Monday, March 26, 2012

MacGyver Mondays: "Target MacGyver" (Season 1, Episode 10)

Title: Target MacGyver
Airdate: 12/22/1985
My Age at Airdate: 2 years, 5 months, 6 days
Episode Type: Wilderness Escape, Harry (I'll be labeling episodes by recurring characters, too)

I'm so close to getting back to the state of caught-uptitude that I was at when I started this feature. Hopefully this week is the week I finally have a backlog again!

Isn't this week's title intriguing and exciting?? Finally, someone is going to target MacGyver!


A rolling wave sets the scene at a beach where hot, bikini-clad women are walking, playing volleyball and everything. MacGyver is creeping around the side of a house. I hope this isn't where he becomes the Target...of a Peeping Tom lawsuit. Nope. There are two men inside with shoulder holsters on. One of them goes to the kitchen to get binoculars to better scope the babes (my words, not his). And tied up and gagged in the middle of the room is a woman in uniform. MacGyver refers to her as a "Lady General" which is only mildly condescending. If he rescues her and one of the ways he helps her blend in is by putting her in a bikini, well, I just don't know what I'll do...

The door is locked, so he pulls out his Swiss Army Knife and picks the lock. Easy Peasy.

He is in a kitchen. So he pulls some carrots out of the fridge. (PS. Maybe I've seen this before or maybe I just know Mac that well, but I bet, in the midst of the preparations, he takes some bites of carrot) Now some ice and a large tray. He puts the ice in a bag and sets it on top of a turned-over frying pan. He piles up all the pots and pans he can find on top of the bag of ice. He opens the microwave oven door and turns it on, basically creating a timer. Then he puts dish soap all over the floor. I just remembered exactly how the carrots tie in. He goes back outside and waits until the ice melts and all the pots and pans come crashing down.

The goons go into the kitchen and slip and fall. Mac comes into the room and goes to free the general, but she's handcuffed to the chair! So Mac just slides the chair, General and all outside, putting her to one side of the door. On the other side of the door is a garden hose. He stretches the hose across the floor in front of the door and when the goons rush out, trips them and they go tumbling into the sand. He grabs a beach chair (a deck chair? you know, like at the pool.), puts it on top of them and holds it there while he disarms them. He then grabs the conveniently placed cordless phone and calls the authorities.

So that's it. And the carrot? Just a healthy snack. Seriously.


So MacGyver is dressed like a ninja sneaking into a nuclear refining plant. He is there to sabotage/blow it the hell up. He's walking around, placing remote charges like he's playing a real life game of Goldeneye. He grabs his remote and blows it the hell up. Lots of explosions BOOM BOOM BOOM. And MacGyver watches in awe. And then it freeze frames, end of scene. That was weird. It was like a second opening gambit. That little adventure will probably tie in, though.

So MacGyver is driving his Jeep Cherokee Chief to his house. He parks, checks out some bikini-clad chicks and goes up to his apartment. Standing outside his door, he senses something is amiss. He turns off the overhead light and turns on HIS BLACKLIGHT THAT HE HAS INSTALLED OVER HIS DOOR. And there, clear as day, are two foot prints on the mat. So, whenever MacGyver leaves his apartment, he covers his welcome mat in blacklight sensitive dust, in case someone stands on the welcome mat while they break in? Paranoid, yes. But I suppose with good reason.

He slowly walks in. We see a guy lying on his couch. He checks the mail, goes to the fridge for some OJ. And says, "Well?" and just goes into a conversation with the guy who I guess is some sort of government agent. The agent tells him he's a TARGET. When he blew up the nuclear place, he was ID'd. The bad guys have sent a guy named Axminster to come kill him. The agent tells him to leave town. Mac very mysteriously tells him he's been meaning to take a particular trip. He says that he doesn't need to know where he's going, he just needs to take care of Axminster.

Now, normally, I'd wait until I see Axminster and then I'd nickname him like normal. But there are a couple of times on this show when I'm not going to do that. Not that Axminster is a big villain, but if the writers are going to go to the trouble to set up that he's this guy and here's his name and make us wait to meet him, then I'll use his name. I'll also use the real names of Pete Thornton, Jack Dalton, Penny Parker, and Murdoc because they're recurring characters.


So now MacGyver is on a bus. Talking to a hayseed country guy who's reading a tabloid and is very concerned about aliens.

MacGyver reveals that he's going to visit his Grandfather, Harry, who he hasn't seen since he was ten and he's the only family MacGyver has.

Cut to the phone ringing in MacGyver's apartment. It's Harry, leaving a message to tell him not to come. He's too busy. He sounds like a grumpy man. The kind of man that MacGyver will age into based on some of the offhand remarks he makes in his internal monologues.

There's a guy listening in to the message Harry leaves. When Harry speculates that MacGyver is probably already on his way, WireTapper calls Axminster over. Harry leaves the phone number for the general store where Mac could reach him. So WireTapper is going to trace that number and just like that, Axminster is hot on MacGyver's trail!

So the bus is now traveling up a road through the middle of the woods. And now it's stopping at MacGyver's stop. He greets Harry who is, indeed grumpy and old. Wait. Hold on a second. MacGyver just said he hasn't seen Harry in "sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years" and he said before that he last saw him when he was ten. I'm 28. Which means that, when this episode takes place, and if MacGyver's math and memory are correct, then Mac is AT MOST as old as me. He may be as much as 2 years YOUNGER! My mind is blown, people.

They exchange some awkward conversation. Harry is surly as a character can be. And I think Mac likes that. They head off in Harry's truck.

WireTapper is on the phone doing the typical "I'm on the phone, but I'm receiving information" grunts and murmurs. He gets off the phone and tells Axminster that the number Harry gave was for a general store in Colorado. And the people at the general store know where Harry lives. Axminster nods and they both get in the car and drive off. I think WireTapper is going to be the voice that we hear of the Axminster crew. Maybe I should call him the Voice of Axminster.

