Is the voting on American Idol rigged????

An interesting piece of news caught my attention yesterday as I was trolling through TVGuide.comAmerican Idol Season 8’s final four has already been chosen.  Wow…as I watch Idol tonight I was reminded that we still have 11 contender in this year’s season.  So how do we know who the Top 4 will be? american-idol-top-24

Isn’t the voting still being solicited by Ryan each week?  I keep seeing numbers advertise each week at the end of the shows.  Maybe the producers have a time machine or TARDIS on loan from the Doctor Who and have accelerated into the future to get a low down on the Final Four?  Hmm that must be it.  The Producers have a time machine – that has to be the explanation.  Yeah, that is it!

The Producers wouldn’t rig the results…would they?   All the voting results after each show and especially the final four are certified by outside accounting firm like the Oscars and Grammy, right?  Oh yeah, they are not.  Hmm…now that makes me wonder; maybe the voting results are not as democratic and fair as the audience is led to believe.

So, I guess the talk by a female e Idol staffer who told the New York Daily News Gatecrasher column may have some legs to it.  In this column, the staffer stated that the final four has already been chosen – Alexis Grace, Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, and Adam Lamert – all of whom happen to also be current front runners this season.

The staffer alleged that not only have the four have been chosen as the final four, but that Rounds and Lambert have been ruled out as winner due to their similarity to past stars — Chris Daughtry and Fantasia.  Interesting.

If this is true, then the show that boasts itself as the path finder of new talent and a reality show is really just a fiction-based drama with pretty people with dynamic personalities who can sing — 21st Century version of Fame.  I wish the Producers and Fox were just honest with the audience about what American Idol truly is.

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Obama vs. the Veterans over Healthcare

One of the most shocking revelations to come out of the new administration is not the approved “pork barrel” laden budget or the highly skeptical stimulus plan, but the new proposal to have private insurance companies pick up the health care of battle injuries for our veterans instead of the government.

Yes, you heard me correctly; Mr. Obamas’s administration has a plan on the table to have private insurance companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield and United Healthcare pick up the tabs for battle field injures from a gun shot in the butt to an amputated leg brought on by IEDs.Mr. Obama

Isn’t it the government’s responsibility and fundamental promise to take care of our veterans when this great country sends these fine people to war to protect our liberties and way of life?  If you answered yes, then why should the private sector pick up the tab?  It wasn’t the insurance companies who sent these honorable individuals off to battle.

My guess is that proposal is the first of  too many controversial spending cuts that this administration will try to implement as a way to pay for the monstrous spending programs that have been passed these last 50 or so days in office. 

A better way would be to save money would be to eliminate or veto the enormous earmarks populating the new budget.  Welcome to Mr. Obama’s “change.”. 

Hass the White House considered what would happen if the private sector picks up the tab for veterans?  I am betting that cost would be passed on to the consumer through increased premiums and increased employer costs.  These added costs would damage an already frail health care system and economic situation.

US VetsI am not sure what the correct answer is to fix the health care our veterans are getting except by increase funding and providing less bureaucracy in managing the care which would improve efficiency. 

However, having the private sector pick up the tab is not the answer.  Give less money to the bailouts of GM, Citibank, Chrysler, and AGI and more money to our veterans.  They are the ones that need it!

WonderCon 2009 – Sights and Sounds

I am finally home on the East Coast after my first visit to San Francisco’s very own WonderCon.  Wow!!!  What an event it was!  I have been to a few comic conventions over the years in Baltimore, but they could not compare to the sheer size, energy, and excitement that Wonder Con has to offer.  For three days, WonderCon provides the “fan boy” inside all of us with the one bit of nirvana that we searching for.wchdr_r1_c1

WonderCon is just not for comic book junkies, there is also something for gamers, fans of pop culture and TV/Movies –basically something for everyone.  2009’s event had it all – from hundred of vendors, panels to sit in on from various publishers to TV Shows/Moves, and autographs sessions with stars like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Erin Grey,  and Adam West to name a few. 

