Thursday, May 28, 2015

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S2E11: Murder Digs Deep


Jessica travels to a small archaeological dig site in New Mexico to do some hands-on research for her newest book. The crew is worried when a man wearing traditional Anasazi garb appears on top on a nearby bluff and tries to put an ancient Indian curse on them. They're relieved to be curse-free when he falls to his death, but was the fall really an accident? Jessica suspects otherwise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S2E10: Sticks & Stones


When Cabot Cove's reliable old Sheriff Amos retires, real estate huckster Harry takes over. After the episode's second murder, he muses, "I'm starting to hate this job," as if he didn't put much thought into taking a law enforcement job in the murder capitol of the United States. Meanwhile, the citizens of Cabot Cove (who are clearly desensitized to such violence) seem more concerned by the chaos-sewing anonymous letters everyone in the town is receiving. One woman, convinced by a letter that Jessica Fletcher is sleeping with her husband, attacks Jessica with her purse.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S2E9: Jessica Behind Bars


Jessica is teaching a writing class at a local women's prison when the prison doctor is murdered and a riot breaks out. The prisoners gain control of the facility and she is taken hostage. Everyone keeps saying that the police will "shoot their way in" unless Jessica can solve the crime. To do so, she befriends a rag-tag group of inmates, including spouse-killer Mary, streetwise Tug, demure Louise, hefty Bertha, and trigger-happy Kat.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S2E8: Dead Heat


Her amateur sleuthing has regularly put her in danger, but Jessica faces the most bizarre attempt on her life yet during her investigation into the murder of a racehorse owner. As she confronts a conspirator in the barn, he notes that the prize-winning horse "never did like people" and releases it from its stall, hoping it will murder her. She is saved by a stableboy named Cookie.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Manager's Lament: Why Thor Is the Most Relatable Avenger

Iron Man is a successful American businessman. Captain America is a working-class soldier who grew up in Brooklyn. Black Widow was forced by a strict parental figure down a career path that she never wanted. Hawkeye is a family man who loves home renovation projects and recreational archery. Hulk is a guy who made one really bad mistake at work and has regretted it ever since.

And Thor? Thor is a member of a highly advanced alien race, is practically indistinguishable from a god, wields a magic hammer that can transport him through space, and is heir to his culture's throne.

Thor is also the Avenger I can relate to more than any other. Why? Because all his problems are managerial.


Sure, Tony Stark might be the figurehead of Stark Industries, but it's been clearly documented that he leaves the day-to-day operation of the company in Pepper Potts' hands while he focuses on inventing the deadly mistakes he'll have to address three movies from now.

Thor, though. Thor just wants to do his day-to-day work. He wants to get out there into the Nine Realms and smash some rock monsters and bust some heads with Mjolnir, then hit the bar for HH after he clocks out and try to get into that Party Thor mindset. But it's never that simple. The Asgardian bureaucracy is a crushing avalanche of performance evaluations and strategic planning.

Just look at the staffing issues he has to deal with. How do you best determine on which projects to leverage the skills of the Warriors Three? Sure, they're usually pretty effective. But their adherence to Asgardian brand standards is questionable and they give zero craps about red tape. Classic loose cannons. They get the job done, and their boss has to swoop in afterwards to do damage control on those upset by broken protocol and the like. But what's Thor going to do, NOT utilize the W3? There's so much overhead invested in them––hell, Volstagg's incidentals alone have got to be through the roof––that Thor probably can't justify NOT using them.

I don't care which star your hammer was forged inside the heart of, that's a thorny management issue. And sure, sometimes Thor can bump this stuff up the ladder to Odin (by the way, did I mention the added stress of being groomed to inherit the family business?), but let's be honest. Half the time Odin is either abusing loopholes in company policy to go on vacation––my workplace's time-tracking utility does not offer "Odinsleep" as a valid reason for missing work, does yours? I say thee nay––or he's playing little corporate mind games in the name "preparing Thor for the burden of leadership." After all, what was Thor's banishment to New Mexico if not an extended culture and values workshop?

I guess it's not all bad for Thor, though. He did certainly enjoy working with those external vendors on Midgard.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are You Band Enough? Music Reviews: Stan Bush's The Ultimate: Track 5: "Stand in the Fire"


"Caught in between the fire and the flame/ You gather your strength as you take deadly aim"

You've heard of being caught between a rock and a hard place. What could be worse than that? Being caught between two deadly things that are the same deadly thing. And the only way out? Burning away all your weaknesses!

If "Heat of the Battle" is the perfect song to accompany bone-crushing karate tournament action, then "Stand in the Fire" is its prequel, the aural embodiment of the blood, sweat and tears you expend during your pre-battle training montage. This is despite appearing two tracks later in order of songs on The Ultimate. Clearly this was done with purpose, to drive home the fact that life itself is not a chronological journey but a collection of moments throughout history that can strike at any time.

The construction of the song cleverly mirrors the struggles of training. The song's signature guitar riff is extremely technically complex. It must've taken forever to perfect, just like how it takes years to hone the 70 Snake Palm Strike technique. But when that riff gives gives way to devastating power chords in the pre-chorus, that's when you set your new record for maximum bench press weight. And reps.