When Will We Get This Time Thing Right?

Clock 2 Well, we’re doing it again! Why do we do this every year when we know how harmful it is to us? Probably for the same reason people smoke. We are once again faced with this idiotic Daylight Saving Time debacle, and just like I used to do every year on my radio show, I am speaking out against it.

Some people claim this is “anchored in history”. Let me set you straight on that. Near the time of the French Revolution, France faced a shortage of wax, and candles were the primary source of light for most of the population. Candle makers and the aristocrasy got together and decided that one way to save on wax would be to adjust clocks so there would be daylight at a later time, and the idea became popular.

When our resident crackpot, Benjamin Franklin, was ambassador to France, he saw the idea in practice and got an idea. Much of America’s economy centered on the cotton industry, so he tendered the idea that America also adopt the French policy. Since we were at the time so Friendly with the French, and the idea was popular with cotton producers, who could get extra, literally, slave-driving for their workers, the project went through.

Clock 7 Many tears later, DST once again gained favour from the military standpoint when there was fear our factories would be targeted by foreign bombing raids if the lights were turned on earlier, so DST was used to allow factory workers to have longer amounts of daylight. History buffs will recall how many factories of the time had, in fact, glass ceilings.

The last big push came during the Nixon administration, when the President was forever trying to please the “little people” and required the country to go to “year-round” DST. Fortunately, sanity regained its ground and that idea was negated. Chief Jack has lobbied to have DST voided for over 50 years, but so far only Hawai’i, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S.Virgin Islands have followed his advice. There are rumours that at least seven states are considering opting out of this useless waste of time. All I can say is—you want to enjoy an extra hour of sunlight at night? Get up an hour earlier in the morning.

It has also been proven scientifically that altering the natural timing of daylight as we do is medically offensive. It affects our biological clocks, leading to accidents, higher blood pressure, loss of sleep and attention span, and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Take it from me—strokes are NOT fun…….



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Annihilation Confusing, Disturbing

Annihilation poster The critics and I vastly disagree on this film. Most of them praise this film highly, whereas I think it’s much like a bunch of writers threw their scripts in a blender to see what would come out. Unfortunately, it’s this. Basically, this movie falls in the “let’s remake something with an all-female cast”, which, as 47 Metres Down and the recent Ghostbusters rehash pointed out, rarely works.

The first scene shows us a meteorite breaching our atmosphere and crashing into a lighthouse. For some reason, the lighthouse is NOT totally destroyed by the strike. From there we switch to a school where former soldier Lena (Natalie Portman) is teaching biology. We are forced to endure meaningless dialogue that reveals her husband is MIA during an assignment for the government at Area X, which is being affected by something called The Shimmer, and is where the meteorite crashed. Lena is as surprised as we are when her husband reappears. He becomes violently ill and gets whisked away by an ambulance.

Annihilation 3 This is where things start to unravel alarmingly. The ambulance gets stopped by military troops and Lena is drugged, eventually waking up at Area X and meeting Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is in charge of an upcoming mission to The Shimmer with an all-female crew because previous all-male crews never made it back, except for Lena’s husband Kane (Oscar Issaac). Lena wants answers so she joins the mission too.

Annihilation 2 The Shimmer seems to be, or at least looks like, a 1960s drug-induced psychedelic nightmare, where everything is made up of similar matter that is not quite plant life, yet not quite animal. The ladies encounter a huge alligator, then some nebulous carnivore that winds up being able to use the voice of the woman it killed before being itself dispatched. Along the way, the women find a videotape from Kane’s expedition that shows a gruesome operation. The women decide to reach the lighthouse, but only Lena makes it there. As the confusing story unfolds we get bits of Lena’s post-mission debriefing mixed with shots of her mission as well as unnecessary asides into Lena’s affair with one of her fellow teachers.