Haha. Harry keeps grabbing MacGyver's bag and carrying it for him. It's a small thing, but it's so cutting. Good job, Harry-Actor. I always liked how Harry calls Mac "Bud". It's endearing.

They talk about Harry's wife and Mac asks if her dying was why Harry left the family. This is actually interesting. MacGyver just brought up the fact that Harry was there when Mac's Dad died. This is interesting because later in the series, there's a flashback episode (I think) where both of Mac's parents die in the same car accident. I'm not POSITIVE, but pretty sure. Someone remind me of this episode when we get to that other episode.

They talk a little more and I think Mac says what he has been wanting to say to Harry for years. Which is good.

Meanwhile, Axminster has arrived in the area. Changed from his black suit into khakis and a khaki hat. He has seven guys with him and they have 2 jeeps between them. Do you think this show had a deal with Jeep?

They drive down the road and Axminster looks menacing.

Harry and Mac are eating. More awkward, tough conversation. Mac is trying to break through, but Harry has put up a lot of walls. Mac sees a duck call that he made fore Harry when he was 10. I bet that comes back later.

Axminster's men are running to surround the cabin. And BOOM they break in. But there's no one in there. Mac and Harry are already out fishing. It's so peaceful out on the lake. But there's a lot of emotional turmoil between these two men.

MacGyver catches a fish. He starts to reel the fish in when all of a sudden there's a gunshot and the line breaks. Mac and Harry dive overboard. Someone is shooting at them (Stormtrooper Aim) so they run to the reeds. Mac cuts a couple reeds and grabs a bit of bark. He shoves the reeds into the log and sends it floating out on the water. Axminster and his men think it's them trying to get by by staying under water. And it works!

Harry and Mac have been able to get a little distance on them. They come along a plant that has paralyzing capabilities. Hahaha. Harry pulls out HIS swiss army knife and starts cutting the plant. Mac goes out and gets the fixins for a blowgun. He has to hit the target just exactly in the neck for this to work. This episode is fun because you get to see where MacGyver gets some of his survival skills.

So he's dipping darts in the milky stuff in the middle of the plant. Harry suggests that they make a false trail. Two guys find the trail and follow it out to the middle of a stream. Mac hits one right in the neck and he falls. Mac hits the other guy in the arm, so Harry emerges from one of the storm pipes they're standing near and clubs him.

Suddenly, there's Axminster's jeep, so they're on the run again. Harry stops MacGyver and demands to know what the hell's going on. MacGyver explains the situation....kind of.

MacGyver: It has to do with Freedom and Peace, Harry. And some people who don't like either
Harry: Well I sure hope it's worth losin' that damn trout.

Harry tells Mac that there's a town up in the high desert that has a phone line. It's 10-12 miles away so they're going to have good bit of running. They stop after a bit and begin to set several things in motion. MacGyver reminds Harry about when Harry taught him about decoys. He throws his jacket down from the tree he has climbed and tells Harry to fill it with pine needles so that it looks like a man. Mac starts cutting a bough he's near with a sharp stone.

Mac has seen the two jeeps from up in the tree. He saw that only one of them split off to come their way. But Axminster realizes that the jeep he's in (the one Mac saw NOT coming toward them) is probably headed the wrong way. So they turn around and radio the other guys to keep looking.

The first jeep approaches and Harry tosses the filled vest out in front of them as Mac jumps on the cut bough and it falls on their jeep. It veers off the road and is incapacitated (to MacGyver's dismay. This would be easier if they had a jeep to use. Jeep. Making things easier no matter WHAT life throws at you. Visit your local Jeep dealer today.) and the driver and passenger are knocked out.

Axminster's jeep is speeding up the road, so Harry and Mac start running again.

MacGyver starts loading his backpack with pinecones. He explains to Harry that, with a little bit of pine pitch, you have the makings of a land mine (because pinecones explode when you throw them in a fire).

They run a little further and then bury a "land mine". They run off to hide as the jeep pulls up. Ok, so they're lighting the pine pitch on the cones and tossing them at the jeep. I guess they're aiming for the one they buried, which the jeep has stopped right above.

Harry throws one and Axminster turns and fires. Harry is shot in the arm. Mac throws the last pinecone and it hits the target. There's a BIG explosion and now everyone is on foot. Only now Harry is injured. Oh, I guess it's his stomach, but the bullet just grazed him. So all that it's going to do is slow them down. But it's ok because now they're in the town! Only, it's clearly been a couple years since Harry had been there, because this place is completely ghostified.

So all hope seems lost and Harry collapses on MacGyver.

MacGyver: Damn you, Axminster!

MacGyver mixes Fool's Gold with Clay to make a natural antibiotic to put on Harry's wounds.

MacGyver is almost as shifty about what he does for a living as Barney Stinson!

Harry is telling MacGyver about why he left and it's leaving me a little confused. He's saying something like "First your Grandmother, then your Mom...I just couldn't handle it." And I guess that means that at this point, it went Mac's Dad, Grandmother, then Mom, but before Harry had talked about sending money to him and his Mom. So when exactly did he leave? It's not super crucial, but it's kind of confusing when you start to try to piece it together.

It's actually quite touching to see Mac and Harry reconcile. And then Harry regains his composure and Mac goes off to scour the town for weapons.

The sun rises and Harry has gotten a good night's sleep, but Mac has been up all night preparing.

He has put some grain dust together to do a purposeful spontaneous combustion. It's so cool to watch them work together. They're doing all the normal MacGyver things: Cutting supporting columns, rigging remote triggers. Harry shows MacGyver some pine nuts that sound like gunshots when they get in a fire.

This escape is truly brought to you by Pine. From pine nuts, to pine cones, to pine nuts.

Axminster and his men walk confidently into town. They're professionals, you know.