Like WonderCon’s sister’s show ComicCon International in San Diego, Hollywood plays an important part in the convention by promoting new movies and hit television shows .  Hollywood did not disappoint with panels that included the full cast & director of the Watchmen, Star Trek, Chuck, Terminator: Salvation, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Up (Pixar), and Wonder Woman the movie.   

These panels from Hollywood are not only filled with your favorite stars, writers, and directors, but the audiences are treated to either sneak peek of video clips to full screenings of the TV show/movie before its release to the public.   If the show or movie is any good, this fantastic way creates an incredible buzz before it hit the streets.  I guess you say this is a form of guerilla marketing, which is highly effective.

Let me take you into the Watchmen panel so you can get an idea what a movie panel is like.  Everyone is given the disclaimer no video recording of the intellectual property and yada…yada…yada.  After a few minutes director of the Watchmen Zack Snyder comes out to roaring reception from an enthusiastic audience.   Without too much prep from Zack Snyder, the audience was treated to special showing of the first 30 minutes of the Watchmen movie.  This is not it…after the clip, the cast of Watchmen come on stage to join Zack Snyder to discuss the behind the scene experience on the film along with a Q&A from the audience.  During the Q&A the audience learns that a Director’s Cut of the Watchmen will be released to selected theaters in July that will push the run time of the film to 3hrs 10 minutes.  WOW!!!  This same director’s cut will later be released to DVD this fall sometime around October.

The next panel is for the new J.J. Adams movie – Star Trek.   The audience is once again treated to a special appearance by the director J.J. Adams, which I can say is a hoot!  Someone who looks like he is a lot of fun, full of energy, and enjoys what he does, which is evident on the projects he creates from Alias to Lost to Fringe.  J.J. Adams is now joined by the cast of Star Trek – crew of the Enterprise.  One pleasures of this panel was hearing the stars of Star Trek tell behind the scenes stories of how the great Leonard Nimoy helped guide Zac Quinto through the Star Trek universe that Gene Rodenberry gave us many years ago.  Plus the audience got to see the new Star Trek trailer that not been released.  This type of information and access was not exclusive to these two movies, but all the TV shows and movies at Wonder Con.WonderCon 2009 Floor  

To give you an idea of how popular theses panels are, each session is held in the main event room that holds 3500 people.  And I can honestly say that there was not an empty seat to be had for the panels I attended.  Not only was the room full to capacity, there was also a continuous line at the door two people wide that stretched 40 to 50 feet down the hall.

As special as the TV/Movie panels are the real magic is walking the floor of the convention.  You never know who you might literaly bump into from the press covering the convention to regular Joes like Henry Winkler, artist Jim Lee, and even Darth Vader.

TV/Movies are not the only ones who host panels, so does the various comic publishing houses too.  I had the chance to sit in on the DC Nation panel.  In this panel the audience learned that eight new Batman titles will drop in the coming months that will focus around the Battle of the Cowl which will determine who will be the new guardian of Gotham in Batman’s absence.  One of the tiles will be called Gotham Sirens.  This book will be a loose team up book of Batman’s female counterparts – Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley.  This book will look at the villain’s side of the equation as Gotham tries to survive the absence of Batman.  The other news that seemed to float under the radar was the statement that Batman will be back from the “dead” in Nov 2009.  Yeah!

Panels and walking the floor is only half the fun.  Shopping at the various vendors, getting autographs, and people watching are the other half of the vent.  It is amazing the various characters you will see from a full-size remote-controlled R2D2, to Batman, Joker, Power Puff Girls, Storm Troopers, Captain America, Women of BSG, Wonder Woman, Watchmen, Brown Coats from Firefly, and Cylons.

After three days of nirvana, I can honestly say that it was worth the trip cross country trip to experience everything that WonderCon has to offer.

