origin of the invisible map.
• The revelation of where those pneumatic canisters go.
Charlie and Claire reconcile and finally kiss.
• “Henry Galewas the “man behind the curtain.”

What I didn't like:
• Having to wait all Summer to find out what happens next.

What I'm wondering:
• Are they in a “snowglobe”, either out of synch with reality and time or possibly beneath the Earth's surface?
• What's the deal with the giant four-toed statue? Ruins of Lemuria?
• Was Alex intentionally groping Kate, or did the actress miss?
• Will Michael's boat explode?
• Is he really reunited with Walt or just one of his son's astral projections?
• Would Walt really leave Vincent behind again?
• Will their compass even work to reach the escape coordinates?
• Will they bump into Sayid, Sun, and Jin on Desmond's boat?
• Will Desmond survive whatever turning the key unleashed?
• Will Locke and Eko survive the apparent destruction of the hatch?
• Why isn't Charlie more concerned about them?
• Will Charlie have permanent hearing damage from the explosion?
• Will Penelope find the island next season and, if she does, will she too be trapped?
• What is Widmore's connection to the projects on the island, and how much does his daughter know?
• Are Kelvin Inman and Joe Inman one and the same, and if so how did he come to be in the hatch?
• How much did Inman know about the Others, whom he referred to as “Hostiles”?
• Was Jack signaling Kate with that look at the end, and was there more to his plan than “walk right into Michael's trap”?
• Libby's deceased husband's name was David, and in the institution she was in with Hurley, Dave was the name of Hurley's imaginary friend. Coincidence?
• Will each season continue to focus on a few short days, keeping the story set in 2004?
• When will we see more of the Black Smoke next season and learn its origins?
• If Ms. Klugh was seen by Eko when he faced the smoke, what is their connection?
• Is the sickness really fake as implied by Kelvin's torn suit?
• Why did Desmond continue taking the vaccine after he learned Kelvin was lying? What does it really do?
• Will the latest electromagnetic anomaly bring another plane or boat to the island?
• Can the show maintain this level of quality and intrigue for its entire run?

Best Lines:
• “We locked out a priest?”
• “Was that bird calling my name?”
• “I'll see you in another life, brother!”
• “I was wrong.”

4 8 15 16 23 42 out of 4 8 15 16 23 42


MCF's Finale Thoughts

Warning: Today's post may contain SPOILERS about various season and series finales I've watched in the last few weeks. If you've not yet watched these shows for some reason(REY), then obviously skip that section for now. If you're not familiar with some of these shows, then some of my thoughts may seem vague.


What I liked:
Clark getting kissed by Chloe
• The cool slow motion spin through shattered glass as Clark shields her and catches a car that crashed into the Daily Planet.
• Multiple Marsters
• A seemingly reformed Lionel being a better father to Clark than his own son, whom he's willing to sacrifice.

What I didn't like:
• After a season building up to the release of Zod from the Phantom Zone, he possesses Lex? They can get Terrence Stamp to voice Jor-El but they couldn't hire a new actor?
• A virus knocks out the world's technology, and within a few hours there's rioting and looting and people driving cars into the basements of buildings?
• Lex/Zod telekinetically nodding Clark into a Phantom Zone portal. He's spent a Summer in a similar void already, so this is a recycled cliffhanger.
Lana runs to Lex on the roof of his building, aware of his powers but not that he's possessed. The most diabolical survivor from Clark's home world falls for a flighty girl that would run through a mob where her friend Chloe is being assaulted, just to be with her new boyfriend.

What I'm wondering:
• Will Lex remember any of this next year after he's inevitably freed and depowered, or will the show fall back on its old friend amnesia?
• Chloe and Lionel were dragged out of his limo by a mob that descended upon her in a frightening overhead shot before cutting to Lana running by into LexCorp. What's going to happen to Chloe?
• Where exactly was the other Marsters flying Lois and Martha?
• Why do I still watch this show?
• Why am I still going to watch it next year?

Best Line:
• Not applicable.

• 3 out of 5 S-shield sides


What I liked:
• The Lost style of inter cutting the episode with flashbacks from Sydney's past, telling her origin even as we're shown the final chapter.
• It takes more than a few bullets to the chest to keep Jack Bristow down. Jack Bristow is down when he says he's down, and he's badass enough to die on his feet like a man.
Marshall finally telling Sloane exactly what he thinks of him, and not being afraid in the face of torture or worse.
• Syd does to Sloane what we've waited five years to see, and then Jack gets to take down Sloane as well.
Sark's attitude.
Tom's sacrifice and final words. The finale made me care about a character whose story this season always felt like a tangent I could care less about.
Peyton taking out a circle of the twelve most powerful men in the world with two guns. I want Amy Acker to get a spinoff!
• Seeing Carrie again, and having her technical skills utilized.
• Jack's reaction in the flashback where Sydney tells him she's working for Credit Dauphine, but doesn't yet know her father is also a spy working undercover in the same agency.
• The final scene with Isabelle and those blocks. I loved the continuity and the sense of an ongoing cycle. Baby Jack was a beautiful touch too in this regard.

What I didn't like:
• No Weiss
• Only five minutes of Irina which reduced her complexity from past seasons to basic selfish villainy.
• Seeing Francie one last time but not Will. Sure he got his own episode a few weeks ago, but a cameo in a flashback to Syd's college life would have been a nice touch while they were bringing things full circle.