Mac pours the grain dust down a funnel into a building. Harry gets two guys' attention so that they approach the door, then Mac sends a match down the funnel and KABOOM! I think that leaves a guy and Axminster.

Oh. Maybe one more guy than that.

Harry lights a barrel on fire and tosses the pine nuts in. A guy in a beret comes up to investigate the gunfire and Harry clubs him the same way he did the guy at the stormdrain.

Ok. So I guess NOW it's just them and Axminster. So, they walk and just as they get near the column they sawed, Axminster leaps onto Mac, knees him in the gut, stands and holds him at gunpoint.

Harry leaps in and knocks the gun aside. Mac has time to get to his feet and disarm Axminster. Harry coaches him, sees that the column is giving way. He yells "Now Bud!" and MacGyver leaps at the column, breaking it and burying Axminster in the boards of the balcony above them.

They're going to be ok. In more ways than one, you know?

They do a little epilogue of MacGyver bidding Harry goodbye. When Mac first got there, he held out his hand for a handshake and Harry took his bag instead. This time, Mac held out his hand and Harry goes in for the hug. Aww :) The music swells.

MacGyver: Hey Harry, catch that big ol' trout, will ya?
Harry: Count on it.

MacGyver gets on the bus and it drives away. All's well that ends well!

See you next week!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Genre-hopping with the New Countdown

You know, if I ever featured a band called The New Countdown, I would have to be very careful about how I titled the post.

Yes, I really felt like this week's countdown mixed it up pretty nicely. There weren't a lot of back to back songs of the same genre and that always feels like a win to me.

I heard from a listener that she made chicken while listening to last week's show. Has anyone else tried cooking to the countdown? That sounds like an Appetite For Distraction/I Sing in the Kitchen crossover show, doesn't it?

Countdown #96

The Black Keys
Foo Fighters
Foster the People
Fun. featuring Janelle Monae
Gotye featuring Kimbra
Rise Against
U.S. Royalty

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dessa: The Appetite For Distraction Interview 2

So, last year I was sitting around thinking and it struck me that it might be fun to send Dessa a bunch of questions. I did and she was kind enough to answer me faster than I could have imagined. This is the post I wrote last year based on her responses.

I've seen Dessa in concert twice more since then. One time on her solo tour and one time with Doomtree touring for No Kings. I have also been a part of the #Lithop book club on Twitter, where we have read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard. So when the same idea occurred to me this year, I felt a little better prepared for what I wanted to ask her. And I'm so pleased with the results. 

1. When I bugged you last year about what you were reading, you said you were working on Peoples History the United States. Are you still working on it?
People's History of the United States... beat me. Still haven't finished it, so embarrassing. Although this question is probably the cue that will prompt me to dust it off. 

(Maybe I'll bring this up in every interview while at the same time trying to finish it myself. You know, to create an atmosphere of needless competition)

1a. I find it almost overwhelmingly difficult to be reading more than one thing at a time. But I know some people that are actively reading something like 5 books at any given time. Where do you stand on this very important issue?

I usually do one, sometimes two titles at a time. A lot of my reading, however, is rather modular fare--short stories or brief essays. So the alternations between two texts isn't quite as taxing as it might sound. 

2. So, when I saw Doomtree in DC in February, POS (is it more acceptable to refer to him as Stef or POS?) said his new album would be coming out in the summer. Does this mean we won't see your album until the fall?

I'm still working on my album, so I'm trying to resist the impulse to plan for its release, although during moments of writer's block, planning a release party can seem like a walk in the park. 

3. Something that fascinates me about concerts is the idea of building a setlist. How do you, as a solo artist pick a setlist? How does that differ from how the whole Doomtree crew picks one? Do they vary over the course of tour or is there basically one set setlist for the entire thing? (Haha that's like three questions in one bullet's like a college exam. I will only be accepting answers in the approved Blue Book format.)

Doomtree's set list take a lot of things into consideration: BPM, mood, and featured performers. We try to pick a song sequence that won't have any one artist sitting on the bench for too long, or ask him or her to rap for too many songs without a breather. 

When drafting my own sets, I consider mood first and foremost--I don't like to juxtapose songs with wildly different tones, doleful to cocky, for example. Then I'll consider the key and instrumentation--don't want to put songs in the same key back-to-back because I think it flattens the dynamic. 

4. What songs/bands/albums have you been loving lately?
I've been listening to two songs by Jo-Jo on repeat. No one has been able to determine why I would do this.  

4a. Which two Jo Jo songs? (this is hard-hitting journalism, clearly :))

Leave and Too Little Too Late 

(I nearly bought both of these songs on iTunes, but I think the music videos will suffice. The thing is, I get why Dessa would dig these. JoJo is a very talented girl, the songs are poppy, sassy, and hip-hoppy. There are great hooks and they stick in your head. I get it.)

5. I have this theory about Doomtree and No Kings. The most exciting, dynamic parts of the album for me are when it goes Dessa into Mictlan. It happens on Bolt Cutter, it happens on Fresh New Trash, and I'm positive it happens elsewhere, too. I feel like it's so exciting because you two are like polar opposites. Is there any truth to that?

I think Mike and I definitely hold down the ends of the Doomtree spectrum. We are both, however, hopelessly hammy and campaign every year for some sort of costuming at the Blowout

6. How are you feeling about SXSW this year? It has to feel pretty good to go out there after such a successful album launch and tour.
SXSW is always a chaotic, bingy test of endurance. Some amazing music, some amazing lines, some amazing hairstyles, and some amazing hangovers. It's sort of like the State Fair, with skinny jeans. 

6a. In an email that she sent to me right after SXSW was over, Dessa had this to say about how it went.

SXSW kicked my ass. (It has always seemed to me that SXSW would kick anyone's ass, with performances sometimes STARTING at 2am or later)

7. How awesome is it about Lazerbeak's newest project (Baby Beak)? Is it finally time for DTR to unveil its new line of baby products? Onesies, "wings and teeth"ing rings, False Hopes lullabies EP, etc.