Annihilation 1 When Lena finally reaches the coast, a lot of the scenery is crystallised (why, we are never told). and inside the lighthouse she finds a body that turns out to be her husband, along with a video camera that reveals how he died. Voices lead her to a tunnel below the lighthouse where she runs into an alien that takes the form of the dead Dr. Ventress. Lena shoots the alien, but when she makes it out of the tunnel she is met by yet another alien, whom she dispatches with an explosive similar to what her husband used on himself.

In the end, Lena is told her husband recovered when the lighthouse was destroyed and they embrace as she asks “you’re not really Kane, are you?”, and this stirs the pot one final time. What purpose did all this serve? Could it be the prelude to an alien invasion, or just a reaffirmance that women can screw up a sci-fi plot just as well as men? The answers are NOT forthcoming, and I don’t think this movie will last more than two weeks in theatres—it’s THAT bad.

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Black Panther Action-packed

Black Panther poster 1 Marvel’s quality seems to be getting better with every new film they release. The Black Panther has set a new zenith that will probably not be eclipsed until “Infinity War” hits theaters in a few months. This film was well written, visually stunning, and acting was top-notch. It took a few liberties with the comic book character but was handled so cleverly that we hardly noticed. I may go see it again, in 3D, to get the full effect.

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) must take over as king of Wakanda when his father dies in an explosion at U.N. headquarters (as seen in Captain America: Civil War). T’Challa is heir to a centuries old birthright to become The Black Panther following his father in a ritual that involves consuming a drink from a heart-shaped plant affected by the massive deposit of a metal called vibranium when a meteor crashed into Africa long ago. The Wakandans have used the vibranium to develop incredible technology and weapons, all the while remaining invisibly shielded from the outside world as they present the fascia of being a poor third world country.

Black Panther 3 A subplot is introduced early as in 1992, Prince N’Jobu’s son, N’Jadaka (Michael B. Jordan) wants to supplant T’Challa as king and use Wakanda’s weaponry to stage an African-American empire under his command. This man is a black ops soldier who goes by the name of Killmonger. If the plotline was followed verbatim, Killmonger would probably be a genetically enhanced warrior created by Hydra, but this angle is never fully explored. The movie deviates a bit here by stating N’Jobu, Zuri (as an adult played by Forest Whitaker), and N’Jobu’s son Erik (Jordan plays the adult version) get involved in a skirmish that interacts heavily with the rest of the story.

Black Panther 9 From there, yet another subplot carries things along as a black market arms dealer , Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) is identified as the man who stole some vibranium from Wakanda. He is wanted by the Wakandans for that theft, so T’Challa tracks him to a South Korean underground casino with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) his former lover, and special forces warrior Okoye (Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira), and a fierce fight ensues, resulting in Klaue getting away, even after a heart-pounding chase.

Black Panther 8 Another character who figures prominently is T’Challa’s 16-year old sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), whose primary duty is developing new technology for Wakanda. At one point, she refers to wounded CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) as “another broken white boy to fix”. This refers back to the post-credit scene in “Civil War” where Bucky Barnes is shown to have been taken to Wakanda to repair his battered body and mind.

The fight scenes are smartly choreographed and well-spaced in the film to allow plot and action to flow continuously. The cast includes Angela Bassett as Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother and Queen, Sebastian Stan appearing as Bucky Barnes in a post-credit scene, and Marvel boss Stan Lee, whose mandated cameo as a gambler in the casino evokes the necessary comedy angle. One post-credit scene obviously hints that Wakandan technology will be used in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. This, I repeat, may be the best Marvel movie ever.



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Last Jedi 1 Early reports on this film (which opened tonight [Dec. 15] nationwide was glowing in its praises. I came, I saw, I concur. Yes, the novice Star Wars fan will be lost if he hasn’t seen at least the last three films in the series (not counting last year’s “Rogue One”), but that’s the beauty of these films—fans have seen them all, probably several times (I own the first 6 on tape), and know what’s going on. There are some out there who think that since Lucasfilm sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney, only young people will be interested. At tonight’s showing, I can safely say the average age must have been around 45.

When we last saw the gang, there were some new rumblings going on as Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) took over from the Emperor and is grooming Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to take over Darth Vader’s spot . Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) are the two main new characters around which this tale evolves.