Battlestar Galactica – Ronald Moore spills secrets about the final season

Wow…It has taken me all weekend and most of the day to get my breath back after watching the BSG episode “Sometimes a Great Notion?”  I am not sure where to begin…

I guess I will have to say that if this opening scene is a glimpse of what is to come for the final act of this tragedy, then I am confident the audience will be treated to one grand piece of theater as we slowly climb to the climax at the end of these 10 episodes.battlestar_galactica_iso

Ronald Moore and company have once again in less than 60 minutes turned the BSG universe upside down.  This 180 began with the confirmation that the planet that was found at the end of Episode 12 is the prize they have been all searching for long and hard- Earth.  Now the fun begins with turning everything upside down once again.

Not only is this Earth, but this planet was destroyed more than 2000 years from their present time by a nuclear holocaust.  If that was not shocking enough…we learn that Earth was not only destroyed it is also…wait for it…wait for it – not only the home of the 13th Colony, but the 13th Colony is Cylon.  Yes, you read that correctly…Cylon.  These are not Cylons we have come accustom too aka Six and Sharon, but a new breed that all models are not identically the same and are even more “human” than previous thought.  Plus they had their own Centurions that look nothing like anything other model in the Cylon Empire. 

If that was not wasn’t enough; Tigh, Chief Tyrol, Tory, and Anders were on Earth when it was destroyed more 2000 years ago and have discovered memories of that tragic day when their civilization was wiped out in a single blow by a nuclear hammer.  Each of their memories are different, but are linked by not only this single event, but with each other.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Dualla “Dee,” who’s sea of hope and optimism represents all that is good about human race, committed suicide when it is reveled that the dream called Earth is nothing more than grey sky wasteland.  If Dee has lost hope, then you can image how the rest of the Fleet will react to the news about Earth.

Last but not least, Starbuck, on aquest to locate the Colonial beacon that lead this rag tag fleet to Earth, makes a startling discovery.  She finds the crashed Viper the included the pilot’s corpse.  Too my surprise and the rest of the viewers, the corpse is Starbuck!  Yes, Kara Thrace…I would say flesh and bones, but really more bones than anything else.  So, who is runnin,g looking, talking, and acting like Starbuck these past episodes?  Cylon copies, reincarnation of the original Starbuck or something supernatural…all good questions which I hope will be answered before the final episode airs.

So, a lot of questions have been raised since the discovery of Earth and even more after watching this episode.  Well, I could speculate like the rest of the BSG universe about answers to these questions or develop my own hypothesis, but I have chosen the easy way out. 

On Jan 17th Ronald Moore provide a pretty insightful interview with Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune.  In this interview, Moore discloses several answers to the burning questions that came out of “Sometimes a Great Notion.”

  • Ellen is indeed the fifth Cylon.  As the season progress the viewers will be shown who else knew this secret and there is a strong possibility that Ellen may return.
  • The Earth that is found is really Earth – the 13th Colony.
  • The Human Cylons we see in the flashback that Tyrol had on Earth incorporates more than 12 models we know of.
  • Starbuck’s existence is still in question…Moore is quite coy on providing an answer to this burning question.

That is it so far.  First episode is now in the books…nine more to go and with many more twists and turns before this series wraps up.

24 is Back…but still needs some work.

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After 15 long months, Jack is back!!!  24 is back from its sabbatical with a new day for Jack Bauer to save us from disaster.  This time the show has shifted from the often devastated Los Angles metro-plex (after six season of disaster, I am amazed anyone would still call it home) to our nation’s capital Washington D.C., which is quite a treat for me since it is in my own backyard.

This season starts off with a story ripped from today’s headlines – is extreme interrogation techniques ethical, legal, and necessary as a tool for intelligence gathering?  A hotly debatable subject that has been elevated to heights in the American conscience as political “change” has swept through our country on the eve of the inauguration of a new administration.    If you think that was the only morality question that 24 is raising, then you are wrong. 

The other question 24 is asking the audience – is it permissible to use military intervention into a sovereign country as diplomatic tool for humanitarian purposes without the backing of the world body or he United Nations?  Neither of these questions are easily answered by one word.  And both issues come with consequences that might not be felt by this country until years later. 

24 is one of the few shows on TV today willing to explore these types of moral arguments each season while providing riveting excitement, intrigue, and suspense.  Who would’ve known you could do so much in one day without a chance to eat, sleep, change your clothes, and even take the opportunity to use the bathroom while guiding the viewer through minefields of morality.