Lazerbeak and I sit next to each other in the backseat of the mini-van and most Thursdays (ultrasound day) I get an update of how big she is (often in terms of the fruit to which she can most readily be compared). Beak is one of my close friends and I'm so stupidly excited for him and Cam (his wifepiece). I'm excited to do a bit of vicarious living and find out how the arrival of his daughter will change his life. Seems like he's about to get snow-globed. 

8. Finally, my sister is visiting this week and since she's also a huge fan, I thought maybe it would be cool if she got to ask a question, too. So, here is the question from my (almost) 18 year old sister: if you could have dinner with any three people who are currently dead, who would they be and why?

I'm really not sure I'd want to meet any of my heros, because conversation would be forced and maybe they'd be jerks. I just don't think Marie Curie wants to talk to a lay person about radiation--she's probably all talked out on that topic. 

BUT, for the sake of speculation, if we can be assured that conversation would not be forced and they would not be jerks, I think I'd like to have sushi (because its my favorite) with Winston Churchill, Ryan Gosling, and da Vinci.  Just the three that came to mind. 

9. Ok she has now bullied me into giving her a second question and since it's one I wouldnt think to ask, I gave in: what is your favorite article of clothing?

A good pair of jeans is tough to beat. And they don't come easy

10. I thought I'd round this off at an even 10 questions and ask you what your favorite song from the year you were born might be.

Oh man, to be honest, I'd have to see a list of songs from '81. I'm lousy at music trivia--never seem to remember what came out first, which label bought which, or who was on the charts when. But I remember that "King of Wishful Thinking" was an early favorite--maybe the first that I plunked out on the Casio at home.  

[Ok, so "The King of Wishful Thinking" was released in 1991 and it was on the soundtrack to Pretty Woman. But I love it. So. What I'm going to do is threefold.

1. The video for the original song:

2. A New Found Glory cover that I love.

New Found Glory - King of Wishful Thinking from From the Screen To Your Stereo II

3. A song that I love from 1981 featuring a very Dessa-like female lead singer

Blondie - The Tide is High (I got it from Blondie's Greatest Hits)]

Thanks so much to Dessa for being a constant inspiration. And thank you for reading. Go to Doomtree's Website or the Doomtree Bandcamp page or Dessa's Bandcamp Page and just buy a whole bunch of stuff. They're also on iTunes, so I mean, if you have a Gift know....use it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

MacGyver Mondays: "The Prodigal" (Season 1, Episode 9)

Title: The Prodigal
Airdate: 12/8/1985
My Age at Airdate: 2 years, 4 months, 22 days
Episode Type: Witness Protection

Wow, so the big news for MacGyver Mondays is this: The Prodigal starts Disc 3 which I THOUGHT contained my all-time favorite episode "Countdown". But I was wrong! So now I have basically a month more to figure out if I'm going to do anything special with it. My friend Marc suggested I do a podcast for it. We'll see. Let's get into The Prodigal.

No opening gambit. You see how they are a very early first season thing? Yeah, me too.

OPENING CREDITS. I think by now all the episodes with clips in the credits have happened. Which is a cool place to be.

We're starting at the beachside. This was Mac's first house. A third story apartment on the beach. Takes me back.

A little MacGyver complaint about junk mail that makes him seem like a grouch. how endearing :)

A dude drives up in a nice sports car and MacGyver meets a shifty looking guy. He asks Mac if he can make him disappear. He's apparently going to testify against the mob.  Oh no! A car with two goons drives up and snatches Shifty before Mac can get to him.

MacGyver runs to the sports car and hotwires it (doesn't he have his own car? He has a jeep pretty early on, but maybe this is the push he needs to finally buy a car of his own) while the goons' car is being conveniently held up by a gigantic garbage truck making a 3-point turn in the middle of the road. Now, I didn't see Mac hit the "Activate Kidnapping Inconveniencing Device" button, but maybe it's on a remote.

He races past the garbage truck which is just SITTING there.

So the goons are taking Shifty to see his brother. So I'm thinking Shifty is The Prodigal?

They take him to a warehouse and MacGyver has caught up with them enough to see them go inside and start scoping out the security he's going to have to take out to get in and rescue Shifty.

Shifty's brother isn't there yet, so the goons go to have a cup of coffee and Shifty gets to wait. And MacGyver has time for sneaking around. Ooh, not much time though. There's The Brother. Maybe he's pissed that their Dad slaughtered the fatted calf for Shifty and not him and this is how the mob sorts that kind of thing out?

So first thing Mac is gonna do is to take the lugnuts off Brother's car. Setting the scene for hilarity later.

Brother wants to talk to Shifty. Their Dad is dead and Mom is in the hospital. Brother's mad because maybe Shifty's going to talk to the feds. Shifty doesn't like Brother's drugs. His friend at work recently OD'd, so he wants Brother to shut down the drug business.

Meanwhile, Mac is doing something with a wooden board, some duct tape, a circular saw, some other wood. I sense a distraction abrewin'.

Brother's side is that the kid would have gotten the drugs somehow and it's not his fault he OD'd. He just provides a service. A very lucrative service. And he's offended that his own brother would rat him out. So they're going to have to kill him. But Shifty wants Brother to do it himself.

MacGyver's making some elaborate distraction with the aforementioned stuff and a vacuum and some sawdust. BOOM! It goes off spectacularly and everyone is all blinded with sawdust.

So now they're on the run. They wait for the mobsters to get outside and see them in the sports car before starting to drive. Brother takes one shot (Stormtrooper Aim) and then they drive past them. If he had waited for them to get closer maybe he'd have hit something. But no. It's time for the mob to chase after them in their car. We zoom in on the missing lugnuts to remind us what Mac did and then Brother's tire falls off. That MacGyver. He sure can help a brother out.

Brother tells Uncle that he wants them both dead.