Last Jedi 3 Rey has gone to the highly isolated planet Ahch-To, where Luke has gone into seclusion on an island, hoping to convey Leia’s (Carrie Fisher, in her last appearance) wish for Luke to rejoin in the fight. At first, Luke refuses, but as he senses she is indeed “one with The Force”, he relents and agrees to train her. As the two get closer, their powers co-mingle as Rey makes mental contact with Kylo, which sends crossed signals and leads to a brief exchange between Luke and Rey.

Last Jedi 2 Meanwhile, the First Order (which has taken over for the Empire) has the rebellion just about finished as they force the Resistance fighters, led by Leia, off their base world and chase them through space, decimating the Resistance fleet in the process. Rey is now in charge of the Millenium Falcon, Han Solo’s old ship, with Chewbacca still the co-pilot. Finn is en route with Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) to the casino on Canto Bight to find a hacker DJ (Benicio del Toro) who can disable the First Order tracking device use to trail the Resistance. Del Toro is not the only “big name” appearing as a secondary character. Laura Dern plays Vice Admiral Holdo, a part that creates friction but ultimately redemption.

Last Jedi 4 Near the end, the Resistance lands on an old base world called Crait and braces for a final assault being led by Kylo Ren, who has taken over as Supreme Leader after killing Snoke. Just when things look darkest, Luke arrives on Crait to confront Kylo alone, after giving him the same warning Obi-Wan gave Darth Vader back in Episode 4—“If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can imagine, and will be with you always”. Of course, Kylo ignores the warning, and puts Luke down.

The film makes impressive use of CGI, and despite cutting back and forth between scenes and plot lines, the action remains easy to follow (for the true fans). We still have one film to go in the current trilogy, and one wonders how Leia’s character will be handled since Miss Fisher’s untimely death. Tom Hardy, British Princes William and Harry all had cameos as Storm Troopers in Last Jedi, which runs two and a half hours.

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Justice League Almost Great

Justice League 4

First off, let me say that for us JL purists, this is not exactly a Justice League film. Cyborg (Ray Fisher) didn’t get involved with the league until near the onset of the 21st century. Where are Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter (both scheduled for the sequel), Hawkman and The Atom? The villain here, Steppenwolf, was basterdised from a fairly new JL storyline, but was defeated thousands of years ago by a combined army of Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and gods (who appear to have included at least one Green Lantern Corps member).

Justice League 6

Batman (Ben Affleck) knows this from Lex Luthor’s notes left behind in “Batman vs Superman”, and he tries to put a team together with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to defeat the villain. He goes to Iceland to track down Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), who says he works better alone and turns him down. We later get reintroduced to Aquaman when Steppenwolf steals the Atlantean box. The three boxes are a source of pure energy that will allow the demonic villain to reshape Earth and replace humanity with his parademons.

Justice League 7

Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller) is more receptive. He is brilliantly cast here as a bit of a nerd. He tells Bruce he “needs friends” because he doesn’t quite get people. Also, he hates bugs , finds taller people intimidating, and has never been in a real fight, having mostly pushed people around. He becomes the film’s comedy relief.

There are plenty of violent but bloodless fight scenes, highlighted by crisp CGI effects and action that rivals any of the Marvel films. The script also is helped by a healthy dose of levity, such as when Barry asks Bruce what his super power is and Bruce replies “I’m rich”. After the villain is defeated with the help of the revived Superman, we cut to a shot of Bruce showing Alfred and Diana where the new League headquarters will be and end on a light note as Flash has challenged Superman to a race  If this is the future of the DC universe, bring it on.

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The Death of Radio in L.A.

100.3 FM logo  For fans of classic rock in  Los Angeles, the above logo has been their life’s blood for around 10 years—since the old KXEZ switched from pop-rock to the “classic rock” format. Now, news has come from CBS that in 30 days, The Sound will be gone, replaced by a “christian music” station, and people are outraged.