What I'm wondering:
• Will there be any spinoffs?
• Should there be a spinoff?
• Why couldn't the last three seasons have been as good as the first two or the series finale?
• Is there a connection between Rambaldi and The Hanso Foundation? An episode featuring a song by Drive Shaft hinted that Lost and Alias may take place in the same continuity. Since Lost is still set in 2004, it's possible to see anyone from Alias should that show cut to events in the world outside the island. Even in character flashbacks we could see cameos.
• Why did the small red ball cause regeneration and immortality, but the large one caused insanity? In season one when Vaughn nearly drowned from one of those rupturing, did he gain any regenerative abilities? Is that how he was able to recover from being sprayed across the chest with a machine gun?

Best Line(and Best Last Words Ever):
“You beat death, Arvin, but you couldn't beat me.”

4.5 out of 5 red wigs


What I liked:
• If you kill Jack Bauer's friends, Jack will eventually kill you. It might take 23-24 hours or so, but once you cross him the clock is ticking. ”Watch out Julian Sands!” ”You have five seconds to comply!”
• When Jack only tells one or two people what he's planning, he usually gets the job done. Jack always has a plan, and even if he's being led away in handcuffs he might still be winning.
Logan's confrontation with Martha, followed by the expression on his face once he realized the secret service were coming for him. The looks Martha and Mike gave him as he was led away were awesome.
• The contrast between an honorable president and a dishonorable one, as Palmer's casket is loaded on to the plane while Logan is taken into custody.
• The return of the Chinese.
Buchanan flirting with Hayes once the crisis was over. For the briefest of moments I finally understood how he once hooked up with Michelle.

What I didn't like:
Chloe's ex-husband Morris.
• The second half of the finale aired against the first half of Alias' finale. I watched 24 in it's entirety, then had to wait until 11 to watch my tape of Alias.
• Jack looks so suspicious when he's sneaking into places in plain sight. Putting the helmet on and hunching down as he walked to the chopper was as bad as the hood and suitcase maneuver to get on the plane a few weeks ago.
• Not much else.

What I'm wondering:
• Will Gardner be president next season or will the show jump past his term?
• How much time will pass between seasons this time?
• Who tipped off the Chinese to Jack's specific whereabouts and the best way to lure him into a trap? Did they impersonate his daughter on the phone, or was the guard who gave him the message in on it?
• Will next season take place in Shanghai, with Curtis leading a rescue mission?
• Is Jack disavowed to avoid an international incident?
• Will we ever see Chase again?
• Is the shadowy organization behind Logan, fronted by Graham going to play a major role in future seasons, and are they connected to some of the behind-the-scenes players hinted at in past seasons?
• Will we see Wayne follow in his brother's footsteps?
• Is the kid on the submarine going to rat out Jack's murder of Henderson?
• Did Henderson kill Evelyn and her daughter?
• Where's Behrooz?!

Best Line:
“China has a long memory.”

5.5 out of 6 bullets

* * * * *

The best season finales have cliffhangers, and the best finale of this season is LOST. Tune in tomorrow for my review...


mY iMaginary iPod

I do not own an iPod. I don't even own a regular Pod. Imagine for a moment that I do, and that lyrics listed below are from songs in my playlist. How many can you guess* without clicking?

1. Load up on guns/Bring your friends/It's fun to lose/And to Pretend

2. Man we were killin' time/We were young and restless/We needed to unwind/I guess nothin' can last forever

3 Moon is full, never seems to change/Just labeled mentally deranged/Dream the same thing every night/I see our freedom in my sight

4. Word to your moms I came to drop bombs/I got more rhymes than the bibles got psalms/And just like the prodigal son I've returned/Anyone stepping to me you'll get burned

5. Tequila in his heartbeat, his veins burned gasoline./It kept his motor running but it never kept him clean./They say he loved adventure, Ricky's the wild one./He married trouble and had a courtship with a gun.

6. So many people have come and gone/Their faces fade as the years go by/Yet I still recall as I wander on/As clear as the sun in the summer sky

7. It goes down the same as the thousand before/No ones getting smarter/No ones learning the score/Your never ending spree of death and violence and hate/Is gonna tie your own rope

8. Give me a whisper/And give me a sigh/Give me a kiss before you/tell me goodbye

9. All the vampires walkin' through the valley/Move west down Ventura Boulevard/And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows/All the good girls are home with broken hearts

10. And if I should falter/Would you open your arms out to me/We can make love not war/And live at peace in our hearts

11. We both lie silently still/In the dead of the night/Although we both lie close together/We feel miles apart inside

12. It's in the blood, it's in the will/It's in the mighty hands of steel/When you're standin'' your ground/And you never get hit when your back's to the wall/Gonna fight to the end and you're takin'' it all

13. Not about to see your light/But if you wanna find hell with me/I can show you what its like/Till your bleeding

14. Backstreet lover on the side of the road/I got a bomb in my temple that is gonna explode/I got a sixteen gauge buried under my clothes/I play...

15. Sometimes you tell the day/By the bottle that you drink/And times when you're all alone/All you do is think

16. So you think I got a funny face/I got no worries/I don't know why/I don't know why

17. Acting like a robot/Its metal brain corrodes./You try to take its pulse/Before the head explodes.

18. Push me again/This is the end/Skin against skin blood and bone/You're all by yourself but you're not alone

19. Gray is my favorite color/I felt so symbolic yesterday/If I knew Picasso/I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

20. I believe in the kingdom come/Then all the colors will bleed into one/Bleed into one/Well yes I'm still running

* Hat tip to Wendy for this idea. All songs and lyrics belong to their respective creators and/or copyright holders.


PBW: Hiking With MCF

This past Monday I returned to Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island's North Shore. I intended to capture a lot of birds, digitally of course, for this week's Photo Blog Wednesday. My quest took me across the beach, up steps, into a portion of a 34 mile trail, and at one point I accidentally took a picture of myself, which should make some readers happy. Also note some smokestacks that we've seen before, this time from the East and further away. Yes, I did get some birds too as planned. Won’t you hike with me?