So now Mac and Shifty are back at Mac's place. They've cleaned off the sawdust and are changing into button-down shirts. Mac asks Shifty if he's going to testify. I guess I forgot to mention that both times Shifty has been asked about testifying, he's been really...well, shifty about it. He is wavering. But now the Federal Marshall that is coordinating the Witness Protection/MacGyver Bestfriendship program is here. And remember kids: if this guy has more than just a couple lines, he's probably working for the bad guys. Don't trust the government.

Ok, so he tells the Marshall that he'll talk. That's good. Another good thing, and I'm just saying this because I've found it to be true: Federal Marshall is black and so we can probably trust him. Probably. Basically the plan is that Shifty will go get deposed at some office and then I guess moved to another office? And then MacGyver will take him to get a new identity.

Oh, but first Shifty wants to go see his Mom at the hospital. This'll go well. Oh wait. There was a very subtle and quick shift. Shifty asks MacGyver to visit his Mom and let her know he's ok and that he loves her.

Cut to Mac finishing talking to Shifty's mom. She understands and then she tells MacGyver that she's going to die and soon. She asks MacGyver to tell Shifty she wants to see him before she goes. So MacGyver promises to tell him.

So Mac leaves her room and encounters Brother who is arriving with flowers. They slowly walk up to eachother. They agree not to have any trouble at the hospital. But Brother gives Mac a threatening message for Shifty.

He looks at the Federal Marshalls' car which is clearly labelled with a placard. Hmm....if I were in the mob....

So now Shifty is finishing up is deposition. The deposition was a doozie to judge from how the feds are treating him.

Federal Marshall meets Mac in the office lobby and says that MacGyver can't deliver Mom's message to Shifty. They already know that she's dying, but they don't want Shifty to know in case he wants to go visit her and Brother goes and shoots him on her deathbed.

MacGyver goes all constitutional on his ass. Federal Marshall counters with threatening the arrest of MacGyver in a strategy that wouldn't be too ridiculous even today. But then Mac starts making a scene. That calms Black Federal Marshall down, but he's not budging. Then MacGyver gives in a little too easily.

He leaves the building, goes and calls a tow truck. Then he pulls a valve on the Federal Marshalls' care and green liquid starts leaking everywhere. I guess it's antifreeze?

At this point, I don't suppose the mob is going to blow up Black Federal Marshall in his car like I was guessing.

Mac goes into a drug store and asks for a dozen mixed sodas, some dry ice, and some "fizzy dealies" (we're going to have to wait to see what he's talking about. maybe alka selzer? maybe pop rocks?).

He puts the dry ice in a ventilation shaft, pours some soda and pop rocks on it. It creates a fireless smoke effect and sends the feds into a panic. They're going to evacuate Shifty to the safe house.

The Federal Marshall's car drives off and Mac follows in a tow truck. So wait. Did he RENT a tow truck?

The car breaks down just as tow-truck MacGyver shows up. It's a good thing Black Federal Marshall isn't there (he's not. he stayed at the office to investigate the smoke) or else he would have recognized MacGyver.

I just had to go through and change all my "Federal Marshall"s to "Black Federal Marshall"s. It was awkward, but now there are two White Federal Marshalls, too. I didn't realize they'd be lasting characters. So that's just the way it is. Some things will never change. Sorry. I like that Bruce Hornsby song.

MacGyver's putting on his country hick voice. Which also has a little Brooklyn in. He hoists their car up, Shifty gets in the cab and they take off with the Federal Marshalls' car. Surely that's like a felony or something.

So the Feds commandeer a vehicle and follow him easily until Mac takes them down an alley and unhoists their car. Unhoists? You know what I mean, right? Like, lets it down and blocks their way.

Now we're at the hospital, but Mom isn't in her bed. Her bed is neatly made. But I've seen enough movies and TV shows with this twist to know that she's probably not dead. But maybe. You never know.

The nurse tells them that Brother has discharged her and taken her to the family home. It cuts to commercial on a freeze frame in the middle of their conversation. Shifty says he needs to see her even though it's almost certainly a trap. And then FREEZE. Go to commercial. It's awkward, you guys. Really awkward.

Fade back in with Mac and Shifty looking at the family home. We go inside and see Brother talking to Mom. She mistakes Brother for Shifty and when he corrects her, she looks....something. Disappointed? I don't know.

Ok, so Black Federal Marshall and all the others pull up to the house and ask to see Shifty. Uncle says he's not there (which is true) so the Feds decide to stake out the house. But only the front of the house. Not the side....

....where Shifty and MacGyver are jumping the wall. Shifty's going to go in, but he can't let the Feds see him going in or else they'll charge the compound.

Shifty walks into the compound. He's greeted by Brother. Shifty verbally jabs Brother and heads upstairs to talk to Mom.

Brother calls Black Federal Marshall and pretends to be Shifty. He tells BFM that he's at MacGyver's place and they all clear out. The cameras suddenly come back to life and a goon comes out of the house with the hounds. That's right. The hounds.

Shifty is talking to Mom. Reminiscing. She tells him it's her time. She tells him it's good to hold his hand again. And then she dies. Kind of a somber scene. Pretty touching soundtrack music.

Shifty looks out the window and sees that the Feds are gone. He pulls the curtains which is the signal to MacGyver that he's ready to go, but since it's not as simple as calling in the Feds, MacGyver has to devise something.

He quickly picks the lock with his to a side door Swiss Army knife before the hounds get to him.

Shifty encounters Brother and one of the goons in the hall. They take him off to kill him.

MacGyver rigs a trap on the stairs with a pole and some string. Brother and the Goon trip and fall down the stairs. Mac and Shifty run up the stairs and Fat Goon shoots one time at them (You guessed it. Stormtrooper Aim). This time, I understand only shooting once. A) They're running away from you and B) You're inside standing next to the owner of the house in which you're shooting. Probably not a good idea to get it full of holes.