The Sound’s Facebook page has been filled with raunchy, derisive comments that make it quite clear—Los Angelinos do NOT want christian music to replace their favourite station. CBS is trying to make excuses to validate this change, but they are falling on deaf ears.

Chief Jack In Studio With Glasses After many decades in this business, I understand the desire of station management to want to occasionally try something new in hopes of shaking things up, and the results can get wicked, and it’s not only the listeners who get hurt. Sometimes the on-air talent also suffers. I recall one station I worked at that made an unannounced switch from rock to country. I opted to stay with the station and “boned up” on country music and artists and returned on the air within days with a somewhat expert knowledge of the format, but every other member of the “air talent” opted to ditch the station and seek employment elsewhere. As luck would have it, the country format took a header within months, and the station used me as their “lifeline” to bring the old listeners back.

Chief Jack Singing in Studio in 2000  People bond with the persons they hear on the radio, and to this day, there are legendary radio voices almost everyone has heard of—like Wolfman Jack, Dan Ingram, Uncle Bruce Morrow, or Dr. Don Rose. If the show host has “inside info” on the artists he plays, it helps strengthen that bond.  Some hosts use jokes or sound effects to embellish their “schtick”. I used a blend of news tidbits coupled with “inside info” and scientific facts, opinion pieces, and an occasional live song to liven things up. That never changed no matter what kind of music I played, and this gave fans of rock, country, pop, and even classical music a chance to hear what my show was like.

With this decision by 100.3 The Sound, fans are harping that this will kill radio in Los Angeles. Their heartfelt mail points out that there are two other “underperforming” christian stations (K-WAVE and The Fish) already operating here. One fan wrote “This is L.A. If you want to hear Gospel, move to Kentucky”. They say there are no other “real” classic rock stations in town because the others play “too structured and repetitive content”. They mourn the loss, years ago, of the previous station of choice, KMET (which The Sound often mentioned). 100.3 catered to the fans with things like “Triple Play Thursday” and the “Classic Rocker of the Day” (which I once won). The last  time another L.A. station made the kind of move KXEZ did with The Sound was also a CBS station when 93.1 FM (Arrow 93) became Jack FM (“playing what we want”), and that format quickly soured and became more like “top 40” format.

The passing of The Sound is being equated with the death of radio in Los Angeles, and I agree with that allegory. This is just another typical California mistake that shows California itself is dying a slow death.

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The Orville May Not Be Enough Spoof

Orville 3  Seth McFarlane believes he has the perfect sci-fi spoof for us with The Orville. After the pilot episode, it looks like no one believes him—not even the Fox Network, which has only commissioned 3 more shows as of September 10. Here’s the lowdown:

Seth McFarlane returns home to find his wife in bed with a blue-skinned alien, after which he walks out on her. Fast-forward a year later and Seth’s Captain Ed Mercer character gets his own command—the exploration ship The  Orville. He meets with the crew and his officers—Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerrald), chief medical officer; Gordon Malloy (Scott Grimes), helmsman and his best friend; Lt. Commander Bortus (Peter Macon), second officer from a single-gendered species; John LaMarr (J Lee), navigator; and Isaac (Mark Jackson), a Kaylon artificial life form that considers humans inferior. He has no first officer but learns one will join him on his initial mission. Turns out that officer is his ex-wife. So far this sounds too much like my life to be comfortable.

Orville 4 There is a plethora of strained divorce one-liners here but a few funny moments, such as when Bortus informs Mercer that his race only excretes waste once a year. As the story moves on, Mercer’s crew has to secure a time-advance device that a scientist says can be used to solve the problem of feeding colonists but could also be used as a weapon.

Orville 1 This could be a good alternative as a comedic Star Trek parody, but it tries to be too serious while exploring for laughs where no man has gone before—except for Mel Brooks, who went there with more flair and aplomb in “Spaceballs” years ago. Overall, I don’t find McFarlane to be an adequate comic persona, and I don’t think America is ready for a Star Trek spoof—especially when it has so little to offer. At least the special effects are fairly good, but won’t be enough to save this travesty.

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