This post took me back to my human osteology days! On another note, it’s interesting how there is an obvious similarity between the skull and dentition of a juvenile skeleton and the artistic recreation of what aliens look like (called skitters – see a picture here) in the American TV series FALLING SKIES

Sarvodaya

The following caption, as well as the photo, is courtesy of io9:

Inside the mouth of every child is a terrifying double row of teeth. Not that you’d ever know it — muscle, skin and bone prevent most of us from ever catching a glimpse of this extra dentition. Here’s your chance to get a close-up look at what lies beyond the gum line.

On some level, most people probably recognize that a child’s erupting permanent teeth have to be situated more or less right on top of their smaller predecessors, in order to dissolve their roots and ultimately replace them (a process known as exfoliation).

What many fail to appreciate, however, is just how little room there is for exfoliation to take place. This picture [click for hi-res], taken by photographer Stefan Schäfer at the Hunterian Museum in London, reveals several permanent teeth…

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I haven’t watched all the 2006 and 2008 acts but these are some of my favorites from Amnesty International‘s The Secret Policeman’s Balls at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

I’m also looking foward to watching the The Secret Policeman’s Ball 2012 too, which took place in Radio City Music Hall, New York City on March 4, 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of Amnesty. I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing as the other two! It’s definitely high up on my list of things to watch!

 ~ Enjoy!!



As I don’t have a suitable topic for my post today, I thought I’d pass along this beautiful video-message shared by fellow blogger Romney – may it inspire us all to live up to our full potential!

Sarvodaya

This is one of the most touching narratives I’ve seen in some time. You need to see it to believe it.

I wonder if I would turn out any better if I were in this young man’s shoes. It takes an exceptional person to make due with such difficult circumstances, let alone achieve greatness.

Hat tip to my good friend Javier for sharing this with me.

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We’ve all grown up with a range of children’s cartoons and somehow many of them are able to brave the test of time and the so-called generational gaps. It’s through the continuous marketing and re-marketing of these icons that they avoid retirement, I suppose. Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, Sailor Moon, Tom & Jerry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Care Bears are all characters that send me whizzing back into my childhood days…

And growing up in Japan, one big favorite was always Hello Kitty! Imagine my curiosity and excitement when I came across a tweet by fellow Kobe-ite @HirokoTabuchi, where she put up an image of Hello Kitty’s skeleton! Now, having studied osteology, I find everything with bones exciting. [I’m more into human bones, but then, Hello Kitty is as much human as anyone else!] So thus I was introduced to the works of Michael Paulus.

The time has come to share this fascinating artwork with all of you. Although there are a grand total of 22 characters that Michael Paulus has experimented with, I only show Hello Kitty and Snoopy here. If you’d like to see the rest – or rummage through his other handiworks – I encourage you to visit his website or etsy shop.

An interesting blog post by Jeremy is also worth a look, especially as explained herein is how and why Michael Paulus decided to draw cartoon skeletal systems.

Fascinating stuff…enjoy!

P.S. Michael Paulus, if you are reading this, how about one on Doraemon too…I love him!

** This episode review may contain possible spoilers** If you would like to see a review of Alcatraz 1×01 please click here.

I guess the majority of surprises were packed into the first episode of FOX Network‘s Alcatraz, making this following episode (airing back to back with the pilot) seem mediocre and dull in comparison. The only saving grace are the plot twists which are not only relegated to the last portion of the show, unlike the pilot.  If you would like to read my commentary for Alcatraz episode 1, or learn about the basic storyline of the series, click here.

It becomes evident in episode 2 that Alcatraz Island is henceforth referred to as the Rock. This name may have been used since the pilot (though I can’t say I was paying that much attention if so) but became more noticeable and normal in the present episode. Does this have a historical basis, I wonder? Because if it was made up just for primetime television, the Rock is a pretty lame name to give Alcatraz. The original name is so much more alluring and happening… Also, since everyone has been calling Diego (Garcia) by the nickname Doc since midway into the pilot, even Hauser (Neill), I guess I’m going to have to switch it up too…..just to follow the crowd 😀 (I prefer calling him Soto, so I continue to do so in my Quotes section)

Favorite Quotes:

Unknown: Hey we got a new fish boys!
Unknown: Welcome to the big house!
[Indistinct chatter from the rest of the prisoners]

Cobb: I want[ed] a transfer, not murder
Warden: 10 years on the Rock, you’d be the first to come willingly. What made our little island your favorite destination?
Cobb: A private cell…My own private cell

Hauser: [smirking] How’s the new partner working out…

Madsen: Alcatraz. Another killer back from the Rock, we got two days to catch him

Hauser: You wanted children…go babysit
Lucy: You know Emerson…they’re not so bad

Soto: I’m afraid I’m not going to be good at it
Madsen: Well too late, you already are

Thoughts:

In this episode, we are shown a Madsen (Jones) that enacts the role of older sis and guardian to the excitable yet scared Doc (pictured). Either way, Madsen coaches him and gives him advice on how to handle crime scenes – all the time with Hauser being skeptical about his use to the investigation (and organization). Describing himself as a civilian authority working for a secret task force, Doc is no expert at the secret thing, and is more than appreciative of Madsen’s support while he settles in. It’s nice to see that not everyone can suddenly be put into a covert operation and immediately, without training, keep their jobs and roles under wraps from the ‘general public’!