M & S head for the back stairs, but Skinny Goon approaches from that way, popping a magazine into a rifle (semi automatic, I think, but I'm not sure). He is less concerned with damaging the house, clearly.

So our heroes turn tail and run for the attic. I was about to comment about them pulling the classic serial killer evasion tactic of going up instead out outside, but remember the hounds are outside. If all the buxom broads in the slasher movies had hounds to contend with, no one would make fun of them for running up the stairs.

But it's hard to imagine how they'll escape the attic.

Fat Goon lackadaisically throws himself against the door a couple times. And Skinny Goon shoots the door with his Automatic. But to no avail.

"[Shifty], what we need is wings"
--How great MacGyver solutions start

Looks like we're going with cleaning solution, camphor balls, a pulley and some extension cords. Shifty gives the obligatory sarcastic disbelief at what Mac is up to.

Oh and it looks like a flag and a telescope. They're making a rocket powered harpoon. I freaking love this show.

Meanwhile, two full clips and Fat Goon's shoving haven't moved what has to be the sturdiest cabinet ever placed in front of a door.

Mac fires the harpoon and the flagpole goes between two tree boughs. Excellent aim. Just superb, really. So, Shifty goes across the lawn on the wire-pulley contraption. He's safe. Mac follows. And he's safe! They make sure the other is ok. And THEN Brother gets into the room. That is some sturdy cabinetry.

The Feds show up and Brother is finished.

MacGyver: Regrets?
Shifty: Some, but, uh, that's how it's gonna end.
--The sign that the writer(s) used up all their juice in writing that rocket-powered harpoon bit and couldn't be bothered tagging the episode with a quirky and clever ending. The went the kinda meta route. Which is fine.

So, that's, uh, how it's gonna end for me too! Thanks for reading. See you next week!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Countdown: The Voice is Back! And it's working overtime!

No more croaking! Only some wild, youthful partying with a touch of rocking added to taste. Oh and more rambling than I've been doing recently (don't leave!). I'm liking where the countdown has been heading these past few weeks. What have you guys been thinking?

Also, has anyone come up with any Countdown #100 ideas? I certainly haven't.

Countdown #95

The Black Keys
Foo Fighters
Foster the People
Fun. Featuring Janelle Monae
Gotye Featuring Kimbra
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Rise Against
Young the Giant

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Off The Charts #4: Birthday 2011

So, it's super sad that I have to put 2011 on the title of the episode because I was ready for putting this up in like August. That would have been a very good time to do it, huh? But I didn't.

So, anyways. This is a podcast featuring a song from each blog that I followed on my birthday last year that POSTED on my birthday last year. I'm planning on doing it again this year, so if you're wanting to plan a special "James's Birthday post" then you might want to start planning now!

I was going to wait until the 16th or something so that it could at least be on the day of my birthday if not the month, but I figure I've waited long enough....DAMMIT and yesterday was the 16th. I didn't realize that until just now. Well, I'm certainly not waiting for April 16th. So, enjoy!

 Off the Charts #4: Birthday 2011

Artie Ziff
Elton John
Holy Shit
The Human League
Lenny Kravitz
The Smiths

Here are the websites I culled from:

Me Write Blog Good
The Vinyl Villain
Song, By Toad
I Sing In the Kitchen
Culture Pop
Cathedrals of Sound

I'll see you all next July 16, when I will hopefully be able to get the episode up in a more timely fashinon. And it'll almost certainly be longer too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I was going through my Google Reader feed and listening to some music and this caught my ear over at Listen Before You Buy

and here's the B-side:

Check out their Website and buy some music by these guys!
Also, go here and vote for them for Deli Magazine's Band of the Month!

Shy Around Strangers - "Never Look Down"

It's not often that you get the opportunity to get into a band with their very first single. Well, maybe YOU get that opportunity all the time, but it's not often that I do.

I got an email in the middle of last week from Shy Around Strangers asking me to check out their debut single.

It's called "Never Look Down" and, if all has gone according to plan, I have embedded it below this line.

Yay! Man, isn't Bandcamp amazing?

Anyways, listen to this song. Then download it (for FREE!) and listen to it again. It gets catchier with each listen.

The drummer does some awesome stuff with the hi-hat and that was what caught my ear initially. Emily Powers' voice is slightly scratchy but still delicate and that will get me every time. Plus the atmosphere of the song (and the album art) is kinda futuristic so you get this effect of like a seedy dive bar in 2050. Which is cool.

Shy Around Strangers will be releasing their debut EP in August and I will be anxiously waiting to hear more from them.

Visit them at their website! From there, you can follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, or Join the Mailing List!

Monday, March 12, 2012

MacGyver Mondays: "Hellfire" (Season 1, Episode 8)

Title: Hellfire
Airdate: 11/24/1985
My Age at Airdate: 2 years, 4 months, 8 days
Episode Type: Hellfire-fighting

Alright, well I know it's been two weeks since we've had a MacGyver monday, but hopefully you spent your time going over the previous 7 episodes and gearing up for HELLFIRE!

No Opening Gambit on this one. Too much Hellfire to combat, probably.


We open on a helicopter flying over a river. MacGyver is being dropped off by an oil derrick where a blonde girl and a guy recognize him and are pretty stoked to see him. He gives what looks to me like a sarcastic salute to the helicopter pilot.

WHOA. The blonde is that girl from Deep Space Nine with the messed up nose. Marc knows who I mean. I think her name is Nana Visitor.

Two guys are talking oil. They hit liquid so that means there's oil or something. It's all very technical. 

The one guy comes over and starts talking to MacGyver and the other one stays on the derrick. If I have my guess, that other dude is going to probably explode. These are the costs of not going over and greeting MacGyver. But, I suppose, being friends with MacGyver means that sometimes you get devoured by ants, so maybe it's a wash....

Huh. The guy didn't explode. He gets to meet MacGyver and they're all very jovial and everything.