With all the plusses this show has going for it, it still has quite a few flaws that sometimes are just too obvious to ignore.  These flaws are mostly in the details of the story.  To my disappointment, this season (7) – in just the first two hours – made me question what the writers have been up to during these last 15 months.  Simply put the writing is sloppy.

One of the first mistakes I found was when the stewardess on the flight from

Washington, DC to JFK announced the flight would be departing from Reagan National in just a few minutes.  Afterwards the viewer is shifted to Air Traffic Control where they hear radio chatter stating the flight is ready to taxi for the departure from Dulles to JFK.  Note – Dulles and Reagan Nation are both located in Northern Virginia serving the Washington D.C. metro-plex; however, they are 29 miles apart from each other.

The second issue I found disappointing is when Special Agent Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling) informs Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) that three people had been shot dead at Gabriel Schecter’s flat.  The truth is that only two people had been shot dead at the flat by a sniper – Gabriel Schecter and his muscle in an earlier scene.

The last item occurred when the Northeast 3 Air Traffic Control was in communication with the FBI – Larry Moss was informing the Air Traffic Control about a possible hack by a home grown terrorist group into the FAA radar and communications.  Throughout these scenes, it was never mentioned who the actual terrorist is behind this attack.However, the audience had learned earlier that it was former CTU agent turned rouge — Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard).  As the excitement heightens when Tony impersonates a FAA controller to issue instructions to an unsuspecting flight, his radio transmission is captured by a FAA operator.  As the operator turns to his supervisor to inform him of his discovery of this false transmission from the terrorist, he exclaims that it is Almeida on the recording.  Up to this point, Tony’s identity has yet to be disclosed to either the FBI or the FAA.  How did this operator know who he was?  Hmmm…interesting.

These are just minor items that most of the public might not have picked up.  Having 15 months to tighten your script and the options to reshoot scenes, I would have expected these types of errors to be caught and corrected.  Isn’t that why proofreaders and editors are on staff?  Any way…

Even though I found these errors, they do not take away from another rousing season of the most adrenalin packed show on TV today.  I just hope these are the last of these types of errors for the course of “this” day in our nation’s capital.  Let’s hope Jack saves the day again…my money is on him.  He will come through no matter what!

24 airs each Monday night on Fox 9pm Eastern

What would you do with $53623.19 from the Goverment

A 7.4 trillion dollar bailout; is Congress, President Bush, and Mr. Obama kidding?  That is $53,623.19 for each of the 138,000,000 tax returns filed in 2007 if you do the math.  Instead of focusing in propping up the financial industry, auto industry, or any other industry that comes groveling to the Federal Government, I say give the money directly to the taxpayers.money

The taxpayers would have a greater influence in pulling this economy out this “recession” than any current or future program our economic wizards can think of.  Just image what each taxpayer would due with the $53,623.19.

  1. The taxpayers would put that money in the bank; this would trouble banks by providing increase assets to draw on. (bank bailouts)
  2. Majority of the taxpayers would pay off their debts. This would increase liquidity in the market and improve the lending potential of the public since credit scores would increase. 
  3. A portion of the taxpayers would use the funds as a nice down payment on foreclosed home or a new home.  This would boost the housing market and mortgage industry.  
  4. Another portion would get a new car.  Hopefully an American car which would boots sales and would starve off any threat of bankruptcy in the near future.  Hmm…maybe that not a good thing.
  5. Consumer confidence would rise which would lead into increase sales of durable goods and services.

All in all, a win-win situation for economy, the public, and believe or not our government since they would be serving the public interest for once in the last twenty years.

Season 4 Battlestar Galactica promo – Finial Chapter

It is here!!!  The new promo for the last chapter is this harrowing journey from Caprica to Earth in Battlestar Galactica.  As the series wraps up the finial details to this tragic opera, the viewers are still seeking answers to a few cliffhanging questions – did they find the real Earth, who is the final 5 Cylon, and what happens next?

Hopefully these answers will all be solved as the season kicks off in January 2009!