We also learn that Madsen needs to recreate things, whether it is acting out the shootings (pictured) or getting into the headspace of inmate Ernest Cobb (Egender) by being in his cell with his things. This aspect of her character was absent in the pilot episode. I hope she continues as I’d like to keep track of her recreations if possible, especially as it is technique used by many of televisions cop crime fighters (just look at Criminal Minds).

Patterns are important to Madsen, as she does not believe in coincidence or randomness. Therefore, she goes out of her way to understand the order of prisoner Ernest Cobb’s behavior. It seems the TV show will take the approach that randomness cannot exist in homicides or any type of violence. I won’t fault Alcatraz too much for following this very simplistic idea, as long as continuity remains in her thought process and doesn’t vacillate through the varying episodes. Someone should still notify the writers of the show that interesting cases can still be solved even if the characters make random moves. Thus, it’s unsurprisingly that Madsen, with the help of Doc and Lucy’s computer skills, is able to find what links and determines Cobb’s victim pool. [FUN FACT: how come all TV shows never show how characters like Lucy or Doc have the mad skills to operate these humongous multi-screens (pictured) that seem to show exactly the information wanted (with parameters of course) without training? I thought people had computer technicians for these things…so how can a PhD Diego Soto and the task force lab assistant Lucy Banerjee (Nagra) have these expertise? I guess lab assistant also stands for computer geek but that doesn’t explain how she learnt her trade…]

Reflections:

It annoys me when a crime procedural, because that’s what I am going to categorize Alcatraz as, doesn’t follow protocol. Its Doc and Madsen’s first case and they’re picking up shell casings from the crime scene without gloves! Arg… I know it’s a small mistake, but it irks me! And to top it off, a ballistics report is ready only 2 hours after they contaminated retrieved it. That too, without any explanations! Unbelievable…

Also, this episode gives more insight into the lives of the prisoners. They seem to have a level of camaraderie, not just in the present day – 2012 – but also back in the 1960s. The flashbacks seems to show them as a real family, with the silent, annoying, talkative, and empathetic prisoners all under one roof. It’s clearly not an ordinary family, but it makes the inmate characterizations more realistic and human(e). Although the lack of evidence in this ‘most dangerous jail’ of strictness and power control by the authority over those brought here makes this particular aspect of the show seem lightweight. They know each other by name, you don’t see too much violence from the guards to the inmates, and it’s reminiscent of a parent-child relationship. This is clear during the look that passes between Jack Sylvane (the inmate from the first episode played by Jeffrey Pierce) and Ernest Cobb in the new cell block, where they secretly acknowledge each other as if they are both part of the same operation – which may well be true. I’m hoping more depth to their relationship with the next few episodes. There is ample opportunity to do so because the show follows a wonderful formula where the prisoners’ flashbacks converge and overlap – piecing together more of a common story web that gradually gives us a fuller picture (reminding me of why I enjoyed Lost so much).

I’m happy I mentioned Lucy’s lack of a role in the pilot because I was presently surprised by the leaps and bounds of character development (at least for the audience) for Lucy in this episode. If you missed my earlier spiel about Lucy, read about it here. For that matter, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the episode was titled ‘Lucy’ and not ‘Ernest Cobb’. Lucy is in charge of questioning Jack Sylvane. Not only does Lucy seem to be at the center, or at least the periphery of the time-space continuum taking place in the show, she also seems to have a relationship with the inmates from the 1960s that Hauser may or may not know about. Now the question remains, are Lucy Banerjee and Lucille Sen Gupta the same person or different people? While this episode was not explicit about Cobb’s appointed task that I suppose all released prisoners get upon entering 2012, an important plot twist happens between Cobb and Lucy (while babysitting our lead duo) that will need some deliberation [Note: I can’t give all the spoilers away!] And if there wasn’t enough Lucy-centered stuff going on already, she also seems to have a romance going with Hauser! Their eye contact, his smile, her sweet words, the comment about her wanting kids, and of course the warm hand-pat (pictured) all points to them being very close – not much like a lead investigator and his assistant – but who knows. Now this is a romance I didn’t think was possible, otherwise I would have mentioned it in my first commentary, but it’s definitely wanted. I love blooming relationships in TV shows whenever they are offered! Lovers or not, the concern and regard for Lucy that Hauser holds is very endearing, stark clear when Hauser ruthlessly injures Cobb even after he’s been caught by Madsen.