This is seriously such a technical episode. Maybe one of the writers had a background in oil drilling.

Plus, MacGyver can juggle!

Oops! A fuse blew. Well, thank God MacGyver's here. This is like "MacGyver Helps Around the House". So he's going to wrap the foil gum wrapper around the fuse (because it's the only one they have) and provide a temporary fix. He's so helpful.

So I guess the main guy got super burned "fighting Hell" which I guess is some sort of firefighting or something. Anyone have an idea of what "hellfighting" is?

Star Trek Girl is telling MacGyver about how Main Guy put all of their savings into the derrick out front and it's basically all they have left. And if it doesn't work, Main Guy goes back to hellfighting. And that's bad.

So they confirmed that they are tapping into an oil vein and everyone's celebrating. Something bad is about to happen with these lightbulbs. A gust of wind has cracked one and it sparked and now the derrick is on fire. So basically, if MacGyver hadn't fixed the fuse, things would be okay. There's a lesson in there, kids: Never Help.

So Second Guy's leg just got crushed by some pipes and they're trying to get it off of him before he burns up. Ok he's free, but man that derrick is exploding and flaming and i think it just destroyed their house, too. So....that's a problem. And I would imagine that it'll keep burning until they fix it or it runs out of oil. So, I guess it's the former that we're going to try.

Second Guy has a fractured leg so he can't help. MacGyver distracts him with scientific mumbo-jumbo and quickly straightens the leg so he can put a splint on. It's kind of funny in a "fixing a broken bone" sort of way.

MacGyver (regarding his distraction material choice): Well, naked dancing girls might have been a little better, know.

So, MacGyver says that they should get the supply plane to bring a firefighting crew, but they tell him that their lease runs out in two weeks and they won't be able to get a crew there in under two months. So, of course, MacGyver suggests that they put it out themselves.

They'll need some dynamite but they don't have any. But there's an old abandoned strip mine a little bit away. So they'll drive the truck down and see if there's some dynamite to be salvaged from there. I feel like Lost ripped off this plot a little bit in the Season 1 finale. We'll have to see if I'm remembering the problems they run into correctly.

Star Trek Girl told Main Guy he promised no more hellfighting (so I guess hellfighting is like literally fighting fire with fire?) but MacGyver very valiantly said he'd be the one to go into the fire and Main Guy wouldn't be in any danger. That seemed to appease her.

So the road is crazy bumpy. Keep that in mind. I think it'll be important in a couple minutes.

Haha they're playing music that sounds like Support Your Local Sheriff. Like, general western town music. It's funny.

So of course the powder shack that has the dynamite is falling apart. Creaky boards and such. There's a box marked "explosives" and they're prying the top off the box. Sticks of dynamite that are dry. Too dry. The nitroglycerin has leaked out of many of them. Mac takes a glob on his knife and goes to the door. He slowly walks outside with the nitroglycerin. And FLINGS it at a barrel. It makes a PING and sparks on the side of the barrel. So it's good stuff.

Now they're doing a weird thing where they're cutting between a conversation with Mac and Main Guy and a conversation with Star Trek Girl and Second Guy. It's kind of roughly edited but I guess they didn't want to have one long conversation between Mac and Main Guy.

So STG and SG are laying out hose for the hellfighting and Mac and MG are slowly taking the boxes of dynamite out of the powder shack.

All of a sudden, a shelf near where MG is standing starts to collapse. He catches it with his shoulder. But now he and MacGyver are holding boxes of dynamite and can't run without blowing up themselves and the shack.

MacGyver slowly goes outside to put his box down. Oh. It's their second trip because they've already both brought a box out. MacGyver goes back in and MG's box. MG turns around to hold the shelf which begins to collapse more. So MacGyver takes the shelf and gives the box to MG.

Suddenly the floor under MacGyver starts to give so he RUNS FOR IT. The powder shack explodes behind him. He realizes that he leaped onto the pile of dynamite boxes. Fortunately, they didn't blow him up.

So now they're rigging up the truck with some wagon springs and sand to cushion the explosives and absorb the nitroglycerin should any leak out. MacGyver is doing his narration of what they're doing, but MG is hilariously adding Southern commentary. Like so:

MacGyver: And some nice absorbent sand in case anything drips out
MG: Hey I'm with you, Mac. I want those blasting sticks to feel real comfortable on the ride back

So now they have to drive the explosives home over 54 miles of bumpy road. It cuts to them driving slowly through the dusk. And, if I'm not mistaken, their playful banter is slowly mutating into bickering. Which is hilarious to hear. But I mean, they're nervous, so it's ok, I guess.

Meanwhile, STG is teaching SG about hellfighting. The water hose is for keeping the firefighters and explosives wet. HAHA. She's talking about how the explosives eat up the oxygen. Then she pulls out a match, lights it, and immediately blows it out. To demonstrate. It's a very awkward moment. But now we kind of know what hellfighting is about. I guess.

Lots of great shots of fire in this one.

They just rolled over a medium sized rock and there were a bunch of closeups of the rope holding the explosives in place. I'm worried that's going to be a problem soon.

They're approaching a stream. The crossing starts well, but now they're stuck! How EVER will they get out?

Oh wait. They're not stuck. They linkage valve is busted. But no worries. Mac will fix it with the spring from a ballpoint pen. Hmm. That didn't fix it. A minor adjustment and boom there we go. Easy peasy.

They just looked at the rope again. They're making me nervous!

Uhoh. There's some nitroglycerin leaking out of one of the boxes. They don't notice it! It's dripping down the springs.

Now, they're heading down a hill on the homestretch. The weird thing is, I think they used the same shot of them going down the hill into the strip mine camp. Maybe the countryside looks the same, but I'm pretty sure it's the same shot.

Man that is a lot of nitro. The sand should be absorbing it, though, right? The drips are hitting the ground and oh no! The brakes are out! So, now they're BARRELING down the hill! The explosives are jostling. This is actually really intense. 

Phew. They crashed into the river and they're stopped and non-exploded.

Now all that's left is to put out the HUGE BLAZE with DECOMPOSING EXPLOSIVES.

So, the setup is this: MacGyver needs to get close enough to the blaze to drop a charge of explosives into the well...something.  But he doesn't have any high-tech gear. So he's going to have to "entertain a couple of theories a few of my buddies came up with a while ago. Archimedes and Euclid? You may have heard of them!"

He's going to use a refrigerator as a heat shield, the jeep, the dynamite and the pipes that crushed SG's leg as a rail for the jeep to run on.

They're going to basically juice the nitroglycerine out of the dynamite into a thermos. They're having STG do it because, you know, no big deal if she blows up.

MG is upset. He doesn't think MacGyver can do it on his own. The truth about his accident where he got badly burned is that he lost his entire crew. So he says he's going in, but MacGyver says HE'S going in. So they start punching each other and wrestling in the river.

STG comes up with the novel idea that they should go together and work together. Because MG's the best. But so is MacGyver. This would drive my friend Hall crazy, because there can only be ONE "best".

So they're going to push the jeep as close as they can. Ok. That's done. Now they're going to make sure they can release the charge remotely. It looks they have it hooked to some sort of hinge release. Ok. That works.

So they very gently push the canister out to the shaft. Of course it gets stuck, so MacGyver has to get hosed down and push it forward to free it. If you want to see RDA soaking wet, this is the episode for you.

The canister is over the shaft. So, they pull the release and RUN. It's kind of like if the assault on the Death Star was done in Texas. There's a HUGE explosion and then....silence. It's kind of cool how quiet it suddenly gets.

They're talking about their plans and SG says that he'll help drill the hole to get the oil as soon as he can work again. MG says "You'll heal" and gives him a playful slap ON HIS FRACTURED LEG. Of course SG doesn't fall to the ground in agony but still.

MacGyver basically hires himself on to help get the oil. It's a sweet ending, but it's another instance where there's an aftermath that we don't see. MacGyver will be back next week and not mention having helped his friends get their oil at ALL. One of the many weird aspects of a serialized show like MacGyver.

That's gonna do it for Hellfire. I hope we've all learned something today. See you next week!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another Unprecedented Countdown

Well, I've never done a countdown like this before. It was certainly an experience and there's (appropriately) not much more to say about this. It's an enjoyable episode and I think you'll enjoy it a lot!

Thanks so much to my sister for all her help and contributions this week.

Countdown #94

The Black Keys
Foo Fighters
Foster the People
Janelle Monae
Rise Against
Young the Giant

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Give Me Light: The Wayne Foundation Compilation

Well, if you have listened to my podcasts or read my blog since last summer, you might be aware that I've been using some of my time trying to put together a compilation of female artists/female-led bands that I could put up on Bandcamp and sell to benefit The Wayne Foundation

I have completed it and uploaded it and it's on sale now!

It's only $2 (or more if you're so inclined...) and the track list is as follows:

1. She Might Bite - Empty
2. The Jesse Minute - Sinking
3. My First Earthquake - Neon For You
4. Blue Bird - Give Me Light
5. The Nearly Deads - Never Look Back
6. Alyssa Poppin - Scream Out
7. Dessa - Into the Spin

And you can click this link to download the album!

I really feel like it has something for every type of music fan.
So tell your friends, tell your family, shout it from the rooftops!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm paranoid that if I don't say NEW COUNTDOWN, you won't know this is a new countdown...

Well, this is when I would prefer to be finishing up a countdown. It's currently Friday evening and it's not even 11 yet! Woohoo!

So my sister is coming to stay with us for a week. It's going to be lots of fun and I'm certain we'll listen to lots of music.

I can't wait until I have a computer of my own again so that I can DL all these episodes I've been making for like the last 6 weeks and listen to them on my iPod!

Countdown #93

The Black Keys
Foo Fighters
Foster the People
Janelle Monae
Queens of the Stone Age
Rise Against
Young the Giant

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 2012 Media Update

It's already March, you guys. When you're dreading something in the middle of February, it's March really quickly. But things have settled back down at work and I'm excited to do my Media Update!

Last Song/MP3 I listened to: So, on the drive home tonight we were listening to the radio. The last song I heard before we got home was Foster the People singing "Pumped Up Kicks". Have you heard of this song? ;-) However, just now I saw Maroon 5 and Travie McCoy perform "Stereo Hearts" on....

Last TV show I watched: SNL from 11/5/11. Which had Charlie Day as host and Maroon 5 as musical guests. I couldn't really find any links for the specific episode, so here's a link to the Season 37 Wikipedia page. I'm catching up on SNL from this season and this is the episode I'm on. It's almost over. Each time I see Charlie Day in something I enjoy him a little more. Maybe I should try It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. What do you guys think of that show? Any big fans?

Last Movie I watched: We used the ticket vouchers I got from my tutoring company for Christmas to go see Wanderlust last weekend. I really really enjoyed this movie. It had some comedic valleys, but I would say it's about 95% peaks. Paul Rudd is really great. I think I don't give him enough credit, you know?

Last Written Work I read: Ok, I have a couple of answers for this. The last thing I read for myself was Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Pantheon which is the seventh e-book for this series. You can download all of the books in this series for free for Kindle on Amazon. Here's the link if you're interested. 
           But if I'm being completely honest, then I have to count the book that I read 4 times at a Reading Under the Stars event at my wife's school: Miss Smith Reads Again! It was a great book and it had dinosaurs!
           And then right before I came down here to write this post, I read my daughter the book Goodnight Gorilla 1.5 times. She does NOT like the page where all the animals are in the zookeeper's bedroom and are all saying goodnight to the zookeeper's wife. But she's kind of fascinated by the next page where it's all black but for the two circles of her eyes. I think she's not sure if she likes it or not....

See you in April!