Finally, a little note on Alcatraz’s comedy. I originally thought Doc had all the funny lines in this show, but this episode was brimming with Hauser’s dry humor and facial expressions (i.e. glares and scowls). Nice to see that the job of comic relief will be relegated to two characters, not just one, for the series! Or at least, so I can hope…

** This episode review may contain possible spoilers**

If FOX Network‘s pilot episode of J. J. AbramsAlcatraz had to be described in one word, it would be Q.U.I.R.K.Y! I’ve been looking forward to this TV show for 2-3 months now. A story about 302 inmates and security guards who disappear from Alcatraz island on March 20, 1963 without a trace….only to resurface one by one in 2012 not having aged a bit? Now that’s a storyline which has a lot of potential… Add to this mix J. J. Abrams’ creativity and you know you’re ready for some interesting subplots and character developments.

Favorite Quotes:

Soto: Diego Soto. Will you marry me?      — on introducing himself to Detective Madsen

Soto: No one ever escaped Alcatraz. Not to mention the guy looks exactly the same, which if you’re keeping score at home, isn’t possible.

Madsen: Tell you what, I’ll give you your prints back if you let me come with you
Hauser: Why?
Madsen: Because you gassed me and now you owe me one
Hauser: [thinks/sighs]…Don’t forget your lunchbox…

Soto: Is anyone else’s head exploding right now…?           — during the final revelations of the episode

Thoughts:

Jorge Garcia and Sarah Jones play Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto and Detective Rebecca Madsen, the principal lead duo in this series.  They definitely make for an unlikely duo, which was highlighted especially in the scene when they are walking together down into the guard barracks of Alcatraz (pictured). Now this is where it gets quirky, not only are they a wonderfully refreshing duo, but also very cute, and looking abnormally young. From the episode, it seems they should be around the same age, although that’s a guess at best, but they act as if they’re between 26 and 28 years old. They have a youthful angle to them that the Fringe duo Peter (Jackson) and Olivia (Torv) do not have – who seem to be in their mid-30s. Even though they have just met, Diego and Madsen get along amazingly and remind me of two kids with an inside joke during their conversations. Is it too early to hope for a romance between the young female detective who recently lost her partner and a history buff and Alcatraz expert who has a grand appreciation for comic books? 😀 [FUN FACT: When Madsen first met Diego at the comic book store, all the magazines on display are titled ‘ALCATRAZ‘]

On the other hand, this pilot of Alcatraz did nothing to elucidate the importance of Lucy Banerjee, played by Parminder Nagra, in the show. Other than learning that she has an awkward partnership with Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), we know nothing of her story yet. I’m expecting this to change in subsequent episodes. Lucy’s character reminds me a lot of Astrid (Jasika Nicole) from Fringe, who also didn’t seem to have much of a role in the beginning of the series. I’m hoping she’s got a dark and intriguing story that deserves the focus of an episode or two.

Reflections:

Hauser and Lucy were waiting for something to happen this whole time. The return of the prisoners was a planned event. The Alcatraz prisoners from March 20, 1963 were taken and sent back to the world by people who are probably not from this day and age… Each is given instructions to do something when they come back, but for what reward? Many revelations were made throughout the pilot that I enjoyed thoroughly, relating to Hauser’s history, Marsden’s grandfather, her partner, the security guards at Alcatraz, and much more. It’s interesting to question not only what the motivations for the prisoners’ return are, but also why these previous Alcatraz prisoners are being put into a newer Alcatraz cell that has been copied in design and structure?

Lastly, the irony behind ‘transfers’ is not lost in this episode. Not only are the inmates said to have transferred out of Alcatraz to another facility back in 1963, this is true but in another sense. Now they are being transferred to the year 2012 for as-of-yet undetermined reasons. On being captured, these inmates are locked up in cells that mimic their Alcatraz cell blocks. So there seems to be multiple transfers in time as they are transported through time from 1963 to 2012 and then put into jail cells that remind them of the past but are quite new. And finally, Madsen gets transfer orders to work with Lucy and Hauser, and I suppose her new partner Diego gets the equivalent of that for his transfer into the secret organization as well.

For a commentary on Alcatraz episode 2 click here!

Character Profile: Kenzi

January 5, 2012

Ksenia Solo plays Kenzi in Showcase‘s tv series Lost Girl (2010-present). Her presence brings a breath of fresh air and comedy to the show. Without the neon highlights in her hair, fabulous wigs, and the oodles of fashion tips in each episode (especially her boots!), it would be like watching the Batman films with sidekick Robin missing in action.

Memorable moments include the random fits of Russian dialogues from Kenzi, her street-smart attitude, and the glittering chemistry between main character Bo (a femme fatale succubus played by Anna Silk) and Kenzi.

Ksenia Solo gets a tip of my imaginary hat for her acting skills in this one…what a lovable bad-ass chick this mere human is! Go Kenz!